Thursday, October 3, 2013

Becca's Guide to Visiting Mexico City during Día de Muertos

The other day I received this comment on one of my posts:

"Hi, I'm actually planning a trip to visit my boyfriend who is living in Mexico City for work until the end of the year during dia de muertos and wanted to get your input ... only going to be there fri-mon so trying to pack as much in as possible. The must dos. I definitely would like to take the trajineras thru the canals and see la llorona performed...I hope to find the pancake guy, too which I found thru your blog!! During this particular weekend do a lot of people walk around with their faces painted?? I'd like to do this but wasn't sure if it really was a popular thing to do. Any other tip etc would be great!! I really can't wait for this trip, so excited"

So, here's my Guide to Visiting Mexico City during Día de Muertos:

(Though admittedly it's probably not possible to fit it all in on a Friday - Monday trip)

Go to the Zócalo (Historic Downtown)

Metropolitan Cathedral 
I recommend visiting the Cathedral, the National Palace, Templo Mayor, Bellas Artes and going up in the Torre Latinoamericana. They might have something set up for Day of the Dead? I know they did in 2010.

Go to Coyoacán
Frida Kahlo's Blue House
Visit Frida Kahlo's blue house. Eat a churro (my favorite is filled with cajeta - yum!) and get a coffee from Café El Jarocho. Coyoacán will most likely have something for Day of the Dead. (If you're interested in getting a themed pancake from Hotcakes Artísticos, it's in a little market -- not to be confused with the main Mercado de Coyoacán. It's behind the Plaza where the church is, on the street Higuera, in between the cantinas La Guadalupana and La Coyoacana.)

Go to the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)

UNAM's Central Library
They have a "Megaofrenda" each year for Day of the Dead (You can see my photos from 20102011 and 2012). Also, don't forget to look out for the Biblioteca Central (Central library) covered in murals by Juan O'Gorman and other artwork on the main part of campus. (Your visit to the UNAM can easily be combined with the day you visit Coyoacán). 

Go to Xochimilco
trajineras in Xochimilco
If you go on your own you can rent a trajinera and enjoy the view, pay a mariachi bands in another trajinera to play for your, buy food and drink from canoes that pass by, etc. If you're interested in seeing the La Llorona show, you'll go with a group of other people out to the island, where you'll watch the show from your trajinera. The official web site is and tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster. In my opinion the show was just mediocre - but I'd say the overall experience (seeing Xochimilco, going on a trajinera, buying food and drink from the venders in canoes, seeing the show, "trajinera traffic", etc) is worth it. Be sure to dress warm - it gets chilly on the trajinera on the water at night! 

Go to the Chapultepec Castle in Chapultepec Park and the Anthropology Museum

Voladores de Papántla outside of the Anthropology museum
Also, check out the Voladores de Papántla outside of the Anthropology Museum. The Anthropology Museum is right across from an entrance to Chapultepec Park, so it's doable location-wise to visit both in a day, though it could also be tiring to visit the two museums back to back.

Go to the restaurant/bar Guadalajara de Noche 

show at Guadalajara de Noche
Guadalajara de Noche is located in Plaza Garibaldi, Mexico City's home of mariachi music. They offer two "traditional Mexican shows" a night (9:30pm and 11:00pm) featuring prehispanic and regional music and dances, as well as trick roping (is that what it's called in English? spinning trick with a lasso...). Before and after the show there's also mariachi music and salsa/cumbia music later in the night for dancing (or sitting and listening, whichever you prefer). I recently went for the first time (blog post coming eventually) and enjoyed my evening there. 

Go see the pyramids at Teotihuacan

Technically this is outside of Mexico City, but how can you come all this way and not see some pyramids? There are some tours available that take you to the Basilica de Guadalupe and Tlalteloco on the way to Teotihuacan. 

As for Day of the Dead, you can see my previous posts here.

an altar at UNAM's Megaofrenda
Last year I had the chance to see the way it is celebrated in a more intimate setting, by a family in a small town. In Mexico City you'll see a much more public, "show" version - but it's still very cool to see. As I said above, for Day of the Dead I'd recommend checking out UNAM, Coyoacán, and La Llorona show in Xochimilco (and possibly the Zócalo?). 

As for face painting, I've seen it in Maltrata more or less trick-or-treating style and I've seen some people dress up and/or paint their faces at the Megaofrenda at the UNAM, but other than that haven't really seen anybody paint their faces for Day of the Dead.

Have a fantastic visit!! 


  1. Omgoodness! Thank you...very helpful. The photos you've posted are gorgeous...can only imagine everything in person. How is the weather this time of year? I'm in north Florida so I'm assuming similar just drier.
    Thank you again for all the ideas...

  2. You're welcome!

    Probably the most important thing to know about the weather in Mexico City is that it changes a lot throughout the day. It's quite normal to need a jacket in the morning, be hot in a short-sleeved shirt in the afternoon, and need that jacket again at night. Layers are always good!
    That being said, based on photos I also went to see the megaofrenda one year during the day with a coat and another year at night with a thin 3/4 length shirt, so it's hard to say!