About half a million business travelers arrive in Mexico City every year. Though the national tourism board lumps them in with tourists of every other caliber, traveling for business presents entirely different challenges — and opportunities.
As one of the most important business destinations in Latin America, folks come for trade shows, conventions and all kinds of meetings. But all those meetings and styrofoam coffees can wear out even seasoned travelers. That’s where Mexico City really shines. For magnificent food, museums, organized tours and just things to see and do, there really is no other place like it.
Here’s your quick guide to getting more out of your business trip to Mexico City.
Though lots of business trips will take you to far-flung areas of the city – or even to Santa Fe (gulp) – it’s important to spend an afternoon or an evening walking the Centro Histórico. The Zocalo is always a lot to take in. But go for the Palacio de Bellas Artes and many of the side streets in between. The National Museum of Art is in there, but so are dozens of shops, eateries, and markets . While there is no shortage of things to see and do, the city’s center is one of the most walkable and enjoyable places to do a lot of them
Approximate time: 4 hours.
No matter where your business takes you, check our Restaurant Listings. We cover everything from street food to the truly overpriced, and there’s a lot that’s good in between. Of course, there is chocolate, and Churros, but try the pulque too. There’s no shortage of upscale mezcal among the late night haunts. And if that’s not enough, you can probably still make it to tomorrow morning’s meeting with a story or two.
Approximate time: 2 hours and a half.
No one else in Latin America has taken to the double-decker tourist bus like Mexico City has. While many of the tour buses still follow established routes, Turibus has branched out into selling focused, “themed” tours that cover just a few specific things on travelers’ agendas, while providing info and transportation. Themed tours include the Palaces of the City, cantinas, museums, lucha libre wrestling, fine dining, the Six Flags theme park, night time tours and nightlife, football and even one dedicated just to mezcal.
Approximate time: From 2 to 4 hours.
Most of the best museums in the city now stay open at least one night per month. This let’s business people and business travelers take in a little more culture even with all that business. Like most of the museums, activities are centered around the center of the city, but you will find some of the more distant museums participating too. Among those who’ve participated in the past are the Museum of Antique Toys (Museo de Juguete Antiguo Mexicano), The Women’s Museum, the Postal Palace, the Center of the Image, the Academy of San Carlos and the Diego Rivera Mural Museum.
Approximate time: 3 hours.
Of course, everyone back home needs a gift. While there are a number of very prominent shopping districts in the city: among them Masaryk street in Polanco, Roma-Condesa and Santa Fe, don’t miss the Ciudadela handcrafts market where prices are always super low, and many of the city’s public markets will also provide similar goods.
Start with Paseo de la Reforma, one of the most prominent business districts in the city. It’s home to the new Torre Reforma, one of Latin America’s greenest new skyscrapers. But beyond just tall, Mexico City is loaded with the wildly experimental, the historical, and the prehispanic. Seeing a lot of it easy. Understanding a little more takes some work. But for mild enthusiasts and wild-eyed fanatics alike, there’s always something worth seeing, and learning a little makes it all more fun.
Approximate time: 4 hours.
Mexico City is vibrant, vast and very important. Not just in terms of the space it occupies and the stone and brick from it’s made from, but Mexico City greeted more than 30 million visitors last year. That’s more than it’s entire metro-population (though not by much). Let’s look at why they came.
Last year, at about this time, The New York Times had named the city the number one travel destination for 2016. Tourism searches on Google showed Mexico City as not just a Latin American Favorite, but in the top five tourist searches in the world. And of course, people have been asking for the last several years if it wasn’t the Next Paris, or the Next New York or the Next SOMETHING.
The City government set itself to the task of figuring out just why people love coming here. These are the top 15 reasons they came up with, and ultimately they’re the reasons that Mexico City is Latin America’s favorite, and maybe your favorite too!
1) 185 museums, nine archaeological sites and four World Heritage sites? The cultural scene is enormous, rich and varied. There’s something for every kind of cultural traveler.
2) Fairs, festivals, conventions, meetings and extravaganzas cover music, food, movies, books, and trade in every kind of human activity, down to the annual clown convention.
3) Blockbuster events? Last year saw a Formula 1 race, an NFL game or two, the Tour de France, and a free Roger Waters concert in the city center.
4) Chosen for the sixth world C40 Mayors Summit in November of 2016, Mexico City is widely perceived as a world leader in combatting climate change.
5) The Metrobús system, originally based on one running in Bogota, Colombia, is now the biggest in Latin America. Stretching some 125 kms today, in 2017 no less than 90 Alexander Dennis Enviro500 double-decker buses will begin plying the length of Paseo de la Reforma, as Metrobus Line 7 officially opens.
