If you were to ask me what my thoughts on Mexico City (CDMX) are, I guess I could describe this city as cosmopolitan and cultured at the same time!….. but what can I say, I’m a bit bias since it’s on my list of favorite cities! There are sooo many wonderful things to see, a lot of activities to do and many delicious places to eat at! I am lucky to say that these past few years I have been to CDMX a couple of times, which has given me the opportunity to really explore this magnificent city and see most of its main attractions.
Fun Fact: The population of Greater Mexico City is 21.3 million, which makes it the largest metropolitan area of the Western Hemisphere and the eleventh-largest agglomeration in the world!
Since there are so many things to see in CDMX and so little time, I have compiled a list to make your life a bit easier with a few spots I definitely recommend checking out: 😉
Zocalo: Is the main central square which includes the Metropolitan Cathedral, National Palace, the ancient Aztec temple ruins (Templo Mayor) and a few modern structures that are located a few steps of each other. This area is part of the Historic Center of Mexico City, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987.
Metropolitan Cathedral: Is situated atop of the former Aztec sacred precinct near the Templo Mayor on the northern side of the Zocalo and it was built in sections from 1573 to 1813. The gold altars are impressive!
Greater Temple (Templo Mayor): This building was the main temple of the Mexica people in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City.
Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes): Is a beautiful and prominent cultural center that has hosted some of the most notable events in music, dance and has also held important art exhibitions.
National Museum of Anthropology: It is the largest and most visited museum in Mexico! The ground-floor halls are dedicated to pre-Hispanic Mexico, while the upper-level halls show how Mexico’s indigenous descendants live today.
Soumaya Museum: Is a private museum and a non-profit cultural institution owned by Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim. The museum was named in honor of his wife, Soumaya Domit who passed away in 1999. The museum has a collection of over 66,000 pieces of art and the entrance is always FREE!
Chapultepec Castle: The only royal castle in the Americas! This building had various uses, from a gunpowder warehouse, military academy, official residence of Emperor Maximilian and as the presidential residence until 1939, when President Lázaro Cárdenas turned it into a museum.
Monument to the Revolution: This building was initially planned as the Federal Legislative Palace, but the project was not finished due to the war of Mexican Revolution (1910). Twenty-five years later, the structure was converted into a monument to commemorate the Mexican Revolution. You can actually go inside and go all the way up! It’s really cool.
Frida Kahlo Museum (Casa Azul): This museum is dedicated to the life and work of Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. Frida was actually born in this house, grew up here, lived here with her husband, and where she later died in a room on the upper floor. The collections displayed in the rooms of the house remain very similar as they did back in the 1950s. Pro tip: buy tickets ahead of time online!
Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe: Is a Roman Catholic basilica, which houses St. Juan Diego’s cloak containing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The 1709 shrine was built near the hill of Tepeyac, where the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared to St. Juan Diego and this basilica was completed in 1974.
Casa de los Azulejos (House of Tiles): Was an 18th-century palace. The building is distinguished by its facade, which is covered on three sides by blue and white tiles. There are also two large murals in the interior, one done by famous Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco. The palace remained privately owned until the end of the 19th century. Today, this building is the flagship Sanborns restaurant/store, which is a very famous Mexican chain restaurant/store. If you decide to dine there, I highly recommend the Swiss enchiladas!
Biblioteca Vasconcelos (Library): This public library was opened in 2006 and it is considered one of the ten most modern libraries in the world. In this library you can find a collection of more than 600,000 works including: books, music and DVDs, magazines and newspapers. Entrance is always FREE!
If you happen to be in CDMX on a Friday, make sure to check out a “Lucha Libre” wrestling match at the Arena Mexico at 8:00pm! It is sooooo much fun! 🙂
Xochimilco: This area is about 45 min away from CDMX! These canals, along with artificial islands are called chinampas and they are a huge tourist attraction. You can rent these colorful gondola-like boats called “trajineras” by the hour and they can take you around the 105 miles of the canals. The best part is that you can BYOB, buy food from other trajineras and you can even have mariachis sing to you! 😉 Pro tip: come with a group of at least 4 because the boat is pretty big!
Fun Fact: You can actually personalize your trajinera so you can ride in style like my favorite Güera Brit!
Teotihuacan: These famous ruins are an hour away from CDMX! The holy city of Teotihuacan (‘the place where the gods were created’) is known for the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. You can take a tour to get here or you can drive if you are feeling adventurous!
Love food? Then CDMX is the place to be! From affordable, delicious street food to fine dining at some of the world’s best restaurants! CDMX has it all! I highly encourage trying some street food! But just make sure the stand looks clean and that there are a couple of people eating there to make sure it’s good!
Are you an extreme foodie like me? If so, I highly recommend making a reservation ahead of time (months before) to try the top 2 restaurants in Mexico, that were also featured in the World’s Best Restaurants list! In 2018, Quintonil was #11 on the list and Pujol was #13!
Fun Fact: If you want cheese on your quesadilla, make sure you let them know! Because for some weird reason in CDMX they won’t put cheese on your quesadilla if you don’t request it…. (only in CDMX! the rest of the country knows that no cheese in a quesadilla, is just a taco!)
Need more food and drink tips? Then head over to my friend Brittany’s blog Tarmacs and Tequila. 😉
Well amigos, I hope this list has been helpful and has encourage you to visit this cosmopolitan and cultured city! Best part, the flight is less than 2 hours from Houston, and you can get tickets as low as $200! (sometimes)