The vibrant, massive, and enthralling Mexico City is home to countless historical landmarks, delectable traditional cuisine, and a plethora of activities. Mexico’s capital is simple to get to and very inexpensive. Planning your trip accordingly and listing its attractions can take quite a lot of work. There are countless things to do in Mexico City that will offer you so much diversity of experiences.
Mexico City is slowly getting rid of its bad reputation from the stories of crime and violence. This caused many travelers to bypass this destination, and if you now ask the ones that already got a taste of Mexico City, they will be sure to tell you it is their ultimate favorite destination. Mexico City is so rich in culture, with friendly people, breathtaking architecture, and street food like no other in the world.
Everything about this massive metropolis is sure to enchant you before you even know it, and while the list of things to do in Mexico City can go on forever, here are the ones that simply cannot be missed.
Guessing what you should be taking on your trip? Have a peek at my suitcase, and see what are the essentials here:
I get it, it’s impossible to see and do everything in one trip, and limiting yourself to one area every day is an excellent plan. Whatever you plan to do during your stay in Mexico City, one thing is sure, you’ll be planning your next trip before this one’s even through.
To read my complete review of the Mercado de San Juan walking tour click here.
While in Mexico City don’t miss out on activities that will help immerse yourself with the city (hurry while they’re hot!):
- Teotihuacan, Shrine of Guadalupe & Tlatelolco Day Tour
- Mexico City: Full-Day Hop-on/Hop-off Bus Tour
- Xochimilco & Coyoacan Full-Day Tour with Frida Kahlo Museum
- From Mexico City: Teotihuacán Early Access & Liquor Tasting
- Mexico: Full-Day Teotihuacan & Basilica Guadalupe Tour
- From Mexico City: Teotihuacan Air Balloon Flight & Breakfast
- From Mexico City: Puebla and Cholula Full-Day Tour
- From Mexico City: Teotihuacan and Guadalupe Shrine Day Tour
- Taxco and Cuernavaca Full-Day Tour from Mexico City
Exploring Guatemala after Mexico? Read these guides here:
- 26 Best Things To Do In Mexico City
- Luis Barragán House and Studio
- Gran Hotel Ciudad de México
- Templo Mayor
- Palacio Nacional
- Sculpture Garden at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo
- Mercado Roma
- La Ópera
- Museo Jumex
- Museo Nacional de Antropología
- Chapultepec Castle
- Take a Free Walking Tour
- Take a Gourmet Walking Tour of Mercado de San Juan
- Cruise the canals of Xochimilco
- Museo Frida Kahlo
- Sunset Drinks at Terraza Catedral (Cathedral Terrace)
- Visit the Ancient Pyramids of Teotihuacan
- Take in a Lucha Libre Experience
- Try Pulque: A Unique Mexican Drink
- Visit Plaza Garibaldi
- Learn How to Make Mexican Food Yourself!
- Visit the Mercado Sonora (Witchcraft Market)
- Get Churro Chocolate Wasted at El Moro
- Visit the National Museum of Anthropology
- Experience The Dance of the Voladores
- Visit the neighborhoods of Coyoacan and San Angel
- Restaurante Arroyo
- Wrapping Up On The Things To Do In Mexico City
Visiting other places in Mexico? Check out these guides
- Best Things to Do in Cozumel, Mexico
- 12 Must-Try La Paz Restaurants & Bars!
- 13 Must-Try Restaurants in Cancun
- 17 Best Restaurants in Playa Del Carmen
- 15 Best Restaurants in Tulum
26 Best Things To Do In Mexico City
General Francisco Ramírez 12-14 // (+52) 55 5515 4908
In Mexico City’s Hidalgo District, the old house and studio of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Luis Barragán have been converted into a museum. The artist’s clever use of color, light, shadow, shape, and texture is studied by architecture and design enthusiasts who visit the home.
The estate’s austere gray façade blends perfectly with the surrounding residences, but inside you’ll discover stunning walls in a kaleidoscope of brilliant hues, with fountains and pools.
Architecture and design enthusiasts flock to this museum, although the museum is only open through appointments and is always accompanied by a guide. The number of visitors each day is limited, and children under the age of ten are not admitted.
16 de Septiembre 82 // (+52) 55 1083 7700
Even if you aren’t staying at this Zócalo hotel, it is worth visiting just to view the stunning decor. In 1899, the structure was first used as a department store.
