Mexico City is a place with many cultural attractions, award-winning restaurants, and a vibe that makes you want to visit it over and over. If this is your first time in the city and you’re looking for the best things to do in this urban destination, this post is for you!
In this article, you’ll find the best things to do in Mexico City and a list of attractions that should be part of your itinerary.
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The Best Things To Do in Mexico City
No trip to Mexico City is complete without a day wandering through the streets of the Centro Histórico (Historic Center).
You should allocate at least one day to explore the Historic Center of Mexico City and see its main attractions: Zócalo, Catedral Metropolitana, Museo del Templo Mayor, Palacio Postal, Casa de los azulejos, Palacio de Bellas Artes, and Torre Latinoamericana.
When it’s time to eat around Centro Histórico, you can make your way to Balcón del Zócalo, a rooftop restaurant in the Zócalo Central Hotel that serves Mexican food and offers unbeatable views of the plaza and cathedral. If you prefer something low-key, go to El Huequito, a chain of taqueria in Mexico City mostly known for its tasty al pastor tacos.
You might also like to read: Top Spots to See in Mexico City’s Historic Center
Museo Nacional de Antropología
If you can only visit one museum in Mexico City, you should head over to Museo Nacional de Antropología (Anthropology National Museum) – the most visited museum in the city.
Museo Nacional de Antropología houses the world’s most extensive collection of ancient Mexican artifacts, with more than 15,000 archeological and ethnographic objects spread across 23 rooms. Here, you’ll be able to check out the diverse cultures of pre-Columbian and modern Mexico.
Besides, the museum building itself is already impressive. It has a courtyard with a pond and a squared concrete umbrella in the middle (known as el paraguas – the umbrella) where you can sit down for a pleasant break.
And since you’d probably need a few days to see every corner of the museum, the must-see spots would be the Mexica room (to see the Sun Stone), the Maya Room, and the Oaxaca Room, if you’re short on time.
Museo Frida Kahlo
Another must-visit museum in Mexico City is the Museo Frida Kahlo. The blue building, known as Casa Azul, is the house where Kahlo grew up and lived with artist Diego Rivera.
At the museum, you’ll have a peek into the couple’s world, including Frida Kahlo’s pencil sketches, cubist works by Rivera, and more.
Tickets to Museo Frida Kahlo are sold online, and advanced reservation is encouraged (Purchase Frida Kahlo tickets online).
Castillo de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Castle)
The Castillo de Chapultepec is an opulent castle once built as a country house for the Spanish royalty in the late 18th century. It’s a Mexican version of the castles we usually visit in Europe, like Versailles, and one of the top things to do in Mexico City.
Today, the castle is home to Museo Nacional de Historia (National History Museum), and here you’ll find a permanent collection showcasing Mexican history.
However, Chapultepec Castle is also worth a visit because of the preserved rooms with antique furniture, the lovely gardens, and the impressive views of the Paseo de la Reforma from the terrace.
You can purchase admission tickets to Chapultepec Castle at the entrance (there’s usually a line) or join the Chapultepec Castle and Anthropology Museum tour.
Once you’re done exploring the castle, you can walk around Chapultepec Park. Also, don’t miss the chance to see the nearby attraction Monumento a los Niños Héroes – a monument dedicated to the soldiers who defended the castle against US troops during the Mexican-American war.
Casa Luís Barragan
If you are into design and architecture, add Casa Luís Barragan to your Mexico City itinerary.
Casa Luís Barragan was the home and studio of renowned Mexican architect Luís Barragan. His work is known for using geometric forms, bright colors, and light and water – and that’s what you can see when visiting the building that, today, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Tours to Casa Luís Barragan are by reservation only and should be booked in advance here.
And if you like Casa Luís Barragan, you should also visit Casa Gilardi, the last project completed by Barragan before he died.
When wanting to visit a local market in Mexico City, Mercado Coyoacán is the best choice. The market isn’t big but gives a feel of what you can find in a typical Mexican market.
Mercado Coyoacán is one of the most famous attractions in Mexico City for its tostadas. So. if wanting to try this snack, stop by Tostadas Coyoacán to try one (or many).
Pro tip: Mercado Coyoacan is close to Museo Frida Kahlo, so plan on visiting both on the same day of your itinerary. Also, head south of the market to sip a coffee at Café Avellaneda.
The striking, futuristic building of Museo Soumaya glitters under the sun because of its more than15,000 metal tiles on the exterior. Though the structure itself is already remarkable, the museum houses the extensive private art collection of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.
If you’re looking for one of the best things to do in Mexico City, then wander through Museo Soumaya’s five windowless stories showcasing European and Mexican art. Also, admission is free.
If you love contemporary art, then you should visit Museo Jumex. The museum is small but is one of the go-to places for modern art in Mexico City (and there’s no admission fee).
Also, Museo Jumex is across the street from Museo Soumaya. So, if you visit one, add some time to explore the other.
One of the best things to do in Mexico City is to walk around its charming streets to admire the local life, the building’s facades and find hidden gems.
When it’s time to walk around without a plan, go to the neighborhoods of Roma Norte and Condesa. There will be plenty of cafés, boutique stores, parks, and restaurants to fill your time in the area.
