Mexico City may be one of the world’s most densely populated metropolises, but don’t let that fool you, it also has a ton of green space and plenty of fun things to do outdoors!
There is no shortage of parks or tree-lined streets for you to explore and the weather is extremely pleasant and mild year-round, making outdoor activities in Mexico City that much more enjoyable.
Even if you’re not an outdoor enthusiast, Mexico City has open-air activities for everyone across the city’s coolest neighborhoods.
Here are my favorite things to do outside in Mexico City that you can enjoy year-round.
1. Botanical Gardens
Mexico City has two incredible botanical gardens. The first is found in the south of the city at UNAM and the second is more centrally located in Bosque de Chapultepec, just a few blocks away from Roma Norte and Condesa neighborhoods.
You can discover Mexico’s native flora and marvel at the vibrant orchids and abundant succulents in these beautiful gardens.
The gardens at UNAM are open Monday-Saturday and Bosque de Chapultepec’s gardens are open Tuesday-Sunday, giving you a chance to visit at least one of these awesome botanical gardens any day of the week!
2. Voladores de Papantla
Another unique sight that you can find in Bosque de Chapultepec is the Voladores de Papantla (Dance of the Flyers).
This ancient ceremony is performed on a pole some hundred feet up as five men descend from the top of the pole upside-down with ropes attached to their ankles. Four of the men slowly spin downwards, while the fifth stays up high and up-right playing the flute and drum.
You can find these flyers performing throughout the day and you can sit down and have a watch at any point. It’s free but they rely on donations to keep performing. This unique performance is nothing like I’ve ever seen and is definitely worth checking out!
3. Tianguis (Pop-up food markets)
Visiting the tianguis of Mexico City is one of my favorite parts of living here.
These lively, open-air markets are found all around the city on different days of the week. I always find it so much fun to walk through and check out the seasonal produce.
Plenty of vendors will offer you samples of delicious fruits you’ve probably never even heard of. There’s also a section where locals have lunch, so if you’re in the mood for some tacos or quesadillas, this is the spot!
You can find a tianguis in between Roma Norte and Condesa neighborhoods on Pachuca street on Tuesdays, another tianguis on Saltillo street in Condesa on Fridays, and in the neighborhood Escandon on Avenida Jose Marti on Tuesdays.
4. Zócalo and Pedestrian Streets
This massive square in Mexico City’s Centro Historico is one of the largest in the world and is surrounded by Mexico’s National Palace and Latin America’s oldest cathedral, the Cathedral Metropolitan.
In the middle of the square, a giant Mexican flag flies high and below it, there is often some sort of cultural event going on.
After witnessing this impressive square, wander through one of the nearby pedestrian shopping streets such as Avenida Francisco I. Madero for some people watching and window shopping.
5. Picnic in the Park
There are lots of parks sprinkled throughout Mexico City, but the one that is by far the biggest and the greenest is Bosque de Chapultepec.
It’s actually the largest urban park in the western hemisphere and it’s the perfect place to have a picnic in a shady spot under the trees.
Grab some tacos al pastor to go, guacamole, a few mangoes, and roll out your picnic blanket in a grassy spot near the Tamayo Art Museum in Bosque de Chapultepec.
6. San Angel Saturday Market
The Saturday market in San Angel, aka El Bazar Sabado, was one of the first experiences in Mexico City that really captivated me.
This vibrant artisan market takes place, yes you guessed it, every Saturday at Plaza San Jacinto in the San Angel neighborhood.
One of my favorite Saturday morning outings is to grab an espresso nearby, meander through the market while browsing the handmade crafts, and then sit by the fountain to admire local art on display.
San Angel is a beautiful neighborhood with stunning old homes that are worth seeing. The cobblestone streets lead you through the picturesque residential areas and past bright, bougainvillea-covered gates.
Spend a calm Saturday morning slowly exploring San Angel’s market and residential area, I know you’ll leave feeling absolutely delighted.
7. Dog Watching
You’ll probably notice after a few days in Mexico City that this place is dog crazy. You’ll see dog walkers walking ten or more dogs at a time, designated spots to tie up your dog outside stores, dog-friendly patios, and even pilates studios.
To me, this is heaven! I love seeing all the dogs out, running alongside owner’s bikes, or walking up ahead off-leash.