Its art nouveau bones have been meticulously preserved since then. The ancient elevator is the first of its kind in Mexico City, built of iron and concrete. The curving staircase is a copy of the one at Paris’s Le Bon Marché. The magnificent Tiffany stained-glass ceiling, imported from France in 1908, is the pièce de résistance.
People frequently visit the rooftop terrace bar, with views of the Zócalo, the beating heart of Mexico City, and one of the largest plazas in Latin America.
Seminario 8 // (+52) 55 4040 5600
The Templo Mayor (main temple) was the focal point of Tenochtitlán, the ancient Aztec capital built amid the marshes of Lake Texcoco in 1325. During the Spanish invasion in 1521, the temple was pulled down and replaced by a church. Surprisingly, the excavation of the temple did not begin until the late 1970s. The massive stone ruins now stand in the center of Centro Histórico.
As the temples are embedded in the downtown design and partially consumed by the hustle of the streets and surrounding buildings, it’s difficult to envision them in their original Aztec splendor. There is a museum surrounding the open archeological site, which is fortunately well-organized.
The numerous artifacts and drawings of Tenochtitlán’s magnificent metropolis featured inside help you visualize it.
On guarded walkways that lead to the museum, you may stroll through the ruins (an additional entry fee is required). Some guides are native English speakers. It attracts both Mexican and foreign tourists, many of whom are archeology and history enthusiasts.
If you’re interested in Mexico City’s history, Templo Mayor is the right place to spend an afternoon.
Plaza de la Constitución // (+52) 55 3688 1100
The National Palace is a must-see for culture enthusiasts. Find Frida Kahlo and Karl Marx, among other famous personalities, in the game Where’s Waldo. Although there is a chance to visit dignitaries and other events, the building may close at unusual hours during the day. Find out when they’re open and plan your visit accordingly.
In the prominent structure east of the Zócalo, you will spot the murals from the magnificent Diego Rivera on free display.
The building serves as the seat of Mexico’s federal executive branch, so security guards will check your bags and ask for identification before you enter. But you’ll be astonished when you turn the corner and see Rivera’s masterpiece.
The History of Mexico, a renowned mural by Diego Rivera, depicts the Aztec epoch through the conquest, the Revolution, and industry rise. It’s vast and enthralling, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about Mexico’s past.
There are guides available, but unless you’re a die-hard Rivera fan, you won’t need them. Diego Rivera had a long and illustrious career: The murals attract a mix of local, national, and international visitors daily. It’s wonderful that this work of art is free and available to the public.
Centro Cultural Universitario // (+52) 55 1534 7102
The Sculpture Park is located on the outskirts of Mexico City, on the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. It is entirely off the beaten path. The park is best visited on foot, as it has several large outdoor sculptures.
One of the most notable features is the sculpture space, which resembles a massive crater. It’s built around lava (visible in the middle), and the ledge offers spectacular views.
Spend the afternoon roaming the place with no goal because it’s in a tree-filled garden. You’ll come across a lot of fascinating sculptures. The park is a beautiful location to spend a few hours, even if you are not the biggest fan of art or sculptures.
C. Querétaro 225 // (+52) 55 5564 1396
In the years before the Magado Roma was built, many protested gentrification and feared it would ruin the area. Today, Mercado Roma is ideal for tasting Spanish wines and tasting tapas, shopping for expensive cheeses, and munching on snacks from the stalls. In Coyoacán, Mercado Roma also has a second location.
Minisatellite puestos from local eateries, a coffee bar, vegan tacos, cured meats, and cheeses are all on the menu. A rooftop beer garden with a foosball table and a ground-floor terrace with herb beds are also available.
The sandwiches at French Dip are filling and reasonably priced. Look around the stalls to see what piques your interest, then walk upstairs for some drinks on the cooling terrace.
Avenue 5 de Mayo 10 // (+52) 55 5512 8959
The history of this historic pub is reflected in the decor, tiled flooring, filigreed ceilings, and frosted glass complement the deep, dark, polished wood. It’s as if you’ve traveled back in time to the 1870s, which is when the bar first opened.
Bar patrons are a mix of after-work regulars and well-researched travelers. Keep in mind that you won’t get any creative drinks here; the bartenders’ expertise is limited to rum and coke and tequila-soda combinations. Straight tequila is the drink of choice, paired with Sangrita, a salty-sweet tomato-based shot.
