Tourist Attractions in Mexico City
Find inspiration for things to do and places to visit in Mexico City...
There is a wide range of things to do and see in Mexico City. Here are just a few of the highlights and not-to-be missed tourist attractions.
The Zócalo (Plaza de la Constitución)
Built above the center of the former Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, the Zócalo is the third largest city square in Latin America. It is surrounded by the Cathedral and the Palacio Nacional (National Palace). In the center of the square is a flagpole, where an enormous Mexican flag is ceremonially raised at 06:00 every morning and lowered at 18:00 every evening.
The Templo Mayor is situated here and displays archeological remains of one of the most important Aztec temples of Tenochtitlan. The history of the Templo Mayor site can be discovered at the Templo Mayor museum.
The square is also home to many colorful traditional events and ceremonies at different times of the year. One of the most well-known of these events is the Festival de México.
The Zócalo is accessible by local bus, Turibus, taxi and metro (Zócalo station – Blue line). Access by private car is not recommended unless with a driver, as parking in the area is difficult.
The Historic Center (Centro Histórico) of Mexico City has many fascinating cobbled streets, colonial buildings, churches, museums, traditional cafés and restaurants, and all kinds of shops and stalls to discover. It is easily accessible by public transport – Metro (Blue line), bus, Metrobús (Line 4 north) or taxi. Access by private car is not recommended unless with a driver, as parking in the area is difficult.
Some notable sites of interest in the Center include:
- Zócalo: The Zócalo is the main town square, which was built on top of an Aztec site called Tenochtitlán. The most famous and important landmarks in the Zócalo include the Cathedral, the National Palace, and City Hall. Several hotel balconies and rooftops offer panoramic views of the entire square.
- Church and Convent of San Hipólito: Construction of this Baroque church began in 1559 to honor Saint Hipólito, and was completed in 1739. Today, this landmark building includes a terrace with a coffee shop. The church is located across from Metro Hidalgo.
- Las Vizcaínas: The Colegio de San Ignacio de Loyola Vizcaínas was established in the 18th century in a notable baroque building which can be viewed only from the outside, and which takes up an entire city block in the Center. The closest Metro is Salto del Agua.
- Iturbide Palace: This baroque palace was built by the Count of San Mateo Valparaíso as a wedding gift for his daughter in the late-18th century. The Palace houses temporary art exhibitions and hosts art workshops.
- Palacio de Bellas Artes: A key cultural center in Mexico, this opulent building was designed in the early 20th century in a neoclassical, art nouveau, and art-deco style. Today, it houses important art collections, including Diego Rivera murals, and cultural performances. It is located adjacent to the Metro Bellas Artes.
- Alameda Park: Located beside the Palacio Bellas Artes, the Park is famous for its monuments, statues, and fountains, and is a popular location for civic rallies and meetings. Although the area is very busy with vendors, they are not permitted to operate within the park. Metro Bellas Artes is beside the park.
- Sullivan Art Market: Although not in the Historic Center, the Sullivan Art Market happens every Sunday in nearby Colonial San Rafael, just to the west of the Monument to Mother (Monumento a la Madre). Artists display and sell a wide range of art, including paintings, photographs, and sculptures.
San Angel and Coyoacán
San Angel is a colonial town that has over time become enclosed within the city limits. On Saturday, there is a Bazar del Sabado (often referred to as the San Angel Market) that takes place in two squares, with a separate handicrafts market operating at the same time. Local artists display their work in alleys off the squares. There are also many interesting and original shops in the area as well as traditional restaurants, including the landmark San Angel Inn, housed in a 17th century plantation house. Historic churches and museums can also be found in the area.
San Angel can be reached by local bus, taxi, private car or a 25-minute walk from the Barranca del Muerto metro station (on the Orange line).
Not far from San Angel, Coyoacán is another popular destination for tourists and locals alike, especially on weekends. The two plazas at the historic center of Coyoacán are landmarks in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Mexico City, famous for its bustling activity – vendors, buskers, dancers, street performers, and cultural activities are common fixtures. Turibus and Tranvia Turistico bus routes stop in Coyoacán, making it easily accessible. Several important museums are in the Coyoacán area, including the famous Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s home and present-day museum.
