TOP THINGS TO SEE IN MEXICO CITY

Laura SausinaThings To Do8 Comments

Palace of Fine Arts - Palacio de Bellas Artes - Mexico City Feature

Just a few hours south of the US lies Mexico City, one of the largest Metropolitan cities in the world and a city filled with rich history, culture, and art.

Mexico City houses more than 130 amazing museums so if you are planning a trip to Mexico City, how do you choose which museums and landmarks to see?

To make it easier for you, the traveler, we have compiled a list of the best museums and attractions located in Mexico City and arranged them by the different areas.

Follow our neighborhood guide to visit the “must see” museums and attractions on your trip to Mexico City.

 

Top Things to see in Mexico City:

Monument to the Revolution (Monumento a la Revolución)
Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes)
Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana)
The Great Temple (Templo Mayor)
Saint Theresa Cathedral (Santa Teresa la Antigua)
National Museum of the Cultures (Museo Nacional De Las Cultural)
La Santísima Church (Templo De La SantísimaTrinidad)
Museum of Mexican Medicine (Museo de La Medicina Mexicana)
National Museum of Art (Museo Nacional de Arte)
Postal Museum (Palacio de Correos de Mexico)
The Saint Veracruz Church (La Santa Veracruz Iglesia)
Franz Mayer Museum (Museo Franz Mayer)
Temple of the Saint Hippolytus (Templo de San Hipolito)
Teotihuacan Pyramids (Piramides de Teotihuacan)
Anthropology Museum (Museo Nacional de Antropologia)
Chapultepec Castle (Castillo De Chapultepec)
Altar of the Fatherland (Altar A La Patria)
Angel of Independence (El Ángel de la Independencia)
Soumaya Museum (Museo Soumaya)
Frida Museum (Museo Frida Kahlo)

 

Historic Center Area (Centro Historico)

There are so many great things to see in Mexico City, but start off by exploring Old Town, also known as the Historic Center. El Zocalo in the middle of the Historic Center area would be equivalent to New York’s Time Square, but with old temple ruins, elaborate cathedrals, and palaces completely surrounding it. This area gets packed full with tourists during the day, so head out early to beat the crowds. Every museum in the Historic Center is closed on Mondays so avoid going on a Monday or you’ll be stuck re-capping the same route on another day. The following list of must see places in this area is long, but most places are free and located next to each other or within a short walking distance. The Historic Center has several tourist information centers but unfortunately, they do not have any maps of the landmark locations so go prepared and know your route ahead of time.

Monument to the Revolution (Monumento a la Revolución)

 

Monument to the Revolution - Monumento a la Revolución - Mexico City

 

The Monument to the Revolution is a memorial celebrating Mexico’s independence. The monument is made of a huge dome supported by four large pillars that stand strong just as Mexico did during its revolution. At the monument, you can take a glass elevator to the top deck, or visit the Revolution Museum underneath it.

Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes)

 

Palace of Fine Arts - Palacio de Bellas Artes - Mexico City

 

After visiting the Revolution Monument you can grab an Uber or Taxi over to the Historic Center where Palace of Fine Arts is located. The Palace of Fine Arts is an elaborately built, large white building with a beautiful dome on top in bright red, yellow, and orange colors. This cultural center which typically houses musical events is also accompanied with lush green gardens in the front. The best view to marvel at this masterpiece can be found by sneaking into the top levels of a multi-story Sears right across the street to snatch some awesome photos. Don’t worry, you won’t be the only tourist trying to do the same. Just pretend that you are shopping for new bedding or cargo pants and you will be just fine!

Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana)

 

Metropolitan Cathedral - Catedral Metropolitana - Mexico City

 

Metropolitan Cathedral, located in the middle of the Historical Center, is unique not only because it’s the largest cathedral in the Americas, but it’s also built on top of old Aztec ruins. When the Spanish conquered Mexico City area, they decided to build their new city above the old indigenous temples. Now the ruins are slowly being uncovered and restored, however, many of the ruins have not yet been uncovered because historical Spanish buildings like the Metropolitan Cathedral still stand covering them.

