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Laura Bronner By
Posted 30 Mar, 2020 | No comments
Posted in: Mexico, Travel Blogs

Mexico City is an enormous metropolis and navigating it on your own can seem overwhelming, especially on your first trip to the city. Thankfully there are tons of great tours in Mexico City to help you experience it like a local and learn about the incredible history, culture, and food along the way. 

I’ve been living in and writing about Mexico City for almost four years now.

The history of this city and of course, the food on offer at every turn, have become an enormous passion of mine. Most of what I know about this city is thanks to the incredible tour guides that I’ve met along the way. 

bellas artes mexico city tours

Here it goes, my list of the top 10 Mexico City tours you won’t want to miss!

1. Mexico City History Tours

Mexico City is packed with history. Before it was the capital of Mexico, it was the capital of the Spanish colony of New Spain and even before that, the Aztecs built their empire on the very location where you can now find the Mexico City Cathedral.

Hidden Mexico City

If you want to delve deep into the history of Mexico City with a tour guide, Urban Adventures has partnered with Lonely Planet to put together one of the most comprehensive historical tours that you can you take on a trip to CDMX, Hidden Mexico City.

This is a group tour and one of the more affordable history tour options at $64 USD per person. 

It includes stops at Templo Mayor, a sacred temple built by the Aztecs and where, it’s believed, many of their human sacrifices took place.

You’ll then carry on into the Zocalo, or main square, where you’ll start to learn about the arrival of the Spanish and the work that was put into building the cathedral that now stands as the centerpiece of the city.

You’ll head past several of the city’s most prominent buildings such as the Palacio de Bellas Artes and the old post office until you reach the Diego Rivera Mural Museum.

From there you’ll wander through Mexico City’s small Chinatown and then finish at Mercado San Juan where you can try some indigenous foods like ant larvae and crickets. After that, you’ll learn how to make your own tortillas and finish up by eating some delicious quesadillas.

mexico city tours zocalo

Discover The Historic Center of Mexico City

Another fantastic Mexico City history tour can be taken with the Journeys Beyond the Surface. These are private tours and completely customizable. The owner, Mojdeh, will make sure to set you up with a local historian to guide you through the Centro Historico.

The price of the tour depends on whether you want a full or half-day experience as well as how many people are in your group. Prices start at $200 USD.

Free Walking Tour

As with many cities in the world, Mexico’s capital is home to a free walking tour. This tour runs in English two times a day — 11:00am and 2:30pm. 

You’ll visit the historical center while taking in the Catedral Metropolitana, Palacio Nacional, Templo Mayor, Iglesia de Santo Domingo, Teatro Fru Fru, Bellas Artes, and much more. 

While this is technically a free walking tour of Mexico City, it’s tip-based. At the end of the experience, if you’re happy with your guide and what you learned, around $5-10 per person is expected, and much appreciated. 

templo mayor mexico city tour

2. Mexico City Food Tours

Mexico City is perhaps most famous with visitors for its culinary delights. If you are looking to indulge in the city’s best street eats, you have got to take a Mexico City food tour.

The all-female owned and operated Devoured run fantastic food tours around Mexico City.

Owner Anais was born and raised in Mexico City, studied culinary arts, and shares with an immense passion not only the best food in Mexico at every price point, but also the history of the different native foods in her beloved city.

If you’re short on time or didn’t manage to snag a reservation at one of the city’s top restaurants, Tasty Bites run an incredible tour called the Top Chef Culinary Adventure.

This tour takes you around the popular Roma and Condesa neighbourhoods and into some of the city’s most coveted restaurants to sample the best of each menu.

mexico city food tours

Airbnb is packed with food tour experiences that allow you to go where the locals go. If you want to learn about the origins of chocolate and taste proper Mexican-style hot chocolate, this chocolate and churros food tour is spectacular — and affordable.

If your trip is only a quick one, a taco tour is a perfect way to sample tons of different types of tacos in a short period of time. On this highly-rated, affordable Airbnb experience taco tour, you’ll visit Mexico City’s most famous taco stalls and restaurants on a quick 2-hour lunch tour.