If you sit at the bar for a while, you’ll always get a cantina-style botana (snack), such as hot peanuts or a small dish of refried beans and chips.
It is a necessity to visit this bar when in Centro, even if it is just for a beer and a bit of history. Pancho Villa, a revolutionary hero, shot his pistol through the ceiling in 1910, and the bullet hole is still visible. Request that the bartender points it out to you
Blvd. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 303 // (+52) 55 5395 2618
Museo Jumex, which opened in the center of Polanco in 2013, is the city’s newest modern art museum. Grupo Jumex, one of the largest juice companies in Mexico, financed the structure, which is unique in its design and functionality. British architect David Chipperfield created the 15,000-square-foot white-concrete cube with a sawtooth top.
Andy Warhol, Martin Kippenberger, Cy Twombly, and Damien Hirst are featured artists in the Colección Jumex, one of Latin America’s most remarkable private modern art collections. Paintings and drawings, as well as light and video installations, are among the mediums used.
Non-permanent exhibits often rotate and usually only showcase one or two artists at a time. (One of the most recent ones was on Andy Warhol.) The work is displayed against clean white walls with just-right lighting in well-curated exhibits.
The structure appeals to both architectural and modern art aficionados. Add to that the fact that the Soumaya Museum is only across the plaza, and you’ve just killed two birds with one stone.
The museum is well-organized and simple to navigate. Ramps, elevators, and a variety of wheelchairs are all accessible for usage. The Garat Café on campus provides decent coffee and simple food like sandwiches and frozen yogurt.
A Spanish-language tour guide is available during the week; an English guide must be booked in advance. So, if you just have an hour, go to the non-permanent exhibition that most interests you first, then go to the permanent collection if your time allows.
Avenue Paseo de la Reforma // (+52) 55 5553 6266
Located in Chapultepec Park, this museum is the second most famous one in the city, after Museo Frida Kahlo.
The massive concrete structure, built by late Mexican architect Pedro Ramrez Vázquez in 1964, nevertheless seems as avant-garde now as it did then. As a result, some visitors come only to see the structure, which is arguably as magnificent as the exhibits.
With over 23 rooms, the museum has the world’s greatest collection of ancient Mexican antiquities. Here you’ll find some of the most famous Mesoamerican artifacts ever unearthed. A visit here is a necessity if you want to learn about Mexico’s history. However, the displays are so dense that seeing them all in one stop might be overwhelming.
The museum is usually bustling, yet, since it is so vast, it never seems crowded. Everyone that visits Mexico City should include this museum in their itinerary. There are plenty of outside areas for children to run about while their parents view the displays.
The museum is handicap accessible, and anybody with mobility difficulties can hire a wheelchair for free. Between exhibit rooms, there are benches in the outdoor spaces around water features to relax and take stock.
If you don’t know Spanish, you have an option to get an audio guide or book a trip ahead of time. Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., free hour-long tours are given. The museum’s most significant items will be pointed out by guides (don’t miss the massive sunstone, an early prototype of a calendar), giving depth to your understanding of Mexico’s past.
Bosque de Chapultepec, atop Chapultepec Hill
Suggested by: Susan of Solo Trips and Tips
Looking for a taste of the old world? I’d recommend a visit to the extravagant Chapultepec Castle, the only royal castle in the Americas. Located at the highest point in beautiful Chapultepec Park.
Located at the highest point of beautiful Chapultepec Park, this castle was built between 1785 – 1787 as a vacation residence for Viceroy Bernardo de Galvez. At one point, it served as the imperial residence for Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota. Now, the castle houses the National Museum of History.
Derived from the Aztec Nahuatl language, the castle’s name, Chapultepec means Grasshopper Hill.
The museum houses extraordinary murals by Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and other world-renowned artists. Other must-sees include the carriages on the ground floor and the opulent furnishings and displays in the upstairs rooms. I’d also recommend you take a few minutes to enjoy panoramic views of Paseo de la Reforma from the Chapultepec Castle’s black and white tiled balcony.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 5:00 (closed Mondays). To get there, take Metro Line 1 to Chapultepec Station and walk up the hill.