 

Metropolitan Cathedral in Catedral Metropolitana - Mexico City

 

The cathedral is elaborately decorated on the outside as it is on the inside. Intricate details cover the entire outside façade of the cathedral that takes up a whole city block. As you walk on the inside you are greeted with sky high ceilings as if you are gazing up into the heaven. The inside of the cathedral holds multiple praying rooms, each decorated in gold and grander than the one before it.

The Great Temple (Templo Mayor)

 

The Great Temple - Templo Mayor - Mexico City

 

One of the best spots to observe the uncovered Aztec ruins in Mexico City is the Great Temple viewpoint located right next to the Metropolitan Cathedral.  At this site, tourists can walk in between the ruins imagining what life was like before the Spanish invasion. The Aztec temples and Mexico City foundation was built on top of a lake so over time the ruins and Mexico City keeps sinking in. To keep this pyramid at the same height, the Aztecs kept adding more layers on top of the sinking temple. At the Great Temple viewpoint, tourists can observe 6 different layers and styles of the ruins that were added on over the years.

Saint Theresa Cathedral (Santa Teresa la Antigua)

 

Saint Theresa Cathedral - Santa Teresa la Antigua - Mexico City

 

One of the best evidence of the sinking of Mexico City is the Saint Theresa Cathedral located on a side street in the Historical Center. The gray cathedral wall, surrounded by a black fence, is one of the most slanted buildings in the area. A quick walk through the inside of this cathedral will reveal elaborate ceiling art and end with a room projecting bell-like sounds and a sloped floor.

National Museum of the Cultures (Museo Nacional De Las Cultural)

 

National Museum of the Cultures - Museo Nacional De Las Cultural - Mexico City

 

As you make your way around the Historical Center, the next stop is the National Museum of the Cultures. The entrance is free like many of the old town exhibits and the museum is located in an ancient Spanish style building. As you walk into the building you are greeted by a gorgeous, red courtyard. Walking through the indoors museum, however, can be a quick tour unless you read Spanish and can understand what the tagged art pieces and artifact descriptions say. Not many of the Historical Center museums provide descriptions for English readers…at least not yet.

La Santísima Church (Templo De La SantísimaTrinidad)

The next place to see in the Historic Center is The Santisima church. Mexico City’s Old Town does not fall short on churches and they can be found around almost every corner. Made of similar elaborate decorations as its bigger sister, the Metropolitan Cathedral, it doesn’t require as much time to explore. It has the same gorgeous indoors ceiling art, but it’s not as big. The church was originally built as a praying place for priests from the adjoining hospital and still serves an active church.

Museum of Mexican Medicine (Museo de La Medicina Mexicana)

 

Museum of Mexican Medicine - Museo de La Medicina Mexicana - Mexico City-2

 

Built by Spanish for interrogation and torture purposes, this building is now being used to house the museum of Mexican modern medicine. At this museum, you will find exhibits from old medicine like healing herbs, to an embryo exhibit showing preserved human embryos during different stages of pregnancy, to body parts covered in wax. The museum is free unless you want to visit the interrogation exhibit, which costs a few pesos (aka not much). The entrance part of the museum is a gorgeous courtyard with beautiful arches surrounding it. To enter the museum you will need to provide and leave an ID with the check in desk which you can retrieve upon departure.

National Museum of Art (Museo Nacional de Arte)

 

National Museum of Art - Museo Nacional de Arte - Mexico City

 

The National Art Museum is located in a long neoclassical palace-like building in the Historical Center. A large plaza greets the tourists in front of the museum with a sculpture of Charles IV of Spain in the center of it all. The museum mostly showcases art pieces from the 16th-20th century, but unlike most museums in the Historical Center, it is not free.

Postal Museum (Palacio de Correos de Mexico)

 

Postal Museum - Palacio de Correos de Mexico - Mexico City

 

Do you ever wonder where the most elaborate postal office in the world is located? Guess no more as it can be found in the middle of the Historical Center of Mexico City. The entrance showcases two grand staircases that meet at the middle and connect to more grand staircases that lead to more grand balconies with golden paint and chandeliers. If this is the place I got to work at, I sure wouldn’t mind having a 9-5 job again.

