As Mexico’s third largest city (and my hometown), Monterrey, with its high-rise buildings and cosmopolitan culture, is the country’s equivalent to New York City. Its nickname, the “City of Mountains” and the “Sultan of the North”, are well earned as Monterrey is a city nestled amongst mountains.

Granted, Monterrey doesn’t have the pyramids and paradisiac beaches Mexico is well known for, but it really is everything a city is meant to be and has its own distinctive flavor to offer the adventuring visitor. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, whether you like to spend quiet holidays looking at art or being a rowdy party animal: Monterrey is the city for you.

I guarantee you’ll leave with your fill of mountains, fun experiences, cowboy hats, steak and forty-degree Celsius heat.

At a first glance, the people of Monterrey, known as “Regios”, might seem like more distant and stuck up than their counterparts in other parts of Mexico, but this is a superficial and harsh judgement, as beneath that sunburnt tough arid skin of theirs they are entrepreneurial, loyal, forthright, honest and more than willing to welcome and help a stranger out.

Monterrey Mexico

The sun breaks out over Saddle Mountain in Monterrey.


Now, I’ve always been restless and gotten bored easily so, rest assured, I explored the deepest parts of the city to bring you the absolute list of things to do in Monterrey:

  1. Visit the museums!

Monterrey boasts some excellent museums that range from the historic to the artistic.

  • Museum of Mexican History (called Museo de Historia Mexicana,, free on Tuesdays and Sundays)
  • Museum of Contemporary Art (called MARCO,, you can get in for free each Wednesday)
  • Northeastern History Museum (called MUNE,, free on Tuesdays and Sundays)
  • Palace Museum (called Museo del Palacio,, free on Tuesdays and Sundays)
  • Bishop’s Palace Museum (called El Obispado,
  • Metropolitan Museum of Monterrey (called Museo Metropolitano de Monterrey)
  • Horno 3 Steel Museum

All museums offer student discounts when presented with a valid student ID Card.

Don’t miss a chance to pass over learning and having fun at the same time!

  1. Go hiking or mountain climbing.

Since you’ll be visiting the City of Mountains, what could be more characteristic than going mountain climbing or hiking?

There are several ecological parks near Monterrey. You could visit La Estanzuela for a walk alongside a brimming stream and beautiful waterfalls, or you could go to Chipinque natural reserve for its forests and scenic views.

There are different peaks and hills (cerritos) with varying degrees of height, length and difficulty. While most of these have predefined paths you can hike on, several may need you to contact a guide.

So get lost among the mountains of Monterrey (but in a good way!).

  1. Visit the magical town of Santiago

The small town of Santiago, which is no more than a 30-minute ride from the city, is a picturesque village with a beautiful church and colonial style buildings. The city has been well preserved and thus been awarded status as a “Magic Town” or the recognition as a town of significant cultural or historic importance in a region.

The main square has excellent restaurants, the church as well as a History Museum. Markets gather there on the weekends and sell local crafts and foods as well as regional decorations.

Be sure to try the Pan de Elote (Mexican cornbread) and don’t forget to bring your camera and miss a wonderful opportunity to take some cool pictures.

  1. Visit la Presa de la Boca Reservoir

The Presa de la Boca is an artificial lake or reservoir which supplies the city of Monterrey with its water needs, but regios use it for recreation on their weekends.

There are many activities which may be carried out in the Presa de la Boca such as watersports (kayaking, water skiing, etc.), fishing and there are even party boats for those more festive souls among you.

The Presa de la Boca is located just southeast of the city within an hour’s driving distance.

  1. Go cycling or driving through the Huasteca Canyon

The Huasteca Canyon is (not to be confused with the region with the same name in San Luis Potosi) is a series of canyons, mountains and hills which boast beautiful geological features from the erosion of the rock which took place here over the course of thousands of years.

Locals flock here on weekends to bike or take a scenic drive through the canyon, and the views are perfect for those photographers among you.

Rock climbing is also practiced here and scaling a hundred meter rock wall is an experience you will not soon forget!

Monterrey Mexico Huasteca

A view from the top of the Huasteca rock formation.


