If you’re planning to take a trip to Mexico City and it’s your first time visiting, then there are a few things that you need to know in advance. This is a city that brings in a lot of revenue from its tourism industry, and there are tons of things to do while you’re there. While it won’t be difficult to find things to do, there are some very special places to see and experiences to have if you want to get the most out of your time there. Here are the 20 best things to do in Mexico City for first-timers.
20. Visit the Museo Nacional de Antropologia
The Museo Nacional de Antropologia is so massive that you’ll probably want to schedule an entire day so you can see everything that is contained within the Museum. The museum is situated in the Chapultepec Forest and it contains artifacts that date back to the pre-Columbian era of Mexico around the time 100 BC to 1521 AD. At the museum, you’ll find the 16th-century statue of Xochipilli, known as Piedra del Sol, the Aztec god of maize, dance, beauty, arts, and games. You’ll also find artifacts from antiquity through the modern times that show the life, culture, and tradition of multiple regions of Mexico, and how they developed through the ages. There is a low admission to get into the museum and you’ll also find a cafeteria, national library, and gift shop at the museum.
19. See the Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe
Also known as Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, this is one of the most important religious tourist attractions in Mexico City. It is a shrine that was erected in the year 1531 to honor the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, and it is situated on Tepeyac hill. The shrine preceded the basilica which was erected in 1695. It took almost 300 years to finish the basilica, which had to be rebuilt due to environmental damage in the 1970s. The Basilica is located in a complex that also houses an ancient church, a gift shop, a library, and a museum. There are bus tours that will take you to and from this complex.
18. Go to the Palacio de Bellas Artes
This is the Palace of Fine Arts adn if you’re going to be in Mexico City this is an attraction that you have to see. The exterior of the palace features art deco and art nouveau architecture with marble floors and spectacular vaulted windows of glass. This is one of the most beautiful examples of architecture in Mexico City and it is a place where locals and tourists gather to enjoy performances of music, theater, dance, opera and well as literary performances. Take your camera with you to photograph the Rufino Tamayo murals and others. The structure houses the National Museum of Architecture as well as other art museums and galleries. This is an attraction that you can easily spend all day exploring.
17. Tour Templo Mayor
This is an important attraction that served as the religious hub for the religion of the Aztec people before the Spanish colonization. Spanish conquistadors destroyed this temple in the late 14th century and in 1978 the temple reconstruction was rededicated to the Aztec gods Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli. Currently, this is an active archaeological site that also features a museum that is home to over seven thousand artifacts that were recovered from the site. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re into ancient artifacts or if you have an interest in ancient history then this tour is highly recommended.
16. Visit Teotihuacan
Teotihuacan is a Unesco World Heritage site that is the home of the larges pyramids from the Pre-columbian era in the entire country of Mexico. While you’re there, you’ll find a variety of attractions including the Museo de la Sitio with several artifacts from the pre-Columbian era, as well as the Palace of the Plumed Butterfly. The architecture is amazing with columns featuring winged creatures. You’ll also find the Pyramid of the Sun at this location. This is a site that you can easily spend half of a day touring so plan accordingly.
15. See the Plaza de la Constitucion
El Zocalo, which is also known as Plaza de la Constitucion is the main public square in Mexico City. Here you’ll find a variety of points of interest including the National Palace, federal buildings and the National Cathedral. You’ll want to be prepared to take a lot of pictures of the very important structures that call the plaza home. This is the same place where Aztecs gathered for public meetings fand the tradition is carried on annually for religious events that are held for Corpus Christi and Holy Week.
14. Tour the Bosque de Chapultepec
Translated into English, this is Mexico City’s most famous park. It is located in the Chapultepec Forest and it once served as the home of the residents of the Aztec Empire. The area is comprised of 1,600 acres and it serves as a locale for escaping the hustle and bustle of the busy city. During the 13th Century, the Aztec people occupied this site, which in modern times features the former presidential palace, a variety of museums and a zoo. There are also plenty of street vendors where you can get a bit to eat to sample the local cuisine or pick up a few souvenirs to take back home to friends and family.
13. Tour the Catedral Metropolitana de Mexico
The national cathedral of Mexico is the Catedral Metropolitana de Mexico. It features amazing architecture and it’s a great educational adventure that was once the site of an ancient Aztec village. The church is located on the Zocalo’s north end and it was built sometime between the years 1573 and1813. This is one of the most famous attractions in Mexico City. The cathedral includes an underground maze of catacombs, five naves, paintings by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, and 14 chapels.
