Mexico is a fascinating country that is home to an incredible and diverse array of Mexican landmarks. From ancient ruins to towering modern skyscrapers, from lush rainforests to stunning beaches, the landmarks in Mexico go from historical to mysterious and simply stunning.
And what’s even better is that many of these landmarks are located in popular tourist destinations, so you can easily visit them on your trip to Mexico. Here are some of the famous landmarks in Mexico.
Most Famous Landmarks In Mexico
Chichen Itza, Yucatan Peninsula
This ancient Maya city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Mexico. Located in the Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itza was once one of the largest cities in the Maya world.
The main attraction at Chichen Itza is El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulkan. This pyramid-shaped temple is one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of Mexico.
El Castillo is believed to have been built around the year 1200 and was used as a temple, a place of pilgrimage, and a ceremonial center. Every year on the spring and autumn equinoxes, the sun sets in such a way that the shadows on the side of the pyramid create the image of a serpent crawling down the steps.
One of the interesting points about the site is that when you clap your hands at certain locations, you will hear an echo feedback that seemingly bounces back from the rock. That audio effect resembles the sound of a Quetzal bird.
Chichen Itza is located in the town of Izamal, about an hour and a half drive from the popular tourist destination of Cancun.
Mexico City, Mexican Landmarks
Catedral Metropolitana, Mexico City
If you are in Mexico City, you cannot miss a visit to the Metropolitan Cathedral. It is located on the Zocalo, which is the main square in Mexico City and used to be where the Templo Mayor was located (more on that later). So you are sure to see it.
The construction of this massive cathedral took nearly 200 years to complete! The exterior of the cathedral is very interesting, as it is made with a mix of Gothic, Baroque and Neo-Classical styles.
The interior is quite lavish, with gold leaf covering many surfaces. There are 26 chapels inside the cathedral and each one has a different style. My favorite chapel was the Chapel of Our Lady of Assumption, which is the patron saint of Mexico.
The Metropolitan Cathedral is truly a magnificent sight and definitely worth a visit when you are in Mexico City!
Castillo Chapultepec, Mexico City
This is one of the most famous landmarks in Mexico City. Chapultepec Castle was built on top of Chapultepec Hill, which overlooks all of the city. It was once home to Mexican Emperors and Presidents.
The name of the castle comes from the Nahuatl language – “chapoltepēc” which means “Hill of the grasshopper”. One of the notable historic events that occurred here was the Battle of Chapultepec between American and Mexican forces in the 1840s.
Nowadays, the grandiose castle is a museum that you can visit. It consists of various rooms that have been furnished to look like they did back in the days when it was an emperor’s home. You can walk around the castle and enjoy the views of the city below.
If you are in Mexico City, this is a must-see! Chapultepec Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions.
Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe, Mexico City
This famous Mexican landmark is found in Mexico City and is one of the most important religious sites for Catholics all over the world, as it is home to where the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego.
The story goes that in 1531, Juan Diego was on his way to early morning Mass when he heard someone calling his name from atop Tepeyac Hill. It was the Virgin Mary, who told him that she wanted a church to be built in her honor on that site. When Juan Diego related the story to his bishop, he was asked to provide proof of the apparition.
The next day, when Juan Diego opened his cloak (in which he had been carrying roses), the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe was imprinted on the inside. This cloak is now displayed in the basilica.
The Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe is now one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in all of Mexico and the Americas. Every year, on December 12, millions of people make the journey to Mexico City to celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
If you are visiting Mexico City, this is definitely a site that you should see. It is located just north of downtown in the Virgen de Guadalupe neighborhood.
Torre Latinoamericana, Mexico City
This is a landmark in Mexico City that was built in 1956 and is one of the tallest buildings in Latin America. It is also one of the first skyscrapers in the capital. On the 44th floor, there is an open-air observation deck that gives you a 360 degree view of the city. You can see for miles in every direction.
One of not-so-fortunate facts about Mexico City is that it is located in a seismic zone; therefore this building was built to withstand earthquakes. It has been said that this building swayed up to 2 meters during the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, but it did not crumble.
Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City
This beautiful art palace is located in Mexico City and should be on your list of places to see when you are visiting the city. It was built in 1934 and has some of the most beautiful murals that tell the story of Mexican history. Today, it serves as an important cultural center in Mexico.
