Mexico City, the country’s vibrant and bustling capital, is a treasure trove of unique and fascinating attractions waiting to be explored. From historic landmarks and charming neighborhoods to world-class museums and tantalizing culinary experiences, there is something for everyone in this fascinating metropolis. With so much to see and do it can be tough to choose, but worry not, we’ve got you covered! In this guide, we’ve put together the ultimate list of 21 must-see attractions in Mexico City that you simply can’t miss during your visit. So get ready to immerse yourself in the rich history, captivating culture, and incredible flavors of this extraordinary city!
21 Must-See Attractions in Mexico City You Can’t Miss
1. Frida Kahlo Museum
The Frida Kahlo Museum, or Casa Azul, is a must-see in Mexico City. Located in the Coyoacán district, the museum was once the residence of the renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and her husband, painter Diego Rivera.
Casa Azul was named after its distinctive cobalt-blue exterior walls. The house was built in 1907 by Guillermo Kahlo, Frida’s father. In the museum, you can see several portraits and other pieces created by Kahlo herself. In addition to paintings, personal objects like clothing, letters, and photographs are connected to this influential artist’s life.
Besides the principal exhibits showcasing her work, various museum sections are devoted to specific aspects of Kahlo’s life. Examples include displays dedicated to her tumultuous relationship with Rivera, her political beliefs, as well as her physical pain resulting from a traumatic bus accident when she was 18 years old.
You can reach the museum via buses or taxis from various points in Mexico City. The Coyoacán Metro Station is also about a 20-minute walk from Casa Azul.
Operating hours for the Frida Kahlo Museum are typically from Tuesday to Sunday, opening at 10:00 AM, with closing times varying between 5:30 PM and 7:00 PM, depending on the day. On Mondays, the museum remains closed. If you want more information, visit the museum’s official website.
2. Bosque de Chapultepec
The Bosque de Chapultepec is a prominent Mexico City park covering approximately 1,695 acres. As one of the largest city parks globally, it is often compared to New York City’s Central Park. Bosque de Chapultepec is in the Miguel Hidalgo and Cuauhtémoc boroughs, southwest of Mexico City’s historic center.
Established during the Aztec Empire, the park houses attractions like the Chapultepec Castle, built in 1785. The castle was a military academy, imperial residence, and presidential home. In 1940, it was repurposed as the National Museum of History.
Within Chapultepec Park, there are numerous places to explore. Some attractions include the National Museum of Anthropology, the Modern Art Museum, and the Tamayo Contemporary Art Museum. The Chapultepec Zoo, home to over 2000 animals from more than 200 species, is also inside the park.
You can use the metro to visit the Bosque de Chapultepec and get off at the Auditorio or Constituyentes stations. Alternatively, multiple bus lines also have stops near the park.
Teotihuacan is an ancient Mesoamerican city located approximately 40 kilometers northeast of present-day Mexico City. Established around 400 BCE, Teotihuacan experienced its peak between 250 and 550 CE before facing a decline by 750 CE.
The site has some notable structures, such as the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, and the Temple of the Feathered Serpent. These monuments illustrate the architectural prowess and religious customs of Teotihuacan’s inhabitants. The Avenue of the Dead, a long straight road, connects these landmarks. The city also showcases well-preserved murals depicting ritualistic scenes and deities worshipped in the region.
Teotihuacan is accessible via public transportation. You can board a bus heading to “Zona Arqueológica de Teotihuacán” from Terminal Central del Norte in Mexico City. The site remains public daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM local time.
When visiting Teotihuacan, wearing comfortable footwear and sun protection is essential.
The Zócalo square, also known as Plaza de la Constitución, is one of the largest city squares in the world, spanning 57,600 square meters. The square’s history dates back to the Aztec Empire, the ceremonial center of Tenochtitlán. Throughout various colonial and post-independence episodes, the Zócalo has been a focal point for political, cultural, and religious events in Mexico’s history.
Surrounding the square, you’ll find many buildings you need to see in Mexico City, such as the Metropolitan Cathedral to the north, the National Palace to the east, Federal District buildings to the south, and Old Portal de Mercaderes to the west. Templo Mayor, a significant archaeological site discovered in 1978, is northeast of Zócalo Square.
To reach the Zócalo square by public transportation, you can use Metro Line 2 and exit at the ‘Zócalo’ station. There are many events at the Zócalo square throughout the year.
5. Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes) was built between 1904 and 1934. The palace is an architectural masterpiece designed by Italian architect Adamo Boari and Mexican architect Federico Mariscal. Positioned in the historic center of Mexico City, near the intersection of Eje Central and Avenida Juarez, it is accessible via public transportation, including the Metro and Metrobus lines.
