Mexico city, also known as Ciudad de Mexico in Spanish, is the largest and the capital city of Mexico, as well as the important political, cultural, and financial center in North America.
Mexico City is located in the Valley of Mexico, on a high plateau, at an elevation of 2,250 m. It was built on the site of the ancient capital of the Aztec Empire called Tenochtitlan, founded in the 14th century on islands in Lake Texcoco.
The Spaniards conquered the Aztecs, built their own city with a Colonial Spanish style on the ruins of the Aztec capital in the 16th century. When Mexico got independence from Spain, the new government was created in Mexico City.
Some of the best things to do in Mexico City include exploring the historic center with the El Zocalo main square, National Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City, and Templo Mayor, as well as visit trendy neighborhoods of Coyoacan, Roma, and Coyoacan.
You can also enjoy delicious Mexican food, the lively nightlife, and do some shopping as well as visit some of the city’s many interesting museums & art galleries.
Mexico City has 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Centro Storico, Xochimilco, Luis Barragán House & Studio, and UNAM, the Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Mexico City is generally a safe city for tourists, but as you travel to any big city, it is always best to be aware of your surroundings, practice common sense, and to avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuables.
27 Best things to do in Mexico city
El Zócalo, also known as Plaza de la Constitución, is Mexico City’s main square in, located in the city’s Centro Storico. It has been a popular meeting place, site of rituals, and ceremonies, since Aztec times.
On the square, you can find a Mexican flag, The Metropolitan Cathedral, National Palace, and the Tenochtitlan Metro Station, as well as dancers, artists selling their products, street food vendors selling tacos and tortillas.
You can watch soldiers raising the Mexican flag, La Bandera at 8 am daily. It is best to view from the Catedral Metropolitana’s roof.
Today, the zócalo is still a venue of important events, concerts, and festivals, including the Independence Day celebrations and Alebrije Parade.
2. Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral is the largest Roman Catholic Cathedral in the Americas The formal name of the cathedral is Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.
Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral is famous for its stunning architecture and fascinating history. It was built by colonizing Spaniards on the ruins of the Aztec temple, which was the center of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital at the time.
As it took 3 hundred years to build from 1573 to 1813, the cathedral has a mix of architecture styles of baroque, neo-classical and neo-renaissance.
The cathedral is conveniently located on the north side of Zocalo, and close to the Templo Mayor. It is easily reachable on the blue line at Zócalo metro station.
3. Templo Mayor
The Templo Mayor, or the main temple, was the location for important rituals & ceremonies in Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec civilizations.
The Templo Mayor was destroyed by the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century, and the temple’s stones were used to build the Cathedral in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The temple today is an important archaeological site of Mexico.
You can wander around the ruins, check out the Museo del Templo Mayor with its Aztec artifacts to get a glimpse of what it looked like in the past.
4. National Palace
National Palace, or Palacio Nacional in Spanish, located in the eastern part of Mexico City’s main square, Zocalo.
After conquering the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, Hernán Cortés built the palace, on the site of the palace of the Huey Tlatoani, Moctezuma Xocoyotzin. It served as residence of the Spanish viceroys during the colonial period, as well as seat of government, after Mexican independence in 1821.
The place has been restored and expanded several times through the centuries. The current appearance is a major work of the beginning 20th century.
The National Palace is free to visit. It is open from 9 am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Be sure to check out the Diego Rivera murals inside the building.
5. Teotihuacan pyramids
Teotihuacan Pyramids is one of the best things to do and see in Mexico City because this impressive Mesoamerican pyramid is a famous archaeological site of pre-Columbian Mexico, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located 50 km from the city center of Mexico City, Teotihuacan Pyramids is a popular destination for a day trip. The bus from Terminal del Norte stop can take you to San Juan Teotihuacán.
The ancient city of Teotihuacan was one of the biggest cities in the pre-Hispanic Americas. Popular attractions of Teotihuacán are the Pyramid of the Moon, Pyramid of the Sun, which is the largest pyramid of the complex.
The entrance fee is 80 pesos, and discounted prince for children and seniors, including the ticket to see the Teotihuacan Culture Museum & the Museum of Teotihuacan Murals.
6. Chapultepec Park
Chapultepec Park, or Bosque Chapultape, is one of the oldest parks in Latin America, located around Chapultepec Hill, on the outskirts of the city. With 1,700 acres of land, Chapultepec Park is double the size of New York’s Central Park.
