Ahh, springtime. The clocks have gone forward and cursed us all with one hour less of sleep, yet blessed us with longer days and balmier evenings…I honestly can’t say which I’d rather have.
While many consider this time of year to be the perfect season for lounging around in the burgeoning sunshine and enjoying the blossoming trees, others think it’s ideal season for travel (spring break, anyone?), as you miss the crowds looking for winter sun and skip the summer sun prices. This is of course complete bullshit if you want to go anywhere over the Easter holidays, when prices are hiked massively, but I digress.
Anyway, given that we’re now into April (how?!), the peak of Mexican springtime, I wanted to tell you exactly why this is the best time of the year to visit Mexico City, because honestly, the capital is just better in the spring!
WHY MEXICO CITY IS BETTER IN THE SPRING
The Weather is Better
If you’ve ever spent an extended period in Mexico, you know that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows all year round, especially in Mexico City. (I remember before I moved here, my sister eyed my suitcase suspiciously and asked why I was taking jumpers and jeans instead of shorts and sandals. This was before I reminded her that Mexico City doesn’t have the climate of a Cancún beach resort, despite what some tourist get-ups might lead you to believe.)
Anyway, while winter in Mexico City can feel a touch chilly, especially if you’ve acclimatised to a daily temperature of 20+ degrees, spring is the calm before the storm of the summertime rainy season in the capital. The days are longer, the weather is balmier and you no longer have to wear a jacket, which is a huge deal for a Brit like me. Even though you might bear witness to the occasional thunderstorm and downpour, they’re generally far less frequent and the cool winter mornings are a thing of the past. Still pack some jeans though.
The Jacarandas Come into Bloom
Even though Mexico City is a pretty green city all year round, thanks in no small part to the vast urban parks that dominate the centre and the trees that often line the sides of roads and neighbourhoods, spring is easily the most impressive time to visit if you want to see Mexico City in full bloom…literally. Jacarandas are by far and away the most iconic plant that dominates the capital, injecting life into a post-winter city with their gorgeous purple blossoms. Honestly, just search jacarandas on Instagram and you’ll find god knows how many photos of Mexico City (well, Mexico in general, to be honest).
The City is Emptier
There are typically some 26 million people in Mexico City, all piling on to the overcrowded and overworked public transport system and heading to the same attractions, day in day out. However, come spring (OK, I’m mainly talking about Easter here) and the city empties out. Locals spend the week at their homes in nearby Toluca, Cuernavaca or chilango beach favourite Acapulco, whereas the traveller’s passing through at this time of the year have the city to themselves. Yes, you could argue that the boost in tourism compensates for the number of locals that leave, but either way, you can get around the metro system faster and soak up a rare and blissful period of calm in Mexico City’s annual calendar.
The Celebrations are Bigger
If you happen to be in Mexico City for Easter (which you should totally aim to be, by the way), then you’ll find that the celebrations for this important Catholic holiday are nothing short of spectacular. If you’re not averse to crowds then you should try and head north to pay a visit to the iconic Basilica de Guadalupe, which is one of the only sights not affected by the mass departure of the locals.
Similarly, if you’re feeling brave, you can go to the south of Mexico City, to Iztapalapa, and witness one of the most peculiar and unique spectacles in the country – the recreation of The Passion of the Christ. While the neighbourhood itself ain’t the safest place to be, you might consider making an exception to catch this giant theatre performance, during which a local man takes on the role of Christ and drags a cross through the streets (all the while being whipped) to the Cerro de la Estrella before being crucified. Yes, crucified. (OK, not literally, but it’s still pretty jaw-dropping).
Teotihuacán’s Spring Equinox Celebrations are just a Bus Ride Away
OK, so this may have already passed for this year (it usually falls on March 20th or 21st) but the Spring Equinox is one of the best times to be in Mexico City, given that you’re a stone’s throw from the spectacular archaeological site of Teotihuacán. The most visited of all Mexico’s ruins, this location hosts an annual event at which hundreds of people dress in white and wear red scarfs before climbing to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun and stretching their arms to the heavens in celebration. I’ve never been myself, but I’m told it’s an unmissable (if packed) experience.
(If you have no idea what the Spring Equinox is, it’s basically one of the twice annual points at which the sun is positioned directly above the equator – the second is in autumn – and is a celebration generally associated with fertility and rebirth. For that reason, and given that many Mesoamerican cultures worshipped sun deities, it’s the ideal time to get yourself to one of the Mexican archaeological sites and witness the event for yourself.)
There you have it, all the reasons why Mexico City is better in the spring. However, if even after this excellent and informative post you still don’t think the best place to travel in spring is the Mexican capital, tell me why in the comments! (I may or may not try to prove you wrong).