Take a Free Walking Tour
Suggested by: Megsy of Food Fun Travel
With nearly 9 million people, Mexico City is HUGE, and getting your bearings can be difficult. That’s why I always recommend a free walking tour.
There are plenty of companies to choose from, but we went with Mexico a Pie — which means Mexico by foot. There were no pies, sadly…maybe an empanada. These guys speak amazing English and are friendly, knowledgeable, and all-around expert guides to Mexico City.
We wouldn’t have even known parts of the city were there had we not taken this tour. We discovered ancient Aztec temple ruins right in the heart of the city and learned fascinating information about the sinking Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral. In fact, because it was built on a swamp, all of Mexico City is sinking quite rapidly (for a city, at least). I was fascinated to see what officials are doing to combat this.
You will learn all this and more on this tour, and as I said at the beginning — it’s absolutely free! Of course, the guides always appreciate tips, but they are honestly just people who are passionate about their city — and it shows.
Take a Gourmet Walking Tour of Mercado de San Juan
San Juan Market (Mercado de San Juan) is not your typical local Mexico City market. Where else could you find lion meat, deep-fried tarantulas, tiger meat, BBQ’d crocodile and all kinds of other exotic offerings.
Sure you’ll find plenty of fruits and veggies, but not like any other market in Mexico City — or even in all of Mexico. Here, vendors specialize in unique offerings mostly imported from Asia and Europe.
Because of its exotic ingredients, the market has become a go-to for chefs, who you can find shopping alongside everyone else.
The market also has many restaurants on-site, ranging from sandwich shops to gourmet seafood stalls and even stands that will grill your selections of lion and tiger meat while you wait.
While you can visit the market on your own, I suggest you take a tour with a company I enjoyed, Eat Mexico. They’ll tell you all about the market’s history and give you a much better understanding of what you should (and shouldn’t) try. My guide was an actual chef with a ton of knowledge about the market. After eating our way through Mercado de San Juan, we even went on to sample some authentic street food.
Suggested by: Amanda of The World Wanderers
Xochmilco is a must-do while visiting Mexico City! Located an hour south of the city center Xochimilco is a series of canals you can tour by boat. Most of what we know now as central Mexico City used to be a lake, so, in some ways, Xochimilco is a window back into the past.
Locals and tourists alike know Xochimilco as one big party! Rent a boat for a couple of hours with your friends and family and ride through the beautiful canals as you snap photos, eat food, drink, and listen to music! Almost anything goes on Xochimilco.
To tour Xochimilco, you’ll need to find and rent a boat (trajinera). Most recommend you take 2-4 hours to see the canals in their entirety, but we opted for 2 hours, and that was the perfect amount of time. There are plenty of signs advertising 500 pesos per hour, so make sure you pay that and not a penny more!
There are a few places to stop along the way. We opted to simply take photos from the boat, but if you are keen to stop, just let your guide/captain know. One of the most popular photos stops is Doll Island, a creepy area with dolls hanging from the trees. The place is rumored to be a tribute to a girl who drowned in the canals years ago.
So, get your friends together, pack a cooler with all the beer, put together a kickass Reggaeton playlist, and head out for a super fun afternoon on Xochimilco! Don’t forget your Bluetooth speakers so you can dance, sing, and party like the locals!
Londres 247 // (+52) 55 5554 5999
The famous Frida Khalo was born and raised at this museum, known as “Casa Azul” because of its striking azure blue façade. She shared the house until her last days with her fellow artist/husband, Diego Rivera,
While they have a small collection of their artwork, the couple’s collection of folk art, pre-Hispanic antiquities, pictures, mementos, personal things, and more is probably more amazing.
In addition to other current painters of their day, there are just a few works by Kahlo and Rivera. But that doesn’t matter; you’ve come to the home of Frida Khalo; it’s already a thrill itself. You’ll easily imagine what their life looked like since the house has been meticulously kept and maintained.
The kitchen is heated by wood and has enormous cazuelas for cooking. There is still a recipe for Frida’s mole sauce on the wall. Frida’s clothing and corsets, which she required to support her body following a horrific injury, provide an intimate glimpse into the artist’s everyday difficulties.
Once inside, there is a particular path to follow to tour the home. It’s simple to move about the room, but, on busy weekends, a bottleneck can form. Not all floors are wheelchair accessible, and unfortunately, I was not permitted to take photographs. Our tour lasted around 90 minutes.
