Welcome to the ultimate guide to 3 days in Mexico City to help you plan your ideal Mexico City itinerary and perfect stay. Learn about the best places to visit and see, where to stay and the best healthy and vegan-friendly eats in the Mexican capital.
Mexico City recently climbed to the top of my Latin America cities list. In fact, I’d say that it’s probably one of my favourite cities in the world. Full of life, modern and neo-classical architecture, some of the best museums in Latin America and an incredible culinary, cafe and bar scene, Mexico City has something for everyone. 3 days in Mexico City is not quite enough time to see it all but you’ll be able to get a good grasp of what this city can offer.
Beautiful, regenerated neighbourhoods like Roma Nrte and La Condesa are perfect to get lost in and explore the city’s many amazing restaurants and cafes. The historic city center will give you a glimpse into the history of the city and will allow you to learn a little more about Mexico’s culture while modern, new Polanco is a shopping and modern art heaven.
If that’s not enough you can explore all the parks and main attractions the city has to offer including the Templo Mayor, Chapultepec Park and the prehispanic city of Teotihuacan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site just outside the city.
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Air: Most international flights will land at the Mexico City International Airport which is located fairly close to the center of Mexico City. There are direct flights from most North American capital cities as well as direct flights from most large US and European cities.
From the airport, you can take the metro, if you don’t have a lot of luggage or an Uber which is another affordable way to get to your hotel from the airport.
A local taxi is also an alternative but they do tend to overcharge. It’s always a good idea to use Uber just to get a quote for your trip so you have a fair reference before getting into a local taxi.
Bus: Mexico City has four different bus stations and which one you arrive at will depend on where you’re coming from. The four bus stations adhere to the cardinal directions (north, south, east and west) and serve destinations going in that general direction.
Terminal Central del Norte is the most popular option and serves Teotihuacan, Jalisco, Baja California, Nayarit, Queretero and San Luis Potosi and all the northern states. If you’re coming from Oaxaca, Campeche, Chiapas, Puebla you’ll most probably arrive at Terminal Central del Sur.
Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente (TAPO) or La Tapo serves eastern destinations like Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Oaxaca and Terminal Centro del Poniente serves Jalisco, Guerrero, Michoacan, Nayarit, Mexico State, Sonora etc.
Note that the bus terminals do overlap so if you’re coming from Oaxaca for example you could arrive at La Tapo or Terminal Central del Sur. Make sure to check your ticket or ask the driver about which station you’ll arrive at in Mexico City.
From whatever bus station you arrive at the best option is to get an Uber. It’s affordable, fast and safe. You’ll also see lots of taxi drivers around that will offer you a ride but we always stuck with Uber. Metro is also a possibility and a cheap way to get to your final destination, however, it’s not convenient if you have luggage.
Uber – Uber is your best friend when in Mexico City. It’s fast, safe and generally the cheaper option outside of peak times. During my 3 days in Mexico City, I just used Uber to get from one neighbourhood or district to another and I definitely walked a lot when exploring neighbourhoods themselves.
Public Transportation – As with most world capitals, Mexico City has a vast system consisting of metro and buses. Mexico City does have an extensive metro which is fairly fast and efficient to use but it does get extremely crowded.
Metro however is one of the best options during rush hour or for trips around the city if you’re on a budget.
To use the metro you can either buy a paper ticket at the ticket booth or a Metro Card which you can top up with pesos and use as you go. Metro Cards are available at ticket booths or taquillas for 10 pesos. For buses, you can only use Metro Cards.
If you’re in Mexico City for just 3 days then I don’t recommend wasting too much time on trying to work out the bus routes.
Walking – We did so much walking during our time in Mexico City. Walking is one of the best ways to get around neighbourhoods. It’s fairly fast and you can explore and discover different places as you go. It’s also a really good way to walk off all that amazing food you’ll be eating.
WHERE TO STAY IN MEXICO CITY
For ease of moving around the city, I highly recommend staying in Juarez, Roma Norte or La Condesa. Either one of these neighbourhoods is close to much of the top sights to see in Mexico City keeping travel to a minimum.
In these neighbourhoods, you’ll also find some of the best restaurants and bars as well as cafes perfect for brunch and breakfast. They are also the safest neighbourhoods to stay in.
