Mexico City is enjoyable anytime of year, but it is particularly pleasant in January, March and April, when locals go on vacation and the city becomes unusually relaxed. Most museums and points of interest are open from 9 am to 5 pm, Tuesday to Sunday, and many have free Sundays.
To get the most out of your trip, tours are an excellent resource. Mexico City features many different tours for all people and tastes. Here is a brief rundown of some of the more popular tours:
For more tourist info, call Tourist Information at 01800 008 9090 or http://www.mexicocity.gob.mx/index.php.
México City is filled with things to do ranging from the traditional to the avante-garde. Downtown México City has been an urban area since the pre-Columbian 12th century, and the city is filled with historical buildings and landmarks from every era. The city also has a number of castles and museums that fill it with elegance and grace.
Plaza de la Constitucion, commonly known as Zócalo, is shaped like a rectangle and is the “first block” of the city. The square corresponds to the original construction that the Spanish conquistadors built over Tenochtitlán. It is one of the largest squares in the world and is surrounded by the historic City Hall and the Cathedral. Just outside of the square is the city’s second most important plaza, Santo Domingo, which holds the headquarters of the Inquisition. North of here are the ruins of the ancient city of Tlatelolco.
Chapultepec Park is the largest park within a city in the world. The original park occupies 230 hectares, with later additions attached. It's partly-natural and partly-planned woodland with museums, lakes, theatres, a zoo, cultural centres, a botanic garden, restaurants, amusement parks, and the residence of the president of México, Los Pinos. The park receives about 4 million visitors monthly.
Centro de Convivencia Infantil lies within park and is an adventure style playground with an aviary, monkeys, a King Kong, and face painting. Adults will be refused entry - unless children accompany them. Papalote Museo del Niño is a hands-on children's museum with tunnels and slides, giant soap bubbles and all kinds of scientific and technical games and gadgets. There is also an IMAX big screen, theatre, shops and snack bars. Atlantis, a marine park that features trained dolphins, sea lions, bird shows and a marine cave museum.
The National Zoo- is a México City treasure which offers recreation, education, research and wild animal species conservation.
La Feria de Chapultepec features the first roller-coaster in the country and many other attractions. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10:00-18:00, entrance is $79.90 pesos.
Paseo de la Reforma, the city's main thoroughfare gives an idea of why México City has been referred to as the "Manhattan" of Latin America. the avenue connects Chapultepec with the Historic City Centre. Today's avenue has been extended and is lined with dozens of magnificent monuments including the Independence Monument which has become the unofficial trademark of México City. Angel de la Independencia or simply known as "El Angel".
The Floating Gardens of Xochimilco are ancient gardens that have been here for about 700 years and still operate as they did in Aztec times. Vosotors can rent brightly painted boats, or just enjoy the gardens. The site has been named a World´s Cultural Heritage. Xochimilco is the last remnant of how México City looked like when the Spanish arrived to México City in 1521. The gardens are located in the southern section, about 15 miles south of downtown.
Basilica de Guadalupe http://www.virgendeguadalupe.org.mx/ is Catholicism's holiest place in the Americas. It is the destination of pilgrims from all over the world, especially during the yearly celebration on the 12th of December. It is the shrine that guards the shroud of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Six Flags Mexico southwest of México City, this park is the largest amusement park in Latin America and the only Six Flags park outside the U.S. and Canada. The park is fitted with several million-dollar attractions, including Batman the Ride and Medusa Roller Coaster. Entrance Fees: Adults $285 pesos, Children $170 pesos.
Mexico City has cultural activities tucked into every corner, but the Zócalo is the heart of the action. For current guides and calendars on live music, theater, and events: government website Conaculta, Ticketmaster (tel: (55) 5325 9000), http://www.mexicocity.gob.mx, calendar, http://www.mexonline.com/culture.htm, and the monthly entertainment guide, ¿Qué hacemos? ('What shall we do?').
There are plenty of theatres in Mexico City with most performing in Spanish. There are also many Teatro-Bars, which offer a more informal environment and content for the non-Spanish speaker, as they stage lively variety shows and cabarets with singers, dancers, comedians, ventriloquists and magicians.
La Planta de Luz (tel: (55) 5616 4761) has shows from Monday to Thursday, complemented by La Bodega (tel: (55) 5511 7390), on Fridays and Saturdays.
The avant-garde El Hábito (tel: (55) 5659 6305) offers shows on Thursday and Friday with social and political satirical shows based on current events.
The Teatro La Blanquita (tel: (55) 5511 7390), has nightly performances with noteworthy Lebanese-born cabaret artist Astrid Haddad and satirist Jesusa Rodriguez.
The Folkloric Ballet has a show every Sunday at 10am at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. This show is quintessential Mexico and should not be missed.
