There are so many fantastic things to do in Monterrey. It’s a city for foodies, art lovers, and people who want to get out into mother nature.
It’s a city that really surprised me. It certainly doesn’t have the best reputation due to a torrid past, but on my trip in 2019, Monterrey looks like a clean and beautiful city.
If you’re planning a trip to this northern Mexican city, I promise you’ll find plenty of amazing things to do in Monterrey to keep you busy for at least a long weekend, if not more!
Best Boutique Hotels in Monterrey
The majority of bars, restaurants, hotels, and things to do in Monterrey are around the Centro neighborhood. Look for hotels near the Macroplaza or Barrio Antiguo.
These are my top picks for the best hotels in Monterrey.
- Antigua Santa Lucia: This is my ideal hotel. It’s affordable, it’s well-located, the beds are comfortable and it’s stylishly decorated. There is an outdoor pool, free parking, and free Wi-Fi. Rooms start at $70 USD per night. Book a stay at Antigua Santa Lucia here.
- Gamma Monterrey Gran Hotel Ancira: If you want to stay in the downtown area in a slightly more historic hotel, then the Gran Hotel Ancira is where you should book. The exterior of the building is a stunning work of architecture. The old-style bar is the perfect place to relax after a day of touring and the lobby and its grand staircase make the hotel feel incredibly luxurious. The rooms are slightly more modern with plenty of natural light and comfortable beds. Rooms start at $75 per night and include breakfast. Book a stay at Gamma Monterrey Gran Hotel Ancira here.
The Best Airbnb Monterrey Mexico
I tend to prefer Airbnb in cities around Mexico simply because it’s usually better value for money than a hotel. This proved to be true in Monterrey when I booked this place on Airbnb.
It’s located just on the edge of Barrio Antiguo. It was five minutes walk from the Santa Lucia Riverwalk. It was clean and quiet and the bed was one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in.
I loved the location because it was about as close as you could get to all the best things to do in Monterrey. Besides being close to the riverwalk, we could walk everywhere else like Parque Fundidora and the Macroplaza.
It was also easy to get to by car. While there was some on-street parking, we ended up using Uber while we were there which was affordable and convenient.
Its a complete apartment with a living room, bedroom, kitchen, and dining room and it costs $47 per night. Book a stay here.
If you’ve never used Airbnb before, sign up with this link to receive up to $35 off of your first booking.
Hostels in Monterrey
There are a few budget hostels in the Barrio Antiguo neighborhood worth checking out if you are backpacking Mexico or simply want to stay for cheap.
- La Casa del Barrio: This is both a hostel and a nice restaurant for breakfast. They have double rooms for $35 and beds in an 8-bed dorm room from $12 per night. It doesn’t get much cheaper while still being very clean and comfortable. Book a stay at La Casa del Barrio here.
- Hostal Hare Krishna: In addition to being a really delicious vegetarian restaurant, this is also a hostel. Dorm rooms are 12-bed rooms. They have male-only and female-only rooms as well as a mixed dorm to choose from. Beds start at $10 per night. Book a stay at Hostal Hare Krishna here.
The Best Things to do in Monterrey
There are so many fun things to do in Monterrey. The best thing, in my opinion, is to wander the different neighborhoods and enjoy the parks.
The weather in Monterrey is mostly warm, so be sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses if you are going to head out exploring.
1. Walk Around Barrio Antiguo
This is the most colorful neighborhood in Monterrey. While it used to be considered an undesirable place not so long ago, it has completely turned itself around.
It’s now home to some seriously great bars, restaurants, and cafes that are well worth your time.
On Sundays, there is an art and antique market. The streets are lined with vendors and every spare bit of space (of which there isn’t much in this neighborhood) is covered with unique souvenirs.
My favorite part of the neighborhood is on the corner of Calle de Morelos and Francisco Javier Mina. This is also where you’ll find the majority of the art fair on Sundays.
