The 6+ Coolest Things to do in Mexico City

Mexico’s high-altitude, densely populated capital bristles with life and wonderment. While it’s impossible to cover all the things to do in Mexico City on one vacation, visiting one per day ensures your Mexico City tours are doable.

From baroque cathedrals showcasing Spanish conquistadors to murals highlighting the metropolis’ past, here are the six best things to do in Mexico City.

Get a flavor of Mexico’s past at Palacio Nacional

fresco at Mexico's City National Palace

Start your day in the Zocalo, the main square and historic center of Mexico City.

One of the free activities you can enjoy in this urban sprawl is visiting the National Palace, Mexico’s federal executive seat. Open the central door of this fortress-like building on the Plaza de la Constitución, and you’ll be staring at baroque arches surrounding the central patio. 

The palace’s appeal isn’t just in its elaborate architecture. Diego Rivera’s painting, The History of Mexico, embellishes the staircase, displaying the past of a country influenced by centralism. His masterpiece paints vivid pictures of the Aztec era, the conquest, the Revolution, and the emerging industry at a mere glance. In short, this is where to go in Mexico City.

His frescos also adorn the walls on the second floor. Unless you are an avid Rivera fiend, there’s no need to hire a Mexico City guide. Instead, you can learn about Mexico City’s history through the paintings, so save your money for some tequila.

Fall in love with Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral

Mexico City's gothic cathedral

Just a few minutes from the Palace is the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Erected on the Plaza de la Constitución in phases between 1573 and 1813, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City is Latin America’s oldest and largest cathedral. It’s one of those things to do in Mexico City you’d better not miss.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven—its full title—has lived to tell the tale of deep floods and fire probably sparked by an electrical fault. But Claudio de Arciniega, the highly creative brain behind this Gothic-inspired church, created an architectural masterpiece that withstood it all.

The eye-catching dome and facades are supported by sculpture-decorated columns. The portals are adorned with images and statues of ancient saints. But the bell tower’s 25 bells are beyond imagination—including the 13-ton Santa Maria de Guadalupe, a 7,000kg-heavy Dona Maria bell, and La Ronca, or hoarse one, named after the sound’s pitch.

It’s not just the outside that’ll leave you at a loss for words. Step inside the Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México, and you’ll be awestruck. It’s a mesmerizing sight with five naves propped up by Gothic arches, underground catacombs, and sixteen chapels.

Get a taste of Mexican cuisine on an Eat Like a Local tour

Tacos on a plate

Want to immerse yourself in the city’s food scene but despise crowds? 

Food blogger Rocío Vazquez offers culinary safaris and food tours for tour haters. And this woman delivers on her promise; it’s not for nothing that Condé Nast, The New York Times, and Forbes have featured her authentic food expeditions.

Rocío’s Mexico City food tours follow the local way of devouring tacos. These flour tortillas are made with various fillings, such as ground beef, chicken, or seafood, and garnished with sour cream, tomato paste, onion, and more veggies. Many other Mexican dishes go down well, too.

In a word, delicioso!

Relax amid remnants of the colonial era in the Coyoacán neighborhood

San Juan Bautista Church in Mexico City

A 30-minute drive from the Zocalo is the restorative Coyoacán region. It hides south of central Mexico City on the La Magdalena River, now channeled underground. The formerly rural neck of the woods has morphed into a recreational area for martial artists, runners, and Mexican families who come here after a Sunday mass.

Ghosts of the colonial era still haunt Coyoacán, or Land of the Coyotes, from the baroque San Juan Bautista church featuring gold galore to the brick and stone accents across the district.

Besides, the Coyoacán neighborhood offers plenty of open space in parks like Vivero Coyoacán or Parque Centenario. You can lick your way through Mexico’s best ice cream stuffed into waffle cones, enjoy picnics amid tropical plants and cacti beauties, or sip on a cup of joe at one of the community’s small cafes. Coyoacán is a haven of tranquility, complete with bookshops, street vendors, museums, and tree-lined alleys.

Shop at Mercado Coyoacán

fruit for sale on a truck

Since you’re already in the vicinity, check out the Coyoacán Market. This 1921-founded Mexico City food market provides local color aplenty, from fruits and veggies to spices and low-priced textiles. Mexicans walk along row upon row of stalls selling dinner ingredients, but you’ll also see travelers buying woven bags and baskets. 

Despite its narrow aisles, the market’s cheery feel is omnipresent.

Join dance circles at Patrick Miller

disco ball

Hands down, one of the best things to do in Mexico City at night is shimmying across Patrick Miller’s stage.

It’s a bar and dance club tucked away in Roma Norte behind a black gate. Giving the impression of a mediocre warehouse, Patrick Miller keeps a low profile. But visit, and you’ll witness a roaring, Friday-only party that retains the spirit of Mexico City’s disco sub-culture. Moves and showpeople come alive when partygoers celebrate the 80s and 90s in dance circles. 

Not your style of music? Don’t fret; Patrick Miller also caters to fans of sub-genres like Italo, electro, Hi-NRG, and more.

More things to see in Mexico City

Other things to see in Mexico City are Templo Mayor’s ancient stone ruins in the heart of Centro Histórico, defying the surrounding buildings and streets. 

Or Torre Latinoamericana, a 44-story skyscraper that’s survived two devastating earthquakes. It towers above the city like NYC’s Empire State building and offers splendid 360-degree views of the metropolis. 

Four blocks south of Alameda Park, you’ll find excellent Mexican handicrafts at the Mercado de Artesanias La Ciudadela. 

Finally, don’t miss the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico at the historic Palacio de Bellas Artes. It’s a long-running dance troupe that lets hand-crafted skirts ripple through the air, providing an unmissable, traditional Mexico experience.

Now you know why this fascinating city is a must on every Mexico itinerary.

FAQ

How do you get to Mexico City? 

The best way is to fly to the international Mexico City airport. 

If you are already in the country, you can also ride a bus to Mexico City from dozens of locations.

What’s the best way to get around Mexico City?

Walking and Uber are ideal for quick jaunts. Also, there are a lot of intercity Mexico City transportation options to get around town.

Is Mexico City safe?

It’s a massive city, so of course, there is crime, just like every other enormous city in the world. Don’t walk around flashing cash or jewelry. Don’t get drunk and walk by yourself in unknown neighborhoods. It’s best to use common sense and stay where the people are, particularly at night. 

When is the best time to go to Mexico City?

While the streets are packed between March and May, this is the ideal time to visit Mexico City. Gorgeous conditions are your trade-off, especially considering the Mexico City weather can be harsh. At 7,382 feet above sea level, winters can be freezing cold and summers rainy.

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