Mexico City is one of my favorite cities in the world. This bustling metropolitan can seem overwhelming and chaotic, but take it little by little and you’ll undoubtedly fall in love as well. Mexico City can often feel like a dozen cities in one. Once you find your neighborhood and favorite spots in the throes of this city of over 20 million people, it’s easy to feel at home. It’s impossible to get bored in Mexico City. It’s one of the liveliest and most exciting cities I’ve ever been to. Culture, history, and cuisine intersect in every plaza and alleyways of Mexico’s capital. Whether your travel style is sightseeing or roaming around aimlessly, Mexico City has a slew of things to do for you.
While you’ll surely find your own favorite things to do in Mexico City, this list is a good place to start.
Catch Sunset Views from Torre Latinoamericana
It doesn’t get much better than the 44th floor views from the top of Torre Latinoamericana. For 160 pesos ($8 USD), you can make it to the top of this iconic tower and take in panoramic views of Mexico City and the surrounding landscapes. It’s a perfect spot to go for sunset. Just clear up your camera roll beforehand because you’ll be taking a lot of pictures. If you want to avoid paying the 160 peso entry fee, you can also just go up to Miralto Restaurant on the 41st floor. It’s pricy, but you can at least get some food or drinks for your 160 pesos.
Visit the Pyramids of Teotihuacan
The archaeological site of Teotihuacan is one of the best that you’ll find in Mexico. Its close proximity to Mexico City also makes it a popular day trip from the big city. Bring some sunscreen and a hat, and get your legs ready to climb these epic pyramids.
Go on a Booze Cruise in Xochimilco
As tacky and touristy as it gets, Xochimilco is undeniably good fun. Get some friends together, rent one of these colorful gondolas for about $25 per hour, and take on the waterways of Xochimilco. There’ll be hundreds of boats on the canals, from your fellow tourists, to alcohol vendors and Mariachi bands. It’s a guaranteed good time to be had in Mexico City.
Roam Through the Historic Zocalo
The historic center of Mexico City, also known as Zocalo, is a beautiful and lively area to walk through. It’s got a hustle and bustle to it that just makes you feel alive. Roaming around aimlessly here is the way to go, but one can also take to a rooftop terrace and catch some beautiful views of the Mexico City’s historic center.
Hostel Recommendation for Mexico City: Casa Pepe
Feast on Vegan Food at Condesa
Mexico City is a foodie paradise. Even if you don’t eat meat or animal products, you won’t miss out on much. Mexico City is one of my favorite cities for vegan food, specifically the neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma. Whether you want to sit down for a healthy quinoa bowl at Veguisima or grab a vegan street taco from Gracias Madre, Mexico City will deliver.
Wander Through Chapultepec Park
Mexico City is home to one of the largest city parks in the world, El Bosque De Chapultepec. This massive 686 hectare forest is an excellent place to wander and surround yourself in greenery. You’ll stumble into art museums, botanical gardens, and lots of street vendors selling anything you can imagine. It’s a great place to spend the day.
Hike Up To Castillo Chapultepec
While you’re at Chapultepec Park, be sure to make the trip up to Chapultepec Castle. The entry ticket costs about $4, and a short hike will take you up to a castle-turned-museum. It’s a beautiful building with lots of displays from throughout Mexican history. The views from the top are absolutely stunning, and worth the ticket alone. Don’t miss out on the vitrales, a beautiful hallway lined with stained-glass windows that is easily the most beautiful part of the castle.
Visit Casa Azul, The Frida Kahlo Museum
I’m not usually a fan of visiting people’s historic houses. They are often underwhelming experiences, but Frida’s house truly blew me away. The Frida Kahlo Museum, or Casa Azul, can be found in the Coyoacan neighborhood. Many of the rooms are left exactly how Frida left them before she died, including her studio. It’s a great look into the life of one of the world’s most fascinating humans. While you’re in the area, you can also check out Leon Trotsky’s house about five blocks away, where he spent some time as a Soviet exile (and Frida’s lover) before being assassinated in the same house.
