Things to do in Mexico City

Itineraries for Your Trip to Mexico City

Mexico City locals share their perfect days.
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1 Day in Mexico City for First Timers

Curated by Zoë SmithZoë Smith is a British travel writer, editor, and digital content creator who has lived, worked, and traveled over six continents, and is currently based near Nantes, France. She has written for Rough Guides, CNN, and Culture Trip, and is digital editor at FrenchEntrée.

When you have just one day to explore Mexico City, planning ahead is essential. Here’s how to fit must-see attractions such as the Zocalo into your schedule, alongside top tours, shopping streets, museums, and food experiences. See below for the best 24 hours in Mexico City.


Whether you choose to join a guided tour, explore independently on a hop-on hop-off bus tour, or hire a private guide, a sightseeing tour of Mexico City has to begin at the Zocalo. The gigantic central square is the navigational and historic heart of Mexico City, and it’s home to the magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace, famous for its Diego Rivera murals. Also around the square are ancient the Aztec ruins of Templo Mayor and the lavish Gran Hotel. A few blocks away, the Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes), set amid the beautiful Alameda Park, and the Casa de los Azulejos (House of Tiles) are both known for their architecture. Nearby, La Ciudadela artisan market is a great spot to purchase souvenirs, while San Juan Market is the place to feast on street food—time your visit for lunch.


Follow the grand Paseo de la Reforma, passing the Angel of Independence and the Torre Mayor skyscraper, and escape the city for the tranquil forests and lakes of Chapultepec Park. A tour of the hilltop Chapultepec Castle and the neighboring National Museum of Anthropology provides insight into Mexican history. Nearby, the bohemian district of La Condesa is the ideal spot for a sightseeing break, full of cafes, bars, and boutiques. Alternatively, hop on the metro and head to the Coyoacan neighborhood, where the star attraction is the Frida Kahlo Museum. A pilgrimage to the Blue House where the iconic Mexican artist once lived is a must for art lovers, but be sure to book skip-the-line tickets to avoid the often hour-long lines. 


Plaza de Garibaldi is the place to be after sunset, when mariachi bands take to the streets to entertain passers-by. Grab a seat at one of the bars around the square or stop at a traditional cantina, where you can fill up on local favorites of tacos or quesadillas. For a truly unforgettable evening, take a tour that includes another Mexican cultural tradition, lucha libre (masked wrestling), and experience the electric atmosphere of live match.

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