This museum stands out for its murals from renowned Mexican artists like Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, and Rufino Tamayo. Palacio de Bellas Artes also showcases Mexican culture in other art forms, including music, dance, and theater.
The stunning Neoclassical exterior and Art Deco interior showcase the finest architectural elements from both styles. The building’s facade primarily consists of Carrara marble imported from Italy.
The Palace of Fine Arts is open for visits Tuesday through Sunday between 10:00 am and 7:00 pm.
6. National Museum of Anthropology
Visiting the National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropología) is essential for understanding Mexico’s indigenous people’s vast and complex history. Located within Chapultepec Park, you can visit the museum through Eje 10 Sur and Avenida Paseo de la Reformación.
In terms of its content, the museum holds an extensive collection spanning various Mesoamerican cultures such as the Mexica (Aztecs), Maya, Toltec, and Olmec. Some notable artifacts include the Mexica Sun Stone, often called the Aztec Calendar Stone; statues from Mesoamerican cultures like the giant Olmec heads; and an impressive Mayan tomb from Palenque.
The museum complex has 23 permanent exhibit halls that cover Mexico’s pre-Columbian historical period and contemporary indigenous communities. Each hall focuses on specific civilizations or topics related to Mexico’s pre-Hispanic era. Its impressive Central Courtyard also showcases a large pond with an artificial waterfall.
To visit the National Museum of Anthropology during a trip to Mexico City, you can use metro lines 1 and 7. The museum opens daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
7. Palacio Nacional
The Palacio Nacional, or National Palace, is located at the eastern section of the Zócalo. This structure has been the official residence of various rulers and governments. Built on the grounds of the former Aztec ruler Moctezuma II’s palace, the building’s construction began in 1522 under orders from Hernán Cortés.
Notable attractions within the palace include Diego Rivera’s murals, created between 1929 and 1951. These artworks depict scenes from Mexico’s history, providing an insight into national identity and cultural heritage. Furthermore, you can access Salón de la Tesorería (Hall of Treasury), with its impressive stained-glass ceiling, and Salón de Recepciones (Hall of Receptions), with its notable artwork by Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga.
The Palacio Nacional is one of those places you must see in Mexico City and is accessible through nearby metro stations: Zócalo/Plaza de la Constitución Station on Line 2 (Blue Line) or Allende Station on Line 2 (Blue Line). The opening hours for Palacio Nacional are Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is typically free.
8. Dolores Olmedo Museum
The Dolores Olmedo Museum, located in Mexico City’s Xochimilco borough, is an essential cultural institution showcasing a notable collection of Mexican art. The museum is in the former 16th-century Hacienda La Noria. The facility bears the name of its founder, Dolores Olmedo Patiño, a distinguished arts patron.
This museum houses an extensive collection of works by famed Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and pre-Hispanic and folk art. These include exhibition halls, a garden featuring artistic sculptures, and spaces dedicated to Mexican cultural traditions. You will also find several Xoloitzcuintles in the gardens, a typical Mexican dog breed with almost no hair, famous for appearing in Disney’s Coco.
You can reach the Dolores Olmedo Museum via the Tren Ligero (light rail) Xochimilco line, disembarking at the La Noria station approximately 10 minutes from the entrance. Operating hours vary depending on the day of the week but generally span from 10 AM to 6 PM Tuesday through Sunday.
9. Metropolitan Cathedral
The Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City is an important religious and historical site. Completed in 1813, this building took almost 250 years to finish. The Cathedral is at Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo), within the Historic Center of Mexico City, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The cathedral is famous for its exquisite architecture, which showcases a mixture of styles from different periods, including Baroque and Neoclassical styles. Architect Claudio de Arciniega and sculptor Manuel Tolsá were involved in its construction. The Cathedral contains various stand-out elements, such as the Altar of the Kings and the Mexican Baroque elements of the Altar del Perdón.
To get to the cathedral, you can use Line 2 of the metro to Zócalo Station or Line 1 to Pino Suárez Station. Additionally, several bus lines stop near the Cathedral. It is open daily from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, and entrance is free.
10. Soumaya Museum
The Soumaya Museum is located in Plaza Carso, in the Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City. Carlos Slim founded the museum in honor of his late wife, Soumaya Domit. Designed by renowned architect Fernando Romero, the stunning exterior features a modern, iconic facade with hexagonal patterns.
The museum’s collection consists of over 66,000 works of art and objects. From pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica to contemporary times, the works include those by legendary artists such as Auguste Rodin, Salvador Dalí, and Diego Rivera.
