With temperatures plummeting across the Northern Hemisphere, and reservations for tropical Mexican getaways on the up, it's only natural places like Cancun and Cabo, which straddle the coast, are dominating headlines this season.
They are beach hotspots; you can expect only the highest level of comfort at resorts, and service within entertainment complexes is impeccable, but we mustn't forget about other destinations located further inland that are also breaking all sorts of tourism records.
That is the case with Mexico City, or CDMX, the national capital many may dismiss for being a financial center and chaotic metropolis, but one that has, in fact, just exceeded pre-2020 levels of tourism, with a whopping 104.3% growth:
In total, as many as 14.5 million people sojourned in registered hotels last year, and the city looks set for an even greater year in 2024.
Having followed this evolving trend, we couldn't help but wonder, what is it about CDMX that has got everyone so hooked in the first place?
It Is Perfect For Experiencing Mexican Culture
There's no better place to immerse yourself in Mexico's rich culture than the capital, as it has, time and again, been named the leading cultural destination in the Americas, thanks to its eclectic architectural heritage, world-class museums, and ancient History.
Unlike Cancun-bound tourists, who are not actively interested in sightseeing and would very much rather have a relaxing time by the poolside, Americans who have CDMX as their primary destination are keen on immersing themselves in the immaterial heritage.
Built atop the ruins of the Aztec Empire, it includes numerous ethnic districts, the majestic Palacio de Bellas Artes, a colonial-era Plaza de la Constitución, where one of the oldest cathedrals in the New World stands, and the 18th-century Chapultepec Castle, all symbols of Mexican nationhood.
CDMX Is Beautifully Diverse
Full of unique neighborhoods, which typically reflect their ethnic makeup, be it as a result of Italian or Spanish immigration or native strongholds, CDMX is a true melting pot that takes more than a single visit to experience in full.
In the ‘Magical Neighborhood' of Roma, you will find stellar cafes, a lively social scene, and some of the finest examples of Art Deco on this side of the Atlantic. Meanwhile, in Condesa, leafy boulevards and picturesque streets flanked by colorful buildings await discovery.
Polanco concentrates a number of the city's top-rated cocktail bars and traditional restaurants and is extremely safe.
Then there is Zona Rosa, for nightlife and LGBT-friendly venues; San Angel, with its historical mansions and cobbled lanes; and San Rafael, your go-to area for street food:
In exploring Mexico City, you could truly never exhaust your options.
It Is A Food Mecca
Speaking of which, CDMX is renowned for being a food mecca, encompassing different regional cuisines from all 31 Mexican states, as well as international: whether you're looking for grab-and-go street delicacies, or fine dining, rest assured you won't be disappointed.
The capital is home to two of the largest outdoor markets in the country, including Mercado La Merced, where the narrow corridors are lined by food stalls serving fresh eats – quesadillas, tamales, fajita, and tortas, you name it – and Mercado de San Juan, famous for its assortment of exotic food.
Dining out, you can find mid-range eateries serving delicious local recipes like antojitos in Coyoacán, El Centro, where many of the fancier, historical spots are centered, hippy Roma, with its varied selection of hardcore Mexican and tourist-friendly vegan tacos, and underrated San Rafael.
The Gateway To The Lost Aztec Empire
Tourists are flocking into CDMX not only for the diverse offer, but also the various landmarks within short driving distance of the city, most notably Teotihuacan, arguably the most famous ancient structure South of the border.
A Mesoamerican city that fell into disuse following the arrival of Spanish settlers, it is a glimpse into times immemorial, when the native Aztecs ruled the land, and their thriving civilization, whose intellectual advances are yet to be matched, was at its peak.
Have you even been to Mexico if you didn't climb up the steps of the Pyramid of the Sun and took a selfie overlooking the eerie Avenue of the Dead and the surrounding pyramidal structures? It's a must-do activity for History buffs, and Mexicophiles in general.
Mexico City Is A Lot Safer Than You Might Think
Finally, safety plays a huge part in Mexico City's tourism revival following the crisis of the preceding years. Unlike other major Latin American cities, crime remains under acceptable levels, and the number of tourists directly affected by violence is lower than in Colombia or Ecuador.
That's not to say CDMX is crime-free. It is a sprawling conurbation home to over 9 million people (within city limits), and much like New York, London, Istanbul, and other global hubs in the same ranking, it has a wide range of urban issues, from pickpocketing down to littering.
Still, it is classed by U.S. authorities as a Level 2 destination, meaning Americans must simply exercise greater caution when visiting, and not let their guards down in public: avoid displaying unnecessary signs of wealth, stick to touristy zones, and follow general safety advice.
Chances are you'll be fine, even when traveling solo, and return from your vacation abroad with nothing but fond memories of the beautiful mess that is Mexico's number one city break.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.