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Mexico City: Day of the Dead

Duration
7 Days
Prices From:
US$ 2,278

No festival captures the beauty and complexity of Mexican culture like Dia de los Muertos - the Day of the Dead. This first-class, small group experience puts you at the centre of the festival in Mexico City. See the city’s best sights, and immerse yourself in this beautiful tradition.


This 7-day cultural getaway immerses you not just in the quintessentially Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos, but in all that’s great about Mexico City itself.

Your discoveries begin at three famous marketplaces, the traditional La Merced, the uncanny Mercado de Sonora, and the enormous flower market known simply as ‘Jamaica,’ where you’ll notice a particularly large number of Cempasuchitl flowers, ready for the Day of the Dead. Your next day begins at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Here, you can see its immense ofreinda, where people pay homage to the deceased. Afterwards, enjoy a boat ride in the beautiful Xochimilco district. This is also home to Mexico City’s floating gardens, and the eerie Island of the Dolls.

Ready to get into the ‘spirit’ of things? Become one of the dead in full ‘Catrina’ or ‘Catrin’ costume! Then visit the Dolores Olmedo Museum, and if you’re feeling brave, enter the costume contest before exploring the extensive art collection. You’ll see works by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, before visiting either the Frida Kahlo Museum or the El Carmen Museum, which houses contemporary Mexican art. In the evening, take a walking tour of Zocalo main square, home to the Metropolitan Cathedral, the National Palace, and the Aztec Templo Mayor. At your own expense, you’ll have the option of joining a night-time bus tour of Mexico City, specially reserved for passengers in costume.

The following day takes you to the Popular Art Museum, which preserves traditional Mexican crafts. Then take a guided walk through the historic centre, tasting Mexico City’s best street food as you go. Your last full included day takes you to Tlatelolco and Three Cultures Square, which enshrines Aztec, colonial, and modern day Mexico in its architecture. This site has survived several of the defining tragedies of Mexican history, and is an enduring testament to the country’s past. Visit the Basilica of Guadalupe, before trekking out to Teotihuacan to admire its awesome Aztec pyramids. A journey into the pre-Hispanic ‘underworld’ immerses you in an era of ancient Aztec gods and native legend.

Spend your final day exploring one of Mexico’s treasure troves, the Anthropology Museum, which holds probably the finest collection of Mesoamerican artefacts in the world, before it’s time to head to the airport for your return flight.


 

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Duration
7 Days
Prices From:
US$ 2,278

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Arrival Mexico City

On arrival into Mexico City International Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Duration6 Nights
Accommodation

Historico Central

More Info

Location View map
  • starstarstarstar

    Historico Central



    The stylish 4-star Historico Central Hotel provides airport transfer, housekeeping and porter service to ensure guests a comfortable stay. Historico Central Hotel was opened in 2015.

    The stylish 4-star Historico Central Hotel provides airport transfer, housekeeping and porter service to ensure guests a comfortable stay. Historico Central Hotel was opened in 2015.

    Facilities

    • Air Conditioning
    • Child Friendly
    • Fitness Centre
    • Free breakfast
    • Free WiFi
    • Laundry Service
    • Smoke Free Hotel
    • Spa

    More Details

Day 2

Mexico City

Today, you will be introduced to everyday life in this giant metropolis while visiting three markets offering different products and where busy crowds gather. Around the Day of the Dead, on November 2, the aisles fill with sugar skulls, chocolate coffins, papel picado (crepe paper cut into designs and hung like flags), representations of skeletons and other decorative items for a traditional altar dedicated to deceased loved ones. Halloween influence can be found as well in the form of witches, ghosts, Jack-o'-lanterns, etc.

Start with the enormous market of "La Merced", located in the eastern edge of the historic center. Traders from other parts of New Spain arrived here since the early colonial period and since then the area has been synonymous with commercial activity. In the first half of the 20th century, this market was the major wholesaler for the entire city until the Central de Abasto was opened in the 1980s, but La Merced remains the largest traditional retail market in the entire city.

You won't notice where the first market ends and when you cross the borders with the crowd into the "Mercado de Sonora", established in the 1950s and specializing in a variety of merchandise such as pottery, party items, live animals -- and the two which make it notable, herbal medicine and items related to the occult and magic (white and black), pre-Hispanic religious and magical traditions, and various others which demonstrate the syncretism of beliefs and practices that exist in the city.

The tour ends with a visit of the huge local flower market of "Jamaica", with dazzling colors and scents in the air. This traditional marketplace was opened in the 1950s and today consists on more than 1,000 stalls selling flowers of all kind. The Cempasuchitl Flower (the Mexican marigold flower) is a principal component of a Day of the Dead altar, their petals traditionally laid on the ground in order for the souls to find their way.

