Backpacking thru Mexico City

Like many of the world’s largest cities, Mexico City has a bad reputation among backpackers. Before visiting, know what you’re getting into before arriving. Mexico City is the 6th largest city in the world with a population of 22 million people.

Over 600,000 U.S. Americans live here, it contains the largest population of Americans outside the US. I think it is because Mexico City has UBER… along with the largest amount of museums, over 100 art galleries, IMAX theaters, some of the world’s best restaurants, lucha libra wrestling, the oldest University in the Americans and a UNESCO heritage site (the Historic Centre of Mexico City). Just to name a few.

While staying in Mexico City, there is a common trend for travelers to start or end their trip here because of the large airport and inexpensive flights. This gives hostel life a different vibe to it. Everyone is excited and in their maximum vacation mode. When you combine that with Mexico City’s nightlife, you’ll be in for a good time.

Give Mexico City a chance and it will open its arms to you!

Day 0 – Thank You for Choosing United Airlines

I arrived in Mexico City around 9 PM local time after a few obstacles including a two-hour flight delay. I’ve noticed that I fall somewhere between a backpacker and a “glampacker.” Although you can find me hitchhiking my way to a hostel to avoid a $5 taxi, I’m also a big fan of UBER.

After calling “my personal driver” as UBER calls it, I made my way to the rows of bunk beds I would be calling home for the next few days. Once settled, I set off to find some tacos and a much-needed cerveza (beer).

I was surprised to see a restaurant so packed at 10 PM but in Mexico City people do not go out to eat until 9 at night.


I stayed at Hostel Suites DF and would highly recommend them! The location is unbeatable, right next to the city center. Comfy beds, working WiFi, large showers and free breakfast – a backpacker’s dream. Even a glampacker would deem this hostel acceptable.

Day 1 – Now Walk it Out

After a delicious breakfast of quesadillas y frutas frescas (fresh fruit), I was ready to explore the city. Having done absolutely zero research before I left, I went on the free walking tour with Estacion Mexico. Our tour guide took us all around the City Centre and included a mixture of beautiful architecture and the simplicity of civilian life.

(click on any of the images to enlarge)

I would highly recommend this walking tour! Not only is it gratis (free) but the tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable about the area and tell you plenty of fun facts about the culture, rather than merely rushing you through the sites.

Afterward, my dormmate and I went to El Torre Latino Americano para la puesta de sol (for the sunset) and some much needed margaritas. As savvy shoppers and even savvier drinkers, we went to the rooftop restaurant and order a drink to avoid the entrance fee. We had the chance to enjoy the gorgeous skyline while relaxing with a nice cocktail — all for the same price to enter the skydeck!

Day 2 – Lost in the Art… and in the City

As I said previously, Mexico City has the most museums in the world. If you are a museum buff like me, it is too easy to get lost in the many galleries here.

I started the morning at the Palacio De Bellas Artes.

Next, I went to Museo Nacional de Antropolgia, one of my favorite museums I have visited! It is especially useful to visit before going to Teotihuacan located just outside the city. The museum allocated both inside and outside space to showcasing some of the most amazing items dating back to the Aztecs.

In the same park is the Castillo de Chapultepec, the only castle in all of Mexico.

For dinner, we ate at Hong King in the world’s smallest China Town. That’s right, there is a claim to fame for the world’s smallest China Town and Mexico City has earned the title. Although I was only two days in, I missed vegetables dearly and enjoyed a plate of vegetarian stir fry.

This is a jam packed day for me! I do not typically go to so many sights in one day but with all that Mexico City has to offer, I wanted to experience as much as possible with my limited time.

Day 3 – Pyramid of the Sun(Burn)

My last day in Mexico City, I visited the Piramide del Sol a truly incredible sight that was built in 350BC. I felt as if I was back in Egypt rather than just outside Mexico City.

Make sure you protect yourself from the sun before you go. Like the pyramid’s namesake, I was out in the sweltering heat the entire time and ended up with some seriously funky tan lines.

For almuerzo (lunch), I enjoyed a delicious salad with tuna at Ojo de Agua located next to Parque Mexico.

Oh, The Feels

Although I have only been away from home for a few days, I can tell that how people travel here is completely different than my previous experiences. Mexico City is a melting pot of people. Many backpackers were like me, long-term travelers with no return flight home. Some came for the weekend. I even met a guy who was in the city for only 24 hours.

Overall the feeling was the same. Rather than getting caught up in the party culture that backpacking can attract, I was surrounded by people who were interested in learning about the locals and the language. (And were excited to go out to salsa dance.)

What I’m saying is the importance of a well-rounded experience, which I haven’t always felt in my surroundings. The balance of both learning and play is crucial to me. And mastering that balance even more so.

Next Stop: Oaxaca

Thanks for reading! For any questions or comments, post in the comment section below.


4 Comment

  1. Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular post!
    It is the little changes which will make the most significant changes.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. carolynsmurthwaite says: Reply

      Thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you found it useful.

  2. Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thank you|

    1. carolynsmurthwaite says: Reply

      Thank you! I don’t have advice for Yahoo! News, but it is exciting to hear you found me that way!

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