Mexico City is a metropolis with many faces.
Despite the enormous dimensions of the city, the historic centre between Alameda and Zócalo can be easely explored on foot.
For first-time visitors it is recommended to explore the city by zones in order to experience at least the most important attractions. Starting in the historical center (with a three-day stay in Mexico City) the first day could have the following sample program: You begin at the monumental Zócalo, one of the world’s largest city squares, whose flanks are dominated by the symbols of secular and religious power. The Catedral Metropolitana, considered the largest cathedral on the American continent, occupies the northern side of the square together with the Sagrario Metropolitano chapel, while the Palacio Nacional stretches along the eastern side. The walls inside show large-scale Murales of Diego Rivera on Mexican history.
The north-eastern corner of the square is occupied by the former ritual centre of the Aztec Empire: The ruins of the Templo Mayor with the impressive Museo del Templo Mayor. Following Avenida 5 de Mayo to the west, on the way to the Art Deco building of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, one passes the historical building of the Banco de México, the neo-gothic palace of the main post office and the Casa de los Azulejos, whose baroque facade is covered with blue Talavera tiles from Puebla.
The restaurant and café inside offers a pleasant respite in a historic surrounding.
The Palacio de Bellas Artes with its magnificent murals and several museums as well as a walk to Alameda Central (with the Monumento a Benito Juárez and the beautiful Museo Franz Mayer with a beautiful café in the courtyard!) makes for a pleasant afternoon, before heading to the viewing platform of Torre Latinoamerica at dusk to enjoy the breathtaking city panorama.
The second day in Mexico City could be dedicated to the Museo Nacional de Antropología, one of the best of its kind in the world. Together with the Museum of Modern Art and the Rufino Tamayo Museum it is located in Chapultepec Park. A visit to the museum should take at least half a day.
The former presidential palace of Castillo Chapultepec offers a glimpse into Mexico’s history and a view over the heartbeat of the capital’s main artery, Paseo de la Reforma.
The latest eye-catcher on the Paseo de la Reforma was inaugurated in 2012, 16 months late. Originally planned as a monument to the bicentenary of Mexican independence, the light column made of 170-metre-high steel steles, whose surface is covered with Brazilian quartz and has countless LED lights, has since competed with the statue of independence of the “Angel de la Independencia” to dominate Mexico’s magnificent main boulevard.
The afternoon can also be used for a stroll through one of the trendy neighbourhoods Polanco, Condesa or Roma. In Roma, the Plaza Rio de Janeiro, surrounded by buildings of the Beaux Arts style, or the Plaza Cibeles, named after the replica of the fountain of the same name in Madrid, are particularly interesting.
In Polanco, the new building of the Museo Soumaya, named after the late wife of billionaire Carlos Slim, houses the magnate’s outstanding private art collection, including one of the world’s best Rodin collections. The building has the shape of a dynamically deformed cylinder, whose curved facade is covered with honeycomb-shaped aluminium panels.
Day three in the capital should be dedicated to the monumental ruins of Teotihuacán.
On the way back you can stop at the Basilica de Guadalupe, Mexico’s most important pilgrimage site.
The village districts of Coyoacán and San Angel in the south of the metropolis create provide a pleasant contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city centre.