Mexico City, also known as CDMX, was founded by the Aztecs in 1325 and was the capital of their powerful empire, known as Tenochtitlan. The city was a major center for trade, religion, and politics back then.
What made it even more impressive is the fact that the Aztecs built a complex system of canals and causeways to connect the city to the mainland, making the city also home to many impressive architectural and artistic achievements. One of them is the Templo Mayor temple, which is known as the most important archaeological site in Mexico, and it remains to this day a very important symbol of the Aztec civilization.
Nowadays, Mexico City is grown into a metropolis with a population of over 21 million people, and while its modern development, many ancient ruins, and artifacts can still be found throughout the city, providing a glimpse into the rich history of the Aztecs and other indigenous peoples who lived in the region.
Visitors can still explore the ruins and visit museums such as the National Museum of Anthropology, which houses an extensive collection of Aztec and other ancient Mesoamerican artifacts. The city also has a vibrant art and culture scene, with many museums and galleries showcasing the works of both ancient and contemporary artists.
Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, a foodie, or just looking for a fun time, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Mexico City. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the best things to do in Mexico City, some of the best places to visit, and other activities just a short drive away.
Mexico City: Things to do, a guide
Before we dive into our guide through Mexico City and mention the best things to do, we want to highlight that it is important to realize that Mexico City is located at a high altitude, which makes gives some tourists altitude sickness – so make sure to take your precautions!
A few other tips for when you visit Mexico City:
- Take precautions against pickpockets
- Dress in layers as the weather can change rapidly
- Carry a face mask as the air pollution can be high
- Carry cash as many places may not accept cards
- Bring good walking shoes: Many must-see places are spread out throughout the city
Best things to do in Mexico City
We’ve mentioned it already: Mexico City is a destination that offers a unique blend of ancient history and modern culture, which makes the historic center, also known as Centro Historico, a must-see destination. This area is home to some of the most beautiful colonial-era buildings in the city, including the Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace.
Next to historical buildings, Mexico City is also filled with world-class museums that provide a glimpse of the diverse culture and the city’s ancient history. The most impressive museums include the Museum of Anthropology, which houses an extensive collection of Aztec and other ancient Mesoamerican artifacts, the Museum of Modern Art, which showcases works by contemporary Mexican and international artists and the Museum of Mexican Architecture, which displays the history of architecture in Mexico.
Additionally, just an hour’s drive from Mexico City, you can visit the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan. These pyramids are some of the most impressive in the world and offer a glimpse into the ancient history of Mexico; The Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon are the most famous ones, and climbing them will give you a panoramic view of the whole complex. Visiting these pyramids will give you an idea of the grandeur of the ancient civilization and the impressive architectural achievements of their builders.
Top things to do in Mexico City
Mexico City is filled with underrated experiences and a range of several activations: one of them is taking a day trip to the floating gardens of Xochimilco. These gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offer a unique and peaceful way to experience Mexico City. The gardens are located on the ancient canals of the Aztecs, and you can take a traditional boat ride on the canals and see the colorful boats called “trajineras” used by the locals to transport goods and people.
Lastly, another great activity is the famous Frida Kahlo Museum, also known as the Blue House. This museum is dedicated to the life and work of the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and offers a fascinating glimpse into her world as the museum is located in her childhood home and it was converted into a museum after her death.
The house is filled with her personal items, paintings, and photographs, giving visitors an intimate look into her life and work. The house is surrounded by a beautiful garden, where you can take a stroll and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The museum is a must-see for art and culture enthusiasts.
Cool things to do in Mexico City
If you are looking for more adventurous and cool things to do in Mexico City, we advise you to explore the city by bike and even look at a guided bike tour. These tours are a great way to see the city’s highlights while getting some exercise, and they’ll help you discover hidden gems, explore the city’s vibrant neighborhoods and learn about the city’s history and culture.
Another interesting destination is the Chapultepec Castle, the only royal castle in the Americas! This castle offers a beautiful view of the city and is home to a number of museums and art collections. The castle is located in the Chapultepec Park, which is the largest city park in Latin America and home to several other museums, such as the Museum of Anthropology and the Museum of Modern Art.
Another must-do activity in Mexico City is to enjoy a traditional Mexican meal at one of the city’s many street food stalls. Mexico City is famous for its street food, and you’ll find a wide variety of delicious treats to try: from tacos and tamales to tortas and elotes. Street food is also a great way to experience the local cuisine and culture, and it’s also a budget-friendly option. Just make sure to be cautious of where you eat and what you eat, as some street vendors may not meet health standards.
Fun things to do in Mexico City
A fun activity in Mexico City is strolling through the famous Alameda Central Park. This beautiful park is located in the heart of the city, and it’s perfect to take a walk, have a picnic, or just sit and admire the greenery. It’s also home to several statues and monuments, so it’s a great place to learn about the city’s history.
Another great adventure is visiting the famous Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. This is one of the most important religious sites in Mexico and is home to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. The basilica is located on the Tepeyac Hill, where it’s said the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego in 1531. The basilica is an architectural masterpiece, making it a must-see for religious and non-religious visitors.
