As a capital with a great culture and history, there are some unmissable places to visit in Mexico City for a first time. I have listed below some of the best things to visit and to do to immerse yourself in the Mexican culture. There are so many things to discover about food, music, tradition, dance, architecture and much more. So here are the top things to do on your first trip to Mexico City !
The Plaza de la Constitución or Zocalo, a must-see in Mexico City
The Zocalo (meaning the main square), also known as Plaza de la Constitución, is a huge square located in the heart of the city, in the historical centre. The square is surrounded by magnificent buildings, among them the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City and the National Palace. Which is why it is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Moreover, the Zocalo has an important place in the history of Mexico City and witnessed key moments in the country’s history. The buildings around this square have been built over aztec ruins. Few of them can still be observed behind the Cathedral !
As this is a very touristic area, it could be complicated to find some places where to eat typical and good mexican food (and cheap). Here are places I would advise you to go to experiment a traditional mexican lunch :
📍 Rancheras Mantecadas : Cjon. Heroes del 57 #16, Centro Histórico de CDMX.
📍 Casa de Toño : many locations in the city centre as this is a restaurant chain. My mexican friends love to go there. It’s a good place to discover the typical mexican dishes for a good price.
The famous Metropolitan Cathedral, an iconic and unmissable edifice of Mexico City
In front of the Zocalo, you can’t miss the impressive cathedral and the “Sagrario” just next to it. The inside of the cathedral is one of the unmissable places to visit in Mexico City, as well as the facade of the Sagrario, which has stunning details.
I strongly advise to take a look inside, the architecture is amazing, and the gilding in the cathedral is splendid and internationally known. The details of the facade are also incredible. This building is an example of the wealth generated during the colonial period.
Plaza de la Constitución, Centro Histórico de la Ciudad de México
La Casa de los Azulejos, a true work of art
On your way from the Plaza de la Constitución to the Palacio Bellas Artes, you will find this beautiful building, an 18th-century Baroque palace.
Av. Francisco I. Madero 4, Centro Histórico, CMDX
Enjoy an exhibition or a concert to the Palacio Bellas Artes
Another unmissable place of Mexico City is the Palacio Bellas Artes. The Palace is a very imposing monument by its size and its coloured dome. It’s hard to be missed. It is definitely another must-see of Mexico City.
I could admire the interior architecture, where the Art Nouveau style is omnipresent. This is one of the most beautiful examples of Art Nouveau in Mexico, which is not a common style for the country. It is possible to visit the inside if you want to see an exhibition or other unusual events. I tell you more about it here.
Av. Juárez, Centro Histórico de la CDMX
Have a drink in Roma Norte, an unmissable place to go out in Mexico city
Roma Norte is a neighbourhood in Mexico City that has developed its own identity, as it is a very cosmopolitan area. It is also a neighbourhood with lushly vegetated streets. I advise you to wander around the streets. You will undoubtedly come across some architectural gems. There are many cafes, bars and restaurants, each more attractive than the last. So here is something for everyone.
However, for those looking for a typical Mexican experience, this may not be the place for you. The area is nevertheless very occidentalized. The architecture is still typical, but the restaurants and shops have adapted to the more international population that has settled here. As a result, the area is a little more expensive and the experience less typical.
Here are some bars and restaurants I would recommend :
📍 Mercado Roma – an area with many food and drink stalls: Calle Querétaro 225, Roma Norte, CDMX
📍 Cabrera 7 – typical dishes and nice cocktails: Plaza Luis Cabrera N7, Roma Norte, CDMX
Visit the colourful and chill neighbourhood of Coyoacan
Voir cette publication sur Instagram
Coyoacan is without a doubt, my favourite neighbourhood in Mexico City. I stayed in Coyoacan during my three weeks stay in the capital. The neighborhood looks more like a little town, with a Pueblo Magico feel. The area has kept its authenticity, with a charming colonial architecture and very colourful houses. I also really appreciate that Coyoacan is away from the noise of the city, it is a very quiet neighbourhood which is quite rare in Mexico City. Definitely one of the most unmissable places in Mexico City !
There are many things to visit there, the Frida Kahlo Museum, the Mercado, the Parque Centenario among other things. I will detail my favourite places in a dedicated article. Another point that is important to me is that the area is less touristic because a bit out of the city centre.
Here are some bars and restaurants I would recommend :
📍 Azul maguey – qualitative typical dishes and original cocktails : Ignacio Allende 53, Del Carmen, Coyoacán, CDMX
📍 Vege Taco – good vegetarian & vegan dishes at a good price: Felipe Carrillo Puerto 65, Coyoacán, CDMX
Capture the “Ángel de la Independencia”
The statue of the Angel is located in the Juarez district of Mexico City, in a middle of a huge round-about. You can see the statut from far because there are wide open avenues starting from there. This is a modern area with high building. This is an important business center of the capital, so there’s nothing else special to see, except if you are a amateur of modern building photography.
If you want to visit the area, I recommend to leave from the park of Chapultepec, the biggest park of the city, to go to the statue of the “Ángel de la Independencia”.
Av. Paseo de la Reforma, Juárez, CDMX
Have a break from the city in the Park of Chapultepec
The park of Chapultepec is located in the west part of the city. This is the biggest one in the capital. You will find there a beautiful castle, the Castle of Chapultepec, which overlooks the park. You can visit the castle which houses the National History Museum and offers an amazing view on the park.
There is also a lake where you can rent a pedal boat. Many locals come here on Sundays to enjoy a green space.
Entrance at the metro Chapultepec, Colonia Condesa, CDMX
The archaeological site of Teotihuacan, an unmissable site in the history of Mexico City
The best for last, even if it’s an hour away from the city, the archaeological site of Teotihuacan. This is definitely an unmissable place to visit in the State of Mexico. The pyramids of Teotihuacán are one of the world’s most impressive pre-Hispanic vestiges. You can easily go there by bus or car. It will take you around one hour. I strongly advise to arrive there at the opening to avoid the crowd and warmest hours.
If you plan to visit the region of Mexico, you can find here an itinerary of one week trip around Mexico City.
Av. Miguel Hidalgo 2, Centro, 55800 San Juan Teotihuacan de Arista
That was my top of unmissable places in Mexico City ! I hope it will be useful and gives you some ideas ! Enjoy your trip to Mexico City ! How about you ? What is your favourite places in Mexico City ? Please feel free to share in the comments !
For more photos of Mexico City, you can check my Instagram account.