Having just returned home from an amazing trip to Mexico City (District Federal or DF), I now have a firm grasp of the various areas of the city and what they provide a traveler. It’s pretty clear cut in my mind, there are really four areas in Mexico City that offer you amazing views, quiet, peaceful surroundings and plenty of entertainment, food options and interaction with the locals. I stayed in the Historic Center and while my accommodations were first-rate, the area itself was jam packed with tourists and peddlers trying to get you to buy their trinkets. To see the old Mexico City mesh with the new in a safe, clean and multicultural environment, try to stay in one of these four areas.
This is the diplomatic area of Mexico City, therefore it has a massive international population. Many of the embassies are here and the citizens in this area tend to be educated, successful and fun. It reminded me a lot of the Miraflores area of Lima, Peru. Polanco is filled with great little cafes, quaint coffee shops and all kinds of restaurants serving authentic Mexican dishes. I really enjoyed my time here and the Museum of Modern Art is a must-see! The buildings are beautiful, the area is clean and safe and the people are engaging, bi-lingual and health conscious. If you’re looking to meet fun-loving, attractive and open-minded people, Polanco is the place to be. It’s also the place you are most likely to end up at a birthday party in a French diplomat’s house. That really happened!
2. Roma (Colonia Roma)
I just loved Roma! The buildings are old and beautiful and this area of the city reminded me a little bit of the French Quarter in New Orleans without the weirdos. The prevalence of a hipster style vibe and the carefree attitude of its residents made this a favorite place for me. There are all kinds of interesting shops and bistros and as an emerging area of residence for up-and-coming young professionals and students, Roma is the ideal place to meet people for cocktails or to go clubbing until 4:00 in the morning. This area is filled with young 20-30 somethings in love with life, open to meeting people from different places and just wanting to have a good time.
3. La Condesa
Considered to be the SoHo (in New York City) of Mexico City, this was my favorite area in all of Mexico City. The parks are beautiful and peaceful, the sidewalks are spacious and they weave their way through old city streets lined with massive trees, colorful little restaurants, cafes, fitness centers, dog parks and ice cream shops. La Condessa is filled with health conscious, dog loving, attractive, intellectual and outgoing people who enjoy living in this amazing little area of Mexico City. Culture is thick here, it has a bohemian feel, but one that comes across as clean, progressive and stylistic. If I had it all to do over again, this is where I would choose to find lodging.
4. Colonia del Carmen
An artistic and intellectual center since the 1920s, many of Mexico City’s most famous artists and social activists called Colonia del Carmen home. It’s almost a town within a city – or at least that’s how it feels. The buildings are old and pretty and the peaceful vibe of the area is calming and pleasant. Many of the city’s best museums are here including the Leon Trotsky Museum and the Frida Kahlo Museum and house. This artistic haven seems to have gone untouched by the progress of the massive city that surrounds it. I don’t know if I would choose to get a hotel here, but it’s definitely on the list.
So there you have it! My very current list of the top 4 places to stay on your visit to Mexico City. My vote is on La Condessa or Roma as first options if you are outgoing and want to really engage the local population in a safe, fun environment without the headache of having people hounding you to buy trinkets and without the hassle of bumper-to-bumper traffic.
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