3. Teotihuacan Day Trips

The nearest pyramids to Mexico City, Teotihuacan is a short one-hour journey from downtown Mexico City and is one of the city’s top attractions, and best day trips. 

There are a myriad of ways to experience this place, but if you want to really get to know the history of the city and the people who lived here, going with a guide is ideal.

Private Tours to Teotihuacan

Journeys Beyond the Surface offer some of the most knowledgeable guides in Mexico City, so history buffs won’t want to miss their Teotihuacan experience.

They offer private tours that include pick up and drop off at your hotel or Airbnb, a bilingual guide, entry to the pyramids and any other stops that you want to make throughout the day.

Teotihuacan day trips from mexico city

Group Tours to Teotihuacan

If you go to Teotihuacan with a group tour, it also usually includes a stop at the Shrine of Guadalupe and at the Plaza de Tres Culturas. Many also include a stop at a silver shop along the way and a visit to a souvenir shop outside of Teotihuacan where you can sample pulque and mezcal.

Usually, the group tours end with lunch at a restaurant near the pyramids before you are brought back to your hotel in Mexico City.

This tour provides early access to the site, meaning you’ll have it practically to yourself, plus guide and transport. (from the meeting point, not your hotel) At $35/person, it’s also an affordable option. 

Alternatively, Get Your Guide offers this full-day tour of Teotihuacan which also includes stops at Tres Culturas and the Shrine of Guadalupe. Lunch is not included in this tour, but pick-up from most hotels are. At $33.60/person, it’s another affordable option. 

4. Xochimilco Party Boats

Xochimilco is Mexico City’s most famous party spot for both tourists and locals.

It’s most frequented on weekends when people pile into colorful trajineras, or small boats that are rowed by a strong and experienced rower. They’ll be happy to let you try it, just don’t let go of that stick!

Once on the water, mariachi bands may hop on and play you a few songs (for a fee of course). There are other boats that float by selling tacos, chapulines (fried crickets), as well as big cups of ice-cold beer.

It’s best enjoyed in a group, so if you are traveling around Mexico City solo or just with one or two other people, going with a tour is the best way to experience the festive atmosphere.

It’s also best to go with someone who speaks Spanish and knows the area because it can be confusing the find the right entrance to the canals and tourists are frequently ripped off by locals looking to make a few extra Pesos.

Xochimilco tour mexico city

Xochimilco Tour with a Trip to Frida Kahlo’s Home

This Xochimilco tour with Get Your Guide includes two hours out on the water as well as a trip to the nearby neighbourhood of Coyoacan.

You’ll get a chance to visit Frida Kahlo’s home, learn about the famous conquistador Hernan Cortes who made Coyoacan his home, and you’ll also visit the country’s largest university, UNAM.

UNAM is not just a university, but a city in its own right. It’s home to murals and mosaics by some of Mexico’s most famous artists including Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros

Xochimilco Tour with Tacos and Mezcal

If you are looking for a tour that goes just to Xochimilco (without visiting Frida Kahlo’s home, or the University), there is a great option on Airbnb experiences. The team of people who run these tours are all from Mexico City and know the best places to show you in and around Xochimilco.

You’ll be able to sample a few different tacos and mezcals. They are also incredibly passionate about this part of the city and share not only the present parties with you but also the history of how this place came to be. Click here to learn more about this fun tour in Mexico City.

5. Lucha Libre

Lucha Libre is Mexico’s version of the WWE. It’s theatrical wrestling that draws huge crowds most nights of the week in Mexico City.

If you are a confident Spanish-speaker, then heading here on your own is relatively simple. However, if you are traveling solo or you don’t speak much Spanish, then you’ll definitely want to head here on a tour.

Most Lucha Libre tours have a specific meeting point where you may have a drink or a few tacos before the fight.

Then you’ll head to the arena where your tour guide will purchase the tickets if they haven’t already been purchased in advance.

They’ll help you translate what the wrestlers are saying and make sure you enjoy a few micheladas and palomitas or Mexican style beers and popcorn.

One of the best guides around for the Lucha Libre is Ubish of Mexico Underground. He’ll help you understand why Lucha Libre is such a huge part of the Mexican culture here and take you to one of the best taco spots in the area.

