Mexico City is having a moment. Sure, the sunny Central American country has been luring tourists for ages with its sandy beaches and all-inclusive resorts. But for travelers seeking mind-blowing food, amazing art and architecture, history and religion, adventure-packed excursions and exciting nightlife, you are spoiled for choice in this colorful capital! Street life is buzzy and fun and there is something new and different happening around every corner. When deciding where to base myself this past February, a few neighborhoods sounded like a good fit. But Coyoacan caught my attention.
Exploring a new city can seem intimidating, especially for new globetrotters — Is it safe? What if I get lost? I don’t speak the language! — but it doesn’t have to be!
Some of the world’s greatest cities demand to be explored on foot. Think London, Paris, Rome — and, yes, Mexico City! An accidental explorer, I relish immersing myself in the places I visit. And, in many cases, there is no better way to accomplish this than by walking. Sure, traveling by car is, at times, absolutely mandatory. But, in my opinion, the best way to authentically experience a new city is to explore it neighborhood by neighborhood, step by step. Stay in the car and you risk missing out on what makes the city special.
Sounds great, right? But maybe you’re still a bit unsure on how to begin. To help you get started, I’ve put together a short, easy list of tips on how to tackle the world, city by city, on foot. Ready? Set? Let’s stroll, y’all!
For me, the key to any successful trip is traveling deliberately and with purpose. This goes double when taking on a city by foot. Make a plan! To help you decide on your next destination, grab a pen and paper and write down the answers to these questions:
1. Why do I want to visit this country/city/town?
2. What do I want to accomplish during my visit?
3. How many days or weeks will I need to accomplish my goals?
4. What is my all-in budget, including travel insurance?
Being realistic about your goals and your budget is absolutely critical. If you can’t answer these basic questions, there’s a good chance your trip will be a crushing disappointment (and, quite possibly, a financial nightmare). Successfully completing these questions will help you answer the Bigger Question: Which city/town/neighborhood should I base myself?
To help you narrow down your options, literally take out a map and begin circling all the sites within the city or region you want to visit. Notice the distance between your markings. Are a lot of your circles close together? If so, this might be a terrific indicator of the neighborhood that will be most suitable for you. Next, prioritize what’s important to you (food, safety, culture, shopping, nightlife, outdoor spaces and access to public transportation).
These are precisely the steps I took when planning my most recent trip to Mexico City in February.
Sweet and sleepy, Coyoacan is my favorite part of town. Known for its cobbled streets, colorful buildings and artisan markets, Coyoacan offers everything I need to make a city my own. Besides cozy cafes and bustling markets, one of the things I look for when searching for the perfect travel base is green space. With plenty of leafy parks, I can easily go for morning walks and afternoon picnics.
A bohemian oasis, you can blame Coyoacan’s popularity on Frida Kahlo. Casa Azul, the artist’s birthplace and long-time residence, is now a folk art-filled museum. A resplendent repository of her life both before marriage and after, Frida and her husband Diego Rivera (a renowned artist in his own right), lived on and off here during their tumultuous marriage. Opened in 1957, Casa Azul draws surprisingly long queues that can snake along the tree-lined blocks. (Pro tip: If you wish to visit, booking in advance is strongly recommended as tickets often sell out.)
And a stroll around Coyoacan is as delicious as it is delightful!
In short, don’t let fear get the better of you. It’s natural to be nervous when exploring unknown places. But, with a bit of planning and patience, you, too, can perfect the art of the stroll!