To kick off 2019 and just after our two week visit in and out of Mexico City we’ve put together a list of what we think shouldn’t be missed on your next visit to this world class city. Now you may not have two weeks but with each place we’ll give a time estimate as well as neighborhood so even if you’re here for just a day you may be able to build your own itinerary in a neighborhood or two with some of these wonders. Also, if you’re on a travel budget in line with us, $50 USD a day for everything including our transportation, food and ticket prices than just about all of these should be easily accomplished (the pyramids are just an hour or so out of town so I would look at that as a day trip in itself). Lastly, if you made it here without a vehicle which I highly believe you don’t need or even need the hassle, public transportation is a breeze where you can access most of these great places for less than $.50 round trip with a little walking or Uber also is a budget alternative, not as cheap but still much more affordable than a taxi. Also as most places take card, we have came across times where internet service is down and pesos are the only way to go. You can draw pesos from a central bank with a debit card for a fee usually around $3.50 USD and get the most current exchange or change dollars into pesos (American dollars aren’t much use in Mexico City) at a Moneda Cambio or money exchange for a small fee as well (you may not get the best exchange here). Here to kick off:
- Castillo de Chapultepec –
Admission 75 pesos 3-4 hours
Palanco Train Depot(No water is allowed in this Museo and they have monitored day lockers with a lock for 10 pesos before entering}
For a rich history from early Spanish colonialism up until the early 21st century this museum is filled. Not just what it holds and it’s location set the tone for this masterpiece. From about a kilometer march up a winding cobblestone entrance surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens on the castle side and a view across the city on the other. As you make it to the top and pass through it’s grand gates you arrive to another set of immaculate landscaping, master bricklaying and a few grand fountains continuing to breathe life into this stronghold still solid to this day. The museum is presented as a timeline. Wall sized murals and painting tell stories of glamor and hardship over the years. Jewelry of all kinds, clothing, original maps and documents sit on display as well as full size carriages, cannons and other antiquities of long ago. To accompany each and every room besides dialogue explaining the timeline are original furniture pieces brining you to a different era. The decor of this fortress very much brings a feel of living in a castle with a few rooms set in tact to the time. As you make way towards the back side of Chapultepec you’ll be rewarded with an exceptional view of the city. As you make way to the sides, white and black marble tiling gleam under the sun fit perfectly together as if you were on a large chess board. Castillo de Chapultepec can be looked at as a day event if you give a little time to everything and by the time you’re finished walking you’ll be ready to grab a bite at a local taco stand and of course a bottle of water.
- Museo Nacional de Antropología –
Admission 75 pesos. 3-4 hours
Palanco Train DepotNot far from Castillo de Chapultepec and walking distance if able then this is another fantastic museum and definite recommendation. This also runs a timeline but a bit more vast touching base from pre-historic era to present day. A central man-made pond sits in the open air center as the museum encompasses. What can’t be missed even before entering is an artistically created waterfall standing over 10 meters splashing onto concrete. Then to really kick things off you enter the Museo standing on plexi-glass over the fossils of a wolly mammoth, gargantuan to any animal size today. Room by room you pass through thousands of years as you come to more modern times or say the past 500 years. The starting rooms cover the anthropology of the world but as time comes to pre-colonial times it begins to focus on Mesa-America. With a whole outer wing dedicated to indigenous tribes and rooms filled with statues of dieties, utensils and of course the giant Aztec calendar you’ll find yourself walking in wonder, feeling quite small to such a time-span. This could also be looked at as a day trip but if on a time budget you could possible hit both Chapultapec and the Anthropology museum in a day.
- Museo de las Culturas del Mundo –
Admission Free 1-2 hours
Bellas Artes Train DepotThis is in the beautiful historic of downtown and is a collaboration of many culture and themes. From Ancient Egypt, Greece, Korea, of course Mexican heritage and over to burlesque and musical dance and styles that followed that era. Some of the areas are set up to show the mourning rituals of Mexico with ritual acts. Your walking through a older reformed three-level building that tours you throughout. It’s an easy walk but definitely one to stop by and when we were in CDMX there was no entry fee. There were a few more museums close by but with lines around the block so this suited us just fine. A definite check spot to check out.
- Teotihiuácan Pyramids (25 mi out of CDMX)
Admission 75 pesos 3-4 hours
110 pesos by bus 1 hour each wayTeotihiuácan is the pre-colonial site of some of the Aztecs and has the largest structure of it’s kind, “The Pyramid of the Sun” in all of Mexico. This ancient city is still partly standing and in good condition.
Now this museum isn’t quite in Mexico City and is a day trip for sure. It’s twenty five miles north of the city and depending on traffic can take from an hour up to get to. If looking to do it the budget way a bus leaves from the Autobuses Del Norte Metro a few times each hour. The cost is $5.00 and much less than an Uber but that is also an option if preferred.
Once in Teotihiuácan, what may seem like the main event, the first pyramid and surroundings only turns out to be the beginning of this magnificent city. You will end up marching up plenty of steep steps in the sun throughout the process so be sure to bring water or buy some by the entrance before kicking off. With such great history as well as a good workout be sure not to miss out on this one if you have the time.
- Museo del Tequilla y el Mezcal –
Admission 75 pesos 1hr +
Garibaldi Train Depot
This museum is interesting as well as fun. A little touristy and just on the outskirts of the historic district but a quick walk will bring you to another culturally inclined history stop as well as restaurant. Upon entry you’ll also have access to a shot of both tequila and mezcal after finishing the tour. A shorter museum for sure, it’s still packed with loads of material from the introduction of the spirits to the importance of production and craft over the years. There is also an area that incorporates mariachi music and the connection that brings this whole Mexican experience together. At the end of your tour, feel free to sit back, listen to Mariachi, rest your feet and try one of many mezcal or tequilas they have on hand.If you have more time there are plenty of other museums that we couldn’t make it to or were under maintenance such as the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Museo Templo Mayor, Museo Frida Kahlo and the Soumaya museum. Overall have fun with it all, enjoy the culture immersion and a bit of history that has made the world what it is today!