Things to see in Mexico City

Tourist offices

Mexico City Tourist Information

Address: Plaza de la Solidaridad Juárez Centro, Condesa, Mexico City, Mexico
www.mexicocity.gob.mx/index.php?idioma=en#

The government-run tourist information office is in the trendy Condesa area. There is plenty of information on places to visit and how to book tours and hotels. There are also some decent maps and basic travel information on hand to take with you.


Bosque de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Park)

Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico City's largest park, is encircled by a huge centuries-old forest and contains lakes, the presidential residences, several of the city's finest museums, an amusement park and a zoo. Legend has it the wood served as a refuge for Toltec and Aztec kings during times of trouble. On Chapultepec Hill is the Castillo de Chapultepec, which was built in 1785 for the Spanish viceroys and used as a residence for Mexico's presidents until 1940. It is the home of the Museo Nacional de Historia (National History Museum). A miniature train climbs the hill from inside the entrance to Chapultepec Park. Today the park attracts thousands of visitors, especially on Sundays when families come to relax and picnic. Attractions are split into a trio of distinct areas with the primera sección (first section), on Paseo de la Reforma; the segunda sección (second section) occupied by La Feria (Amusement Park), and the tercera sección (third section) by Atlantis, a marine park with dolphin and seal shows and an aquarium.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 0500-1700
Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: No
Address: Paseo de la Reforma, Chapultepec, Mexico City, Mexico
Centro Histórico (Historic Centre) and Zócalo

Officially known as the Plaza de la Constitución, the Zócalo is Mexico's political, religious and geographical core. It is animated, crowded and alive during daylight hours, yet eerily quiet after dark. The Zócalo is the venue of choice for a wide range of events, including official ceremonies, city celebrations, demonstrations, rallies and impromptu performances. Twice-daily, a ceremonial flag raising and lowering (at 0600 and 1800) are staged with clock-setting punctuality. On the north side of the Zócalo is the Catedral Metropolitana. Built in 1573, consecrated in 1667, and completed in 1813 in a baroque style known as churrigueresque, it is the largest and oldest cathedral in Latin America. Next to the cathedral, the ruins of the Templo Mayor of Aztec Tenochtitlán gather crowds of onlookers on a daily basis. On the east side of the Zócalo is the Palacio Nacional, built on the site of an Aztec palace, while a few blocks west is the early 20th-century Museo Nacional de Arte, a fine Italian Renaissance style palace which houses an exhaustive collection of Mexican art from every school and style.

Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: Yes
Address: Plaza de la Constitución, Mexico City, Mexico
Coyoacán

Now absorbed by Mexico City, the suburb of Coyoacán was once a city in its own right. It became the first capital of New Spain as Cortés designated it the main camp from which he launched his attack on Tenochtitlán. Tranquil tree-lined avenues link the handsome colonial-era buildings and strings of craft stalls. Jugglers, street musicians and mime artists converge on the central squares of Plaza Hidalgo and Jardín del Centenario at weekends and lend a bohemian vibe. Artist Frida Kahlo was born in Coyacán in 1907 and the Museo Casa de Frida Kahlo, Londres 247 (corner of Allende), occupies her family home. Kahlo and her husband, the revolutionary muralist Diego Rivera, lived here from 1929 and formed part of Mexico City's glamorous, leftist, 1930s intellectual set. Today the house is full of mementoes from this era with two rooms preserved as lived in and the rest crammed with paintings by both artists. A small collection of folk art - a passion of Kahlo's - includes a number of regional costumes worn by the artist, who continued to live in the property until her death.

Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: No
Address: Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico
La Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

In the northern suburbs of Mexico City, the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, often known as La Villa de Guadalupe, is the holiest shrine in the country. It is built on the site where, in 1531, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared three times in the guise of an Indian princess to Indian Juan Diego, leaving her image miraculously emblazoned on his cloak. The original basilica was built in 1709. When a large crack appeared and it began to sink into the swampy subsoil, a new basilica was constructed in the same plaza and consecrated in 1976. Juan Diego's cloak has been preserved and hangs behind the main altar. Throughout the year, pilgrims come from all over Mexico to visit. For the Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Patron Saint's Day), on 12 December, millions throng to pray and give thanks to the dark-skinned virgin. Some worshippers hobble on their knees to the church, while others dance their prayers in traditional Indian costumes with feather head-dresses and skirts in a festive atmosphere.