The nearest metro station to the Soumaya Museum is San Joaquin on Line 7. Open every day of the week with free admission to the public, the Soumaya Museum offers guided tours for a more immersive experience.
11. Alameda Central
Established in 1592 by Viceroy Luis de Velasco, Alameda Central is the oldest public park in the Americas. The park is within Cuauhtémoc borough, bordered by Avenida Hidalgo, Avenida Juárez, Calle Doctor Mora, and Avenida Balderas.
The area comprises green spaces, walking paths, fountains, and monuments. Among its notable monuments are the Hemiciclo a Juárez, a neoclassical memorial dedicated to President Benito Juárez, and the Estatua de Beethoven, honoring German composer Ludwig van Beethoven. Cultural institutions surrounding Alameda Central include Palacio de Bellas Artes and Museo Nacional de Arte. The nearest metro stations include Bellas Artes on Lines 2 and 8 and Hidalgo on Lines 2 and 3.
Xochimilco, an area 17 kilometers south of the historic center, is one of those places you must see in Mexico City. It is known for its famous canals, remnants of the ancient lake systems that once covered the Valley of Mexico. Aztecs developed the chinampa method, an agricultural technique involving artificial islands, around 1000-1500 A.D. Xochimilco remains one of the few places where this ancient system is still in use.
One of the highlights of a visit to Xochimilco is a ride on a trajinera, a brightly colored traditional wooden boat. This activity is among the most Instagram-friendly things to do in Mexico City. After all, sailing through the canals offers some of the most scenic views in the city.
To reach Xochimilco from Mexico City’s downtown area, one can take Line 2 of Metrobus, transfer from Tasqueña station to Tren Ligero, and (finally) arrive at Xochimilco station. Alternatively, taking a taxi or using rideshare services are more convenient options to tackle the distance.
13. Angel of Independence
The Angel of Independence (Ángel de la Independencia) is a major monument in Mexico City. It was built in 1910 to commemorate the centennial of Mexico’s War of Independence, which took place from 1810 to 1821. The monument is on a traffic roundabout called Paseo de la Reforma, one of the city’s main avenues that connects the historic center with Chapultepec Park.
The structure consists of a 36-meter (118-ft) tall column, topped with a statue of Victoria Alada, a winged goddess representing Victory. The goddess holds a laurel crown and a broken chain, symbolizing freedom. The base of the column houses a mausoleum containing the remains of several key figures from the Mexican War of Independence, such as Miguel Hidalgo, José María Morelos, Vicente Guerrero, Nicolás Bravo, and Ignacio Allende.
To reach the Ángel de la Independencia, you can use the metro via nearby stations Insurgentes (line 1) or Sevilla (line 9).
14. Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is in northern Mexico City. Built between 1531 and 1709, it is dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, believed to have appeared before indigenous peasant Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill in 1531. The basilica is built near the site of these apparitions and serves as one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for Roman Catholics in Mexico.
The basilica complex features two primary buildings: the old basilica and the new basilica. The Old Basilica, with its Spanish Baroque style architecture, features intricately carved details and well-preserved artworks. The New Basilica, completed in 1974, has a circular structure with a large central altar. You can also explore chapels and museums located within the complex. For example, the Museum of the Basilica exhibits religious artifacts and provides an insight into the site’s history.
To reach the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe from Mexico City’s downtown area, you can take Metro Line 6 to La Villa-Basilica station. The basilica is accessible daily from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM for free.
15. San Juan Market
The San Juan Market opened in the early 20th century, making it one of the oldest markets in Mexico City. This market is in the Cuauhtémoc district, within the downtown area, and is a must-see in Mexico City.
Throughout history, the San Juan Market has played a vital role in Mexico City’s cultural heritage. Initially, it focused on selling fruits and vegetables, but the range of products expanded significantly over time. Today, it offers local produce, gourmet delicacies, and ingredients you can rarely find elsewhere. In the market, you can get iconic Mexican cuisine items like mole or chapulines (grasshoppers) that will allow you to learn more about the tastes and flavors that define the region.
To reach the San Juan market, you can use metro line 8 and get off at Salto del Agua station. From there, it’s approximately an eight-minute walk westward to reach the market. It’s important to note that the market operates daily from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Note: Some of the meats for sale in the market may be shocking.
16. Torre Latinoamericana
Built between 1949 and 1956, the Torre Latinoamericana was the tallest building in Mexico City, and its designers were Augusto H. Alvarez, Alfonso Payró González, and José Adolfo Wiechers. At the time of its completion, it was the tallest skyscraper in Latin America.
