Things to Do in Mexico City
Known as the City of the Gods, Teotihuacán was the metropolis of a mysterious Mesoamerican civilization that reached its zenith around AD 100. Once the largest city in the region but abandoned centuries before the arrival of the Aztecs, Teotihuacán boasts towering pyramids and stone temples with detailed statues and intricate murals.
With its brightly paintedtrajineras (flat-bottomed boats), traditionalchinampas (floating gardens), and network of flower-perfumed canals, Xochimilco—the “Flower Garden”—is the kind of place that will have you reaching for your camera at every turn.
Known as the Blue House (La Casa Azul) for its bold blue façade, the Frida Kahlo Museum (Museo Frida Kahlo) was the birthplace and childhood home of the well-known Mexican artist. Inside, the fascinating collection of personal items, furnishings, sketches, and paintings offer insight into both the life and art of Frida Kahlo.
Coyoacán, one of Mexico City’s oldest districts, is alive with color and culture. Centered around twin plazas perfect for people watching—Plaza Hidalgo and Jardín Centenario—Coyoacán is characterized by museums, quaint cobblestone streets, and roadside churro vendors.
Among the most visited Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world, the Shrine of Guadalupe atop Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City honors the legendary 16th-century appearance of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego, a local peasant. The shrine, also known as the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), is devoted to the patron saint of Mexico.
Mexico City’s Plaza de la Constitución, better known as the Zocalo, is the cultural and historic heart of the city. This large open-air square in the Centro Historico is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the city's top attractions, including Metropolitan Cathedral, National Palace, and Great Temple archaeological site and museum.
Considered one of the world’s most comprehensive natural history museums, the National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropología) is Mexico City’s most visited museum. Its collection includes notable historical items such as the Aztec Stone of the Sun, the giant carved heads of the Olmec people, and the Aztec Xochipilli statue.
Built on the site of the ancient Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, the Centro Histórico is both the historical heart and the modern epicenter of Mexico City. Centered on the grand Zócalo—Plaza de la Constitución—the sprawling district is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is full of historic monuments, museums, parks, and hotels.
The National Palace (Palacio Nacional) has served as the seat of the Mexican federal government since the age of the Aztecs. Although it’s a working building with many offices that are off limits to visitors, there’s still plenty to explore and admire, including Diego Rivera’s famous panoramic mural, The History of Mexico.
As Mexico City’s major cultural center, the Palace of Fine Arts hosts art exhibitions and a range of live events, including music, dance, theater, and opera. The building is a mix of art nouveau, art deco, and baroque architectural styles referred to as Porfiriano, after Mexican President Porfirio Diaz who commissioned the project.
More Things to Do in Mexico City
The only palace on the continent, Chapultepec Castle sits more than 7,000 feet (2,133 meters) above sea level in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park. It has housed royalty, served as a military academy, and was even an observatory. In 1996, the castle was transformed into Capulet Mansion for the movieWilliam Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Built on Aztec temple ruins, no building better exemplifies the history of Mexico City than the Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana). The vast stone edifice blends architectural styles and building innovations across four centuries. Highlights include the gilded Altar of Forgiveness and the painted canvases lining the sacristy.
Chapultepec Park, named for the Aztec word chapoltepec (at the grasshopper’s hill), is one of the world's largest city parks. The green space spans 1,695 acres (686 hectares) and is dissected by walking paths connecting quiet ponds, monumental buildings, and museums, including the Museum of Anthropology and the Rufino Tamayo Museum.
What remains of the Aztecs’ Great Temple (Templo Mayor) sits right in the middle of Mexico City, but many tourists miss it. In 1978, a massive, 8-ton (7,000-kilogram) stone depicting Coyolxauhqui (the Aztec goddess of the moon) was unearthed, marking the location of the temple, a gathering place sacred for the Aztecs during the 1300s and 1400s.
Visible on the horizon from Mexico City, the dormant Iztaccíhuatl volcano is Mexico’s third-highest peak and a popular choice for hiking excursions. Iztaccíhuatl is named for its resemblance to a sleeping woman, and scaling the 17,159-foot-high (5,230-meter-high) summit offers impressive views of Popocatépetl and the Valley of Mexico.
France has the Champs-Élysées, New Orleans has St. Charles Street, and Mexico City has the Paseo de la Reforma. More than just a major thoroughfare that spans the length of the city, the street is a historical touchstone to remind all who pass through of the robust history of Mexico City.