Casa Emilia – Easily one of the best boutiques stays in the whole city, Casa Emilia is a gorgeous 6-suite hotel in the most beautiful modern mansion.
Surrounded by lush, green foliage, a fountain in the ‘living room’ style common area and beautifully decorated rooms, this is one of the best options in the city for couples. They also have a beautiful roof terrace, perfect for early morning journalling or meditation while listening to the city wake up. Rates include a delicious breakfast too.
La Valise, Mexico City – Located around the corner from Plaza Cibeles- one of the trendiest corners of Roma Norte, this unique hotel is housed in a converted colonial mansion.
You’ll find some seriously swoon-worthy suites here with unique design, decor and furniture. The space truly encompassed the beauty of Mexico City from decades ago. You can even request room service from Rosetta- arguably one of Mexico City’s best restaurants and pull the bed outside onto the terrace to enjoy the city from outside!
Octavia Casa – Relaxing earth tones, clean lines and well-lit, Octavia Casa is a gorgeous boutique hotel that’s a feast for the eyes. Located in a quiet part of La Condesa, yet close enough to all the action, a stay at Octavia Casa allows for true rest and relaxation during your stay. With all the mod-cons included, including breakfast and great coffee it makes a superb base for a few days.
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WHERE TO EAT
There are so many amazing places to eat in Mexico City that appeal to all tastes, budgets and lifestyles. Mexico City truly is a culinary destination and no 3 days in Mexico City itinerary can begin to even include them all.
From sophisticated brunch cafes to Michelin star deserving restaurants here are just a few suggestions of places you can’t miss.
La Rosetta – A Michelin star level restaurant, this is Mexico City’s best restaurant for locals and food critics. You have to reserve a table quite in advance to grab a spot here but it’s totally worth the effort.
Panaderia Rosetta – The bakery owned by La Rosetta restaurant. The perfect place to come for coffee and a croissant in beautiful surroundings.
Tacos el Huequito – One of the best taco hole-in-the-wall, street food places in Mexico city. Meat options only.
Eno – A chain with a few locations around Mexico, this vibey cafe is amazing for brunch and lunch. Oh, and the coffee is to-die-for.
Abarrotes Delirio – A sophisticated and cool deli and cafe. Perfect place for breakfast, lunch or just to grab a juice and coffee in the morning
Forever – Sophisticated plant-based food in Roma Norte. One of my favourite eats in Mexico City.
VEGuerrero – A typical Mexican food place just made vegan. Come here to try vegan tacos, flautas, salads, chilaquiles and pozole.
Churreria El Moro – An institution of Mexico City. Come here for chocolate and churros.
La Pitahaya Vegana – Another brilliant vegan restaurant in Roma Norte.
Gin Chan – Extremely high quality and authentic Japanese food run but a Japanese owner and chef. Make sure to come on Thursday nights for Ramen night.
3 DAYS IN MEXICO CITY ITINERARY
I’ve decided to write this Mexico City itinerary based on spending each day in one area of the city rather than travelling from one site to another throughout the city. You’ll soon see that Mexico City is GIGANTIC and it has quite a big problem with traffic, especially during the morning and evening rush hours.
To avoid traffic and to spend as little time in transit as possible I highly recommend focusing on a different area of Mexico City each day rather than going back and forth between districts. Each area is very walkable and it will allow you to explore and get the most out of these most beautiful neighbourhoods of Mexico City. It will also save you money on Ubers and precious time (it’s not uncommon to sit in an Uber for over an hour due to heavy traffic).
Note that this is quite a packed itinerary. There is quite a lot to see and experience in Mexico City and 3 days in Mexico City isn’t so much. If you prefer to explore at a slower pace feel free to pick and choose what interests you the most.
Begin day one of this Mexico City itinerary in the historic center. Like in most Latin American cities and Mexico City is no exception, you’ll find the main square with the city’s cathedral here.
Plaza de la Constitucion is the world’s third-largest public square and around it, you’ll find many neo-classical government buildings and of course the Metropolitan Cathedral. You’ll also find the Palacio Nacional ( National Palace) here- a palace with government offices that traditionally served as the seat of government.
Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
Once you’ve taken in the sheer size of the square, head into the Metropolitan Cathedral. It’s one of the most beautiful and ornate in Mexico and if you pay close attention you’ll actually see it’s leaning to one size.
