Mexico City is the second biggest city in the world (after Tokyo), and it feels like it. With a population of 16 million, it is polluted, noisy and crime-ridden.
But Mexico’s capital also has a vibrant arts and cultural scene, great restaurants and buzzing nightlife. For many visitors to Mexico, the city will be their first stop and it’s worth spending at least a day there to soak up its frantic atmosphere.
08:00 Start the day with a hearty breakfast of huevos rancheros – fried eggs in a taco with salsa verde and refried beans – or huevos mexicanos, a tasty omelette. Head to the Break Coffee Shop and Deli in well-heeled Polanco, which has English newspapers and wi-fi access.
09:00 Walk around the city’s main square, the Zocalo, also known as Plaza de la Constitucion. It’s one of the largest in Latin America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the north side is the Metropolitan Cathedral and on the eastern end is the National Palace, which displays murals by artist Diego Rivera. A short stroll from the main plaza is the Museo Nacional de Arte, which houses sculptures, ceramics and paintings.
11:00 Mexico City’s Museum of Anthropology could keep you busy all day, but you can visit several of the 23 permanent exhibit halls in a few hours. Situated in Chapultepec Park, the highlights include the Stone of the Sun, otherwise known as the Aztec Calendar, and imposing statues such as Aztec goddesses and Olmec wrestlers.
13:00 Cafe Tacuba, at Tacuba 28 in the historic centre, is one of Mexico City’s most popular restaurants. Its long dining hall is decorated with brass lamps, oil paintings and wooden furniture.
You’ll dine on authentic Mexican fare, including delicious enchiladas. At night, singers entertain diners with mandolins and guitars.
14:00 Visit the former home of one of Mexico’s most famous artists Frida Kahlo, the Blue House in Coyoacán, now a museum.
Frida dedicated her life to art after she was involved in a bus crash when she was 18. The accident left her with severe injuries, which are depicted in much of her colourful works of art.
18:00 Refuel at the San Angel Inn, which offers a Mexican and European menu for about £15 a head, within the stunning surrounds of an old hacienda in the leafy suburb of San Angel.
20:30 Catch a performance of Mexican music and dance at the Ballet Folklorico in the Palace of Fine Arts. The theatre is impressive, with a glass curtain created by Tiffany that depicts the two volcanoes that make up the Valley of Mexico. There are free guided tours of the theatre during the day.
23:00 Mexico City is packed with jazz, flamenco, salsa, Cuban and rock clubs. When night falls, the hip crowd head to Condesa, which is awash with cafes, galleries, clubs and bars.
Grab a cocktail or two at The Rexo, in Saltillo 1, a bar dramatically decked out in black and white. The trendy neighbourhood of San Angel has a flourishing nightclub scene for those planning a late one.
Travel 4 offers a three-night Essential Mexico City tour from £104 per person until December 31, with accommodation, transfers and a tour of the city with a private driver.
Cox and Kings offers a 14-day Mexico in Style tour for £4,275 per person in December, including flights and transfers. The tour includes two nights in Mexico City