Another option is this highly rated tour with Underground Adventures. It differs from the others as it includes visiting (and drinking) at a few cantinas, and dancing to mariachi music. This tour is focused on Luca Libre, but includes a few fun extras.

Tours are only available on the days when there are fights which in Mexico City is Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

6. Market Tours in Mexico City

Markets are a cornerstone of Mexican life and visiting one with a tour is a great way to learn more about the culture that surrounds these markets. You’ll also get a chance to try native fruits, chilies, and even some mole sauces if you head to the right market.

For an immersive tour that allows you to learn all about local markets while also giving you the chance to eat delicious Mexican food and learn how to prepare it yourself, Casa Jacaranda runs a wonderful market tour and cooking class.

It’s an incredible full-day experience that includes shopping at a nearby Mexican market where you will learn about the fruits, vegetables, and most importantly, the chilies that make Mexican food the cuisine that you taste.

If you’d prefer to spend more time in the markets sampling food from the different vendors this Airbnb experience delves deep into the markets of Mexico City.

mexico city markets

This tour starts with a trip on Mexico City’s metro where you’ll alight at Mercado Merced, the city’s largest market and indeed one of the largest markets in all of Mexico.

You’ll learn about traditional medicinal plants, Mexican cheese, chilies, moles, and spices.

The best part of the tour is that you’ll also get to sample different Mexican street foods like tlacoyos and gorditas. 

7. Chinampas Farm Tours

Long before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century and before even the Aztecs built their city in the middle of the lake, there was a group of people known as the Xochimilcos.

This indigenous group lived their lives as subsistence farmers where they grew crops on plots of land that they built on top of shallow waters.

These people still live in the Xochimilco area today, but not in the same touristy area where you find the colorful party boats.

The land that has been built on that water is only passed onto other family members. It’s actually illegal to sell and up until about 10 years ago, many people left their plots to sink because there wasn’t enough money coming in to upkeep the land.

However, a revival has started led partly by some of the city’s top chefs like Enrique Olvera of Pujol and Enrique Vallejo of Quintonil and partly by the next generation of farmers who want to keep up the traditions of their ancestors.

It’s really only possible to visit this area with a tour, so if you want to learn more be sure to check out the tours offered by Mexico Underground, the Curious Mexican, or Humedalia which is a non-profit company on Airbnb.

Mexico Underground

Ubish of Mexico Underground works closely with a small collective of farmers who are trying to collect Mexican seeds from around the country and keep the original produce of this region like corn, cilantro, broccoli and tomatoes from getting lost.

A tour with Ubish will include transportation to the farm, a delicious lunch made at the farm, the best pulque you’ll ever have, and the opportunity to learn more about the ancient axolotl.

The axolotl is a salamander that looks otherwordly but has called these waters home since the time of the Aztecs. Unfortunately, there are fewer than 500 of them left, so these same farmers are working to grow the population. 

Curious Mexican

The tour with the Curious Mexican is ideal for foodies that want to learn more about the growing process. Anais of the Curious Mexican works with a farming collective known as Yolcan.

Yolcan provide top quality produce for Pujol, among other top restaurants in the city.

This tour includes a trip to the chinampas whee you’ll have a small breakfast and learn about what’s being done there. Afterward, you can opt to enjoy lunch at Yolcan or you can head to the other side of Xochimilco to have tacos and ride on a party boat.

Non-Profit Humedalia

On this trip, you’ll cruise down the channels of Xochimilco wetlands by canoe, while learning the history of the area, and the importance of sustainability. 

When you arrive at Chinampa, you’ll get your hands dirty while experiencing ancient cultivating techniques, crop irrigation, harvesting and seeding. This is one of the more rewarding experiences you can have. Snacks are included in this tour as well. Learn more here, or click the image below.

chinampas tour mexico city 

8. Bike Riding Tours

While the chaos of the city may make you think bike riding isn’t the best option, the city is actually very well set up for cyclists. There are bike lanes on most main roads and there’s not much better than riding along the tree-lined paths of Chapultepec Park.