Mexico City is technically a city that’s constructed over marshland and with thousands of years of earthquakes added to the equation, the ground under the cathedral isn’t straight anymore. Each year the cathedral leans more and more to one size.
Walk around the Zocalo
Next, you can walk around and explore the area. There are many museums and stores in the area from both local and international brands. Some noteworthy buildings and museums worth checking out are Museo de Estanquillo, Museo Nacional de Arte MUNAL for Mexican art, Palacio de la Cultura Citibanamex, Torre Latinoamericana, Palacio Postal, a rather impressive and ornate post office building and Museo Franz Mayer, dedicated to decorative arts and has a lovely courtyard inside.
House of Tiles/Casa de los Azulejos
Make your way to the House of Titles, a beautiful building covered in exquisite blue and white tiles. Built in the 18th Century this neo-classical building was a palace for the Mexican elite.
The building is really pretty itself but don’t just admire it from outside. Make sure to also go in and have a coffee in their cafe. You’ll sip coffee from blue and white porcelain in one of the prettiest buildings in Mexico City. Make sure not to miss it.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
Right next to the Casa de Los Azulejos, you’ll find the monumental structure of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, a building that’s simply unmissable from this Mexico City itinerary.
With its squat, marble structure and intricate neo-classical design this is one of the most noteworthy buildings in Mexico City. The building was built to house Mexico’s fine arts and that’s still what it’s used for today. Inside you’ll find works by notable Mexican artists and murals by Diego Rivera. The palace is also used as a theatre where you can catch a classical play like Don Quijote if you speak Spanish.
If you are a big Diego Rivera fan then make sure to also visit the Museo Mural Diego Rivera located just on the other side of Alameda Central Park.
Note that Palacio de Bellas Artes is closed on Mondays like most museums in Mexico.
Tip: For a better view of the whole Palacio de Bellas Artes, go to the top floor of the Sears department store opposite the building. There is a cafe on the top floor where you can order a coffee, relax on the open terrace and have the best views of the building.
If you’re looking for something to eat, there aren’t too many great options in this area but you can walk down to Mercado de San Juan for a local market experience and a bite to eat. Another option is Mexico City’s Chinatown which is just a few blocks away if you’re craving something different to Mexican food. For tacos head to Tacos el Huequito for classic al pastor tacos.
If you’re plant-based just head to Vegamo Centro (Revillagigedo 47) nearby, a local chain where you can pick up some seriously tasty waffle sandwiches, flautas, chilaquiles or a healthy buddha bowl.
Museo Frida Kahlo
In the afternoon head to the Frida Kahlo Museum or otherwise known as the Blue House, one of the best museums in the world dedicated to the late Mexican artist.
At the time of writing, due to the pandemic, there are no tickets available to purchase at the museum- you need to buy your tickets ahead of time online and select the time of your visit. You can buy tickets online here.
During your visit, you’ll learn more about Frida Kahlo, about her turbulent life and how it all led to the evolution of her and her artwork. The Blue House is where she lived for the majority of her life so you’ll be able to visit her studio, living and sleeping spaces and the garden.
You’ll be able to learn more about her work, what influenced it and her relationship with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. This is one of the best little museums in Mexico City and while it is located a little far from everything else in the city, it’s really worth the trip.
Juarez/Roma Norte/La Condesa
Today is all about exploring the three coolest neighbourhoods in Mexico City. These neighbourhoods particularly Roma Norte and La Condesa quickly became my favourite places to spend time in Mexico City.
Here you’ll find the best cafes and restaurants, boutiques, conceptual art spaces and beautiful leafy public squares and streets. The best things to do in these areas are simply to walk around and explore.
Angel de la Independencia
Start your day at Mexico City’s most iconic roundabout and monument, the Angel of Independence. As the name suggests this little golden angel sitting on top of a tall column is the city’s monument to independence and peace.
The monument sits in the center of an extremely busy city roundabout on Avenida Reforma- the main Avenue in this part of town. To get close to the angel you’ll have to navigate through quite a bit of traffic. One block away you’ll also find the iconic statue of Diana Casadora.
Parque Mexico & Av Amsterdam
For one of the prettiest streets in all of Mexico City, head to Avenida Amsterdam, a circular road that runs around the outside of Parque México.
