Self-guided walking tour of the Polanco neighbourhood in Mexico City

Polanco is a large residential area in Mexico City, centred on Chapultepec Park. Established by the Aztec ruler Nezahualcoyotl in the 15th century, the park is the largest green area in Mexico City. Together with the neighbourhood of Polanco, this is Mexico City's most exclusive area. This area boasts many notable museums, antique shops, luxury shopping, fine dining and nightlife, and upscale hotels, making it ideal for discovering contemporary Mexican culture. I invite you to take a walking tour of this neighbourhood and learn more about it. Let’s begin with a visit to the Soumaya Museum.19 soumaya thesanetravel.comP1309126

Soumaya Museum

The Soumaya Museum was founded by Carlos Slim Helu, Mexico's richest man, and is named after his late wife, Soumaya Domit. Between 2010 and 2013, Forbes ranked Slim as the wealthiest man in the world. Slim knew that many citizens of his country could not afford to travel to Europe to see European art, so he decided to bring it to Mexico City instead. The museum was originally opened at Plaza Loreto in 1994 and is still operating today. However, in 2011, the main collection was moved to a new building in Plaza Carso.9 soumaya thesanetravel.comP1309118

This six-storey museum building is covered with 16,000 hexagonal aluminium tiles. The reflective features of the tiles give the building a different appearance depending on the weather, time of day, and the viewer’s vantage point. The non-profit museum, which features more than 64,000 works of art, conducts research, conservation, and promotion of Mexican and European art through permanent, temporary, and travelling exhibitions.10 soumaya thesanetravel.comP1299015

The Soumaya Museum collection contains sculptures from Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica, 19th- and 20th-century Mexican art, and an extensive collection of works by European old masters, including Lucas Cranachs, Tintoretto, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, and Murillo.14 soumaya thesanetravel.comP129907511 soumaya thesanetravel.comP129903813 soumaya thesanetravel.comP1299053 Masters of modern Western art include Eduard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali, and Auguste Rodin. The museum holds the largest collection of casts of sculptures by Auguste Rodin outside France.16 soumaya thesanetravel.comP1309093

Address: Boulevard Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 303, Granada, Miguel Hidalgo

If you are interested in modern art, visit the nearby Jumex Museum. It houses one of Latin America's largest private contemporary art collections, which includes works by Andy Warhol, Martin Kippenberger, Cy Twombly, and Damien Hirst.

After visiting the museum, continue your walk along F. C. de Cuernavaca Avenue and notice Mexico City Aquarium. 21 aquarium thesanetravel.comP1309116Then take Plinio Street. After a while, turn left onto Horacio Avenue and meet the bear, Berlin's symbol, near the entrance of the Embassy of Germany.

22 berlin bear thesanetravel.comP130912923 berlin bear thesanetravel.com20230218 140625

Address: Horacio No. 1506, Col. Los Morales Sección Alameda, Delegación Miguel Hidalgo.

Then turn left again onto Sofocles Street and walk until you reach Presidente Masaryk Avenue. Even if you only walk a short part of it, you should know something about this street.

Presidente Masaryk Avenue

Presidente Masaryk Avenue, the main artery of Mexico City, is named after the first president of Czechoslovakia, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk. Some of the city's best high-rise hotels are located there. The avenue is also famous for its luxury shopping and dining. It is the most expensive street in all of Mexico and, together with Madero Avenue in the historic centre, has the highest rents in the city.

Then turn left onto Jorge Bernard Shaw Street until you reach Campos Eliseos Avenue and turn left again.

Campos Eliseos Avenue

Located in the Polanco area, this avenue, along with Presidente Masaryk Avenue and Moliere Avenue, is one of the city's most famous streets. It is a beautiful tree-lined avenue that houses many hotels and residences. 25 eliseos thesanetravel.comP130913526 eliseos thesanetravel.comP130913827 eliseos thesanetravel.comP1309141

The Polanco River, which gives its name to this neighbourhood, used to flow along this avenue. To the west, it borders the Parque Libano (English: Lebanese Park), named for the Lebanese Embassy.

After a while, you will reach Paseo de la Reforma.

Paseo de la Reforma

The elegant Paseo de la Reforma surrounds Mexico City from west to northeast connecting the National Palace with Chapultepec Castle. The avenue was built during the reign of Emperor Maximilian, who ruled Mexico from 1864 to 1867. The major overhaul in 2003 converted Paseo de la Reforma into one of the major attractions of Mexico City and sent land prices skyrocketing, making it the most expensive area in Mexico City. 31 paseo thesanetravel.comP1309149Walk along Paseo de la Reforma and admire the monuments, murals, and statues. Very soon you will notice the National Auditorium building.

National Auditorium

Mexico City’s National Auditorium is the leading performance stage in the country. With more than 9,000 seats, it is a very large venue. The auditorium hosted many artistic and cultural events, such as the 1968 Olympics gymnastics competitions, from the sixties through the eighties. It also served as a venue for trade fairs, political and social events, and international beauty pageants. After remodelling, the building reopened in 1991 with a new stage for concerts and events. The auditorium nowadays hosts dance and ballet events as well as musical, cinema, and opera performances. It also hosts photography, painting, sculpture, and popular art exhibitions. 33 auditorium thesanetravel.comP130915334 auditorium thesanetravel.comP1309158The auditorium is home to the OMAN, the Monumental Organ of the National Auditorium. With 15,633 pipes, this organ is believed to be the largest in Latin America.