Opening Times: Daily 0800-2300 (basilica); Tue-Sun 1000-1800 (museum).
Admission Fees: Yes (except for Sundays).
Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No
Address: Plaza de las Américas 1, La Villa De Guadalupe, Mexico City, Mexico
Telephone: +52 55 5118 0500.
Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Anthropology Museum)

Arguably Mexico's City's finest museum, the Museo Nacional de Antropología is also one of the best of its kind in the world. Huge collections span vast themes in a giant building centred on an expansive patio. Though housed in an extension of Chapultepec Park, it can take days to fully explore. Some of the most fascinating exhibits are the famous Aztec 'sun' (or 'calendar') stones, the giant stone Olmec heads from Tabasco and a replica of a Mayan tomb from Palenque. Daily performances staged outside of the museum's main entrance are publicised by voladores (fliers) - most re-enact ancient ceremonies in colourful, traditional costumes and perform daring aerial acrobatics – known as dances – while suspended upside down from the top of a 30 meter (99 ft.) pole.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 0900-1900.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No
Address: Paseo de la Reforma (north of Bosque de Chapultepec), Mexico City, Mexico
Telephone: +52 55 4040 5300.
Museo Soumaya

Museo Soumaya showcases the private art collection of the world’s richest man: multi-billionaire Carlos Slim.

Named after his deceased wife, the striking, cloud-shaped gallery boasts more than 66,000 pieces, worth more than £435 million, including Rodin’sTheThinkerand works by Renior, Van Gogh and Matisse. The jaw-dropping collection is the result of many years of passionate accumulation.

It also includes the world’s largest collection of pre-Hispanic and colonial coins, plus a vast collection of letters and historical documents.

The numerous temporary and permanent exhibitions are split between two separate sites: Plaza Loreto was the original building in the south-west, before the Plaza Carso building was later added closer to the city centre to house the main collection.

Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No
Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts)

At the eastern end of the Alameda, the Palacio de Bellas Artes is housed in a sumptuous, white-marble concert hall of considerable grandeur. Containing a museum and theatre within its art deco interior, the building was built to mark the 1910 centennial celebration of Mexican independence. A fine collection of old and contemporary paintings, sculptures and handicrafts is housed on the second and third floors including powerful works by the great Mexican muralists Diego Rivera, Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Rufino Tamayo. Operas and orchestral concerts are frequently performed in the theatre where a glass curtain boasts a Tiffany design.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 1000-1800 (museum).
Admission Fees: Yes (except for Sundays).
Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No
Address: Avenida Juárez, corner of Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas, Mexico City, Mexico
Telephone: +52 55 5512 2593.
Palacio Nacional (Presidential Palace) and the Rivera murals

Housing the Federal Treasury, the National Archives and, until recent years, the offices of the President of Mexico, the Palacio Nacional occupies the whole eastern side of the Zócalo. Colourful murals by Diego Rivera adorn a lavish interior with the México a Través de los Siglos (Mexico Through the Centuries) mural a glorious highlight, depicting every major event and personality of Mexican history, from Cortés' conquest of the Aztecs to the Mexican Revolution.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 0900-1700.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: Yes
Address: Plaza de la Constitución, Mexico City, Mexico
Telephone: +52 55 3688 1255.
Paseo de la Reforma

Dubbed the Champs Elysées because of its Parisian-style architectural influences, the Paseo de la Reforma is Mexico City's main boulevard and most prestigious address. Running from Alameda to Chapultepec Park, it is lined with shops, offices, hotels, restaurants and some modern skyscrapers that are home to multinational corporations, financial institutions and foreign embassies. Monuments, fountains and statues of Mexican heroes also hem the route, built as a direct path for the Emperor Maximilian between the Centro Histórico and his palace in Chapultepec Park. Particularly worthy of note is Monumento a la Independencia (Monument to Independence), or Angelito as it is affectionately known, a gilded statue of a winged Victory set atop a 46m-high (150ft) column. In 1957, the statue toppled to the ground in an earthquake, but was completely restored. Displayed inside the monument is the skull of Hidalgo, the executed leader of a group of rebels who rose against the Spanish in October 1810 (open daily 0900-1700, free).

Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: No
Address: Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City, Mexico
Templo Mayor (Main Temple)

The ruins of the Templo Mayor are one of the best attractions in Mexico City. Rediscovered in 1978 while telephone cables were being laid in the area, the temple was first constructed by the Aztecs in 1325. There are actually seven temples, one built on top of the other. Each time one was completed a new temple was immediately started, using the prior one as a base to showcase the increasing importance of the city. Museo del Templo Mayor, an excellent museum within the Templo Mayor site, displays various artefacts found in the main pyramid of Aztec Tenochtitlán.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 0900-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: Yes
Address: Plaza de la Constitución, Mexico City, Mexico
Telephone: +52 55 4040 5600.
Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.