Mexico City is enormous, but don’t let the size intimidate you from seeing its most gorgeous and interesting treasures.
It’s hard to believe that Mexico City was once a small man-made island on Lago de Texcoco created by the Aztecs. Once the Spanish came to Mexico, they turned the city into an important place for making their mark and conducting business. You’ll see large Catholic churches with baroque style along with ancient ruins throughout the city. Now, over 21 million people live in the various neighborhoods of Mexico City.
Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo Museum)
One of the most famous painters from Mexico is Frida Kahlo. She is known for her unique self portraits that incorporate bold colors. Born in 1907, Kahlo was always an artistic rebel. However, a serious bus accident that sent a metal pole through her abdomen as a teenager left her disabled and confined to her bed for many months. She never let this stop her from painting and even had a mirror hung above her bed so she could still paint her portraits.
Casa Azul, which translates to “The Blue House,” is Kahlo’s former home with her husband and fellow artist, Diego Rivera. The exterior of the house is painted a bold blue, which makes it extremely hard to miss when walking through the old neighborhood. You can see some of Kahlo’s work, her studio, the bed she was confined to, and the garden she would sit in.
It’s definitely recommended to buy your tickets in advance because there is almost always a line of people waiting to get inside.
As I mentioned before, Mexico City is huge! If you want a bird’s eye view of the city, take a speedy elevator to the observation deck on the 44th floor of this skyscraper. While the viewing deck can get pretty crowded, it is definitely worth the view. I went at night, so I was able to see just how far the city reached and climbed up the surrounding hills.
There is also a bar and restaurant below the observation deck with floor to ceiling glass windows that offer an incredible view.
Palace of the Fine Arts
Located in the Historic Center of Mexico City, you’ll find the grand Palace of the Fine Arts. This museum isn’t only impressive for the pieces of art that it has on display, but also the unique and detailed architecture of the building itself.
You will also notice there is a large park to the left of the museum full of benches, trees, and fountains. It’s a lovely place to sit and people watch and relax in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Mexico City.
Gran Hotel de la Ciudad Mexico
While the hotel itself has only been open since 1968, the building that hosts it has been around since 1526. This luxury hotel is absolutely breathtaking. Tourists can walk through the lobby and admire the gorgeous Tiffany Stained Glass ceiling and unique decor. It’s a great free activity and definitely worth a quick visit. However, the intricate stained glass may keep you longer than expected.
The high-end neighborhood of Polanco is definitely worth a visit. Just walking around this posh neighborhood, you’ll feel enamored with the large gated houses and the modernity of it. Make sure to walk down Avenida Presidente Masaryk, Mexico City’s own 5th Avenue, for some of the city’s best shopping options.
You’ll also want to head to the Soumaya Museum. Even if you aren’t interested in its large Rodin collection, the architecture from the outside is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. This bustling part of Mexico City will give you a much more modern feel with its vast skyscrapers.
Basilica of Our Lady of Guadeloupe
If you are familiar with Catholicism, you’ve probably heard the story of Our Lady of Guadeloupe. It’s said that in the 1500’s, the Virgin Mary made an apparition to John Diego on the Hill of Tepeyac. However, the Catholic church did not believe his story. So, when the Virgin Mary appeared on a piece of cloth, he brought it to the Bishop, who then believed Diego’s claims.
You can see this picture in the new basilica that was built in the 1970’s. You can still see the original shrine, but the relic was moved to the new basilica because the shrine started to sink.
Just a couple of hours outside of Mexico City you’ll find the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan. The two most prominent are the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun. This large city was once home to 11 different cultures all coexisting and working together. You’ll notice paintings still in tact from hundreds of years ago.
The best way to get the most out of the archaeological site is to book a tour. Your tour guide will be bursting with information about the history of the pyramids and can help guide you through the site. It’s important to be prepared with water, comfortable shoes, and a hat because there is no shade under that hot Mexican sun.
I highly recommend climbing to the top of both pyramids. The view is absolutely fantastic. While it may seem intimidating to climb up those narrow, steep steps, it’s completely worth it. Remember, you’re only there once!