Things to Do in Mexico City
Mexico City is the largest metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere. It’s thrilling to get caught up in the city’s controlled chaos — pulsing plazas, busy markets, and people from walks of life crowding city streets. Embrace the electricity of this intense city, or escape into its many quiet neighborhoods and peaceful green spaces.
There is a wide range of things to do in Mexico City. Explore the city’s Aztec history. Taste Mexico’s diverse cuisine. Float along a canal with a mariachi band. Check out our list of the best things to do in Mexico City, including a brief guide to street food!
Eat: Things to Do in Mexico City
Mexico City is the reigning queen of street food in North America. Exploring this capital city’s streets is an education in local cuisine: the air is thick with the smell of hand-patted tortillas, markets are overflowing with colorful produce, and street vendors hawk a mind boggling array of Mexican delicacies.
Food in Mexico City is influenced by a mix of regional cultures and immigrants. The capital city of Mexico may be best known for its street food. Quesadillas, tamales, al pastor, barbacoa, and carnitas. Mexico City is a taco tour de force, with stands selling the popular treat on nearly every corner of the city.
For a ton of great street food options, try Mercado San Juan. This sprawling indoor market lures gourmands with its gourmet selections: rare meats, excellent seafood, and fresh produce. Explore all three levels and then wander to the ground floor for a bite (or two or three) to eat. The food stalls here are operated mostly by women who dish out traditional home cooking. Sample some of Mexico’s favorite treats, including pork sandwiches drizzled with chile sauce or tortilla-wrapped carnitas.
Mucho Mundo Chocolate
For three millennia, cacao was grown in Mesoamerica, with the earliest evidence of chocolate traced back to Mexico and Guatemala. Mucho Mundo Chocolate is a museum housed in a beautiful early 20th century house. The museum explores the historical and gastronomical importance of cacao. Visitors can also taste this chocolaty history. Mucho Mundo Chocolate includes a kitchen that demonstrates chocolate making, as well as a cafeteria and gift shop.
Restaurante El Cardenal
A Parisian-style mansion houses this treasured Mexico City eatery. Since 1969, Restaurante El Cardenal has been serving traditional Mexican meals. This local favorite offers up a breakfast that should not be missed — freshly baked rolls and their famous Mexican hot chocolate that is made table-side.
Exotic Local Booze
Mezcal and pulque are two ancient Mexican drinks, similar to tequila but not was world renowned. Both of these alcoholic beverages are made from the agave plant, much like tequila. Pulque is popular for its nutritive properties and low alcohol content. Mezcal, on the other hand, is a tad bit stronger. Both drinks can be found widely across Mexico City and are frequently drank at dinner time.
History & Culture: Things to Do in Mexico City
Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
In 1573, the Spanish built this Gothic-style cathedral. In an attempt to destroy indigenous identities and traditions, the cathedral was built on ground sacred to the Aztec Empire. Despite this site’s sad history, Mexico is a predominantly Catholic country and this beautiful cathedral is worth visiting.
This funky neighborhood is named for the coyotes that once roamed here. Today, Coyoacán has swapped coyotes for busy churches, markets, and hippies. Explore the plazas of Coyoacán: Find Frida Kahlo’s Blue House, Jarocho coffee, and El Parnaso, one of the oldest bookstores and cultural hangouts of this neighborhood.
Visit a Museum
Mexico City is second only to Paris in terms of the number of museums within the city. There are more than 150 museums! You could easily fill your travel itinerary with museums, from ultra niche museums (such as the Museum of Antique Toys) to world class institutions. Check out Museo Nacional de Historia, a beautiful castle housing furniture, paintings and historic documents, or Museo Nacional de Arte, a collection of national works of art, spanning from the 16th century to the 1950s, in downtown Mexico City.
Tenochtitlán was once an Aztec city state in the 14th century. This ancient archaeological dig site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can explore the ancient ruins of the Aztec city and the Templo Mayor. The museum of the Templo Mayor displays objects found in the Templo Mayor, including sculptures, beads, and the remains of human sacrifice.
Historic Center & Zocalo
The zocalo is a vast plaza— and one of the world’s largest city squares— at the center of Mexico City. The conquistadors built the cathedral, now the focal point of the zocalo, on the ruins of the Templo Mayor. Travelers can spend an afternoon here admiring beautiful architecture or wandering through museums and historic buildings. And if you’re looking for souvenirs, a chaotic crowd of vendors can be found outside the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City.
Watch a Soccer Game
Football is a HUGE deal in Latin America. In Mexico City, major games or tournaments are given priority on TV screens across the city. Find a bar or cantina is watch soccer with locals, or better yet, see a game live! Catch a game at Estadio Azteca, Estadio Azul, or the stadiums at the major universities.
Experience Lucha Libre
Lucha Libre is Mexico’s version of professional wrestling. This spectator sport is raucous, flamboyant, and insanely popular. The wrestlers/entertainers wear colorful masks and costumes and perform acrobatic moves in the ring. Each match focuses on “good guys” versus “bad guys”, and fans become invested in the drama between wrestlers. Purchase your tickets early to avoid lines, but it’s also possible to buy tickets at the ticket booth.
Outdoor Activities: Things to Do in Mexico City
Vivero Coyoacán is a national park within the Mexico City city limits. The park is a popular spot for locals, and you’ll be hard pressed to find any tourists running or hiking on its many dirt paths. The park is huge, but the trails are well marked, making it easy to immerse yourself in Mexico City’s wild side.
Bicycle Through the Paseo de la Reforma
Cruise through the Paseo de la Reforma on two wheels courtesy of the Mexico City government. There is a kiosk located along this popular thoroughfare where you can borrow a free bicycle. Want to skip the lines? Rent one from a vendor in front of the National Museum of Anthropology. The Paseo de la Reforma, modeled on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, is a pedestrian zone on Sundays, making this circular plaza an excellent spot for cycling.
Lago del Bosque de Chapultepec
The Lago del Bosque de Chapultepec— located within the Mexico City limits— is one of the largest parks in the country. Each year, more than 15 million visitors roam this green space. Chapultepec Park is an extraordinary example of biodiversity, with hundreds of species of trees growing here. In addition to vast greenery, the park has a zoo, modern art museum, and Mexico City’s version of Versailles — Castillo de Chapultepec. Presidents and emperors once lived in this sprawling gem. Fully preserved palace rooms hold art, history, and panoramic views of Mexico City.
Join a Floating Party
The “floating gardens” of Xochimilco is a network of shallow canals. These canals were created by early farmers who created artificial islands. On weekends, locals show up in droves to party on painted wooden boats. You can rent your own boat and even hire a mariachi band to join you!
Shopping: Things to Do in Mexico City
Mercado de Medellín
Tucked away in Colonia Roma, el Mercado de Medellín connects visitors to the rest of Latin America. This market is the best place to explore cuisine beyond Mexico’s borders. Sip Colombian coffee, nibble a Venezuelan arepa, or cool off with Cuban ice cream. In addition to Latin American treats, Mercado de Medellín also stocks all the market basics: fruits, veggies, and meats.
Buy Handicrafts at a Funky Market
Bazar del Sábado in the Plaza de San Jacinto in San Ángel is a Saturday flea market where locals mix with tourists to haggle for street art and handicrafts. Explore local art and pick up some souvenirs to take home, and don’t miss the nearby flower market.
Enjoy your Mexico City tour!
Mexico City Tour Benefits
- Curated Sites
- Audio Tours
- Offline Map