French poet Andre Breton once described Mexico as a surrealist county, and the capital city seems to delight in its own wonderful strangeness. Mexico City captivates millions of visitors each year with its bubbling street life, refreshing springlike climate and abundant cultural offerings. One moment, you may find yourself knocking back shots of tequila with locals at a grand old cantina, then jamming to an international band on a rooftop terrace in the next. You can feast on street-vendor tamales for breakfast, then indulge in fusion cuisine by an acclaimed chef at lunch, spend the afternoon understanding the anguish of Mexico’s most famous artistic daughter, Frida Kahlo, then spend the night watching burly wrestlers duke inflict pain at the downtown arena. These are just some of the scenes offered in the metropolitan mosaic that is today’s Mexico City.
Throughout their history, the Mexican people have fostered a talent for artistic representation and dazzled with their keen eye for color. Art is one of the country’s greatest gifts, and Mexico City is filled with stunning examples that leave you inspired.
One of these examples is the 1,200 square feet of murals by Rivera span the walls of the Palacio Nacional, built in 1693 on the site of Moctezuma’s home and now the seat of the Mexican government. The epic murals depict over two millennia of the country’s history, filtered through the artist’s imagination.
The images tell the stories of the noble independence movement, the class struggles, the bloody revolution, the changes of industrialization and more, giving visitors a moving view of Mexico’s struggles and triumphs.
The Plaza de la Constitucion, also known as the Zocalo, is the heart of Mexico City and is located in el Centro Historico near the metro bus stop. The Zocalo is home to several attractions including the Palacio Nacional, Mexico City Cathedral and the Templo Mayor.
Here, you will also find various vendors offering delightful crafts, paintings and pictures that you can purchase at very affordable prices. To the right of the Cathedral, you can have your pick of several restaurants that offer fast food options, traditional Mexican meals and international cuisine.
The Catedral Metropolitana, or Metropolitan Cathedral, is one of Mexico City’s most beautiful cathedrals that took more than 150 years to complete. While the exterior of this 17th century structure is quite impressive, the interior is even more delightful. Inside, visitors can see an array of paintings dating back to the colonial period.
Tours of the cathedral are available and those who choose to take the rooftop tour can experience a rare and stunning view of the city below. Since the Catedral Metropolitana is located in the middle of the city, it is only a short distance from many other exciting attractions.
Next to the Metropolitan Cathedral, you will find the Templo Mayor, or Great Temple, which consists of archaeological ruins that were discovered in the early 1900s. There is also a museum here that gives visitors a peek at what the city looked like before Spanish Conquistadores destroyed much of it.
The Templo Mayor was once the main religious center for the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan. Anything of importance was conducted here including activities pertaining to religion, commerce and politics. In fact, the sheer importance of the site makes it one of the most popular attractions in the country.
The Palacio de Bellas Artes, or Palace of Fine Arts, is a historic structure where visitors can enjoy artwork and various performances such as the Ballet Folklorio. The Palacio is quite a popular attraction in Mexico City receiving nearly 10,000 visitors every week.
The interior of the building houses an array of lovely murals created by such famous Mexican artists as Rufino Tamayo, Diego Rivera, David Alfar Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco. The Palacio’s construction began in 1905; however, it was not completed until 1934 due to the Mexican Revolution.
The National Museum of Anthropology, known in Mexico as the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, is a must-see for anyone who wants to learn all about Mexico’s rich culture. This is one of the most significant museums in Latin America as it is here that many of the most important artifacts in the country can be found.
One of the most prominent artifacts in the museum is the Piedra del Sol, or the Sun Stone, which is more commonly known as the Aztec Calendar. The Museo Nacional de Antropologia is located in Chapultepec area, and visitors can get to it by taking the Metro to Auditorio Station and walking east on Paseo de la Reforma for about four blocks.