2. Eat Some Cabrito
Cabrito, or goat, is a serious delicacy of this region of Mexico. If there’s only one local food you eat while you’re here, I highly recommend the cabrito at El Rey de Cabrito.
The goat is roasted over coals and cooked so perfectly. You can order different parts of the animal such as the leg, shoulder, or breast.
If you are bringing friends, you can order half a goat or combine that with a plate of sizzling hot arrachera (flank steak).
3. Take in the views from Mirador del Obispado
The mountains that surround Monterrey are incredibly beautiful and on a clear day, you will definitely want to get yourself up to the Mirador del Obispado to take it all in.
The mirador is located to the west of the city center. You can easily drive here or alternatively, take an Uber to the entrance of the Obispado Museum.
The Obispado Museum is housed in a gaudy gold cathedral-looking building called the Palacio del Obispado (obispado means bishop in Spanish).
From the museum follow the pedestrian path up the hill. It’s about a 5-10 minute walk depending on how quickly you tackle the steep hill.
At the top, you’re rewarded with seriously incredible 360-degree views of the city below.
4. Enjoy the Sunshine in Parque Fundidor
Parque Fundidora is without a doubt my favorite of all the things to do in Monterrey.
It is an enormous park that starts along the Santa Lucia Riverwalk and leads to different museums, event spaces, a theme park, and grassy areas where you can relax.
There are dozens of paths to follow which head off in all different directions. On the day that I spent walking around the park, I walked almost 10 miles (including a stroll through Barrio Antiguo, too).
Parque Findidora is named after the steel factory that used to be where the park now is. You can still see parts of the factory that have been left in the park sort of like art installations.
If you are more interested in the history of steel here or just want to take an elevator up to the top of one of the structures, head to Museo del Acero Horno 3.
5. Stroll Along the Santa Lucia Riverwalk
More walking? Be sure to pack comfortable shoes because most of the fun things to do in Monterrey include getting out and walking!
Paseo Santa Lucia is a manmade river with a lovely path on either side to walk along. Its roughly a mile and a half long and you can easily walk from one end to the other in about half an hour.
If you don’t feel like walking, you can also take the Santa Lucia riverboat. The boat costs 70 pesos each way and you can get on or off at either end.
6. Check out some of the Museums
There are so many wonderful museums in Monterrey worth visiting.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, MARCO, is one of the best contemporary art museums in the entire country. The different exhibitions are constantly changing, but attempt to show off artists from Mexico or who have some sort of connection to Mexico.
As I mentioned above, Museo del Acero Horno 3 is the place to head if you want to learn more about the steel industry in Monterrey. It’s also worth visiting simply to go up to the top of Horno 3 (in a large elevator).
7. Go to a Soccer Game
Mexican soccer games are so much fun.
The Rayados stadium is quite new and now lauded as one of the best stadiums in the country. It’s located just to the southeast of the city center while the Tigres stadium is located at the UANL campus north of the city.
Like most soccer games in Mexico, you can buy tickets on the door unless it’s a big game (like Tigres Vs. Monterrey). In these cases, you may want to consider pre-booking on Ticketmaster.
8. People Watch in the Macroplaza
The Macroplaza is a huge greenspace smack-dab in the middle of the city. It’s almost 100 acres of green space where you can sit and relax, get a massage, people watch, or go for a walk or jog.
It’s the gathering place of the city with tons of different things happening throughout the week. On weekends, there are vendors selling bracelets and other crafts.
During the week, you’ll find different food vendors selling tacos, hot dogs, or pre-packaged snacks and candies.
9. Hike Cerro de la Silla
Outdoor lovers have tons of options when it comes to hiking in Monterrey, but this is one of the most accessible mountains to hike.
There are a few different paths you can take. All are steep and all take you up to different parts of the top.
The different trails on Cerro de la Silla, of course, differ in how long it will take to hike. The easiest hike is roughly 3 hours to the top and then about two hours back down.
The best time to hike is between October and April when it is dry and cooler. Some parts of the mountain can become almost impassible during the wet season (June-September).
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