Home to a plethora of museums, historical buildings, artwork, and street food coalesced within the boundaries of a modern city, Mexico City is a fantastic tourist destination. Although the city has received a lot of negative publicity due to the crime, traffic and corruption, it actually is not that different from any other large metros around the world. Being cautious about navigating the city in the same way one would do in Chicago, New York, or London should be enough to keep you safe. We ventured out to multiple areas in the city during our stay, even walked during the late hours with no trouble (and no apparent signs of crime) in the neighborhoods like Zona Rosa, Condesa, and Zocalo.
Having said all that, below is a list of places that a traveler interested in history, art, and cityscape should not miss –
1. Chapultepec Park
|Looking west from Angel de la Independencia|
A long walk to the Musee de la Antropology was a worthwhile one in the end. At ~MXN $65 per person for foreigners, you can easily spend 4-8 hours here immersing yourselves in the 22 permanent exhibits. All exhibits revolve around the evolution of the cultures in various parts of Mexico over the last few centuries and decades. With the deluge of information you’ll have to swim in, knowledge of Spanish would help since most of the explanations are not in English. Best strategy to cover everything yet retaining the knowledge gained would be to follow the numbers in the map. Feel free to take photos, but please do not run through the exhibits. Just pause and visualize for a few moments, and connect the dots in history from a third party perspective. This museum would easily influence a visitor to enhance their perception about history and culture.
|Temporary Exhibit for Luz|
If you want a quick bite, the restaurant at the ground floor is decently priced and has a wide menu with pretty tasty food. Service is slow, so go through the ordeal quickly lest you lose crucial time from the day.
If the other museums are open, it is a great idea to swing by the Musee de Modern Arts and on the other side of the park, the Museum of National History. These two are not close to the Musee de la Antropology but worth a quick look since you are already in this area. Also worth visiting is the Chapultepec Castle after a 20 minute hike up to the top of the hill.
Check out the Gallery for Museum of Anthropology
2. Zona Rosa
3. Centro Historico (Zocalo)
museums, cathedrals and other attractions. Plan to spend an entire day here to immerse into the culture and history of the wonderful country. Knowledge of Spanish is recommended. Below are some of the must visit POIs –
There are free tours in different languages. We overheard some of the descriptions of the guides and thought that if you have some background knowledge of the culture and have little bit of patience, you can understand decent amount of the stories from the murals.
– Plan on spending ~2 hours
– Entrance cost – Free
Possibly the most underrated of all the historic sites that contains a huge amount of art history. There are at least 100 murals in the inside walls of the building. Diego Rivera worked on these murals in the 1920’s. Thematically, these are about ancient culture, Spanish invasion, war of independence, communism, and some of the key events in the daily lives of the ancient and modern folk. For a traveler, looking to understand the history of the country through breathtaking display of art, this is a must visit.
– Plan on spending 1-2 Hours
– Entrance cost – Free
Located next to the Alameda Park, this museum is nestled under a beautiful building with a large colorful dome on top. The architecture and sculptures outside the building, along with the plaza in front makes it a place worthwhile to spend a quaint afternoon/evening at. Apart from people watching and architecture admiring, lazying around in this area seems to be a popular afternoon activity for locals.
This museum has an astonishing collection of murals and paintings from the Mexican revolution from around the country. But in my opinion, the best one is the “Man, Controller of the Universe” by Diego Rivera. This was the recreated mural of the original, later destroyed, “Man at the crossroads” in the Rockefeller center in midtown, NYC. We spent ~30 minutes adoring the beautiful painting. Along the three floors, there are numerous works by Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, Roberto Montenegro, Alfaro Siquiros, et al.
– Plan on spending 2-3 Hours
– Entrance Cost – MXN $60
Although not suitable for traveler having kids in the group, this is a unique museum located next to the Plaza Garibaldi. Should not take you more than 30-45 minutes to explore the museum, and they give out one free mezcal and tequila with each ticket purchase. Slightly overpriced, but very interesting to hear how each drinks are different and how they are made. Hard to get any museums of this sort in other parts of the world as the drinks Mezcal and Tequila are indigenous to Mexico.
In the restaurant downstairs, there are food and other cocktail/drinks options that are slightly overpriced. Overall, you can skip this if you do not have time. Only include if you are hitting Plaza Garibaldi in the evening and are in a mood to try out mezcals while listening to Mariachi bands.
– Plan on spending <1 Hour in the museum, but 1-2 Hours in the shop/restaurant
– Entrance Cost – MXN $60 (includes the museum, one mezcal and one tequila)
This is a perfect place to end your tiring day. This is a large square with shops and buildings all around. Mariachi bands, singers, and performers roam in this square performing acts all day (especially in the late afternoons). You can catch a glimpse of their acts, take photos, take a stroll around the marketplace, grab a quick bite of comida tipica, or even sit back and relax with some cerveza in your hand.
– Spend whatever amount of time you want