Things to Do in Central Mexico
Known as the City of the Gods, Teotihuacán was the metropolis of a mysterious Mesoamerican civilization that reached its zenith around AD 100. Once the largest city in the region but abandoned centuries before the arrival of the Aztecs, Teotihuacán boasts towering pyramids and stone temples with detailed statues and intricate murals.
With its brightly paintedtrajineras (flat-bottomed boats), traditionalchinampas (floating gardens), and network of flower-perfumed canals, Xochimilco—the “Flower Garden”—is the kind of place that will have you reaching for your camera at every turn.
Known as the Blue House (La Casa Azul) for its bold blue façade, the Frida Kahlo Museum (Museo Frida Kahlo) was the birthplace and childhood home of the well-known Mexican artist. Inside, the fascinating collection of personal items, furnishings, sketches, and paintings offer insight into both the life and art of Frida Kahlo.
Among the most visited Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world, the Shrine of Guadalupe atop Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City honors the legendary 16th-century appearance of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego, a local peasant. The shrine, also known as the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), is devoted to the patron saint of Mexico.
Coyoacán, one of Mexico City’s oldest districts, is alive with color and culture. Centered around twin plazas perfect for people watching—Plaza Hidalgo and Jardín Centenario—Coyoacán is characterized by museums, quaint cobblestone streets, and roadside churro vendors.
Considered one of the world’s most comprehensive natural history museums, the National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropología) is Mexico City’s most visited museum. Its collection includes notable historical items such as the Aztec Stone of the Sun, the giant carved heads of the Olmec people, and the Aztec Xochipilli statue.
Take on roller coasters, river rapids, and laser tag at Six Flags Mexico—the only Six Flags theme park in Latin America. Located at the southern edge of Mexico City, this theme park brings to life comic book characters and cartoons via all manner of family-friendly attractions, spread across seven areas, including DC Super Heroes.
The only palace on the continent, Chapultepec Castle sits more than 7,000 feet (2,133 meters) above sea level in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park. It has housed royalty, served as a military academy, and was even an observatory. In 1996, the castle was transformed into Capulet Mansion for the movieWilliam Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Built on the site of the ancient Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, the Centro Histórico is both the historical heart and the modern epicenter of Mexico City. Centered on the grand Zócalo—Plaza de la Constitución—the sprawling district is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is full of historic monuments, museums, parks, and hotels.
Visible on the horizon from Mexico City, the dormant Iztaccíhuatl volcano is Mexico’s third-highest peak and a popular choice for hiking excursions. Iztaccíhuatl is named for its resemblance to a sleeping woman, and scaling the 17,159-foot-high (5,230-meter-high) summit offers impressive views of Popocatépetl and the Valley of Mexico.
More Things to Do in Central Mexico
Mexico City’s Plaza de la Constitución, better known as the Zocalo, is the cultural and historic heart of the city. This large open-air square in the Centro Historico is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the city's top attractions, including Metropolitan Cathedral, National Palace, and Great Temple archaeological site and museum.
The village of San Andrés Mixquic, on the outskirts of Mexico City, is one of the best places in Mexico to celebrate the Day of the Dead. Every year in late October and early November, travelers make the long journey from Mexico City to the rolling hills of an otherwise quiet countryside to experience this truly unique cultural festival.
As Mexico City’s major cultural center, the Palace of Fine Arts hosts art exhibitions and a range of live events, including music, dance, theater, and opera. The building is a mix of art nouveau, art deco, and baroque architectural styles referred to as Porfiriano, after Mexican President Porfirio Diaz who commissioned the project.
The Plaza Carso branch of Mexico City's Soumaya Museum houses the eclectic $700 million private art collection of one of the world’s wealthiest men. Its exhibitions of European masters and Mexican art are on par with the world’s top museums, while the towering building itself is a shimmering work of art on the Mexico City skyline.
Historic Plaza Garibaldi is the go-to spot for live local music in Mexico City. To get the full experience, cozy up to the bar at one of the square's numerous tequila joints, watch a folkloric show, or settle in to an outdoor table and enjoy the hustle of urban life as mariachi bands weave among patrons while playing traditional tunes.
Leafy pedestrian walkways, historical monuments, and numerous open-air art and photography exhibitions characterize Paseo de la Reforma, one of Mexico City’s busiest thoroughfares which splices Chapultepec Park and connects it with the historic center. Lined by towering skyscrapers and luxury hotels, Paseo de la Reforma is also home to Mexico City landmarks like the Ángel de la Independencia.
Soccer—orfútbol as it’s called in Spanish—is an integral part of Mexican culture. For the country’s people, Azteca Stadium (Estadio Azteca), which is the largest stadium in Mexico, is the heart of the sport. Home to the professional soccer team Club América and the Mexican national team, the 84,000-seat stadium is the first venue to host two FIFA World Cup finals, and it will welcome a third in 2026.
The National Palace (Palacio Nacional) has served as the seat of the Mexican federal government since the age of the Aztecs. Although it’s a working building with many offices that are off limits to visitors, there’s still plenty to explore and admire, including Diego Rivera’s famous panoramic mural, The History of Mexico.
Just north of Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park (Bosque de Chapultepec), the upscale district of Polanco is home to some of the country’s wealthiest families. In addition to high-end real estate, the city’s most luxurious hotels and priciest restaurants line the streets of the district’s five neighborhoods. At the center of it all is the welcoming green space of Parque Lincoln.
Chapultepec Park, named for the Aztec word chapoltepec (at the grasshopper’s hill), is one of the world's largest city parks. The green space spans 1,695 acres (686 hectares) and is dissected by walking paths connecting quiet ponds, monumental buildings, and museums, including the Museum of Anthropology and the Rufino Tamayo Museum.
Once the largest lucha libre venue in Mexico, Arena Mexico remains one of the most atmospheric places to attend a Mexican wrestling spectacular. Three nights a week, watch the goodies face off against the baddies during this sporting-slash-entertainment event unique to Mexico, cheer for your masked luchador of choice, and suspend disbelief as the wrestlers work through a series of acrobatic bouts at Arena Mexico.
The Diego Rivera Mural Museum (Museo Mural Diego Rivera) houses Mexico’s most famous work of art by perhaps the nation’s most beloved artist. Rivera painted Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central in 1947, and the mural depicts famous people and events in Mexico’s history, passing through downtown Mexico City’s Alameda Central park.
The largest city in the state of the same name, Querétaro is a charming and often overlooked colonial city that’s easy to access from the Mexican capital. Ideal for visitors looking to escape the crowds, once there you can explore the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; admire the 18th-century Querétaro Aqueduct; and browse for arts and crafts.
Built on Aztec temple ruins, no building better exemplifies the history of Mexico City than the Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana). The vast stone edifice blends architectural styles and building innovations across four centuries. Highlights include the gilded Altar of Forgiveness and the painted canvases lining the sacristy.
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