On a quiet day at the museum, the cozy cafe is the right spot to relax and think amid the home’s gorgeous grounds. With indoor and outdoor components, the space is diversified and intriguing.
Sunset Drinks at Terraza Catedral (Cathedral Terrace)
Republic of Guatemala 4 // +52 55 5518 1726
Suggested by: Megan of Bobo and Chichi
One of the best things to do in Mexico City when in Zocalo is checking out the rooftop bars overlooking this historical city center.
We highly recommend the view from Tereza Cathedral. Located in an unassuming hotel, you’ll enjoy this rooftop bar’s cool vibe, fully loaded bar, and cheap cervezas as you overlook the Metropolitan Cathedral and Avenida Madero all the way down to the Latin America Building.
If you want a real moody scene, come for sunset. We lucked out with a gorgeous orange sunset that cemented this bar as one of the most memorable spots in the city for us and our friends.
Visit the Ancient Pyramids of Teotihuacan
Suggested by: Kate of Our Escape Clause
Teotihuacan is a city like no other: nicknamed the City of the Gods by the Aztecs, the city is home to pyramids that reach into the sky — and pyramids you can still climb today (if you’re willing to get a bit out of breath)!
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Teotihuacan is that, while the Aztecs named it, they definitely didn’t build it — the city predates the Aztecs by about 1000 years. What exactly built Teotihuacan is a mystery today, and standing in the city is a not-so-subtle reminder of how much history has been lost to time.
Whether you visit the ruins with a group or on your own, Teotihuacan is an easy day trip from nearby Mexico City and it’s one we heartily recommend.
There is nothing quite like standing atop a pyramid and staring out over an ancient, mysterious city — and in Teotihuacan, you can experience it for yourself.
Take in a Lucha Libre Experience
Suggested by: Michael of The Round the World Guys
When we visited Mexico City for a 4-day weekend a while back, we really had no idea what we wanted to see. We just wanted something uniquely Mexican. Fortunately, a friend we met there had something in mind — Lucha Libre. When he explained it to us, I had no real interest, and I only decided to go to be polite. My first thought was “WWE,” and I am decidedly not a fan!
But I’m glad I went! Lucia libre is definitely “unique.” Men, women, and even little people take part. And their masks are designed insanely well. I learned later that they’re often based on Aztec art. As a newbie, you get the feeling that these guys can do whatever they want in the ring – anything – anonymously!
Lucha libre has far more personality than the wrestling you see in America. Wrestlers — or luchadores — often come from a long family line. And audience members identify and take a lot of pride in those lines.
While Lucha libre might not be on your original CDMX list, I encourage you to give it a shot. It’s a really fun night out with locals, and you get to participate in something that’s uniquely Mexican!
Try Pulque: A Unique Mexican Drink
Suggested by Dave of Dave on Arrival
Tequila and Mezcal aren’t the only alcoholic beverages exclusively made in Mexico. Pulque has actually been around much longer than either of them. And while you can buy tequila in almost any country, you will not find fresh pulque anywhere outside of Mexico.
This is because the drink requires an ongoing fermentation process and must be consumed within a few days of maturation, otherwise it spoils. This makes exporting the stuff very difficult.
So what exactly is pulque? Put simply, it is fermented agave sap. Since it isn’t cooked down, it keeps a thick and slimy texture you might expect from cactus juice. The flavor is quite sour. Most pulquerias give you the option of drinking it plain (Blanco) or sweetened with added fruit or nut mixtures (curado).
If you are looking for a truly Mexican experience that predates even Cortez and the Spanish, find a pulqueria in Mexico City and indulge in the “drink of the gods”.
Visit Plaza Garibaldi
Suggested by Noel of Travel Photo Discovery
If you’re looking for an experience unique to Mexico City, head out to Garibaldi square (or Plaza Garibaldi in Spanish) on your next visit.
This large open square is lined with dozens of good Mexican restaurants and a slew of roving Mariachi players and wicked tequila bars — you’re in for a fun night.
The action on Garibaldi tends to start later when the bars and restaurants are hopping. If you’re in the mood for a quiet dinner, come earlier and stay for all the entertainment after.
If you’re not sure about what food to order, don’t worry. Most places have English menus. You can even ask to take a look inside the kitchen to see what’s cooking on the stove. Check out more of Garibaldi square here for more pictures and fun things to do in the area.
