WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Ride a bike: The city has more than 150 kilometers, or 90 miles, of bike lanes, and it’s building more. Its bike share program, Ecobici, makes cycling an easy way to see and get around, and it’s actually often quicker than sitting in traffic. But if the enormity of the city makes biking daunting, try one of the many weekly group rides—Bicitekas hosts one every Wednesday at 9pm—or a guided bike tour.
Museo Frida Kahlo: This small museum is housed in Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s lifelong home, known as the Blue House. It doesn’t have a large collection of Kahlo’s own artwork but rather offers an intimate look at Kahlo’s life through pieces of her home. Given that Kahlo is one of Mexico’s greatest artists, it is busy every day, year-round, so you’ll want to buy tickets in advance to avoid standing in line. The home-turned-museum is in beautiful Coyoacán, where a busy historic square and market are worth the trip alone. While you’re there, stop by the Museo Casa de León Trotsky.
Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe: Considered one of the most important sites for Mexican Catholics, la Basilica is a national shrine where it is believed that the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Juan Diego. The site is made up of several buildings, the most important being the Old Basílica, completed in 1709, and the Modern Basílica, built in the 1970s. Since it’s built on a hill, it offers one of the best views of Mexico City.
Palacio de Bellas Artes and Centro Historico: Palacio de Bellas Artes is a cultural center in the historic area of Mexico City. It’s well-known for its architecture, as well as the murals inside, including those by Rufino Tamayo and Diego Rivera. The place also holds regular exhibitions and events. On the top floor is the Museum of Architecture. Other sites in the historic center include the Zocalo, where a major Aztec temple was recently discovered, Alameda Park, la Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México, Latin America’s oldest and largest cathedral, and a handful of museums.
Bosque de Chapultepec: Despite being busy and congested, Mexico City has no lack of green space. Chapultepec Park is one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere, and its central location offers a respite from the grind of city life. The park is divided into three sections, and inside there’s a zoo, an auditorium for performances, and not-to-be-missed museums, including the Museum of Anthropology and Rufino Tamayo Museum. There’s even a castle-turned-museum inside the park that offers an amazing view.
Kiosco Morisco in Santa María la Ribera: Santa María la Ribera, one of Mexico City’s first planned neighborhood, is now a quiet, traditional working-class neighborhood near Centro Historico. It’s worth the visit alone for the Kiosco Morisco, a Moorish-style kiosk in the neighborhood’s main public square where friends and families go walk, talk, eat a snack, or listen to music. The kiosk has a cool history: It was designed for the 1884 World’s Fair by Mexican engineer José Ramón Ibarrola and later brought to Santa María la Ribera. Other neighborhood gems include Biblioteca Vasconcelos, an architecturally-unique public library near Metro Buenavista that’s a great place to pass the time.
Xochimilco: While technically one of Mexico City’s 16 boroughs, Xochimilco feels like its own city (it actually used to be). The district is a popular area for tourism because of its famous trajineras, colorful gondola-like boats, that ride around the canals. On a trajinera ride, you’ll be greeted by other boats selling food and drinks or playing music. There’s also a popular market here.