Hopefully you'll have more than one day to explore Mexico City. But if not, this itinerary will give you a good overview of its most iconic neighborhood: the Centro Historico.
1. Breakfast at Mumedi
This hipster haunt, right in the heart of the city, serves what is arguably the tastiest almuerzo (breakfast/brunch) in town. Set in an 18th-century building (but with contemporary decor), it's part of the Mexican Museum of Design. Just off the cafe is a tempting gift shop selling handmade, high-design jewelry, crafts, and books.
Walk on Francisco 1 Madero towards the Plaza de la Constitucion (Zocalo), walk to the other side of the Plaza to:
2. Palacio Nacional
The seat of power in Mexico for over 500 years, this is where the Aztec kings had their homes, followed by Hernán Cortés and, later, colonial viceroys. The building you see today is the Mexican equivalent of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. There are many ceremonial rooms to explore, so consider hiring a guide on the spot (for about 500 pesos) to better understand the history. The palace is best known for Diego Rivera's masterful murals in the stairwell and on the second floor. It will take you roughly 1.5 to 2 hours to see everything, though many visitors duck in just to see the murals (admission is free). Important: Since this is a governmental building, you'll be required to show an officially issued photo ID, like a passport, to enter.
Retrace your steps around the Zócalo to the:
3. Metropolitan Cathedral
We recommend timing your visit to start at roughly 11:15 so that you can take the tour up to the tower in time to see the massive bells there ring (the biggest one, Dona Maria, weighs 7 tons). Then head back down to explore more of this tilting wonder (much of the city is built on a lake bed, so the cathedral has sunk unevenly over the decades), including the Altar de los Reyes, created in 1737.
Walk across the street to:
4. Lunch at La Casa de las Sirenas
The food is fine, but the view is why we're sending you here to dine, as it stretches across the Zocalo and into the cathedral's hidden garden. The Casa is also known for its selection of 150 tequilas, but we have a lot more to see, so only order a tipple if you metabolize quickly.
Walk, or wobble (depending on how much tequila you had) to:
5. Templo Mayor and Museo del Templo Mayor
The ruins of the Aztecs' principal pyramid are partially uncovered here (you'll walk on walkways over the dig). Inside the well-curated, fascinating museum are 6,000-plus treasures uncovered by archaeologists. Expect to spend a minimum of 2 hours here.
Call a turismo taxi and head to:
6. Plaza de Garibaldi
Yes, it's gritty, and yes, you'll need to watch out for pickpockets. But it is fun to have an early-evening drink and listen to the roving bands of mariachi bands work the square. Have a drink at a cafe—but keep your wits about you—and then head somewhere lovely for dinner.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.