Bike tours are a really great way to visit several different neighbourhoods in one day while burning off all of the delicious tacos you’ll eat at every stop!

One of the best bike tours in Mexico City is with Bikes and Munchies

The tour starts in the Juarez neighbourhood, where you’ll meet your guide, get your bike and have the first few treats of the tour: coffee and tamales.

The tour always includes two guides, one who will be your main tour guide and a second person who will help direct traffic when you are crossing intersections making sure everyone is safe and together.

You’ll wind your way through Juarez, into Roma where you’ll stop for more street food and a market visit at Mercado Medellin.

You’ll grab some agua frescas, which are drinks made from fruit and water. You’ll then head through Condesa and finish at the stunning Chapultepec Park.

bike experiences mexico city

You’re never riding your bike for too long, but it’s still a strenuous enough ride that you’ll want to be relatively fit. Especially because Mexico City sits at over 2,000 meters (7,000 feet) above sea level. Click here for details on this fun Mexico City tour.

9. Hiking Tours 

Mexico City is surrounded by mountains. In the central region of Mexico are some of the tallest mountains in the entire country. 

Those who love hiking and trekking should definitely take a tour and day trip to one of the many surrounding regions.

Airbnb Experiences is a great place to look for knowledgable tour guides. You’ll find people who hike these mountains almost every weekend and have plenty of experience hiking at altitude.

Consider taking these tours towards the end of your time in Mexico City so that you are more accustomed to the altitude, especially if you usually live at sea level.

For something that really challenges you, consider hiking the Nevado de Toluca. This is the fourth highest peak in Mexico and can be very challenging, so only attempt this if you are in good shape and have some experience hiking.

day trip from mexico city to volcano

This tour and this tour are great options from Mexico City with experienced guides who not only hike often but lead groups of hikers regularly.

You can choose to make your own way to Toluca, a nearby city about 45 minutes away from downtown CDMX, or you can pay a small additional fee to start the tour in Mexico City.

In addition to an experienced guide, the tour also includes the national park fee, lunch, drinks, and snacks. 

10. Puebla and Cholula Day Trips

While Puebla and Cholula could easily be a trip in their own right, if you’re short on time you’ll definitely want to hire a tour guide to show you all of the best spots on a day trip.

Private Tours

For fantastic private tours, Journeys Beyond the Surface will pair you up with a guide who really knows the area.

You’ll discuss exactly what you want out of your trip with the owner before you head out on your tour so that you can make sure not to miss out on the Talavera pottery shops or the best mole restaurants in the city of Puebla.

Cholula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site only 10 minutes from Puebla, is home to one of the largest pyramids in the world (based on volume).

While it looks like nothing more than a hill, a small entrance on the side will lead you through a labyrinth underground tunnel network. 

Group Tours

Get Your Guide also offers a great full-day tour that leaves from Mexico City and takes you to both Puebla and Cholula. 

It’s a long 10-hour day, but you’ll leave early enough to avoid the traffic and you’ll see a ton of both Puebla and Cholula.

You’ll explore the history and culture of this part of the country, see the nearby volcanos and learn about the legends that surround them, and of course, you’ll eat a delicious lunch in Puebla.

puebla day trip from mexico city

Now You Know The Best Tours in Mexico City!

There is truly an endless amount of activities and tours to keep you busy on a trip to Mexico City.

Even if you’ve visited before, trust me, as someone who thinks there isn’t anything else I could possibly learn about this city, there’s always something new to discover and going with an experienced local tour guide is the best way to do it.

Whether you want to deep dive into the history of the Aztecs and other Meso-American cultures that lived in the Mexico City region, you want to explore the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains, or you just want to stuff your face with amazing tacos, there’s a tour for you in Mexico City.

Images in this article are courtesy of Shutterstock.com, a platform filled with beautiful royalty-free images and videos. Learn more here

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Laura Bronner

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In the last 10 years, Laura has lived in Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, England, and now – Mexico. She wants to show you that a life of travel doesn’t require a ton of money or all that much bravery. She’s been doing it for all this time without either of them. Learn more and follow Laura at Eternal Expat.

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