  1. Visit Fundidora Park

Fundidora used to be an old smelting facility back during the economic boom which put Monterrey on the map during the 18th century. When the plant closed several decades ago, the government decided to convert the old factory into a park (it ironically became an industrial park!). You can still see rusty old machines, rails, steam engines and all sorts of other old gears and gyros lying alongside flower beds and fountains.

The old factory buildings were converted into cultural hubs where art and photography exhibitions are held, restaurants, concert and theater halls, spaces for special events, even a cinema (la Cineteca) where international art films are screened!

So from cultural events to cycling and going out for a run, you can’t miss Fundidora Park!

  1. Take a stroll (or even catch a boat) in the St. Lucia Riverwalk

Traditional lore has it that Monterrey was founded on the sight of a freshwater spring (Los Ojos de Santa Lucia) which forms a small river that now winds its way through parts of downtown Monterrey.

Nowadays, you can catch a boat ride to take you down Monterrey’s iconic riverwalk, which might seem like a good idea in the blazing heat that almost always bakes the city.

So grab a seat, listen to the tour guides as they explain the sights along the river and be sure to wave at the people walking by!

  1. Go dance! The party never stops!

As Monterrey boasts some of Mexico’s top universities, it is filled to the brim with students and young people hankering to party their butts off. There is a bar for everyone in this vibrant city, and it’s not unusual for some of these to close (if at all) at 7 or 8 a.m.! Now that’s party stamina!

You can dance anything here from popular Latin American rhythms such as reggaeton, salsa, cumbia or bachata to electronic and deep house music, and although regios are commonly considered to be more closed off than some of their other Mexican counterparts, they’ll open up after they’ve had a drink or two for what I can guarantee will be the party of a lifetime.

The most popular nightclub areas include the old town (Barrio Antiguo) in downtown Monterrey or the Centrito in the nearby municipality of San Pedro. Bring your attitude and try not to have too much fun.

Night Monterrey Mexico

Monterrey boasts a vibrant nightlife.


  1. Catch a baseball or a soccer game

Regios are BIG soccer fans, and the city boasts several stadiums and two local sports teams (Tigres or Rayados). Monterrey also has a long tradition of playing baseball, with the local team being called Sultanes in reference to the city’s nickname.

If you want to see regios as they are, then be sure to buy a ticket and see a game! Remember to buy a beer to forget the heat.

  1. Browse through stuff you don’t need but will definitely want at the Hippie Market

Every Sunday, a flea market is set up in the Barrio Antiguo where the local craftsmen and all sorts of peddlers sell their goods on the street.

From used books to antiquities such as swords and everyday objects from a bygone age, there is a little bit for everyone in this market. Musicians and street artists also come here to perform for the adoring crowds.

You can find it on Francisco Javier Mina street, between Padre Mier and Raymundo Jardon.

  1. Visit the Planetarium

‘Cause nothings as Mexican as star gazing (Natives used to be pretty good at it, you know).

Monterrey’s Planetario Alfa boasts an IMAX cinema where documentaries are displayed on a daily basis, as well as a science and history museum which will blow the kids away.

On the grounds, there is an observatory from where regular star gazings are carried out, as well as a duck pond and a whole outdoor science park where you can learn as you have fun.

  1. Go for some scenic views!

All over Monterrey, there are places from which you will see stunning views of the city. There are too many places to be listed here alone but, with some curiosity, you might just find one around the corner, whether on top of a building, a mountain, or a hillside house.

Our best recommendations for scenic views of the city are from the top of Independence Hill, where the city of Monterrey erected a flagpole with one of Mexico’s largest flags and from Chipinque Natural reserve, from high up in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Now, I’ve traveled to Paris, Rome, London and other major cities and none of the views can match Monterrey’s. Have a look and see for yourself!

  1. Visit the Macroplaza!

Whenever there is a cause for local celebration (or rioting discontent) Regios gather on the grand plaza in front of the State Palace, which is a beautiful plaza in its own right.

The Macroplaza is decked with statues of Mexican national heroes and poses a great opportunity for some great photographs of downtown Monterrey.

And who knows? You might just catch a protest or a rally to make your day even more interesting.

