An interesting fact is that the formal name of its main square is Plaza de la Constitución (constitution Main Square) but is commonly known as Zócalo. One of the largest main squares in the world, it has the large Mexican flag right in the centre which is raised and lowered everyday. It is surrounded by important buildings such as the Main cathedral (the largest cathedral in Latin America) and the Government Palace. Every month there is something happening in the Zocalo, it hosts food, cultural and street market activities and festivals. I recommend visiting Zocalo after 5pm, have a nice drink from the terrace of a bar and at 5.30 or 6 you will see the ceremony to lower the flag.
- Admission: free
- Metro: Line 2 – Blue Line, station Zocalo.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
Located a few blocks from El Zocalo in a stunning Neoclassical building is the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Fine Art Palace). This place hosts all-important cultural events including opera, ballet and art exhibitions. Inside, its interior houses large murals made by great Mexican artists expressing their views and feelings about the Mexican Revolution period, one of the artist is the famous Diego Rivera.
- Admission: 60 Mexican Pesos for permanent exhibition and additional 60 Mexican pesos if you would like to visit the top floor that houses the temporary exhibitions.
- For more information in the exhibitions see their website: http://museopalaciodebellasartes.gob.mx/
- Metro: Line 2 (Blue Line) or Line 8 (Green Line), station Bellas Artes.
The main Temple is one of the amazing archaeological sites in Mexico. Within 5 minutes walking distance from El Zocalo, these ruins were dedicated as a shrine site for two Aztec gods: Huitzilopotchtli (god of war) and (Tatloc god of rain). You can visit the ruin up close, observe the beautiful bas-reliefs including a stone found in 2006 depicting the goddess earth, Tlaltecuhtli (photo below).
The museum has lots of artifacts that the archaeologists found in their excavations including jewellery, sculptures, minerals, animals and items related to human sacrifices. The excavations found the ruins partially destroyed because the Spanish in 1521 used the stones to build the main cathedral. Nevertheless, Templo Mayor does not disappoint and gives you a small introduction into the Aztec Empire, one of the largest Empires in Central America.
- Admission: 70 Mexican Pesos.
- Location: Between Seminario and Justo Sierra Streets.
- Metro: Line 2 (Blue Line), Zocalo station.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Roman Catholic Church that attracts millions of visitors each year from around the world, especially on its feast day of the 12th of December. The complex is large, it has several buildings including an old and new Basilica as well as a museum. The new Basilica houses the original tilma (or cloak) of Juan Diego with the image of Lady of Guadalupe.
The shrine was built near the hill of Tepeyac where Lady of Guadalupe is believed to have appeared to Juan Diego. Believers or non-believers, if you visit Mexico, I recommend to give a visit to this important shrine, the rich history of the place will amaze you and submerge you into a contagious calm and atmosphere of serenity.
- Admission: To visit The New Basilica and Virgen of Guadalupe painting is free. To visit the museum costs 5 Mexican Pesos per person, children under 12 years old are free. For more information in the Basilica and masses schedule, please see their website: basilica.mvx.mx
- Metro: Line 6 (Red Line), Villa Basilica station.
- How to get to Villa Basilica from train station: Exit at the station “la Vila-Basilica”. From this metro station, head west on Cuauhtemoc toward Calzada de Guadalupe. You will reach the basilica after 10-15 minutes walking all straight in the main avenue.
Xochimilco consists of several canals that in total measure ~ 170 km2. The canals can be visited by using colourful boats, locally known as “Trajineras” surrounded by artificial islands. In the boat, you can bring your own food and drink or purchase food from other boats selling various items.
- Admission: Boat rides hiring the whole boat start at 700 Mexican pesos per boat for 1 hour ride until 1,500 depending of the length of the ride. If you want a peaceful ambiance, it is best to go on a weekday, early around 10am. For a party atmosphere, it is best to go on a weekend. Avoid going in the evenings.
- Other information: Mariachi bands are 100 Mexican Pesos per song.
- Metro: Line 2 (Blue Line), Tasquena
- How to get to Xochimilco from Tasquena station: From Tasquena station, as you exit the platform head to the door to the “Tren Ligero”, follow the signs. If you do not have a re-loadable metro card, you can buy one in the self-service machines located on site. The card is 10 Mexican pesos and it can be used by multiple people and loaded with a minimum of 3 Mexican pesos in one of the booths located within the terminal. You will take the tren ligero to station Xochimilco, the last station in the line, the ride is 30 minutes. The embarcaderos are 10 minutes walk from this station, the area is relatively safe but avoid bringing any valuables.