If you still feel like putting up with the crowd in the evening, share your shopping with local children happily trick-or-treating in public plazas, such as in Coyoacan city center, where you may also get some inspiration from fantastic costumes and lovely face paintings.

Late return to your hotel.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 3

Mexico City

After breakfast, head southwards to the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), proclaimed a cultural heritage site by the UNESCO. It was constructed in the fifties, but its foundation goes back to the 16th century. Every year around the Day of the Dead, a "mega-ofrenda" is set up in the university grounds (sometimes, the "ofrenda" is assembled in another public space, but this cannot be known until approx. 3 weeks in advance). The "ofrendas" are offerings to pay homage to the deceased, generally the main city "ofrenda" is dedicated to a famous and honorable Mexican.

Afterwards, enjoy a traditional boat ride in Xochimilco, Mexico City's Floating Gardens and a late lunch on board a typical "trajinera". This is where many Mexicans spend their Sundays and was where the Toltecs took refuge during the fall of Tula. From ancestral times, its inhabitants have dedicated themselves to agriculture. Between the canals of Xochimilco you can find a small and peculiar island: the Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls), with hundreds of terrifying dolls and their body parts hanging from trees.

Free time to stroll around, and in the evening, hop once more onto a "trajinera" - but this time to watch a theater play staged over water: the legend of "La Llorona", a mother mourning the loss of her children who forever wanders the channels of Xochimilco is a favorite Day of the Dead classic, which has been told throughout the centuries and has kept its essence to this day (the theater play is available in Spanish ONLY).

After the play, visit San Andres Mixquic, today a part of Mexico City but it still maintains a small-town atmosphere. This village is sleepy during the year, but tonight you'll find open doors and candlelit alters laid upon the houses of those who have lost loved ones and are celebrating the event. This authentic experience gives you a glimpse of the true meaning of the Day of the Dead festivity in Mexico, far from Halloween traditions and Hollywood creations.

Late return to your hotel.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Day 4

Mexico City

Today is the day where you become "one of the dead". In the morning, disguise yourself as "Catrinas" and "Catrins". Choose from rented costumes and accessories, and with the help of make-up artists, your face and whole outfit will be given a perfect finish -- ready for your participation in a costume contest!

At the Dolores Olmedo Museum - also located in Xochimilco - a "Catrina" costume contest is held every year. Crowds of people arrive here to see and vote for the prettiest and most spectacular Day of the Dead outfit: today, death does not cause fear, but instead admiration and astonishment.

The Dolores Olmedo Museum (closed on Mondays) is housed in a rambling stone structure, originally dating from the 16th century and formerly known as the Hacienda La Noria. By donating her art collection to the people of Mexico, Dolores Olmedo Patiño (1908-2002) created a sanctuary, where treasures of the fine arts were incorporated into colonial constructions added during the 17th century. Lush gardens with singularly Mexican plant species surround its buildings, inhabited by gorgeous animals like the magical peacocks - seemingly confected of living jewels--and the enigmatic hairless Xoloiztcuintle dogs, a Precolumbian breed that is unique to behold and warm to the touch. The world's most important collection of works by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are housed here permanently and can be admired by the legions of visitors.

Depending on what time the contest ends, you may choose which museum to visit next:

The Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan, also known as "Casa Azul" (The Blue House - closed on Mondays), was the place where Frida Kahlo, the most renowned Latin American artist, came into this world, lived, and took her last breath. The interior of the house has been maintained virtually intact, this was respected by the poet and the couple's friend, Carlos Pellicer, who designed the museum display for the space after Frida's death. Therefore, the house and its contents preserve that intimate atmosphere.

Or drive to San Angel to visit the El Carmen Museum (closed on Mondays) within the former convent and school of El Carmen, one of the few buildings in Mexico City that dates from the 17th century. The museum contains chapels, altarpieces, reliquaries, crypts, mummies, sculptures and religious paintings. Temporary exhibitions of contemporary artists are installed in the corridors of this museum, and workshops, seminars, theatre, dance, as well as other cultural and artistic activities are offered. One of the major attractions in this museum are the mummified bodies of the Carmelites and benefactors of the former convent and school of El Carmen.

Return to your hotel and in the evening, walking tour of the Zocalo (Main Square), surrounded by beautiful Baroque buildings like the Metropolitan Cathedral, the largest in Mexico and an impressive example of colonial architecture in Latin America, built over the remains of the biggest Aztec temple; the National Palace, headquarter of the Presidency of Mexico; and the Templo Mayor, the great temple of the Aztec capital.