Chapultepec Park is a green oasis in the heart of the city where you can find 9 museums, a zoo, an amusement park, and recreational areas.
Chapultepec Park is huge and it is divided into 3 sections:
- Primera Seccion, where you can find a zoo, an artificial lake, Chapultepec Castle, with several museums such as the Modern Art Museum, Tamayo Museum, National History Museum, and National Anthropology Museum.
- Segunda Seccion, where you can find an amusement park, Papalote children’s museum, Natural History Museum, and the La Feria de Chapultepec Mágico.
- Tercera Seccion, which is a natural area with wildlife and trees.
7. Anthropology Museum
The National Museum of Anthropology is Mexico City’s most visited museum where you can view an extensive collection of archaeological artifacts of ancient Mexican, and ethnographic exhibits about the indigenous groups in the country.
Some of the popular attractions in the museum are the Maya exhibit room with the recreation of Pakal’s tomb, as well as the Oaxaca exhibit room with the mask of the Zapotec Bat God, and the Aztec Calendar.
The museum is big, so if you are tired of sightseeing, you can rest in its large courtyard. The Anthropology Museum is conveniently located close to the Chapultepec Castle, Bosque de Chapultepec, and Soumaya Museum.
8. Independence Angel
The Angel of Independence, also known as El Monumento a la Independencia, is a monument built to commemorate Mexico’s triumph over Spain during their War of Independence.
Independence Angel was completed in 1910 during the presidency of Porfirio Diaz to mark the 100th anniversary of the War of Independence.
The statue of Winged Victory (Victoria Alada) stands on top of the column, which is 47 meters tall. The Independence Angel is a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of Mexico City.
Xochimilco Mexico City is considered the Venice of Mexico with a network of canals, making it one of the best things to do and see in Mexico City.
The canals were built by the Aztecs and were used for transportation and agriculture. Today, Xochimilco is a Unesco World Heritage Site, where you can take a colorful tourist boat ride on trajineras through the canals, and visit the floating gardens called chinampas.
Xochimilco is located around 25 km from the center of Mexico city. It is easily accessible from Mexico City by taking a metro ride to Tasqueña, then taking the straight train for the Tren Ligero.
10. Soumaya Museum
Soumaya Museum is one of the best things to do in Mexico city for history buffs where you can find a collection of artworks from the pre-Hispanic & colonial times, as well as a collection of Auguste Rodin’s casts of sculptures.
The Soumaya Museum is a private museum, founded by Carlos Slim Helú, one of the richest men in Mexico. The museum is known for its unique hexagonal shape and its use of aluminum tiles, designed by the Mexican architect Fernando Romero.
The museum is open to the public between 10:30 am and 6:30 pm daily, and admission is free.
11. Palacio de Bellas Artes
Palace of Fine Arts is an important cultural center of Mexico City that is famous for its architecture style with art nouveau and art deco-style architecture in the exterior and marble floors & vaulted glass windows inside.
The building hosts the national theater, the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes where you can find famous murals, and the Museo Nacional de Arquitectura showing modern artworks.
The palace is open 10 am to 19 pm every day, admission free on Sundays. It is a great place to take photos with the building.
12. Alameda Central Park
Alameda Central Park is a grand city park located in the heart of the city. It is North America’s oldest public park, built in 1592, created by New Spain’s governor, Viceroy Luís de Velasco.
Alameda Central Park was once the marketplace place for Aztec civilizations but now a big green space in the city, a great place to relax or take a stroll while exploring the city.
The park features walking paths, gardens, statues, and fountains, as well as a number of notable monuments such as the Benito Juarez Hemicycle statue.
13. House of Tiles
Casa de Azulejos, or the House of Tiles, is famous for its architecture style with the blue, white, and yellow tile facade, and the interior has a mural of José Clemente Orozco.
The building is located on Callejón de la Condesa in the center of Mexico City. It is currently home to a Sanborns restaurant and department store.
Casa de Azulejos was originally built in the 18th century as a palace of the Count of Valle de Oriza, and was bought by the Sanborns brothers in the 19th century.
14. Street Food
Mexico City is famous for its delicious Mexican cuisines, so if you travel to Mexico City, you must try these street food:
- Tamales, traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa
- Tacos, a tortilla or shell and meat or fish filling
- Tortas, a Mexican sandwich
- Quesadillas, a grilled tortilla with melted cheese
- Tlacoyos, thick corn tortillas, filled with beans, pork crackling
- Churros, a cinnamon- and sugar-topped fried pastry dough stick
15. La Condesa and Roma neighborhoods
One of the best things to do and see in Mexico City is to explore Roma and Condesa, which are trendy neighborhoods in Mexico City with a bohemian atmosphere and vibrant nightlife.
