Choosing the best things to do in Mexico City is a daunting task knowing that it’s the 2nd largest city in the world. For every traveller the task of exploring any city, picking out the best events, places, free activities and unmissable hotspots is fun. You will come across everything from pre-hispanic ruins to eclectic architectural gems, places to exercise or go out at night and relive the US prohibition era in a speakeasy. So here we consolidate this fun list for you, covering visits to the best museums in Mexico City, tours to admire the sunrise from high above and an open-air cinema.
1. Recovery Brunch at the world’s favorite bar: Fifty Mils
Renowned as one of the best bars in the world, one Saturday a month (until the end of the year) the Fifty Mils bar at the Four Seasons gives you an exciting opportunity to test Mica Rousseau’s mixology as well as a buffet curated by chef Tanatiuh Cuevas de Zanaya. There will be everything from seafood and the grill, to ‘al pastor’ tacos and a healthy corner, as well as a chance to try the bar’s emblematic cocktails such as the ‘Bugs Bunny’ which includes carrot and gin, and the ‘Ma 75’ with melon and champagne.
2. Take a tour to Mexico City’s oldest downtown neighborhoods with coffee, pizza and wine
The force behind this project is Rubén Ochoa, architect and respected historian in the San Rafael area. He is found in the Privada Roja, a building that was completed in 1908. They offer artisan roast coffee from Veracruz and Oaxaca, as well as traditional pizzas which are cooked in a 1920s art-deco stone oven. As well as jazz nights, martinis and jars of clericot, during the day Ochoa leads guided tours of Mexico City’s central districts, informing you about all the historical and architectural facts from the Mexican Revolution to the Porfirio Días era, showing you lost buildings, educational institutions, galleries and evening hotspots.
3. Medieval style diner and magic show
The Mesón del Cid is a themed restaurant that was founded in 1972 which is in the style of a castle with dark varnishes, coloured stained glass windows, armour, stately elegance and many a story to tell. As well as trying the rustic and traditional Spanish cuisine, which features suckling pig, mushrooms, cheeses and homemade bread, Fridays include a bit of magic which El Mago Hir oversees.
4. See if you can find the entrance to one of the best speakeasy bars in town
Even if you explored all of Juárez, shop by shop, house by house, you would never guess the entrance to the Hanky Panky Cocktail Bar. In order to get in, you have to find your way to the back of a food business shop, where a hidden door will take you into the bar if you’re on the list. Let the bartenders do what they do best at the bar and make sure you try the food from chef Maycol Calderón.
5. Explore incredible attractions after dark at the Museums at Night
Set aside the last Wednesday of every month to look around exhibitions in the city’s cultural hotspots at night. The Museum Night concept was born in Berlin around 1997 and it takes place every month in Mexico City, while in other cities it happens more sporadically. Usually, these museums offer guided visits, tours, workshops, concerts and other special activities on the night.
6. Enter the twilight zone of rum and cigars
The 3rd floor of Molière 48 is one of the most mysterious floors in Polanco. There is a red telephone booth, that with the correct number code (cigar), opens a door onto a terrace which leads to a rum, whisky and cigar heaven. The sign on one of the wall reads, “Gentlemen you may smoke”; in the specific smoking room, they sell cigars from brands like Vegas Robaina de San Luis, Flor de Las Antillas, Toro Gordo, Cohiba and many more from various tobacco brands from all over the world.
7. Marvel at the murals in the Palace of Fine Arts
Going to the Palace of Fine Arts one would come across eclectic and impressive architecture & find oneself in front of enormous works of art which defined an era and placed Mexican muralism on the global art scene. There are murals from Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo, Roberto Montenegro and Manuel Rodríguez Lozano. Rivera’s unmissable Man at the Crossroads, the smaller and revived version of the piece that was started and not finished at the Rockefeller Centre in New York.
8. Visit the house where Frida Kahlo lived and died
Just imagine walking in the exact same place where the famous painter, Frida Kahlo, was born, where she lived and died? This little abode, which is now the Frida Kahlo Museum ‘Casa Azul’, in Coyoacán, was her favourite neighbourhood. Not only does it safeguard her most cherished works of art such as Viva la Vida and Frida y su cesárea, it also is home to her diaries, clothes and even the artist’s bed.
9. Open your heart to the pleasure that is university theater
University is a hotspot for crazy ideas; it’s where talent emerges and philosophers of the future mature. The National Autonomous University of Mexico is also one of the most important cultural projects in the history of the country. For that reason, the plays performed at the UNAM Theatre are a great opportunity to see classic texts adapted to unlikely modern-day situations, avant-garde visual approaches and to discover upcoming actors.
10. Buy antiques at La Lagunilla
La Lagunilla is one of the most famous open-air markets in Mexico City. Every Sunday, hundreds of sellers arrive at 6 am to set up their stall in the streets of the Morelos district, very close to Tepito. Here all sorts of items, clothes and vintage furniture: from 70s record players to analogue cameras, paintings from the beginning of the previous century and games that will bring back memories from childhood; are available.
11. Watch a film at the Cineteca Nacional
This cinematographic centre opened its doors in 1974. After various incidents, it was redeveloped in 2012 and became one of the best places to enjoy the cinema in Mexico City. It offers everything from commercial films to a wide range of options dedicated to arthouse films, cinema cycles and alternative cinema.
12. A romantic night at the Lanchacinema
On the first Saturday of every month, the Chapultepec forest lake has a cinema screening which can be enjoyed from the comfort of a boat. It’s pretty much a test for your senses (and concentration) as you have to watch the film while the lake’s waters move your boat.
This activity lends itself to spending a romantic night with your partner, so prepare a picnic basket, grab a blanket and rediscover Mexico City’s green lung while watching your favourite film.