The Anahuacalli Museum
If you have time, be sure to visit Diego Rivera’s magnificent Anahuacalli as well. It’s one of the most unique museums you’ll ever see. Buying tickets to the Frida Kahlo Museum also includes entry to the Anahuacalli. Although they aren’t within walking distance of each other, it’s well worth the trip.
Wander Through the Neighborhood of Coyoacan
If you’re visiting Frida Kahlo’s house, don’t limit yourself. The neighborhood of Coyoacan is one of my favorites in Mexico City. It feels like a small town within the big city. There are plenty of mercados to explore and hidden gems to be discovered. Some ceviche or pulpo tostadas at Mercado Coyoacan are an absolute must. Be sure to grab a coffee and listen to some live street music at Cafe El Jarocho.
Have A Night Out in Roma Norte
Roma Norte is the liveliest nightlife district in Mexico City, although admittedly a bit boujee. You’ll be able to find nightlife that accommodates to any budget or music taste, though. Treat yourself to a cocktail at Supra’s Rooftop Bar, or grab some cheap drinks at the more local and lively Pulqueria Los Insurgentes. Mama Rumba is poppin’ for live Latin music. Departamento’s another popular late night spot, although a bit more high end. You have no shortage of options in Roma Norte. Pop into Taqueria Orinoco for some drunk tacos afterwards.
Eat Cochinita Pibil at Tacos El Turix
I tried so hard to remain vegan in Mexico City, but my friend brought me to this local spot in the high-end neighborhood of Polanco and I couldn’t resist. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant is a huge contrast to the mansions and high-class restaurants that neighbor it. However, it might be the best spot to grab tacos in Polanco. The cochinita pibil is out of this world, and I was practically drooling watching the food being made.
Check Out Museum Soumaya in Polanco
While you’re in Polanco, there are a ton of museums to visit. The most iconic is probably Museo Soumaya. It’s an architectural marvel, although admittedly more interesting on the outside than on the inside.
Go To A Lucha Libre Match
This is a quintessential thing to do in Mexico City. It is great fun, no matter how tacky or cheesy you might think it is. Grab a few friends, a few cervezas, and just suspend reality for a couple of hours and enjoy the show.
Visit the National Anthropology Museum
Mexico City’s National Anthropology Museum is one of my favorite museums in the world. You can find it close to Chapultepec Park. It costs only 85 pesos to enter, and it’s easy to spend the entire day here. Most people know about the Aztecs and the Mayans, but Mexico’s human history goes far deeper than just those two civilizations. This museum is a rabbit hole for history and culture lovers. It’s one of the most fascinating museums I’ve ever been to.
Day Trip to the Pueblo Magico of Tepoztlan
The pueblo magico of Tepoztlan is about two hours of Mexico City. It’s a popular weekend getaway for Mexican citizens, but still relatively unknown to international travelers. Tepoztlan is a beautiful village with colorful street art, lively markets, and of course, the stunning mountain backdrop believed to be the birthplace of the Feathered Serpent God Quetzalcoatl.
Backpacker’s Guide to Tepoztlan, Morelos | Mexico
Visit the Palacio De Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts)
The Palacio De Bellas Artes is definitely far more impressive on the outside, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth going inside. It has a collection of fine arts and rotating exhibitions. You’ll be walking past Palacio de Bellas Artes several times during your adventures throughout Mexico City. Might as well go in!
Roam Through Alameda Central and Visit the Neighboring Museums
The Palacio de Bellas Ares is also right next to Alameda Central, a beautiful park that is Mexico City’s oldest public park. While you’re in the area, you can also visit the other museums lining the park. There is the Holocaust Museum, a Diego Rivera Mural, the Museo Kaluz and the Franz Mayer Museum. I’ve only been to the Franz Mayer museum, but that was definitely worth the free entry.
Hostel Recommendation Near Parque Alameda: Hostel Suites DF
Take a Day Trip to Nevado de Toluca
Located in Toluca state is the iconic Nevado de Toluca. It’ll take about three hours from Mexico City to reach the trailhead of Nevado de Toluca. Be warned, though, this is not for the faint of heart. If you plan on reaching the summit, make sure to have acclimatized to the altitude. It’s not the hardest hike in the world, but the fitter you are, the easier it’ll be. You don’t need aspirations of summiting to visit Nevado de Toluca. You can also just walk down and hang out by the beautiful lakes.
