It is inevitable that first-time visitors to Mexico City arrive with plenty of preconceptions about what they are likely to find. The largest city in the western hemisphere is also considered by some to be dangerous, polluted and impossible to get around due to the traffic problems created by so many millions of cars.

Yet to visit Mexico City is to experience a city that is bound to surprise. From the lively pedestrianised Francisco Madero street that cuts through from the Zocalo (central square) to the Palace of Fine Arts to the grand churches on almost every block; from the upmarket streets of Coyoacan to the Catholic shrine of Guadalupe. The city’s buildings show almost 500 years of history and its ruins and excavations many hundreds more.

The city centre has enough to keep a visitor busy for several days. Allow a couple more for visits to its many suburbs, while it would be a mistake to leave Mexico without taking a day trip out to the ancient site of Teotihuacan.

The pictures below provide a mere snapshot of Mexico City. It is a complex city and one that warrants several days to get even a brief insight into its many layers. We spent three days in the city and barely scratched its surface. On the positive side, we’ve left plenty more to explore on a future visit.

Palacio del Bellas Artes – one of Mexico City’s most prominent landmarks
Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral – the leaning walls evidence that the city is slowly sinking

Grand buildings on every corner in the centre of the city

Perhaps no building is more impressive that the Central Post Office

If you watch the film ‘Frida’ before your visit you’ll want to visit her house in Coyoacan

The shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is very busy with Catholic pilgrims

Visit the ancient site of Teotihuacan just north of the city

Teotihuacan was the largest city in pre-Colombian America

Check out our Mexico City page for more ideas about visiting the city and including it in a Mexico holiday.

Words and images by Andy Jarosz