When I booked my trip to Mexico City, I planned to stay 2 days tops. 10 days later, I couldn’t get enough of this city. Why was I so mesmerized? Mexico City is simply amazing! I found it bubbling with art, culture, history, and charm. Between the art galleries, boutiques, and snazzy coffee bars, Mexico City offers as much culture and charm as any large European city. To help you with your trip, I’ve put together 22 things to do in Mexico City, enjoy!
Discover 22 Things to Do in Mexico City
But wait: Before I go much further, let’s talk safety since I know this is the first thing on people’s minds.
Given the bad rep Mexico (as a whole) has received due to crime and corruption, you might be a bit fearful to visit Mexico. However, generally speaking, the south of Mexico is actually quite safe. Without a doubt there are areas to be avoided, but the most dangerous parts of Mexico are actually up north, close to the US border.
Before booking any trip, it is always recommended to look at the State Department’s travel advisory website for updates on safety rules and recommendations.
Besides that, some safety rules of thumb I always follow are:
- Never walk around at night alone
- Never get intoxicated either alone, or in the company of people I just met
- Wear a zip-able purse and cross it over my shoulders
- Use caution in the metro, especially when it gets super crowded
- Stay in the tourist areas where there are lots of people around
Now that we’re done with that, let’s get to the fun stuff!
22 Things to Do in Mexico City
1. Go for Drinks on the Rooftop of La Terraza
La Terraza is on the top floor of Mexico City’s luxurious Gran Hotel. It has the best rooftop view of the zocalo and cathedral. And its dreamy at sunset. ?
2. Try Pulque
Meet pulque, Mexico’s oldest alcoholic beverage. This drink dates back to about 1000 AD, and is called “the Aztec drink of the gods”. It was used in ceremonies and rituals, and is actually quite rich in vitamins and minerals. The taste is a bit tarty, but I personally loved it! It can also come in a variety of flavors such as celery, nut, oat, and guava. I highly recommend it. 🙂
3. Visit the Frida Kahlo Museum – The Blue House
There are over 150 museums in Mexico City. What’s your preference? Art, history, culture? Take your pick. There’s bound to be something that will spark your fancy. You could easily spend your entire trip just shuffling from one museum to the next. Remember museums are closed on Monday.
For me, visiting the museum (and previous home of) the world-renowned Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, was a must see. Even just hanging out in the gardens was lovely. 🙂
Pro Tip: Purchase tickets ahead of time online! The Frida Kahlo Museum is one of the most visited museums in Mexico City. If you don’t book ahead of time, you will most likely wait in line for a few hours.
4. Explore Roma and La Condesa
Take a peek inside Mexico City’s finest. These neighborhoods, or colonias, are where the fashionistas of Latin America come out to play. While wandering through the streets, you might wonder if you’re actually still in Mexico.
Nestled away from the hustle and bustle of the historic center, these nieghborhoods were established in the late 19th century and early 20th as a haven for the wealthy. Nowadays these neighborhoods all have a few things in common. They are the essence of Mexico City’s avant-garde scene, with a splash of bourgeoisie meets bohemian charm. Take a stroll through the tree-lined streets and soak in the beautiful architecture.
Read more: 14 Reasons Why I Fell in Love with La Roma
5. Take a Hot Air Balloon Tour of the Teotihuacan Pyramids
Didn’t know there were ancient ruins just outside of Mexico City? Well don’t worry, that’s what I’m here for. ? These beauties are estimated to be dated around 100 BC, and are one of the largest in Mesoamerica.
They are a treat by themselves, but I would highly recommend a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the pyramids. If you have time, pair it with a guided tour of the ruins. Bookings can be made easily online, through your hotel/hostel staff, or through the tourist locations around the city center.
6. Sample Mexico’s Delicious Street Food
Mexican street food is amazing! I loved it so much that I actually preferred sampling foods from different vendors than sitting down at an actual restaurant and ordering a meal.
Some must tries are tacos, tortas, pambazos, sopes, and tostadas, just to name a few. But my favorite is mango preparado!
Read more: 16 Mexican Street Foods You NEED to Try
7. Wander through the Markets
Wandering through the markets of Mexico City is like taking a peek inside the daily life of Mexican culture. Each market is a bit different. With over 300 to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go.
To help you decide, below are some of my favorites:
- Mercado La Merced – Mexico City’s largest market
- Mercado de Jamaica – Flower market
- La Ciudadela – Mexican crafts and folk art market
- El Mercado de Ampudia – Traditional Mexican candy market
8. Discover Mexico’s Famous Street Art
Street art in Mexico City is like, a big deal. They have received headlines globally, and it’s not surprising why. Local and international artists alike have made this beautiful capital their canvas. Some sites to help you find them are afar.com and theculturetrip.com.
9. Explore Mexico City’s Historic Center and Zocalo
Just strolling through the historic center is a treat. Here you’ll find the Zocalo, or main plaza, which is the largest plaza in Latin America. And of course you could never miss the crown jewel of the Zocalo, the Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral). Adding to the charm are the street musicians and vendors. Also within close proximity is The Palacio Nacional (National Palace) and Templo Mayor (Main Temple) – just to name a few.
10. Take in a Concert at the Palacio de Bellas Artes
The Palacio de Bellas Artes (or Palace of Fine Arts) is the cultural heartbeat of Mexico City. It welcomes some of the most notable events including music, dance, theatre, opera, literature and even art and photography exhibits.
