Despite being the second largest on the planet, Mexico City is very easy to navigate when it comes to sightseeing. Home to a unique selection of Aztec, colonial and modern art and architecture it never fails to impress.
The centre of the old city or the Centro Historico was built on the ruins of the old Aztec capital and is littered with sights of interest all of which surround the Zocalo – the city’s principal square. The Palacio Nacional, the Catedral Metropolitana, and the Museo del Templo Mayor, three of the most visited attractions in the city, flank the square and are within minutes walking distance of each other. Slightly further afield you will find the Palacio de Bellas Artes. And as well as these you will come across a host of fascinating museums, cathedral and public buildings, many of which have remained unchanged since colonial times.
Just one mile north of the Zoclao you will find the Tlatelolco Reforma and the Bosque de Chapultepec or Chapultepec Park. The former is home to the Plaza of the Three Cultures while the latter is the largest park in the city and is home to the world famous Museo Nacional de Antropologia, one attraction which you cannot afford to miss while in Mexico City. It also houses the beautiful Chapultepec Castle where the emperor once resided.
Finally, for those of you who haven’t found enough to check out in the heart of the city, you need to journey about ten kilometres south of the city to Coyoacan and San Angel. Here you will find wonderful colonial buildings housing a selection of museums as well as numerous galleries and shops. A good place to get away from the main hustle and bustle of the inner city and yet it’s only a bus or taxi ride away.
Chapultepec Park, Reforma and Gandhi, Mexico City, Mexico
Renowned the world over, this museum houses some the most fascinating collections of Mexico’s past there is and is regarded as one of the top ten museums on the planet. After just five minutes in the place you will see why. Burgled in 1985, many of the most prized possessions have been recovered. Among the most popular exhibits are the giant stone heads from the jungles of Tabasco, an Aztec calendar stone and the model of Tenochtitlan which you should see before visiting the actual site. Open between 9.00am and 7.00pm from Tuesday to Saturday and from 10.00am until 6.00pm on Sundays and holidays.
Avenue Hidalgo 1, Co. Centro, Mexico City, Mexico
Home to the country’s finest art collection, the building itself is equally impressive. Built at the beginning of the nineteenth century by Italian architect, Adamo Boari, it consists entirely of white marble and houses some amazing murals by Riviera, Orozco and Tamayo. As well as this you can see the glass Tiffany curtain which unveils performances of the Ballet Folklorico. A fascinating attraction which should not be missed.
Corner of Madero & Lazaro, Cardenas, Mexico City, Mexico
Open daily from 10.00am until midnight this Latin American answer to the Empire State Building is where you need to go to get the best views of the city and surrounding area. Forty-three stories high with an observation deck on the top floor, try to get there on a clear day as the smog in Mexico City is pretty atrocious. Admission is minimal too for those of you who are worried about your budget.
Plaza Hidalgo 1, Colonia Villa Guadalupe, Mexico City, Mexico
This is the holiest of all Mexican shrines and honours the national’s patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe. Legend tells us that she appeared to a local, Juan Diego, in 1531 and asked for a church to be built there. The original church was built in 1709 but being built on swampy ground it began to sink and a new basilica was built in 1976 by one Pedro Ramirez Vasquez, the same architect who was responsible for the Anthropological Museum. The old building still remains too.
, Mexico City, Mexico
Undoubtedly one of the highlights on a trip to Mexico City, this particular set of attractions date from between 500BC and 700AD. Also known as the City of the Gods, the complex is divided by a two-kilometre strip which is known as the Street of the Dead. Flanked by palaces, pyramids and temples, this is unlike anything you will have ever seen before. Part of a city which in its prime was the world’s sixth largest, only ten per cent of Teotihuacanos has yet been excavated, a statistic you will find hard to believe when you are there. Don’t forget the camera for this one.
, Mexico City, Mexico
The Zocalo is the plaza surrounded by the historic centre of downtown Mexico City and is the second largest of its kind, second only to the Red Square in Moscow. When you get the metro to Zocalo don’t miss the exhibition which displays what the plaza looked like during Aztec times right through to the last century. The area is only open to pedestrian traffic so you can stroll around without any hassle. While there you should also visit the Cathedral, the second largest in Latin America and the oldest edifice on the North American continent. This is open between 10.00am and 8.00pm and houses some amazing works of art and the largest organ in the world.
Seminaro 8, Zocalo, Mexico City, Mexico
Also located very near the Zocalo is the site of the Aztec Templo Mayor. Discovered by workmen in the late 1970s only the lower and internal parts now survive today but are extremely impressive nonetheless. The museum itself which was built on the site, houses all the artefacts found by the workers and displays include giant sculptures of ancient Aztec animals and icons of worship as well as the walls of several temples. Open between 9.00am and 6.00pm from Tuesday to Sunday and from 2.00pm until 6.00pm on Monday this is yet another site where you can step back in time without even leaving the modern city that far behind.
, Mexico City, Mexico
Located about fifteen miles south of the city centre these gardens are the last remaining piece of Lake Texcoco, the lake which once surrounded the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. While they’re probably not quite as impressive today as they were back then, they are still well worth a visit but if you’re hoping to get a seat on the boat forget it, particularly at weekends.
Azteca Stadium, Plaza Mexico & Fronton Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
The most popular sports in the city are soccer, jai alai which is the fastest ball game in the world with Basque origins and bullfighting. For soccer check out the Azteca Stadium which seats 100,000 and was the venue for the 1970 and 1986 World Cup competitions. For jai alai head to Fronton Mexico nightly, with the exception of Mondays and Fridays, at 6.00pm. Finally if you want to see some bullfighting visit Plaza Mexico, the world’s largest arena. The season runs from November to March but there are performances all year round on Sundays at 4.00pm and booking in advance is recommended.
, Mexico City, Mexico
If you’ve had enough of city life for a while Toluca is the perfect getaway. About an hour by bus from Mexico City this is the highest city in the country and is best known for its Friday market. Before you even get there, however, you will pass some breathtaking scenery along the way so keep your eyes open on the journey. Once you reach the market be prepared to haggle like you never have before. Local traders come from all around to play their home made wares so for those of you hoping to experience a little of the local customs and traditions, look no further. Buses leave regularly for Toluca from the city centre terminal.