Mexico City, the sprawling capital of Mexico, is a vibrant metropolis steeped in history, art, and culture. For those pondering things to do in Mexico City, visit the Zócalo, one of the largest city squares in the world surrounded by historic buildings like the Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace, and explore the ancient ruins of Templo Mayor, a testament to the city’s Aztec past, are top activities.
The city’s Palacio de Bellas Artes, an architectural masterpiece, hosts many cultural events and showcases murals by renowned artists like Diego Rivera. Nearby, Chapultepec Park, one of the largest city parks globally, offers a blend of green spaces, lakes, and cultural institutions like the National Museum of Anthropology.
Beyond its historical and cultural landmarks, Mexico City boasts a dynamic culinary scene, from bustling street food stalls to gourmet restaurants. Mexico City’s blend of ancient traditions, contemporary arts, and cosmopolitan flair make it a must-visit destination for those seeking the best places to visit in Mexico.
Table of Contents
Attractions & Things to Do in Mexico City, Mexico
1. Palacio de Bellas Artes
The Palacio de Bellas Artes is an iconic cultural center in Mexico City, renowned for its stunning architecture that merges Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. Visitors can enjoy opera, theatre, ballet, and other performances inside or explore its extensive fine arts museum featuring works from famous Mexican artists.
Travel Tip: Be sure to check the Ballet Folklórico de México schedule – it offers a vibrant showcase of traditional Mexican dances and music.
2. The Zócalo (Plaza de la Constitución)
At the heart of Mexico City lies the Zócalo, one of the largest city squares in the world. This plaza has been the epicenter of Mexican history for centuries, flanked by the grand Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace.
Travel Tip: Visit in the evening when the square comes alive with street performers, vendors, and local families enjoying the atmosphere.
3. Templo Mayor
The Templo Mayor was once the main temple of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Today, it stands as a powerful reminder of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic history, showcasing the remains of this great temple and an impressive museum.
Travel Tip: Hire a local guide at the entrance to get a deeper insight into the history and significance of the ruins.
4. Chapultepec Castle
Perched atop Chapultepec Hill, this castle boasts panoramic city views and lush surrounding gardens. Once a home for Mexican rulers, the castle now houses the National Museum of History, chronicling Mexico’s past from pre-Hispanic times to the present.
Travel Tip: Visit on a weekday morning to avoid large crowds and take the time to wander through the surrounding Chapultepec Park.
5. Frida Kahlo Museum (Casa Azul)
Nestled in the charming neighborhood of Coyoacán, Casa Azul, or the Blue House, was the birthplace and residence of the famed artist Frida Kahlo. The museum offers a personal look into her life, showcasing her artworks, personal items, and vibrant gardens.
Travel Tip: Tickets often sell out quickly, especially on weekends. It’s advisable to book in advance online.
6. Mercado de San Juan
The Mercado de San Juan is a must-visit for those looking to dive into Mexico’s rich culinary heritage. This gourmet market offers a variety of exotic ingredients, traditional delicacies, and fresh produce.
Travel Tip: Go on an empty stomach and be adventurous – from local cheeses to insects, there are many flavors to explore.
7. Xochimilco Canals
Known as the Venice of Mexico, the canals of Xochimilco offer colorful boat rides on traditional “trajineras.” It’s a lively atmosphere, often accompanied by mariachi bands, vendors, and floating gardens.
Travel Tip: Weekends can be crowded and festive, while weekdays offer a more tranquil experience. Don’t forget to negotiate the boat price before boarding.
8. Museo Nacional de Antropología
Regarded as one of the world’s most comprehensive natural history museums, this establishment showcases Mexico’s diverse indigenous cultures and histories. There’s much to discover, from the Sun Stone to intricate Mayan artifacts.
Travel Tip: Wear comfortable shoes. With 23 permanent exhibit halls, you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
9. Teotihuacan Pyramids
Located just outside Mexico City, the ancient city of Teotihuacan is home to the magnificent Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. The city’s ruins provide insights into the rituals, daily life, and architectural prowess of its inhabitants from over a millennium ago.
Travel Tip: Arrive early to beat the heat and the crowds. Climbing the Pyramid of the Sun is a must-do, but remember to stay hydrated.
10. Palacio Nacional
Situated on the east side of the Zócalo, the Palacio Nacional serves as a government building and a historical monument. Inside, you’ll find beautiful courtyards and walls adorned with Diego Rivera murals detailing Mexico’s rich history.
Travel Tip: Bring a valid ID to enter. Also, take a moment to enjoy the serenity of the courtyards amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
11. Torre Latinoamericana
Once the tallest building in Latin America, the Torre Latinoamericana offers a panoramic view of the sprawling city below. It is a testament to modern engineering, having survived several major earthquakes.
Travel Tip: Visit during sunset to capture breathtaking views of the city transitioning from day to night. The observation deck can get windy, so bring a jacket.
12. Catedral Metropolitana
As the largest cathedral in the Americas, the Catedral Metropolitana is an architectural marvel blending Baroque, Neo-classic, and Neo-Renaissance styles. Its history spans three centuries; inside, one can find a rich collection of art and religious relics.
