Mexico’s capitol is one of the biggest cities in the world, and has a large amount of cultural activities and vibrant sights to match its enormous size. Whether you’re visiting for a week, or a weekend, it can be incredibly difficult to decide what to spend our time on. I’ve made it easy for you, and narrowed the list down to my 10 favorite things to do in Mexico City. If you plan accordingly, you can do all of them in just a few days!
8. Spend a Day at the Teotihuacan Archaeological Area
This place is an absolute must! Located about 30 miles from Mexico City, Teotihuacan was one of the largest Mesoamerican cities in Mexico. The pyramids that were built there are a major tourist attraction in the area. The site houses the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, the Temple of Quetzalpapalotl, the Avenue of the Dead and other ruins from the once great and mysterious city. You can walk around the grounds, hike up the pyramids for an incredible view from the top.
You can also take a break and enjoy a fantastic lunch inside an Aztec cave. “La Gruta” restaurant offers a dining experience like no other! The vast underground cave restaurant has crazy & often delicious pre-hispanic dishes. The wait might take longer than you expected (it’s always good to have reservations, especially for lunch). And expect to be entertained. There are several folkloric performances during the entire day.
2. Experience Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Every city in Mexico has Cathedrals and Basilicas, but none are as magnificent as this one! The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Roman Catholic church built at the base of a mountain. According to legend, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to an Aztec peasant named Juan Diego. In his native tongue, she asked for a church to be built on those holy grounds in her honor. There are other churches and buildings in the area to see, including the New Basilica, where the cloak of Juan Diego now resides. You’ll have to visit to learn the significance of the cloak and to see it for yourself.
3. Visit the Zócalo
This is the center of the city. And it’s enormous! And easy to see why it was once used as the main ceremonial center for the ancient Aztec city. If anything major is going on, like New Years Eve, or when Mexico’s soccer team wins a match, the square is decorated and busy with festivals and celebrations. Very close by ae many top things to do, and it is from here that the city starts to unravel its treasures, so it’s a great place to base yourself. You can catch any of the Hop on Hop off bus lines here too, or take public transportation.
4. Wander Around Downtown
Despite media reports, Mexico City is pretty safe. I recommend walking around downtown, checking out the famous monuments and landmarks. Don’t be afraid when you see a large police presence. They’re harmless and are just there to deter crime.
5. Get Lost in Coyoacán
This place is magical and incredibly colorful! Coyoacán is the place to go for lovely, affordable crafts to bring back to everyone at home. From ceramics, wooden toys, or artisanal soaps for your bathroom, you’ll get lost among the aisles.
Speaking of colorful, visit Frida Kahlo’s House You can’t miss this iconic bright blue house in the middle of Coyoacan. For a small fee, you can tour the home where the iconic Mexican artist spent her days growing up, where she spent years sick in bed, and where she lived with her husband, Diego Rivera, in her adult years.
6. Get Studious at Biblioteca Vasconcelos
This is seriously how I imagine heaven! Half a million books live inside Mexico City’s Biblioteca Vasconcelos. There’s a reason why it’s called the Megabiblioteca. It was dedicated to José Vasconcelos, the philosopher and former presidential candidate and former president of the National Library of Mexico.
7. Tour the UNAM Campus
The campus is massive! But it’s worth the visit. The National Autonomous University of Mexico is the largest university in Latin America. It was built 1910, and it still holds some of its vintage charm despite all the modern additions. While you’re there, visit UNAM’s library and marvel at it’s famous wall murals.
And if you really want a wild time, go to a college football game. Yes, American football! UNAM has one of Mexico’s best football teams and sitting through a game is incredibly thrilling
8. Go back in time at National Anthropology Museum
If you’re a history buff like me, you’ll find this museum fascinating. It is the largest and most visited museum in Mexico. I felt like I needed several days to see everything. The museum contains significant archaeological and anthropological artifacts from the Mexico’s pre-Columbian heritage. The most famous artifacts are the Stone of the Sun and the 16th-century Aztec Xochipilli statue.
9. Climb Torre Latinoaméricana
The “Torre Latinoaméricana” has 44 floors, and was once considered the tallest building in Latin America until 1972. Take the elevator up to the highest point, for an unbelievable view of the city. I went at night, when the city was all lit up with twinkling lights. But I recommend going during the day if you want to take better pictures!
10. Sing your heart out at Plaza Mariachi
This is the place to go for a good drinks, and to practice your dancing skills. The best mariachi bands and banda singers gather here and perform inside restaurants or outside on the plaza. Be prepared to tip if you request any songs! The atmosphere is lively and you’ll have the best time, especially after a few tequilas.