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The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is located just to the east of Mexico City, one of the world’s most populous and vibrant cities, so many fans jump at the chance to combine a trip to the race with the opportunity to explore the many delights of this particularly historic part of Latin America.
“There’s so much culture and a lot of spicy food,” says Force India’s Sergio Perez of his nation’s capital, which is situated at a lofty 2,200m above sea level and features an abundance of must-see tourist attractions, including ancient Aztec ruins, 17th century palaces and top-class museums.
Just as importantly, the city is home to many F1 fans, something which makes for an incredible atmosphere at the circuit. According to Perez, “they had to wait so long (for the race to return to the calendar) that they show a firework of enthusiasm!”
Did you know?
Originally built on a lake, experts say that some parts of Mexico City have sunk by as much as eight metres since the late 19th century as a result of decreasing ground water levels.
Most visitors arrive in Mexico City via Mexico City International Airport (also known as Benito Juarez International Airport), which is situated only 5km east of the downtown area and relatively close to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Once in the city you can move around by taxi (sitio registered taxis are probably the best option), take one of the red and white Metrobuses, or travel by private car. Whatever option you take, be prepared to get stuck in traffic - a staggering 3.5 million cars take to the streets of Mexico’s capital every day. Alternatively travellers can jump on the extensive metro system which is the cheapest of its kind in the world.
Mexican food is renowned throughout the world - the nation’s cuisine has even been recognised by UNESCO. As you might expect in such a vast and populous city, there are choices to suit every budget, though some of the best food is sold by the thousands of street and market vendors located on every corner. Of course there are good places and bad, but if you follow the crowds you won’t go far wrong. The choice of antojitos (“little cravings”) on offer is vast, from tacos toquesadillas, pambozos to tortas, carnitas to tamales, meaning whatever your taste, you won’t go hungry. But whilst the food in Mexico is legendary, be sure to stick to bottled water as the tap water is not safe for consumption. Also, if you eat in a restaurant, don’t forget to tip.
Where to go?
Mexico City is home to a wealth of cultural gems and places of interest, many of which can be found in the Centro Historico, including the enormous Plaza de la Constitucion (also known as the Zocalo), the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Palace of Fine Arts and Alameda Park. Those with a particularly keen interest in history would be well advised to pay a visit to Templo Mayor, one of the main temples in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan on which Mexico City is now built, whilst those wishing to hear some authentic Mexican music should head to Plaza Garibaldi, widely recognised as the home of mariachi. Elsewhere, Bosque de Chapultepec, the city’s largest park, is home to forests and lakes, as well as numerous other top attractions, including the National Museum of Anthropology and Chapultepec Castle.
Where to stay?
There are over 300 different neighbourhoods in Mexico City, each with its own individual charms, so in terms of places to stay there is plenty of variety. There are many reasonably priced hotels and guesthouses in the Centro Historico, while more luxurious lodgings - including some of the major international hotel chains - can be found in the Polanco and Zona Rosa areas. Running through the latter is the Paseo de la Reforma, a wide avenue that features several of the capital’s top nightspots and chic restaurants.
From sightseeing to shopping, there’s plenty to keep you busy in Mexico City - but Force India’s Sergio Perez suggests that visitors with more time on their hands should also explore further afield.
“I will recommend to my peers that they spend some time at the beaches,” he says. “If they ask for a ‘must-go’ beach then it would be Punta Mita in Puerto Vallarta (on Mexico’s lengthy Pacific coast). It’s the best place to have some days of sweet nothing.”
Closer to the city - and well worth a visit - is Teotihuacan, the site of many of the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids built in the pre-Columbian Americas, whilst a number of UNSECO world heritage cities, including Puebla, are within easy reach.
“For me,” explains Perez, “the best plan would be: come and see the race, then do a little culture and then relax at the beach!”
Av. Viaducto Rio de la Piedad S/N
08400 Ciudad de Mexico