During our RV trip across Mexico, we spent two weeks visiting Mexico City and the surrounding area, exploring and experiencing all we could. Mexico City is the fifth largest city in the world and has a ton to offer in terms of culture, art, history, food, and arts.
Given the city’s size and diversity, there is no way to see or do it all in a short trip. However, if you’re visiting Mexico City for the first time, this beginner’s travel guide shares some of the best things to do, see, and eat.
Visit the Templo Mayor in the Zocalo
In Mexico, the Zocalo is the main plaza or square in the center of town. Mexico City’s Zocalo is a popular destination because its home to the Templo Mayor, an Aztec Temple that dates back to the 14th century and was only recently discovered in the 1970s when an electrical company found a monolith underground. After the Spanish colonized Mexico, the Templo Mayor was destroyed and the Aztecs were forced to build a church in the same location from the remnants of their sacred temple.
You can view some of the ruins of this temple at the Museum of the Templo Mayor. It was $70 pesos per person to enter in 2019. The museum gave great information about the history of the Aztecs including certain religious and cultural practices.
They explained some of the rituals that were likely performed and had a massive museum with artifacts. If you prefer to simply stop and admire the museum there is a platform that overlooks some of the ruins for free. Although the museum is well worth the low entrance fee.
Walk the historic center
The historic center of Mexico City is absolutely beautiful. It’s home to several museums as well as beautiful buildings including the Palacio Postal and Palacio de Bellas Artes. The Post office is by far the grandest post office we’ve ever been in. It’s adorned with marble, gold, and gorgeous mid-century modern architecture.
The Palacio de Bellas Artes is Mexico City’s Theatre which often offers ballets, symphonies, and plays. Even if you don’t attend, stop by to admire the gorgeous architecture and pop inside to see the very grand interior.
Also, stop by the Plaza de la Constitución which is where the opening scene of James Bond Spectare was filmed. In the center of the Plaza, you will find the National Palace which is the Federal building for Mexico City. You can enter with your passport, and admire one of Diego Rivera’s murals.
Take some time to walk the streets. It seems every calle or avenida has a unique building filled with character. Lots of buildings are adorned with ornate Spanish tiles, including the famous tiled house, or La Casa de Azulejos.
Visit the Teotihuacan Pyramids
The Teotihuacan Pyramids are located about 45 minutes to an hour north of Mexico City in the city of San Juan Teotihuacan. And are absolutely worth a day’s visit. Our RV was parked in this city, so we were lucky enough to get to explore the ancient pyramids.
These pyramids belong to an unknown civilization by the Aztecs that date as far back as 300 BC. If you’re planning a trip here, make sure to read our guide to help you prepare. It’s 100% worth a visit and is a must in our Mexico City travel guide.
Mexico city Xochimilco
Xochimilco is a UNESCO World Heritage site about 45 minutes south of Mexico City. It’s home to a series of canals and manmade islands that date back thousands of years. They were originally created by the Aztecs for growing crops. Today they are a popular activity for tourists and a must-do activity when visiting Mexico City.
You can take a leisurely boat ride through the canals. Or take an eco-tour as we did with De La Chinampas. We thoroughly enjoyed getting to learn about the history of this area and the importance the chinampas play in supporting Mexico City’s ecosystem.
Eat delicious food
There is no shortage of delicious food in Mexico City and the food scene is extremely diverse. You can have the most incredible taco for $1 to $2. Or dine at a world-famous restaurant eating food from one of the best chefs in the world. Below is a list of several restaurants that we dined at or came highly recommended.
Mexico City restaurants
- Pujol – The most famous restaurant in all of Mexico City. If you want to dine here make reservations the minute you book your flight. Or book your spot and then reserve your flights to Mexico City.
- Amaya – Upscale Mexican cuisine by the chef. We dined here and everything we ate was absolutely delicious. Reservations are highly recommended.
- Rosetta – One of Mexico City’s finer dining establishments in the Roma neighborhood.
- Panaderia Rosetta – Freshly baked bread each day from various types of flour. They also have incredible pastries, a sit-down breakfast, and lunch options. Don’t pass up the most amazing doughnut called Berli.
- Contramar – a famous seafood spot to enjoy incredibly fresh seafood in the Roma neighborhood.
- El Moro – famous for its churros con chocolate, it’s a deserved stop with several locations for you to stop in and enjoy a sweet treat.
- Máximo Bistrot – We were told by several people that this is currently Mexico City’s best restaurant. It has been voted in the top 50 best restaurants in Latin America. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to dine here because they were booked. Make reservations well in advance if you want to dine here.
- Dr. Pizza – if you’re looking for something other than Mexican food, Dr. Pizza in the Juarez neighborhood is worth a stop. It is open on Mondays (a notoriously sleepy day for restaurants in Mexico City). They had the best cocktail we’ve had in our entire 2 months in Mexico so far!
- Tacos! Who doesn’t love a good taco? Tacos are eaten at night as a late-night treat or meal before you go out on the town. Tons of stalls will pop up on the street once it gets dark. You can also visit an establishment with a permanent location. We heard Exquisitos Tacos de Mixiotes, Tacos Los Juanes, and Tacos el Huequito are good. Tacos al pastor is famous here, but you can’t go wrong with any type of taco.
Rather than navigate the food culture on your own, take a food tour. We explored the Roma neighborhood on a walking food tour with Secret Food Tours. Where we got a great taste for the food culture of Mexico and Mexico City. If you’re interested in taking your own food tour, use code 25LIZ to get 25% off. No matter where you eat, or how you choose to explore the food scene, you really can’t go wrong here.
Visit a museum
Mexico City has more museums than any other capital city in the world, over 150 to be exact. The most famous museums to visit are the Frida Kahlo Museum which is located in her residence. While we were unable to visit this trip, is high on our suggested stops based on recommendations from others. The Anthropology Museum also came highly recommended.
If you’re a history buff or simply enjoy learning about the history of Latin American ancient civilizations this museum is worth a stop. Plan to spend a significant amount of time here. I’ve heard it’s massive.
There are tons of other incredible places to explore, wonderful food to try, and awesome sights to experience. But hopefully, this Mexico City travel guide will be helpful in planning your first trip to CDMX. If you visit any of the suggestions in this guide we’d love to hear about them in the comment section below.