The Top 14 Things To See And Do In Monterrey
Monterrey | © Rick González/ Flickr
Hemmed in by mountains, Monterrey is an underrated Mexican city, known for being more industrial than interesting. However, scratch below the surface of its bad reputation and some-would-say unappealing architecture and there are a lot of hidden gems to be found. Read on for our collection of the top 14 things to do on your next visit to Monterrey.
Exhibitions at the MARCO
Definitely one of Monterrey’s top attractions is the MARCO, otherwise known as the Museo de Arte Contempóraneo. With current temporary exhibitions from artists such as German artist Otto Dix (to mark the Dual Year of Germany-Mexico) and Argentine Tomás Saraceno, there’s always something new and eye-opening to see, plus the courtyard has great views of the Cerro de la Silla. Perhaps MARCO’s most characteristic feature though is the giant bronze dove that guards the door.
MARCO, Calle Juan Zuazua s/n, Centro, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, +52 81 8262 4500
A vast expanse, the Macroplaza is situated slap bang in the centre of Monterrey. One of its most eye catching features is undoubtedly the towering orange Faro del Comercio, a slim orange structure designed by Luis Barragán. To one side, there’s the aformentioned MARCO modern art museum, as well as the beautiful cathedral. Head to the top end of the Macroplaza and you have the Museo del Palacio. It’s well worth a visit, if not just for a bit of relief from the blazing midday sun that the wide-open Macroplaza offers no shelter from.
Macroplaza, Zona Centro, Centro, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
Palacio del Obispado and Mirador Asta Bandera
Admire the views over the impressively vast expanse of urbanity Monterrey has to offer from the Mirador Asta Bandera, which features an enormous flag. A fairly easy climb, locals will point you in the right direction to reach this Monterrey landmark. On your way back down, drop into the Palacio del Obispado. A pleasingly yellow building, it features a selection of well laid out and fascinating displays about Monterrey’s history.
Palacio del Obispado, Rafael José Verger s/n, Obispado, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, +52 81 8346 0404
Palacio del Obispado | Courtesy of author
Cerro de la Silla
Monterrey is known for being surrounded by mountains, and it is in fact one of the most appealing aspects of the city. The most famous peak is Cerro de la Silla, and while you can get a good view of it from the Obispado’s Mirador, it’s worth taking some time to admire in its own right. Named for the saddle like shape of its double peaks, Pico Norte and Pico la Virgen, you can even climb it.
Cerro de la Silla, Guadalupe, Nuevo León, México
TEC de Monterrey
Most university buildings are known for being, for want of a better way of putting it, ugly as sin. However, TEC de Monterrey’s Eugenio Garza Sada campus is a different kettle of fish altogether; in fact, it’s instantly recognisable for its pair of square building brick buildings that look like they fell from the sky. As well as being visually pleasing, it also ranks highly in global university league tables and is one of Mexico’s top higher learning institutions.
TEC de Monterrey, Av. Eugenio Garza Sada 2501 Sur, Tecnológico, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
Stroll down Paseo Santa Lucía
Gleaming white pathways guide you down the length of this artificial and impressively teal coloured ‘river’. Water features and bridges are spotted along the length of Paseo Santa Lucía, as are rose-selling vendors. Unsurprisingly, this is a popular spot for couples to take a romantic stroll or even just lounge on the grass. Alternatively, you can board a small boat which will take you up and down the length of the river and give you a chance to leisurely admire the views.
Paseo Santa Lucía, Avenida Fundidora y Adolfo Prieto s/n, Obrera, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
Visit Parque Fundidora
Easily the best part of Monterrey, which is an overwhelmingly urban space, Parque Fundidora perfectly combines the city’s industrial history with open green areas. Dotted with striking steel structures, including the brutal but strangely beautiful Horno 3, this is a vast expanse of a park. Take a pair of roller skates and make the most of the wide walkways, or rent a bike and soak up the familial atmosphere. Duck into the Centro de Las Artes if you want to escape the blazing Monterrey heat.
Parque Fundidora, Avenida Fundidora y Adolfo Prieto S/N, Obrera, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
By day, this small but perfectly formed area is a great spot to get lunch. Littered with a host of cafés serving up vegan lunches and hearty breakfasts – such as Tierra Libre for their relaxed atmosphere and refreshing Italian sodas or Casa de las Abuelas, a quaint café which serves quesadillas in handmade tortillas – you’ll not go hungry. By night, Café Iguana is the obvious choice, with its live music, multi-level seating and neighbouring pizza shop!
Barrio Antiguo | © issa/Flickr
Visit Planetario Alfa
A bus journey away from central Monterrey, Planetario Alfa offers free minivans at set points throughout the day from La Alameda. Make sure to arrive early though, because Mexican families descend on mass and have no qualms about pushing you out of the way to get a seat. Once there, enjoy interactive exhibitions and incredible film projections inside the planetarium. Outside there are more interactive learning/play areas and a viewing room, where you can take a look at some of the that day’s visible constellations.
Planetario Alfa, Avenida Roberto Garza Sada 1000, Carrizalejo, San Pedro Garza García, Nuevo León, México, +52 81 8303 0001
Head to the Grutas de García
For a day trip outside the centre, Las Grutas de García also make a great choice. Easily accessible via public transport, ticket vendors are always fotted about La Alameda. Once there, the tour itself lasts about 40 minutes, and shows you around some of the notable stalagmite and stalactite structures in the caves. Some of them bear little more than a passing resemblance to their supposed appearance, but it’s an enjoyable day out all the same. A cable car transports visitors to and from the grutas (caves), but if you really want, you can walk back down to the bottom.
Grutas de García, Carretera a Villa de García S/N, Parque Grutas de García, García, Nuevo León, México, +52 81 2033 2626
Grutas de García | Courtesy of author
Regios (the name of people from Monterrey) love a good carne asada, or BBQ. Despite this being a widespread trend across northern Mexico, you should definitely make your best efforts to wangle an invite to a carne asada from a local, as that’s where you’ll see the true side of Monterrey’s culture and people. Don’t forget to bring a six pack of Tecate if you really want to fit in.
Carne Asada | © Carlos Lopez/Flickr