Mexico City is huge, great, messy and exhausting. It can be many things but for sure is not how you have imagined before you go. Probably, because of its dimensions and your lack of time, even for the large number of odds and possible choices of things to do… you will need proper information once you are in the capital of Mexico. Here you are a list of must-do in Ciudad de México, our Mexico City bucket list.
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Zócalo – Feel small
Indeed it is the second biggest square in the world and the first of the Spanish speaking countries. The official name of the square is Plaza de la Constitución in honour of the Cádiz Constitution in 1812. The place has been UNESCO World Heritage since 1987 and it is surrounded by awesome historic buildings you don’t want to miss. This is the real epicenter of the capital of Mexico and right there many historical events took place. Moreover, still now, this is the chosen place for massive concerts, big demonstrations and many other important social matters. A must in any Mexico City bucket list.
Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City – Get amazed
Majestic inside and outside. It is one of the most outstanding cathedrals of the Spanish-American architecture. Claudio de Arciniega, a Spanish architect, started the works inspired by Spanish cathedrals, in the location of a church erected shortly after the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán. Since it took almost 250 years to be finished, this templum has the influence of many styles: gothic, baroque, churrigueresque, neoclassical… It is located in Zócalo square and you cannot miss it once you are there. In addition, fortunately, the entrance, as all the rest of the churches in Mexico, is free.
Templo Mayor Museum – Learn History in capital letters
The Spanish conquerors decided to build the center of their town just where the center of Tenochtitlan was. As a result of that today we can admire the remains of the Pre-Hispanic city just one side of Zócalo. You can find some rooms with archaeological exhibitions and you could walk close to the ancient walls and structures. Currently, the entrance to the Templo Mayor INAH’s Museum is 75$ Mexican Pesos.
Torre Latino ViewPoint – Climb for the views
This is probably the most iconic building in Mexico City. It is visible from many places in town in the distance because of its 182 meters height. The building itself is not remarkable but getting up to the top guarantees one of the best views in town. It is not cheap even though you can choose from several ticket options.
Alameda Central – Take an aristocratic stroll
This is a public park in the Historic Center of Mexico City, dating back to 1592, so it has been classified as the oldest public garden in Mexico and America. It was inspired by the Alameda de Hércules in the city of Sevilla, a public garden created in 1574 which is the oldest in Spain and Europe. It has had many improvements and renovations since then, but every period and every art style has left its footprint.
Palacio de Bellas Artes – The perfect icon
It is big, beautiful and perfect for a selfie. This is not a joke, you will see many locals queing to do that. Indeed, its cupula is one of the most picturesque icons in Mexico City, but the building is more than that. It is the house of two museums (art and architecture) and it is a currently active Opera House where to perform many important cultural events.
Francisco Madero Avenue – Join the mass
It is always crowded but don’t skip it. You can take a walk admiring many of the nicest historic buildings of Mexico CIty. It connects Palacio de Bellas artes with Zócalo. You can get into shopping in Pasaje Pimentel or discover real gems such as Casa de los azulejos or San Francisco temple. A street you cannot miss in your Mexico City bucket list
La Casa de los Azulejos – The cute detail
It is a historic, very beautiful house which dates back to 1737. It was erected with andalusian bluish tiles style. The house is located at the beginning of Francisco Madero Avenue, just close to Torre Latino and Palacio de Bellas Artes. Many visitors admire the building from outside but don’t miss your opportunity to get in during the morning. The entrance is free.
Temple and ex-convent of San Francisco in Mexico City – Learn some history
The temple is very old. It is a masterpiece of Spanish art which dates back to 1525, only 4 years after the Spanish arrived in Mexico. Here you will be spotting the remains of what was the main headquarters of the Franciscan Order in Mexico and the center of the Evangelization in Nueva España. The entrance is free.
Plaza de las Tres Culturas – Feel the mixture!