As an international city, México City has a wide variety of elegant and important museums. They certainty feature a some of the best museums in the country. There are a collection of important museums between Chapultepec Park and the Polanco neighborhood. Many museums are free on Sundays. A short collection of Mexico City museums:
Museum of Modern Art On the east side of Chapultepec Park, to the left of Paseo de la Reforma, stands the important Museum of Modern Art Museo de Arte Moderno(http://www.moma.org/), designed by Rafael Mijares and Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and opened in 1964. Apart from a retrospective look at Mexican art before and during the colonial period, the museum is notable primarily for its collection of pictures and sculpture by Mexican artists of the 19th and 20th c. There are also periodic special exhibitions of work by Mexican and foreign artists.
National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropología) Extensive collection of artifacts, spanning some 100,000 square feet. This is one of the finest anthropological museums anywhere in the world and certainly the most important in México. The ground floor focuses on the native cultures and societies of México before the Spanish conquest. The famous Aztec sun stone is displayed among the extraordinary collection of artwork from the indigenous population. The museum also provides information about how the descendants of these cultures live today. One of the best museums worldwide over, built in late 1960’s and designed by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, do not miss its impressive fountain. It gathers the best collection of sculptures, jewels and handcrafts from ancient Mexican cultures.
Museo de Frida Kahlo Frida Kahlo was born here and lived with Diego Rivera off and on from 1929 until her death in 1954. This is a fascinating museum and Kahlo's personality is reflected in this house. Giant papier-mâché skeletons outside to the gloriously decorated kitchen and even the bric-a-brac in her bedroom. Londres 247 Coyoacán 5554-5999
Museo Templo Mayor contains over 3,000 pieces unearthed from this site and from other sites in central México. The centerpiece is an 8 ton disk discovered at the Templo Mayor depicting the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui. Seminario 8 5542-4784
Museo Nacional de Arte Exhibits here feature mostly Mexican artists. A whole room is devoted to plastic arts, of México, from the 1930s to the 1960s. Other rooms feature revolving exhibits of contemporary painters, sculptors, lithographers, and photographers from around the world. Calle Tacuba 8 5521 7320
Papalote Children's Museum is right, colorful, and filled with educational experiences for children of all ages. Many of the exhibits focus on science, but there are also many exhibits exploring history and art.
The use of tripods at all archaeological sites and some museums require a permit. If you want to use a tripod, you will need to apply for special permission from INBA (the government department that manages archaeological sites and some museums) and there will be a fee and paperwork to complete. Most sites offer a "package hold" facility for people carrying tripods, where they can be left until you leave the site or museum.
For further information on additional museums
The México City Philharmonic Orchestra performs at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Performing for the first time on September 15, 1978, the orchestra has become one of the most prominent orchestras of Latin America. A mix of nationalities participate and many non-Mexicans are involved as teachers in educational institutions for music.
The Auditorio Nacional is the biggest music and entertainment venue in México City. The most typical Mexican music is the mariachi with groups of trumpeters, violinists, guitarists and a singer roam and play, often in traditional outfits.
Mexico City is a place that enjoys celebration and there are a profusion of unique festivals and festivities to enjoy throughout the year.
Taking place in the Centro Histórico, the three-week Festival del Centro Histórico in March is a celebration of music, dance, and cultural events.
Semana Santa over the Easter weekend sees more colourful celebrations all over the city with processions, mock crucifixions.
"Dia de la Bandera" is Mexico's National Flag Day held on May 1st
Cinco de Mayo honors victory over France in Puebla on the 5th of May
Dia de la Independencia celebrates Mexico's Independence from Spain. In the evening of every September 15th, the President of the Country salutes the crowds from the presidential balcony in the National Palace located in the Constitution Square and shouts the famous "Viva Mexico". The Zocalo, (as well as the rest of the city) is decorated with ornaments and lights. This is followed by the Independence Parade on the morning of September 16th. 15,000 to 30,000 soldiers of the Mexican Army, Navy and Air Force march through the streets displaying its equipment and weapons.
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated on November 2 and is a day when the souls of the dead are believed to return to the earth. It is a fabulously colorful and cheerful celebration in which people give family and friends candy treats in the shape of skulls and bones made of sugar and chocolate and families build altars in their homes and lay garlands on the graves of their loved ones.
Dia de la Revolucion is the anniversary of the 1910 Mexican Revolution on December 25th
Dia de Navidad celebrates Christmas Day with a large Christmas dinner and present opening on the evening of the 24th - Christmas Eve)
This short list hardly encompasses the majority of events. For information and up-to-date schedules, try checking with the México City Tourism Office located at Amberes 54, on the corner of Londres, in Zona Rosa, Tel. 5525-9380 between 9am and 7pm. Another good place to find out what is currently going on in town is the Friday and Saturday editions of "The News", México City's English language newspaper.