It is from here that a tourist bus tour of Mexico City's highlights departs - NOT INCLUDED IN THE TRIP PRICE - (around the Day of the Dead, the night bus tours are especially for costumed passengers): See "La Alameda" park and the Palace of the Fine Arts, building of the Italian architect Adamo Boari; drive along Reforma Avenue, the "Champs-Elysees" of Mexico, constructed by Emperor Maximilian, and where most of the important monuments of the city are located, such as the nearby Revolution Monument, the Christopher Columbus Statue and the "Angel de la Independencia" (Independence Statue).

Return to your hotel.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 5

Mexico City

In the morning, visit the Popular Art Museum, a museum in Mexico City that promotes and preserves part of the Mexican handcrafts and folk art. Located in the historic center of Mexico City in an old fire house, the museum has a collection which includes textiles, pottery, glass, pinatas, "alebrijes" (fantastical colorful creatures, generally made of wood), furniture and much more.

At noon, start an extraordinary walking tour through Mexico City's historical center while discovering the country's reputed cuisine in several surprising and exotic food stops. A gastronomic adventure through the traditional flavors of Mexico awaits you: from pre-Hispanic food to contemporary culinary dishes. Explore a typical Mexican market with a peculiar selection, drink in a typical cantina and be delighted with street food, among others!

In the evening, time at leisure to visit several of numerous "pulquerias", "antros" or "cantinas" Mexico City has to offer (at your own cost - NOT included in tour price).

Day 6

Mexico City

Visit Tlatelolco and the Three Cultures Square, where the main historical periods of Mexico are represented: surrounding the square is an excavated Aztec site, the seventeenth-century church of Santiago, the modern office complex formerly of the Mexican Foreign Ministry and today Cultural Center of the UNAM and the Conjunto Urbano Nonoalco Tlatelolco, the largest apartment complex in Mexico and second largest in America, built in the 1960s by architect Mario Pani.

The area has also been the center of dramatic history throughout the centuries: The fall of Tlatelolco marked the end of the most important Mesoamerican Empire; the mass-shooting of students in 1968 on the great plaza and the devastating earthquake that shook Mexico City in 1985 and hit this residential district the hardest.

Drive to the Basilica of Guadalupe, the most important sanctuary of Mexico. Every year on December 12th, hundreds of thousands of Catholics get together in pilgrimage to worship the Virgin.

Continue towards Teotihuacan ("Place of the Gods"), approximately one-hour drive and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant where you have the opportunity to learn how to make hand-made tortillas and the tasty Guacamole sauce. Afterwards, visit the archaeological site where the Teotihuacan culture settled. Admire the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Pyramid of the Sun, the temple of Quetzal-Papalotl and the Pyramid of the Moon - from this spot the Road of Dead is seen in all its splendor.

In the late afternoon, head towards an underground cave, where a shaman awaits you to lead you into the pre-Hispanic "underworld". A group of actors with ritual body-painting and an English-speaking story-teller will take you back in time and tell the legend about how the ancient Gods created the sun and the moon, the day and the night, and the duality that plays a great role in the old history of Central Mexico.

After this unforgettable experience, return to your hotel in Mexico City.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Day 7

Onward travels

In the morning, visit the Anthropology Museum, the biggest in Mexico (closed on Mondays). The building is one of the most beautiful examples of the Mexican contemporary architecture. Visit the rooms of Mesoamerica, where the origins of the civilizations of old Mexico are shown; the Teotihuacan room; the Aztec room, where there are some of the most representative pieces of the culture that settled down in the lake of Texcoco, the place where Mexico City was built on; the Olmec room, considered the mother culture; and the Mayan room, dedicated to the civilization that developed in Southeastern Mexico and part of Central America, and whose greatness has been recognized by specialists worldwide, because of its advanced knowledge in architecture, astronomy, mathematics, philosophy and art.

After your visit, transfer to Mexico City international airport for your homebound flight.

Other Information

DEPARTURES:

2019: Oct 30

PRICE INCLUDES:

  • 6 nights' accommodation
  • American breakfast daily + 2 lunches + Food Tour Mexico City
  • Taxes and service on included meals
  • Private transportation with air conditioning and sound system
  • English-speaking local guide
  • Luggage handling at hotels and airports

PRICE EXCLUDES:

  • Travel insurance
  • International and domestic airfare & airfare taxes
  • Visa fees if applicable
  • Meals and beverages not mentioned
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please inquire.

TB VIAJESMMEX0219SG: DDM
30 Oct 2019
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