The Top 10 Sights in Mexico City

Aerial View Of Mexico City Cityscape

Jesse Kraft / EyeEm / Getty Images

Although Mexico City is renowned for its massive size and excessive pollution, crime and traffic, travelers who venture to the capital of Mexico will be rewarded with some impressive sights and sounds. As one of the largest cities in the world, there is an abundance of museums, archaeological sites, historical buildings and bustling markets to occupy a visitor for months on end. The choices can be overwhelming! To make the best use of your time, here are our top ten Mexico City sights to include in your visit.

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Plaza de la Constitución

Mexico City's Plaza de la Constitución with a large Mexico flag

TripSavvy / Angelina Pilarinos

Plaza de la Constitución, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

This is Mexico City's main square, located in the historic center. Its official name is Plaza de la Constitución, but it is usually referred to as el Zócalo. At 830 x 500 feet, it's one of the largest public squares in the world. The great expanse of paved space is decorated with a single huge Mexican flag in the center. This is the heart of the city, the site of events, festivals and protests, and a good place to start your explorations.

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Catedral Metropolitana

Catedral Metropolitana in mexico city

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

Address de la Constitución S/N, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Phone +52 55 4165 4052

The enormous cathedral on the North side of the Zócalo was built over a period of 250 years and has a mixture of architectural styles. Like many buildings in Mexico City’s historical center, it is slowly sinking into the ground. An extensive engineering project was undertaken in the 1990s to rescue the building, not to stop the sinking, but to ensure that the cathedral would sink uniformly. Take a tour to the bell tower (offered several times each day) to enjoy the view of the plaza and rooftops from above.

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Palacio Nacional

Exterior of the palacio national

TripSavvy / Jorge Castro

Address de la Constitución S/N, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06066 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Phone +52 55 5093 4900

The government building takes up the East side of the Zocalo and houses the federal treasury and national archives. The main attraction here is Diego Rivera's murals depicting thousands of years of Mexican history. 

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Templo Mayor

Templo Mayor with three people walking on a bridge

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

Seminario 8, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06060 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Phone +52 55 4040 5600

In 1978, electric company workers digging beside the cathedral unearthed a large round stone depicting the Aztec moon goddess Coyolxauqui, which spurred the excavation of this, the main Aztec temple, dedicated to Tlaloc, the god of rain and Huitzilopochtli, the god of war. In the museum, you can see the stone sculpture which instigated the archaeological project, as well as an interesting scale model of the city in ancient times and many artifacts found on the site.

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Palacio de Bellas Artes

Exterior of the Palacio de Bellas Artes

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

Av. Juárez S/N, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06050 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Phone +52 528 647 6500

Mexico City's grandiose Fine Arts Theater was planned to commemorate the centenary of Mexican independence in 1910 but was not completed until 1934. It contains murals by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Rufino Tamayo.

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Museo Nacional de Antropologia

Murals being restored in the Naitonal Athropology museum

TripSavvy / Jorge Castro

Av. Paseo de la Reforma s/n, Polanco, Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, Miguel Hidalgo, 11560 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Phone +52 55 5553 6266

Located in Chapultepec Park, the National Anthropology Museum contains the most impressive collection of Mesoamerican artifacts in the world. There is a hall dedicated to each of the cultural regions of Mesoamerica (was composed of part of Mexico and Central America) and the upstairs rooms have ethnological exhibits. You could spend a full day, but dedicate at least a few hours, and don’t miss the Aztec exhibit with the famous Sun Stone or “Aztec Calendar.”

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Museo Frida Kahlo

Mexico, Mexico City, Coyoacán. The Museo Frida Kahlo, a gallery of artwork by the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in the house where she was born and spent most of her life.
David Bank / Getty Images
Londres 247, Del Carmen, Coyoacán, 04100 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Phone +52 55 5554 5999

The Casa Azul or Blue House in Coyoacán was the family home of the famous artist and wife of painter Diego Rivera. They lived here during the last 14 years of her life. Their home, decorated with Mexican arts and crafts, allows visitors a glimpse into the private life of these eccentric artists.

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A colorful boat glides down the river in xochimilco

TripSavvy / Jorge Castro

16300, Av. 16 de Septiembre 3750, Xochimilco, San Lorenzo Atemoaya, Xochimilco, 16300 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

The chinampas or “floating gardens” of the Aztecs were an ingenious agricultural technique to create arable land on the lake. Now you can ride brightly colored boats along the canals and buy from vendors on barges or hire a mariachi band to serenade you.

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Elevated view of the ruins at Teotihuacan

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

55800 San Juan Teotihuacán, State of Mexico, Mexico
Phone +52 594 958 2081

Located about 25 miles outside of Mexico City, this archeological site is worth a day trip. The "city of the gods" was a huge urban center with a population of about 200,000, occupied from 200 B.C. to 800 A.D. At its peak, it was one of the largest cities in the world, and its influence was felt all over Mesoamerica. See the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, walk along the Avenue of the Dead, climb the Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon.

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Basílica de Guadalupe

Inside the Basillica de Guadalupe

TripSavvy / Jorge Castro

Fray Juan de Zumárraga No. 2, Villa Gustavo A. Madero, Gustavo A. Madero, 07050 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Phone +52 55 5118 0500

The hill where the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego is now one of the most visited religious sites in the world. Guadalupe is the patroness of Mexico and a very important national symbol. In the basilica, you can see the original mantle of Juan Diego with her miraculous image on it.

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Bonus: Chapultepec Park

Chapultepec Park with the mexico city skyline in the background

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

It's hard to narrow down the choices in such a large city that has so much to offer, but these are the most iconic attractions that a first-time visitor should see. If you've visited the other sites on this list and you still have some time, take a day to explore Chapultepec Park. You can tour the National History Museum that's located in the Chapultepec Castle, hire a pedal boat for a spin around the artificial lake, or visit the zoo.

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The Top 10 Sights in Mexico City