Random (Positive) Observations From A Week In Mexico City

I spent just under a week in Mexico City recently and left feeling a bit uneasy.

Why?

I left feeling even more perplexed about the city than I was before I arrived.

As a travel blogger, it’s my job to share stories and advice about the places I visit. Whether that’s full destination guides, day-by-day itineraries or lists of the best things to see, do, eat, Instagram… I aim to dig deep in every destination I visit to uncover the best travel experiences for the the kind souls who follow While I’m Young for travel inspiration.

First impressions of Mexico City

But there’s no way I can write with any authority about Mexico City. At least, not without feeling like a big fat fake. Because a week is nowhere near enough time to get to know Mexico City. It’s not enough to get to grips with the place and to see and do everything that the granite metropolis offers visitors. In fact, for me, a week wasn’t even enough to taste the flavour of Mexico City.

Sadly, I felt that my experience of Mexico City was hindered by the need to stay safe. Mexico City is held up as a Dangerous City by those who apparently want to scare would-be travellers from ever leaving their bedrooms, and that perception kind of tainted my trip. Call me a victim of mainstream media, but I do listen to scare stories. I was always aware that just one wrong turn could land me in trouble. Because of that, I feel that it’s difficult for the average traveller to get to the meat of Mexico City. I stayed in the safe, modern neighbourhood of Polanco, and while the area has its own, up-and-coming energy, it’s not reflective of the more historic parts of town.

It’s a shame, because Mexico City’s culture is just so vibrant and alluring – if you can only pop that tourist bubble.

And so, in the interest of being real with the people who read my blog, follow me on social media and otherwise invest in my travel advice, I’m going to do the only thing I can do. I’m going to just word-vomit all of my random first impressions and observations about Mexico City here. Maybe some would prove to be completely inaccurate if I just stuck around in Mexico City for a bit longer, but these are just my personal observations. You know, as is everything I write on my blog…

Random first impressions of Mexico City

The customer service is excellent. From remembering how you like your drink served from your first order throughout your meal, to always offering a smile and an ‘Hola, ¿cómo estas?’ when you enter an establishment, Mexico City has great staff everywhere you go.

 

Best things about Mexico City: the people

 

Mexico City is often named as a dangerous place to visit (even by people who have – get this – never set foot in the place), but I honestly didn’t feel threatened or at risk once during my short stay. Granted, my accommodation was in the safe, modern area of Polanco with secure gates wrapped around the house and I travelled everywhere by Uber. I’m under no impression that this is a true representation of the entire city, but it’s worth pointing out that you can go to Mexico City and be perfectly safe.

 

Is Mexico City dangerous?

 

While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about being a female traveller in Mexico City. I’ve experienced hassle, cat-calling and intimidation from men in the street almost everywhere I’ve ever been (including my hometown, before you call me out for racism or summit), but I wasn’t subjected to this ONCE in Mexico City. It was wonderfully refreshing, and a big relief. I know that violence towards women is a big issue in Mexico, but my brief experience was completely positive on this front.

 

travelling in Mexico City, first impressions

 

Another female-friendly element to Mexico City: every eatery, whether it’s a swanky restaurant or a rough-around-the-edges taqueria, has convenient handbag holders which you can hang your bag on while you eat. Snaps for Mexico City, I guess.

 

Mexico City Introduction

 

Uber is the safest way to get around. Don’t get local taxis.

 

Mexico City travel tips

 

Mexicans love warning you about how spicy their food is, but I honestly struggled to find anything that made my eyes water. I think they’re aware that most tourists can’t hack the level of spice they’d traditionally cook with, so they tone it down.

 

Ceviche tostadas in Mexico City

 

The city is a hive of young, creative energy. Mexico City is super popular with digital nomads and this has given rise to an enviable smattering of co-working spaces around the city. My favourite was Publico, a design-led co-working and business centre in the Condesa neighbourhood of Polanco.

 

Mexico City travel tips for females

 

Mexico City is absolutely massive and its sheer size makes it impossible to sum up in three words. It’s probably the most diverse city I’ve probably ever been to; between ultra-sleek Polanco, with its leafy parks, elegant Presidente Masaryk and the nearby streets with names like ‘Edgar Allen Poe’, which are lined with swanky restaurants; the city centre, with its rough-around-the-edges colonial era buildings and streets filled with the music from organ grinders, and the gritty suburbs with houses painted like lego bricks; Mexico City has many faces, and you’d need a year (and a serious sense of adventure) to get to know even half of them.

I probably will write about what I got up to in Mexico City at some point, but I wanted to preface it with this post!

One thing you can’t miss if you visit Mexico City: a day out at Xochimilco

Search for accommodation prices and availability in Mexico City

Get the lowdown on the best Mexico City tours

I’d be interested to hear whether my brief encounters match your preconceptions of Mexico City, or whether you live, have lived or have visited the destination and want to set me right on anything.

If you want to welcome more travel tips, tricks, destination guides and general banter from me into your life you can follow this blog on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. You can also subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Photographs taken on my Olympus Pen E-PL7.

Pin this

Mexico City travel tips

Share:

20 Comments

  1. November 9, 2017 / 4:22 pm

    I travelled to Mexico City by myself and made the exact observation you did – I didn’t get sexually harassed or catcalled once and that was sure a welcome relief and a huge nice surprise for me especially as I was subjected to it so much in South America. I felt so safe in Mexico City.