Located at the corner of Eje Central and Madero Street in downtown Mexico City, it occupies a prime spot amidst historical landmarks. Neighboring the tower are the Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Alameda Central Park. The Torre Latinoamericana measures 188 meters (597 feet) high with a total of 45 floors. Its infrastructure has technology that enabled it to withstand several earthquakes since its construction.
A major highlight of visiting this attraction is its observation deck on the 44th floor. From there, you can get excellent panoramic views of Mexico City’s landscape and adjacent sites such as Chapultepec Castle and Paseo de la Reforma.
You can use several metro lines to reach the Torre Latinoamericana via public transportation, including Line 1 (station: Bellas Artes) or Line 8 (station: Salto del Agua). Opening hours for the tower are from 9 am to 10 pm daily. General admission costs approximately $7 per adult and $3.5 for children under 12.
17. Templo Mayor
The Templo Mayor is a significant historical site dating back to the Aztec civilization. Established around 1325 CE, this temple complex was the center of Tenochtitlan, the ancient capital of the Aztec Empire. The temple revolved around two primary gods: Tlaloc, the god of rain and agriculture, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of sun and war.
The exact location of Templo Mayor within Mexico City is at the intersection of Seminario Street and Moneda Street in the historic downtown area. The temple complex consists of several structures, including a pyramid-shaped platform known as Templo Mayor itself. This central structure contained eighty-eight steps leading to a terrace for offerings in honor of Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli.
You can reach this attraction through the Zócalo metro station using the Line 2. The site is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm but remains closed on Mondays.
18. Garibaldi Square
Emblematic of its cultural legacy, Garibaldi Square played a significant role in the Mexican Revolution. In this period, the square served as a meeting point for revolutionary fighters and later became a central hub for mariachi music. The square’s name comes from Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi II (grandson of Giuseppe Garibaldi I), who fought alongside Mexican forces during the revolution.
One of the key attractions within the square is the Monument to Mariachi. Unveiled in 2010, this bronze sculpture pays tribute to Mexican musicians and their contributions to the country’s culture. You should also explore El Tenampa cantina, established in 1925 by Juan Hernandez I, which remains an icon of mariachi music.
You can rely on Line B of the metro to access Garibaldi Square.
Located in the southern part of the city, Coyoacán is a neighborhood that stands out for its role during the Spanish conquest and post-colonial times. The district has been home to many well-known figures, such as artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
In the colorful streets of Coyoacán, you can explore several historical sites, such as the Parish Church of San Juan Bautista, a Baroque-style church from the 16th century that houses significant artworks and religious artifacts. This neighborhood also houses the Frida Kahlo Museum.
Coyoacán is easily accessible via public transportation such as the Metro Line 3 or various bus routes throughout Mexico City. Some landmarks within walking distance include Viveros de Coyoacán and Plaza Hidalgo.
20. Zona Rosa
The Zona Rosa, in Mexico City’s Cuauhtémoc borough, is a well-known tourist attraction, notably recognized for its nightlife and significance to the local LGBT community. Positioned near Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, this district gained prominence in the 1950s and 1960s as an epicenter for artists, intellectuals, and the counterculture movement.
Many LGBT events occur in Zona Rosa, such as the annual Mexico City Pride Parade, which started in 1978, and the longstanding International Gay Theatre Festival. Likewise, there are several gay bars and LGBTQIA+ clubs in the area, some of which feature drag performances. Depending on the night, you may even find people dancing like there’s no tomorrow from early in Zona Rosa.
To reach Zona Rosa easily via public transit, you may opt for Line 1 (the pink line) on Mexico City’s metro system, disembarking at either Insurgentes or Sevilla stations.
21. Roma & Condesa
The Roma and Condesa neighborhoods are among the places you need to see in Mexico City, known for their historical and cultural relevance. Located in the Cuauhtémoc borough of the city, these two neighborhoods showcase significant aspects of Mexico City’s past and present.
The Roma neighborhood, founded in the early 20th century, presents Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture, reflecting European influences dating back to the Porfiriato period (1876-1911). Key architectural landmarks include Casa Lamm, built in 1911, which operates as an art gallery and cultural center. Similarly, Condesa traces its roots to the early 1900s. The iconic Parque México, a public park inaugurated in 1927, serves as a centerpiece of the area. Both neighborhoods are among the best areas to stay in Mexico City and stand out for their excellent restaurants.
To reach these destinations using public transit, you can use Line 1 of the Mexico City Metro system or take Metrobús Line 3.