Diego Rivera, one of the most famous Mexican muralists, has two grand murals inside as well as many different exhibits on different levels. There are often different art exhibitions going on as well as live theater, music, and dance performances.
The Palacio de Bellas Artes is one of the most iconic buildings in all of Mexico City and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the world. It is truly a work of art in itself.
Museo Frida Kahlo (La Casa Azul), Mexico City
If you are a fan of art, then this is the perfect place for you! Frida Kahlo was a famous Mexican artist known for her self-portraits that depicted the pain and suffering she endured throughout her life.
Tragically, she was in a bus accident when she was 18 years old and it left her with many injuries, one being a metal rod that went through her hip. This caused her a lot of pain and she was unable to have children.
In her paintings, you will see double images of herself. She once said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” Her art is very unique and something that you should check out while in Mexico City.
This museum is located in her old house, which she lived in until her untimely death at the age of 47. It has since been turned into a museum and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Mexico City. You can walk around the different rooms and see where she worked, slept, and even where she died.
Make sure to buy your tickets in advance as they do sell out! You can purchase them online or at the ticket booth when you arrive.
Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Mexico City
This is a must-see for anyone interested in ancient civilizations and cultures. The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City houses some of the most impressive archeological and anthropological exhibits in the world. The museum is home to over 23,000 pieces from Mexico’s pre-Hispanic past.
The grandiose museum building itself is a work of art. It was designed by Mexican architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and completed in 1964. The museum is located in the Chapultepec Park, one of the largest city parks in the world.
Within the museum, you will find exhibits on the Olmec, Zapotec, Maya, Teotihuacan, Toltec, and Aztec cultures, to name a few. The museum is huge, so plan on spending a few hours here.
There is also a cafeteria on the premises if you get hungry. The museum is open every day except Monday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. Admission is about $9 USD for adults.
Teotihuacan, Mexico City
This is one of the most famous Mexican landmarks and is one of the largest ancient ruins in all of Mexico. It is located about an hour northeast of Mexico City. The massive site is home to some of the most well-known pyramids in Mexico, Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon, and the Citadel.
This was once one of the largest cities in the world with a population of over 200,000 people. It is believed that it was once the political and economic center of Mesoamerica.
You can take a bus from Mexico City or hire a tour guide. You can also drive there, but I recommend taking public transportation or hiring a tour as parking can be difficult to find and the site is huge.
Oaxaca, Mexican Landmarks
Monte Alban, Oaxaca
This is an ancient Zapotec site that is located in the Oaxaca Valley. It was one of the first cities ever to be constructed in Mesoamerica and is believed to have been settled around 500 BC. What is now known as Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador were all once part of the Monte Alban empire.
The Zapotecs constructed many of the buildings out of stone and used them for religious and political purposes. One of the most notable features of this ancient city is the Observatory, which was used to track the movement of the stars.
If you find yourself in Oaxaca City, this is definitely a place that you should visit. You can take a tour from Oaxaca City or rent a car and drive there yourself.
Templo de Santo Domingo, Oaxaca
The Templo de Santo Domingo is a church that was built on the ruins of an ancient Zapotec temple in 1575. It is one of the most beautiful landmarks in all of Mexico. The church has a baroque façade and is adorned with many sculptures.
Inside, the ceiling is decorated with different biblical scenes. The church also has a museum with a collection of pre-Hispanic and colonial artifacts. This is one of the key attractions and things Oaxaca is known for.
Oaxaca, in Southern Mexico, is a beautiful colonial city that is known for its traditional handicrafts, food, and textiles.
This is Mexico’s first nudist beach located on the Pacific coast of Mexico in the state of Oaxaca. It is a 2km long beach with black sand. There are a few restaurants, bars, and hotels nearby but it is not as built up as some other beaches in Mexico.
The vibe here is very relaxed and laid back. It is well known as a place where people go to escape the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives. The beach also hosts the Zipolite Nudist Festival every year which is a week-long event with music, workshops, and other events.
If you are interested in visiting a nude beach while in Mexico, then Zipolite is the place for you. It is also a great place to bask in the sun and relax and feel at one with nature.
Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca
This place is a two-for-one! Not only do you get to see amazing petrified waterfalls, but you can swim in the infinity pools that overlook the Oaxaca valley.
Hierve el Agua means “the water boils” in Spanish and it is named such because of the springs that come from the mountain that are quite hot! You can see where the water boils and spews out of the earth.
The petrified waterfalls are really cool to see and if you hike to the top, you will have views for miles over the valley below. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes as the hike up is all stairs made from rock. At the top, there are a few small caves to explore as well.
The infinity pools have become quite popular on Instagram over the past few years. They are definitely a sight to see and the water is quite refreshing. There is a small entry fee of about $5 USD to get in. You can also rent a locker for your things while you swim.
Hierve el Agua is located just outside of the town of Mitla, which is about 3.5 hours from Oaxaca City. The best way to get there is by renting a car as there is no public transportation that goes out this far. If you are driving from Oaxaca City, take the highway towards Puebla and get off at the exit for Mitla. From there, follow the signs to Hierve el Agua.
Other Famous Landmarks in Mexico
El Tajin, Veracruz
This is another one of the most well-known landmarks in Mexico and a pre-Hispanic archaeological site that was once an important city of the Classic Veracruz region.
The ancient city was once a very important place for the Pre-Columbian people. It was thought that this mystical place had magical powers and some even say it still does today!
At its peak, El Tajin was home to around 35,000 people. There are many pyramids and temples that have been well preserved and you can still see the original carvings on the buildings. It is one of the few places in Mexico where you can still see the traditional ball game court and the game being played. If you are interested in ancient civilizations, this is a must-see when traveling to Mexico.
Tulum Ruins, Tulum, Yucatán Peninsula
Tulum is the site of some of the best-preserved ancient ruins in Mexico. The ancient Maya city served as a major port for maritime and land trade routes, connecting the cities of the Yucatan Peninsula with cities to the south and central Mexico.
The main buildings in Tulum include El Castillo, the Great Palace, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God. These structures are built of stone and mortar and are set atop a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
The views from the ancient city are breathtaking, making Tulum one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico. Visitors can explore the ruins, swim in the cenotes, or relax on the beach.
Tulum is located about an hour and a half drive from Cancun. There are many tours that pick you up at your hotel or you can rent a car and drive there.
Palenque Ruins, Chiapas
If you are looking for a more adventurous trip, then you should consider visiting the Palenque Ruins. Palenque was once a great Maya city that is now hidden in the jungles of Chiapas. It’s one of the most popular archaeological sites and ruins in Mexico.
The ancient Maya site of Palenque is famous for its magnificent temples and palaces, as well as its beautiful setting in the middle of the Chiapas rainforest.
The ruins of Palenque are some of the best-preserved Maya ruins in Mexico. The site includes a number of temples, palaces, pyramids, and other buildings.
To get to Palenque, you can take a bus from the city of San Cristobal de las Casas. The journey takes about 4 hours. Alternatively, you can fly into the nearby airport at Villahermosa and take a bus or taxi from there.
Great Pyramid of Cholula, Puebla
This is a must-see if you are anywhere near the city of Puebla. The Great Pyramid of Cholula is the world’s largest pyramid by volume. It is also one of the oldest pyramids, having been built between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D. It is actually a complex consisting of many temples built on top of each other. The most recent one is from the 15th century and is a church! It’s incredible to think about all the history that has taken place here.
The pyramid is located within Cholula, which is a town west of Puebla. You can easily get there by bus or car from Puebla. It is free to enter the complex, which also includes a small museum with some interesting artifacts.
If you are interested in learning more about the history and culture of Mexico, I highly recommend visiting some of these amazing landmarks!
Museo Subacuatio de Arte (MUSA), Cancun, Yucatán Peninsula
This is an interesting place that not a lot of people know about. The best part, it is free to enter! It is an underwater museum located in the Cancun Underwater Park. There are over 500 sculptures that have been placed here on the bottom of the sea.
The idea behind this project was to help with the rehabilitation of the coral reef. There are many colorful fish that have made this place their home.
This is a great activity to do if you love snorkeling or diving. You can even take a glass bottom boat tour if you don’t want to get wet. The underwater museum is located in the Cancun National Marine Park.
