Every time we go to Mexico City it exceeds our expectations, but specially the first time. It's the type of city where you eat phenomenal food in fancy restaurants as well as on the street. Where a mix of history and a modernism always keeps things interesting. You should visit Mexico City when you have the opportunity.
Mexico City, also known as CDMX, is a huge city. It is in the top 10 metropolitan areas in the world with a population of over 21 million people. You'll notice when you fly in, that you fly at least 10 minutes over the city before landing. Mexico City is a unique blend of people, history, architecture, and culture. The different neighborhoods have their own vibe and are very different. This in my view is what makes Mexico City so interestesting. Despite the size, you will be able to get a good sense of the city in your 4 days and you'll want to go back.
This itinerary will get you the most out of your 4 days in Mexico City. It will guide you through:
- Exploring Mexico City's coolest neighborhoods.
- Eating great food both at fancy restaurants and at street stands.
- Doing the touristy things in a smart way avoiding common pitfalls.
- Getting the best value for your money. This is not a low-budget itinerary, but we make sure that you get the value for every peso spent.
- The different bars, restaurants and taquerias
- Some optional things to do if you stay longer
Weather in Mexico City
Mexico City has fantastic weather, the thing to watch out is rain. Most rainy days are in June, July, August and September reaching 17 to 20 rainy days a month on average. The driest months are December and January with one or two days a month of rain.
Weather is not a reason to not go to Mexico City. If you are going in July that's fine, just know you might get a couple of rainy days.
What to take to Mexico City?
You really don't need much. I'd make sure you have a good travel umbrella. It can go from a sunny day to a rainy one really fast.
Where to Stay in Mexico City
Our favorite neighborhoods to stay in Mexico City are Polanco and Condesa. They are centric, safe and good base for all the things to do in Mexico City. That said, they are very different.
Where to stay in Polanco?
Polanco is very very commercial. It has a lot of shops, bars and restaurants. It is also very busy. A lot of people all the time. It is a great centric location
Pug Seal Tennyson is our choice in Polanco. It is a fully renovated classical Polanco house made boutique hotel. They serve amazing breakfast, so definitely take advantage of that. It is walking distance to everything in Polanco.
Other great hotel options in Polanco are:
- Hotel Habita is a great option in Polanco. Well located, modern and clean.
- Las Alcobas DF is a stylish hotel in Polanco. It includes a great breakfast. You can't go wrong at Las Alcobas.
- Four Seasons is a beautiful building worth visiting between Polanco and Condesa. Walking distance to both during the day but you'd want to uber at night.
- The W Polanco is a great option if you want to stick to well known hotel chains. It is a great hotel, well located, but not as centric as the Pug Seal Tennyson
Where to stay in Condesa?
Condesa is the hipster neighborhood. It has a good mix of commercial and residential areas and really good vibe. It's less commercial than Polanco.
Places to stay in Condesa:
- La Valise Mexico City is our top choice in Condesa. It's a designer boutique hotel between Condesa and Roma Norte. Roma Norte is the other cool neighborhood right next to Condesa.
- The Hippodrome Hotel is another good option in Condesa. It is very centric within the Amsterdam loop in Condesa.
To AirBnB or not to AirBnB in Mexico City?
AirBnB in Mexico City can be a good option. We find that availability for the good places varies a lot and is not that reliable. I would only consider places in centric locations in Polanco and Condesa with a good amount of reviews.
Getting around Mexico City
Uber everywhere. Uber works very well and it is safe and reliable in Mexico City. Make sure you have your Uber account. Traffic can be brutal depending on the time of day and weather. If you need to get from Condesa to Polanco during a rainy week day at 6pm give yourself extra time. Traffic can easily turn a 15 min ride into a 50 min ride.
Is Mexico City Safe?
A lot of people ask me this. Mexico City is like any big city in an emerging country, it is safe but you need to have some basic precautions.
So in conclusion, hanging around Polanco and Condesa in Mexico City is safe for an experienced or even a first time traveler.
Some awareness is important though. Take into a consideration that a new iPhone is worth 3-4 monthly minimum wages in Mexico. So don't walk around showing off your new iPhone.
Mexico City 4-Day Itinerary
Our 4 day itinerary for first timers hits all the things to do in Mexico City without being overly touristy. It is also optimized to eat and drink your way through Mexico City.
- Day 0: Arrive to Mexico City and get dinner and drinks in Polanco
- Day 1: Coyoacán, Frida Kahlo Museum, and explore Polanco
- Day 2: Pyramids and explore Condesa
- Day 3: Explore Centro (downtown)
- Day 4: Museo Antropologico and Chapultepec Park
- Super Optional
- Taco Stands
- Final thoughts
Day 0: Arrive to Mexico City and get dinner and drinks in Polanco
Mexico City airport transport
The easiest way get to Polanco or Condesa from the Mexico City airport is to order an Uber. The pick up is quick and easy.