6. The tourist program Sonrisas por tu ciudad, literally “Smiles for your city,” organized by the Secretary for Tourism, has benefited more than 200,000 people.
7. Mexico City’s Central de Abasto (pictured below), after more than 30 years sells 30,000 tons of merchandise (mostly food) and sells to about 30,000 people every day. It’s the largest shopping area in the world.
8. Mexico City was the first Latin American city to join the Rainbow Cities Network, which coordinates city-level actions to protect LGBTI citizens and residents.
9. Mexico City was chosen as the World Capital of Design for 2018, by the World Design Organization.
10. The Centro Histórico is the largest historical city center in Latin America, with 1,500 buildings designated as having historical, cultural, artistic or architectural value. That’s more than most tour guides can handle, but it’s also home the continent’s biggest Metropolitan Cathedral.
11. Mexico City’s first ever Day of the Dead parade was celebrated by more than 250,000 marchers, band members, onlookers and, yes, zombies.
12. The city’s El Médico en tu Casa program puts a “Doctor in Your Home.” It’s already recognized in America, Asia, and Europe, for bringing health services closer to people who can’t easily visit hospitals or clinics.
13. Mexico City also began the first Specialized Center for the Management of Diabetes anywhere in Latin America.
14. The Ecobici system (pictured below) is the biggest public bike system in Latin America, with 452 cycle stations and about 35 million trips made by 200,ooo riders every year.
15. And finally, the good old underground Metro network is the biggest in Latin America, too. With 12 lines 226 km in total length, about 5 million people ride it every day.
Source: CDMX government, with information from International CDMX and the 4th Governmental Report CDMX, 2016.
Casa Madero may have been the first winery in the Americas, founded way back in 1597, and way up in Coahuila. But Mexico’s predominant “beer culture” has always given wine producers something of a long shadow to grow up in. Aguascalientes, Querétaro, Guanajuato, Zacatecas and Chihuahua all produce respectable wines, but it’s been the environs of Ensenada (the Guadalupe Valley, the Santo Tomas Valley, and the Ojos Negros Valley) that have really busted the Mexican wine scene out onto international lists of “respectability.” Some parts Coahuila (the Valley Of Parras, and Cuatro Ciénagas in particular) still hold their own – but most wine enthusiasts agree, Baja’s got the wine to beat.
Mexico exports wine around the world. According to the Mexican Wine Council, about 400 brands of wine are currently being produced in the country, and these increasingly appear on the international lists as being wines to watch (and to taste). But those lists aren’t everything. Even the most sophisticated drinkers know today that plenty is coming each year from Mexican wineries that’s worth taking note of.
Yes, you can still find plenty of good Mexican vintages mixed in with the international offerings on the shelves at Liverpool. But the wine shops below are pretty active at pushing good wines, from Mexico, onto more Mexican tables.
Vinoteca has three locations in and around the city and carries a wide range of Mexican wines, and still more around the country. They do a fair internet trade in wines too, but stopping in lets you pick the brains of their knowledgeable staff.
La Contra, also with shops all over the country, is one of the city’s leading advocates for the Mexican wine industry. With a capital location in Roma, it’s an easy and relaxed place to pick up recommendations, or indeed, to sample some of the best bottles coming in.
Address: Álvaro Obregón 130, local # 10, Colonia Roma Norte
Telephone: 5564 0966
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Á de Acento offers a very well-regarded restaurant, but the gourmet shop offers plenty that’s pure Mexican and well worth a bottle or two. In fact, prices are very reasonable, but there’s also usually something special hidden away in the shelves that inquiring customers will be very pleased to find.
Another in the list of combo restaurant and gourmet shops, Amaya has made a big splash with their list of “vinos raros.” Far from weird, many of them are fabulous. They’re also generally available in the shop, no reservation necessary and many of the best are, in fact, domestically produced!
Don’t expect friendly service. La Europea is still trying to figure out in which decade they’re doing business. But for all the wood-boxed bacalao these people sling during the holidays, they’ve always got a ton of good wine, too. With a good number of branches in and around the city, calling them one of the best wine shops in Mexico might be a stretch, but they do a lot of business, and for that, they always offer a ton of good Mexican wines too.
Si Mon is run by the chefs at Broka Bistrot, practically next door. And the emphasis is on local, good, and even inspiring wines. One of the best things about shopping at a wine bar is after all, that there is usually a bottle open. And for that, including Si Mon in a list of the best wine shops is practically a given.
Main Photo Above: Aborigen Valle Seco, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Courtesy of La Contra