18 Awesome Free Things To Do In Mexico City
Mexico City is an amazing city and one that seems to become more popular every year for travelers and expats. Even though it is a very affordable place to visit there are also many great free things to do in Mexico City.
We are always trying to give tips for how to save money while traveling while also having a great time. So we collected all our favorite free things to do in Mexico City and created a list for you. Have fun exploring!
1. Go on a Free Walking Tour in Centro Historico
Taking a free walking tour is the first free thing to do in Mexico City that I think all visitors should do. Mexico of City is an area that is full of thousands of years of history. Even before the arrival of the Spanish, Mexico City was the capital of the Aztec Empire known as Tenochtitlan.
The great city of Tenochtitlan impressed even the Spanish when they arrived. It was a huge city covered in temples built on a lake full of waterways earning it the nickname the Venice of Mesoamerica.
Unfortunately, the Spanish destroyed Tenochtitlan and built Mexico City on top. But you can see remains of this history spread throughout the city center. Taking a free walking tour is a great way to get a quick overview of this super interesting history.
Estacion Mexico has really good walking tours that leave daily at 11 am and 2 pm from in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral. Of course, the guides expect a tip, as that is how they make their living, but it is up to you to decide how much.
2. Explore the Zocalo (Best Free Thing to do in Mexico City for First-Timers)
The Zocalo is the main square in Mexico City and has been a gathering area since Aztec times. In Tenochtitlan, the Aztecs also used to gather in the exact same spot where the Zocalo exists today.
It is not the prettiest square in the world but impressive in size. During big events such as Independence Day, the square can hold over 100,000 people!
In the middle of the Zocalo, there is a huge Mexican flag flying. If you arrive early in the morning or in the late afternoon you can see the ceremony where they raise or take down the flag. It’s also a good place to snap a photo with the colorful Mexico City letters.
There are also many important buildings around the square such as the National Palace and the Mexico City Metropolitan Church. They are both cool free things to do in Mexico City and are described in more detail next on this list.
TIP: If you want a great view of the Zocalo then there are many rooftop restaurants and cafes around the edge. Most of them are tourist traps and sell overpriced drinks and food but they have an awesome view. So just stop in for a quick drink, enjoy the view, and leave!
3. Go inside the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
The Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral is located on the Zocalo and is the largest catholic church in the Americas. It is an impressive church due to its sheer size and is free to enter so is an awesome free thing to do in Mexico City.
The church was built between 1573 and 1813 so took over 250 years to build. It was initially decided to build the church here because it is in this location that one of the most important temples of the Aztecs once stood.
Constructing the church over the top of the temple was intended as a symbol of Spanish dominance over the newly conquered territory. Today the church is an important place of worship for the Mexican people as a large portion of the population is still devout Catholics.
4. Have a Look at the Ruins of Templo Mayor for free
Templo Mayor was the main temple in Tenochtitlan and its exact location was forgotten for hundreds of years. Then in the 1900s archaeologists began work trying to uncover the location of Templo Mayor.
Eventually, it was found that it was buried right next to the Metropolitan Cathedral at the Zocalo and excavation began in the 1970s. Today the ruins can be viewed for free and there is a cool model showing you what the city of Tenochtitlan looked like.
TIP: If you want a closer look at the ruins there is also a museum on site that is worth visiting for 85 pesos (4 USD).
5. Visit the National Palace (My Favorite Free Thing to do in Mexico City)
The National Palace is located on the Zocalo and is one of the most important buildings in Mexico. It is the official residence of the president of Mexico and was built using materials from the Aztec palace that used to stand in its place.
Today you can visit the palace for free and see the murals by Diego Rivera (the husband of Frida Kahlo) that cover the walls. There is also a small museum on site but the best part in my opinion are the murals with many hidden details and so much meaning.
The palace is open from 9 am to 5 pm and closed on Mondays. Entrance is free and it is one of my favorite free things to do in Mexico City.
TIP: You will need to bring your passport and give it to the guards so you can enter. This is because it is an important building so there is quite tight security.