  1. Wait, what?! There’s a Safari near Monterrey?

That’s right, nothing like touring through the local Serengeti while looking at giraffes, zebras, camels and all sorts of wonderful creatures. The Bioparque Estrella is located near the town of Montemorelos, which is about an hour and a half drive away from the city.

Attractions include a dinosaur museum, swings and slides for children, exhibitions, a petting zoo, paddleboats, scenic views of the Sierra Madre mountains and much more. Even if you’re not traveling with children, the park is a must-see for any nature lover!

  1. Visit the Grutas de Garcia caves

Located near the town of Garcia, outside of Monterrey, the Grutas de Garcia are a series of caves formed about 50 or 60 million years ago and makes for a fun little expedition into a forgotten, underground world.

There are guided tours you can take and you can even see fossils on some of the cave walls!

  1. The Matacanes experience

For the more adventurous among you, Matacanes canyon, located near the town of Santiago, is a large canyon through which a river flows into a series of cascades and waterfalls.

Tours are organized here and the visitor must plunge from waterfalls, swim through caves and hike through the hills until they reach the end of the canyon. Be sure to come in the summer for the best temperatures!

This is an absolute must for adrenaline junkies and adventurers!

  1. The Festival of Santa Lucia

The local cultural festival which celebrates the city’s traditional ties to St. Lucia is carried out on a yearly basis between the last half of September and the first half of October.

Attractions include art and photography exhibitions, concerts from world-class artists which visit the city from Canada, Russia, Southeast Asia, the United States and many other countries.

Be sure to program your visit during the festival as some of the best outings I’ve had have been to this festival’s events.

  1. Visit the local bars and grab a beer

This might sound like something anyone would do in their own hometown. After all, isn’t this what you do on a boring day? But wait! There’s some context to this.

Monterrey boasts one of Latin America’s most important breweries, dating back to more than a hundred years ago. Even today, the entrepreneurial spirit of the regio can be observed through the large number of local brand craft beers and breweries that are springing up all over town.

So support your local brewery and buy a local beer!

  1. Take a stroll through Monterrey’s historic district

The Barrio Antiguo (Old Town) is a beautiful architectural jewel of the city with its colonial style buildings as well as a fun stroll to take with friends or your significant other (especially at night, grrr).

This traditional quarter is filled with cafes, small restaurants, hostels, bars, clubs and all sorts of other fun establishments to make your outing a truly enjoyable experience.

A small trip to the past is guaranteed.

  1. Culture yourself. Grab a seat at a theatre or opera

Who said culture and fine arts are for the uptight and the snobbish? Culture is great fun!

Monterrey might not seem like a cultural center at first sight, but there is something going on in the art scene almost every day. There are plays and the occasional opera, classical music concerts and outdoor dance performances.

Visit the CONARTE (state culture ministry) web site for more details on available events. They organize events every week. Some of my favorite outings have been organized by CONARTE and events are wonderfully cheap too!

  1. Hungry? Monterrey boasts world-class cuisine

Oh, you’re on a diet? Then beware because there are some great eats in Monterrey! Monterrey boasts some of the best cuisines not only in Mexico but in the world and the restaurant scene is vibrant.

As the state is a major exporter of meat products, local specialties include steak and grilled meats, among many other traditional Mexican recipes. Nevertheless, there is a restaurant for each and every one of your desires. From gourmet Asian foods and experimental cuisine to comfort and traditional foods, a full stomach is guaranteed.

There are too many great places to list on a single post, so I’d suggest visiting to browse through thousands of food and drink establishments to get rid of that hunger. Possibly permanently.

  1. Blow your ears out at a concert.

Monterrey is famous for hosting many internationally renowned artists (I myself have sat through, or more precisely, headbanged through Iron Maiden and Rammstein concerts in the city).

Monterrey is especially famous for hosting the Pal’ Norte Music Festivals, where all sorts of popular and famous bands play in a three-day musical orgy.

So be sure to check before your visit if any great bands are going to be here and don’t miss many of the local bands too!

Have any other suggestions for stuff to do in Monterrey? Liked something in particular? Feel free to share by posting in the comments section below!