Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world, but if you want to experience it like a local, you'll need to find its hidden secrets. You'll find quite a few, large and small, if you know where to look, and each will have you feeling more like a local than a tourist.

    Whether you're interested in museums, art installations, or impressive architectural design, you'll find it all and more within this massive city. Wherever you go, these hidden gems offer an opportunity to learn about the local culture in a more intimate setting. Check out 10 things to do off the beaten track in Mexico City.

    1

    Kiosco Morisco

    See Moorish architecture

    • Budget
    • History
    • Unusual

    Kiosco Morisco is an architectural marvel in the form of a kiosk structure that sports intricate patterns and a glass cupola dome with moveable panels. While the kiosk looks positively Moorish, the architectural style is more accurately called neo-Mudejar, which is a combination of Moorish and 19th-century Spanish-style architecture.

    When you visit this kiosk, you'll find several columns around stunning arches on the exterior and around the interior ring. The kiosk itself is mostly an orange-red colour with bits of blue as well. See it for yourself in the Santa Maria la Ribera area northwest of city centre.

    Location: Santa María la Ribera, Cuauhtémoc, 06400 Mexico City, Mexico

    Open: 24/7

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    2

    Pequeño Seul

    Sample international culture in Koreatown

    Pequeño Seul, or Little Seoul, is Mexico City's Koreatown where you can embrace Korean food and culture amongst a variety of shops, bars, and restaurants. The area is home to more than 9,000 Koreans, and many of them own authentic shops and restaurants designed to recreate the experience of visiting Korea itself.

    Keep in mind that when you visit this area, you'll find authentic Korean fare. That means restaurants offering traditional Korean food rather than the version often present in the American continents. Check out the authenticity for yourself in the Juarez area west of city centre.

    Location: Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

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    3

    Museo de El Carmen

    Check out a former convent

    • History

    Museo de El Carmen is a fascinating anthropology and history museum housed with the Colegio de San Angelo Martir, a former convent with impressive architectural achievements. The attention to detail found in the building itself is quite impressive and can make you feel as if you've stepped back in time.

    Inside, you'll find a massive collection of religious art and paintings, including works by 18th-century artist Miguel Cabrera. You can see it all for yourself in San Angel, which is located south of city centre.

    Location: y 6, Av. Revolución 4, San Ángel, Álvaro Obregón, 01000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am 5 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +52 55 5616 1504

    Map

    photo by Ymblanter (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    4

    Planetario Luis Enrique Erro

    Sit under the stars in Mexico's first public planetarium

    Planetario Luis Enrique Erro is one of the oldest planetariums in the country and features upgraded digital technology to create an experience you may not have expected. The audio, acoustics, and lighting are state-of-the-art, and the digital projection systems are designed to work specifically with its stellar dome.

    When you visit this planetarium, you'll find that most of the exhibits are designed to be seen in 3 dimensions, with models and lighting tricks to make everything more immersive. You can experience it all for yourself in the San Bartolo Atepehuacan area north of city centre.

    Location: Av. Wilfrido Massieu, Nueva Industrial Vallejo, Gustavo A. Madero, 07700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

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    photo by ProtoplasmaKid (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    5

    Desierto de los Leones

    Head outdoors for recreation and nature

    Desierto de los Leones lets you get away from the hustle and bustle of the city with numerous environmental and recreational activities, like hiking and biking. This park is popular with outdoor adventurers due to its numerous trails and opportunities for trekking on foot, on a bike, or on horseback.

    The park is home to a wide range of flora and fauna that you can explore with extensive greenery and towering trees. You'll also find a historic convent within the park dating back to the 17th century. The park is located a few miles southwest of city centre.

    Location: Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

    Map
    6

    Cineteca Nacional de Mexico

    Take in an art house film

    Cineteca Nacional de Mexico is an art house cinema where you'll find plenty of fascinating films being shown in a building with breathtaking architecture. For the most part, the films shown here are more alternative and include indie dramas and fascinating documentaries, amongst others.

    The building itself is quite impressive, sporting angular designs and seemingly perforated additions that let plenty of light shine through. You can see all of this for yourself in the Coyoacan area south of city centre.

    Location: Av. México Coyoacán 389, Xoco, Benito Juárez, 03330 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

    Phone: +52 55 4155 1200

    Map

    photo by Ivangomez123 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    7

    Museo del Juguete Antiguo

    Browse a collection of vintage novelties

    Museo del Juguete Antiguo is a toy museum that shows off a wide variety of toys, most from the early 20th century, with more than 20,000 on display. This collection was curated by Roberto Shimizu Kinoshita, and it features popular Mexican toys as well as some that are a bit more exotic.

    When you visit, you'll find that this museum isn't set up as you'd expect with cases and shelves. Instead, the toys on display are arranged in a whimsical fashion, adding a bit of fun to the exhibits. The museum is located in the Doctores area just south of city centre.

    Location: Calle Dr Olvera 15, Doctores, Cuauhtémoc, 06720 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

    Open: Monday–Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm, Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +52 55 5588 2100

    Map

    photo by Roͬͬ͠͠͡͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠sͬͬ͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠aͬͬ͠͠͠͠͠͠͠ Menkman (CC BY 2.0) modified

    8

    Biblioteca Vasconcelos

    Experience a library that offers an adventure

    • Budget
    • History
    • Unusual

    Biblioteca Vasconcelos is a megalibrary with a massive selection of books arranged amongst platforms on top of platforms that go up to the ceiling. When you visit, you'll find yourself embarking on a geometric adventure as you climb stairs to reach the highest selection of books.

    The design is completely open, with transparent walls and platforms that seemingly hang from the ceiling. Plus, the floors seem to be slightly mismatched when comparing both sides of the central aisle, which adds even more character to it all. You can reach the library in the Buenavista area north of city centre.

    Location: Eje 1 Nte. S/N, Buenavista, Cuauhtémoc, 06350 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

    Phone: +52 55 9157 2800

    Map
    9

    Arena Mexico

    Attend a wrestling match

    Arena Mexico is a fun arena that's primarily used for wrestling or lucha libre matches, but you'll also find some boxing matches held here as well. The arena itself can fit up to 16,500 people for a match, so your experience can vary quite a bit depending on where you book your seat.

    Be sure to check the local calendar when you visit to see what's on. Typically, you'll find wrestling events held here each week on Tuesdays and Fridays. You'll find the arena in Doctores just southwest of city centre.

    Read more

    Location: Dr. Lavista 189, Doctores, Cuauhtémoc, 06720 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

    Phone: +52 55 5588 0266

    Map

    photo by Carlos Adampol Galindo (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    10

    Island of the Dolls

    Explore a creepy yet fascinating destination

    • History
    • Unusual

    The Island of the Dolls is an island by Lake Huetzalin where you'll find thousands of dolls hanging from trees along with a museum. The sight of these dolls set up throughout the trees is as striking as it is unnerving, yet they tend to foster a curiosity that keeps people coming to visit.

    On the island, you'll find a small museum that details its history and its old owners. Plenty of rituals occur around these dolls with some locals, and the museum can teach you all about them. This island is located several miles south of city centre in the massive Parque Ecologico de Xochimilco.

    Location: Parque Ecológico de Xochimilco, 16043 Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

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