This past Christmas, my boyfriend James surprised me with a trip to Mexico City (aka Ciudad de Mexico, or CDMX for short), a vibrant, intoxicating and romantic place. We spent 3.5 days there last week, and I came back home buzzing with energy. With a population of over 20 million, it’s no wonder the city is so lively. My absolute favorite thing to do in any new place is to walk around and explore, but here’s a specific list of fun things to do in Mexico City.
Teotihuacan – Pyramids in Mexico
Just 30 miles from Mexico City (and a 45-minute bus ride away), this ancient Mayan city is home to breathtaking pyramids and ruins. Even to this day, the origins of Teotihuacan remain a mystery. It didn’t cost very much to get in (the equivalent of a couple U.S. dollars per person), and was definitely a trip highlight. While you could spend an entire day exploring, four hours is a good chunk of time to see all the main parts.
The first thing we noticed when we got to the base of the pyramids was just how huge they are. Seriously, huge!
At the top of the Temple of the Sun (the one pyramid you can climb all the way up) people were taking in the views, cuddling (which was cute), sunbathing and even sitting cross-legged meditating.
There were rubber rope railings you could hold onto, which was handy for coming back down the steepest bits.
We left the site (save your ticket and you can come back in later) and headed to lunch at La Gruta, a nearby restaurant in a cave (!) (Tip: To find the restaurant, exit via Puerta 5 and head left, then take a quick right where you’ll see signs pointing you down the long driveway to the restaurant.) The food was just okay, but the tamarind margarita and cave were definitely worth the visit.
Utilitario Mexicano: Bon Appetit called this housewares shop the “Muji of Mexico” and our hip hotel concierge described it as “everyday Mexican things, but cool.” Everything – from the store design to the blankets, baskets and ceramics – is beautifully minimal. James bought a wool blanket and peltre, the white enamel mugs and bowls with blue rims that were used in our hotel.
Barrio Alameda: We happened upon this set of shops when we were looking for the now-closed-Centro-location of Utilitario Mexicano. The space is fun and design-y with tons of plants, bars, restaurants and quirky boutiques.
Expendio Durango: Although it’s a small space primarily serving coffee/sandwiches/pastries, Expendio Durango also has cute home and kitchen goods for sale, like salts, honey and pretty wooden vessels. Worth popping in if you’re having lunch next door at Contramar.
Even though Mexico City is a bustling metropolitan area, there are lush green parks everywhere. On Sundays, the whole city hangs out in them. It’s really fun to just hang out, walk around, drink a coffee and people watch. Chapultepec is the main park, rivaling the likes of Central Park, complete with a castle, a zoo and a few museums. Above is one of the parks in Polanquito, a three-by-three-block area with cute cafes and restaurants, and a Polanquito street.
Farmers markets in Mexico City are fun because you can walk by all the food stalls and see what’s cooking and buy handmade treats and souvenirs. We went to the Mercado Parque Lincoln, which happens every Saturday in Polanquito.
Frida Kahlo Museum: We didn’t get a chance to go to the Blue House, but would love to check it out on another trip. Lines are long, so buy your tickets in advance!
Casa Luis Barragan: I wanted to see the home of Luis Barragan, an influential Mexican architect who’s known for his use of bright colors in modern architecture, but we didn’t make it. Next time! Note: Reservations are required for admission.
There are so many things to do in Mexico City that my cousin who lives there tells people they need at least two weeks to see everything. But even if you just have a couple of days like we did, I hope you enjoy it!
Planning a trip soon? Check out my Mexico City travel guides for more tips on where to stay and eat. Plus, get an inside peek into what it’s like living in Mexico City from my cousin Melany who’s lived there for the past 10 years.