The Saint Veracruz Church (La Santa Veracruz Iglesia)

 

The Saint Veracruz Church - La Santa Veracruz Iglesia - Mexico City

 

The Saint Veracruz Church is one of the oldest churches in Mexico City. The original interior of the church was elaborate with intricate altarpieces and gold accents. Now, only a few decorations remain standing after many years of deterioration. The golden yellow interior still provides a very “rich” look to the church along with the arches and chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The interior might not look exactly how it used to be, but it still quite the beauty.

Franz Mayer Museum (Museo Franz Mayer)

 

Franz Mayer Museum - Museo Franz Mayer - Mexico City

 

Making a full circle around the Historical Center, the last museum along the way is the Franz Mayer museum. The museum is located in a bright red building that was previously used as a monastery and a hospital. The most beautiful part of the museum building is the elaborately ornamented door on its left. The Franz Mayer Museum showcases the largest decorative arts exhibit in Latin America with items such as books, furniture, and ceramics.

Temple of the Saint Hippolytus (Templo de San Hipolito)

The temple was built in 1559 to honor the Spanish men who died in a battle against the Aztecs. The building over the years was also used as a mental hospital to house patients. Now it stands on a busy street corner surrounded by food trucks and street vendors as a general medical institution.

 

Teotihuacan Area

Teotihuacan Pyramids (Piramides de Teotihuacan)

 

Teotihuacan Pyramids Mexico

 

Mexico City is an enormous city full of life, vibrancy, and culture, but one of the must-see places for any visitor lies just outside the limits of the busy city life. The Teotihuacan Pyramids, located an hour drive away from Mexico City’s downtown, are part of an ancient city established 100 BC that stood strong for centuries as the hot spot for trade, industry, religious activities and daily life. The Teotihuacan city is long gone, but now the pyramids are being recovered and reconstructed which has turned the pyramids and the ancient city into a highly visited attraction by local and international tourists. A trip to Mexico City would not be complete without spending a day exploring the Teotihuacan Pyramids, which boasts wonders like the Pyramid of the Sun, the thirst largest pyramid in the world. To read more about visiting Teotihuacan Pyramids go HERE.

 

Chapultapec Park Area (Bosque De Chapultepec)

Spend one day exploring outside of Old Town. Stop by some of the most visited museums in Mexico City such as the Anthropology museum and the Chapultepec Castle. Just like most museums in Mexico City, all are closed on Mondays. Save Mondays for margaritas and spend the rest of the week exploring Mexico City.

Anthropology Museum (Museo Nacional de Antropologia)

 

Anthropology museum - Museo Nacional de Antropologia - Mexico City

 

Many of the artifacts found at the Teotihuacan Pyramids are now housed at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City along with many other historical artifacts from pre-Spanish conquest times. One of these artifacts is the grand Stone Of The Sun which was originally thought to be an Aztec calendar but modern theories suggest it was used for ceremonies and possibly sacrificial rituals. The Anthropology museum is one the most visited museum in Mexico City so it can get packed with tourists and takes a few hours to walk through.

Chapultepec Castle (Castillo De Chapultepec)

 

Chapultepec Castle - Castillo De Chapultepec - Mexico City

 

Close by the Anthropology museum is another noteworthy landmark, the Chapultepec Castle. From the Anthropology museum, walk across the Paseo De La Reforma street and within a 20-minute walk through the beautiful Chapultepec park, you will reach the castle. Along the walk, you will find many street vendors selling snacks, sodas, and touristy souvenirs. The park also has a lake in the center of it all where you can rent rowboats and paddle boats.

 

Chapultepec Park - Mexico City

 

Once you reach the Chapultepec castle, walk up the long entryway to the front where you can purchase the entrance tickets. The castle, built in 1775, has passed down its ownership between multiple people and now serves as a history museum showcasing art, furniture, and even a carriage. Tourists can walk around the castle and enjoy the panoramic view overlooking Mexico City from the top of the hill where it’s located or take a stroll around the castle gardens. Make sure to set aside at least 2 hours for the castle on your trip.