Las Pozas, Xilitla
This surreal landscape is located in the tropical rainforest of Mexico. It was created by an English poet who bought the land in the 1940s. He then proceeded to build numerous surrealist concrete structures throughout the jungle over a span of 30 years.
Some of these look relatively quirky and magical like what you would see in a multi-dimensional zone out of a Marvel movie.
The Xilitla area is known for its many waterfalls and natural pools. Edward James built Las Pozas, which means “the pools,” to look like an Aztec city in the jungle. He filled it with sculptures of animals, humans, and plants.
This is definitely one of the most unique places in all of Mexico and probably the world. It is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
Uxmal, Yucatán Peninsula
Uxmal is another ancient popular Maya site that should not be missed on a visit to Mexico. It is located in the state of Yucatan, about an hour and a half from Merida. Uxmal was first settled around 600 AD and at its peak, had around 25,000 people living there.
The name Uxmal comes from the Maya word oxmal, which means “built thrice.”The most famous structure at Uxmal is the Pyramid of the Magician. It is said that a dwarf named Itzamna built the pyramid in one night. Another cool thing about this site is that you can still see some of the original paint on the buildings!
If you are interested in learning more about the Maya, Uxmal is a great place to do so. There is a Museum of Archaeology on site that has many artifacts found at Uxmal, as well as an informative movie about the Maya. You can also learn about the ancient ball game that was played here at the ball court.
La Venta, Tabasco
This is a Pre-Columbian archaeological site located in the present-day Mexican state of Tabasco. It was constructed by the Olmecs sometime between 1200 and 400 BC. The Olmecs are considered to be the first major civilization in Mesoamerica and La Venta contains some of the finest Olmec art that has been discovered.
The site is spread out over four square kilometers and contains a number of large pyramids, temples, monuments, and ballcourts. It is believed that the city was once home to as many as 50,000 people.
La Venta is not as well known as some of the other Mexican landmarks on this list, but it is definitely worth a visit if you are interested in Pre-Columbian history and archaeology.
The site is located about 10 kilometers from the city of Villahermosa, which is the capital of Tabasco. There are a number of tour companies that offer day trips from Villahermosa to La Venta.
Murals Of Bonampak, Chiapas
While the ruins of Bonampak are not huge, particularly compared to all the other major sites in Mexico; the murals are what most people come here for.
These are some of the best-preserved and most beautiful examples of Maya art. The colors are still as vibrant as they were when they were first painted around 800 AD.
The murals adorn the walls of three temples that were dedicated to the Maya god, Chak Took Ich’aak and his two sons. The scenes that are painted tell the story of a military victory as well as important Maya rituals.
You can get to Bonampak by bus from Palenque (about 3 hours) or from San Cristobal de las Casas (about 6 hours). I recommend visiting Bonampak if you are already in the area and visiting some of these other famous Maya sites.
Natural Landmarks of Mexico
La Lobera, Baja California
This is a nature lovers paradise! Located on a peninsula in the Sea of Cortez, you will find some of the most beautiful beaches and coastline here. The area is known for being a place where many different species of sea lions come to mate and have their pups. It is truly an amazing site to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
The best way to see the area is by taking a boat tour from one of the many companies in the nearby town of San Jose del Cabo. You can also do a snorkeling or scuba diving tour to get an up close and personal look at the sea lions as well as all the other amazing marine life in the area.
If you are looking for a place to stay, there are many all-inclusive resorts in the nearby town of Los Cabos.
San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja California
This is one of the best places in Mexico to see the majestic gray whale. The San Ignacio Lagoon, which is located on the Pacific side of Baja California, is a breeding ground for these massive creatures. You can take a boat tour (which I recommend) or go on a whale watching tour to see them up close and personal. There are also a few eco-lodges in the area where you can stay.
If you love to fish, this is definitely the place for you as it is known for its sport fishing. There are many charter companies that offer half and full day trips. You can catch marlin, tuna, sailfish, dorado, and more.
San Ignacio Lagoon is located about halfway down the Baja California peninsula and is a 6-hour drive from Cabo San Lucas.
Copper Canyon, Chihuahua
This is not just one canyon, but a series of canyons that is located in the Sierra Madre Occidental in the state of Chihuahua. It is actually deeper and longer than the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA.
