Mexico City is a busy, bustling metropolis bursting with interesting things to see and do. Throughout the year, there are events and festivals to suit every taste. Foodies, history buffs, design lovers and art aficionados can all find attractions to enjoy in the capital — these are just a few of the highlights.
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Go to the Historic City Center
Visit the main Zócalo (Mexico City’s central plaza), which is home to multiple expressions of the country’s colorful past. Take in Templo Mayor (an Aztec temple), pop into the Metropolitan Cathedral built by the Spanish to stake their claim on the land and then discover Diego Rivera’s mural in the National Palace, which takes you through the country’s history from pre-Hispanic antiquity all the way to the revolution in 1910.
Explore the Colorful Waterways of Xochimilco
A UNESCO World Heritage Site on the south end of the city, the canals of Xochimilco are the remnants of a vast network of aquatic highways built by the Aztecs. The fertile banks, called chinampas, were constructed in Mesoamerican times to grow crops and continue to be cultivated to this day.
Take a colorful trajinera boat down these ancient waterways, enjoying music from passing mariachi bands while sipping on a spicy michelada cocktail (a bloody mary made with cerveza) from a passing beer boat.
For a more tranquil trip, take an early-morning tour of the canals with Birdwatching Sunrise Mexico.
Wander Through Chapultepec Park
The city’s central park is a huge expanse of green space that houses museums, botanical gardens, lakes, a castle and the zoo. Take a stroll through the wooded area, stopping at the Museum of Modern Art, the Tamayo Museum and the popular National Museum of Anthropology along the way.
Throughout the year, the park also hosts nighttime picnics in the botanical gardens and lakeside film screenings, which are best enjoyed from the comfort of a boat on the water.
Shop till You Drop
Those looking for an authentic souvenir should plan a visit to La Ciudadela, one of the country’s most popular craft markets. It is a colorful and vibrant place that is worth stopping by even if you don’t want to shop.
On Saturdays, the Bazar del Sabado in San Angel is also a wonderful option for sourcing beautiful handmade goods.
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A trip to Mexico City is not complete without a visit to this leafy southern neighborhood. Be sure to tour the Blue House for a peek inside the life of the town’s most famous resident, artist Frida Kahlo.
After exploring the home of the iconic painter, wander around the central plaza, see the market and follow along the beautiful Francisco Sosa Avenue, which is lined with picturesque colonial houses. Make sure to grab a hot chocolate at the famous Café El Jarocho.
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Take a Street Food Tour
In Mexico City, food is everywhere. Tacos, tlacoyos and tostadas — you name it, there is a food stand selling it on just about every corner.
It is worth taking a Culinary Backstreets food tour, traversing through the colorful local markets and trying tasty tidbits along the way. Not only do guides know the best spots, but you will be able to dig a little more into the culture around the country’s cuisine.
Get a Bird’s-Eye View of The Megalopolis
There are a few ways to appreciate just how huge this sprawling city really is. Head to Miralto Restaurante, atop the 45-story Torre Latinoamericana skyscraper, or ride the glass elevator up the Monumento a la Revolución for some amazing vistas over this ever-expanding capital.
Another option is to visit the Castillo de Chapultepec to see just how green the city is. For the most impressive view of all, take a helicopter tour over the cityscape with Helitour México— the looks from above are breathtaking.
Head to Casa Luis Barragán to enjoy the beautiful and iconic designs of one of Mexico’s most well-known architects. If you fall in love with his use of light, shade and color, you can also see the other houses that he designed around the city. Most are private residences that open their doors to visitors by prior arrangement.
Just outside of the capital lies one of the most impressive examples of Mesoamerican architecture. The largest pre-Hispanic city in the region, Teotihuacan boasts multiple pyramids that align with the planets and show a level of ingenuity and precision that is hard to comprehend.
Wear good walking shoes so that you can climb up the pyramids of the Sun and Moon and look out over this ancient metropolis.
End the Day with a Very Mexican Cocktail
After a busy day exploring, head to the Fifty Mils bar at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City to taste creative cocktails featuring local ingredients, such as avocado, agave honey and crushed flying ants — a delicacy in Southern Mexico.
Another option is Xaman Bar, a cocktail lounge inspired by Mexico’s Mesoamerican roots. Here, bartenders call upon traditional herbs and spices to flavor their drinks.