Garibaldi square is located in the historic downtown district, just a few blocks north of Palacio Bellas Artes.
Learn How to Make Mexican Food Yourself!
Suggested by Claire from Tales of a Backpacker
Food is a huge part of the culture, especially in Mexico where traditional Mexican cuisine has been awarded UNESCO status as a piece of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
One of the best ways to learn more about Mexican food while visiting Mexico City is to take a cooking class.
Casa Jacaranda is a cookery school hosted within the home of two passionate foodies, Beto and Jorge. They teach visitors to make traditional Mexican dishes like cochinita pibil, tamales, and guacamole with chapulines (grasshoppers).
I loved the class, which began with a market tour around the Mercado Medellín in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. There, we visited Jorge’s favorite stalls, sampled some coffee, ice cream, and cheeses, and bought all our ingredients for the class. Then we headed home to Casa Jacaranda, where we learned all the techniques for making delicious Mexican food!
We tried some mezcal cocktails and Mexican wine and then got to eat everything we had made — from a beautiful terrace surrounded by Jacaranda trees.
Visit the Mercado Sonora (Witchcraft Market)
Suggested by Patrick of German Backpacker
A visit at the Mercado Sonora — an infamous witchcraft market — likely isn’t on the standard list of tourist attractions in Mexico City. But it was, nonetheless, an interesting experience. The market is located in the historical center of Mexico City. I reached it pretty easily by the Zocalo on foot, but some did warn me about walking off randomly through some of the neighborhoods around the market. So, you might want to take an Uber instead. As you should in every busy market, take care of your belongings and your pockets.
At first glance, the busy and crowded market was a lot like other Latin-American markets I’ve found in the area. However, when I looked closer, I realized some of the items sold at Mercado Sonora were definitely unique and couldn’t be found elsewhere. Skulls, skeletons, stuffed animals, medicine, even little bottles of liquid promising magical power, virility, and eternal love. I can’t think of a single thing you can’t find here.
Unfortunately, I was rather shocked by the area with living animals caged in tiny spaces. The animals were kept in horrible conditions, stacked over one another, and some even seemed lifeless. This part was certainly illegal since I was threatened when I tried to take a picture of it.
As you can see, the Mercado Sonora is definitely a unique experience. If you’re looking for an adventurous and non-touristic thing to do in Mexico City, make sure to visit!
Get Churro Chocolate Wasted at El Moro
Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 42 // +52 55 5512 0896
Suggested by Nina of Where in the World is Nina
Churros and hot chocolate. Once you try it, you can die happy, I promise. I mean, do we really need anything else in life? The sweet, sticky, crispy, and cinnamony sticks are what dessert dreams (or maybe even dinner dreams) are made of. And, as if you needed more sugar, washing all that down with El Moro’s sweet and rich hot chocolate couldn’t be more of a match made in heaven. If you’re brave, you’ll dunk your churro in the hot chocolate.
My boyfriend and I ordered a churro and hot chocolate set each…right after a full lunch. Even the most gluttonous would have struggled to finish, but I’m still ashamed to say we left two of our eight churros on our plate. If you do nothing else while in Mexico City, I can tell you, sitting around people watching, eating churros, and sipping hot chocolate is a totally legit way to spend your time while visiting Mexico City.
El Moro is known as the hottest spot to chow down, but as long as you find a spot that has some fresh churros coming out, you should be good!
Visit the National Museum of Anthropology
Av Paseo de la Reforma & Calzada Gandhi // +52 55 4040 5300
Suggested by: Jonathan of The Royal Tour
Looking to learn about Mexico’s past and present culture while visiting Mexico City? Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology is a great place to start. The museum consists of two floors. The first is dedicated to the archaeology of Mesoamerican cultures and the second is to the ethnography of modern Mexico and its 68 distinct ethnic groups.
The artifacts stored here are incredible. While, unfortunately, most descriptions are only in Spanish, I still found myself wandering around and staring in awe. Each room is dedicated to a different culture and is accompanied by a video.
Many of the rooms have an outdoor section where entire buildings have been brought in for you to explore!
As a guy who loves both history and museums, this museum is one of the best places I have ever visited. It should be a must-see on every list of things to do in Mexico City.