Not only is this street stunning but it’s also, incredibly green, quiet and lined with great restaurants, cafes and boutiques. It has a slim park running through its center which attracts plenty of joggers, dog walkers and travellers.
The buildings here are an eclectic mix of old yet in great condition with stylish balconies and windows and new modern, luxury apartment suites.
Mexico Park is also another great place for a stroll. Here you’ll find all of Mexico City’s professional dog walkers, and people taking a break from their day. It’s a great place to people or dog watch and just relax on a shaded park bench.
Explore Roma Nrte
For the rest of the morning and early afternoon don’t do anything but wander around Roma Nrte. There is always something unique to see on every corner whether that’s a boutique or cafe. There are tones of local businesses to support here too especially if you’re looking for something cool and unique to take home.
I could have spent a few more days just in these neighbourhoods and I’m sure you’ll want to too.
For lunch, you can make reservations for La Rosetta or head to Eno Cafe or Abarotes Delirio for a quick lunch. You can also try Forever Vegan or the trendy Madre Cafe.
If you find yourself close to Mercado Roma, that’s another great place to check out for some sophisticated ‘market style’ food or for a quick coffee or drink.
Here are some other noteworthy places we found while exploring Roma Norte, I highly recommend checking out:
- Raku Cafe – minimalist cafe with Japanese aesthetic. Great coffee and simple Japanese inspired dishes
- La Esquina del Te- An amazing tea shop in the city- perfect if you’re not a coffee drinker.
- La Ventanita- cafe with lovel terrace on Fuente de Cibeles
- Casa Bruna – Eco-store & cafe, great place to buy Mexican coffee, dried chilli and other dried snacks plastic free.
- Quentin- Amazing coffee and great vibe
- Qi Yoga & Wellness Center- On Av Amsterdam, a great place for wellness treatments and yoga in the city. Great store too to stock up on essential oils etc
- Hela Spa – Great inner city spa, perfect for faciales, massages and treatments to aid relaxation when in CDMX.
Bosque de Chapultepec & Castillo de Chapultepec
Spend the afternoon exploring Bosque de Chapultepec, one of the biggest city parks in the world. There are so many things to see here that you won’t have time for everything but it’s still worth coming to walk around, enjoy nature and people watch.
One of the top places in the park you don’t want to miss is Castillo de Chapultepec a hilltop castle with great views of the city. Here you can wander about the spacious gardens and premises, take in the views from above and explore the National Museum of History which is housed inside.
Due to its size I’d highly recommend renting some bicycles or scooters for Bosque de Chapultepec as you’ll be able to cover much more ground and it’s a fun experience. You can rent an Ecobici, one of the city’s public bikes to zip around on at any point in your itinerary. Click here for a map of rental locations around Bosque de Chapultepec. You’ll need to bring a form of photo id to rent the bikes.
For your final day in Mexico City, head to Polanco, Mexico’s most upscale neighbourhood and the northern parts of Chapultepec for more of Mexico City’s finest museums, neighbourhoods and outdoor areas.
For the most complete modern art museum in Mexico head to the Museo Soumaya. With its shiny, polished, hexagonal architecture, this building is one of the most modern buildings to be recently added to the Mexico City skyline. Funded by the Carlos Slim foundation this free museum aims to give everyone access to art.
From medieval European work to Impressionism and replicas of many of Rodin’s sculptures, this large museum is full of both local and international art and is one of the biggest collections in Mexico.
The museum is open every day from 10.30 am-18.30 pm- one of the few open on Monday.
Once you’ve spent all the time in the world in the Museo Soumaya it’s time to explore Polanco. Polanco is seen as the most upscale neighbourhood in Mexico City with lots of luxury restaurants, big hotel brands and green, leafy streets and avenues.
There are so many cute little streets to explore and get to know. Start by walking down Av Horacio and through Parque America before heading south to Av Pdte Masaryk and down to the Anthropology Museum. On the way, you’ll find so many lovely streets with juice bars, cafes and boutiques.
Museo Nacional de Antropología
Another one of Mexico City’s amazing museums, the Anthropology museum might just be the city’s best-kept secrets. For culture buffs, this is the museum you really should prioritise when in Mexico City. The Anthropology Museum is the world’s largest collection of ancient Mexican art and many other ethnographic exhibits about Mexico’s past and present indigenous groups.