Lastly, another way to experience traditional Mexican culture is by enjoying a traditional Mexican dance performance at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. This theater is home to some of the best dance performances and a great way to experience the traditional Mexican culture.
Things to do in Mexico City for young adults
We recommend young adults to enjoy a night out in the trendy neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma, as these areas are known for their lively nightlife, great restaurants, and trendy bars.
These neighborhoods are also home to some of the city’s best street art, and it’s a great place to take a stroll and soak in the local culture. We recommend visiting Condesa and Roma if you’re in the mood for some live music, a fancy cocktail, or a casual beer.
Another must-see destination for young adults is the neighborhood of Polanco. This upscale area is home to some of the best shopping in the city and is a great place to find unique and stylish clothing and accessories. You can find high-end boutiques, vintage shops, and local designer shops.
Lastly, another great activity for young adults in Mexico City is to check out the music scene as the city is home to a diverse music scene, from traditional mariachi bands to indie rock groups. There are plenty of venues to check out live music performances, including the famous El Plaza Condesa. This venue is known for hosting great concerts and performances of all genres, and it’s a great place to discover new artists and music.
Best places to visit in Mexico City
You might have noticed by now: there are a lot of great things to do in Mexico City, with a wide range of incredible places to visit: from world-class museums and historical sites to delicious food and lively nightlife.
That’s why we created a few lists of the best places in Mexico City.
Best places in Mexico City – listed
Let’s start by listing all the places we’ve mentioned so far:
- Centro Historico
- Museum of Anthropology
- Museum of Modern Art
- Museum of Mexican Architecture
- Pyramids of Teotihuacan
- Frida Kahlo Museum
- Chapultepec Castle
- Alameda Central Park
- Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
- Palacio de Bellas Artes
- La Condesa and El Plaza Condesa
Mexico City: best places to visit at night
One of the most popular areas for nightlife is the neighborhood of La Condesa, which is known for its trendy bars, clubs, and restaurants. Other examples of best places to visit at night in Mexico City include:
- La Condesa: El Departamento, La Clandestina, El Imperial
- Polanco: Jules Basement, The Rooftop, The Roof
- Zona Rosa: La Nueva Paz, El Closet, El Taller
- Roma Norte: La Capital, El Delirio, La Paz
- Coyoacan: El Hijo del Cuervo, La Botica, El Jardin del Arte
- Centro Historico: El Balcon del Zocalo, El Bar del Professor, La Opera
- Zona Cultural: Teatro de la Ciudad, Teatro de la Ciudad Esperanza Iris, Teatro de la Ciudad Mexico
- Santa Fe: The Roof, La Huesuda, El Granero.
Best places to go in Mexico City for food and drinks
Mexico City is known for its diverse and delicious food scene, with a wide variety of traditional and contemporary options to choose from. One of the most popular areas for food and drinks is the neighborhood of Polanco, which is known for its upscale restaurants and bars. This area is perfect for those looking for a fine dining experience and international cuisines.
Here are some examples of highly-rated restaurants in Mexico City:
- Pujol: modern Mexican cuisine and use of traditional ingredients.
- Contramar: fresh seafood and casual atmosphere.
- Casa Enrique: traditional Oaxacan cuisine and cozy atmosphere.
- Quintonil: contemporary Mexican cuisine and use of locally-sourced ingredients.
- El Cardenal: traditional Mexican cuisine and homemade tortillas.
- Biko: modern Basque-Mexican cuisine and elegant atmosphere.
- Los Danzantes: Oaxacan cuisine and selection of mezcal.
- El Bajio: traditional Mexican dishes, such as mole and barbacoa.
- Maximo Bistrot: French-Mexican fusion cuisine and cozy atmosphere.
- El Huequito: traditional Mexican street food, such as tacos al pastor and quesadillas.
Other things to do near Mexico City
Mexico City is not only a city filled with history and culture but also a great base for exploring the nearby areas, as there are many things to do near and around Mexico City. Just outside the city, visitors can explore the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan, which are some of the most impressive in the world and offer a glimpse into the ancient history of Mexico. Another popular day trip is to the floating gardens of Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers a unique and peaceful way to experience Mexico City.
Things to do around Mexico City
When visiting Mexico City, a must-see destination when visiting Mexico City is the beautiful town of Taxco. This town is known for its silver mines and is home to a number of beautiful colonial-era buildings. Taxco is famous for its traditional silverwork and it has been a center of Mexican silver production since the 16th century.
Additionally, another must-see destination when visiting Mexico City is the beautiful town of Cuernavaca. This town is known for its beautiful gardens, such as the Robert Brady Museum, which houses a large collection of Mexican folk art, and the Jardin Borda, which is a beautiful 18th-century garden.
Last but definitely not least: Chichén Itzá. Although it is located quite a distance from Mexico City, it’s a must-see location when you’re visiting Mexico. It is one of the most famous Mayan archaeological sites and is now considered one of the new seven world wonders.
The temple is a pyramid that is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures, and it is believed to have been used for ceremonial and astronomical purposes. The site also includes other impressive structures, such as the Great Ball Court, the Temple of the Warriors, and the Tzompantli, a platform lined with skull carvings.