The Plaza de las Tres Culturas is located in the Nonoalco Tlatelolco Urban Complex of the Historic Center of Mexico City. It is an impressive archaeological settlement, very undervalued by the average tourist. The reason for its name is that, in the complex, you can admire buildings of the three mexican historic periods: Pre-Hispanic, Spanish and Mexican. It should be included in any Mexico City bucket list.
Plaza Garibaldi – Fall in love with Mariachis
The square is not impressive. This is true. But there you can enjoy one of the most important and touristy classic events in Mexico: Mariachis performing. That is a meeting point of Mariachis, and very close they have the Mariachi School. The vibe is amazing during the evenings and you will spot some old school bars and restaurants where you can taste local prides.
Streets of Roma – Your personal cinema experience
Whether you have watched the famous film of Alfonso Cuarón or not, you need to visit Roma neighbourhood. Compared with many other quarters of the town, Roma is cool and bohemian. It has many nice bars and restaurants, all of them very modern, along wide, green and organized streets.
Coffee shops in Polanco – A stylish stroll
Polanco would look like a normal modern neighbourhood in any of the European capitals. Nice apartment buildings, well maintained public space, with proper and transitable sidewalks. This is the richest neighborhood in Mexico City. Due to the design of the avenues and the roads, it is quite difficult to find a way in but of course you can visit it. And even in Mexico it is sometimes difficult to find a proper cappuccino, in Polanco there are many cosy coffee shops where you can decide if you want almond, hazelnut or coconut milk.
This is a touristy neighbourhood. It is Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo’s quartier in Mexico City and out of those characters Mexicans have created a bohemian fame for it. Full of bars and restaurants you can enjoy there the visit to a very nice church, a cool square with gardens and the most famous of the Mexican museums: The Frida Kahlo Museum.
San Juan Bautista Parish Church
This church is located in the small center of Coyoacán. From outside the worn façade maybe means anything to you but you cannot miss a visit inside. You will be surprised by a very impressive and nicely decorated temple. The church dates back to the 16th Century but it was renovated in the beginning of the 19th. Part of the decoration belongs to this period. The entrance is free.
Frida Kahlo Museum
Well-known as the Blue House, this is probably the most admired Museum in Mexico. Since its inauguration in July 1958, it exhibits Frida’s personal belongings, paintings, remarkable popular art pieces, pre-Columbian sculptures, photographs, documents and original furniture. It is not cheap, general admission is 230$ Mexican pesos (2021).
The stadium was inaugurated in 1966 to face the Mexican World Cup in 1970. Even being smaller compared with Camp Nou or Santiago Bernabeu, it is one of the 10 biggest stadiums in the world (87.000 persons capacity). Some historical games took place on its field such as two finals of the Word Cup (1970 and 1986), the game of the Century (Semifinal Germany vs Italy) and this stadium is where Maradona scored the God’s hand goal in 1986.
Cuemanco Xochimilco Pier
It is far from the center, about 23 km south of the historic center of the city, but from there you could visit a natural park and a very popular market. The park and market are located in the southern Mexico City borough of Xochimilco. It was inaugurated in 1993, on chinampas (artificial lake islands) which had been previously declared as part of a World Heritage site. The market of flowers and plants is very beautiful and diverse and shows the importance of preserving the environment, especially in risk zones like Mexico City.
Paseo de la Reforma
It is the most important and emblematic avenue in Mexico City. You can admire the Independence Monument there and walk around the long and wide avenue. It has a very interesting bike lane which is highly recommended for any bike route in the city. After a hard working day the crowd starts to take this avenue to go home or just to stroll.
The Castillo de Chapultepec is a building located in Chapultepec forest in Mexico City. It was built in 1785, mainly in baroque and neoclassical architectural style. Its origin dates back to the Viceroyalty of Nueva España, when the viceroys used to go to Chapultepec to rest and enjoy the natural surroundings. It is possible to visit as a museum. The general admission is 80$ Mexican Pesos. An alternative asset for a Mexico City bucket list.
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