Things to do in Monterrey

Monterrey is a largely industrialized city in northern Mexico with an abundance of historical buildings, boulevards to cruise and places to shop. Although it is known to be a powerhouse for business and industry, there are a variety of attractions to see in the surrounding mountains and dessert areas for those who are into the outdoors.

Historica and Cultural Sites

Gran Plaza

rsz_palacio_antiguo_11Also known as the Macroplaza, this is a modern tourist complex that includes several tourist attractions such as the monument Homenaje al Sol, el Faro de Comercio (the tallest historic monument in Mexico) and the Antiguo Palacio Federal, among others. Some options for seeing these sights in the downtown area include taking a trolley ride or hiring a horse carriage to take you through the historic streets to see the sights.

Museo de Historia Mexicana

If you are interested in Mexican history, the Museo de Historia Mexicana is a perfect place to go and find a detailed history from pre-Hispanic times to present day. The exhibits include interesting artifacts, religious icons, scale models and illustrative maps.

Paseo de Santa Lucia

rsz_santa_lucia1This is a beautiful artificial river that runs through the downtown area, passing by attractions such as the Museo de Historia Mexicana. With sidewalks lining its banks, it is a great place to walk and a great opportunity to explore unique restaurants and cafes. You can also take a guided boat ride through the canal system, which offers a thorough history of the city and some great views.

Museo del Vidrio

The Museo del Vidrio (Glass Museum) combines art, science and history into an interestering exhibit depicting the history of glass making. It also features some great examples of 20th century glass art.

Centro Cultural Alfa

The Centro Cultural Alfa is a great place to take children. Here you can enjoy a planetarium, an Omnimax theater and a science museum.

Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Monterrey

rsz_catedral1This is a beautifully designed chuch built in 1772 and found in the Plaza de Armas. It has a uniquely decorated interior with five murals painted in the apse in 1942. Even if you aren’t Catholic, the inside of this building is well worth checking out.


Zona Rosa

This ten-block pedestrian zone is located in downtown Monterrey including a variety of stores, cafes, juice bars, restaurants and hotels. It is a great place to go window shopping and even if you’re not looking for something in particular, you will most likely find something that attracts your eye.

Galerias Monterrey

This is a large shopping mall where you will find stores featuring the best-known brands and a variety of shops with hip music, top fashion designs and state-of-the-art technology. You can also enjoy some delicious specialty dishes from Monterrey in the food court and experience one of the most popular Mexican department stores, Liverpool.

Galerias Valle Oriente

As a popular commercial center, Galerias Valle Oriente is said to be the place you can find just about anything you are looking for. It hosts many brand name stores but also includes a variety of shops that sell traditional and local handicrafts. As one of the newest and most modern malls in Monterrey, it is definitely worth checking out.

Union de Artesanos de Monterrey

This artisan union sells products in a variety of markets and here you can find many traditional handicrafts from the region. One of the mini-malls can be found at the end of the Zona Rosa, a pedestrian shopping boulevard downtown. Leather products ranging from key chains to shoes and an abundance of traditional sweet treats are some of the most popular items found in these markets.

Food and Drink, Day or Night


Northern Mexico has a lot of unique culinary specialties that are different from what many people may imagine as “typical” Mexican food. The regional specialty is cabrito, or baby goat, and is usually slow cooked over mesquite coals. Carne arrachera is a type of flank steak that has been specially marinated and carne machacada is dried shredded meat used in a variety of dishes, ranging from omelettes to tacos.

Here is a list of restaurants recommended in Monterrey:

    El Rey Del Cabrito: This is one of the most famous restaurants in Monterrey and of course, the specialty is cabrito, or baby goat. The grilled beef cuts are also to be noted.
    Las Pampas: This restaurant has been dedicated to typical Argentine food for 40 years. You will find a wide variety of meat cuts and other delicious specialties.
    Chilaquiles Restaurant: Chilaquiles are a great Mexican dish made from dried tortillas, salsa, cream and a couple of other special ingredients.


Monterrey is full of night life and whether you are interested in jazz, blues, country, rock, hip hop or classical music, you are sure to find something that fits your style!

Here is a short list of bars you might be interested in:

    Achis: Here you´ll find Monterrey´s best indie and alternative rock bands.
    Bar 1900: This is an elegant and historic bar where you can find classic norteño music most nights.
    Cafe Iguana: This is where you´ll find punk and metal music on the stage and is considered the epicenter of alternative Monterrey.
    Cafe La Galeria: This is a hip, lively and friendly bar featuring house and dance music.

>>More information on Night Life in Monterrey.

Barrio Antiguo

rsz_micheladas1The Barrio Antiguo, or Old Neighborhood, is considered to be the historic patrimony of the city. Here you will find bars, restaurants, and museums aligned among its cobblestone streets. During the day it seems to be a calm part of the city, but at night it livens up as young people wander from bar to bar in the Barrio Antiguo. The streets are usually closed off at night on the weekends, which makes it rather safe to walk around and experience a variety of different places in the same night.

Cuauhtémoc Brewery

This is the oldest brewery in Mexico and is a producer of some of the best beer in Mexico (like Bohemia, Tecate and Dos Equis). Here you can take a free brewery tour and take samples of different kinds of beer in the outdoor garden.


Cañón de la Huasteca

2929543420_b137774847_mIf you are interested in outdoor sports, this is a great place to find a variety of opportunities to practice them. The Cañón de la Huasteca is known for its sheer, 984-foot walls because they are optimal for rock climbers. You will also find plenty of places to hike in these canyons, and glyphs from some of the first inhabitants of the region can also be found here.

Cascadas Cola de Caballo and Parque Nacional Cumbres

These waterfalls are located in the Parque Nacional Cumbres, about 40 kilometers away from Monterrey. Water coming down from the Sierra Madre Oriental makes this 25 meter spectacle, forming a fall that looks like a horse’s tail (hence the name Cola de Caballo, which means Horse’s Tail).

Grutas de Garcia

3147282820_480f7c14b6_mThese 50-million-year-old caverns are filled with stalactites and stalagmites that provide an interesting experience for anyone, but especially for those interested in geographical formations. In the Grutas de Garcia you can take a guided tour through the 16 monumental caves along a 4-mile path of wooden stairs.

Mesa Chipinque

Here you will find a variety of valleys, canyons, mountain peaks, and pine-oak forests. Chipinque is a great place to go camping and practice outdoors sports. You will also experience some great panoramic views of the city from here.

El Bio-parque Estrella

Here you will find animals roaming a park in their natural habitat. Tourists can take their children on a safari-like journey to observe the animals and take wonderful pictures. This is another great option if traveling with kids.

>> More information on outdoor activities near Monterrey

Photo Credits

1 by Sherry Dickerson
2 by Sherry Dickerson
3 by Sherry Dickerson
4 by Sherry Dickerson
5 by Drogdon on Flickr
6 by aaronernestoortizlopez on Flickr