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      November 9, 2017 / 4:29 pm

      I mean, it’s pretty sad that we get excited about NOT being harassed, but it was such a welcome relief in Mexico City. Glad you had such a positive experience too!

  2. November 11, 2017 / 4:28 am

    I totally relate to what you said about Mexico being too big to know in a single week. I’ve probably spent about 3 weeks there, cumulatively, and I’ve barely scratched the surface! It doesn’t help that every time I’ve visited it seems like the main attraction that I had planned to see was closed! I guess I need to plan better 😛

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      November 20, 2017 / 11:54 am

      Which places in Mexico did you go? I’d love to go back and really get my teeth into it! But why were the attractions closed? How strange!

      • November 20, 2017 / 2:59 pm

        I just went on the wrong day — I think the Frida Kahlo Museum is closed on Mondays and the Bosque de Chapultepec was closed one day too.. and for some reason I always end up trying to go on that day! I’ve been all over Mexico (I currently live here) but I’ve only spent a few weeks in Mexico City, and usually just exploring the center. I did make it to Xochimilco and Teotihuacan though!

        • Dannielle | While I'm Young
          November 20, 2017 / 3:07 pm

          Ah I see! Such a shame when that happens. Ooh I went to both those places – loved them, especially Xochimilco!

  3. November 12, 2017 / 9:29 am

    What a nice observation. Its a shame how people have an unfavourable opinions about a place. I had a similar experience in Colombia. I was picturing riots and anger on every corner of the country but instead I was hit with an inescapable assault of friendliness, all I saw was smiling faces, inquisitive to know where I am from and the traditions of my country. I am just a week away from reaching Mexico.Hope it goes well 😉

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      November 20, 2017 / 11:54 am

      I went to Colombia (just Bogota) right after Mexico and had the same visions! I also was pleasantly surprised to find welcoming locals and a rich culture, so it’s a shame that we have these negative preconceptions. That being said, I *did* find myself in a dodgy area once and it was pretty terrifying!

      Have fun in Mexico!

  4. November 12, 2017 / 2:13 pm

    Your photos make me want to book a flight to Mexico right now. I love travelling and Mexico will be my next destination definitely. I’ve heard that Mexico has one of the best cuisine in the world which make a foodaholic like me can’t wait to visit. Thanks for your sharing.

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      November 20, 2017 / 11:52 am

      Yay I’m so happy I’ve swayed you! I honestly loved Mexico a lot more than I expected to so please go!

  5. November 13, 2017 / 6:59 am

    It is good to know you were not harassed in Mexico City. It really comes as a surprise. My expectation with the world is so much in a dumpster that I can’t imagine going anywhere solo (or rather without male company) and not facing harassment.

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      November 20, 2017 / 11:52 am

      How sad is that?! Such a shame that we have these awful expectations of the world. I think after my horrendous experience as a woman in Cairo, I became very wary of my status as a female traveller – and I’m SO glad that Mexico City reminded me that there ARE places you can go where you won’t be bothered. (Again, just my personal experience though.)

  6. November 13, 2017 / 4:35 pm

    Mexico’s ancient ruins, spicy food and vibrant culture have always intrigued me. I think truth is much different than from what we read in media. I always judge for myself when exploring a place which has received bad press.

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      November 20, 2017 / 11:50 am

      I have to admit that I had all these images in my head thanks to the UK media and was pleasantly surprised to find that only a small (but still devastating) part of the city was affected by the recent earthquake. And everywhere I went felt no less unsafe than any other city.

  7. November 16, 2017 / 12:15 am

    It always happens that a place gets tainted by the same brush and myths build around it and then transorm into opinions. It is nice to see you sharing candid information about Mexico City. I have always found that most places that labelled “unsafe”, are not places that one should not touch with a barge pole! Every place has its good and bad areas, one should not let that come in the way of enjoying what the place has to offer after being well informed and taking prudent advice and precautions.

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      November 20, 2017 / 11:49 am

      I’m glad you feel this way too Sandy. It’s such a shame when a destination gets a bad name for itself because not EVERYWHERE in that destination is going to be unsafe.

  8. November 17, 2017 / 6:41 am

    Even I have heard that Mexico city is a little unsafe but I personally would take a chance like you. I feel safety is also, dependent on how you approach your travel.

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      November 20, 2017 / 11:48 am

      Absolutely, and we can only hope to have the right regrets!

  9. November 19, 2017 / 6:22 pm

    It’s indeed a pity that you felt it unusual that you weren’t harassed. Clearly, as we can also see from the current news stories, a lot of men have a lot to learn. Echoing one of the others who left a comment above, I also loved Colombia, even if my stomach was churning with fear as I first landed in Bogota. Knowing my penchant for all things Latin, there are those in my family who beg me not to go to Mexico, particularly DF. However, you seem to have survived and thrived there, so I can see it happening sometime in the next three years. Like you, I also like recording first impressions, by the way.

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      November 20, 2017 / 11:47 am

      They certainly do Gearoid! I was definitely nervous about this trip but am SO glad I went. Like any big city, it’s just about being aware of your surroundings. Let me know if you ever book that trip!

Leave a Reply