6. Go inside the Palacio Postal Mexico City for free
The Palacio Postal is a beautifully designed post office in the historic center of Mexico City. It was designed by the same architect who designed the Palacio de Bellas Artes which is the next free thing to do in Mexico City on this list you have to see.
The interior is covered in stunning gold designs and surprisingly still functions as a post office today. It is free to enter and will only take a few minutes to look around, but it is beautiful and worth visiting.
7. Admire the Palacio de Bellas Artes for free on Sunday
The Palacio de Bellas Artes is in my opinion the most beautiful building in Mexico City. The art deco interior of the building is stunning and is covered in beautiful murals by Mexico’s most well-known muralists. The theater inside regularly hosts ballet performances and orchestras.
Entrance is free on Sunday so it is one of the best free things to do in Mexico City on a Sunday!
TIP: For an awesome view of the Palacio de Bellas Artes (see picture below) go into the SEARS department store across the road. Head to the cafe on the top floor. The coffee tastes terrible but it’s worth it for the view!
7. Walk Madero Street
Madero Street is the main walking and shopping street in Centro Historico that is usually jam-packed with pedestrians. The street will take you from the beautiful Palacio de Bellas Artes all the way to the Zocalo.
The street is full of shops, a couple of museums, and a few beautiful historical buildings such as the Casa de los Azules. On the weekends Mexicans love to stroll around the city center so Madero Street gets packed, also in the evenings!
9. Visit the Soumaya Museum (A Free Thing to do in Mexico City for Art Lovers)
The Soumaya Museum is one of the best free museums in Mexico City created by one of the world’s richest men Carlos Slim. He is the richest man in Mexico and fully funded the museum and donated all the art.
The museum contains over 66,000 pieces of European and Mexican art and is particularly interesting if you like art. The exterior of the museum is also beautifully designed and has an interesting shape. It is covered in aluminum tiles that sparkle in the sun.
The museum is located on the edge of Polanco which is kind of the ‘Beverley Hills’ of Mexico City. The main shopping street is full of designer brands and wide streets. It is completely different from what most people imagine Mexico City to be. So I recommend going for a walk around the area before or after visiting the museum.
10. Hang out at Parque España on Sunday
Parque España is a public park in Condesa that is my favorite park in Mexico City. It is a big shady leafy park that always has a nice relaxed atmosphere. Visiting it is a great free and fun thing to do in Mexico City on any day of the week but is particularly nice on Sundays when it’s full of locals.
There is a large concrete square where people will be playing sports, skateboarding, and dancing so there are all kinds of activities going on. It is an awesome spot to sit down with a drink or some snacks and do some people-watching.
Read also: 10 Top things to do in Condesa
11. Check Out the Markets (A Free Thing to do in Mexico City for Foodies)
Shopping at a market is a central part of Mexican life and a great place to learn about Mexico’s culture and practice some Spanish. Mexico City is full of hundreds of markets and exploring one is a great free thing to do in Mexico City.
There are all types of markets in Mexico City selling everything you could imagine: food, crafts, witchcraft, electronics, clothes, and second-hand items. Find your favorite one to visit in our blog post on the best markets in Mexico City.
12. Soak Up some History at the Square of the Three Cultures
Because of the long history of Mexico City, there have been many cultures that have come and gone from the area. One site where you can see evidence of this is the Square of the Three Cultures.
There you can see some Mesoamerican ruins next to a Spanish colonial church that is next to several modern apartment buildings. It is because of the combination of these three buildings that the area is named the Square of the Three Cultures.
There is also a memorial at the site for the Tlatelolco massacre which happened in 1968. During 1968 there were many protests against government spending for the 1968 Summer Olympics to be held in Mexico City.
Student protesters gathered at the Square of the Three Cultures where the army opened fire killing between 300-400 people. It was a highly controversial event with the truth hidden from the public for many years.
So if you are interested in history this small square is packed full of it!
13. Stroll around Chapultepec Park
Chapultepec is the biggest and most famous park in Mexico City. It is the largest park in Latin America and has been a place for people to escape the city since the time of the Aztecs.
