Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend three days in México City, a place I’ve had on my destination list for well over two years. I planned the trip several months ago, in February, after a close friend asked if I would like to join them in Peru to hike the Inca Trail. When I finally went to buy my tickets for my flight in April, I saw that I could save a few hundred bucks if I flew to Cusco through other cities in Central and South America that serve as hubs for some of the airlines. I finally had the chance to visit México City while also saving money. Naturally, I leapt at the opportunity and I’m so glad I did.
My trip to México City (also known as El Distrito Federal, D.F., or by its direct translation Ciudad de México) was my first international solo trip in four years, which meant that I could do what I love to do most: plan an itinerary full of things I have always wanted to do. After reading through blog posts of some of my favorite travelers who had ventured to the city and a highly rated guidebook I purchased on Amazon, I settled on several sites I wanted to visit and activities I wanted to do.
Since it was my first time in the city, I wanted to visit most of the bigger, tourist-y sites, most of which are located in El Centro (Center City). Therefore, I ended up booking an Airbnb in the area. About a week or so out from my trip, I decided to book a few tours to ensure that I wasn’t left hanging due to one or more of them being sold out.
One thing you must know about me is that I love love LOVE a good walking tour. I genuinely enjoy a good walk and a history lesson, so if there’s a good walking tour in a city I’m new to, you can bet that I will be on it. With that said, two of the three tours listed here are walking tours. However, I understand that many people do not enjoy walking tours as much as I do (or may not be physically capable of participating in them), but I believe that many people will find the ones listed here very enjoyable.
Okay, without further ado, let’s get into my top three tours in CDMX and why you should consider booking them on your next visit to the city!
Tour of Teotihuacán
Only 14 hours after I arrived in CDMX I was awake, dressed, and ready to be picked up for a tour of the Teotihuacán pyramids. Teotihuacán is a historical site about an hour outside of CDMX that is named after the Teotihuacáns, the indigenous peoples who lived in the area before the formation of the Aztec Empire.
Teotihuacán was actually the largest city in Mesoamerica in 1000 CE, and the site you can visit today is where the Teotihuacáns traded goods and worshipped their gods. Most tours will take you two visit the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, the Pyramid of the Sun, and the Pyramid of the Moon. All three are absolutely incredible to behold and you’re allowed to climb both the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. It feels incredible to interact with such an amazing piece of indigenous history.
The tour I went on was one that I booked through this Airbnb experience. The tour covered all three of the aforementioned structures, as well as the archaeological site museum, which gives detailed information about the Teotihuacáns and has a really wonderful model of what the city looked like while still inhabited by Teotihuacáns. The tour also includes a visit to the Beatriz de la Fuente Museum (also known as Museo de los Murales Teotihuacanos), which houses some really beautiful Teotihuacán murals and sculptures.
What I Liked
I loved this particular tour for the following reasons:
- They pick you up and drop you off. This was one of the few tours I saw that picks you up from where you’re staying, drops you off at the same place, and gets you access to the pyramids and the museums. They also pick you up early (I was the last to get picked up at 7:30am), so that you beat the crowds since most of the tour buses arrive at the pyramids around midday.
- The tour group is small. I believe the tour is capped at 25 people. However, my tour group only consisted of about half that and I got the feeling that was pretty standard. Due to our smaller size, my tour group was able to ask questions freely and move from one location to the next relatively quickly.
- The tour guide was great. The tour guide was great at detailing relevant information about each of the pyramids we visited, and then letting us to explore the site on our own. This meant that we had plenty of time to climb the pyramids, take photos, and explore a few of the smaller structures in the area.
- They feed you. This is a running theme with the walking tours I booked in México. Literally every tour I went on ended in or began with a meal. This tour was no exception. After spending a day exploring the pyramids, the tour guide and driver take you to a local restaurant to eat. This is a very welcome addition to the tour because I definitely worked up an appetite by the end of it. You have to pay for the meal yourself, but the prices are reasonable and the food is good.