Once commissioned by then-newly crowned emperor Maximilian, the Paseo de la Reforma was built to connect the center of the city with his imperial residence, Chapultepec Castle in Chapultepec Park. Originally named after his beloved, the promenade was named Paseo de la Emparitz. After Maximilian’s execution and the liberation of the Mexican people, the street was renamed the Paseo de la Reforma and has since stood as a testament to the resiliency of the Mexican people.
Today, the most prominent buildings in Mexico City reside along the avenue. For a time during President Diego’s regime, the paseo became popular with the Mexican elite, and some European styled houses developed. Also along the paseo are many historic monuments, including ones to Cuauhtémoc, Simón Bolívar, José de San Martín and Christopher Columbus.
Soccer—orfútbol as it’s called in Spanish—is an integral part of Mexican culture. For the country’s people, Azteca Stadium (Estadio Azteca), which is the largest stadium in Mexico, is the heart of the sport. Home to the professional soccer team Club América and the Mexican national team, the 84,000-seat stadium is the first venue to host two FIFA World Cup finals, and it will welcome a third in 2026.
Just north of Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park (Bosque de Chapultepec), the upscale district of Polanco is home to some of the country’s wealthiest families. In addition to high-end real estate, the city’s most luxurious hotels and priciest restaurants line the streets of the district’s five neighborhoods. At the center of it all is the welcoming green space of Parque Lincoln.
Built in 1956, the Latin-American Tower (Torre Latinoamericana) was once Latin America’s tallest building. And while it’s weathered a handful of major earthquakes, the Torre is no longer the region’s most towering skyscraper (that title belongs to a building in Argentina). Still, impressive city views from the 44th-floor observation deck, strong drinks at the 41st floor lounge and a well-curated museum that showcases the history of the city make this architectural beauty worth checking out.
Travelers say the Torre Latinoamericana offers some of the most breathtaking views around, but it’s best to wait for ideal weather conditions (and days when city smog is under control), otherwise there’s little to see from the Torre’s observation deck.
Architecture, art, and pre-Hispanic culture combine at the pyramid-shaped Anahuacalli Museum, conceptualized by Mexican artist Diego Rivera and Juan O’Gorman and built from black volcanic rock. Opened in 1964, this singular museum houses Rivera’s collection of about 2,000 pre-Hispanic artifacts, murals, mosaics, and more.
In Mexico City, La Merced Market serves as the go-to spot for Mexican food items, while neighboring Sonora Market (Mercado de Sonora) is home to pretty much everything else. Vendors sell handmade and specialty goods, including pottery, religious items, and even animals. Known as the Witchcraft Market, the shopping center is filled with medicinal plants and occult items.
Take on roller coasters, river rapids, and laser tag at Six Flags Mexico—the only Six Flags theme park in Latin America. Located at the southern edge of Mexico City, this theme park brings to life comic book characters and cartoons via all manner of family-friendly attractions, spread across seven areas, including DC Super Heroes.
Historic Plaza Garibaldi is the go-to spot for live local music in Mexico City. To get the full experience, cozy up to the bar at one of the square's numerous tequila joints, watch a folkloric show, or settle in to an outdoor table and enjoy the hustle of urban life as mariachi bands weave among patrons while playing traditional tunes.
The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) isn't your average university. The Mexico City-based school was started in 1551 by King Philip II of Spain (at which point it was called the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico) and is the oldest university in North America and the second oldest in all the Americas. Today, it is the largest university in Mexico and has a strong emphasis on research and cultural impact. UNAM isn't just for students, though; travelers to Mexico City who love history will also enjoy visiting this prestigious school.
The main draw for visitors is to see the Central University Campus, which wasn't built until the 1950s. The Central University Campus is a work of art in and of itself thanks to its modern architecture that features the focal point of a massive block of a building with the side adorned in murals done by Diego Rivera, Diego Alfaro Siqueiros and other prominent artists. Thanks to the artistic flair and history of the campus, it is a UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Humanity site.
The University Cultural Center is also a big draw thanks to the performances in its concert hall as well as being home to a wide range of exhibits and the National Library. The university is also home to museums that can be toured, including ones that focus on mural artwork, architecture, astronomy and different cultures.
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