Museums & Attractions of Mexico City

In between volunteering, we love seeing the sites of Mexico City.  There are SO many things to see here, we haven’t even scratched the surface.  A few of the places we have seen so far:

  • The National Museum of Anthropology – by far the best museum in the city (in my humble opinion!)  A helpful tip – you are allowed to leave this museum during the course of a single day and return again. Since it’s such a massive place, it’s easy for your eyes to glaze over by the second or third hour, even when you want to see more.  It was really nice to be able to take a break to go across the street to the park and have some lunch before returning again for a few more hours with renewed energy
  • Frida Kahlo Museo y Casa – Interesting look into the life and mind of an intoxicating individual.  Note that only a few rooms are set up like they were at the time Frida and Diego lived in the home.  Many of the rooms are set up museum-style and simply have their art hanging on the walls.  I am currently reading The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver (of Tucson!) and much of the book takes place in Mexico City, where Frida is a central character.  It’s been interesting to read about Frida in this fictional tale, after being in the place she lived and worked.  As most travel sites will tell you, the wait for entering the museum is usually about an hour and possibly more, so be prepared.  I downloaded an e-book on my phone and the wait time sped by much faster.frida
  • Museo Casa de Leon Trotsky – Just down the street from the home of his friends, Diego and Frida, you can visit the place where the revolutionary, his wife, and their security guards lived during his asylum from the Soviet Union.  He was later murdered in this home, with an ice ax.   On the day we visited with our friends, there was no wait time to enter the Trotsky’s museum, so if you’re on a tight time schedule it might be a better fit.  Both homes are located in Coyoacan and worth seeing.
  • Chapultepec Zoo – Free to the public, and very popular with local families – especially on Sunday, the day I visited.  I’ve seen better zoos in my life but you can’t beat the price.  This zoo is known especially for their pandas. They were the first zoo outside of China to successfully breed the endangered bears – 8 in total.
  • Popular Art Museum – probably my favorite museum after the anthropology museum, this site had the Mexican art I love and the bright, colorful art one may hope to see when they visit an art museum in Mexico.  Day of the dead and religious themes play out in much of the art, along with festival and parade art, and a huge display of Oaxacan wood carved animals.  Closed Mondays and only 40 pesos to get in (about 2 bucks).
  • Museo de Nacional Arte – Classic art in a gorgeous building.  Extra fee to take photos of the art (just about every museum here charges some type of photo or video fee) but you can take photos of the building itself for free, which you’ll likely want to do.  One rotating exhibit appears about every 3 months and during my visit it was a feature on Brazilian art. The regular collection includes lots of landscapes, Christian/religious art, as well as an entire section of Rivera works.
  • Palacio de Correos de Mexico – While this spot is an actual, working post office it’s also a tourist destination.  When you enter the front doors, you’ll see why – a gorgeous staircase greets you, along with golden elevators. There is a small section to the left that holds postal artifacts including the mail bags and bicycles used by the first couriers.  In the back, there was also a special exhibit on the history of Olympic stamps  (I visited during the ’16 Summer Olympics, but I’m guessing this exhibit changes)  Free to enter.
  • Bellas Artes – This is first and foremost a theater where you can see plays and  ballet folklorico performances.  But tourists and locals alike buy tickets to tour the building during non-performance times to see the architecture as well as Diego murals. It’s free to enter the lobby, but to progress up the staircase, you’ll need a ticket.
  • Botanical Gardens – Another free find, near to Chapultepec Park and Anthropology Museum, these gardens give you a good look at Mexican plants – both outdoors and in greenhouses. I don’t think I could spend a whole day here, but it was nice to tack on an hour visit after going to the park nearby.museos3
  • Zocalo  (Plaza de Constitucion) – historical city center, enjoy dinner or a drink in one of the many restaurants overlooking the main square.  Many times during holidays and special events this is the place to be.  When we were there this month, there were big screen televisions displaying the Olympics, complete with tents and chairs to sit and watch.museos
  • Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral – Both the Palacio Nacional and the Cathedral share space around the zocalo square.  If you visit the zocalo, you must stop in to see this beautiful cathedral.IMG_3145
  • Interactive Museum of Economics – I visited this one with the young  Mexican students in my English classes.  This museum was 98% in Spanish (with the exception of one really interesting computer game I found!) so it was a bit hard to understand all of the subject matter, it was also definitely geared towards a young audience.  However, I would say the best part was the section on the paper money and the different art designs on each of the bills.  The students got a chance to design their own bills with a computer that takes their photo and places it on the bill.
  • Castillo de Chapultepec – Once serving as a military academy, then as a presidential home, and now as the national museum of history, this castle is located inside Chapultepec Park.  It has amazing views from the balconies – not too high where you can’t identify buildings and makes for some breathtaking panoramic views.   Also, we noticed many runners taking the steep climb up the mountain entrance as part of their workout in the park, so we followed suit and went for a run later in the week that included a trek up and down the hill.  65 pesos to enter.
  • Museo Mural Diego Rivera – Small museum displaying a collection of Diego history, pencil sketchings, a few photos (including a black and white one I really liked taken from a distance of Frida and Diego kissing under one of his murals during a lunch break, mid-painting), as well as one large mural titled, “Dream of a Sunday afternoon in Alameda Park/Sueno de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central.” The museum has a sign that describes each character in the painting.  You’ll find the artist even included himself as a young boy eating a torta (sandwich) in the bottom right hand section of the mural.image
  • Palacio Nacional – This National Palace is where all ruling leaders since the early 1500s have conducted business and where the Federal Treasury and National Archives have offices.  Much of the reason people visit the site today is that it contains several giant murals by Diego Rivera, and it’s free to enter and view them.

Places on our Mexico must-see list are below.  Have you been to Mexico? Do you have any suggestions about a place we just have to see before we go?  We’d love to hear them!

  • Lady of Guadalupe Basilica
  • Franz Mayer Museum
  • Museo Universitario Arte Contemporaneo
  • Museo Templo Mayor
  • Teotihuacan pyramids
  • Chichen Itza
  • Torre Latinoamericana
  • Museo de Arte Moderno
  • Tulum beaches




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