Founded in 1325 by the Aztecs and under Spanish rule for centuries before becoming the capital city of an independent country, Mexico City is an incredible center of history and culture. There are so many things to see and do in the largest city in the Western Hemisphere - you’ll find yourself wishing that you had just a little more time to explore. The following nine activities are particularly fun during your visit to Mexico City - you’ll get to know the city through its architecture, its cuisine, its art, and its people.
What to Do in Mexico City
1. Take a walking tour of the city
See the Zocalo, Mexico City’s main square, the National Palace (location of the government offices) and the Centro Historico (historic center) on a walking tour. Companies like Mexico Caminando offer tours for free, or you can hire a private guide. This is a great thing to do on your first day to get to know the city better. You can also find directions for self-guided walking tours online if you’d prefer to get to know Mexico City on a more one-on-one basis.
2. Take a cooking class
Bring the amazing taste of street tacos, mole (sauce), enchiladas, and barbecued corn and onions back home with you after taking a fun cooking class in Mexico City! Eat Mexico Culinary Tours offers a tour of a market followed by a Mexican cooking class, where you get to look behind the scenes at a typical Mexican market. Chef and writer Ruth Alegria offers great classes in her kitchen, called Mexico Soul and Essence, where you can learn how to identify chile peppers and cook dishes for all seasons.
3. Take a Spanish class
It’s always more fun to explore a city when you can practice the local language! Take a Spanish class at any of several schools in the city. Places like Language School Mexico City offer one on one classes at an hourly rate, while International House Mexico (and many other programs) offer one-week or longer programs that include a homestay with a Mexican family, if you are interested in becoming more immersed.
4. Take a Day Trip to Cuernavaca
Cuernavaca is a beautiful city that used to be far from Mexico City, but with the rapid expansion of the city after 1950, Cuernavaca is now part of the larger, 20-million person population that makes up the Mexico City Metropolitan Area. Known as one of Mexico’s most beautiful colonial cities, and built 400 years ago, it is still a destination for people trying to escape the bustle of the city. There are many beautiful estates and gardens that give you a sense of Mexico’s colonial lifestyle and architecture. There are also a lot of very well-known spas here. It is possible to take a day trip, but you may want to consider staying for one or two nights because of Cuernavaca’s charm.
5. See Aztec pyramids in Teotihuacan
Located 30 miles from Mexico City with buses leaving the city center every 20 minutes, you can see how the Aztec people lived in the ancient city of Teotihuacan. It is estimated to have been one of the largest cities in the world during its peak in the first half of the first millennium AD, and the Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon bear testimony to its greatness. Consider taking a tour to learn more about the incredible history of this place.
6. Visit the Frida Kahlo Museum
See Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and other Mexican artists’ work when you go to the Frida Kahlo museum. It’s hard to miss the Frida Kahlo Museum because of its vibrant blue walls - which is why the museum is also known as The Blue House. The museum was also Frida Kahlo’s house, which makes it even more interesting to explore each room. It is located in the Colonia del Carmen area of the city, which has been known as a center for Mexican artists and intellectuals since the 1920s.
7. Try Mexico City’s Best Street Food
Fresh corn tortillas and incredibly flavorful tacos await you in Mexico City’s famous street food stalls. Be sure to try tacos al pastor (tacos with incredible, seasoned pork), chicharrones (pork rinds), fresh mangoes and papayas, and barbacoa (slow-cooked lamb.) Some of the best places in Mexico City for street food are on Calle Ayuntamiento downtown - check out El Caguamo and El Huequito.
8. Visit the Chapultepec Castle
This beautiful castle on the top of Chapultepec hill is one of the most beautiful places to visit in all of Mexico City. It is surrounded by Chapultepec Park, which has forests and lakes, and it is a lovely place to go on a hot day in the city. Chapultepec Castle is home to Mexico’s National History Museum, where you can learn more about Mexico’s unique past. Chapultepec Park includes the Chapultepec Zoo, Botanical Garden, National Museum of Anthropology, and Modern Art Museum - so you may want to plan to come here more than just once!
9. See a Performance at the Palacio de Bellas Artes
Get a feeling for Mexico’s vibrant dance scene at a performance by the Ballet Folclórico de México, which features energetic and beautiful Mexican music and dances from all regions of the country. Performances take place every Wednesday and Sunday, and you will feel like you are participating in a traditional Mexican fiesta!