One of the most famous works you can expect to find here is the Sun Stone or Aztec Calendar, a monumental stone sculpture the Aztecs used to measure time. There is also a recreation of Pakal’s tomb (an ancient Mayan ruler) and a very impressive Jade mask.
Note that this museum is also closed on Monday, like most museums in Mexico City.
Explore La Condesa
While you might have briefly walked into La Condesa when exploring Roma Norte, this lovely neighbourhood is worth exploring a little more. In fact, Roma Nrte and La Condesa beautifully flow into one another and complement each other. In La Condesa, you find gorgeous parks, great hotels and restaurants too. If you loved exploring Roma Nrte, you’ll love La Condesa too.
When walking around make sure to take in Parque España and right opposite it the Hotel Condesa, a beautiful neo-classical building with a great restaurant. By all means, go in and have a coffee.
If you’re craving a fresh juice and immune system boost head to Seven Buddhas, just around the corner from Hotel Condesa or Amamba Juice on the adjacent street. Both are excellent choices for fresh juice and healthy light meals.
For a healthy plant-based meal in La Condesa head to Veguísima (Calle Pachuca 59) or Lardo (Agustin Melgar 6) for all-day brunch (non vegan).
EXTRA DAY TRIP
If you can stretch your trip for one more day I highly recommend you do. Mexico City is an extraordinary city and there are so many things to see from archaeological sites and cultural monuments to modern neighbourhoods.
For your extra day in Mexico City, I highly recommend taking a day trip to the ruins of Teotihuacan. Located just outside Mexico City these vast ruins are the most important Aztec archaeological site in Mexico today.
Consisting of several grand pyramids, Teotihuacan was one of the largest Mesoamerican cities in its heyday where about a quarter of a million people may have lived.
Upon arrival walk down the Avenida de Los Muertos to the beautiful, towering Pyramid of the Sun and the Moon before moving on to explore all the ancient carvings and motifs and the smaller temples.
You can walk around by yourself or hire the services of a tour guide at the entrance if you prefer.
You’d be right to think that such a large, ancient city isn’t exactly in the center of today’s modern Mexico City so it does take a little more effort to get there.
The best way to get to Teotihuacan is by bus. First take metro line 5 (yellow) or an Uber to Autobuses del Norte, where you’ll be able to buy a bus ticket to Teotihuacan. The bus station is right next to the metro exit.
Alternatively, you can take a taxi or Uber to the pyramids but it will cost considerably more.
If you prefer to just book a tour in Mexico City or to Teotihuacan here are some great options:
TOP TIPS FOR ANY MEXICO CITY ITINERARY
- Try not to visit Mexico City on Monday. Many museums are closed during this time and generally, there isn’t too much to do or life on the streets. If you do happen to be in town on Monday, make sure to rearrange this Mexico City itinerary so that day two falls on Monday.
- Credit and debit cards are used widely in Mexico City and are sometimes preferred. Apple Pay is also accepted in many small and large businesses.
- Be prepared to walk a lot. Most travellers I speak to who’ve been to CDMX often tell me they’ve never walked more in their lives. It’s true. You’ll be doing a lot of walking so bring comfortable shoes.
- Try not to travel too far during rush hour. Mexico City’s traffic is terrible so it’s best to just avoid trying to get somewhere during rush hour. Try to time your day so that during these times you’re already at your destination or you’re getting around on foot.
- When travelling in Mexico City in summer make sure to bring sunscreen, a large, reusable water bottle, an umbrella and comfortable clothing.
- When travelling in winter Mexico City can get a bit cold, especially at night so you’ll need long pants and a good jacket.
SAFETY IN MEXICO CITY
In general, we found Mexico City to be a safe city like any other. We did not have any problems when walking around and exploring. Few visitors have issues when staying in the main, central neighbourhoods.
One thing that I was advised against however was walking around the Zocalo (Historic Center) at night. While it’s fine to walk around during the day you should probably avoid walking around this area at night and instead use Uber when coming and going to places in Zocalo. For this reason, I also don’t recommend staying in the Zocolo when you’re more likely to be moving around after dark.
Like with every major city in the world, make sure to use common sense, exercise caution and don’t leave your belongings unattended. Be more cautious in the historic center.
Are you ready to dive into this Mexico City itinerary? Let me know all your questions and comments below.
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