I have lived in Mexico all my life, and I am proud to say it is a place filled with history and excitement.
Mexico City can be intimidating to outsiders. The fast pace of its streets and the never-ending crowds can be difficult to navigate without some guidance. But for those who venture in this city, hidden marvels await, with attractions that showcase the rich Mexican history.
Traces of the indigenous roots of the country are still out in the open, strangely placed among colonial buildings and modern architecture. There is also a special place in the heart of the country for the fine arts and outdoor activities.
Take it from a local—from monuments to pyramids, here are 10 of the best places to visit in Mexico City.
The floating gardens of Xochimilco are one of the last remains of the vast lakes that once flowed through the Mexican Valley. Here, you can enjoy a relaxing trip on one of the trajineras, the local term for colorful, handcrafted boats.
Once you are in the boat (rented by the hour) you can buy food or music from other trajineras that float nearby. You can also visit the House of Dolls, a creepy island adorned with dozens of old dolls.
2. Latin-American Tower
This is a must-see for architecture lovers. It was Mexico's tallest building until 1956, and it is the first skyscraper built for a seismic zone. You can visit different attractions inside the tower, such as a museum and a restaurant. An alternative is to skip the sideshows and pay for the main attraction, which consists of climbing to the top floor and observing the city from a unique perspective.
3. Palace of Fine Arts
Art lovers will be delighted to know this place holds murals from many great Mexican artists like Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Rufino Tamayo. In addition, the temporary exhibitions and the presentations from the National Ballet make this an unforgettable stop on your trip.
4. Revolution Monument
Besides serving as a great architectural achievement, this monument also carries the historical legacy of the Revolution heroes, serving as a mausoleum. In recent years, an elevator was added so you can ascend to the top of the cupola and admire the city. If you hang out after the sunset, you have the chance to enjoy the structure being illuminated with different colors, which makes a marvelous sight.
In case you are hungry, make sure you visit the Adelita Cafe, a cafeteria located under the monument. Besides serving amazing food, the whole cafe is decorated like an old railroad wagon.
5. Frida Khalo's House and Museum
Mexicans have a love-hate relationship with Frida, whose work many describe as overrated. However, it is fascinating to visit the house of artistic legends Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera and get a front seat to contemplate their daily lives and inspiration.
If you get there too early, you can always kill time at the Jarocho cafe, a traditional spot that has gained a place in the hearts of the locals.
Located on the outskirts of the city, this ancient pyramid site is a must see. As one of the best-preserved pre-Columbian sites, Teotihuacan offers a glimpse into the majestic development of ancient Mexican culture. You can admire the pyramids from afar or climb to the top and contemplate the breathtaking view.
7. Templo Mayor
If you are short on time, you can opt out of Teotihuacan and visit Templo Mayor. Located in the heart of the city, this archeological site is half buried under Colonial construction. It is a fundamental piece of Aztec history that you simply cannot miss.
8. Zocalo and The Cathedral
When you visit Mexico City, chances are that you will make a stop at the Zocalo, located downtown. From there, you can admire several attractions, such as the Cathedral. If you look hard enough, you will notice that this religious site sinks a few inches every year because the whole city has been built on a dried lake.
9. Chapultepec Forest and Castle
Perfect for outdoorsy explorers or tourists traveling with children, the Chapultepec forest offers an array of activities, including theater, street food and a relaxing sail on a small lake. If you are more of a history nerd, you can stop by the Chapultepec Castle, a majestic construction used by Maximiliano of Habsburg as a residence.
This is also an ideal spot to get souvenirs such as luchador masks or try some street food from the small venues on the road to the Castle.
Garibaldi Square has become a gathering site for mariachi and other traditional music groups. It is also near the Tequila Museum, and one of the best places to enjoy Mexico's traditional nightlife. However, it is a rough area of the city, so make sure you are extra careful if you decide to visit.
Note: This last stop on our Mexican tour requires a bit of courage and additional safety measures.
Every Stop in Your Unforgettable Journey
© 2018 Carolina Mejia