City guide for a trip to
Mexico City is the capital of Mexico and it is a huge city (1,485 km2 for 8.855 million inhabitants, that’s 4 times more than Paris) in which one can quickly feel small. The capital city is also called Mexico CDMX (Ciudad De MeXico), because the country is called identically in Spanish and English, so you have to be able to quickly differentiate the country and the capital.
What to see and do in Mexico City?
Historic city centre
Periphery of Mexico City
Outside the city
Historic centre of Mexico City
For the visit of this district, I visited both on my own and with a free walking tour. The advantage of the latter is that a local shows you the important things and you have various explanations. And it’s also very cheap because it works on a tip basis.
1. Zocalo / Plaza de la constitucion
170 pesos | 1h
It is the name given to the main square of a city. This square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the centre of Mexico City and is home to the Metropolitan Cathedral, but also to the city’s political and legal institutions. The National Palace is the executive seat of power, where the Mexican president lives and governs. It is a festive place, where you can find various events such as the army, music and book festivals.
The first time I was in Mexico City, the whole square was closed because of the independence day and then a meeting of Latin American leaders. So I couldn’t fully enjoy it. But the space is beautiful and well worth a visit!
2. Cathedral Metropolitana de Mexico
Free | 30 min
The building has two distinct parts. The older one was built with stones from the Templo Mayor (Mayan building) during the colonisation of Mexico. This is a strategy used most of the time by colonizers to destroy and replace local beliefs.
The main building started to be built in 1570 and was finished more than 200 years later in 1813.
They are impressive buildings both inside and out. There are also many churches in the centre. If they are open I recommend you take a look at them, they are all richly decorated!
3. Templo Mayor
Free | 15 min
It is the name of an ancient Aztec temple where the god of rain and the god of war/solar were worshipped. Excavations have revealed the existence of this site under the historic centre. The Spanish had undertaken to erase all traces of pagan beliefs.
Today, it is possible to see the Templo Mayor from the promenade (free of charge) or from the restaurant (El Mayor) on its terrace for the price of a drink or a meal. However, you won’t get the explanations of the museum (80pesos).
For my part, I didn’t feel like paying when I could admire the ruins from 2 different points of view. The site itself is quite small and you can find explanations on the internet. But I think that the museum can be worth it and be really interesting.
4. Calle de Tacuba : Musée national d’Art / Estatua Ecuestre de Carlos IV / Museo Postal
Free | 30min
It is a beautiful street with imposing buildings. There is the National Art Museum, the statue of Carlos IV and the Postal Museum. The buildings are beautiful from the outside and even more so from the inside. You can go inside and see the well-preserved architecture.
5. Tour Americalatina
170 $MX | 1h
It is a tower dating from 1956 and is one of the safest in Mexico City for earthquakes thanks to the 3 turbines.) The tower is located in the city centre of the Mexican capital. It is 44 floors high and overlooks the immensity of the metropolis. It is possible to admire the view from the terrace or from outside. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
I highly recommend visiting this tower! The view of Mexico City CDMX is simply breathtaking and you can see the extent of the city but also its dynamism as it is located in the heart of the city! Be careful with the weather, because if there are clouds, you might be disappointed if they hide the view.
6. Templo de San Fransisco
Free | 15 min
It is a religious building dating from 1716 which served as headquarters for Franciscan monks on an evangelisation mission. It is here that the funeral mass of the conquistador Hernan Cortés was celebrated.
It is a richly decorated church, I advise to stop and have a look.
7. Palacio de Bellas Artes
Free | 15 min
It is a magnificent building that promotes the arts such as painting, sculpture, photography and singing. Various exhibitions are held in the building. The building was inaugurated in 1934, its domes illustrate the art nouveau style of the building.
It is possible to see the interior. For my part, I preferred to observe it from the terrace of the Finca Don Porfirio café.
8. Movie street - James Bond
Free | 5 min
It’s not really a must-see, but if you enjoy James Bond movies, it’s fun to stop by!
The opening scene of Spectre begins in the back streets of Mexico City during the celebration of el dia de los muertos. It shows the famous secret agent, James Bond, running across the rooftops.
