Mexico City is one of the most affordable destinations in Mexico. On top of that, it has a lot of activities to offer its visitors ranging from cultural activities to activities for the whole family. Many activities are cheap, but did you know there are several free things to do in Mexico City? You don’t have to spend a single dime to enjoy them.
If you’re traveling on a budget or you simply like to save money when possible (like me), it’s always good to have some options at hand. Whether you’re traveling solo or with someone else, make sure to check out these activities. Let’s get started!
Bosque de Chapultepec: Wildlife and Nature
If you thought Mexico City was just buildings and a lot of traffic, let me tell you it has one of the largest parks in Latin America. Have you ever been to Central Park in New York City? Well, it’s something similar but bigger.
You can spend a whole day touring its facilities. Admission is free. Grab a pair of comfortable shoes and go for a walk. Explore your surroundings, admire the trees and animals around like squirrels and other birds. If you’re into people-watching, this is the place to go, too.
Right inside the Bosque, you can find a zoo. The little ones will love watching the animals. It’s open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 to 4:30. General admission is free. You only have to pay if you want to enter some specialized areas like the butterfly or snake exhibits. Other than that, you can see the rest of the animals for free. Pandas are the main attraction. How cute!
Paseo de la Reforma Bike Rides
Mexico City is one of the most bike-friendly places in Mexico. Did you know there’s a program that even allows you to borrow a bike for up to 3 hours? It’s called Bicigratis.
The government closes the area to car traffic around Paseo de la Reforma on the last Sunday of each month. You can borrow a bike and explore the area at your own pace. It’s a great way to tour the area and do some exercise. How cool is that?
Climb to the Top of the Angel de la Independencia
This national monument is the place to go to when the National Soccer team scores a victory. Whenever that happens, you will always see a large crowd of fans celebrating in the area.
The Angel was given to Mexico by the French government and is one of our national icons. And did you know you can climb to the top? It’s free, BUT you have to present a written request at the Patrimonio Cultural de la Delegación office. The process takes about 15 minutes.
If I’m not mistaken, it’s currently undergoing renovations so it’s closed to the public. Make sure to check it out when visiting as we don’t know when it will be reopened.
When you go anywhere, visiting its historic center is a must. No visit is complete without it.
You will love the Historic Center in Mexico City. Its most important point is the Zócalo or Plaza de la Constitución. It’s one of the largest of its kind in the world. It’s one of the main gathering points for locals. You can even watch free Aztec performances. There are also frequent events like book fairs and other events you can attend. Check out the city calendar of events when visiting.
You will have lots of photo opportunities. There are many beautiful old buildings in the area. The best of all: It’s free!
Catedral Metropolitana and Basílica de Guadalupe
This cathedral is the oldest and largest one in Latin America. It’s right in front of the Zócalo. Even if you’re not religious, I recommend just visiting for the architecture and the beautiful details you will see.
Depending on the day and time you go, it can be crowded so plan accordingly.
Another option would be the Basílica de Guadalupe. Remember our previous post where we mentioned the Virgin of Guadalupe is one of the most well-known saints in the world? Her basilica is on top of Tepeyac Hill and is a must in Mexico City.
Diego Rivera’s Works
Diego Rivera is one of Mexico’s most famous painters of all time. He is especially known for his murals and you can find them in several places in Mexico City. These are several museums that host his works:
- Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso
- Museo Mural Diego Rivera
- Museo Dolores Olmedo
- Palacio Nacional
Entry to Palacio Nacional is free any day, but entry to the other 3 is free on certain days only, either Tuesdays or Sundays. If you’re an art lover, you don’t want to miss out.