While I don’t have my own dog…yet, I like to go to a park in Roma Norte to get my fill of adorable dogs.
In the heart of Roma Norte is a park called Parque Mexico where there is a fenced-off dog park. If you’re also a dog-lover, this is a great place to grab a bench and watch all the excited dogs run around and play.
There are even dog obedience schools where trainers line all the dogs up off-leash and have them sit still. They are adorable to watch because when you walk past them you’ll see one or two dogs excitedly wag their tails eager to get up and greet you, but they obediently stay in place.
It’s no wonder the dogs of Mexico City are so well behaved.
Another activity in the ginormous Bosque de Chapultepec is paddle boating.
The boats fit up to four people and cost only $2.50 per hour. It’s the perfect outdoor activity to sit down and chill a little since you’ll probably have been exploring the city a lot on foot.
Navigate the little lake while taking breaks to kick back, relax, and float around the lake on a sunny day.
If you plan your visit right, you might even have a chance to rent a paddleboat at night and watch a movie on a large inflatable screen from your floating seats.
9. Bike Paseo de la Reforma
Every Sunday, one of Mexico City’s major avenues, Paseo de la Reforma, blocks off car traffic for bikers, rollerbladers, and walkers to enjoy free of cars.
It’s an absolute blast biking on this grand avenue pass towering statues on a bright Sunday morning.
It’s awesome because you can traverse the city starting close to Roma Norte and end up all the way in Centro Historico without having to worry about all the cars and buses.
There are bikes such as Mobike and Uber Jump where you download an app and pay by the minute.
You could also sign up and then rent an Ecobici at one of the hundreds of bike stations or, you can leave an ID and borrow one of the free yellow and blue bikes at one of the many kiosks along Paseo de la Reforma.
10. Templo Mayor
Check out some amazing Aztec Ruins at Templo Mayor (Main Temple) in the heart of Centro Historico, just behind the Cathedral Metropolitan. Once buried under the streets of Mexico City, Templo Mayor was excavated to bring Mexico’s rich history to the public.
Pay attention to the stones that make up this archaeological site. They are the same ones that the Spanish took from these ruins to build the Cathedral Metropolitan just next door.
11. La Lagunilla Market
This awesome market is a flea market, clothing market, tattoo shop, and bar all rolled into one. Sunday before 3PM is the best time to visit as this is when all the vendors are open at the same time.
I like to start with a michelada, but if beer isn’t your thing they also have people preparing piña coladas. As you walk through the flea market you can see some crazy old stuff. Some things look pretty junky while other things look like vintage gems. It’s a fun way to step back in time.
Afterward, make your way to the more current day part of the market where you’ll see clothes and a whole lot of random stuff for sale.
This is a good place to get a bite to eat. They have your traditional Mexican eats like quesadillas and tacos, but there are also some trendier vendors doing brick oven pizza and killer looking salads.
If the thought of a pizza joint squeezed in between clothing vendors was crazy, keep walking. The best part is the people getting full-on tattoos in the middle of all the market chaos.
La Lagunilla is an essential Mexico City experience that I can’t recommend enough.
You step back in time and into this strange place where almost anything goes. Just make sure to keep your things out of sight and secure as pick-pocketing is common here.
Probably Mexico City’s most famous outdoor attraction, Xochimilco is a great way to spend some time in nature while still being in the city.
The best way to experience the canals of Xochimilco is to bring some cold beers, snacks, and rent a boat with friends.
For Mexicans, Xochimilco is a place to gather with friends and family and have a wild good time. You’ll hear loud music playing from speakers aboard boats, mariachi serenading private boats, people singing, and just having an overall great time.
Once you’re on the water, you’ll be able to restock on any snacks or beers you need.
There will be vendors floating by on their boats selling micheladas and elote (Mexican street corn). You can even flag down the mariachi boat and have a mariachi band serenade you and your whole crew.
About the Author
Jessie is originally from South Carolina and has visited over 30 countries and counting. She moved to Mexico City after falling in love with the city during a 6-month long backpacking trip through Latin America. She’s on a mission to discover Mexico’s delicious food, vibrant cities, untouched nature, and kind people. You can read more about her on her blog An Earthly Paradise.