9. Avenue Francisco I. Madero
Free | 15 min
It is a large pedestrian street that connects the city centre square to the park next to the Palacios Bella Arte. There are many shops, ideal for a downtown shopping session. However, beware of pickpockets.
It is a district located in the south of the city. To visit it, you should plan a good day or two.
10. Bosque Chapultepec
Free | 1h or 2h
It is one of the largest parks in Mexico City with over 6km2. You can easily spend an afternoon there but 1 or 2 hours can be enough. The park consists of several parts, all of which are interesting to do! Long pedestrian avenues are surrounded by countless stalls. You can find everything here! Toys, chips (lots of chips), photo booths, jewellery, tattoos, etc. It’s very nice to blend in with the Mexican population. Several ponds are also present in the park which makes the environment even more beautiful.
It was the first thing I visited and I was pleasantly surprised! It is very pleasant to walk around and it allows you to take a breath of fresh air in the urban immensity of Mexico City. This park is very soothing and lively at the same time.
11. Castillo De Chapultepec / Museo Nacional de Historia
80 $MX | 2h
This palace, built in the 18th century, is located in the park of the same name: Chapultepec. The palace is on a small hill that you have to climb on foot (nothing too complicated). For many years, it was the summer residence of the Viceroy of Spain, then it was used as a military college before being used as a residence for various personalities.
Today, the castle is used as a museum and it is possible to walk through the gardens, terraces, rooms and appreciate the architecture of the place. But above all, you can enjoy the breathtaking view of Mexico City.
A slap in the face! I have rarely seen a palace as beautiful as this one! I really loved my time visiting each room and each terrace of this castle! I did the museum part as well, but it interested me much more than the building itself. For me it is one of the things to ABSOLUTELY do for the beauty of the place but also for the view that the terraces offer all around the palace.
12. Nacional de Antropologia Museum
80 $MX | 4h
It’s a museum dating from 1964 and just the architecture is interesting. But what is worth the trip is of course its permanent collection. The museum consists of a ground floor and a first floor with a total of 22 rooms! The ground floor is mainly dedicated to prehistory and the pre-Columbian part, while the first floor is dedicated to ethnography. You can discover sumptuous Aztec, Mayan and many other civilizations present on the Mexican territory before the arrival of the Spaniards.
I didn’t know that the museum closed at 5:30pm so I didn’t have time to do the floor. I was quite frustrated that I didn’t get a chance to look around. The museum is really beautiful and it is one of my favourites! The statues, sculptures, monuments, artefacts are simply exceptional! Not to go there would be a mistake! If you have the time and the money, do it in 2 times because the rooms contain a lot of information and artefacts which can make the visit long. In 2h30 I could only do the ground floor rooms! In any case, go in the morning!
This is a very different neighbourhood from the others, and it is also the oldest. It is here that Cortes and the other conquistadors settled during the colonization of Tenochtitlan (ancient city before Mexico City). The neighbourhood is also known for being the home of the famous painter Frida Khalo. For me, this is the most “Mexican” neighbourhood, and surely one of my favourites. I took a free walking tour to discover it, which I enjoyed enormously thanks to the many explanations.
13. San Antonio church
Free | 10min
The church has no specific opening hours, but would be open early in the morning. Its exterior is not exceptional (although very cute). It is its romantic history that is most interesting. When the Spanish settlers arrived, wealthy parents worried that their unmarried daughter would not find a boyfriend began to pray to San Antonio. They promised him that if their daughter found a boyfriend, they would build a church. The girl found a boyfriend, but she died prematurely. The parents kept their promise and built the church, happy that their daughter had found happiness before she died. So it is customary to come and pray to find a boyfriend (not a husband, because “the rest is up to you”) or to find something you have lost.
14. Coyoacan place
Free | 15 min
It is the centre of the district. The fountain with two coyotes in its centre is the symbol of the neighbourhood. The reason is simple, as one of the last Aztec chiefs living in the area is said to have had the power to change into an animal: the coyote. There is also the San Juan Bautista parish, a place of worship just as colourful as the rest of the neighbourhood.
Coyoacan is a very colourful place with its Centenario Garden which has many places to eat. It’s also a great place to try the famous churros!