What I Disliked
The only thing I disliked about this tour was that they only give you about 20 minutes to walk through the archaeological site museum. While the tour guide did point out specific exhibits to pay attention to, as they would help inform our trip to the pyramids, I would have appreciated a good 45 minutes in there. (Granted, I understand that they wanted to give us an opportunity to spend most of our time visiting the pyramids, so our time at the museum had to be relatively short. I can also spend an entire day in any museum of my choice, so take my criticism as you will.)
A few recommendations I have for this particular trip include the following:
- Make sure you have small bills to tip your host and driver. Tip your guide and driver. Airbnb experiences are unique in that usually the person posting the experience is the one giving your tour and, therefore, netting the entirety of the experience’s profits directly. From my understanding, tips in this instance are welcome, but most guides don’t particularly expect it. However, if you book the tour I was on, the host employees other guides and drivers whose salaries would benefit with the supplementary income. Unfortunately, I literally could not find anyone who could break my $500 bill and had to make do tipping a much smaller amount than I would have liked (20% is standard for me). Do not be like me. Try to break your bigger bills, so that you can tip your guides properly!
- Prepare appropriately for a day-long walking tour. I lucked out with the weather as it was roughly 75 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny. However, it was still very chilly in the morning and most of the tour takes place in areas that receive direct sunlight. Therefore, make sure to dress in layers, bring your hat and sunglasses, and put on your sunscreen!
Lucha Libre Tour
I was actually debating whether or not to go to a Lucha Libre show as wrestling is not really my thing. However, after looking into some reviews from a few of my favorite gringo travelers who had gone to a show and loved it, I decided to put it on my list of things to do while in CDMX. Needless to say, I’m so glad I did, as the experience became one of my favorite memories of visiting the city.
If I had to describe Lucha Libre, I would say it’s the Mexican equivalent of the WWE. While the wrestlers are definitely athletes in their own right, the sport has an element of showmanship to it that competitive wrestling does not. Every wrestler has their own backstory, persona, and, of course, unique mask. The overarching story is a rivalry that exists between Los Rudos (the baddies) and Los Técnicos (the goodies). These wrestlers are divided into these two groups and, ultimately, compete against one another.
While you can absolutely go to a show on your own without a tour group, I highly suggest booking a tour, especially if you’re a solo traveler, as this kind of experience is best enjoyed with other people in my opinion. Also, if you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of the matches and wrestlers, it’s helpful to have someone who follows Lucha Libre closely provide you with information on the rules of a match, as well as the backstory of the different wrestlers. All of this information only adds to the excitement of the show.
I booked my tour through this Airbnb experience. The tour guide meets you at El Museo de Bellas Artes in El Centro and, from there, takes you to a taquería across the street where he discusses the show (i.e, the backstory of Lucha Libre, who will be wrestling in the show you’ll be seeing that evening, the rules of each match, etc.). From there, you hop on the train and ride three stops to the arena. After a short walk from the train station to the arena, the guide provides you with a ticket to get in and discusses the evolution of Lucha Libre. Then, you take your seat in your assigned section and watch the show!
What I Liked
As I said earlier, this was one of my favorite memories of my time in CDMX and here’s why:
- The host is incredible. Apart from being a really nice and attentive guy, the guide on the tour I went on was extremely knowledgeable about Lucha Libre and was genuinely enthusiastic about sharing what he knew with us. He was able to answer every question we had without hesitation. He was also kind enough to gift us with our own Lucha Libre mask as a keepsake and made sure we each got to our next destination safely after the show!
- The setting is very informal. I loved the vibe of this particular tour, as you get to know about a Mexican pastime in a very relaxed setting.
- The tour is all-inclusive. The guide paid for everything, which includes two tacos at the taquería, the train fare, and the ticket to enter the arena.
- The tour group is small. Once again, the group for this particular tour was small. I believe this tour is capped at 10 people, which is the perfect size for a tour like this one considering how much wrangling the guide had to do to get us from Point A to Point B. (A bachelor party was on my tour.)
- The show is wildly entertaining. The show is full of drama, athleticism, and acrobatics. Half the time I was “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” over the gravity-defying moves the wrestlers were performing, and the other half of the time I was cheering or booing the wrestlers in the ring. This all happened while munching on popcorn drenched in hot sauce. Talk about a fun show!