Experience The Dance of the Voladores
Suggested by: Ashley of My Wanderlusty Life
The Dance of the Voladores is a spectacle you can’t miss when visiting Mexico City. You can find it all over, including popular Mexico City attractions like the Museum of Anthropology and Teotihuacan.
The “dance” is an ancient Mesoamerican ritual traditionally invoked to keep the gods happy, end drought and maintain fertility. It originated in nearby Veracruz but, over time, has spread throughout Mexico.
The dance utilizes a 100-foot pole and 4 or 5 men (always men) with traditional bird-like outfits and some serious cojones.
The dancers climb the pole, wrap themselves in rope, then slowly descend (upside down) back to Earth in a circular motion — all while playing flutes and banging drums. It’s an interesting, mesmerizing, and oddly relaxing spectacle to watch (especially since it’s so simultaneously terrifying).
The entire Dance of the Voladores lasts about ten minutes and has been named by UNESCO as a piece of “intangible cultural heritage.”
Visit the neighborhoods of Coyoacan and San Angel
Suggested by: Sarah of Live, Dream, Discover
Coyoacan and San Angel were both independent villages until the mid-20th-century when Mexico City’s expansion transformed them into urban neighborhoods. Today, they offer an easy and pleasant retreat from the busy center of the capital.
Coyoacan is the quieter, less touristy of the two, with tree-lined cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafes, museums, and colonial churches. I definitely recommend you take the time to visit the Frida Kahlo Museum, aka the Blue House, and the San Juan Bautista Cathedral.
San Angel is picture-perfect, with narrow streets lined with colorful buildings and an abundance of flowers. There is also a thriving art scene. On Saturdays, the beautiful Plaza de San Jacinto turns into a vibrant art bazaar.
Coyoacan and San Angel are not well served by public transit, so taxis and Uber are the best ways to get to these neighborhoods. Once there, you will find walking the best way to get around. The walk from one neighborhood to the other is beautiful and takes about an hour.
Avenida Insurgentes Sur 4003 // 52 55 5573 4344
Suggested by: Daniel of Layer CultureIf you’re visiting Mexico City and looking for a local traditional Mexican experience, be sure to visit Restaurante Arroyo.
It’s the largest Mexican restaurant in Mexico and one of the largest Mexican food restaurants in the world. You can find it in the Tlalpan area of Mexico City. Restaurante Arroyo is especially fun to visit for a celebration with family or friends. The music, joyful staff, and mariachis will have you singing along as you eat the delicious food.
You’ll be greeted with a large menu chalked full of Mexican food choices. Their specialty is Barbacoa, meat slow-cooked in a traditional style over a fire.
The restaurant hosts different groups of entertainers from all around Mexico. Depending on what night you go, you’ll also get to experience a different flavor of musical talent. Make sure you call to reserve a table, as the place is very busy with locals all year round.
Wrapping Up On The Things To Do In Mexico City
There is something completely captivating about Mexico City’s vibrant atmosphere. Although its vastness may appear frightening at first, you’ll quickly discover that the city is relatively manageable. Public transportation is cheap, with a well-organized subway and bus system. Cards are accepted almost everywhere, and for street food and shopping, you will have to pay with cash (pesos).
I understand if all you want to eat while in Mexico City is Mexican food. However, if you still crave international cuisines, the city has plenty of Japanese, French, Italian, Brazilian, and Colombian spots that can fully satisfy anyone’s tastiest.
Give yourself at least a week to explore all that Mexico City has to offer, including excellent eating options, magnificent architecture, historic ruins, and a dynamic environment.
Travel writer and owner of the blog. My work has been featured on Fodors, Eater.com, International Living, and Great Escape Publishing, among many others. My story? Nearly six years ago, I left my job at an Oklahoma City law firm and embarked on a journey around the world. At the time, I thought I would only be gone for 6 months, but the more I traveled, the longer my bucket list became. Flashpacker describes how I travel. Rather than traveling as the normal world wise backpacker and staying in hostel dorms, I prefer a more comfortable experience, and typically stay in private rooms, take Ubers instead of taxis, and now use a suitcase instead of a backpack. Foodie, on the other hand, describes one of the key reasons why I travel. I love to pick a central “base camp” and then explore the surrounding area, really immersing myself in the culture and interacting with the people, and enjoying and exploring the food of an area is an essential part of this experience.