Experience a tour that exposes you to the many social, political and cultural facets of Mexico City. You may want to see the main historical, artistic or cultural sites. You may want to walk the streets, visit different neighborhoods and get a sense of how common people live. Or perhaps you want both!
Personal, customized tours - Explore the city streets safely with guides who know and love the city. Each tour is private and unique, depending on your interests and needs.
Logistics - We can accompany you, help you get transport and lodging, or help you plan days that you will be on your own. Private tours are available 7 days a week.
Context - At the end of the day, our goal is that you come away with a deeper and more complex understanding of contemporary Mexico City.
Journeys Beyond the Surface is recommended in Lonely Planet's Guides to Mexico and Mexico City (from 2009), the National Geographic Traveler guide to Mexico (3rd Edition) and the New York Times travel section, among other places. We are also rated among the top Mexico City tours in TripAdvisor.
NEW!! Check out Journeys Beyond the Surface options in Oaxaca, too!
Neighborhoods to explore
Mexico City is huge – you already know that. But you may not know that this place we call "el deh-efe" (D.F., Distrito Federal), is a collection of neighborhoods, a network of communities. We tailor our tours to connect you to Mexico City, so that you learn not only about the culture and history, but about how life is lived here. See and feel how people construct and maintain convivial spaces, in myriads of unsuspected ways. We lend you our eyes so you can see Mexico City’s character as reflected in the street, in the food, as well as in the historical sites and artistic monuments.
Past and present co-exist in Mexico City. The city has been an urban center for over 500 years: it was the capital of the Aztec empire, and the central plaza of ancient México-Tenochtitlán is where the Zócalo (central plaza) is today. Looking at the Cathedral, built literally on top of the Aztec's Templo Mayor (Greatest Temple), one gets a feeling for the contradictions within the culture of Mexico.
The prehispanic culture and that of the Spanish conquerors have merged - with violence and also creativity - and both sides can be seen in Mexico City today. In addition to being the political and economic hub of the country, it is home to a vibrant street life, social movements of many kinds, important archeological and historical sites and a rich cultural scene. Although crime exists - like in any other major urban center in the world - those who come here marvel at the relative safety and friendliness of "el Distrito Federal".
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Journeys in OAXACA
The side bar offers brief descriptions of some options; see Journey Descriptions for a full list, or contact us to ask about your specific area of interest.
Find out who we are, and even if you aren't interested in contracting a journey with us you may find our Links page useful.
Pierre-Jean and Helene wanted to experience Día de Muertos in a personal way; they spent 2 nights with a low-income family; helped make tamales and set up the altar for the dead, visited the local cemetary and participated in all the normal Day of the Dead family activities. We took Matt and his teenage sons to an abandoned house occupied by a group of young artists. The boys got to know the artists and were able to paint some graffiti art of their own in the house, without fear of being arrested. Dani is a teacher and artist, after visiting the Historical Center we went to visit a community theater project in Tepito, where people from the community are taking small but amazing steps to work with young children, with no funding but lots of passion. Susan and her family just wanted to spend half a day visiting the historical sights, and half the day visiting food markets, street markets, and finally, the UNAM university campus. Alex, a young woman just out of high school, saved for a year to come to Mexico and asked us to help her explore cinematography schools here. Steve is a chef and together we visited various signature restaurants, talking to the chefs and taking a peek at their kitchens. And then there was Filip, for whom we arranged a magician at the dinner table, to pull out rabbit out of a hat, with a ring tied around its neck, to propose to his beloved Barbara. Each visitor, and each tour, is unique. That's why we love what we do!
Visitors often choose a mix of the following options for their journey:
- Principal tourist sights, like the Centro Histórico, Pyramids of Teotihuacán, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Coyoacán, Xochimilco ... and:
- Campus of the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM), a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Muralism, graffiti and street art
- Tianguis Cultural del Chopo: counterculture street market
- Markets and street markets, street food, street life
- Walking tours, in Centro Histórico and other parts of the city, to see the side that tourists don’t often see.
- Cooking tours, where you spend the day with a señora from a low-income community, go to the market together, cook in her home, and then share a meal.
Student or church groups generally include other aspects of Mexican reality in their itinerary. But these options are open to anyone interested. Some possible focus areas are:
- Art as a reflection of society
- The Catholic Church in Mexico
- Sexual and Reproductive Health
- Civil Initiatives for Social Justice