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Your Flight-Deal Guide to Mexico City

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If you were lucky enough to score one of this month’s amazing $226 fares on Aeromexico or Delta to Mexico City, congratulations! To make sure you experience the best of this huge, sprawling and exciting city, new TPG Contributor Diego Szteinhendler shares a few neighborhoods and attractions you shouldn’t miss on your Mexico City vacation.

Two Great Areas for Sightseeing 

Historic Downtown – Like one-stop shopping for culture and history, downtown Mexico City is where you’ll find the famous Zócalo Square (home to the Palacio Nacional and the 16th-century Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral — both pictured above), as well as the Palacio de Bellas Artes and the city’s beautiful central post office, the Palacio de Correos. While you’re downtown, be sure to see the Templo Mayor, ancient Aztec ruins that were discovered during construction of the city’s subway.

There are no bad views in Chapultepec Park. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chapultepec Park – This roughly 2.5-square-mile green space is essentially the Central Park of Mexico City, and its eastern side contains some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, including the Zoológico de Chapultepec. The impressive National Anthropology Museum has one of the world’s largest collections of archaeological and anthropological artifacts, spanning the pre-Hispanic Mayan civilizations to the Spanish conquest, while the fascinating National Museum of Cultures (formerly the Museum of Natural History) is housed in Chapultepec Castle, the only palace in North America to have actually served as the residence of a sovereign — Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I of Habsburg.

The cutting-edge Soumaya Museum, in the Polanco neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
The cutting-edge Soumaya Museum, in the Polanco neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Four Hip Neighborhoods to Explore

Polanco – Home to shopping for some of the world’s most expensive brands and high-end restaurants like Pujol and Dulce Patria, this hot neighborhood is also known for cultural attractions like the Soumaya Museum, which houses the largest collection of Rodin’s sculptures outside of France. Nearby you’ll find the Auditorio Nacional, the city’s main venue for art, concerts and other shows.

Condesa – Set to the west of the Avenida Insurgentes, this bohemian area hosts several leafy parks and many trendy restaurants, boutiques and nightclubs. It’s a great place to see what the city’s chilangos, or well-heeled young locals, are doing, eating and wearing. For authentic Mexico City tacos, be sure to have a meal at El Tizoncito.

Frida Kahlo's former home is now a museum in the
Frida Kahlo’s former home is now a museum in the Cayoacan. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Coyoacan – Home to many of Mexico City’s artists and intellectuals, this funky neighborhood is especially lively during the weekends. Check out street vendors hawking local treats, arts and crafts, and visit the Museo Frida Kahlo, where the artist used to live and paint.

Roma – East of the Avenida Insurgentes, this laid-back but emerging residential neighborhood full of Art Deco architecture is where you’ll find Mexico City’s first gourmet market Mercado Roma, as well hotspot boutique hotels (like Brick) and restaurants (like Rosetta).

Wings over Mexico City. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Wings over Mexico City. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

How to Get to Mexico City

You can fly nonstop into Mexico City’s Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez (MEX) via several airlines:

American AAdvantage: Round-trip from 25,000 miles (economy) and 60,000 miles (business).
American Airlines — Charlotte (CLT), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Phoenix (PHX).

Delta SkyMiles: Round-trip from 35,000 miles (economy) and 75,000 miles (business).
Delta  — Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW), New York (JFK), Salt Lake City (SLC).
Aeromexico — Boston (BOS), Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), Orlando (MCO), Sacramento (SMF), San Francisco (SFO), Washington-Dulles (IAD).

United MileagePlus: Round-trip from 35,000 miles (economy), 60,000 miles (business) and 140,000 miles (first).
United Airlines — Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO), Washington-Dulles (IAD).

Once you’ve arrived, you can get from MEX and into/around the city by the Mexico City Metro, taxi or Uber (though this past July, there was local dissent toward the ride-share company). To maximize your sightseeing hours, consider catching the Turibus, the city’s hop-on, hop-off bus.

There are Ws with cool art — and then there's the W Mexjco City. Photo courtesy of the hotel.
There are Ws with cool art and design — and then there’s the W Mexico City. Photo courtesy of the hotel.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of opportunities to use your loyalty points in Mexico City, as all major US hotel chains — from Hilton to Hyatt and IHG to Club Carlson — have at least one property in town. Two particularly desirable hotels are both set in Polanco:

The swanky, modern-art-filled W Mexico City has a great central location, so you can visit all the major sights and then return here to kick back in the spa’s miniature sweat lodge or relax over cocktails on the terrace. Rates start at $335 or 16,000 Starpoints per night.

The pool at the JW Marriott Mexico City. Photo courtesy of the hotel.
The pool at the JW Marriott Mexico City. Photo courtesy of the hotel.

Just next door, a traditional, elegant option is the JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City, which has floor-to-ceiling windows in all its guest rooms, as well as three restaurants, a lobby bar, an outdoor pool and a seventh-floor spa. Rates start at $199 or 35,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.

Helpful Hint

Credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Starwood Preferred Guest Amex and the Citi ThankYou Premier don’t charge foreign transaction fees, making them ideal to use on vacation in Mexico. To see more cards without these fees, check out Top Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees.

For more on Mexico City, be sure to see:

Destination of the Week: Mexico City
A Food Lover’s Guide to Mexico City

In the comments below, please share your favorite sights, restaurants and hotels in Mexico City!

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