The two neighborhoods are hands down my favorite areas in the city, and you should visit them to explore at your own pace, without rushing through the day.
You might also like to read: The Best Restaurants in Mexico City
The Best Things To Do in Mexico City – Day Trips
If you have more than three days in Mexico City, you should consider going on a day trip to explore some nearby attractions. Here are a few to add to your list.
For a day trip to the proximities of Mexico City, Teotihuacán is the most famous one. The archeological site is one hour away from Mexico City and is one of the greatest chances to witness an example of pre-Columbian architecture.
Highlights of the Teotihuacán tour are the impressive Pyramids of the Moon and the Sun and Temple of the Feathered Serpent. Still, there’s a lot to explore, so expect the visit to last the entire day.
Also, Teotihuacán is especially popular during the spring equinox. During this time, many visitors head to the ruins to absorb the sun’s energy.
Want to explore a unique place near Mexico City? Then you should visit Tolantango Caves.
The Tolantango Caves tour is an excellent day trip from Mexico City because it allows you to spend the day relaxing in its thermal waters. You can also indulge in the hot springs between caves, rivers, pools, waterfalls, etc.
Puebla and Cholula
In the Puebla and Cholula tour, you’ll be able to see the best of the two cities. They are located approximately 2 hours from Mexico City, so this is one of the best day trips if you want to learn more about Mexican culture.
In Cholula, you’ll see the largest pyramid in the New World. And in Puebla, you can wander its colorful streets, visit the splendid Centro Histórico, sample the delicious food, and learn about Talavera-style ceramic craftwork.
What to Know for Visiting Mexico City
Mexico offers visa exceptions to visitors from various countries, including the US and the European Union, for stays up to 180 days. Also, at the moment, there are no covid-19 restrictions for entering Mexico. Travelers don’t need to present proof of vaccination to enter the country, nor negative covid-19 test results. However, when planning your trip to Mexico, be sure to check the latest information and requirements for your specific country.
The voltage in Mexico is 127 V, and the power plugs and sockets are type A and B (the same as in the US).
The currency used in Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN). You can check the current exchange rate on Google. Though restaurants in Mexico City accept international cards, it’s always good to carry some cash for small transactions.
Best time to visit Mexico City
The best time to visit Mexico City is during spring or fall (from September to November and from March to May). Summers are typically rainy, and winters are chilly.
Where to stay in Mexico City
I recommend booking your hotels on Booking.com to get the best rate and other perks such as genius discounts and free cancellation if your plans change. Some of the best hotels to stay in Mexico City are:
- Downtown: this hotel is one of the Design Hotels in Mexico City that sits next to many attractions of the Centro Histórico. The building is a restored 17th-century palace with an outdoor pool on the rooftop with perfect city views.
- Círculo Mexicano: a lovely design hotel located in the heart of the Historic Center of Mexico City, so you’ll be able to walk to the Zócalo and Palacio de Bellas Artes from here. The best room at Círculo Mexicano is The Balcony Suite which offers direct views of the Catedral Metropolitana. Also, don’t forget to check out the hotel’s rooftop pool when wanting to cool down.
- Nima Local House Hotel: a boutique hotel set in La Roma, close to some of the best cafés and restaurants in Mexico City. This 4-room hotel is lovely and the perfect place to unwind in Mexico City.
- Four Seasons Mexico City: an award-winning 5-star hotel located in Juarez, near Bosque de Chapultepec. It has spacious and comfortable rooms, an Italian restaurant, a bakery offering Mexican and French pastries, and a cool cocktail bar. From here, you can walk along the charming streets towards the neighborhoods of Condesa and Polanco. The Four Seasons Mexico City is where I stayed, and I recommend it 10/10.
- The Ritz-Carlton: a luxury hotel within walking distance from Bosque de Chapultepec, one of the top places to see in Mexico City. Here, the modern rooms offer impressive views of the city, and the indoor swimming pool is fascinating.
Continue reading: Where to stay in Mexico City, the best hotels, vacation rentals, and neighborhoods.
The Best restaurants in Mexico City
One of the best things to do in Mexico City is to explore its award-winning restaurants and indulge in the local food. When it’s time to choose where to eat in Mexico City, you won’t be disappointed! Here are a few restaurants to add to your itinerary:
- Pujol: probably the most known and best restaurant in Mexico City, Pujol is an attraction itself. The restaurant is currently the number 9 restaurant on the world’s best list and number 5 in Latin America.
- Quintonil: another restaurant featured on the world’s best list, Quintonil is currently number 27 in the world and number 8 in Latin America.
- Máximo Bistro: a restaurant that is currently number 33 in Latin America. In this farm-to-table restaurant the fresh, local ingredients are cooked to perfection and offer a great combination of flavors in a mix of European and Mexican cuisines.
- Merotoro: although not very common among tourists, the fresh, flavorful dishes at Merotoro are enjoyable at every bite.
- Contramar: one of the top restaurants in Mexico City and the go-to for seafood in the city. It’s located in the charming neighborhood of Condesa and you can also take the opportunity to walk around the area.
You might also like to read: The Best Restaurants in Mexico City
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