Dinner in Polanco
For the first night in Mexico City grab dinner in Polanco. A good option here is La Unica Mar y Tierra, a good more casual restaurant.
Another option to dive right in is El Farolito, one of my favorite taquerias. For Mexican food, this is your place. It has the on of the best al pastor tacos out there.
Day 1: Coyoacán and Frida Kahlo Museum
Coyoacán is very vibrant neighborhood about 20 minutes away from Polanco or Condesa. Exploring Coyoacán, having lunch and visiting the Frida Kahlo museum will take around 4 hours.
You can take the Uber to the Coyoacán Plaza and walk around. The plaza is a great intro to Mexico City: vibrant and packed of people.
Lunch at Los Danzantes
Los Danzantes is an Oaxacan restaurant in Coyoacán with a modern twist. Great place to get lunch. Oaxaca is a state south east of Mexico City with absolutely phenomenal food. It is also where the best Mezcal comes from. You will continuously hear about Oaxacan cuisine throughout your trip.
Another option for Lunch is the Mercado de Coyoacán (the Market). The market is well known for the Tostadas that you can get with pretty much anything. Although the tostadas stands have taken over the market, here you'll have lunch with the locals.
Grab a coffee at Alverre
If you need a coffee after that big lunch head to Alverre. A small coffee shop a couple of blocks away from the Frida Kahlo museum. Nice and convenient.
Frida Kahlo Museum
If you have never heard of Frida Kahlo and are asking why should I even go to her museum, I recommend you watch the movie. The Frida movie gives you a good background on her life and why she is such a strong figure in Mexican culture.
It is really important to buy the tickets ahead of time so you are not stuck having to wait in a long line. Aim for a 2:30 - 3:00 pm spot. Take your time to walk around and enjoy the museum.
Dinner in Polanco
Mexico City is such a food centric city that you need to make the most out of every meal. As you head back from Coyoacán and recharge, prepare for grabbing dinner in Polanco.
Blanco Castelar is an outstanding restaurant and a great option for this day. I really like their creativity and how all the dishes are served with an artistic twist.
After dinner there are many places around to grab drinks, but check out the bars section of this post. Don't drink too much because day 2 has a earlier start.
Day 2: Teotihuacan Pyramids and explore Condesa
On Day 2, go to the Pyramids, get lunch at a taqueria in Roma Norte and explore the Condesa neighborhood.
The Teotihuacan Pyramids
If this is your first time in Mexico City the Teotihuacan Pyramids are a must do. It is worth seeing them at least once in your life. They do get very crowded so the ideal time to go is first thing in the morning before the tour buses and the school kids get there. The Pyramids open at 9:00 AM so being there right at the open will be the best experience. Another benefit from going in the morning is the heat. It is warmer than in Mexico City and there is no shade. So doing 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM is the perfect play her
The pyramids are a 45 mins uber ride from Polanco or Condesa outside Mexico City. Plan to leave the hotel around 8:00 AM to make it at 9:00 AM. It takes around 2-3 hours to climb up, take pics, and walk around. You will appreciate climbing the pyramids while it is empty, it is so much more enjoyable. Remember to take plenty of water.
Ask uber driver to stay while you visit the pyramids. This is preferable. Ordering an uber from the Pyramids is fine as well, but better if your driver is there waiting. Pay the Uber $500-$600 pesos cash for the ride back including wait.
Do not take the tour bus to the Pyramids. It takes all day and good part of the morning you'll be stopping at hotels picking up people. It is not a good use of time.
Interesting fact about the Pyramids is that they were not built by the Aztecs as you might think. The Pyramids were already there when the Aztecs arrived. They were built by a little known civilization, the Teotihuacans.
Lunch at Los Parados
From the pyramids take an Uber straight to Los Parados in Roma Norte. They open at noon so your timing works out here. Order tacos al pastor and enjoy!
Walk around Condesa
From los Parados you can walk to Roma Norte and Condesa. Do a loop around Amsterdam. If you need a break, you can always stop at Ojo de Agua and have a delicious fresh fruit juice.
Dinner at Huset
Make reservations at Huset. Order the aguachiles, avocado cocktails, and enjoy one of your best dinners in Mexico City.
