Your Most Pressing Questions About Mexico City Answered

By Kathryn Walsh

It's all ancient history in Mexico City

Your Most Pressing Questions About Mexico City Answered

Want to walk the same ground where Aztec emperors once reigned while munching on fresh churros and enjoying the sounds of mariachi music? Mexico City is the place to do it. The sprawling city was literally built on top of history, and many of those ancient sites have been preserved for visitors to explore. But even if you're more focused on the future than the past, you'll find plenty to do in Mexico's capital city.

Q: What language is spoken in Mexico City?

A: Spanish is the language most widely spoken in Mexico City. However, Mexico has dozens of indigenous languages, so even Spanish speakers may not understand the native tongue of all Mexico City residents. Visitors who speak only English can get by in Mexico City, as many people – especially those working in the hospitality industry – speak English fluently.

Q: What is the Spanish name for Mexico City?

A: You may see Mexico City referred to in a few different ways while there. The literal translation is Ciudad de México, but many residents call it "Distrito Federal" (federal district), or "DF" for short.

Q: What is the weather in Mexico City?

A: Mexico City's high altitude means its climate is fairly mild. April and May are the hottest months, with average high temperatures close to 80 degrees F. Winter high temperatures are generally in the low 70s, and winters are dry in Mexico City, which is a sharp contrast to the city's rainy summers. The rainy season stretches into early fall. Even in summer, nights can be cool in Mexico City.

Q: Does it snow in Mexico City?

A: Some of the mountains surrounding Mexico City are high enough to get snow, but the city itself very rarely sees flakes fall in winter.

Q: What is Mexico City known for?

A: Perhaps the thing that Mexico City is most famous for is its long, rich history. The city was founded in 1521, making it one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities. Today it's known for its mix of modern and old architecture and for the vibrancy of its culture and arts scene.

Q: What is there to do in Mexico City?

A: Even if you have only a passing interest in history, you'll find tons to do in Mexico City. Visiting the Pyramid of the Sun requires traveling about 30 miles to San Juan Teotihuacan, but seeing this ancient pyramid is worth the trip. Chapultepec, an urban park, combines beautiful green space with historical landmarks. Mexico City also has several museums worth visiting, including the Frida Kahlo Museum, the National Palace and the Museum of Popular Art.

  • Built in A.D. 200, the Pyramid of the Sun was part of the ancient holy city of Teotihuacan. While there, you can also visit the Pyramid of the Moon, which is believed to have been completed around A.D. 250.
  • Chapultepec is more like a forested city than a park. It's home to nine museums, a zoo and an amusement park, and it's the oldest urban park in Latin America.
  • Also known as the Blue House, the Frida Kahlo Museum is in the building where the artist was born and died. Its mix of permanent collections and rotating exhibits celebrate the seminal Mexican painter.

Q: What is the Zócalo in Mexico City?

A: The Zócalo is the heart of Mexico City. It's a large central plaza located near the National Palace. One of the largest plazas in the world, its existence dates back to the beginning of Mexico City itself. In fact, it was a central gathering place for the Aztec people and continued to be a gathering place for the city's residents throughout its turbulent history. Some of Mexico City's most popular museums line the plaza, which is usually crowded with vendors and sightseers.

Q: What would you find at Garibaldi Plaza in Mexico City?

A: Garibaldi Plaza (or Plaza Garibaldi, as it's known locally) is located just about 1 mile northwest of the Zócalo. Like the Zócalo, it's a popular gathering place and is popular with tourists. The plaza is best known as the home base for mariachi musicians. All day, every day, mariachi bands roam the plaza. Some play, while others are there trying to get hired for jobs. In any case, you can hear some live music and, at the very least, admire the traditional suits that the mariachi musicians favor.

About the Author

Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.