Historic, immense, sprawling, cultured, charming…these are just some of the many ways to describe Mexico City, the third largest city in the world with more than 20 million inhabitants. Shaped by the Aztec civilization, today it is one of the most influential mega-cities in Latin America. We’ve created a quick Mexico City Guide to show […]
Historic, immense, sprawling, cultured, charming…these are just some of the many ways to describe Mexico City, the third largest city in the world with more than 20 million inhabitants. Shaped by the Aztec civilization, today it is one of the most influential mega-cities in Latin America. We’ve created a quick Mexico City Guide to show you the best sights and give you travel tips, along with our top recommendations.
We recommend you spend at least 3 days in the city in order to see its top attractions. Make sure you don’t miss out on our top 6 things to do in Mexico City:
Zócalo is the Aztec and colloquial name for both the city’s main square and the historic center which surrounds it. The square dates back over 700 years to the Aztec period when the city was known as Tenochtitlan. It was originally occupied by the Aztec Templo Mayor which was ultimately destroyed and replaced by the Cathedral in the Spanish conquest. Here, you will find the hub of urban life. Many of the city’s main attractions, such as the National Palace, are in this area.
|Frida Kahlo Museum
Colloquially known as “the blue house,” this aesthetic building was Frida Kahlo’s birthplace, childhood home, permanent residence, and death place. The house has changed little since Frida died in 1954 and it’s now a museum which houses a collection of the famous artist’s life works as well as those of her husband, the muralist Diego Rivera. Spend a day exploring the city’s colonial roots and learning about the cultural influence Kahlo’s work has had on Mexico and the world.
|National Museum of Anthropology
By far the most popular museum in Mexico, the National Museum of Anthropology houses the largest collection of ancient Aztec artifacts, including the Aztec Calendar (Sun Stone) and the Jade Mask. There are also ethnological exhibitions on Mexico’s present-day indigenous groups. You should dedicate at least a couple hours here in order to do it justice; consider getting an audio guide to make the most of your time.
|Palacio de Bellas Artes
Construction of the beautiful Palacio de Bellas Artes began in 1904, but the building wasn’t completed until 1932! As a result, the architecture is an intriguing mix of art-deco, neoclassical, and art nouveau. As well as housing the Bellas Artes and Architecture museums, it is also the most important cultural center in Mexico. There are frequent exhibitions on literature and poetry, art and sculpture, and music and dance. Twice a week, it hosts the Ballet Folklórico de México and is the venue for the prestigious Aerial Prize and Quorum Prize.
|Xochimilco and Island of the Dolls
Just south of Mexico City are the canals of Xochimilco – remnants of the Aztec civilization’s canal transportation system. It is also fondly referred to as Mexico City’s “Little Venice,” with its colorful gondola boats floating peacefully down the canals while mariachi bands provide the soundtrack. Take a tour of these waterways to soak up the unique atmosphere and learn about the eerie legend of the Island of the Dolls.
Chapultepec is one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere at over 2.5 miles (6.5 km) squared. During the colonial period, the Chapultepec Castle was built there and still stands today as the National Museum of History. Other highlights include a zoo, an ecological center, a lake, a forest, fountains, cultural exhibitions, and even a theme park!
Popular local specialties include:
Enjoy your daily cup of joe at Café Avellaneda, a tiny hole-in-the-wall café with an excellent reputation. The baristas expertly craft your brew from your chosen variety of Mexican-grown beans and extraction method. On top of serving delicious coffee, this socially-responsible coffee shop supports growers by donating money from every cup sold.
Hostería de Santo Domingo is Mexico’s oldest restaurant, established in 1860. Founded in the building of an old convent, it’s an experience of Mexican history in itself. The fare is traditional and the house specialty is chiles en nogada, so it’s the place to go for a truly authentic Mexican dining experience. Prices range from $2 to $13 USD with desserts from $1.
For a five-star take on Mexican food, don’t miss Pujol which was ranked the number one restaurant in Mexico in 2018, as well as 3rd in Latin America and 13th in the world! The cuisine can be described as contemporary Mexican, consisting of native ingredients and traditional techniques with a creative twist. Expect to spend around $130 USD per person for the tasting menu and drinks.
Mexican Food Tour
Mexico has a worldwide reputation for its flavorful, vibrant, spicy yet fresh cuisine. While in Mexico City, don’t miss the opportunity to savor it in all its glory by taking a food tour around the best local spots in the city. You won’t just be limited to tacos, but you’ll enjoy a diverse array of dishes from markets, taquerías, cantinas, restaurants, food stalls, and Latin America’s oldest candy store!
One of the largest and most important archaeological sites is Teotihuacan which lies just outside of Mexico City. The site is most famous for its large pyramids dedicated to the sun and moon, but it also has beautiful, intricate murals and carvings. At its peak, it is believed to have been one of the largest cities with 200,000 inhabitants, but it was ultimately abandoned around 800 BC. Spend a day here with an expert guide who will explain the fascinating history of this ancient city.
Lucha Libre Show
Literally meaning “free fight,” Lucha Libre is Mexico’s version of WWE wrestling. Contestants wear colorful PVC masks and perform elaborate acrobatic moves to take down their opponents while crowds cheer on. The easiest way to see a show is to take a tour which includes transportation to the arena, your entrance ticket, a drink, and even your own mask to wear during the show.
Roma and Condesa Bike Tour
Mexico City has fantastic artistic and cultural heritage, especially in the Roma and Condesa district which was once the hub of Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema. Nowadays this area of the city is known for its bohemian vibe, art, and culture. Take a bike tour through these streets to learn more about the star-studded history and see its iconic architecture and art.