Mexico City is easily a capital city you could get lost in; whether stopping by for just 48 hours
, or spending months soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of Mexico’s cosmopolitan capital, you’ll never run short of things to do and see. Here’s our selection of the top 20 sights, attractions and points of interest you absolutely must visit in Mexico City.
Not a sight as such, the southern neighbourhood of Coyoacán is worth at least a day of your time to fully explore. Whether you’re a fan of Frida Kahlo, art in general or even just bustling plazas, this quirky, artistic barrio is an essential visit. Don’t miss the coffee from Café El Jarocho, or people watching in the central plaza, Plaza Hidalgo.
Plaza Hidalgo, Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, México
Mercado de la Merced
If you’re looking for fresh food, or even just want to soak up the sights, sounds and smells of a traditional Mexican market, Mercado de la Merced is a must. Here, you’ll find piles of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as plenty of food puestos (tip: eat at the busier ones!). However, keep your wits about you, as it can be disorientating and getting lost is easy.
Mercado de la Merced, Calle Rosario s/n, Merced Balbuena, Venustiano Carranza, Ciudad de México, México
Mexico City’s UNAM (Universidad Autónoma de México) is so sprawling that its southern campus is practically a mini city in its own right. In fact, it’s actually known as University City and plays host to not just university buildings, but also an epic, Instagram-friendly sculpture park, the MUAC art gallery and the iconic Biblioteca Central. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, spend a day wandering around this top attraction.
Ciudad Universitaria, Av Universidad 3000, Cd. Universitaria, Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 5622 1332
A rather more underrated and out of the way attraction than those already mentioned, Santa María la Ribera’s elaborate Kiosco Morisco seems somewhat out of place in the heart of Mexico City, given that it’s more or less an oversized, Islamic-inspired bandstand. Impromptu martial arts lessons and mother and baby dance classes take place there on a daily basis. Plus, it’s just around the corner from the Biblioteca Vasconcelos.
Kiosco Morisco, Calle Salvador Díaz Mirón, Cuauhtémoc, Santa María La Ribera, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 7269 9414
Basílica de Guadalupe
The world’s third most visited religious site, and the top Catholic destination, the emblematic and culturally important Basílica de Guadalupe can’t be dropped from any Mexico City itinerary. Legend states that this is where the Virgen de Guadalupe appeared to Cuauhtlatoatzin in the 16th century, but even if that’s not the case, both the old and new basilicas are still architecturally impressive.
Basílica de Guadalupe, Plaza de las Américas 1, Villa de Guadalupe, Villa Gustavo A. Madero, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 5118 0500
Frida Kahlo is the inescapable representation of Mexico’s artistic heritage on a global level, whether you like it or not, and although her house is somewhat of a tourist trap, with long queues and pricier entrance fees, it is also one attraction that can’t be skipped over. Housing many of her personal possessions, artworks and relics, the gardens are especially tranquil and the décor of her rooms is particularly intriguing.
Casa Azul, Londres 247, Del Carmen, Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 5554 5999
The Castillo and Bosque de Chapultepec
Bosque de Chapultepec, a.k.a. the lungs of Mexico City, is another sight you shouldn’t omit from your Mexico City itinerary, as actively exploring this vast forest is highly encouraged. Filled to the brim with top museums, the Castillo de Chapultepec is a particular highlight; once the backdrop for scenes in Romeo + Juliet, it is now a humble Museo Nacional de Historia and former Royal residence.
Bosque de Chapultepec I, Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 4040 5215
Museo Nacional de Antropología
Although the Museo Nacional de Antropología is also located in the aforementioned Bosque de Chapultepec, it more than deserves an entry of its own, especially given that it’s Mexico’s most visited tourist attraction. Housing a truly jaw-dropping number of artifacts, relics and temporary exhibits related to the Mesoamerican history of Mexico, everyone from history buffs to the casual observer will leave impressed.
Museo Nacional de Antropología, Av Paseo de la Reforma & Calzada Gandhi, Chapultepec Polanco, Miguel Hidalgo, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 4040 5300
Xochimilco and the Trajineras
While there is far more to Xochimilco than the colorful, iconic trajineras (canal type boats), which float up and down the many chinampas (canals) of the region on a daily basis, you can’t really afford to miss a half-day visit to this top tourist attraction. Either buy food and pulque from the floating vendors or pack some beers and sandwiches, but be sure not to get scammed on the price.
Xochimilco, Ciudad de México, México
Is it cheating to add in two whole neighborhoods as one entry? We don’t think so, especially as Roma and Condesa both have so much to offer the passing or even long-term traveler in Mexico City. Right in the heart of the capital, these hipster hangouts are overflowing with quirky bars, restaurants and art galleries, as well as some of the city’s top street artworks. Don’t go with a plan of attack, just explore at your own pace.
Roma, Ciudad de México, México
Condesa, Ciudad de México, México
Towering over the Palacio de Bellas Artes and offering bird’s eye views of the popular, family-friendly Parque Alameda, as well as the city as a whole, heading to the Torre Latinoamericana for dinner or drinks is never a bad idea. The best time to go is right before sunset, so you can see the capital in all its daytime glory before catching the capital transform into its glittering, night-time best.
Torre Latinoamericana, Eje Central 2, Centro, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 5518 7423
Plaza de las Tres Culturas
Rather sadly known best for the student massacres of the last century, Tlatelolco’s Plaza de las Tres Culturas is still a worthy entry on our guide to Mexico City’s top attractions, bringing together as it does the three distinct cultural heritages that make up modern Mexico. Pyramids mark the Mesoamerican past, whilst the colonial Templo de Santiago symbolises the Spanish Conquistador’s influence on the culture, and the Torre de Tlatelolco marks present day modernity.
Plaza de las Tres Culturas, Lázaro Cárdenas, Tlatelolco, Ciudad de México, México
In Colonia Xoco you can find one of the most outstanding but overlooked attractions in Mexico City – the Cineteca Nacional. Almost sculptural in design, its sleek, white outer shell conceals within numerous relics of the Mexican cinema scene, as well as a handful of screens that regularly host indie films and beautifully curated film cycles. While going to cinema might seem like a mere rainy-day exercise, at the Cineteca it’s anything but.
Cineteca Nacional, Av. México Coyoacán, Xoco, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 4155 1201
You don’t go to Arena México in Colonia Doctores for the sake of it, but rather you go to catch one of the iconic lucha libres that are hosted year-round in the country and are especially popular in the Mexican capital. Mildly homoerotic, the entertaining if slightly ridiculous luchas are one of those cultural events that you can’t pass up the opportunity to watch.
Arena México, Dr. Lavista No. 197, Doctores, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 5588 1561