The depth in some areas exceeds 1 kilometer! The main attraction here is the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad, which is one of the most scenic railroads in all of Mexico (and arguably the world). It is sometimes called Chepe. You can take a train ride and enjoy the landscapes in a relaxing way.
The Copper Canyon is a popular destination for those who enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and rock climbing. There are also many tour companies that offer various ways to see and experience the canyon.
Huasteca Potosina, San Luis Potosí
This national park is one of the most visited in all of Mexico. It spans over 75,000 acres and is home to many waterfalls, rivers, and hiking trails. The picturesque region is known for the clear, turquoise waterfalls and beautiful rivers. It is a popular spot for swimming, cliff jumping, and rappelling.
The Sotano de Las Golondrinas or Cave of the Swallows is another one of the main reasons why tourists love to come here. It is one of the largest pit cave in the world and stretches 512 meters deep. If you come at the right time and season, you will see flocks of swallows coming or leaving the cave which is a pretty magical sight.
There are many different tour companies that offer day trips or even overnight camping within the park. You can also drive here if you are renting a car. San Luis Potosi is about 5 hours from Mexico City and 4 hours from Monterrey.
Isla Mujeres, Yucatán Peninsula
This little island off the coast of Cancun is a must-see when traveling to Mexico. Although it is a small island, there is plenty to do! You can find many bars and restaurants on the beach, go shopping, and even visit the Turtle Farm.
There are many places to stay on Isla Mujeres, from camping to all-inclusive resorts. Many people come here for the day from Cancun, but I would recommend staying at least one night to really get the full experience.
There are golf cart rentals available on the island which is the main mode of transportation. You can also walk or ride a bike around the island.
Cozumel, Yucatán Peninsula
Cozumel is another small island off the coast of Mexico, in the Caribbean Sea. It is a very popular destination for cruise ships that stop here for the day. The main thing to do is snorkel or scuba dive in the amazing coral reefs that surround the island.
The water is so clear and there are so many fish, it is like swimming in an aquarium! There are many companies that offer both group and private snorkeling and scuba diving tours.
If you are not a fan of getting in the water, there is plenty to do on the island as well. You can take a jeep tour, go shopping or visit one of the many restaurants or bars.
One thing you must do when on the island, is to visit the Punta Sur ecological park. This is the southernmost tip of the island and it has some amazing views. There are also some ruins here of an old lighthouse.
You can reach Cozumel by flying into the airport or taking a ferry from Playa del Carmen.
Cenotes Yaxmuul, Quintana Roo, Yucatán Peninsula
When you hear of Mexican landmarks, cenotes usually come to mind. The Yucatan Peninsula is famous for them and they are definitely worth a visit! A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of land surface into underlying caverns. These occur as a result of rainwater eroding the limestone bedrock. The Yucatan Peninsula has a high concentration of cenotes due to the geology of the area.
If you are looking for something fun and adventurous to do, then you should definitely put swimming in a cenote on your to-do list! The Yucatan Peninsula is home to many of these natural sinkholes. These cenotes were sacred to the ancient Maya and they believed that they were gateways to the underworld.
The Cenotes Yaxmuul is a system of seven connected underground cenotes. It is located in the town of Tulum, Quintana Roo. This is a great activity for those who want to enjoy the underground rivers but don’t want to go spelunking. You can float in the refreshing, cool water or take a dip in one of the many cenotes.
There are trained guides that will help you with your float and give you a little bit of history about the cenotes. You will need to bring your own bathing suit and towel. You can also purchase food and drinks near the cenote.
Cenote Ik Kil, Yucatán Peninsula
The Cenote Ik Kil is one of the most popular ones to visit. It is located near Chichen Itza. This cenote is 85 feet (26 meters) deep and has stairs leading down into the water. There are trees and vines hanging over the edge and into the water, making it a very picturesque spot.
This cenote is open to the public and you can take a dip in the refreshing water. You can also go on a tour of the nearby Cenote Dos Ojos.
Discovering Mexican Landmarks in Mexico
As you can see, there are many amazing Mexican landmarks to explore. And these are just some of the landmarks in Mexico, there is still a whole bunch awaiting you to discover. Whether you’re looking for ancient ruins, beautiful beaches, or stunning cenotes, you will likely find something that piques your curiosity and interest in Mexico.