The Essential Mexico City Travel Guide

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Advisor - Rod Carrillo-Lundgren
Curated By

Rod Carrillo-Lundgren

  • Mexico

  • Mexico City

  • Food & Wine

  • Arts & Culture

  • Outdoors

  • Entertainment

  • Local Food

palace on a sunny day
Curator’s statement

Mexico City is truly one of the most incredible cities you’ll visit in the entire world. Whether you’re looking to indulge in decadent food, be immersed in rich culture, or learn about a country’s vibrant history, this is truly a city that has it all. You can spend the morning wandering through a bustling neighborhood market, spend the afternoon engrossing yourself in a world-class museum, and spend the evening at a 5-star restaurant before heading out to some of the world’s best bars or a nightclub. It’s a city that is firmly rooted in its cultural heritage while embracing the modern world.

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Where to stay in Mexico City

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Things to do in Mexico City

sunse in Mexico city

Orienting Yourself: Especially if it’s your first time in CDMX, it can feel a bit overwhelming to get your bearings. Consider taking a walking tour of a specific area of Mexico City, or take the Turibus (a hop-on/hop-off bus with a circuit of 4 different routes to major sites across the metropolitan area).

Museums: With well over 100 museums, CDMX rivals cities like Paris in their offerings. Visit La Casa Azul to see Frida Kahlo’s home, artwork & artifacts from her life. To get a glimpse of Mexico’s history, stop in to Museo Nacional de Antropología (MNA). For contemporary art, MUAC (Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo) & Museo Jumex are musts. For beautiful murals & revolving exhibition halls, Palacio de Bellas Artes is the place for you (the exterior is also arguably the most beautiful building in the city).

Monuments: Across the city, you’ll find monuments & statues devoted to historic events. El Ángel de la Independencia commemorates the centennial of the beginning of Mexico’s War of Independence. Monumento a la Revolución is another famous landmark, this one commemorating the Mexican Revolution.

Markets: The Mercado de Coyoacan is a maze of food stalls & artisan souvenirs (it’s also over 100 years old!). Mercado de San Juan is a foodie adventure, with gourmet & exotic products galore (from scorpions and tarantulas to wild boar and kangaroo meat). Mercado de la Merced is the largest market in the city, selling everything from food to everyday items.

Archeological Sites: The city limits are home to several historical sites well worth a visit! The Templo Mayor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the heart of the city, and was the main temple of Tenochtitlan. Tlatelolco is an excavation site with an over 700 year old pyramid that points to it being a mixed Aztec & Tlatelolca construction. Cuicuilco is another important site, and was located on the southern shore of Lake Texcoco (it is believed to be the oldest building in the Americas at over 8,000 years old).

Centro Historico: This part of the city stretches from the Palacio de Bellas Artes to the massive Zócalo plaza. In the main plaza, you can see the Metropolitan Cathedral and National Palace. Be sure to take a stroll down Calle Madero (a pedestrian-only street where you can find street vendors, shopping, and eateries) and don’t miss Casa de los Azulejos (an 18th-century palace famous for its blue & white tile exterior).

Chapultepec: Not to be missed, this part of the city is home to one of the largest parks in Mexico (bigger than New York City’s Central Park). Within it, you’ll find a 1700 acre forest, Chapultepec Castle (dating back to the 18th-century, with some beautiful views of the city), a zoo, the Museum of Anthropology, and more.

Best Views of the City: A couple spots for the best views in the city have already been mentioned: Chapultepec Castle, Monumento a la Revolución, and Casa de los Azulejos. Another great spot to catch a glimpse of just how massive CDMX is the observation deck of Torre Latinoamericana

Day Trips

If you want to get out of the city to explore more parts of the surrounding area, there’s plenty to choose from. If you want some R&R, take a trip to Tolantongo hot springs with cliff top pools overlooking the beautiful countryside. If you’re a history buff, visit what was once the largest city in the Americas: Teotihuacán (complete with massive pyramids and preserved murals). You can also explore nearby towns such as Taxco, Cuernavaca, Puebla, Cholula and San Miguel de Allende (although the latter is best reserved as its own separate trip). If you’re adventurous, you can trek through Izta-Popo National Park and hike one of the valley’s active volcanoes!

Places to eat & drink in Mexico City

people eating at tables

If you want food and/or drinks with a view, check out Finca Don Porfirio Café, Balcon del Zocalo Restaurant, and Cityzen Rooftop (at the Sofitel).
For sit-down restaurants, check out El Cardenal (a CDMX staple for breakfast/brunch, and their hot chocolate is not to be missed). If you love pastor, visit the birthplace of the gringa taco El Fogoncito. For a fancier dining experience, check out San Ángel Inn (a former monastery with alfresco dining around a central fountain).

Other great, more casual chain dining options include Casa de Toño (for mouthwatering pozole), Taqueria El Califa, and El Farolito (both for tacos).
Also to note, the city is home to some of the ‘world’s best’ restaurants & bars: Pujol, Handshake Speakeasy, Quintonil, Licoreria Limantour, Contramar, and many others.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Taylor Frost’s guide, Long Weekend in Mexico Wine Country.

Advisor - Rod Carrillo-Lundgren

Travel Advisor

Rod Carrillo-Lundgren

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Mexico City.