12. Museo de Arte Popular
The Museo de Arte Popular is a folk museum that contains a variety of handicrafts made throughout all regions of Mexico. There are also educational facts about the history and the multiple cultures found within the people of Mexico. Here you’ll find a variety of exhibits that contain masks from Chiapas, painted animal figures from Oaxaca, glasswork from Tecali, pottery from Michoacan, and much more. The building was made in the 1920s and is an art deco building. Admission is free on Sundays.
11. Tour the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
The Central University City Campus of the National University of Mexico is a hotspot for tourists. This is one of the must-sees in Mexico City. You should plan on booking a full day for the event because this is a massive campus. It includes 40 academic institutions, a Mexican cultural center, the Mexican Olympic stadium, the Central Library for the city, and a nature preserve. This locale has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
10. Luis Barragan Museum
The Luis Barragan Museum is another must-see when you’re in Mexico City. Barragan was a Mexican architect who was known for his modernist style of work. This is an attraction that became a designated UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. The garden features a maze of trees and corridors, and the house has a unique architectural design. It is Barragan’s former home, but if you do visit, make sure that you reserve your pass online in advance of the visit.
9. The National Palace
The National Palace is the property of the government of Mexico that houses the federal executive branch. It is situated in El Zocalo, the main public square of Mexico City. This is a massive palace with ornate architecture along with many fountains, murals, and gardens. Inside you’ll also find many of Deigo Rivera’s murals painted on the walls of the palace. There is no charge for admission.
8. Visit El Angel de la Independencia
This is another popular tourist attraction in Mexico City. This is a column monument that features the Greek goddess Victory in bronze material. It is one of the most famous symbols of Mexico City. It was originally built in commemoration of the Spanish-Mexican war for independence. It’s free to visit the monument.
7. Museo Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo was one of the most famous painters in the world. This museum is housed in her former home in the Coyoacan suburb of La Casa Azul. Many of her works are displayed in the museum. Guests may tour Kahlo’s former residence and see where she once painted many of her most famous works. Admission is about $13 and you can purchase passes in advance online.
No trip to Mexico City is complete without an excursion to the southern suburb Xochimilco. This is an agricultural area that is dotted with lovely canals and a historic center. Float through the waterways and view the wildlife preserve aboard open airboats. There are vendors along with way as well as restaurants and lots of souvenir stores at the water’s edge.
5. Enjoy Lucha Libre and Mezcal Experience tour
This is a specialized tour that provides participants with a half-day tour of Mexico City. On the tour, you’ll learn everything about Lucha libre including the rules, history, and you’ll learn it from a retired luchador. If you’re into Mexican wrestling then this is the ideal tour while visiting Mexico City. Enjoy snacks and drinks on the tour.
4. Take the Teotihuacan Morning Tour
This special tour will make memories that will last a lifetime. You will get an early morning tour of the Teotihuacan pyramids while touring the City of the Gods. Your tour guide is a professional archeologist who provides you with the history and facts about the murals and plazas as you get an up-close and personal view of the Sun Pyramid and the Moon Pyramid. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The tour also takes you through Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Quetzalpapalot, and the Avenue of the Dead. You will also have the opportunity to sample pulque, tequila, and mezcal tastings.
3. Take the Puebla and Choula Full-Day Tour
The Puebla and Choula tour takes a full day to complete. You leave Mexico City with a professional guide to learn about the cultural heritage of each city on the tour. You’ll see Puebla’s historic center, with plenty of culinary offerings, craft markets, and souvenir shops. You’ll also tour the Church of Santa Maria de Tonantzintla in Choula.
2. Visit the Papalote Museo del Nino
This is yet another highly recommended museum that is located in Bosque de Chapultepec in Mexico City. This is a museum that focuses on the theme of working together, learning and communication. There are many interactive exhibits for children in the disciplines of art, technology, and science.
1. Visit the Museo Soumaya
The Museo Soumaya is located in the Plaza Carso in Mexico City. This is a private museum that features two buildings respectively the Plaza Loreto and the Plaza Carso. It is another must-see when you’re in Mexico City.