8 places to visit in Monterrey, Mexico
July 17, 2019
by Andrea Zúñiga Vázquez
In the northeast of Mexico, just below the Texas border, you can find Monterrey in the state of Nuevo León. Although it isn’t specifically known for its tourism, more and more foreigners are visiting Monterrey as multinational companies continue to settle in this industrial hub. Monterrey has many places that are worth visiting and that will provide you with a good time. From gorgeous mountain views all around to the colonial city center, there is something for everyone. So if you ever find yourself wondering what else to visit in Mexico besides Mexico City or Cancún, head north. These are some of the places you can’t miss if you ever visit Monterrey.
What to do in Monterrey
Parque Fundidora is one of the biggest green areas in the city. This huge park, with old structures from a former steel plant, now functions as a public park. These old structures are now part of Horno 3, a museum dedicated to the city’s industrial history. There are bikes available for rental around the park or you can bring your skates to get a good workout. Parque Fundidora also has an ice rink, an art museum (Centro de las Artes), a small cinema that shows mostly independent films (Cineteca) and a kid’s museum that has several other locations around the country (Papalote Museo del Niño). This park is also often used for massive outdoor concerts such as P’al Norte and Hellow Festival.
Río Santa Lucia
Nearby Parque Fundidora, Paseo Santa Lucia is a riverwalk with guided boat tours. It is the longest artificial river in Latinamerica and it is surrounded by multiple murals of local artists and huge fountains. The tour explains most of Monterrey’s history and it guides you along many of the most important landmarks of the city. Along the river, you can find various restaurants and coffee shops that are ideal for spending the afternoon. There are also two very interesting museums near the entrance: Museo del Noreste and Museo de Historia Mexicana.
MARCO is one of the most important museums of contemporary art in Mexico. It always has different temporary exhibitions from both international and national artists that are worth checking out and an outdoor sculpture garden with impressive pieces from their permanent collection. MARCO is also known for its distinctive architecture; it was designed by famous Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta. The main entrance has a large bronze sculpture of a dove by the artist Juan Soriano. You can visit the museum for free on Wednesdays.
Barrio Antiguo is the historical quarter of Monterrey. Some of the oldest buildings in the city can be found here. Most of its streets are cobbled, making you forget that you are in one of the most industrial and modern cities in the country. Barrio Antiguo is full of small restaurants, cafés, and bookshops with a much more relaxed vibe than many places around town. The nightlife is also very laid back and there are many bars to choose from. If you visit on a Sunday you might encounter the arts corridor where you can find interesting antiques and books for a very cheap price.
Villa de Santiago is a small town just 33 km outside of Monterrey. Just like in Barrio Antiguo, its colonial charm makes it completely different from the rest of the city. Filled with very famous restaurants such as Las Palomas, Villa de Santiago is an excellent idea for a weekend afternoon. It is one of the many “magical towns” in Mexico because of its cultural and historical value. Visit the main plaza and climb the stairs to the Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol built in 1854. Stop by La Casa de la Abuela and eat their famous elote bread.
Now, for those that love nature, extreme sports and the outdoors, Monterrey also has many options to choose from. La Huasteca, part of the Sierra Madre Oriental, is known for its gorgeous rock mountains that are around 300 meters high. This is an ideal place for climbing, although you can also bike and hike. You can find many options for guided tours throughout the week. Make sure to stop by the famous elotes near the entrance to the park.
Located in one of the most expensive and exclusive towns in the country, Parque Ecológico Chipinque is a green oasis in the middle of a mostly gray city. It is part of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range and it is known for its various hiking trails as well as its wildlife. If you enjoy exercising, visiting Chipinque is ideal. You have the option to bike, hike or even just drive to the meseta and have a picnic. There are great views all around and it is definitely a good option for a quick escape from the frantic city.
La Cola de Caballo
Another famous landmark in Monterrey is La Cola de Caballo which literally translates to “horse’s tail.” Cola de Caballo is a waterfall located in the town of Villa de Santiago. It is right in the middle of a sprawling forest but it has easy access that doesn’t require strenuous hiking, so it is suitable for people of all ages. You can find the Hotel Hacienda Cola de Caballo nearby, where you can bungee jump and zip line.
So, if for whatever strange reason you end up in the north of Mexico, check out Monterrey. Yes, it is perceived mainly as an industrial city, but there are many places that will allow you to immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of the region. There is also a buzzing gastronomical scene in the city as well as many shopping centers to keep you cool on a summer day. Monterrey is a great destination for those who want to have multiple options for their everyday activities. In the city surrounded by mountains, there is always something to do or somewhere to escape.