Introduction to Mexico City: Historic Center with Bellas Artes

Experience the most essential sites of the city, from the Aztecs to today with an expert local guide
From US$103 for 1 person
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Tour Details
Duration
3 hours
Product Type
Tour
Venues
  • Templo Mayor
  • Palacio Nacional
  • Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Zócalo
  • Bellas Artes Museum
Photos & Highlights
  • Stand where Aztec sacrifices took place centuries ago.
  • Travel in time through the architectural evolution of Mexico City, exploring the juxtaposition of Aztec ruins with colonial marvels and modern masterpieces like Palacio de Bellas Artes.
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Tour Description
Start with gods and glyphs, end with modern marvels. Along the way, you’ll catch a whiff of sizzling tacos wafting from street vendors and hear laughter blending with the rhythmic strum of a mariachi band. Here, the city offers a juxtaposition of ancient Aztec ruins with opulent colonial architecture and the pulse of modern life today. 

This is your ticket to the vibrant heart of Mexico City. Join a local expert on a captivating journey through the city center, where history comes alive through sights, sounds, tastes, and smells. 

  • Begin at the Templo Mayor ruins. Did you know the sacrificial stone used by the Aztecs is still housed here? Hear tales of sacrifice and ancient rituals as you stand where it all unfolded. Travel back in time, learning about the Aztecs who thrived there until the Spanish conquest. 
  • Stroll across the street to the Metropolitan Cathedral, the first cathedral built in the Americas. Commissioned by Cortés, it boasts 51 vaults and 74 arches that house a unique blend of Renaissance, Baroque, and Neo-Classical architecture, along with countless altarpieces and artworks. 
  • Detour to San Ildefonso College if you want more art history. Here you can view works by Mexican muralists José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera.
  • Meander through the Zócalo, the former Aztec ceremonial center, and enjoy views of the National Palace. 
  • Continue through El Centro, where you can smell the aromas of fresh tortillas, say hello to local vendors, and maybe grab a torta or concha. 
  • The Palacio de Bellas Artes marks the final stop. This crown jewel is home to several iconic murals and hosts numerous theatrical and musical performances, film premieres, and artist exhibitions.  
Unbox your own adventure, exploring with an expert who listens. From art to architecture to archaeology, your guide will curate a walk just for you, weaving in your interests and sparking conversation. It's your time, your pace, your discovery. This tour is only the beginning of your connection with the vibrant spirit of Mexico City.

  • You want to swap your guidebook for an actual CDMX expert who can lead you through Mexico City’s evolution, from the Aztec civilization to the current modern metropolis it is today.
  • You’d like to get to know a Mexico City local who can do double duty — they have the background and history you want for your tour, and they can point you to the best taquerias and pastelerias for afterward. 
  • You’re dying to unleash your inner archaeologist, peeling back the layers of history to reveal hidden stories and forgotten wonders. 
  • You want a good mix of archaeology, history, and art. Weave in an art detour along the way to spot iconic murals from Rivera and Orozco.


  • Templo Mayor (exterior only): Once the main temple of the Mexica people in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City.
  • Metropolitan Cathedral (interior): Here we’ll spotlight the Altar of the Kings, a remarkable example of Churrigueresque style, completed in 1739.
  • The Zócalo: Formally known as Plaza de la Constitución, is one of the largest city squares in the world and has been a gathering place since the Aztec times.
  • Optional – Colegio de San Ildefonso: Renowned as the birthplace of the Mexican muralism movement, featuring murals by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
  • Palacio de Bellas Artes (interior): Here we’ll examine murals by famous Mexican artists, including Diego Rivera's "Man at the Crossroads," originally commissioned for the Rockefeller Center in New York City. 

General Information
  • To ensure an enjoyable and accessible tour for everyone, we kindly request that you share any specific mobility requirements or concerns at the time of booking, allowing our team to tailor the experience to your needs.
  • There will be scheduled breaks for restroom use and moments to rest throughout the tour. 
  • The weather in Mexico City can be unpredictable. This tour operates rain or shine, so please check the forecast and dress accordingly with comfortable walking shoes. 

Tickets
  • Your tour cost includes admission tickets to the renowned Bellas Artes Museum

Resources
  • For detailed information on planning your visit to Mexico City, please check out our Context Stories
  • If you're keen to expand your knowledge about Mexico’s history and culture before your tour, explore our online lectures and audio guides

Accessibility 
  • For our guests who prefer a less strenuous experience, we can offer a modified version of the tour focused primarily around the Zócalo area. This adaptation is available for those booking the tour on a private basis. It reduces the walking distance significantly, eliminating approximately 8 blocks, and provides an equally enriching experience of Mexico City's rich history.
  • At the Bellas Artes Museum, there is the opportunity to use an elevator instead of stairs. 
For more information about Context Tours, please visit our FAQs.

Is this a relatively long walking tour?
While the route can vary according to the interests of your group, this walk does cover a substantial amount of ground. Please wear comfortable footwear and bring a hat during the warmer months – the Mexican sun can be bright.

Can I book this tour on a Sunday or Monday?
Technically yes, but it would be an outdoor tour only, without entrance to any of the museums. Museums in Mexico City are closed on Mondays, and locals receive free admission on Sundays, so it gets too crowded for us to enter. We encourage you to book Tuesday–Saturday to get a more robust experience of the city. 

Does this tour include access to Diego Rivera’s house and studio?
While we will see and discuss several of Rivera’s murals, no, it does not. For an even deeper dive into the artist’s life and work, book our Caza Azul Tour. 

How much access will we have at Templo Mayor?
During our tour, you'll have the opportunity to closely observe and learn about the Templo Mayor ruins from just a few steps away. While direct access or climbing on the ruins is not permitted, there's a fantastic museum adjacent to the site. We highly recommend visiting this museum post-tour for an extended and deeper understanding of this historical treasure.

Can we see the interior of the National Palace?
Our tour includes an external viewing of the National Palace. Due to the palace's rigorous entry protocol, which necessitates scheduling visits well in advance, interior access is not feasible on this tour. However, the exterior visit offers a significant glimpse into the architectural and historical importance of this iconic building.
Book with confidence — see Context's flexible cancellation policy here.

Where You'll Start
(4.9) 260 Reviews

Reviews can only be left by Context customers after they have completed a tour. For more information about our reviews, please see our FAQ.

Louis was a perfect guide. He had so much knowledge to share. His English was great. He was informative without being boring. He answered all our questions. We felt like we learned a lot and covered a lot of ground in the 3hrs we were together.
Our morning with Raquel was terrific! It was especially special that she was a food editor and we, of course, are foodies! Her knowledge of Mexico and its history was comprehensive. Overall, this was a great experience and I would recommend to others coming here for an overview of Mexico City.
Only problem was miscommunication regarding starting point which led to minor delay and frustration at start of tour. Otherwise the guide was terrific and we learned a lot.

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