It’s a toss-up whether Mexico City outnumbers Paris in terms of museums. What this vibrant and unexpectedly-lush-with-greenery city offers over the City of Lights is incredible tacos and empanadas on practically every corner, plenty of art from Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo (to name just two) and pyramids dating back to between the first and seventh centuries just a short drive from the downtown core. Vists and you’ll quickly discover that Mexico doesn’t reign supreme only for beach paradises and that this cultural urban mecca of Mexico City is more than vacation-worthy. —Karen Kwan
stay. You had us at “butler service”. Every room in the St. Regis Mexico City (located on the historic Paseo de la Reforma and just a short walk away from Castillo de Chapultepec) includes this service, should you need some coffee or tea to get your day started or some garments pressed. And, on days when the city’s traffic has wound you up, book the spa’s 90-minute Mindfulness Sleep Ritual, which encompasses facial reflexology and massage using soothing quartz and essential oils topped off with a meditation via a Muse headband.
savour. Glance around Contramar and the crowds of locals occupying every table will make you feel confident you’ve chosen an authentic place for lunch (the fresh tuna tostadas are both delicate and incredibly flavourful while the zing-y aguachiles with shrimp will wake your tastebuds up with lime and cilantro). Or, grab a picnic-style table at Fonda Turin and dig into alambre (a plate of tender grilled beef with onions and peppers and loads of oozy melted cheese). Beyond that, you’ll easily find street food strolling through neighbourhoods like Condesa, Roma and Coyoacàn, but the corner of Alvaro Obregon and Insurgentes Sur has an impressive cluster of well-frequented stands selling delectable fried shrimp empanadas, fresh potato chips and tacos al pastor.
sip. Tucked beneath Fonda Turin is speakeasy Hanky-Panky, with mezcal cocktails (we reco the one featuring cucumber) to sip at the bar or in one of the handsome booths. And as fun as it may be to visit, the best part of your night may be exiting this bar—through a faux beer fridge in the fonda. Hankering for a nightcap? Rub elbows with locals in King Cole Bar, where you can enjoy a paloma or a signature Sangrita Marias, which includes mezcal and a puree of pasilla chiles.
see. The site most visitors make time for is Casa Azul. Frida Kahlo’s house is a vivid and delightful treasure (as is the “Smoke and Mirrors” exhibit of pieces from her wardrobe—beautifully bold florals and flowing dresses that hid her body, disfigured from polio and a bus crash). Also, see the Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, composed of volcanic rock (its design is the result of Rivera consulting with both Frank Lloyd Wright and Juan O’Gorman) and symbolizing a Hispanic temple across three levels. Finally, make the 50-kilometre drive to Teotihuacan Pyramids (a UNESCO World Heritage site originally settled around 400 BC) to walk down an expansive Avenue of the Dead and climb several structures, including the Pyramid of the Moon, Pyramid of the Sun and the Temple of the Feathered Serpent. From your perch atop a pyramid, envision the ancient city bustling with 100,000 residents and vivid with murals (you can still spot remnants of red on some of the plaster walls).
spa. Book a ritual service to cleanse body, mind and spirit at the W Mexico City's Away spa, which boasts a temazcal—a traditional adobe sweat lodge that can be traced back to pre-Hispanic indigenous people of Mesoamerica. A shaman will lead you through chanting—expect splashes of water (which you’ll welcome in the intense heat) and fragrant fresh herbs, too—as you sweat and purify your soul in the dark stone igloo. Not a fan of high temps and darkness? Try the spa’s Mexican massage, which incorporates a number of movements inspired by local cooking techniques.