What I Disliked
The only thing I disliked about this tour was that the show didn’t last another hour or two. I honestly could have ordered a couple of micheladas and stayed all day.
Here are a few recommendations I have for the tour:
- Go with a guide who is a genuine Lucha Libre enthusiast. Choosing to go with a tour guide who is a genuine Lucha Libre enthusiast definitely helped make this tour worthwhile. Because he was passionate about the sport and clearly attended shows regularly, he was able to get us all up to speed with every wrestler, including some of the visiting wrestlers from other countries.
- Carry small bills. You’ll have the option of buying food and drinks while seated in the arena. There are staff members who are assigned to each section and can take your order if you want a drink or food. However, they only take small bills, so make sure you have some on hand.
- Plan for dinner or another event after the show. The show takes place relatively early (the first match starts around 5pm) and only lasts for about two hours. Therefore, if you’re looking to grab dinner or fit in another evening activity afterward you can. The arena is also only a short drive from Colonia Roma, a neighborhood that houses great restaurants and bars.
LGBT Walking Tour
I heard about this tour through How Not to Travel Like a Basic Bitch’s Instagram stories and quickly added it to my list of things to do in México City. It’s very rare that I get an opportunity to learn the queerstory of a place that I’m traveling to, so I was really excited for this particular tour. I booked the tour through the company’s website about a week before arriving in CDMX.
Named “The LGBT Tour,” the tour actually is split into three parts with the first two parts being a walking tour of certain sections of the city, while the third part explores México City’s gay nightlife. I went on the first part of the tour, which begins at 10am and lasts three hours. Within these three hours I learned about how politics, religion, and, more specifically, colonization, affected México City and its LGBT community. I also learned about notable Mexican LGBTQ folk throughout the ages and got to see several of Diego Rivera’s murals.
What I Liked
There are several aspects of this tour that I really liked. They include the following:
- My guide was terrific. I was very fortunate, in that the owner of the tour company was my guide and I was the only person on this particularly walking tour because the group that was supposed to join me canceled at the last minute. Therefore, I ended up having a private tour with the most knowledgeable person on the tour company’s team. With that said, my guide was extremely thorough and was very accommodating. I could tell that a lot of the information he shared with me was catered specifically to me, a queer woman, which I really appreciated. He was also really funny and hospitable.
- The change in perspective was really informative. I had gone on a walking tour the day before, which was very good and took me to a lot of the same sites as this tour. However, given the nature of this particular tour, I was able to re-visit the sites and hear information about them through an LGBTQ lens. Needless to say, I received a lot of information that I had not heard the day before, which was really eye-opening.
- The tour was pretty damn feminist. The guide spoke a lot about the oppression of queer Mexican women and detailed the lives of really inspiring historical heroines, which I really appreciated.
- They feed you. You stop by a taco stand for lunch, which is paid for by your guide. The food is delicious.
What I Disliked
This isn’t really something I disliked about the tour, as it is more something that I had difficulty with. Hearing about the oppression and trauma members of the LGBTQ community and women were subjected to was more difficult than I thought it was going to be. I definitely had to take a minute to sit with the information that afternoon. However, I’m still very glad that I learned about these histories.
Here are a couple of recommendations I have if you decide to take this tour:
- Arrive 15 minutes early. Your confirmation e-mail after you purchase your ticket online will say to arrive 15 minutes before the tour begins. I did not do this and was, fortunately, okay since the other members of the tour group canceled. However, my guide did say that they typically like to meet earlier than the start time to check everyone in.
- The tour is long so come prepared. The tour is nearly three hours of nonstop walking. Therefore, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shows, have adequate sun protection, and bring a bottle of water.
That wraps up my top three tours in México City! Keep in mind that I only booked four tours while in CDMX, but these stood out enough for me to detail them in the hopes that you’ll consider going on one (or all three!).
I encourage anyone traveling to D.F. to prepare beforehand by deciding what sites you want to see and what activities you would like to do, as some tours fill up faster than others and you don’t want to miss out because you waited until the last minute to reserve a spot. Also, this kind of preparation can help you decide where to stay since staying in a location that’s close to what you’re interested in doing can make access to those sites and activities that much easier.
With all that said, have fun! CDMX has so much to offer!