10 Best Things to Do & Places to Visit in Mexico City

10 Best Things to Do & Places to Visit in Mexico City

Discover this historical city with its palaces, museums, and pockets of green spaces. Transport tips included!

Contributed by DONSTRAVELS

Mexico caters to all sorts of travellers – the pocket-deep vacationers who pick luxurious resorts along the Riviera Maya, the beachgoers seeking a slice of paradise at Cancun, the backpackers just looking to have fun in the bustling Mexico City and Guadalajara, or the foodies who look for hole-in-the-wall tacos and gourmet fusion food at chic restaurants everywhere in Mexico. Even the locals have plenty to excite them when they travel to another state. For me, I was mostly intrigued by Mexico’s ancient civilisations and its beautiful white sandy beaches.

During my recent five-day trip to Mexico, I only had time to explore the capital, Mexico City. Even though it is the largest city in North America, I did not feel the crowds because the city is sprawling huge. Instead, I felt an omnipresent cultural renaissance that is flourishing everywhere, from the public spaces to the culinary scene. I also felt safe; Mexico City has been largely successful in curbing the drug war which is a much-needed measure to draw back the tourist crowds.

I was also amazed by the subway line which connects the city from north, south, east to west with close to 200 stations! To top it off, the metro system is efficient and cheap, at only $0.30 per ride regardless of distance travelled. Mexico City also has eco-friendly bicitaxis – a hybrid between a bicycle, rickshaw and a taxi – plying the old town. More information on transport in Mexico City can be found at the bottom of this article.

In the meantime, if you’d like to follow my footsteps, these are ten things to do and places to visit in Mexico City:

1. My first stop was the “Palacio de Bellas Artes”

This huge art nouveau style building greeted me as I stepped out of the metro station. At the top floors of this splendid white-marble palace which houses a concert hall and an arts centre, there are immensely stunning murals by world-famous Mexican artists.

2. Visit the historical city centre

Zocalo is one of the largest public squares in the world. It sits in the middle of the city’s central district and is only a stone’s throw to many of the area’s top sites, such as the Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral), the Templo Mayor (Major Temple) and the Palacio Nacional (National Palace). This huge square, with a Mexican flag swaying in the background, is definitely worth a visit when you need a break from the congestion that surrounds it.

 

3. Stroll along the pedestrian street of Mexico City

things to do in mexico

Singapore has Orchard Road and Paris has Champs Elysees. The equivalent in Mexico City is Madero. Known for its museums, landmarks, branded shops and busy markets, the area is now drawing more youthful crowds, thanks to the shopping options and exciting nightlife. No matter the time of the day, strolling here will make you feel like you are living the high life.

4. Marvel at the House of Tiles

A historic building in the city, Casa de los Azulejos (also known as the “House of Tiles”) was built for the Condes (Counts) del Valle de Orizaba. It has a stunning facade that’s adorned with white and blue tiles.

5. Proceed to Plaza Garibaldi

This is a good venue to experience Mexico City at night in all its rambunctious glory. This is where the night comes alive in this part of Mexico City. Admire the illuminated monuments of the Zocalo, one of the largest city plazas in the world, before revelling in the festivities of Plaza Garibaldi. Listen to mariachi bands, dance to live music, watch a folkloric show and witness a traditional cockfight in the square.

6. Immerse in the green spaces

things to do in mexico

Mexico City may have one of the world’s worst traffic congestions, but this ecological space serves as the city’s green lungs. The equivalent of Central Park in New York, Parque México is home to the Bosque de Chapultepec and the Chapultepec Castle. This 1,600-acre bucolic park has enough activities to fill days at a time and is particularly popular among families with children. The Chapultepec Castle sits atop a hill and offers some amazing views of the city.

7. Dive into the National Museum of Anthropology

Of all of the museums in the vicinity of Parque Mexico, the most famous is the National Museum of Anthropology, considered to be one of the greatest archaeological museums in the world. The museum has several antecedents beginning from the colonial period, with sections devoted to each of the major pre-Hispanic civilizations in Mexico including the Aztec, Maya, Toltec and Olmec. It offers an insight into the various civilizations and Mexican culture in different regions and their evolution over the years.

8. Check out the futuristic Soumaya Museum

Another museum to check out would be Soumaya museum, with its unique shiny ethereal exterior that extends six storeys into the skyline. It contains 66,000 pieces of art (mainly Central American and European), donated by one of the world’s richest men.

9. Explore the famous San Juan Market

Mercado de San Juan is one of the oldest and most traditional markets in Mexico City. The market runs the gamut, offering the freshest seafood, meat and vegetables from different regions of Mexico and beyond, offering an insight into the world of Mexican culinary delights. Even if you do not plan to buy anything, a visit to this market will wow your senses. It provides a social atmosphere where you can talk to vendors and sample their wares.

10. Admire the interior of the Post Office Palace

The golden jewel of the historical centre of Mexico City, the Post Office Palace (Palacio de Correos) is one of the most brilliant examples of the eclectic architecture of several different traditions. It was damaged in the 1985 earthquake, but restoration work has been carried out to bring it back to its original state.

Transport around Mexico city

The metro: At 5 pesos ($0.30) per ride, this is one of the most affordable metro systems in the world! It is the quickest way to get around Mexico City and it is used by around 4.4 million passengers on an average weekday. Trains arrive every two to three minutes during rush hours. Fun fact: There are some subway stations that double up as an exhibition space, showcasing ancient artefacts or even statistics about various metro systems around the world.

things to do in mexico

Taxis: Mexico City has several classes of taxis. The cheapest are the cruising pink-and-white ones. If you must hail a cab off the street, check that it has actual taxi license plates. Alternatively, if you have mobile data, book an Uber so you would not be scammed on the taxi fare.

Bicitaxis: In the historic centre of Mexico City (also known as the Centro Historico), there are futuristic-looking bicitaxis. These essentially three-wheeled bicycles have space for the driver and two passengers. The rear seat is covered by an aerodynamic, bright green plastic frame. Agree on the fare before you board. It’s an eco-friendly and fun way to get around Mexico City’s historic downtown.

things to do in mexico

Bicycles: As with many huge metropolis, bicycles are slowly gaining popularity. Mexico City is surprisingly friendly for cyclists, with dedicated bike lanes and bicycle-only areas in many of the touristy parts of the city. Look out for BiciGratis; you can rent a bicycle and return it at the same place within three hours without any charge.

About Author

Donovan Leong
Donovan Leong

Donovan is a full-time wanderluster who wishes to explore each and every country in the world during his lifetime. He is a road tripper, a beach chiller, an adventurer, a mountaineer, a foodie, a heritage lover, a polyglot. The world is such a mystery waiting to be unravelled and he believes in being a citizen of the world rather than being separated by national and political boundaries. Besides his day job, he is also the author of Donstravels.

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