Mexico City is a very under-rated destination.Its negatives are widely known, but are generally overstated: its many delightful attractions more than make up for any issues caused by traffic and smog, and despite what you may have heard, it's as safe as most big cities. The city's rich culture and fascinating history make it an excellent vacation spot. You'll find great food, world class museums, interesting archaeological sites, stunning architecture, ubiquitous art, gorgeous green spaces and varied cultural offerings.
Something for everyone
It is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with something for everyone: families with kids, gay travelers, foodies, art lovers, and history buffs will all find something to love in Mexico's capital.
Why go now?
Top restaurants: Check out 3 of the world's 50 best restaurants. Mexico City has always had a great food scene and the street food is just as worthy of mention as its fine dining establishments, but with three of the city's restaurants recognized among the world's top 50 should give you an extra push to go, should you need one.
Affordable destination: Mexico City has always been an affordable destination; you'll find great value at all price points, and with the favorable exchange rate at the moment, there's never been a better time to discover all that Mexico's capital has to offer.
But that's just the beginning! There are many more good reasons to plan your trip to Mexico City.
Mexico City is built on the ruins of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. and has been inhabited continuously since the 1300s. You'll find archaeological sites, impressive colonial art and architecture and modern life side-by-side, besides all the rich cultural traditions that you can experience.
Many, many Museums
Mexico City has more museums than any other city in the world. Ones you shouldn't miss include the National Anthropology Museum, and the National History Museum that is housed in a castle in the center of Chapultepec Park, as well as the Popular Art Museum and the National Art Museum, not to mention a plethora of other special interest museums for all ages and tastes. A few of the more eclectic ones include the Toy Museum,
Mexico City's nickname is the "City of Palaces" because it had so many lovely colonial era constructions, but you can also see interesting ancient architecture and mind-blowing modern edifices, like the Soumaya Museum, pictured here. To get a start exploring Mexico City's architecture, start with a walking tour of the historical center.
For those who are ready to explore beyond the city center, head to Santa Fe for the most interesting modern architecture, or head to the Casa Luis Barragán, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to see a wonderful example of modern architecture from 1948.
Did we mention the food?
Enjoy a tasting menu at one of the best restaurants in the world, or taste some of the best tacos in the world at a street stall, either way, you'll find Mexico City's food offerings to be fresh, flavorfull and diverse. You'll find delicious food at street stalls, casual eateries and gourmet restaurants - and it's not just Mexican, there is fabulous cuisine from around the world.
And while you're in Mexico City, you should check out some of the best restaurants in the world, three of which are right here. See our guide to fine dining in Mexico City.
If you want to sample some street food but feel intimidated and don't know what to order, take a street food tour so you can be guided by an expert local who will take you to the best stalls and tell you exactly what you're eating. Check out Eat Mexico for food tours.
Just walking around Mexico City you will come across art everywhere you go, from the murals that grace buidings, to statues in the parks and on city streets. There is also an abundance of galleries and art museums.
If you're interested in learning about Mexico's most famous artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, there are many places where you can do just that. See our Frida and Diego in Mexico City tour for some ideas.
Whether you want to barter for souvenirs in the market, pick up some interesting handicrafts from street sellers, or look for designer clothes and accessories, you can shop til you drop in Mexico City.
San Juan market has a great selection of foodstuffs, or head to Ciudadela for handicrafts and clothes. At the San Ángel market on Saturdays you'll find art and antiques along with a wide variety of knick-knacks.
For upscale shopping, head to the Colonia Polanco and take a stroll along Avenida Masaryk where you'll find exclusive designer boutiques such as Gucci, Cartier, Hermes, Tiffany. Or go to the mall in Santa Fe, Mexico City's most modern district.
World Heritage Sites
Four areas of Mexico City have been recognized by UNESCO as world heritage sites. The historical center of Mexico City and the Luis Barragan House and Studio, we've already mentioned, and two more: the canals and gardens of Xochimilco and the UNAM campus.
At Xochimilco you can enjoy the green areas but also learn a bit about Mexico's culture and history. Hire a trajinera to take you through the canals. Called chinampas, this was an innovative agricultural technique used by the Aztecs to turn swampy areas into arable land. Visit the floating gardens of Xochimilco.
The central campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico), more commonly referred to as UNAM. This campus was built between 1949 and 1952 by a team of more than 60 architects, engineers and artists. On your visit, don't miss artist Juan O'Gorman's mosaics on the library building, the UNAM Sculpture Garden and the botanical garden.
Climb the Pyramids
Mexico City is home to a few different archaeological sites. You can visit the main Aztec temple, Templo Mayor in the center of town, or take the metro to Tlatelolco, but for a truly impressive sight, head to Teotihuacan (25 miles north of Mexico City) where you can climb the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon for some spectacular views of the valley of Mexico.
Unique Cultural Experiences
The exuberant theatricality of Lucha Libre is an experience you won't soon forget. Get a glimpse at a long-standing Mexican tradition that is full of flamboyant personalities, colorful masks and skin-tight spandex at the Arena Mexico.
Some other ways to enjoy Mexican culture in Mexico City include going to Plaza Garibaldi to hear the mariachis, sampling tequila or mezcal at one of the many cantinas, or try pulque, a traditional fermented beverage.
What You Should Know
Here's what you should know:
Our Mexico City Travel Guide covers the basics.
Where to stay:
You'll find lots of options for accommodation. If you're looking to be pampered, try the Four Seasons Mexico City (check rates) or the St. Regis Mexico City (check rates). If you're on a budget, see our list of budget Mexico City hotels.
Wondering how you'll get around? The metro is convenient and economical, or take the Turibus for a better vantage point as you get around.
What to do:
The choices can be overwhelming, but you can't go wrong with the Top 10 Mexico City Sights to start.