Visit a Museum
Mexico City has more museums than any other city all over the country. Several of them are even free every day! These are some museums you can visit without spending a dime:
- Museo Soumaya Plaza Carso
- Museo Sooumaya Plaza Loreto
- Casa Guillermo Tovar y de Teresa
- Museo del Estanquillo
- Museo Nacional de la Acuarela
- Museo Panteon de San Fernando
- Museo de los Ferrocarrileros
- Museo Archivo de la Fotografía
- Galería de la SCHP
- Palacio de la Escuela de Medicina
There are many more museums you can visit. Mexico City has over 150 of them, making it one of the countries with the most museums in the world. The good thing is, most of them offer free entry once a week. Entry to museums is generally free on Sundays, with some exceptions.
What? A library? Why not? The Biblioteca Vasconcelos has a unique architectural style. It’s not the typical library you see out there. It has a cool layout with steel structures and around 500,000 works of literature. There are several spaces where you can sit down and read a book of your choice.
However, it’s not all about books. They also offer free writing, computer, and science workshops. Not only that, but there are also films screenings, conferences, dance performances, plays, music, storytelling, and activities for the whole family. Make sure to check the library’s calendar of events as they often host these events.
The museum also offers free Wi-Fi and has beautiful gardens in its facilities. Check it out!
Mexico City’s public university is on the top list of Best Latin American Universities and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Just like a library, a university may not be the typical tourist destination, but UNAM is one of those exceptions. It’s a marvel of architecture with a blend of pre-Hispanic, colonial, mid-1990, and contemporary styles. Not only that but there are also impressive murals throughout the campus.
Who would have thought a university could be so cool?
Go on a Free Walking Tour
Another cool option is taking a free tour. Although they are technically free, tips are appreciated.
You will find several options at your disposal. Some of the most famous tours are:
- Historic Downtown
- Ciudad Universitaria CU
These are great ways to tour the city, plus you will have a knowledgeable local guide who will provide you with lots of useful information. The tours are offered in Spanish and/or English.
La Ciudadela Market
It’s a very colorful place. You will see lots of beautiful handicrafts of all kinds. Admission is free and it’s great for window shopping. However, you will probably want to buy something, so make sure to bring some cash with you just in case.
It’s located in the downtown area so it’s easily accessible.
There you have it. There are no more excuses for not enjoying your stay on a budget. As you can see, there are tons of free things to do in Mexico City. It’s just a matter of searching and you will find something cool.
Bring your camera or make sure you have enough space on your phone because you will take lots of pictures. And don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes because you will walk a lot.
You don’t need any money to do any of the above activities. All you need is the right mindset.
Have you visited any of the places mentioned in this post? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
Book your trip now!
Book your flight
The first thing you have to do is find cheap flights. But where do you find those? There are many search engines, but the one I highly recommend is Skyscanner. Here you can compare fares from all over the world and pick the one that suits you best.
Book your accommodation
The next thing you have to do is secure your lodging. Whether you prefer a hostel, a guesthouse, a B&B, or a hotel, you can find them all on Booking. You can find lodging of all kinds ranging from cheap to expensive and somewhere in between. Many people have scored good deals using it.
Another popular option is Hostelworld. This website focuses on hostels as opposed to hotels.
Book a tour
In some places, you might want to hire a tour. Not all places are equally accessible to visit by oneself. It helps enormously when you visit with a local guide who can show you around and answer any questions you might have…all in your native language. My to-go place is Viator as they offer tours of all kinds and have a presence all over the world.
Rent a car
Public transportation is usually cheaper than renting a car, but it’s sometimes more complicated and time-consuming. That’s a reality. In some cases, it’s more convenient to rent a car. My recommendation is Rentalcars.com. Here you can compare rates and choose the one that fits you best.
Book your bus tickets
You can save money by booking bus tickets online. My favorite site to do this is Busbud.
Get travel insurance
Never travel without a travel insurance policy, especially during these days! Travel insurance can save your life. My recommendations are World Nomads and Insured Nomads. Both companies cover COVID-19 related incidents, which is crucial these days.
Just click on the “Plan your trip” tab at the top of this page, and you will find more resources like getting Mexican insurance for your foreign car, buying travel accessories, and learning Spanish. And, of course, don’t forget to check back often to read about more tips on Mexico travel.