Mexico City is the largest city in North America and is a huge, sprawling, metropolis that seems to go on forever. Boasting over 22 million people in the area, you’d be hard-pressed to explore every last nook and cranny that the city has to offer. However, if you’re planning on heading to CDMX, here are the best things to do in Mexico City that you should definitely add to your list.
Cheer On the Masked Wrestlers at Lucha Libre
When you think about Lucha Libre, you probably think over the top, flashy costumes, high flying maneuvers, and just generally a high energy good time. You’re not wrong, but it gets even better. The wrestlers all don masks and highly elaborate costumes, complete with compelling backstories and names like Inquisidor, Mephisto, and Virus. Even if wrestling isn’t your thing, this is something absolutely worth checking out. You can order massive 24 oz beers for about 90 pesos each ($5 USD) and even take home a replica Luchador mask as a souvenir. Before you know it, you’ll be rooting for your favorite characters and yelling in Spanish right along with the rest of the crowd!
Cruise the River in the Party Boats at Xochimilco
The boats of Xochimilco (pronounced so-chee-milk-co) can give you a number of different experiences depending on what your desires are. You can gather up a massive group of friends and drink beers while your guide sails you down the canals. Or you can bring food, or purchase it from the local vendors on their own boats, and enjoy a nice meal sailing down the river. Finally, you can have the mariachi bands come on board and serenade you with traditional songs and instruments. You could also do any combination of those three because the party boats at Xochimilco accommodate any and all of that. Dubbed “The Venice of Mexico,” you hire a local guide who takes you out on one of the boats for a set number of hours. A two hour tour will cost you about $900 Mexican Pesos (or about $50) but it doesn’t matter if you have 2 or 20 people so the more people you bring, the cheaper it gets. Check out the video below to learn more about the experience on the trajineras at the floating gardens of Xochimilco?
Embrace the History of Mexico City at a Museum
Mexico City has over 150 museums – more than any other city in the entire world, and it’s not shocking given the expansive history of the Mexican people. One of the most well-known museums in the city is the Frida Kahlo Museum or Casa Azul. This is where she was born, later lived and worked with her husband Diego Rivera, another very famous Mexican artist, and eventually died. This is a VERY popular tourist attraction and the lines can get incredibly long early on in the day. It’s best to make a reservation in advance as you’ll be able to skip the lines, otherwise, get there as early as you possibly can. Tickets range between $230-270 Mexican Pesos ($11.50-13.50 USD) and will cost an extra $30 Pesos ($1.50) to take photos and/or videos.
Enjoy Vegan Mexican Cuisine
If you’re from the United States, when you think of incredible vegan food, you immediately think of places like Los Angeles, New York City, Portland, or even Las Vegas. While those cities are incredible in their own right, you’ll be blown away at the vegan food in Mexico City. At just about every single restaurant, we said: “that was the best (insert food item) we’ve EVER had!” You think you’ve had tacos before, but if you’ve never had them in Mexico City, then you’ve never really had tacos before. Places like Por Siempre Vegana or Gold Taco will give you a wealth of different vegan meat options complete with a lineup of salsas, onions, cilantro, jalapeños, and everything else you would want in the perfect taco. Or maybe mole is your thing and that means you’ll want to head to La Pitahaya Vegana and get their Mole Mixteco which is jam-packed full of flavor and is plated so beautifully, you’ll have to force yourself to get a picture for the gram before you dive in! There are so many options that we can’t even begin to list them all out so check out our full vegan food tour of Mexico City below.
Climb the Pyramids of Teotihuacán
There are mainly two ways to get to Teotihuacán, either you can pay the $100 pesos ($5 USD) round trip on the bus to get there around 10 AM, or you can pay $60 USD round trip for Uber and show up right as soon as they open. We HIGHLY recommend showing up as early as you can because the Pyramid of the Sun quickly gets backed up as the crowds show up. Tickets for the entrance themselves will cost you $80 pesos each ($4 USD) and an extra $45 pesos for video ($2.50 USD). You can also pay for a guide there on-site, but you don’t actually need one to experience Teotihuacán. However, the guides can give you a much more in-depth base of knowledge, and a few tricks, than what you’ll learn by just reading the signs. Your prices will vary depending on the guide.