Teotihuacán is one of the world’s most impressive archaeological Aztec site. The best time to visit is in the very early in the morning. Here you can visit different stunning Azteca temples: Temple of the Sun and the Moon as well as the temple of Quetzalcoatl decorated with several stone serpent heads.
- Admission: 70 Mexican pesos and guide starts from 500 Mexican Pesos approximately.
- Metro: Line 5 (Yellow Line), Autobuses del Norte
- How to get to Teotihuacan from Autobuses del Norte station: From Autobuses del Norte metro station, follow the signs to exit door and across the street is the actual bus station (Autobuses del Norte). Inside the bus station head to puerta 8, here you will find a booth selling tickets to “pyramides” or “zona arqueologica”. Just be clear and specify that you want to go to Teotihuacan pyramids because there is a bus that goes to a town with a similar same: San Jose de Teotihuacan. Bus departs every 20 minutes starting at 6am. Takes 1 hour, round ticket is 92 mexican pesos per person. Bus will drop you at puerta 1 at Teotihuacan pyramids.
Castillo de Chapultepec
Chapultepec castle houses a diverse collection of paintings, photographs, documents and artifacts through Mexico history, from colonial times to today’s date. The building was initially built in 1785 by Viceroy Bernardo de Galvez, however, over the years, the castle changed owners and it made changes and extensions.
One of the two important residents on this majestic castle were Mexican Emperor Maximilian I and his consort Empress Carlota. Inside the castle, visitors can observe the furniture and rooms that were used in that period including the marvellous window glass.
- Admission: 70 Mexican pesos per person. Castle opens Tuesday to Sundays from 9am to 5pm. Best to visit this on a weekday to avoid crowds. For more accurate information on prices, times and exhibitions please see this link: http://www.castillodechapultepec.inah.gob.mx/index_2.html
- Metro: Line 1 (Pink Line), Chapultepec station.
This is one of the largest museums I have ever visited in all my travels. One of the 10 most important museums in the world. The complex have many rooms divided by periods and pre-Hispanic cultures that lived throughout Mexico. Many artefacts found in many different archaeological sites have been brought to this museum to appreciate better their meaning, importance and of course to continue their preservation in a safe and controlled environment. It is an extraordinary journey to the past.
- Admission: 70 Mexican pesos per person. The museum opens Tuesday to Sundays from 9am to 7pm all year but it is closed on Mondays. Best to visit this on a weekday to avoid crowds. For more information visit its website: http://www.mna.inah.gob.mx/
- Metro: Line 1 ( Pink Line), Chapultec or Auditorio station and follow the signs from either station.
Frida Khalo museum
This museum offers insights into the fascinating life of one of the most important artists. The museum is full of colour and textiles as well as photographs and history about the way she used to live in that house. Although, her exquisite work became famous worldwide, Frida had to pass through tragedies and struggles during her life besides a controversial marriage with a famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera. All these interesting details can be found in the museum. I recommend to watch the movie Frida starring Salma Hayek before you go.
- Admission: 200 Mexican pesos per person for foreigners. I recommend to visit this museum on a weekday to avoid crowds and very long lines. Also, I do recommend purchasing your tickets online to save the time in the queue. For more information visit its website: https://www.boletosfridakahlo.org/
- Metro: Line 3 ( Light Green Line), Coyoacan station. This is the nearest station. From metro station to the museum, you can take a taxi or walk for 18 minutes. The museum is in a corner, blue house.
La casa de los azulejos
This lavishly building is a 16th century building, owned by a national chain Sanborn restaurant. Their interiors are decorated with tiles, a nice place to have breakfast or lunch and taste the Mexican food with a cold Mineral Lemonade. If you do not want to eat, you can see the shops and from the entrance appreciate the restaurant. Do not forget to go upstairs to have a panoramic view.
- Admission: free.
- Metro: Line 2 (Blue Line) or Line 8 (Green Line), station Bellas Artes and walk for a few minutes.
- Address: Av Francisco I. Madero 4.
Metro de Mexico MAP