The park is huge and it is a great place to go for a walk, a run, or people watch. There are also multiple attractions inside the park such as Chapultepec Castle, museums, and a free zoo.
14. Go inside the Basilica of Our Lady Guadalupe for free
The Basilica of Our Lady Guadalupe is one of the most important churches in Mexico and receives around 20 million visitors a year! It is an important pilgrimage site for Mexicans and is the second most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world.
There are multiple churches and chapels on site and although they are not the most spectacular it is an interesting area to explore. It is also a fairly long way from the city center so will take you a little off the beaten path.
15. Wander through China Town
What may be a surprise to a lot of people is that Mexico actually has a long history of Chinese immigration. Chinese people first started to migrate to Mexico to help build the railroads between 1880 and 1910.
It was due to this immigration that the China Town in Mexico City was built. Compared to other ones around the world it’s not the best China Town you can experience. The food is not very authentic and there are not many options for places to eat.
But it is still an interesting free thing to do in Mexico City which you can easily access as it is very close to Palacio de Bellas Artis. It looks like other China Towns around the world with the familiar red gate and lanterns in the air.
16. Walk Avenida Amsterdam (My Second Favorite Free Thing to do in Mexico City)
Avenida Amsterdam is a beautiful road in the middle of Condesa that is my favorite place to go for a walk in Mexico City. It’s a pedestrian walkway with trees on either side that give you a nice green shady area to run or walk.
There are also many nice buildings, bookstores, fountains, cafes, and restaurants along the road. So it is also an awesome place to stop for a coffee or something to eat.
17. Check out the Monument to the Revolution
The Monument to the Revolution is a giant archway located close to the Centro Historico that is a great free thing to do in Mexico City. It is dedicated to the heroes of the Mexican Revolution and four of them are entombed under the corners of the arch.
There is also an interesting history behind the construction of the monument: It was originally supposed to be the location of the new Mexican government. The dome of the archway was supposed to be the dome of the building.
But the building was never finished due to the Mexican Revolutionary War. Many years later the dome was starting to rust and a local artist proposed turning it into a monument to commemorate the heroes of the war.
TIP: There is also a museum about the revolution under the archway that costs 150 pesos (7 USD) to enter. This also includes access to an observation deck at the top of the arch.
18. Explore Huerto Roma Verde Community Garden
Huerto Roma Verde is a community center in the heart of Roma that is a green and interesting oasis in the middle of the city. It has a cafe, garden and hosts a variety of socio-environmental activities and art.
On the weekend there are markets where sustainable products and other goods are for sale. There are also various other workshops held here during the week. It is a really interesting area and well worth strolling around.
Is Mexico City a Cheap City to Visit?
Mexico City can be a very cheap city to visit as long as you make the right decisions. If you spend all your time living in and eating out in the wealthier areas such as Polanco and Condesa then it can be an expensive stay.
Higher-end restaurants in these areas can have similar prices to Europe and North America. But if you go just outside of these bubbles or indulge in Mexican street food then it is a very affordable city you can spend months exploring.
How to Stay for Free in Mexico City
If you love pets you should check out Trusted House Sitters. It is a great way to look after cute pets and live like a local in exchange for a place to stay.
In Mexico, we did pet sits in Mexico City, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, and La Paz and had an awesome time. So if you are a pet person we highly recommend joining the platform.
Now you know the Best Free Things to do in Mexico City
Mexico City is one of my favorite cities in the world and is full of great free things to do. We have spent many months in different parts of Mexico City as it’s also a great hub for meeting locals, backpackers, expats, or digital nomads.
Because we love Mexico City we have also written more blog posts about it. So make sure to check them out below and leave us a comment with any questions or additions you may have for us!
- 13 Best Cities in Mexico for Digital Nomads
- 12 Reasons To Visit Mexico City For First-Timers
- A Complete Travel Guide to Condesa Mexico City
- Best Tacos In Mexico City: 12 Taquerias You Will Love
- Vegan Food In Mexico City: 14 Delicious Places Not To Miss
- 10 Food And Craft Markets In Mexico City You Have To Visit