Go Back In Time: 10 Best Places To Visit In Mexico

Go Back In Time: 10 Best Places To Visit In Mexico
Liezl
Liezl  
Updated

Mexico is often known as the country that is closest to the abundance and modernity that North America has to offer. Mexico, however, is also the land of several ancient civilisations in the world: the Aztecs and the Mayans. These civilisations were among the most advanced civilisations during their time. And this history, combined with a rich culture and stunning natural resources, make Mexico an interesting country to visit.

Get lost in history in Mexico

1. The historic centre of Mexico or “Centro Historico Mexico”

Catedral de México
Source: Photo by user [Unknown] used under CC BY 2.5

The historic centre of Mexico City is the neighbourhood found in the city centre. Its historical importance is recognised internationally, having been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Metropolitan Cathedral is one place of interest. It is the largest cathedral in the Americas and a testament to 300 years of Spanish colonial rule. Ornate altars and religious altar pieces can be found all over the cathedral. There are two bell towers which house a total of 25 bells, 18 in the east tower and seven in the west tower.

Metropolitan Cathedral

Address: Plaza de la Constitución S/N, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Price: from 1 USD

Opening Hours: 8am - 8pm

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: Take Line 2 of the STC subway and get off at Metro Zocalo station, which brings you to the Zocalo. The Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the monumental buildings around the square.

Contact: +52 55 5510 0440

Website: Metropolitan Cathedral

2. Zocalo, also known as “Plaza de la Constitucion”

Plaza de la Constitucion Ciudad de Mexico City
Source: Photo by user schlaeger used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Zocalo is the city’s main square or “plaza,” and is considered to be one of the largest in the world. It was a gathering place during the Aztec empire, and continued to be a venue for national gatherings and celebrations.

Visitors can freely go around the square where they may chance upon spontaneous performances of Aztec dancers donning colourful ancient costumes. For a more panoramic view of the plaza, try the rooftop of Zocalo Central Hotel, located in Avenida 5 de Mayo 61, Cuauhtemoc.

The Zocalo

Address: Plaza de la Constitución S/N, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06010 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Price: No admission fee

Opening Hours: Always open.

Duration: around 2 hours.

Access: Take Line 2 of the STC Subway and get off at Metro Zocalo.

3. Chapultepec or “Bosque de Chapultepec”

Castillo Chapultepec Castle
Source: Photo by user henrivzq used under CC BY 2.0

A sprawling park located in the city, with an area of over 680 hectares, it is considered as one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere. A day may not be enough to see the whole park so visitors can choose to visit the Chapultepec Castle where the National Museum of History is housed.

Chapultepec Castle

Address: Bosque de Chapultepec I, Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, 11100 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Price: from 4 USD

Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm. Tuesdays to Sundays.

Duration: around 3 hours required.

Access: Take the city subway and get off at Metro Chapultepec. Walk to park entrance from the station.

Contact: +52 55 4040 5215

Website: Chapultepec Castle

4. Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital

Templo Mayor 2015 015
Source: Photo by user Mike Peel used under CC BY-SA 4.0

As a testament to its pre-Hispanic greatness, Mexico City is the same site of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. The Templo Mayor (Main Temple) found in the city centre is one of the main temples of the Aztec Empire. The temple was demolished when the Spaniards came. It was later discovered and excavation started in 1978 and continues to this day. Visitors can see the ruins of the old temple and check out ancient Aztec relics such as pots, figurines, masks, urns, and a majestic giant sculpture of the goddess of the moon in the Templo Mayor Museum.

Templo Mayor

Address: 8 Seminario St., Downtown, Cuauhtemoc, D.F., 06060.

Price: Admission fee: 2.75 USD; Audio guide: 3.70 USD

Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm. Tuesdays to Sundays.

Duration: around 4 to 5 hours required.

Access: Take Line 2 of the STC subway and get off at Metro Zocalo. Head to the northeast corner of the capital’s principal plaza to find the entrance to Templo Mayor.

Contact: +55 4040 5600 extensions 412930 y 412933

Website: Templo Mayor

5. Chichen Itza, the great Mayan city

Chichen Itza-18
Source: Photo by user Dronepicr used under CC BY 3.0

Located in the Yucatan peninsula of the country, the nearest major city to the site is Cancun. Most visitors usually arrange tours from Cancun which is about 160 kilometres from Chichen Itza. Alternately, visitors can also come from Merida, the Yucatan peninsula capital.

A day is not enough to see the whole archaeological site which was also designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Most guides would recommend an overnight stay in order to see the whole complex. For one to appreciate how great the Mayan civilisation was, one can visit the main pyramid called El Castillo (The Castle), also known as the Pyramid of Kukulcan, the Interior temple and several other temples in the complex.

Chichen Itza

Address: Yucatan, Mexicon

Price: Adults - 11.8 USD, Children under 13 free of charge; Use of video camera - 2 USD

Opening Hours: 8am - 4:30pm. Mondays to Sundays.

Duration: around 5 hours required but an overnight stay is highly recommended.

Access: Can be accessed via public bus or private tour buses from the Yucatan capital, Merida, from Cancun or from Playa del Carmen.

