11 Unmissable Things To Do In Mexico City
When planning a vacation to Mexico, most people prefer to stick to the utopia of the coastline destinations. However, we’re here to persuade you to visit the biggest Spanish-speaking city in the world. There is no shortage of great things to do in Mexico City, but these are some of our favorites...
The Historic Center
When Spanish conquerors arrived in the Valley of Mexico in the 16th Century, they destroyed the island city empire. Then, built here by the Aztecs and built a 10-acre ‘city of palaces’ in its place, now known as the Historic Center of Mexico City.
The city’s central square: Plaza de la Constitución or Zócalo, is home to the impressive Metropolitan Cathedral, it incorporates various architectural styles from over the 200 years it took to build it. Also, the Palacio Nacional- the city’s main government building which houses the offices of the President. This place is a must and it is considered by many, one of the best things to do in Mexico City.
Paseo de la Reforma
From the Plaza de la Constitución, take a stroll down Paseo de la Reforma to see the Angel of Independence, a column topped with a bronze statue of the Greek goddess Victory.
If you’re an engaged couple its worth stopping here – locals believe that visiting before your wedding will bring you good luck!
Mexico City Food Tour
Go on a ‘gastronomic adventure’ with a Food Tasting Walking Tour through the Historic Center of Mexico City.
There are plenty of routes guided by local, experienced guides that will lead you on an authentic exploration of Mexican flavors, from the ancient and traditional, to the modern and playful. Some of the food stops, includie a classic cantina, a delicious seafood spot, and a visit to traditional candy stores in Mexico!
This is surely one of the best things to do in Mexico City- diving into the culture of the place, and fill your belly on the way!
The Floating Gardens of Xochimilco
Mexico’s answer to Venice;This vast canal network is entangled in agricultural island plots which rise out of the water to give the impression of ‘floating’. Enjoy snacks and drinks as you ride on a colourful, flat-bottomed trajinera boat, and listen to the traditional mariachi music which is played throughout the gardens.
Xochimilco, or ‘where the flowers grow’, is not only known for its undeniable beauty; it also has a spooky quality which cannot be missed.
The Island of the Dolls
Visit the eerie Isla de las Muñecas, an homage to a young drowned girl started by a local man, who bedecked the island with dolls in her memory.
Rumor has it that the gardens are also home to a variety of mythological nuagales or ‘shapeshifters’. Including also the infamous and ghostly ‘weeping woman’, La Llorona. This characcter has reportedly haunted these striking gardens since her children drowned in the canals there.
Home to one of the most powerful Aztec civilizations in Mesoamerica, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is not to be missed. As you walk down the Avenue of the Dead, see incredible structures such as the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, and the Palace of the Plumed Butterfly.
You’ll want to spend a few hours here exploring the sprawling site – the structures are so breathtaking that some people believe this site was built by aliens!
We suggest you to take a private, early morning tour of Teotihuacán with an archeologist guide to get some good photos before the crowds arrive. Or if you’d prefer to see the pyramids from a more unorthodox view, take a hot air baloon ride over the site instead!
Originally a retreat for the Aztec rulers, the Bosque de Chapultepec is a parkland more than double the size of New York’s Central Park! Spanning 1,695 acres (and yes, that is a CASTLE in the middle of the park, Chapultepec Castle to be exact!).
Take a walk around the botanical gardens or the enormous lakes and pay a visit to some of the famous landmarks that reside within the park.
The astounding Chapultepec castle ‘on the grasshopper’s hill’, which was a sacred place for the Aztecs. It offers views of the surrounding area which historian John F Elton said cannot “be surpassed in beauty in any part of the world”.
National Museum of Anthropology
Don’t miss the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, the largest and most visited museum in the entire country, with a standard admission costing less than $5 USD!
For sure, one of the things to do in Mexico City that should not to be missed.
Its numerous outdoor exhibits make the most of the natural parkland, and it is home to important Pre-Columbian artefacts such as the Aztec Calendar Stone, or ‘the stone of the sun’.
Six Flags Mexico
Located in the Tlalpan Forest to the south of the city, this is a fantastic family day out. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie seeking the most thrilling roller coasters, or you just want to sit back and enjoy the live performances on offer throughout the day, Six Flags has it all.
Visit their website to check out their discounted tickets and deals before you go!