These are the first Mexico City’s neighborhoods built with modern infrastructure with wide streets and tree-lined avenues, as well as lots of restaurants, cafes and boutiques.
There are plenty of things to do here, from Dog school, El Pendulo book cafe, Parque Mexico to Mercado Roma, Avenida Ámsterdam, Enigma Rooms, these areas have it all!
La Condesa is located in the Cuauhtémoc borough, and is known for its Art Deco architecture, numerous parks, and trendy bars and restaurants.
Roma, located in the Cuauhtémoc borough as well, is known for its colonial-era architecture and a variety of cultural and artistic offerings, such as museums and galleries.
Both neighborhoods are popular among tourists and locals alike for their good food, shopping, and entertainment.
16. Museo Frida Kahlo
Museo Frida Kahlo is one of the most visited museums in Mexico city. It has different names such as La Casa Azul, or The Blue House. It is the birthplace of Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s greatest artists.
Throughout the rooms, you can see works and artifacts from Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera including Mexican folk art, photos, and paintings.
Admission fees to the Frida Kahlo house are 230 pesos for foreigners, and discounted prices for children and seniors.
The museum is located in the neighborhood of Coyoacán, in the southern part of the city. It can be reached from the city center by taking the metro line 3 train to the Coyoacan station.
17. Leon Trotsky’s House Museum
The Leon Trotsky House Museum was the home of Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia Sedova from 1939 until 1940, when Trotsky was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1929.
The house has been preserved as a museum, containing many personal artifacts and documents related to Trotsky’s life and political activities.
It is located in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Mexico City, with an entrance fee of 40 peso. Nearby, you can visit the Cineteca Nacional, Frida Kahlo Museum, and the Coyoacán Market.
18. Witchcraft Market
Witchcraft Market, also known as Mercado de Sonara, is a traditional market that sells all kinds of mystical, magical things, and products for the Day of the Dead celebrations. It is located in the posh Polanco neighborhood.
It has a wide variety of products, including clothing, crafts, and traditional Mexican food items. The market is a great place to find unique souvenirs and gifts.
Some people also recommend it for its street food, and it’s a great place to get a sense of the local culture and customs.
19. Cafebreria el Pendulo
Cafebreria el Pendulo is a bookstore with a cool cafe and beautiful interiors. They have many locations in Mexico, but you can check out the Polanco branch, which offers table dining, a cafe and bar, and the beautiful design.
It is a two story bookshop with a spiral staircase, balconies with green railings and floor to ceiling books, as well as both Spanish and English printed books.
It is a great place to read a book and enjoy a cup of coffee.
20. Pujol Mexican restaurant
Pujol is one of the best restaurants in the world serving traditional Mexican food. It is a fine dining establishment with a tasting menu normally costing $2565 Pesos.
Pujol Mexican restaurant is one of the luxury things to do in Mexico city. It is considered one of the most famous restaurants in Mexico. The chef and owner of Pujol is Enrique Olvera.
21. Post Office
The Main Post Office is a cultural and architectural landmark, located close to the Palacio de Bellas Artes in the centro storico. It is also known as the Postal Palace of Mexico City, or Correo Mayor.
The building was designed in the Art Nouveau style and was completed in 1907. It was the largest post office in Mexico at the time.
The post office offers a variety of services including mail delivery, package shipping, and money transfers. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 20 pm, and on Saturdays from 8 am to 14 pm.
22. Lucha Libre Match
Lucha Libre, or Mexican wrestling, is one of the most popular sports in Mexico after football. It is also a popular tourist attraction to learn about Mexican culture.
If you are interested in a Lucha Libre match, check out the Arena México with luchas every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday; as well as at the Arena Coliseo, and Arena Naucalpan.
23. Museo Nacional De Arte (MUNAL)
The National Museum of Art is the best thing to do in Mexico city for art lovers and history buffs. It is located in the neoclassical building in the historic center.
You will see a collection of Mexican artworks such as paintings, drawings, sculptures from the colonial period, after independence, the Mexican Revolution
It is conveniently located close to the Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Museo de la Ciudad de México.
