Many people decide to skip the capital when coming to Mexico. However, as a native chilanga (how the rest of the country’s population refers to those who are born in Mexico City), I can truly tell you that not coming here for even a couple of days is almost a crime. Mexico City is a bustling capital with a lot to see, from gorgeous cathedrals to wonderful restaurants, an incredible night life, a mixture of history, mysterious archaeological sites and a never-ending list of UNESCO World Heritage sites are just some of the things that this giant metropolis has to offer. On top of that, Mexico City, or “DF”, is the city with the most museums in the whole world. With so much to see and do, it is nearly impossible to plan an itinerary. For that reason, we list you what we consider are the best places and things to do here:
Start your day at the main square of Mexico City and enjoy the view of its main cathedral, which is the largest one in the whole American continent. If you happen to be in Mexico City the night of the 15th of September, head here for a major Independence Day party as you watch the Mexican president deliver the “Grito de Dolores” from the church’s balcony.
Your trip to Mexico City is not complete without a visit to Templo Mayor, an Aztec archaeological site located right in the main square of the city. Even though there is not much left to see of the prehispanic buildings, there is a museum right next to them where many artifacts found there during excavations were found.
Palace of Bellas Artes
A short walk from El Zócalo is the Palace of Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), one of the most iconic buildings of this gigantic metropolis with its Art Nouveau style. As you walk through the palace, you’ll be able to admire murals by Mexican artists such as Diego River and on the third floor, the Museum of Architecture is located, which is also worth a visit. The Folkloric Ballet of Mexico performs here three times a week and their shows include a majestic Aztec dance.
Casa de los Azulejos
Located right across the Palace of Bellas Artes is Casa de Los Azulejos, an 18th century, Baroque-style palace turned into a restaurant that offers typical Mexican cuisine.
Chapultepec Park & Castle
To escape the bustle and hustle of Mexico City, head to Chapultepec Park – a gigantic park in the middle of the city where you can enjoy a boat ride in its lake, feed ducks, visit the zoo or simply stroll through the never-ending pathways. Inside Chapultepec Park, on top of a hill stands the only castle in the American continent, Chapultepec Castle. This castle was the home of Maximilano I, the former emperor of Mexico.
For the best nightlife, head to Zona Rosa, a district in Mexico City known for its gay scene and bohemian buildings. Even though it is the gay district of Mexico, there are also many bars and clubs are not declared as such, which makes Zona Rosa a wonderful, open-minded place to enjoy a drink no matter what your sexual orientation is.
Stroll over Mexico’s main avenue, Paseo Reforma, inspired on Champs-Élysées in Paris and built under the order of Maximilan I, as he wished for an avenue to link his castle with the city. Paseo Reforma is full of inspiration everywhere you look, with gigantic monuments such as the Angel of Independence and the Diana the Hunter fountain. Many of Mexico City’s most important buildings are located along the avenue, including Torre Mayor and others.
If you’re into shopping and fine dining, then Masaryk Avenue is your go-to place. With high-end boutiques and restaurants, Masaryk Avenue was inspired on similar European streets.
Casa Luis Barragán
For the lovers of architecture, Casa Luis Barragán is an absolute must to get an insight into Mexican Contemporary architecture. The house was the home to the architect of the same name, who is considered Mexico’s best. This house was added into the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Finish the day by watching a classic movie at an authentic drive-thru cinema that will surely make you feel as though you’ve been transfered back through time to the 50’s.
Xochimilco Floating Gardens
The canals of Xochimilco are the only thing that is left from the lake where the original settlers of Mexico started building the city. The canals are full of small islands, known as chinampas, which are full of stories and legends. While in Xochimilco, take a trajinera (a gondola-style boat) to explore the canals and its islands.
Isla de las Muñecas
While in Xochimilaco, if you happen to love horror stories, ask your trajinera rider to take you to Isla de Las Muñecas, which is quite possibly Mexico City’s creepiest place. The island is full of decadent dolls, some lying on the ground and others hanging on trees. Many legends are told about how these dolls ended up here but one sure thing that the locals agree on is that they haunt the island and often whisper words to visitors.
South of the city, in Coyoacan stands Casa Azul, better known as Frida Kahlo’s house. Here, you’ll be able to follow Frida’s steps and admire every room inside the house, which houses her possessions including her paint brushes, her books, her kitchen utensils, her wheelchair and much more. No book or film about Frida Kahlo will give you the insight into her life as her house does.
Outside of Mexico City stands this mesmerizing archaeological site. Spend the day walking among the ruins of the mysterious culture of Teotihuacan. Climb up to the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the moon for an exciting view of the largesti pre hispanic city in Mesoamerica below you. This precolumbian civilization remains a mystery to archaeologists but it is known that it was multi-cultural city where many other cultures resided.
Updated: May 10, 2015