Welcome to this blog post that will help you explore Mexico City! If you are planning a trip to this vibrant capital, you are in a good place. Mexico City is a melting pot of history, art, and culinary delights, offering a wide range of attractions that will captivate you for sure. Let me take you on a journey through my top 8 must-see attractions in Mexico City, showcasing the city’s unique blend of amazing patrimony, modern architecture, and colorful neighborhoods. From the iconic Zócalo to the peaceful Coyoacan neighborhood, each attraction will leave you in awe of Mexico City’s rich heritage. So let’s dive in and discover things to do in Mexico City!
In this blog post, I share with you my top 8 in Ciudad de México:
- Historic center
- Templo Mayor
- Chapultepec park and castle
- Torre Latinoamericana
- Palacio de Bellas Artes
- National museum of anthropology
- Coyoacan neighborhood
- Paseo de la Reforma
More useful information:
Mexico City in a few words
Mexico City, also known as CDMX, Ciudad de Mexico, or DF, is one of the biggest world capitals. Located in the heart of Mexico, in the Valley of Mexico, it is a pretty high city with an altitude of 2,240 meters. It has 16 boroughs (demarcaciones territoriales), divided into neighborhoods (colonias).
The city, which is the most populous in North America, was founded by Indigenous people. It was originally built on a group of islands in Lake Texcoco by the Mexica (Aztecs) around 1325. At that time, it was named Tenochtitlan. In 1521, it was almost completely destroyed by the Spanish and rebuilt following their standards. In 1585, it was officially known as Ciudad de México.
Located in the almost perfect center of the country, it is the best city to arrive from abroad and move from there to explore all the Republica, which is full of amazing locations. If you don’t have time to discover more, you can stay in CDMX, which has already so much to offer.
Things to do in Mexico City
This is a short list of what to do in Mexico City. For a first trip, it is an ideal first approach to this enormous capital.
Historic Center: Zocalo and Metropolitan Cathedral
The historic center of Mexico City is the heart of the city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in Mexico City, including the Metropolitan Cathedral.
The Zocalo is the main city square and is surrounded by stunning colonial buildings. Take a stroll around the square, admire the intricate architecture, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this historic area.
The Metropolitan Cathedral, located on the eastern side of the Zocalo, is an architectural masterpiece and one of the oldest and largest cathedrals in the Americas. The entrance is free, so step inside and be amazed by its grandeur and beauty.
Don’t forget to explore the surrounding streets, which are filled with charming cafés, shops, and art galleries.
Located in the historic center, the Templo Mayor is actually a wonderful museum, where you can admire the ruins of the main temple of the Mexica people in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, the actual CDMX. You can see a big part of the temple from the outside.
However, if you enter the museum, you will enjoy the exhibition of archaeological findings of the zone that used to be the Main Temple of the Mexica people. It shows the political, military, and aesthetic relevance of the city before the arrival of the Spaniards, who destroyed the temple in 1521.
Chapultepec Park and Castle
Chapultepec Park is the Central Park of Mexico City. This sprawling park covers over 1,600 acres and is one of the largest city parks in the world. It offers a peaceful escape from the bustling city and is a favorite spot for locals and tourists. You can enjoy many spots like the botanic garden or the lake.
Within the park, you will find the Chapultepec Castle, perched on a hill with panoramic city views. The castle is a fascinating blend of architectural styles and houses the National Museum of History. After a long and steep walk, you will be rewarded by its opulent rooms, where learning about Mexico’s rich history and its breathtaking views from the castle’s terraces.
If you want to understand how huge is the Mexican capital, the best is to get an overview from the top of Torre Latinomericana. The building is emblematic of the CDMX skyline and was one day one of the tallest in the city, offering a 360º view. Admission to the 44th-floor observation deck includes access to an on-site museum where you can learn more about Mexico City’s history.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
This impressive white-marble palace is home to one of the most interesting museums in the city. Its construction began in 1905 and mixed neoclassical and art nouveau styles. Inside, it is art deco that dominates and makes the building totally stunning.
If locals and tourists come to visit the place, it is because of the several spectacular murals, you can admire on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Tamayo, Rivera, Siqueiros, and Orozco are the four artists that let us admirable murals.
National Museum of Anthropology
For a deeper understanding of Mexico’s ancient civilizations, a visit to the National Museum of Anthropology is a must-do. This world-class museum showcases the rich cultural heritage of Mexico’s indigenous peoples.
With over 20 exhibition halls, you will need to spend several hours going through the extensive collection of archaeological artifacts, including the famous Aztec Sun Stone and the colossal Olmec heads. Explore the different galleries to learn about the diverse cultures that have shaped Mexico’s history, from the Maya and Aztecs to the Zapotecs and Mixtecs.
Located in the southern part of Mexico City, the charming neighborhood of Coyoacan is a must-visit for its Bohemian atmosphere and historical significance. This neighborhood was once home to Frida Kahlo and other prominent Mexican artists.