Address: Av. Paseo de la Reforma 50, Polanco V Secc, Miguel Hidalgo.

After passing the National Auditorium, stop at the street market for some local food.36 paseo thesanetravel.comP1309160

Also, notice the fascinating Korean Pavilion on your way.37 paseo thesanetravel.comP130916438 paseo thesanetravel.comP1309166Soon you will reach Chapultepec Park.

Chapultepec Park

Chapultepec means 'Hill of the Grasshoppers' in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. Chapultepec Park is the oldest and largest urban park in Latin America and one of the oldest urban parks in the world. Originally sited on the outskirts of the city, this extensive forested area is now surrounded by the urban environment.40 park thesanetravel.comP1309170

Many public figures such as Nezahualcoyotl, Moctezuma, Hernan Cortes, Maximiliano, Porfirio Diaz, and Lazaro Cardenas are directly connected to Chapultepec Park. During the colonial period, Chapultepec Castle took shape in the park and served as the official residence of Mexican presidents until 1940. The park contains a range of superb museums, a zoo, and venues for artistic and cultural activities. Rowboat and paddle boat rentals are available on the artificial lake in the park.43 park thesanetravel.comP130918242 park thesanetravel.comP1309176

Ninos Heroes Monument

At the entrance of Chapultepec Park is an imposing monument that honours six teenage Mexican military cadets who died defending Mexico when the US army laid siege to Chapultepec Castle in 1847. The monument serves as a tribute to the cadets of the Military College who gave their lives to defend Chapultepec Castle from the US invasion in 1847.70 monument thesanetravel.comP1309321

Chapultepec Castle

Construction of Chapultepec Castle began in 1785, but it became a castle only after Mexico gained independence. It was refurbished in 1864 and served as the home of Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg before becoming the residence of Mexico’s presidents in 1882. It remains one of two imperial palaces in North America.48 national history thesanetravel.comP130920349 national history thesanetravel.comP130920651 national history thesanetravel.com20230218 155850

This castle witnessed one of the strangest political events of the 19th century when Archduke Maximilian of Austria acceded to the new imperial throne of Mexico in 1864. The emperor and his consort, together with their court, settled in Chapultepec Castle on the outskirts of the city. Architects were hired to renovate the 18th-century castle, and after the renovation, it was decorated with furniture and artworks from Europe. Just a few years later, after French troops withdrew from Mexico in 1867, he was defeated by the Republican forces of former President Juarez and was executed in 1867. The historic castle now hosts the National History Museum. Permanent collections include paintings, documents, technology, clothing, and furniture from multiple periods of Mexican history. 52 national history thesanetravel.comP130921353 national history thesanetravel.comP130922254 national history thesanetravel.comP130923057 national history thesanetravel.comP130925858 national history thesanetravel.comP130926159 national history thesanetravel.com20230218 16164760 national history thesanetravel.comP130929161 national history thesanetravel.comP1309301The National Museum of History also hosts concerts, conferences, and performing arts events.

Practical information

The starting point of my walking tour was the Soumaya Museum, and I took an Uber to get there from the city centre as there was no metro station nearby. By the way, the famous National Museum of Anthropology is on the opposite side of Chapultepec Park. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to visit the museum, but you are very welcome to do so. You can take the metro from Chapultepec station at the end of your walk. Even though the tour length is about five kilometres (3.10 miles), it can take you a full day because of museum and attraction visits. I recommend that you also take a self-guided walking tour of the Mexico City centre.

The map of the Walking tour

Like it? Pin it!PolancoS

What did you think? Have you visited Mexico City? I would love to hear from you, so please add your comment below.

  • Published by Anita on April 21, 2023

    Author: Anita Sane

    Anita 03 18

    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, 
    travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter and Bloglovin.



    I haven't been to Mexico City since I was a teenager, and it looks like so much has changed. I always love a green space in a city, so I would want to take a boat ride in the park. Also, how romantic is it that the museum was named after his wife?
    I love unusual shaped buildings. I would love to see the Soumaya Museum. I also remember learning about Chapultepec Park in high school Spanish class. That would also be on my list of must-see places in Mexico City. While I've been to Mexico, I still need to get to Mexico City.
    What a nice walking tour, I think I did quite a lot of walking around the Polanco district and explored every inch of that park. Soumaya is definitely my favorite museum there.
    I've never been to Mexico City - but a self-guided tour would be a great option for my family. The kids would love Chapultepec Park in Mexico City as well as the museums.
    Mexico is on my bucket list. I have been to Tijuana for a day and Cancun for a week but I hope to spend a few months discovering Mexico. Thanks for inspiration for Mexico City - it will help me immerse myself in Mexico when I finally get there.
    I'm yet to make it to Mexico. This looks like a nice place to add to my list should I ever get there! Thanks for sharing.

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