Once you are inside, skip the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl for now and head straight for the giant pyramid in the center, the Pyramid of the Sun. This is the tallest pyramid in the world that you can climb and it will back up quickly because this is what everyone wants to experience while they are there. At the top, make sure to raise your hands to the sky and soak in the rays of the sun as you feel the power of the pyramids flowing through you. From here, you have a fantastic view of the Pyramid of the Moon and the overall grounds of Teotihuacán. Once you’re done with the Pyramid of the Sun, you can take your time exploring the rest of the area. Just make sure you don’t miss the Patio de los Pillares where you can experience ancient carvings, paintings, and onyx adornments that have lasted over thousands of years.
Take in the Ballet at the Palacio de Bellas Artes
Even if you never step foot inside of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the outside of the building is an absolutely stunning sight to marvel at. Topped with a gorgeous red to yellow gradient dome, the building screams of old-world craftsmanship. However, it is worth checking out the ballet that they hold on Wednesday and Sunday. Tickets range wildly from $363-$1393 Mexican Pesos ($18.50-$70 USD), but it’s absolutely worth picking up some of the better seats. Not only will you get a fantastic view of the “curtain” which is built with over two million Tiffany crystals, but you’ll have an eye-level view of the stage and the performers will be dancing through the aisles surrounding your seats. Even if ballet isn’t your thing and you don’t speak a lick of Spanish, it’s well worth the entrance fee to experience the show.
Visit a Castle in the Bosque de Chapultepec
One of the greatest things about Mexico City is the massive amount of green spaces they have interspersed through the area. The Bosque de Chapultepec is no exception and is actually double the size of Central Park in NYC to give you an idea of just how large it actually is. Inside the bosque, there are quite a few different things you can do. You can simply walk around the grounds and take in the sights of the trees, or you can marvel at the many sculptures that adorn the area, you can even rent a boat that is shaped like a swan and tool around the lake, but most people come here for the main attraction, the Castillo de Chapultapec. The Castillo de Chapultapec is rooted in Mexican history and was home to the emperors Carlota of Mexico and Maximiliano who would build Reforma avenue. Today, however, it is the home of the National Museum of History and holds various paintings and artifacts spanning Mexico’s history. Tickets will cost you $80 Mexican Pesos per person ($4 USD) and an additional $35 Pesos ($1.77) for video cameras.
Experience the Clash Between Spain and Mexico in the Zocalo
The Zocalo is a very interesting juxtaposition of both pre and post-Spanish influences in Mexico. When you arrive in the Zocalo, you’ll likely notice one of three things. You may see the ancient ruins of Templo Mayor which are the ruins of the original Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Adorned with the traditional Aztec sculptures and building materials, you’ll quickly realize you’re staring at ruins that are ancient and feel very out of place in Mexico City. If you turn around, or if your first thought was to look up instead of down, you’ll notice the Catedral Metropolitana. This was built by the Spanish over the course of 250 years and actually includes some of the materials from Tenochtitlan in its construction. Here you will witness early European style architecture both inside and out. What’s really crazy is that the building itself is actually sinking – in fact, the majority of the city is sinking because it’s built on a dry lake bed and there is a lot of seismic activity that happens in the area. Finally, you may have noticed the massive flat square with the huge Mexican flag in it. That is the Zocalo itself and is located in the heart of Mexico City. It is next to the Palácio Nacional which is one of the government buildings and seems to go on forever. No matter where your first glance takes you, you’ll continue to be blown away by the differences each section has.
Take in the Night Life and Try Tequila or Mezcal
You can’t go to Mexico and not try Tequila or Mezcal. Both of these traditional liquors are made from the agave plant, and are found all over the city. One of our favorite bars in Mexico City, is actually an old speakeasy called Hanky Panky. We aren’t going to tell you how to find it, as that is half of the fun, but once you’re inside, you’ll find world-class mixologists and amazing cocktails. If you want something truly unique, ask the bartender for a special drink and they might whip you up something that isn’t even on the menu, giving you a one of a kind experience.
Whether you’re looking for a delicious meal, a night out on the town, or a cultural experience, Mexico City is going to have exactly what you’re looking for. It might not be the first place you were thinking of going, but it should be a place you don’t miss!
Have you been to Mexico City? Is there something you did that you feel should be included? Let us know in the comments! Also, we are planning on hosting a vegan food and drink tour in Mexico City sometime around April 2021. If you’re interested, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure we update you with all of the details as they emerge.