First Impressions on Mexico City Neighborhoods, Weather, Nightlife, and More
We were lost. Again. For the nth time today. There's no denying Mexico City neighborhoods are world-class, but got damn are they confusing.
Seriously, you've got to have one hell of a sense of a direction to walk around Condesa during the evening without getting lost.
There's seemingly no central planning here. The Aztecs made some cool pyramids, but they certainly didn't understand city planning and walkability.
In CDMX, there are roundabouts galore, diagonal streets, and these weird curving calles that change directions when they please. Just look:
Excuse my French, but that's a clusterfuck – if there ever was one.
While I spent more than a few nights stumbling around CDMX trying to figure out where I was and how to get home, don't let the negative tone deter you.
Mexico City is mad tight. Outside of the odd city planning, it's an amazing place.
From world-class neighborhoods to perfect weather and incredible cuisine – there's a lot to love about CDMX.
Seriously, I've met many an expat that's called Mexico City their newfound home for years on end and I completely understand why.
Mexico City offers the average digital expat:
- Amazing weather
- Great cuisine
- World-class neighborhoods
- It's damn safe
- Endless nightlife
- Too much stuff to do
- Neverending stream of people to meet
- Cheap flights around Mexico and international
- …And more!
Don't get me wrong CDMX isn't perfect. But there's many a reason why thousands of young expats call the capital of Mexico home.
First Impressions on Mexico City
Before I dive into my experiences in Mexico City, it must be noted that this city is just too big to get a grasp of in a few weeks.
Hell, you'd barely be able to put a finger on CDMX after a few months. The place is just massive.
As one of, if not the, largest city in Latin America (Source), Mexico City has nearly 23 million people in the metro area and dozens of dope Colonias – aka Mexico City neighborhoods.
Keeping that many people entertained means there's tourist attractions throughout the city, thousands of bars and clubs around every corner, and way too many amazing restaurants to try.
But, I'll do my best to break things down and give a rookie's perspective on Mexico City.
Mexico City Neighborhoods
In CDMX, you'll find amazing neighborhoods like:
- Roma Norte
All of these places are ideal for expats and travelers to stay for a few days or months. Condesa has been a hot spot for years and nearly every long-term traveler in Latin America has heard of it.
Personally, I stayed in Condesa and found it to be solid. But Roma Norte is better. Way better, wey.
If I come back to CDMX, which is likely, I'd definitely stay in Roma Norte. It's a little more walkable, better cafes, great nightlife, and certainly, an upscale area.
Curious which Mexico City neighborhood to stay in? Start your search in Roma Norte.
If budget is a concern, Colonia Juarez is close to Roma Norte and fairly safe. There are fewer foreigners in Juarez, too – which gives you a more Mexican experience.
Weather in Mexico City
Honestly, this one surprised me. After dealing with dreary days in Bogota, Colombia for months on end, my expectation for big city weather was low.
Mexico City weather far surpassed what I was expecting. In fact, the weather here is amazing. I'm talking sunny and 70s nearly every damn day. It's wonderful.
Waking up in the morning and walking down to the cafe for a cup of coffee as the sun radiates off my pasty, pale skin was a joy.
It rains a bit in CDMX. But outside of the few times it rained, which often occurs in the early evening, the weather was perfect.
Apparently, Mexico City has a rainy season from Mid-June until early October. But Mexico City weather was perfect during my time here.
If warm spring weather and sunny days are your jam, you'll dig the climate in CDMX.
Is Mexico City Safe?
Knock on wood, but I've been baffled by how safe Mexico City is. If you stay in the nicer Mexico City neighborhoods, I'd be quite surprised if you had issues here. This isn't Santa Fe in Bogota, y'all.
Can you stumble home drunk in the wee hours of the morning in Mexico City and stay safe? Yes.
Can you work from the cafe with your MacBook without fear of being jacked by some street hooligan? For sure.
And the most important citywide safety test of all…
Can western white women take and post selfies on Instagram without worry about their cellphone being stolen? In CDMX, that's a resounding hell yes!
Las gringas pueden tomar selfies cuando quieren. Todo el tiempo, wey.
I'm sure it gets grimey in certain areas of Mexico City, but most foreigners won't venture to these parts of town.
You'll be spending the majority of your time in Condesa, Roma Norte, and Polanco. All three Colonias are super safe. Point. Blank. Period.
Nightlife in Mexico City
Now, I won't say too much about Mexico City nightlife. I'm no expert here. But my buddy Vance certainly is.
But, I'm an observant dude. I enjoy a good night on the town and learned a few things. During my few forays into la rumba in CDMX, here's what I figured out:
- Small Clubs: The clubs and bars in Roma Norte and Condesa are small. Way too small for my tastes. Most spots I checked out had one, maybe two, main rooms where everyone congregated. The spots were fun, but none were big enough to spend a whole night.
- Too Packed: These small clubs also let everyone in. These spots got so packed that you could barely move. Seriously, one place I went should have had 200 or so people inside max. There had to be 400 people. If one more 5'6″ maricon tried to shoulder check me, I was fully prepared to cold clock him. And I'm no fighter, wey. Overall, it's hard to enjoy going out when you can barely move around or dance.