Travel Tip: Attend an evening mass for a more intimate experience with the cathedral’s grandeur, or enjoy its beauty during daylight hours.
13. Luis Barragán House and Studio
A UNESCO World Heritage site, this house and studio showcase the architectural genius of Luis Barragán, one of the most influential 20th-century architects. The site retains its original design, displaying Barragán’s unique fusion of traditional Mexican and functionalist architecture.
Travel Tip: Tours are by appointment only, so book your visit in advance.
14. Biblioteca Vasconcelos
More than just a library, Biblioteca Vasconcelos is a work of art in itself, featuring a modern design that intertwines nature and architecture. Amidst its vast collection of books, you’ll also find suspended whale skeletons and lush gardens.
Travel Tip: It’s an ideal spot for some quiet reflection or to escape the city’s noise for a while. Don’t forget to check out the murals and artworks scattered throughout the building.
15. Museo Dolores Olmedo
Located in the Xochimilco borough, this museum houses one of the most significant collections of works by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. It is set within a beautiful hacienda once the home of Dolores Olmedo, a businesswoman and philanthropist.
Travel Tip: Aside from the art, enjoy the lush gardens, which are home to peacocks and hairless Xoloitzcuintli dogs, an ancient Aztec breed.
16. Paseo de la Reforma
One of the city’s main boulevards, Paseo de la Reforma, has landmarks, monuments, and skyscrapers. It stretches from Chapultepec Park to the historic center, passing by the iconic Angel of Independence statue.
Travel Tip: On Sundays, the boulevard is closed to vehicular traffic, making it an excellent time for a leisurely walk or bike ride. Bikes can be rented at several stations along the way.
17. Arena México
Experience the thrill of Lucha Libre, a unique form of professional wrestling, at Arena México. The colorful masks, high-flying moves, and theatrical drama ensure an unforgettable experience.
Travel Tip: Matches are usually held on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday evenings. Consider buying tickets in advance, as popular matches can sell out.
18. La Ciudadela Market
For those searching for traditional Mexican crafts, La Ciudadela is a haven. The market boasts vast handicrafts from all over Mexico, including pottery, textiles, and jewelry.
Travel Tip: Practice your haggling skills, but always be respectful. Remember that many items are handcrafted and represent the livelihood of artisans.
19. Museo Jumex
This contemporary art museum stands out with its avant-garde architecture and an extensive collection of modern artworks from both Mexican and international artists. Museo Jumex often hosts temporary exhibitions, ensuring there’s always something new.
Travel Tip: The museum is in the upscale Polanco district, making it a perfect starting point for exploring its boutiques and restaurants.
20. San Ángel
This charming neighborhood offers a blend of colonial architecture, cobbled streets, and lively plazas. It’s known for the Bazaar Sábado, a weekly Saturday market showcasing art, crafts, and antiques.
Travel Tip: After browsing the market, head to one of the local cafes or restaurants for a taste of traditional Mexican cuisine.
21. MUNAL (Museo Nacional de Arte)
Located in the historic center, MUNAL houses a comprehensive collection of Mexican art from the colonial period to the mid-20th century. Its majestic neoclassical building is a work of art in itself.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss the mural works by Orozco and other renowned Mexican artists housed within.
FAQ About Things to Do in Mexico City, Mexico
What are the top attractions to visit in Mexico City?
Some of the top attractions in Mexico City include the Zócalo (main square), Palacio de Bellas Artes, Chapultepec Castle, and the Frida Kahlo Museum.
Is it safe to explore the historic center of Mexico City on foot?
Yes, the historic center of Mexico City, also known as Centro Histórico, is generally safe to explore on foot during the day. However, like any major city, it’s always a good idea to stay aware of your surroundings and avoid deserted areas at night.
Are there any traditional markets worth visiting?
Absolutely! Mercado de San Juan and La Merced are two of the most famous traditional markets in Mexico City, where you can find a variety of local produce, crafts, and traditional Mexican foods.
Can I take a boat ride in Mexico City?
Yes, you can take a traditional boat ride, known as a “trajinera,” in the canals of Xochimilco. It’s a unique experience where you can enjoy music, food, and the beautiful scenery.
Is there a place to learn about Mexico’s ancient civilizations?
The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City is one of the best places to learn about Mexico’s ancient civilizations, including the Aztecs and Mayans. It houses an extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits.
Where can I experience traditional Mexican performances?
The Palacio de Bellas Artes frequently hosts traditional Mexican performances, including folkloric dances and mariachi concerts. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in Mexican culture.
Are there any parks or green spaces to relax in the city?
Chapultepec Park is the largest green space in Mexico City, offering a zoo, lakes, and several museums. It’s a perfect place to relax, picnic, or stroll.
What local dishes should I try while in Mexico City?
Mexico City is known for its rich culinary heritage. Don’t miss out on trying tacos al pastor, tamales, pozole, and churros. For a unique experience, visit a local “taqueria” or street food stall.