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Mexico City is by far one of the most popular destinations to visit in the country, with an abundance of culture, sites, and authentic food all ready to be explored in the capital. In this guide, we’ll explore the top 8 things to do in Mexico City and see, when is best to go, and much more.
Reasons to visit Mexico City
Despite its popularity and constant growth, the capital has managed to retain its charm and authenticity. Even just walking around the city, each new street corner will greet you with something unique; whether it’s the scent of traditional Mexican foods being prepared, colorful houses and barrios on show, or its abundance of colonial architecture.
Of these, the food, in particular, is a big reason many come to Mexico City. The capital is one of the best places to try a whole range of authentic dishes, which range from Tlayudas and Chicharrónes to the of course popular tacos and burritos.
Mexico City is also home to a quite remarkable (and long) list of things to see and do. From sprawling Aztec ruins to plazas and museums, this capital really has something for everyone.
How Many Days to Spend in Mexico City?
The next important question is how long you’ll need in the capital. Given the city is pretty massive (among the 10 largest in the World), you’ll want to give yourself enough time to see everything without going full loco rushing between sites.
We’ve found that 5 Days is a great amount of time to spend in Mexico City. This will give you ample time to get to know D.F (as it’s locally known), its customs, and also to feel at home in whichever barrio you decide to stay in. As well as this, you’ll also begin to get a real authentic “locals” feel, which with less time would not be possible.
For more trip planning advice check out: Where to Stay in Mexico City: 5 Neighborhood Recommendations from a CDMX Resident
8 Things to do in Mexico City
Now we’ll take a look at the very best things to do in Mexico City ranging from historical sites and museums to some very authentic experiences.
1. Centro Histórico
The beating heart of the capital, the Centro Histórico is one of the best places to spend your time in Mexico City. We recommend staying here due to its advantageous location, and also as it’s close to many major sights. Here you can visit the Zócalo, which is the very core of the Centro Histórico.
As well as seeing the plaza and its massive waving flag, there are also many important landmarks to see in this area. These include the Catedral Metropolitana with its giant dual bell towers, as well as the National Palace, which serves as the residence for the current president of Mexico.
2. Palacio de Bellas Artes
This cultural building is one of the most stunning and architecturally impressive in Mexico City. With a mix of Neoclassical and Nouveau styles, the Palacio de Bellas Artes is great for gaining perspective into the different eras of the capital.
It’s mostly known for its theatrical and opera performances, where the very best from all over the county come to entertain. It also functions as a cultural center, with regular open art and sculpture exhibitions. The Palacio de Bellas Artes is located next to the Alameda Central Park, which is within Mexico City’s historic center.
3. The Ciudadela Market
Mexico City is home to many markets, however, this one is the best of the bunch. Whilst less popular than others, it was originally created during the 1968 Olympics hosted in Mexico.
With vendors coming from all over the country, it’s one of the most diverse markets where you’ll find unique novelties and crafts which other markets simply won’t have access to.
This market is especially popular with those who are backpacking Mexico and looking for regional souvenirs to carry home. When heading here be sure to leave any valuables at home, as unfortunately, pickpocketing seems to be an issue in and around the market. The Ciudadela Market is located close to the Morelos Statue in the district of Cuauhtémoc.
4. Barrio Chino
Whilst the capital is full of authentic Mexican gems and destinations, here’s a different one to spice things up. The Barrio Chino (translated as “Chinese Neighbourhood”) is exactly as it sounds – a street full of Chinese descendants who have made these blocks their home.
Go for a walk here, where you’ll see hanging bridges and lanterns, as well as many Chinese restaurants and vendors. Barrio Chino is located just a few blocks from the Palacio de Bellas Artes, making it a good trip to combine after your visit there.
5. Chapultepec Castle
Located within the gigantic Chapultepec Park (which is really big – it’s one of the largest man-made parks in Latin America), you can find this imposing castle. Once inhabited during the Aztec times, this is in fact the only true castle in all of North America!
It’s located on top of a hill for its vantage point, and whilst you won’t see any battles or wars today, you can instead get some really good views over this part of Mexico City.
Inside you can take a tour to see all of the decorated rooms and hallways, and also the pretty gardens and fountains. Chapultepec Castle is located in the north of the park, sandwiched between La Condesa and Polanco districts.
6. Museo Nacional de Antropologia
Known to be one of the most complete museums in the entire world, this anthropology museum is the best place in the country to learn about Mexico’s vivid and unique past. Some of the best things to see here include the infamous Aztec Calendar (officially known as the Stone of the Sun), as well as the Xochipilli statue.
As it’s the most visited museum in Mexico, it’s recommended to buy your entrance in advance online. The Museo Nacional de Antropologia is located on the outskirts of Chapultepec Park, close to the Castle. It’s one of the top things to do in Mexico City, so don’t wait to purchase tickets.
7. Casa de Los Azulejos
This stunning building is really one for the architects out there, and also for anyone that wants to take some good photos! Translated as “The House of the Tiles”, this gem is a Baroque-style palace with both the interior and exteriors laden with a collection of amazing and beautiful tiles.
It’s also known for its beautiful courtyard, and as a whole is one of our favorite destinations to visit in the capital. Casa de Los Azulejos is located in the Historic Centre, a short walk from Alameda Park.
8. Floating Gardens of Xochimilco
This gem is by far one of the most popular things to do in Mexico City, and when you see photos you’ll see why! This long and interconnected web of canals can be explored on board the Trajineras (colorful canal boats, which often also serve authentic Mexican foods along the trip).
It’s one of the most photogenic spots in Mexico City, and it’s also here when you can visit The Island of the Dolls, which is a pretty unnerving yet fascinating place at the same time.
There are so many things to do in Mexico City, which is why we’ve recommended a minimum of 5 Days to spend here.
Best time to visit Mexico City
Mexico City is located in the heart of the country. Due to its altitude and position, it receives less rain when compared with other popular Mexican destinations, however, it still has a dry and wet season.
The dry season is the best time to see all these things to do in Mexico City and runs from November until April. Average temperatures during this period range from 57-66°F, with highs of up to 79°F, and lows of 44°F. Rainfall during this period ranges from 0-0.5 inches throughout each month (December is the overall driest month to visit Mexico City).
The contrasting wet season runs from May until October, which is both warmer and wetter than the dry season. Average temperatures hover between 62-67°F, with highs of up to 80°F, and lows of down to 52°F. Rainfall is heavier this time of year, with between 1.5-5 inches falling throughout each month (July is the wettest month of the year for a visit).
Things to Do In Mexico City: Best Eats
This city is arguably the best in the country for trying authentic Mexican food. Before talking specifics, just walking around the Historic Centre you’ll be able to find many awesome street food stalls and restaurants, seemingly in every nook and cranny (so get exploring!).
Now let’s talk restaurants. If you love seafood, be sure to head to Campobaja, which is known for its tasty mariscos (seafood).
Another great place to head to is Bótanico, with some of the best Mexican food served in the capital. It’s also got some fantastic decor along with its cozy patio. It can be hard to get a table here, so be sure to book well in advance of your trip here.