- Gringo Music: I want trap music and reggaeton while going out in Latin America. The spots I went to in Mexico City played way too much electronic music for my tastes. Lots of American pop and hip-hop, too. The gringo influence is strong throughout bars and clubs in Roma Norte and Condesa.
- Spread Out: I found a few Zona Rosa strips in CDMX, but most of the places seemed a bit spread out. If you wanted to club hop here, you'd end up walking miles on miles or taking a few Ubers.
- Entrance Fees: Club entrance isn't free in CDMX. We paid anywhere from $5-17 USD to get into clubs on the weekend. That's not cheap. And it adds up pretty quick when you're visiting 3-4 spots a night.
- Mad International: I met people from Venezuela, Austria, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, and many a gringo while partying in CDMX. Of course, the majority of the clientele is Mexican, too. But this is an international city. You'll meet people from all over the world here.
- English Spoken: Many people living in Condesa and Roma Norte speak some English. With so many foreigners around, speaking English is a valuable skill in these areas. Plus, many people learn English for business in CDMX. Spanish certainly helps, but it's not a necessity here.
Food and General Fat Assery
Outside of Peruvian food, there's no other cuisine in Latin American that comes close to Mexico food.
Seriously, the food in CDMX is amazing. There's authentic Mexican fare, organic restaurants, international spots, and everything in between.
If you're a foodie or simply a fat ass, you'll find the cuisine in Condesa and Roma Norte more than ideal.
I'm no foodie, but my taste buds were tingling throughout my trip here. The best part about eating your way through Mexico City is the never-ending supply of fine dining and unique eating experiences.
If you're looking for cheap but delicious Mexican fare in the Condesa area, make sure to check out El Tizoncito.
Things to Do in CDMX
Honestly, I've never been to a city with so many things to do. You should never be bored in Mexico City, especially if you enjoy historical landmarks and museums.
Some claim the city has over 150 museums, which would rank as the city with the second most museums in the world.
Plus, there's a variety of historical landmarks and archeological sites. Personally, I'm a fan of the unique ruins found in and around the city.
While I won't come close to covering this subject properly, I will make one recommendation:
- Visit Teotihuacan: This is an absolute MUST while in CDMX. About an hour outside the city, this old Aztec city is one of the best archeological sites in Mexico – and in the world!
Hay Mucha Gente, Wey
Got damn! It's almost impossible to comprehend how many people live in CDMX until you fly in.
As you sit in the airplane, the urban sprawl is mind-boggling. Houses upon houses spread for miles upon miles outside the city center. The city is almost never-ending.
Just think about it…
The CDMX metro area has around 23 million people. That's more than every state in the USA except California and Texas (Source). Mexico City has more people than the state of New York – not just NYC.
There are tons of people here. You'll meet new folks every single day. It's impossible not too. Plus, tourism is alive and well here. Many a digital nomad and perpetual traveler arrives each and every day.
Great International Airport
Mexico City is a great international airport. With easy flights from all over the states, this might be the easiest city for gringos to visit. It only took me five hours of travel time to get from Kansas City to Mexico City. That's quick!
Plus, you can hit all of Latin America from the CDMX airport. You'll find direct flights to countries all over the region. And many of them are cheap!
Lastly, flights within Mexico are dirt cheap from CDMX. My one-way flight to Mazatlan from Mexico City only cost $75 USD with baggage. Not bad.
If you want to explore Mexico, then CDMX is the ideal base. You'll be able to reach nearly every city in the country for under $250 roundtrip.
Personally, the airport in CDMX is one of the best parts of basing up here. For Latin America travel junkies, you have cheap access to so many solid spots.
No City is Perfect, Mate
Now, I may have made CDMX seem like paradise. It's solid, but it's not paradise. I like it here, but no city is perfect. Mexico City is no different. Here's a few downsides to CDMX living:
- Too Much Traffic: The traffic in Mexico City can be horrendous. You'll typically be stuck in the Colonia you're living in or nearby during the day, as traffic makes it difficult to move around the city – especially at rush hour. This should be expected in a city of 23 million.
- Impossible to Tackle in a Short Trip: CDMX is just too big to tackle in a short trip. You'd need 3-6 months to really put a finger on the heartbeat of this city. If you're coming to Mexico City for a month or two, focus on one or two neighborhoods to make things more manageable.
- Lots of Foreigners: This is an international city. In some ways, that's a great thing. In other ways, foreigners have overrun certain areas and made it hard to find authentic Mexican culture in the big city.
- Pollution is a Problem: Everyone I've met who lives in Mexico City says the same thing. They all claim to get sick in CDMX more than anywhere else in the world. Why? The pollution. With such bad traffic and so many people, pollution is a problem here (Source).
First Impressions on Mexico City Neighborhoods, Weather, Nightlife, and More
Overall, I'm impressed. CDMX has far exceeded my expectations.
Mexico City neighborhoods are dope. The weather here is incredible. La rumba bumps damn near every night. Oh, and don't forget about the Mexican food.
If you get bored in Mexico City, I'd surmise it you – not CDMX.