The historic district is one of the most exciting areas to explore in Mexico City. It is the heart and soul of this megalopolis and should be the starting point for visitors.
There are hundreds of things to see in Mexico City’s historic center, so it is not humanly possible to check them all off your list in one single trip (we’ve tried and it was tough). To make things easier for you, here are the top 9 things you shouldn’t miss in CDMX.
1. Palacio de Bellas Artes
The magnificent architecture, outstanding art exhibitions, and excellent cultural events make the Palace of Fine Arts our top recommendation in Mexico City’s historic district. This place is considered the most important cultural venue in Mexico — it is home to 12 amazing murals from some of the most renowned Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco.
Address: Av. Juárez y Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas
Opening hours: Tue to Sun 10 AM – 5 PM
2. Palacio Nacional
The National Palace is the main government building in Mexico and a place full of history and art. Diego Rivera’s mural “Epopeya del Pueblo Mexicano” is painted on one of the main staircases, a must-see if you’re interested in Mexican art.
You can tour around some permitted areas of the palace on your own, but guided tours are also available on appointment.
Address: Plaza de la Constitución
Opening hours: Tue to Sun 9 AM – 5 PM
3. Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL)
Without a doubt, the building that houses the National Art Museum is one of the most beautiful in all Mexico City — both inside and out. MUNAL’s magnificent collection of national art makes it one of the top museums in the city.
Address: Tacuba #8
Opening hours: Tue to Sun 10 AM – 6 PM
4. Templo Mayor
Mexico City is full of prehispanic vestiges and this place, located just in the middle of the historic district, is no exception. The main temple of the Aztecs was once situated in this exact spot — this was the heart of the Great Tenochtitlán, the capital of one of the most important prehispanic empires in Mexico. Today, visitors can tour around its ruins and visit the museum that exhibits a remarkable collection of prehispanic art.
The best views of the Main Temple are from the restaurant “El Mayor,” located atop of the Porrúa bookstore in República de Argentina street #15.
Address: Seminario #8
Opening hours: Tue to Sun 9 AM – 5 PM
5. Plaza Garibaldi
Did someone say tequila and mariachi? Every night, dozens of mariachi bands gather at this traditional and festive public square to play for anyone who will pay them. Salón Tenampa located here is the most famous cantina in the area, and a must-see while visiting Garibaldi. To wrap up the experience, check out the Tequila and Mezcal Museum.
Address: Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas and República de Honduras
Opening hours: Salón Tenampa: Sun to Thu 1 PM – 1 AM; Fri and Sat 1 PM – 2 AM, Tequila and Mezcal Museum: Mon to Thu 11 AM – 10 PM; Fri to Sun 11 AM – 2:30 AM
6. Museo Memoria y Tolerancia
Museo Memoria y Tolerancia is probably the museum that gives the best visitor experience in CDMX, even though it’s dedicated to preserving the memory of terrible events such as genocide, discrimination, and violence. With excellent multimedia exhibitions, you can learn about crimes committed against humanity in countries like Cambodia, Sudan, and Rwanda, as well as the ones perpetrated during the Holocaust.
Address: Plaza Juárez
Opening hours: Tue to Fri 9 AM – 6 PM; Sat and Sun 10 AM – 7 PM
7. Hotel Downtown México
It’s may seem strange to see a hotel as a recommendation, but we have good reasons for doing so. First, Hotel Downtown México is a boutique hotel located in a beautifully renovated former palace which houses the mural “El Holocausto” from renowned Mexican artist Manuel Rodríguez Lozano. Second, the hotel’s restaurant, Azul Histórico, is one of the best spots to eat traditional Mexican food in the historic center.
Address: Isabel la Católica #30
Opening hours: Azul Histórico restaurant: Mon to Sun 9 AM – 11:30 PM
8. Calle Regina
Once a street in decline, Regina was remodeled and is now a very enjoyable pedestrian street. Full of small restaurants, mezcal bars, shops, and interesting street art, it is one of the best streets in the historic district to just wander around.
Location: Five blocks south from Zócalo (main square)
9. La Azotea
Who doesn’t love panoramic views? Mexico City’s historic center is amazing from above, and although there are some popular terraces in the surroundings of the Zócalo (the main square), we highly recommend visiting La Azotea, a restaurant/bar with a relaxed vibe and an incredible 360° view of the area.
Address: La Azotea is located atop of Barrio Alameda mall (Doctor Mora #9)
Opening hours: Mon to Wed 1 PM – 7:30 PM, Thu to Sun 1 PM – 8:30 PM