How To Be A Tourist In Mexico City (Written By A Mexican)

How To Be A Tourist In Mexico City (Written By A Mexican)

A few years ago a friend from London came to Mexico City for a visit. My best friend and I took her around to some touristy places around and I must say I had lots of fun being a tourist in my own hometown. The city is so big and it is not too often that I explore all the amazing places that this city has to offer. But below you’ll find a great guide on how to be a tourist in Mexico City and where to go.

When you live in a place you tend to hover around and return to the same places over and over without trying too hard to get to know the rest of it, don’t you think?

Did you know Mexico City is the city with the most museums in the world?

Six Things to do in Mexico City

1. Take the Turibus

Turibus, Mexico City. source

The Turibus is a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour of the city. The city has so many museums, historical sites and buildings, and parks. If your time is limited, the Turibus is a great way of seeing these without leaving your seat but I recommend hopping off for a few of these.

The double-decker bus goes through 21 different stops and lasts about 3 hours.

Tickets are purchased on board and include a map and headphones in different languages. Don’t forget sunglasses and a hat, you will need them.

Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

Lie on a bed of nails at the Museo de los niños.

Lie on a nail bed at Papalote Museo del Niño, one of the stops.

turibus mexico city sign

Just remember to remain seated if you sit on the top floor of the bus.

Told you.

Told you.

Where:
The route begins at the Auditorio Nacional, East Corner of Front Steps, but you can hop in at any of the stops. You can find the map here.
Cost:
Weekdays: Adults $140 pesos and $70 for children and seniors.
Weekends: Adults $165 pesos and $85 for children and seniors.
Time Involved:
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, more if you get off at stops.
Hours Open:
Every Day, 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Excluding major holidays, or days when the route is blocked. Buses run every 30 to 40 minutes.
How to Get There:
Take Metro Linea 7 to Auditorio, or any Microbus heading West on Reforma with a sign stating ‘Auditorio’. Or take a taxi to the Auditorio Nacional.

2. Castillo de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Castle)

chapultepec castle mexico city

Chapultepec Castle from below.

The Chapultepec castle is the only Royal castle in North America. It is located on top of the Chapultepec Hill in the middle of Chapultepec Park at a height of over 7000 feet (2300 meters) above sea level.

Fun fact! In 1996, the castle was a film location for the Academy Award-nominated movie William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Many views of the castle as the Capulet Mansion can be seen throughout the film.

castillo de chapultepec mexico city1 MexicoPlantHDR chapultepec capultepec castle mexico city candy

chapultepec castle mexico city mask

Don’t forget a souvenir like my friend here bought a Mexican Luchador mask.

chapultepec castle view mexico city

The view from the top gardens.

Cost: $59 pesos. Closed on Mondays. Seniors and children can enter with free admission.

I highly recommend exploring the Chapultepec Park surrounding the castle as well. The park boasts about 1600 acres including a zoo, the famous Museum of Anthropology, and the Rufino Tamayo Museum.

3. Coyoacán and the Frida Kahlo Museum 

Iglesia de los Reyes, Coyoacan, Mexico City. source

The historic borough of Coyoacán dates back to the Aztec domination when these people welcomed Hernán Cortés and the Spanish. They used the area as a headquarters during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire and made it the first capital of New Spain between 1521 and 1523.

Later in 1857, the area was incorporated into the Federal District. Many of the former villages have kept their original layouts, plazas, and narrow streets and have conserved the structure built from the 16th to the early 20th century.

This area is especially perfect to simply go and walk around and soak in the Mexican culture and its historical feel.

coyoacan mexico city coyoacan mexico city ice cream

coyoacan mexico city

Visit the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan

The Frida Kahlo Museum known as “La Casa Azul” (The Blue House) is located in the Colonia del Carmen neighborhood of Coyoacán in Mexico City. I suggest a visit if you are going to the area. The house is Frida Kahlo’s birthplace and home which was converted into a museum by Diego Rivera, her husband, in her honor.

Frida Kahlo Museum, La Casa Azul source

Today, the house displays artwork by both these artists plus some more folk art by other artists.

Mis abuelos, mis padres y yo (1936) source

4. Zócalo, El Centro Histórico (The Historic Center)

zocalo mexico city

I didn’t put this first on the list, but I would consider the Zócalo, a must-see. You can visit it by hoping-off stop #9 of the Turibus, or you can go separately (by metro, public bus, or taxi) and spend the day exploring the historic buildings and cathedrals, buying knick knacks at the vast market, and enjoying some food at the many possible places to eat.

palacio nacional mexico city

Palacio Nacional

palacio de hierro mexico city

Inside the Palacio de Hierro, Mexico City

mexico city

The street that leads to the markets.

5. EAT!

Tacos, tacos, aguas frescas, tacos, aguas frescas…

tacos al pastor

Tacos al pastor from “La Casa del Pastor” Polanco, Mexico City

Just have them whenever you can, wherever you are. “La Casa del Pastor” in Polanco is highly recommended, but anywhere will do. I have yet to find tacos al pastor like they do in Mexico City anywhere else in the world, including Texas.

tacos mexico

If you don’t know what aguas frescas (fresh waters) are, you are missing out. They are simply the most delicious and refreshing drinks made out of fruit juice and water. They are widely available in Mexico with flavors including mango, tamarind, horchata (rice), jamaica (hibiscus), melon, coconut, orange, papaya, watermelon, and more.

mexico guayaba agua

Agua de guayaba

mexican food mexico tacos

These cheesy tacos are actually called “gringas”. Not kidding.

Finally, visit one more museum.

6. Museo Soumaya

Museo Soumaya in Polanco, Mexico City source

The Soumaya Museum is fairly new in Mexico and it will catch your attention before even entering the building with its highly photogenic architecture. It contains a large collection with over 60,000 pieces of art; the majority consists of European works from the 15th to the 20th century. It also holds Mexican art and historical artifacts, as well as the largest collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures outside of France.

Its all-white interior will lead you to believe that you are in a shiny silver cloud resembling the curves of Rodin’s sculptures.

Admission is free! And it is one of the stops of the Turibus also.

In front of the Soumaya Museum

In front of the Soumaya Museum

how-to-be-a-tourist-in-mexico-city-written-by-a-mexican

There is so much more to do in this colorful and lively city, but I gave you a good starter. Have you been? Is there one place in this city that is not on this list and you really recommend?

13 Comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more as a Pakistani-born frenchman living in Mexico for the past 25 years. Hiciste una muy buena “shortlist”
    Saludos
    Brian
    PS. And the Soumaya Museum is, I think unique in LAtin America in its great selection of European art. (Which we all paid for with our cells!) Very well worth the trip.

    Reply

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