Escape the chaos of the city center with a cruise down the capital’s network of green canals. Along the water, you will spy vibrant orchids, small homes, lush trees and bushes, women hanging the laundry while children run nearby and other sights that represent the real Mexico City. The experience is slightly surreal, as trumpeting mariachi bands float by in other boats, vendors offer sweet fruity drinks, and revelers shout and laugh as you float on by in a wooden boat adorned with paper flowers.
Xochimilco, or the Floating Gardens, allows travelers to experience life much in the same way as the Aztecs once did. It is only about a half hour outside of the center of Mexico City and can be easily reached by either light rail or subway. Once here, visitors are greeted by hundreds of decorative boats, known as trajineras.
Teotihuacan, which means the place where gods are made, is an archaeological buff’s dream and the highlight of any visit to Mexico City. While the city’s origins are still being researched by professionals in the field, visitors are sure to delight in what they discover.
Teotihuacan was once the largest city in Central Mexico and is located just under 30 miles northeast of Mexico City. Travelers to the area can reach Teotihuacan in less than an hour by taking a bus from the Central Camionera del Norte. However, there is so much to see here, they will want to be sure and bring a camera to take plenty of pictures.
The Basilica de Guadalupe, or Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, is a magnificent building, which is the main religious shrine for most Catholics in Latin America. In fact, it is believed by many to be the holiest Catholic church in the Americas. The original Basilica was constructed in 1709.
However, due to a deteriorating foundation, it became necessary to build a new structure that is the present Basilica de Guadalupe. Built between 1974 and 1976, this new structure can accommodate as many as 50,000 people and is home to nearly 20 chapels where masses are held regularly.
One of the capital’s most important museums is the Museo Dolores Olmedo Patino, home to an extensive collection of masterpieces by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. The pieces span various periods and are displayed next to their folk-art inspirations. More stunning works by both artists can be seen at the Museo de Arte Moderno, along with pieces by Olga Costa, Jose Clemente Orozco, Leonora Carrington and David Alfaro Siqueriros.
These famous museums often overshadow some of Mexico City’s lesser-known yet exceptional institutions, including the Mexican Antique Toy Museum. Over one million toys are housed in the eclectic space, packed nearly wall to wall with board games, dolls, action figures, tin cars and other treasures from the golden age of handmade toys. Another fascinating but oft-overlooked museum is the Museo del Objeto del Objeto. The collection features over 30,000 everyday objects spanning more than two centuries. All aspects of Mexican pop culture can be found there, from soda bottles and campaign buttons to religious icons and shoeshine boxes.
The city’s energy does not wane when the sun goes down. In some districts, like Condesa, Zona Rosa and Polanco, it seems to increase when the stars come out. The streets there are teeming with world-class restaurants, packed discos and bars that serve up strong drinks and tasty tacos until at least 3 am.
With so many fabulous things to experience, Mexico City is a great place to visit. The local area offers hundreds of attractions that any traveler will love. These are just a few of the exciting attractions in Mexico City. Before experiencing a Mexico City vacation, take time to research these attractions. With so many fantastic things to see, anyone is sure to create an ideal vacation.
Mexico City Geographical Location
Mexico City is near the center of Mexico in the Valley of Mexico. It is the largest metropolitan area of the Americas with a population of approximately 21,000,000.
Mexico City Language
Spanish is the official language of Mexico and for many Mexicans it is the only language they know. There is a small percentage of the population who also know English, usually in tourist areas, and who speak indigenous or regional languages in addition to Spanish.
Mexico City Predominant Religion
- 77% Roman Catholic
- 14% Other
- 6% Protestant
- 3% None
The large majority of the population is Roman Catholic, although there is no official religion, and Christmas is considered a national holiday.
Mexico City Currency
The Mexican Peso is the official currency of Mexico.
Mexico City Climate
Mexico City experiences pleasant temperature throughout the year with little fluctuation. There is, however, a distinct rainy season during the summer months where it can rain for the majority.
Mexico City Main Attractions
- The Plaza de la Constitución
- Catedral Metropolitana
- Palacio Nacional
Other Attraction in Mexico City
- Templo Mayor
- Palacio de Bellas Artes
- Basilica de Guadalupe