Don’t forget to take home a family portrait of you all on their Boomerang roller coaster: if you can brave it, you’ll want to remember the look on your faces!
Located on the Western side of the city, Museo Soumaya is named after the late wife of museum founder Carlos Slim, and offers free admission 365 days a year.
Take a look inside and discover a huge and comprehensive collection of art .Approximately 66,000 pieces - ranging from Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican sculptures to modern Mexican art, as well as an extensive assortment of European painters, including Auguste Rodin and Salvador Dalí.
This non-profit cultural centre consists of Plazo Carso and Plaza Loreto- two museum buildings that are almost as impressive to look at as the art that resides in them.
We recommend taking the elevator to the top floor and then slowly working your way down through the floors via the immense spiral staircase.
The Frida Kahlo Museum
Head over to the heart of Colonia del Carmen in the Coyoacan district to see La Casa Azul, where renowned Mexican artist and feminist icon Frida Kahlo was born.
She continued to live in ‘The Blue House’ throughout both her childhood and adulthood. She shared it with husband and fellow artist Diego Rivera, and eventually died there in 1954.
Since then, La Casa Azul has been transformed into a historic house and art museum commemorating Kahlo’s life and great works. It contains art by both Kahlo, her husband, and other local Mexican artists.Also photographs, memorabilia and personal items that belonged to the couple, the majority of which have been left as they were since the 1950’s.
You’ll easily spot the cobalt-blue walls of the museum – enter through the stone mosaic hallway and explore the house and the deeply personal, surrealist art inside, built around a picturesque central courtyard.
A standard admission is less than $15 USD, although we suggest booking in advance as La Casa Azul can be a popular attraction.
Home to the majority of Mexico City’s aristocracy. This funky hipster district is one of our favorite areas of the city, embodying a distinctly European vibe.
If you have the time, dedicate an entire day of your vacation to Roma Norte – you won’t regret it. Begin with Street Art Tour, a 3-hour adventure through the colorful murals and paintings that adorn the streets of the district. Jam-packed with excellent photo ops in front of the vivid art pieces, your guide will also supply you with information about local artists and pieces, and the often political background behind the finished products.
Following the tour, grab a light lunch at Los Loosers, a pleasantly surprising vegan option amid the meat-loving Mexico City. Their Mexican-Japanese fusion menu is truly mouthwatering, but our favorite is the veggie tempura burger – hearty and satisfying.
Head into the similarly funky Condesa district which neighbors Roma. Stroll around the lush green promenades of Parque Mexico and sunbath by the Fuente de los Cántaros, before finishing your day in one of the many delicious eateries in the Roma-Condesa area.
Our personal favorite is La Docena for tiger prawns with chipotle aioli and grilled octopus – and don’t miss El Moro on the way back home for cinnamon-dusted churros.
Palace of Fine Arts
This Palacio de Bellas Artes towers above the surrounding buildings. An outstanding architectural feat of white marble, sculpted in Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco styles.
Murals by celebrated Mexican artists such as Rufino Tamayo and Diego Rivera feature heavily throughout the building. Not just an art museum, the palace plays host to a variety of cultural events, including exhibitions about poetry, painting, sculpture, literature, music and photography.
The Bellas Artes Theatre has a breathtaking stained-glass curtain created by Tiffany & Co from a million pieces of colored glass. Stage for theatrical performances like the twice-weekly Mexican Folklore Ballet, and the seasonal opera and symphony.
Visit their website for standard admission tickets that allow you to skip the queues, and see more information on their exhibition and performance schedule.
If you want to escape the city for a day, head over to Iztaccíhuatl, one of the highest volcanoes in Central America.
This tour will pick you up from one of two meeting points inside the city and whisk you away into the foothills of Popocatépetl. You'll be able to hike with a certified bilingual mountaineering guide.
Your personal fitness and ability will determine how far you climb, but regardless of where you want to reach, the entire hike provides unbelievable panoramas across the Valley of Mexico.
Return to the foothills for a light, refueling meal to conclude your rejuvenating journey.
While it may be far from the serene oasis of Mexico’s beaches, Mexico City is its own paradise, and it can pleasantly surprise you with its abundance of things to do and see.
We hope we have tempted you to explore the idea of a vacation there – it really is an unexpected gem. For more travel tips, visit our blog.
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