A Pilgrimage to Basilica of Guadalupe
The Basilica of Guadalupe is one of the most significant sites in Catholicism. The legend behind it is very fascinating, and whether you’re Catholic or not, you’ve likely heard the story. It’s a very sacred site, but if you aren’t particularly interested in religion, you might not want to go out of your way for it. Many tour agencies offer combination tours of Guadalupe and the ruins of Teotihuacan at a good price, so you can book that if you’d like a convenient way to check it out.
Explore La Lagunilla Market on Sundays
This flea market is one of the biggest and most chaotic that you’ll find in Latin America. It’s best to visit on a Sunday if you’re looking for maximum chaos. Don’t bring any valuables with you, as it is easy to be parted from them while you’re at La Lagunilla.
Roam Through Biblioteca Vasconcelos
This was unfortunately closed when I visited, but once it opens up, I definitely plan on checking it out. This library is stunning, and an architectural marvel of Mexico City. Of course, it’s a popular Instagram spot as well, and it’s easy to see why.
Update!! It’s open now and it was super cool. The upper floors are still closed, but even if you just want to pop in to see it, I thought it was worth it. It’s a good place to work, and has many rooms dedicated to music, art, and other things. There’s also a big garden outside for a breath of fresh air in between work sessions.
Take A Day Trip to the Pueblo Magico of Taxco de Alarcon
This city of all white nestled in the mountains of Guerrero is one of the best pueblos magicos in Mexico. Taxco captivated me right away. I’d never seen a city like this before. Despite being arguably the most beautiful town in Mexico, it remains off the typical tourist trail. You can easily reach Taxco by bus from Mexico City. It’s a good day trip, but I’d recommend sticking around for a couple of days.
The Complete Travel Guide to Taxco, Guerrero | Mexico
Grab A Bite To Eat (And Some Insects) At San Juan Market
Play With Dogs at Parque Mexico
Whenever I had nothing to do, I’d start my mornings with a coffee at Parque Mexico. This big park was excellent for people and dog watching. Walk through at any given time and someone would be teaching martial arts or a salsa class. Someone will be playing music. And of course, there will be lots of dogs at the dog park. On weekends, they also hold adoptions at the park. A good way to spend a day if you have nothing else to do is help the puppies get adopted.
Check Out The Art Museum of Jumex
In the neighborhood of Polanco right across from the Museo Soumaya, you’ll find Jumex Museum. While it shares the name with the Mexican juice brand, it doesn’t have anything to do with juice. It is a modern art museum which is completely free. If you’re in the area, there’s no loss in checking out this cool, free art museum.
Day Trip to the Epic Grutas de Tolantongo
About four hours away from Mexico City, you’ll find the marvelous Grutas Tolantongo. If you’re making a day trip, I recommend an early start because it can be a journey to get to. However, it’s probably the best weekend trip you can take from Mexico City. This park is filled with stunning waterfalls, caves, swimming holes, and dozens of thermal pools to relax in. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done in Mexico, and worth the journey from Mexico City.
The Complete Guide to Visiting Grutas Tolantongo
Shop at Mercado de los Insurgentes
This market, close to the Angel of Independence statue, is one of my favorites in Mexico City. It’s an artisanal market that’s perfect for souvenir shopping. I also just adored the street art that lined the entrance of the market. I mean, how cute is the one on the left!?
See the Mariachis at Plaza Garibaldi
Plaza Garibaldi is a renowned hub for mariachi. Make sure to visit in the evening when the plaza truly comes alive. Keep in mind that the musicians do need to get paid, and expect to pay around $7 USD per song if you have a specific request. For mariachi-lovers, this is an essential stop in Mexico.
Visit the Tequila and Mezcal Museum
At Plaza Garibaldi, you’ll also find the Tequila and Mezcal Museum. Tequila and mezcal are two integral parts of Mexican culture, and if you don’t have time to make it to Oaxaca or Jalisco, this could be the next best way to learn about the liquors behind your blackouts.
