Mexico City is home to vibrant artisan markets, museums and tourist attractions, making it one of the country's most colorful tourist destinations.
Combining traditional and contemporary living, mouth-watering cuisine at some of the best restaurants in Mexico City and rich cultural celebrations, there's something for everyone, from art enthusiasts and party-goers to nature-lovers and budget backpackers.
With all the amazing attractions to discover, it can be difficult to decide what fun things are worth your time and where to stay in Mexico City to best take advantage of everything the city offers.
That's why we've curated the best things to do in Mexico City while you and your travel friends visit this cultural metropolis.
We'll highlight what makes Mexico City special and suggest some top attractions to check out, from shopping markets to music festivals, to help you plan the best trip possible. ¡Arriba!
What Is Mexico City Known For?
As Mexico's capital and North America's largest city, Mexico City is jam-packed with natural wonders and urban delights to help you create unforgettable experiences.
Known for its cultural history, vibrant markets and the amazing people who call it home, Mexico City blends ancient traditions and modernity to make it a great travel destination.
Its cultural richness stems from diverse influences, from its historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site that fuses pre-Hispanic, colonial and contemporary architecture, to the National Museum of Anthropology that showcases Mesoamerican art and grand sculptures.
The city is also popular for its food. The street food in Mexico City is unparalleled; from tacos al pastor in the bustling streets of Condesa to the exquisite flavors of mole in Coyoacán, your taste buds will feel delighted.
And neighborhoods like Roma and Polanco pulse with energy, offering a mosaic of bars and clubs for a great nightlife in Mexico City. The bohemian vibe of La Condesa promises chic vibes while the historic Coyoacán was home to famous artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
With so many attractions in Mexico City to check out, travel itineraries can get bloated fast. Let's make your life easier with a helpful overview of the top things to do while visiting Mexico City!
The 6 Best Things to Do When Traveling to Mexico City
1. The Floating Cinema in Chapultepec Forest
Deep in Mexico City's Chapultepec Park, known as Bosque de Chapultepec ("Chapultepec Forest") to locals because of its lush greenery, the second-largest urban park in Latin America, you'll find something pretty standard in most city parks: a movie theater on a lake!
Just kidding, there's nothing standard about it, but it is a perfect opportunity to lay back and relax as you get lost watching a movie on a boat.
Every Saturday night at 8 p.m. local time, Chapultepec Park hosts "Lanchacinema," where a large screen is installed at the edge of the lake in the park and people can watch a movie while sitting in a small paddle boat floating on the lake.
It's unique, fun and arguably an out-of-the-box cinema experience for movie-lovers and tourists alike!
Travel tip: Get there early to explore Chapultepec Forest's hidden gems, like the Carcamo de Dolores and the Camara Lambdoma sound installation.
2. Get Rowdy at the Corona Capital Music Festival
Want to get your rock on? Corona Capital is one of the largest annual music festivals in Latin America and one of the biggest attractions in Mexico City.
This exciting festival features both big names and up-and-coming artists, particularly in the rock and alternative music scenes. Still not sold? Past headliners have included Pixies, The Strokes, The Killers, Foo Fighters, The Strokes, My Chemical Romance, Arctic Monkeys and Paramore!
If you want to break up all the sightseeing with an unforgettable experience, then this Mexican festival is one for the books. Organizers focus on giving bands that don't get to play in Mexico often a chance to perform, standing out from other local festivals.
3. Experience Day of the Dead in the Main Square
Would a trip to Mexico even be complete without taking part in the macabre fun that is one of Mexico City's top attractions, the annual Day of the Dead celebration? We think not.
The Day of the Dead holiday, or Día de Muertos, long a part of Catholic and Mexican historical mysticism, falls on Nov. 2, when it's believed dead souls return to the living world.
Locals commemorate their deceased loved ones every year during Mexico City’s Day of the Dead festivity in the town's main square, the Zócalo, usually starting on Oct. 28 and lasting almost a full week.
Modern Day of the Dead celebrations in the Zócalo breathe new life into this age-old tradition with lots of traditional food, fireworks, lit candles, flowers, face paint & costumes and colorful animal & skull decorations.
Travel tip: Visiting outside of the Day of the Dead celebrations? The Zócalo has a long history as an Aztec gathering place from before the colonial period. The architectural wonders alone make strolling through the main square one of the top things to do in Mexico City!
4. Discover the Ancient Tales of Templo Mayor
A short distance to the northeast from the town square is one of the most historic and marvelous travel attractions in all of Mexico City, the famous Templo Mayor!
The Templo Mayor, the main temple of the Mexica people built in the 14th–15th centuries and mostly destroyed by the Spanish in the 16th century, was discovered & excavated throughout the 20th century and converted into a museum site in 1987.
Today, the Templo Mayor Museum is one of Mexico City's finest cultural destinations, where you can learn about the region's pre-Hispanic history. Eight exhibition halls house the archaeological findings of the Templo Mayor adjacent to parts of the original outdoor site.
Travel tip: Set a day aside for all of Mexico City's best museums, like Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacan and the Palace of the Fine Arts in the city center! With so many astonishing cultural sites at every corner, visiting museums is one of the best things to do in Mexico City!
5. Get Lost in the Historic Xochimilco Canals
As part of the UNESCO listing with the city center, Mexico City's famous Xochimilco borough is pretty special. Boasting nature and tradition, you can glimpse local life as you cruise down its beautiful canals.
Located to the southeast of Mexico City's center, Xochimilco was its own town since before the precolonial period, amalgamating into Mexico City as a borough in 1928; but to this day, it prides itself on its own unique culture and history.
Known for its lacustrine landscape, you can take a colorful tour in Xochimilco on Mexican-style gondolas called trajineras. As soon as you get to the canals, you'll discover the sounds of marimbas & mariachi bands and vendors selling delectable local cuisine.
This once-in-a-lifetime experience makes visiting Xochimilco one of the best things to do in Mexico City. Soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the ride and snap plenty of photos! (Xochimilco is pronounced Sow-chee-meel-kow, by the way.)
6. Go Shopping at La Ciudadela Artisan Market
Shop 'til you drop at this sprightly shopping market. If you're figuring out what to buy in Mexico from your trip, La Ciudadela offers a wide range of locally made handicrafts and folk art, from textiles and jewelry to ceramics and toys.
Established in the buildup to the 1968 Summer Olympics to help promote Mexican culture, Mercado de Artesanías La Cuidadela is the most popular shopping market in Mexico City, located in the southwest corner of the city center and featuring over 350 local vendors.
If you're on the hunt for souvenirs, don't miss one of the best tourist attractions in Mexico City, the artisanal shops in La Ciudadela. Keep an eye out for wooden jaguar heads, brightly colored skulls, Huichol-decorated jugs, palm-woven baskets, unique pots & plates and a lot more.
Discover All the Best Attractions in Mexico City When you Plan Your Next Trip
There are plenty of unique adventures and cool things to do in Mexico City. Whether you're looking to explore the colorful streets of Roma, the art-deco architecture of Condesa or the artsy San Rafael, Mexico City has it all!
You could get lost in the city on your own or look into some of the best Mexico City tours for a curated experience of the top tourist attractions and historical sites. From a tequila-tasting tour to a tour of the Tolantongo Caves, Mexico City is filled with exciting guided adventures.
If you're figuring out how to plan a trip with friends to Mexico City, you could also use a trip planner like Pilot. Designed for social trip planning, Pilot features AI tools to help you find the best things to do in Mexico City and easily create & share travel itineraries with your crew.