Altar of the Fatherland (Altar A La Patria)

 

Altar of the Fatherland - Altar A La Patria - Mexico City

 

One of the exits out of the Chapultepec Castle passes by the Altar of the Fatherland. The altar was dedicated to six boys that served for the Mexican military academy and lost their lives during America’s invasion in 1847 in the same area outside of the Chapultepec Castle. The altar built of 6 large pillars representing each boy stands to honor their memory.

Angel of Independence (El Ángel de la Independencia)

 

Angel of Independence - El Angel in Mexico City

 

The Angel statue, located in the middle of an active traffic circle, is a representation of Mexico’s independence and revolution that took place in Mexico in 1910-1920. Made up of gold color, the Angel soars high into the sky as a reminder of the heroes lost in the independence war.

Tourists are allowed to walk inside the statue and can also walk up to the top platform of the Angel, but passes must be acquired ahead of time at the Revolution Museum located inside the Monument to the Revolution. In order to purchase a pass, you must present a passport with you.

 

Polanco Area

Soumaya Museum (Museo Soumaya)

 

Soumaya Museum - Museo Soumaya - Mexico City

 

A 15-minute car ride away from the Chapultepec Castle and the Anthropology museum is the Soumaya Museum founded by Carlos Slim, one of the most influential and richest persons in the world. The museum displays art pieces by world known artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Diego Rivera, however, it’s the outside décor that draws most of the attention. The museum is located in a six-story building made out of 16,000 hexagon shaped aluminum titles giving an impression of a large metal beehive. The museum entrance is free which is most likely the reason why it’s the most visited art museum in Mexico City. Most of the tourist attractions in Mexico City include historical buildings, however, if you have extra time to spare on your trip, make sure to stop by and check out this modern wonder.

 

Coyoacan Area

Frida Museum (Museo Frida Kahlo)

 

Frida Museum Museo Frida Kahlo - Mexico City

 

On the outskirts of Mexico City lies the Friday Kahlo museum, also known as The Blue House (La Casa Azul). The Frida Kahlo museum is one of the most visited museums in Mexico City, but that also means it gets very packed. To avoid the hour long entrance line you can purchase the tickets ahead of time HERE.

However, if you purchase the tickets ahead of time, you have to pick a specific time slot for the entrance. The website is in Spanish, so make sure to turn on Google Translate function on your computer’s toolbar to help you translate the web page.

 

Frida Museum - Museo Frida Kahlo - Mexico City

 

The Frida Kahlo museum is based in the house where Frida spent most of her time in Mexico City. Frida’s life story is quite fascinating and walking around her living quarters helps to paint the picture of her life so much more clearly. The house is filled with her art pieces, photographs, and clothing that Frida used to wear along with descriptions of her life and the struggles she had to endure.

 

Whether you are going to Mexico City for sightseeing, exploring the city, or art, there are unlimited choices for amazing spots to visit on your trip. The city is filled with ancient cathedrals around every corner and endless museums which are mostly free. Crowds gather from all over the world to marvel at the historic masterpieces located in the heart of Mexico City. You could spend weeks exploring Mexico City and not see it all, but our guide is here to help you see the best attractions and landmarks in just a few days.

 

Written by Laura Sausina

 

Related Article:

Visiting Teotihuacan Pyramids In Mexico City

 

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8 Comments on "TOP THINGS TO SEE IN MEXICO CITY"

1000
Vicki

Awesome guide full of wonderful information!!!
Thank you Laura!

Never really had an interest in traveling to Mexico. After reading this, I may need to pay a visit here soon. Thanks! Beautiful pictures!

Eduardo Sandoval

Wonderful article, I loved the photos, Im from Mexico City and I promote alternative tourism here, I have a gallery of good images of the city in my pinterest gallery that I share https://goo.gl/aUhEFV

Irma A

I will be going to Mexico 🇲🇽 in November. For my very first time, I’ve been doing lots of research and I have to say this is one of the best guides!!! Thank you for sharing! 🤗

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