Most of all, I was surprised at how beautiful the city setting is — gleaming skyscrapers surrounded by green mountains.
The red Faro del Comercio is the city’s landmark, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the city’s Chamber of Commerce.
You can visit an excellent old iron works factory.
For “randomly scattered bizarre but interesting sculptures” I give Monterrey an A+. It is also the best location in Mexico for modernist architecture, as the landmark items in Mexico City are too scattered. Excellent for brutalist buildings as well. If you are interested in architecture, Monterrey is a must.
The city’s PPP_adjusted gdp per capita is over 35k, which alone makes it one of the most interesting parts of Mexico. It also seemed well within acceptable safety margins, just don’t drive the road up to Nuevo Laredo.
My two best meals were at Koli Cucina de Origin (fixed price menu only) and Cara de Vaca (get the green chile tacos). Overall the city is not top notch for “comida popular,” so go to the mainstream good restaurants.
It is one of the least walkable cities. Everything is spread out, and the most interesting parts are not typically compact neighborhoods. There are often highways to cross.
A mere hour away is Saltillo, home of serrapes and capital city of the state of Coahuila. The outskirts serve up a lot of American fast food, the city center is sleepy and feels like the 1950s. More generally, there is lots of “horse country” surrounding Monterrey and Saltillo. It is not uncommon to see cowboy hat and boots.
Not many people visit Monterrey for tourism, but I was very happy to have spent six days there and was never bored. It should be considered an essential part of one’s “Mexico education.”