I really enjoyed the place, quiet and ideal to cool down in the shade of the trees.
I took my churros in Moheli, near the Centenario Garden, I really liked it!
15. Hacienda de Cortès
Free | 15 min
This palace was built in 1528 and is the oldest colonial building on the American continent. It was established for the conquistador Hernan Cortés as his residence. After being abandoned for some time due to legal problems, it was renovated several times to serve in turn as a prison, a seat of government and today as a museum.
16. Coyoacan market
Free | 10 min – 30 min
Medium size market with many stands of all kinds! Ideal for lunch or to discover Mexican specialities.
For my part, I had lunch with a friend at Cocina de mi Mama, a spot recommended by our free walking tour guide. I loved it! It was delicious!
17. Frida Kahlo museum
250 $MX | 1h
This is the house where Frida Kahlo lived for many years. The museum tells a little about her life and there are many objects that belonged to her. There is very little of Frida’s work in Mexico and the museum does not have any (except for the objects she painted).
To visit the museum, you need to book at least 2 days in advance. However, it’s nice to pass by this dazzling blue house!
Quite modern, the mixture between building of the (find date) and immense tree gives a particular (and splendid) atmosphere to this district!
It’s one of the best areas to stay for a while, many hostels and hotels are there, but also very good restaurants and places to go out!
18. Calle Amsterdam
Free | 45 min
Charming walk in the heart of this “bobo” district between the colourful houses. It is a huge street with a pedestrian path in the centre where families, sportsmen and dog owners meet.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the centre, it’s soothing to find peace and quiet in the city. I really enjoyed this walk. You don’t have to do the whole walk, you can walk away and do side streets to discover the parks and other alleys of this charming place.
19. Parque Mexico
Free | 15 min
It is a large park where you can find families walking around.
The park is worth a walk between fountains and large squares.
After a big day, I didn’t have the motivation to walk through the whole park, but I think it’s definitely worth spending some time there!
Periphery of Mexico City
500 $MX | 2h
Located in the south, this park has two types of canals. There is a biodiversity area to observe nature and its surroundings and a more touristy area with many boats and a floating market, ideal for partying. Both are worth it, but it all depends on what you want to see and experience! It is possible to share a boat with other groups or to reserve one. Depending on your budget and the number of people you are, it’s up to you to decide which solution is best.
My friends and I wanted to have a party, but we were not aware of the two entrances (located 30 minutes away by car) and we ended up at the biodiversity one. We were, however, able to find restaurants and small supermarkets on the quay to buy party supplies and enjoy the moment! It was very peaceful and we were able to watch different birds. Also, having some greenery outside of Mexico City CDMX is great!
21. Musée Soumaya
Free | 2h
Its architecture signed by Fernando Romero is worth a visit! The museum is composed of several floors with different rooms: arts, Japanese arts, painter, Mexican art, sculptures. Many famous artists are present in the museum!
I liked this museum very much, there are many works of art to see, I highly recommend it!
Outside the city
70 $MX | 2h
It is an important archaeological site in Mexico and contains some of the largest Mesopotamian pyramids ever built. Numerous temples line the main avenue called the “Causeway of the Dead”.
This was my first archaeological site in Mexico so I was excited to see the images I had seen on TV or in cartoons! Although the site is not very big, the temples are impressive and masterful… It is advised to go early in the morning to avoid the crowd in the afternoon, and I think it is an honest advice. Because even in covid weather, there are several groups already on the site, but absolutely nothing disturbing! I really enjoyed discovering this site and having a guide is a real plus for me! I even wish the visit had lasted longer! It is very pleasant to walk around and to know the history of this place. It’s better to have a guide, but beware of potential scams.
Free | 1/2 journée
It is the capital of the state with the same name. It is a city with a very pleasant and colourful city centre!
Gratuit | 1/2 journée
It is a town located in the state of Puebla near Mexico City and the city of Puebla. The streets are colourful and the city is known for its religious temple located on a pyramid. This pyramid is the largest in the world in terms of volume.
I enjoyed spending an afternoon there. I had settled in the city of Puebla, but excursions are proposed from Mexico City.