The Latin American Tower (la Torre Latino) is home to an observation deck, from which it is possible to see volcanoes on clear days. It is accessible by local bus, taxi and via the Bellas Artes metro station (on the Blue line)
- Find out more from the Torre Latino website
A World Heritage Site since 1987, Xochimilco offers a taste of what Mexico City was like at the time of the Aztecs. Visitors to the area can ride on the canals in colorful boats punted by boatmen; boats passing by offer freshly cooked food, cold drinks, and traditional music. Xochimilco can be reached by the tren ligero (Xochimilco terminus), taxi, local busses or private car.
- Find out more about the Historic Center from the UNESCO website
- Visit the Xochimilco official website (in Spanish)
- See a full price list of activities and refreshments on their website
Basílica de Guadalupe
This is one of Mexico’s most important churches, and the destination of Mexican Catholics who arrive on their knees in an annual pilgrimage to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe and in search of miracles. The Basílica is located in the northeast of the city, and can be reached by the Metro La Villa-Basílica.
Located in Cuauhtémoc, this area features the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, which is bounded by an Aztec archeological site, a 17th century church, the remains of a Franciscan convent, and a modern office complex. The area is served by the Metro Tlatelolco.
Jardines del Pedregal
Known as El Pedregal, this is a neighborhood in the south of the city that was originally developed by Luis Barragán. Although much of the original architecture has been replaced by new constructions, some of the old modernist buildings remain. The area was built on a lava field, and many of the lava formations remain amid the buildings.
Tranvía de Coyoacán operates 4 tourist trams in areas of particular interest to visitors to the city:
- Centro de Tlalpab
Each route takes approximately 40 minutes, and includes recorded information about the points of interest. Note that the recordings are normally in Spanish; however if reservations are made in advance, the recordings can be available in many different languages.
For more information, including route maps, reservations, tours, contact Tranvía Turistico (note that although there is an English website, telephone operators may or may not be able to assist callers in English):
Activities for Children
There are many things to do and places to visit with children. Some of the main attractions include the Six Flags amusement park, the Feria de Chapultepec amusement park, Kidzania Santa Fe, the Kidzania Cuicuilco, Museu de Papalote and La Marquesa.
- Find out more about these and other days out for children in the Business Directory
There are many museums of interest in Mexico City, including museums dedicated to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, the Museo Dolores Olmeda, the National Museum of Anthropology, the museum in Chapultepec Castle and many more.
- Find out more about these museums on the Guide, Museums in Mexico City
Mexico City is home to many famous monuments including the Columna de la Independencia, commonly referred to as el Angel, and the Monumento a la Revolución.
- Find details about these monuments on the information Page, Monuments in Mexico City
Tourist Offices and Services
The Mexico City Government (Gobierno del Distrito Federal) has a Tourism Department based in central La Condesa where tourist guides, pamphlets, maps and information about events and activities in the city are available. English is spoken.
- At: Av. Nuevo León 56, Col. Hipódromo
Tel: (55) 5553 1901 / (01 800) 008 9090 (freephone from landlines)
- Mexico City Government Tourism website
Eleven other smaller Tourist Information Offices are situated around the city, including one at the airport in the domestic arrivals area. These offices may not have as much information available to visitors as the Tourist Office in La Condesa.
- Find contact details and addresses for local Tourist Information Offices
Information about the city is also available at the Federal Secretaría de Turismo (Tourist Ministry) office in Polanco.
- At: Av. Presidente Masaryk, 172, Col. Bosques de Chapultepec
Tel: (55) 3002 6300
Many hotels have concierge services providing information about the city. Many also work with local tour operators for sightseeing trips within the city or trips to major attractions further afield, such as the pyramids at Teotihuacan. Tourist information and day trips are also available from the many travel agents around the city.
- Tourist information and assistance (Spanish/English bilingual)
Tel: 078 / (01 800) 008 9090
This page was developed in collaboration with the American School Foundation