THE 8 BEST THINGS TO DO IN MEXICO CITY

Mexico City is the fifth largest city in the world, a sprawling metropolis where history and culture collide in a dynamic web of bright colors, diverse cuisines, and lively neighborhoods.

I love it here. I’ve been here a few times and never tire of exploring and eating my way through the city. I always have a great time. In fact, I love the city so much that I’ve even started offering tours here (and every single person I’ve shown around has been blown away). Nobody hates this place.

Unsurprisingly, in a city this big with such a long history, there’s a ton to see and do, from visiting world-class museums to feasting at tiny taco stands to exploring unusual neighborhoods. You could easily spend a week here and not even have scratched the surface.

Here are what I think are the best things to do in Mexico City so you can have fun and really get to know the city and culture on your trip to this vibrant capital city!

1. Take a walking tour

Walking tours are an excellent way to learn about the history of a destination and not miss any of the main sights. I always start my trips with at least one walking tour as it’s the best way to get familiar with the terrain and connect with a local guide who can answer all of your questions.

Both Estación Mexico Free Tours and Monkey Experience offer a free tour of the historic downtown area that can show you what the city has to offer. The former also offers four other free tours of different neighborhoods. Even though the tours are technically free, always remember to tip your guide at the end!

THE 8 BEST THINGS TO DO IN MEXICO CITY

2. Visit the Museo Nacional de Antropología

This world-class anthropology museum in Chapultepec Park is Mexico’s largest museum (and also the most visited, with over two million guests a year). Since 1964, it has housed the world’s largest collection of sculptures, jewels and artifacts from ancient Mexican civilizations. The different time periods are grouped in comprehensive (and huge) exhibition halls with bilingual information signs, so give yourself plenty of time to explore everything. There’s a lovely courtyard in the center to sit and do a little people-watching.

Av. P.º de la Reforma s/n, +52 (55) 5553-6266, mna.inah.gob.mx. Open Tues-Sun 9am-6pm. Tickets cost 95 MXN. Guided tours of the highlights start at 375 MXN (admission included).

3. Tour Frida Kahlo's House

Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera are two of the biggest names in Mexican art. Frida was especially famous for her portraits and self-portraits. A tour of her old house (“Casa Azul”) is a worthwhile experience to see where and how she lived, as well as some of her original artwork. It’s a really interesting house with a beautiful garden and lots of information about her life. The residence also hosts various artistic workshops every month, so check out the schedule if you’re interested.

This guided tour of Coyoacán (the surrounding neighborhood) includes an entrance ticket to the museum, which you visit at your own pace after learning about the area where the two artists lived and worked.

Londres 247, Del Carmen, +52 55 5554 5999, museofridakahlo.org.mx. Open Tues-Sun 10am-6pm (Wednesday 11am-6pm). Tickets cost 250 MXN (270 MXN on weekends). You’ll need to buy your tickets well in advance (at least a month in advance) as they’re in incredible demand.

4. Attend a Lucha Libre

Mexican “free wrestling” is a popular national pastime. Lucha Libre is extremely fun and affordable, and takes the sport to a whole new level. Grab a beer or tequila and don’t look away during a match because anything can and will happen. (Don’t bring your camera though, as you’ll have to leave it at the door.)

Arena México and Arena Coliseo are the main places to watch a match. General seating tickets can cost as little as 56 MXN (don’t buy them from bootleggers because the police are always around and you’ll get in trouble). Look for a taquilla (ticket booth) sign to make sure you’re paying the right price.

Guided experiences like this Lucha Libre experience are also available. During the match, you’ll enjoy a mezcal tasting and eat chips and guacamole. At the end, you’ll go home with your very own Lucha Libre mask.

Arena México: Dr. Lavista 189, +52 55 5588 0266, cmll.com/arenas/arena-mexico. Shows Fridays at 8:30 p.m., Sundays at 5:00 p.m. and Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.