Even if you can’t obtain tickets to a show, still go just to admire the architecture. ?
11. Go for a Gondola Ride at Xochimilco
Xochimilco attracts tourists because of its canals. It’s located about an hour’s drive away from the historic center. Take a ride on the colorful gondolas or “trajineras” and take in the sights, mariachi music, and some drinks. I found the whole experience to be a bit touristy, but relaxing and enjoyable at the same time.
12. Sip some Mezcal
Just about everyone knows about tequila. But as for the smoky mezcal, it’s a beverage that’s slowly, but surely getting its name out there. I was pretty surprised to find out that many Mexicans (young and old!) actually prefer straight tequila or mezcal. It’s their drink of choice! In America, I doubt anyone drinks straight liquor unless they plan on having a really fun night. ?? But in Mexico, it’s different. Mexicans prefer to relax and sip their tequila. This way they enjoy the flavor of the liquor.
13. Visit Chapultepec Castle
Located in the middle of Chapultepec Park, you’ll find Chapultepec Castle. Chapultepec is the only castle in North America that actually housed a royal. The Mexican Emperor, Maximilian I, and his consort, Empress Carlota, lived here at one time. However, the castle has now been turned into a museum and hosts the popular, National Museum of History.
The park is beautiful! Simply wandering the rooms and gardens is a treat for the eyes. The palace also has spectacular views over the city.
14. Enjoy a Coffee and Book at El Péndulo
El Péndulo is a popular bookstore and chain in Mexico City. There are multiple locations including Zona Rosa, Roma Norte, La Condesa, and Polanco. Relax, have a coffee and enjoy the bookworm vibes of El Péndulo!
15. Indulge in the Bakeries
I was so excited to find bakeries sprinkled all around Mexico City. You can find some gems just from wandering around.
Some of my favorites are:
- La Puerta Abierta – I went back twice for the savory croissants!
- La Bohême – Cute little spot in La Roma
- Esperanza – Located near the Zocalo in the historic center
16. Sample the Food at Mercado Roma
Located in the trendy neighborhood of Roma Norte, you’ll find Mercado Roma. This public market is a hipster’s dream. The stands are mostly restaurants and shops. They offer everything from organic foods, specialty chocolates, gourmet coffee, tapas, and fine wines. They even have artistic spins on traditional dishes such as sushi burritos.
17. Take a Food Tour
Mexican cuisine has more to offer beyond tequila and tacos. The gastronomy is amazing, and Mexico City’s innovative chefs have placed their restaurants on the culinary map. From street food to fancy restaurants, Mexico City has something for everyone.
For the foodies out there, I’d highly recommend a Mexican Flavors Gastronomic Tour.
18. Visit the Coyoacán Neighborhood
South of the historic center, the Coyoacan neighborhood is popular because it was also the home to the famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. Rated as one of the top neighborhoods to live in, this neighborhood has a lot to see and do. It gives off a quaint, charming feel, with cobblestone streets, large plazas, fountains, and plethora of restaurants to choose from.
During the evening it almost gives off a carnival vibe, as many of the street food stalls and entertainers came out. It’s a great spot to stroll around and try different types of street foods.
19. Sample Every Flavor of Agua Fresca
You’ll find agua frescas just about everywhere you go in Mexico City. Agua fresca literally translates to “cool waters”, and are basically flavored water. These beverages combine water with fruits, seeds, and even flowers for a mouthwatering refreshment.
Some of the most common agua frescas are:
- Horchata – Made from seeds, usually almonds, sesame seeds, and rice.
- Jamaica – This is a cold hibiscus tea made from the hibiscus flower.
- Fruit – You’ll see many different fruit options including pineapple, guava, and melon.
- Lime and chia seeds – This one is similar to lemonade.
- Tamarindo – My favorite! This drink (and many Mexican candies) are made from the fruit pulp of the tamarind tree.
20. Eat Mole Poblano
Mole is one of the most important dishes in Mexico. Because it’s such a complex and time-consuming dish, it tends to be eaten at special occasions. Typically it’s served at Christmas, Easter, Day of the Dead, birthdays, etc. The mole sauce contains up to 20 ingredients including a fruit, chili pepper, nut, and chocolate.
Some of the best mole in Mexico can be found in the states of Puebla and Oaxaca. However in Mexico city, Azul Condesa, located in La Condesa is delicious!
21. Marvel at the Metropolitan Cathedral
The full name of this cathedral is a mouthful, The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, or in Spanish Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielos. It is the largest cathedral in the Americas and is just a beauty!
It is free to go inside, however I would recommend dressing appropriately.
22. Shop along Calle Isabel la Católica 24
Located right off the Zocalo is a pedestrian street with shops and restaurants. Here you’ll find chain stores such as Zara, Pull and Bear, Bershka, and Stradivarius as well as a Starbucks and other well-known companies. You can also find some fun boutiques, bakeries and cafés to explore.
Going to Mexico City? Check out these popular posts:
- 14 Reasons Why I Fell in Love with La Roma
- Hot Air Balloon Tour of the Teotihuacan Pyramids
- Take a Peek inside Mexico City’s Trendiest Neighborhoods
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What’s your favorite thing to do in Mexico City? Let me now in the comments below!