Mexico City is vast and there’s no way to cross it in a single day on foot. Home to over 23 million people with a complex history dating back to the Aztec origins in 1325. It’s hard to believe this capital city was built on a lake and even today, centuries-old cathedrals, plazas, temples still stand.
This city is known for its museums, palaces, parks, monuments, fountains, chic boutiques, award-winning restaurants, festivals, music and some of the best hospitality in the world!
I was in Mexico City for only 48 hours and walked many of the neighborhoods discovering some of the best things to do, places to visit, where to stay & dine. Find out some of my favorites below. Hope to return again and add to this list – there’s SO much to see & do!
Neighborhoods: There are several neighborhoods to explore and each one has its own identity. One of the best ways to get oriented is to start with a walking tour in the historic center of the city with Context Travel Tours.
My guide Julio took me to the Palacio Nacional and we went to the staircase on the north patio to see Diego Rivera’s mural of the history of Mexico City. Afterwards, we visited the pyramid ruins at the archaeological site near Templo Mayor, and stepped inside the Cathedral y Sagrario to see a spectacular interior. Then we continued our walk at the Plaza de la Constitucion and went to the pedestrian street called Madero.
Before leaving this part of town, be sure to stroll down Calle Madero, pass by the Palace of Fine Arts Palacio de Bellas Artes and visit the top floor, stop at the café in the Blue Tile House “Casa de Los Azulejos” and step into the historic Gran Hotel Cuidad (look up and take note of the stunning Tiffany glass ceiling).
Grab a bite at Azul Historico or some churros at the original Churreria El Moro (see other El Moro locations throughout Mexico city including Rio Lerma).
After visiting the historic center, I walked through the Park Alameda near Avenida Hidalgo and continued to the Paseo de la Reforma, the “Champs Elysees” of Mexico where skyscrapers and trees line the boulevard. Four Seasons and St. Regis are located on this stretch, as well as trendy Hotel Carlota. You’ll walk past the roundabouts – Glorieta de la Palma, Angel de la Indepencia, Diana Cazadora that lead to the Park Chapultepec.
Coyoacan Artist Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera lived here. Visit the Casa Azul where Frida lived, and note museum hours to see her home and personal belongings. Tip! Buy tickets in advance and get there early to avoid long lines.
Visit the Parish of San Juan Bautista and the Plaza de la Conchita.
San Angel: If you’re here on a Saturday, go to the outdoor market– el Bazar del Sabado to find arts and crafts.
Condesa is known as a hip and artsy district where designers and art galleries abound. Visit Parque Mexico and enjoy the paths through one of my favorite parks in this city. Shops and cafes are mostly on Av. Michoacan, Amsterdam, Tamalfas and Vicente Suarez.
Roma is also a creative neighborhood with shops along Colima Ave, and funky restaurants and bars. Keep a lookout for art nouveau architecture.
Polanco is a posh neighborhood where several high-end chain stores and almost 80% of Mexico City’s restaurants are located. There are luxury boutique hotels in this neighborhood along with the W Hotel. My favorite is the boutique hotel – Busue (details below).
If you have a few days, visit Xochimilco, the “Venice” of Mexico, where you can board a trajinera boat down canals.
Museums: It’s said there are over 150 museums in this city, so start with these first — Museo Soumaya (incredible architecture and free/open to the public), Anthropology Museum (a MUST), Museo Tamayo filled with contemporary art.
Chapultepec Castle: Check opening hours and be sure to visit Castillo de Chapultepec in the Chapultepec Park for panoramic vistas of the city.
Parks: The largest park in Mexico City is Chapultepec where you can visit the Castle, and find solitude on several paths and lakes throughout the park. My favorite parks are Park Alameda in Historic Center and the Parque Mexico in Condesa.
Markets (mercados): Mercado Artesanias de la Ciudadela and the Mercado de Artesanias Insurgentes located a few blocks from Angel de la Independencia on Paseo de la Reforma.
More Shopping: You can find high-quality handicrafts at Tienda Museo de Arte Popular in Polancho and some of the best straw hats at Tardan in the historic center. Designer shops in Roma and Condesa: Carla Fernandez, Local, DFC. More Mexican designers goods at Common People in Polanco.
There are many daytrips to take from Mexico City that will be added to this list. One of the most popular is to visit Teotihuacan to see the ancient pyramid ruins.
Busue In the heart of Polanco, between President Masaryk Street and Lincoln Park is a charming luxury boutique hotel.
Located in a renovated old home, there are 11 rooms to choose from. It was very comfortable and felt like home. My room was spacious and the service excellent! The interior is beautifully designed and the location is central to discover Polanco.
Chaya B&B Excellent location near the historic center, this boutique B&B is across the street from Park Alameda.
Take the stairs to the top of a renovated building and you’ll find a little welcoming oasis. Chaya B&B helps plan itineraries and wants to help guests enjoy the city and feel at home.
One of the most unique spa experiences in the world! I was greeted at the 15th floor spa with magnificent views of the city, and introduced to my therapist. She gave me a treatment that included a body mask, scrub and polish.
In between each phase of the treatment, she presented me with a surprise light bite from an oyster to a glass of watermelon gazpacho and sorbet paired with champagne for the finale. Each treatment plan is custom tailored to meet every guest’s specific needs with therapies steeped in the healing customs and traditions of ancient Mexico.
Dine by Neighborhood…
Paseo de la Reforma
Diana Restaurant at St. Regis One of the finest dining experiences in Mexico City, where guests can overlook the Paseo de la Reforma and the Fountain of Diana from the dining room and outdoor terrace.
I savored an authentic Mexican dinner starting with delicious sopes (small tortillas with toppings). Lovely setting, traditional Mexican food with a modern twist and excellent service!
Polanco: Pujol (legendary Chef Enrique Olvera), Quintanal, Biko or Dulce Patria.
Condesa: Taqueria El Califa (order the frijoles or pork-topped tacos al pastor)
Roma: Rosetta, Maximo Bistrot, Contramar, Romita Comedor
Historic Centro: Azul Historico, Cazuelas de la Abuela or Taqueria Los Cocuyos
Coyoacan: Café Negro, Lecaroz Bakery (behind the parish of San Juan Bautista) and look for street vendors selling an authentic Mexican breakfast of tamales with green sauce, mole, chocolate atole or rice pudding. For lunch, visit El Mercado de Coyoacan and order stews and tostadas. For dessert, stop at El Kisoco de Coyoacan for mamey and chico zapote ice cream.
HOW TO GET AROUND
There are a variety of ways to get around Mexico City. If you get tired of walking, you can take the city subway or bus, and there’s always Uber.
If you need airport transfers or a ride around town, you can also contact Blacklane. Our preferred airport transfer service is Blacklane Limousine. Drivers pick us up on time, are professional and even have some local tips on where to dine in a new city! Book your reservation at click here
Gogo: Stay connected at 40,000 ft.! We use Gogo Air on our flights whenever possible to keep ahead of emails and work deadlines.
SkyRoam – pocket global WiFi hotspot: Skyroam Solis is one of the favorite gadgets for globetrotters. This all-in-one global 4G LTE hotspot we use when we travel. Its 6000 mAh power bank provides super fast, secure and affordable mobile data in 100+ countries. No SIMs needed! And we can charge our devices on-the-go. Keeps us powered all day long up to 16+ hours.
Global Adventuress thanks Busue and Chaya B&B for hosting our stay! We also thank St. Regis for hosting our spa experience and an excellent dinner.
A big thanks to Context Travel for introducing us to Mexico City, Blacklane Limousine for the airport transfers, and Gogo Air & Skyroam for keeping us connected.