Drinks at La Clandestina
La Clandestina is a Mezcal bar in Condesa. It has great Mezcal cocktails and incredible variety of Mezcals to try
Day 3: Explore Centro (Downtown)
Exploring downtown should take you 4-5 hours if you plan to hit all the spots. It is a 15 minutes Uber from Polanco or Condesa without traffic and around 45 with traffic. Try going on a weekend as it might be better for traffic and less crowded downtown.
Zocalo and Main Cathedral
The Zocalo is the main square in Mexico City. It is massive. Good to walk around take some pictures with the CDMX sign and peak inside the Main Cathedral.
If you didn't have enough with the pyramids, the Templo Mayor ruins are an interesting visit. You can go in to the museum or you can see them from above from El Mayor restaurant.
Lunch at El Mayor
Wether you go or not to the ruins, El Mayor is a good spot for authentic Mexican food. Try to get a table outside overlooking the ruins and downtown.
Plan B for lunch is El Popular. Here you can also have authentic Mexican food with the locals.
Plan C for lunch is El Huequito a well known local taco stand.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
The Palacio de Bellas Artes is a beautiful building. Worth walking around. Go up to the Torre Latinoamericana in front and you will get some good views to take good pictures. There is a coffee shop on the 8th floor that has a good deck and will be a good spot to chill for a bit. If you are into art and museums, it is worth seeing the inside. It has some Rivera murals and the architecture of the building beautiful.
Museo Mural Diego Rivera
If you paid attention at the Frida Museum and the movie, at this point you should know who Diego Rivera is. The Museo Mural is where his most famous murals are.
Dinner at Pujol
This is a great day to finish with a dinner at Pujol. Make sure you book ahead of time. Maybe 1-2 months ahead so you get a table. If they don't have availability online, it is worth giving them a call and see what they can do. We recommend the full tasting menu vs the taco bar, but if the taco bar is the only thing available I'd take it.
Pujol is a fantastic experience. It is around $100 USD per person but worth it in our view.
Day 4: Anthropology Museum and Chapultepec Park
Day 4 has a combination of Museum, Park and great food will make you want to come back.
The Anthropology Museum is a must see, at least once. It is where the famous Maya calendar is. You will learn about the cultures and civilizations throughout Mexico at different times in history.
Lunch at El Califa
El Califa is a great taqueria that is 25 mins walk or a short Uber ride from the Museum.
Chapultepec Park and castle
Walk or Uber back and walk around the park. The park itself is not nice, so feel free to go straight up to the castle. The Chapultepec Castle was a nice surprise, way nicer than I was expecting and has great views of the city. On Sundays it is free which means that it is when the locals go. Unless you are on a strict budget, I'd avoid Sundays because it's packed.
Dinner Azul Profundo
For you last night it might be worth going back downtown for dinner. The place is super nice and
[foto azul profundo]
Places to Eat in Mexico City
Below are some of the restaurants, bars and taco stands that we've enjoyed the most. You can adjust your itinerary with any of these options.
- Huset (Roma Norte) - One of my favorites. Great food, cocktails and vibe.
- Blanco Castelar (Polanco) - Stelar food, always a good choice.
- Azul Historico Downtown - Good atmosphere
- Limoneros Downtown - great food with grasshoppers and other interesting stuff
- La Unica (Polanco) - Good restaurant for an easy dinner. You can always get a table.
- Rosa Negra (Polanco) - Good vibe (can be loud), food with an Asian influence.
- Pujol (Polanco) - Fine dinning, upscale, and worth it.
- Paramo (Roma Norte) - People either love it or hate it. Locals generally like it.
- La docena (Roma Norte) - Seafood
- Palmarés Azotea (Roma Norte) - good food and good patio seating.
- El Japonez (Polanco) - Sushi with a modern twist
- La Cabrera (Outer Polanco) - great food very hospitable
- Catamundi (Polanco)
- Belmondo (Condesa and Roma Norte) - Good for brunch
- Cafe Toscano (Condesa and Roma Norte) - Good for brunch
- Cafe Torino (Santafe) - Good and casual
- Centralito (Polanco) - Great environment and food
- Mora Mora (Polanco) - Good acai bowl
- Dulcinea Cocina Urbana (Polanco) - everything is good
- La Barra de Fran (Polanco) - Great spanish food.
If you have more time, here are some other things to do in Mexico City.
- Saturday Market - lots of art, great prices.
- Somaya Museum - mostly good to see from outside.
- Xocimilco - canal boat ride - 25 mins uber ride towards Coyoacán.
- Lucha Libre - I'm not a fan, but a lot of people do like it.
- San Miguel de Ayende - 4.5 hrs from Mexico City. Nice colonial town.
Mexico City is a must-visit city in the world. It's an intense city full of energy, great people and great food. You won't regret your trip.