Contact: +52 985 851 0137

Marvel at Mexico’s natural beauty

6. Xel-Ha Park

Xel-ha-inlet
Source: Photo by user Angelique800326 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

When you want to venture beyond the ancient ruins and colonial buildings, go to the state of Quintana Roo, where you will find the aquatic theme park and ecotourism area called Xel-Ha Park. Located along the Caribbean coast, the Mayan ruins of Xelha is part of the land that is leased to the operators of the park.

The main attraction of the park is the natural inlet and lagoon. The inlet makes for a natural aquarium where visitors can see hundreds of fish and plant species. Snorkeling, scuba-diving and dolphin-swimming are among the activities visitors can do in the park.

Xel-Ha Park

Address: Carretera Chetumal Puerto Juárez Km 240, locales 1 & 2, módulo B, 77780 Q.R., Mexico

Price: Adults - 89 USD; Children, 5 to 11 years old - 44.50 USD; Below 5 years old, free of charge.

Opening Hours: 8:30am - 7pm. Everyday.

Duration: around 6 hours.

Access: Via private car or public buses. Public buses from Cancun and Playa del Carmen ply regular routes, with a bus drop-off point in the park’s parking lot.

Contact: +998-883-0524, Cancun

Website: Xel-Ha Park

7. Tulum

Tulum Maya-10
Source: Photo by user Dronepicr used under CC BY 3.0

Xel-ha Park is close to one of the best preserved coastal ruins, Tulum. Located in Tulum, Quintana Roo, the ruins can be found along the Caribbean coast. It is one of the last cities that the Mayans built, before the civilisation disappeared after the Spanish conquest of Mexico. In Tulum, visitors can enjoy a beautiful mix of sun and sea, with a little bit of ancient history.

The Mayan ruins in Tulum

Address: Carretera federal Chetumal – Cancún km. 230, Tulum, QROO, Mexico

Price: Admission - 2.65 USD; Use of video camera - 1.65 USD

Opening Hours: 6:30am - 7pm. Mondays to Sundays.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: From Cancun, there are public buses to Playa Del Carmen. From Playa Del Carmen, you need to take another bus to Mayab or Xel-Ha, which passes by Tulum. The ruins is a one-mile walk from the Tulum bus stop.

Contact: +52 984 802 5405

Immerse in Mexican art and culture

8. Palacio de Bellas Artes

BellasArtesDesdeArriba
Source: Photo by user HA used under CC BY-SA 3.0

For a taste of Mexican modern art, a visit to the Palacio de Bellas Artes or the Palace of Fine Arts is a must. Located in the centre of Mexico city, the palace houses paintings and other works of art by celebrated Mexican artists and a museum for popular arts. It also has a large theatre and a concert hall.

The building itself and its interiors showcase period architecture, having been built from 1904 to 1934.

Palacio de Bellas Artes

Address: Av. Juárez, Centro Histórico, 06050 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Price: from 2.27 USD; free admission on Sundays.

Opening Hours: 10am - 6pm. Tuesdays to Sundays.

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: Take the Line 2 STC Subway and get off at Metro Zocalo station. Walk west on Plaza de la Constitucion and turn right on Av. Francisco Madero and then another right on Av. Juarez.

Contact: +55-1000-4622

Website: Palacio de Bellas Artes

9. Museo Frida Kahlo

2013-12-22 Frida Kahlo Museum Mexico City anagoria
Source: Photo by user Anagoria used under CC BY 3.0

Also called Casa Azul or the Blue House, this museum is actually Frida Kahlo’s old house that was converted into a museum. It now holds the artist’s personal effects and other memorabilia that reflects both her personal and political relationships with people in her life. Works of art are also on display in the museum.

Frida Kahlo Museum

Address: Londres 247, Del Carmen, Coyoacán, 04100 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Price: Admission - 5.6 USD (weekdays), 6.5 USD (weekends)

Opening Hours: 10am to 5:45pm, Tuesday, Thursday to Sunday; from 11am on Wednesday

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: Take the Line 3 (light green colour code) and get off at Coyoacan Station. From the station, you can walk or take a taxi to Londres 247.

Contact: +55-5554-5999

Website: Frida Kahlo Museum

10. Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli

Anahuacalli museum mexico city
Source: Photo by user Juan Scott used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Mexican artist and muralist Diego Rivera, husband of Frida Kahlo, conceptualised this museum as a tribute to Mexican indigenous culture. Located in Coyoacan in the south part of Mexico City, it carries almost 50,000 pieces of Mexican art and crafts that Rivera collected throughout his life. The museum itself is made of volcanic stone that came from Xitle volcano eruption.

Anahuacalli Museum

Address: Museo 150, Coyoacán, San Pablo Tepetlapa, 04620 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Price: Admission for adults - 3.7 USD; for kids under 16 - 1 USD.

Opening Hours: 11:30am to 5:30pm. Wednesdays to Sundays.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: Take the Line 3 (light green color code) and get off at Coyoacan Station. From the station, you can walk or take a taxi to museum.

Contact: +52 55 5617 3797

Website: Anahucalli Museu

History is everywhere in Mexico

Come away from a visit to this unique country with a greater appreciation of ancient and colonial history. Leave with a better understanding of how the country and its citizens struggle to preserve their rich heritage amidst the challenges of modernity.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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I am a freelance writer living in the summer capital of the Philippines, Baguio City. I am passionate about writing and living and anything in between.

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