24. Chapultepec Castle
Chapultepec Castle is set in the Chapultepec park, offering stunning views over the city.
Chapultepec Castle was first built in 1725 as a residence of Viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez, governor of Spanish colony. It was later used as a military school, president’s residence.
Today, the castle housed the National Museum of Cultures, formerly the Museum of Natural History, showing the history of Mexico from Tenochtitlan to the Mexican Revolution.
25. The Angel of Independence
The Angel of independence, also known as El Monumento a la Independencia in Spanish, was built to celebrate the victory of Mexico in the War of Independence over Spain.
It was completed in 1910 on Reforma Avenue, a popular street in the heart of Mexico City.
The statue is made of bronze and stands at a height of almost 30 m. The angel holds a laurel crown in one hand and broken chains in the other, symbolizing the end of slavery and tyranny. It is a popular tourist destination and a national symbol of Mexico.
26. Torre Latinoamericana
Torre Latinoamericana is a beautiful Latin American skyscraper of Mexico City that is home to the observation deck on the 44th floor, offering the stunning city’s views.
You can purchase a ticket to go up to the observation deck, and one of the two museums in the building including the Mexico City Museum & the Bicentennial Museum.
27. Mercado de Artesanías La Ciudadela
Mercado de Artesanías La Ciudadela, also known as Ciudadela Artisan Market, is a traditional Mexican market where you can buy folk art and handicrafts.
The market has a wide variety of vendors selling a wide range of products, and is a great place to find unique and authentic Mexican souvenirs. It is open daily, and haggling is common.
In addition to the Ciudadela Artisan Market, Mexico city also has many other markets to buy gifts and to experience local daily life such as the Saturday art market in San Ángel, the Sunday antiques market in La Lagunilla, Mercado Sonora witch market, and Mercado Coyoacán.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should you not miss in Mexico City?
You may not want to miss the historic center with its main square Zócalo, the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan, and Metropolitan Cathedral, as well as the Chapultepec Castle, Frida Kahlo Museum, the borough of Coyoacan, Xochimilco canals, and the Museum of Anthropology.
What is Mexico City best known for?
Mexico City is best known for being the capital city of Mexico that has rich history, cultural heritage, with numerous museums, art galleries, and ancient ruins, as well as delicious street food and vibrant nightlife. Popular tourist attractions are the Templo Mayor, the Zócalo, Xochimilco canals, Chapultepec Castle, and the Metropolitan Cathedral.
What can you be aware of in Mexico City?
Some things to be aware of when visiting include traffic & congestion, air pollution, crime, altitude, and earthquakes. There are also historical attractions, a vibrant street food scene, galleries, and museums.
Is it worth going to Mexico City?
Mexico City is definitely well worth a visit because it is Mexico’s capital city and is a great place to experience authentic Mexican culture. The city offers plenty of historical & cultural landmarks, art galleries, and museums, as well as delicious Mexican cuisine and lively nightlife with lots of restaurants, bars, and shops.
How can I spend 3 days in Mexico City?
With 3 days in Mexico City, you can visit major tourist attractions such as the Zocalo, Metropolitan Cathedral, Templo Mayor, Xochimilco canals, as well as explore the trendy neighborhoods of La Condesa & Roma, and enjoy local dishes with its lively nightlife, and do some shopping.
What to do in Mexico City in 5 days?
With 5 days in Mexico City, you can do things at a slower and more relaxing pace. You can visit highlight tourist attractions, explore the city’s various neighborhoods, enjoy Mexican food with its lively nightlife, and do some shopping.
What are the best things to do in Mexico city at night?
Some of the best activities to do in Mexico city at night include enjoying a meal & a drink at one of the city’s best restaurants & bars, watching a Lucha Libre wrestling match, seeing lit-up monuments, and taking a salsa lesson.
What are the best things to do in Mexico city with kids?
Some of the best places to visit with kid are the Acuario Inbursa, Planetario Luis Enrique Erro, Parque Bicentenario, Six Flags México, Papalote Museo del Niño, Bosque de Chapultepec, Museo Interactivo de Economía.
What are the luxury things to do in Mexico city?
Some luxury things to do in Mexico City include taking a hot air balloon ride over Teotihuacán, enjoying fine dining at one of the award winning restaurants such as Quintonil, taking a private sailing or a private helicopter ride.
See more: Where to Stay in Mexico City First Time
So there you have it, the best things to do in Mexico city for your next trip. If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment below.