Arena Coliseo: República de Perú 77, +52 55 5588 0266, cmll.com/arenas/arena-coliseo. Shows Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m.

THE 8 BEST THINGS TO DO IN MEXICO CITY

5. Day Trip to Teotihuacán

If you only do one day trip outside the city, this is it. Teotihuacán was an ancient Mesoamerican city located about 50 kilometers northeast of modern-day Mexico City. At its peak (150-450 AD), it was one of the largest and most influential hubs of the pre-Columbian Americas, with an estimated population of over 100,000. It is known for its impressive urban layout and pyramids, including the Avenue of the Dead, Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon, and Temple of the Feathered Serpent (Quetzalcoatl).

I’ve been there a few times and highly recommend it (especially if you’re a history buff). We’ve brought our tour groups here and everyone always had a great time.

You can either do the day trip yourself (there are plenty of buses) or join a guided tour that also stops at the Basilica of Guadalupe, an important pilgrimage site. Be sure to bring sunscreen, as the sun is merciless and there is little to no shade.

Entry to the pyramids costs 80 MXN, while a full-day tour including transportation and a local guide costs 540 MXN.

6. Browse the Mercados

Mexico City offers a kaleidoscope of bustling markets, each with its own charm. Among the most famous is the Mercado de la Merced, a sprawling market that is considered the largest in the city. Located east of the Zócalo, it focuses primarily on food, with colorful displays of fruits, vegetables, meats, and spices.

Another iconic market is the Mercado Roma, a modern gastronomic center that showcases the city’s culinary diversity through gourmet treats and artisanal products. If you’re looking for something different, the Mercado Jamaica is a beautiful flower market full of vibrant colors and scents. And if you’re looking for unique souvenirs, head to La Ciudadela, an artisan market with an extensive collection of traditional textiles and handicrafts.

And finally, the Mercado de Sonora stands out for its mystical atmosphere, known for satisfying spiritual and esoteric needs, and offering everything from traditional herbs and potions to ritual artifacts. There really is a market for everything in Mexico City!

If you don’t want to explore on your own, you can take a guided tour that visits both the Mercado de la Merced and the Mercado de Sonora, and includes plenty of stops to sample plenty of authentic local treats. Tickets cost around 1,100 MXN.

7. Take a food tour

Traditional Mexican cuisine is so culturally rich and unique (and delicious) that UNESCO has added it to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list. While you can of course take a self-guided taco tour, you won’t learn nearly as much as you would on a food tour, an excellent way to get a crash course in local cuisine.

My friend Anais runs Devoured Tours and offers in-depth tours of CMDX’s food scene, with five different four-hour options to choose from. On each tour, you’ll meet a local “tastemaker,” an expert in their field, who will explain the process behind Mexican gastronomic traditions like making delicious tacos or exquisite mezcal cocktails. Tours start at $1,625 MXN.

If you just want to eat all the tacos (who wouldn’t), take Sabores Mexico Food Tours’ Tacos & Mezcal Night Food Tour. You’ll enjoy tacos at a mix of traditional and modern taquerias and finish your evening with tastings at Mexico City’s first mezcal bar.

8. Try Mezcal

I love mezcal. It’s a traditional Mexican liquor made from agave known for its smoky aroma and complexity. I’ve learned a lot about it over the course of my visits to Mexico, but I’m always on the lookout for new flavors and want to delve deeper into the distillation process.

If you’re interested in trying mezcal and learning more about it, there are a few unique places to try it, including La Mezcaloteca (a bar/library where you can try five mezcals) and La Clandestina in Condesa (featuring 25 mezcals from around the country).

At the Museum of Tequila and Mezcal near Plaza Garibaldi, knowledgeable guides will walk you through the intricate production process, from harvest to distillation. You can sample varieties of mezcal alongside different tequilas, so you can see the differences between Mexico’s two main spirits. A ticket with tastings costs $340 MXN.