One of the biggest and most iconic cities of North America and the world, Mexico City is an incredible place. The capital of Mexico and one of the largest economies of the Americas in its own right, this sprawling metropolis is a vibrant, teeming hub of activity, art, history and culture. It is the oldest capital city on the American continent. The Aztecs originally built it on an island of Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico in 1325. Moreover, thanks to a simmering cauldron of different cultures throughout the ages, there is an endless array of Mexico City tourist attractions for you to experience.
Museums Top the List of Mexico City Tourist Attractions
Mexico City has the second-most museums in the world, behind only London. Many of its most important museums are located in or very close to the city’s historic downtown area. One of the most iconic is the National Museum of Anthropology, the largest and most visited in the country. Here you can discover Mexico’s pre-Columbian past as you admire artifacts from the Mayan, Toltec and Aztec cultures, among others.
Another major museum is the current day National Museum of History. Housed in Chapultepec Castle, a former royal castle, imperial residence, observatory and presidential residence, it is incredible. It is surrounded by the lush green park Chapultepec Forest, the main lungs of the city. The museum offers unique artifacts from the nation’s history, as well as breathtaking views.
Take your Sightseeing to Mexico City’s Streets
From here you can head along Paseo de la Reforma, the capital’s main boulevard, to the city center. The boulevard itself is stunning, blending iconic monuments with the cutting edge skyscrapers of the financial district. You’ll pass the Angel of Independence, where locals celebrate the Mexican soccer team’s big victories. Also, Diana the Huntress statue and the Monument to the Revolution are on your way.
Likewise, your penultimate destination is a true jewel in the architectural crown of Mexico City. The Palace of Fine Arts has a Neoclassical and Art Nouveau exterior with an impressive Art Deco interior. It is breathtaking, especially lit up at night. Inside you’ll find fascinating murals by Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros, among others. A cathedral of art, it is an icon in the city and is flanked by imperious buildings like the Postal Palace, the Bank of Mexico, and the 600-feet-tall Torre Latinoamericana (Latin-American Tower).
Experience Preserved History in Mexico City’s Downtown
From here it’s just a short walk to the Zocalo, the city’s main square. This is where you’ll find the beautiful 400-year-old Metropolitan Cathedral. This impressive monument to Catholicism contrasts wonderfully with the Templo Mayor behind it, which used to be the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan. The main square is also flanked by the National Palace, the seat of the government’s executive branch, among other majestic buildings.
Mexico City is full of contrasts. As mentioned, it has a rich history, and is home to impressive colonial buildings and architecture. Nevertheless, it also has cutting edge services, with some of the top shopping malls on the continent, such as Centro Santa Fe.
In addition, the city has a number of famous neighborhoods outside the historic downtown area, each charming in its own way. The most iconic are central Condesa and neighboring Roma, which form the epicenter for the city’s hipster subculture. They feature French-style mansions dating back to the Porfirio Diaz era in the late 19th century.
More Mexico City Tourist Attractions in Coyoacan and Xochimilco
Mexico City is so big, and there’s so much to see, so don’t just stay in the center of the city! Head south, and you’ll come across the iconic boroughs of Coyoacan and Xochimilco.
Coyoacan was once the home of explorer Hernan Cortes, poet Octavio Paz, and iconic painter Frida Kahlo. Especially relevant, Coyoacan features colorful buildings and charming cobblestoned streets. Even more, a visit has to include a stop at the Frida Kahlo museum, which is the blue house in which she lived most of her life.
Additionally in the south, Xochimilco was a pre-Hispanic floating city that has evolved today into one of the top Mexico City tourist attractions. It is famous for its canal system that you can explore on gondola-like “trajinera” boats. It has a vibrant, party-like atmosphere, something to be savored.
Before you head out of the city limits, take the time to check out the main campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. While you admire the iconic murals and architecture of this impressive institution, you can learn about its place in Mexico’s history.
Sightseeing outside of Mexico City: Magical Towns and Volcanoes
Above all, Mexico City tourist attractions are not strictly limited to the city limits. Thanks to the capital’s central location, it offers easy access to attractions in the region. Surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, the city has eye-catching landscapes, perfect for exploring.
If you want to escape the city for a while, check out the iconic volcanoes of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl. Legend has it that they hold the souls of two star-crossed lovers, a princess and a young warrior. Additionally, the views from the top and the Cortes Pass at 12,000 feet are incredible.
Moreover, other top attractions include the pyramids of the Sun and the Moon at the incredible Teotihuacan archaeological site. This powerful pre-Hispanic city was the largest in the pre-Columbian Americas at its peak.
Finally, you can also check out the “Pueblos Magicos” (Magical Towns) near the city. Some of the most impressive are located in nearby Hidalgo state. Especially relevant, you can visit the Basaltic Prisms of Santa Maria Regla, or Real del Monte, with its distinct Cornish influence. Huasca de Ocampo is also worth a visit, with its stunning views and cultural center.
Make Mexico City Yours!
In conclusion, there’s a countless array of places to see and visit in Mexico’s capital city. Furthermore, the Mexico City tourist attractions cover everything from pre-Hispanic ruins and pyramids to modern shopping malls and art galleries. So don’t pass up the chance to come and see them for yourself!