You will love to wander through the colorful streets of the neighborhood and visit its lively Mercado. The area is also full of cool bars and good restaurants.
Paseo de la Reforma
Paseo de la Reforma is one of Mexico City’s most iconic avenues, lined with impressive buildings, monuments, and parks. Take a leisurely stroll along this grand boulevard and admire the stunning architecture and sculptures that dot the landscape.
One of the main highlights along Paseo de la Reforma is the Angel of Independence, a towering golden statue that symbolizes Mexico’s independence from Spain. If you climb to the top, you will enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
Where not to go!
Ok, so now you know which things to do in Mexico City, but it is time to share with you one place that totally disappointed me, and it is… Frida Kahlo house. I was looking forward to visiting the home of an artist and woman I quite admire, but it ended up being a bad experience.
Frida Kahlo Museum, also known as the Blue House, is highly popular among tourists since the iconic Mexican was born, lived, and died there. Inside, you will discover her colorful world and some of her art. The problem is the place is totally crowded, and you walk fast in line the whole time, trying to capture the essence of the place, which is totally impossible with so many people. You can’t go at your own pace, and your visit will constantly be interrupted by the staff chasing people who take pictures without permission.
Also, the entrance fee is extremely high, and it is kind of sad to think that it is just a place for making money using the immense popularity of Kahlo. It is even sadder when you know her political preferences to see how she has been commodified.
How to move around Mexico City?
CDMX is a huge city, and you need using transportation to navigate it if you want to enjoy it the most. The good news is that you can go anywhere using the public transport.
The metro system is as extensive as affordable. It is super efficient, and on some lines, you have a wagon only for women and children.
This system operates along dedicated lanes and is a good option for certain routes instead of taking buses.
In CDMX, you have buses for all destinations. There are really easy to use, and you can always ask locals to know exactly where to wait for them.
Uber works pretty well in all the city, so it is really convenient to use this app, especially at night.
When to visit Mexico City?
It is better if you visit CDMX during the dry season, which is between November to April. You will be able to enjoy the city without having to worry about the rain.
From December to February, it is kind of high season, so you might want to avoid these months. Nevertheless, the city is so big, and there is so much to do, that if you visit during this time, you won’t have the feeling the place is crowded.
Is it safe to visit Mexico City?
As a brown woman traveling alone, I have never felt unsafe in CDMX. You need to know beforehand which neighborhoods are better to avoid anyway.
Plus, like everywhere else, do not show off any valuable belonging, and don’t walk alone at night.
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Being a digital nomad in Mexico City
For sure, you are aware that Mexico City got particularly popular among digital nomads. I understand perfectly why. The city has so much to offer on a tourist and cultural level that you can never get bored. Also, Mexican people are so friendly and hospitable. I won’t mention the food, which is an absolute delight.
For remote workers, the city is amazing, with great Wi-Fi and lovely coffee places everywhere. Plus, if you are looking for a community of digital nomads, you won’t have any effort to do. There are so many of them that you will connect easily by attending Facebook events, going to co-working spaces, or using Bumble BFF.
Even if Mexico City is a friendly place for remote workers, digital nomadism is badly affecting the local population because of gentrification. So please, do not add to this problem!
Travel responsibly in Mexico City
Like in any other destination, you must travel in a responsible way when you are in CDMX. The megalopolis is pretty polluted, so any time you can, try to walk or ride a bike instead of using cars.
Food is delicious in the Mexican capital, and I am pretty sure you will love to have much street food as possible, so think of bringing reusable containers to avoid single-use plastic products.
Water is a huge concern in the country, and you might experience some shortage, so use it wisely. Take short showers, for instance, and do not ask your hotel staff to wash your towel every day.
Also, as said before, gentrification is a big issue in Mexico City. There are many actions you can take to avoid worsening this issue:
- Do not stay in very gentrified neighborhoods such as Roma or Polanco.
- Do not accept to pay pricey Airbnbs that totally mess up with the local markets and prevent locals from renting at fair prices.
- Opt for family-owned restaurants and street food vendors to support the local economy.
- Educate others by encouraging fellow travelers to be mindful of gentrification issues and to support responsible tourism practices.
- Learn the context of the area, and understand the neighborhood’s challenges, and current situation to make informed decisions during your visit.
- Get involved in community initiatives that aim to preserve local culture or improve living conditions.
My expenses in Mexico City
I spent little more than 1 month in CDMX. I share with you my expenses during this stay when:
- I rent Airbnb rooms to have a real immersion
- I cooked a lot because, after 3 months of eating a lot outside, I was craving homemade food.
- I used a lot the metro and the buses during the day and Uber at night.
- I did zero day-trip.
💲Food: €239,50 (€162 for restaurants/bars and €77,50 for the groceries)
Mexico City is one of my favorite cities. It is vibrant, noisy, smelly (in a good way), and rich! Whether you love art, nightlife, history, or culture, there is a version of the capital for you. Most travelers totally lose the greatest of the city, so take your time to explore it and feel it.
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