Take A Day Trip to Puebla
Less than two hours away from Mexico City is the beautiful and historic Puebla. While Puebla is one of Mexico’s biggest cities, it often feels like a small town. It is home to gorgeous architecture and amazing food. I actually prefer the neighboring pueblo magico of Cholula, so be sure not to miss it on your visit. It’s home to one of the most iconic churches in Mexico, built upon the remains of the biggest pyramid in Mexico. You can explore some underground tunnels before hitting up Cholula’s lively nightlife.
Go on a Street Food Tour of Mexico City
Mexico City is one of the street food capitals of the world. You’ll find street food vendors all throughout the city. You can explore Mexico City’s street food scene on your own or go with a local guide who knows all the best spots. @TheCuriousMexican has a street food tour that my friends highly recommended. You can find some other options below.
Browse Through Cafebreria El Pendulo
I was definitely on the digital nomad vibe while I was in Mexico City, and Cafebreria El Pendulo was one of my favorite work spots. It’s a bookstore, cafe, and restaurant all in one. My favorite location was in Polanco. Something about being surrounded by books just does wonders for my productivity. It’s worth popping in for a coffee while you’re roaming around Polanco. The aesthetic of Cafebreria El Pendulo definitely makes it a good Instagram spot.
Pop Into Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico
Now, you probably know that I can’t afford to be staying in boujee hotels any time soon. But, I was roaming the streets near the Zocalo and a fancy chandelier caught my eye. I randomly walked into this hotel, and it’s worth popping in and admiring the hotel for a few minutes. The ceiling is absolutely gorgeous. It’s also a renowned filming location, appearing in Frida and the James Bond films Licence to Kill and Spectre.
Visit the House of Tiles (Casa de Azulejos)
You’ll likely pass by this beautiful building on a wander through Mexico City. Don’t just admire it from the outside, it’s worth going inside as well. The inside is mostly a restaurant and a pharmacy, but it is a really cool setting. You’ll find murals from renowned Mexican painters and a lot of historic photographs, among other things.
Check out the Museo del Futuro Exhibit at Antiguo Hotel Reforma
This might just be a temporary exhibit, so see it while you can! It’s a small pop-up museum with just a few rooms, but each one is fascinating. It’s also the first time I’ve seen a museum feature NFTs and properly explain how they work, which was a refreshing change from some tech bro just yelling at my face in a bar or something.
Rent A Bike And Cycle Through the City (Best on Sundays)
On Sundays, many streets of the city are closed down to vehicle traffic and only open to pedestrians, cyclists, and other wheeled forms of transports. It’s a great, stress-free way to quickly explore the city without worry of being hit by a car. Sunday mornings tend to be quieter in Mexico City, so it’s a rare opportunity to find some calm in the chaos.
Visit the Museum of the Bank of Mexico
One of my Mexican friends visited me in the city and was adamant that we visit the Bank of Mexico. I finally gave in on her last day in Mexico City, and was actually surprised at how cool the experience was. You wouldn’t think visiting a bank was all that interesting, but for a free museum, it was worth stopping by for an hour or two. The exhibits were fascinating, from an immersive display inside the bank’s vault to a scavenger hunt to turn your museum visit into an interactive game.
Visit Izta-Popo National Park
One of the best escapes into nature from Mexico City is visiting Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl National Parks. It’ll take about an hour and a half to get there from Mexico City, depending on traffic and where in the city you are. You can spend the entire day here hiking whilst in the shadows of two of Mexico’s most revered mountains. For the more ambitious, it’s possible to summit these volcanoes, but you’ll need more than a day trip for that.
Also, be sure to check out my complete itinerary for backpacking in Mexico with 77 jam-packed pages covering over 33 different destinations in this amazing country!
My Complete Mexico Backpacking Itinerary
By popular demand… Here is the complete itinerary for one of my favorite countries in the world, Mexico. In this 77-page guidebook, I cover 30 of my favorite Mexican destinations, including how to get to each city, where to stay, and the best things to do in each city. I also include tidbits of useful information like things to know before going to Mexico, as well as my favorite party destina…
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