3 Days in Mexico City
Sunrise to Sunset
Okay, first things first. Three days in Mexico City is NOT ENOUGH TIME!
But, if you’ve only got a set amount of those vacation days or already have your flights booked, let us fill you in on how to make the most of your time in this oh so colourful city. We unfortunately only had Friday to Monday due to work and other travel commitments, but we can confidently say we fit in as much as we possibly could. And yes, as per usual we had an epic adventure.
Make a note to yourself. You are not in Cancun, Puerto Vallarta or Playa Del Carmen. This is Mexico City, be prepared to speak Spanish, eat lots of street food and sit in far too much traffic. Remember, It’s all part of the experience of authentic travel!
Safety Disclaimer: you can’t talk about Mexico City without mentioning safety. We felt very safe the entire time we were there, but also took the precautions to do so. We took Ubers at night - never take a taxi - we stayed in a safe area (Reforma), but you could also stay in La Roma, La Condesa, Polanco, Jaurez and Coyocan. Also known as the safest areas in Mexico City so those are a good place to start when accommodation hunting.
Now that you have found your home, lets start exploring! We are going to reveal our 3 day itinerary for you. Something to note, we took a night flight on Thursday to get in by 1am, that way we had a whole day to explore on Friday, without wasting any time flying during peak exploration time!
Day 1 - By Day
Start the morning off right with a walk around your neighbourhood to get your bearings. Mexico City is a very large city, you’ll definitely want to save a few offline maps before you go! Start day one off by embracing the culture of Mexico City by grabbing a Mexican coffee; we recommend El Chocolate Rifa for a delicious delicacies as you make your way down to the Historic Centre.
There is SO much to see in the Historic Centre; Templo Mayor, Zócalo, Metropolitan Cathedral, Palacio Nacional, Belles Artes, Torre Latinoamericana and Plaza Garibaldi - just to name a few. Give yourself a whole day for this area as there is so many things to learn and take in. It’s pretty breathtaking!
We always start off a new city by doing a free walking tour. Not necessary to book ahead, just show up to the city centre and find the outgoing person with the bright t-shirt and umbrella and tag along. This is a great way to get a base line geography as well as facts on the country’s political and cultural history while seeing the sites. We had a fabulous tour with Victoria through the company ESTACIÓN MEXICO. Make sure you also take some time to explore the bustling Avenida Cinco de Mayo for shopping and don’t miss out on what I like to call Quinceañera street, located around Rep. De Cuba and Rep De Chile. Here, the stores are lined with elegant gowns to leave you gagging!
Zócalo - this is the centre of it all and has the biggest most beautiful flag of Mexico City waving so high! A lot of national celebrations happen in this area. We just happened to be in Mexico City on International Women’s Day so there was a large rally going on which was an extra highlight of the day.
Templo Mayor - Explore the Aztec ruins that are right next door to the zócalo. Walk through the winding walls and take in the breathtaking ancient architecture
Metropolitan Cathedral - Stunning! The outside is just as beautiful as in the inside. This building took hundreds of years to build so make sure you take some time to appreciate its beauty! And it’s free to enter!
Palacio Nacional - Jump inside the ‘National Palace’ and appreciate the artwork of Diego Rivera
Belles Artes - One of my favourite buildings in Mexico City. You can also go inside Belles Artes as well and take a tour to see more work of Diego Rivera. There is also Alameda Park right beside which is a nice place to wander and see the artwork so stop and grab some mangos from the vendors and have a picnic. Drinking alcohol in public is illegal, though very easy to access in the near by convince stores if a cerveza in a water bottle is your speed.
Torre Latinoamericana - This is one of Mexico City’s first skyscrapers and it has withstood many an earthquake. You can ride up to the top and take in breathtaking views of Belles Artes and the surrounding areas of Mexico. You could also do the same with the roof top cafe on the 9th floor of the Sears (yes the store) located directly across from Belles Artes.
Plaza Garibaldi - Wanna see some mariachi bands, head to Plaza Garibaldi just north of the historic centre. We were warned not to walk there at night when the majority of the bands come out (around 8pm/9pm) so take an Uber when leaving this area.
It is most likely late in the day and sun is about to set, if you don’t feel like trekking out to Plaza Garibaldi then find a roof top bar, we can recommend El Mayor and watch the sun set as you look down at Templo Mayor and the Zocalo while drinking a Michelada (lime juice, beer and salt) or a Chalada (beer, Clamato and a lot of salt).
Day 1 - By Night
Mexico City is a bustling metropolis. There are plenty of areas to go out for dinner, drinks and dancing most nights of the week. Roma, Condesa, and Polanco are probably the most common areas, especially if you are visiting from out of town.
We had a pretty huge day exploring and so we were ready for a world class meal and a couple cocktails. Finding somewhere to dine like a Queen is super easy in Mexico City as it is a foodie’s dreamland.
So this Friday night, we decided to head to Condesa and eat Dinner at La Capital.
It wasn’t on our list initially, but after doing a quick google search on some of the best restaurants in Mexico City, we decided to head on over to Condesa for the evening, this was an area that was high on our list from the start. I cannot go on enough about this incredible restaurant. From the service, to the presentation of the dishes, to the atmosphere and the INCREDIBLE mouth watering dishes. We spent about 3 hours ordering a variety of small plates and ate to our hearts content. I don’t think I’ve ever been so speechless after each bite of a meal. Shout out to Chef Oscar Sanchez and his whole team at La Capital. I will be recommending this restaurant to everyone that goes to Mexico City.
Highlights: Shrimp Tacos, Ceveche, Tostados and of course, their signature Margarita. I’m smiling just thinking about this meal :)
If you’re looking to continue the evening and you’re in the mood for a fun night out watching wrestling, definitely go and see Lucha Libre! Full disclaimer, we were pretty beat from our very full day, our night flight and late arrival the night before, so we opted for some good conversation over dinner. Though we had heard wonderful things about Lucha Libre! Lucho libre // Arena Mexico //catch the start of Plaza Garibaldi around 8 or 9 p.m., then hop over to the 8:30 p.m. La Lucha show (buy your tickets earlier in the day for better seats).
Day 2 - By Day
Good Morning! Rise and shine, lets go explore!
We implore you to go and visit Teotihuacán when in Mexico City. These incredible Aztec ruins have stood the test of time, upon first glance you will stop dead in your tracks at the site of them. And unlike their Mayan friends to the south at Chichen Itza, you can climb all over them!
We decided to take a break from the Ubers because traffic in Mexico City is HEAVY. So we took the subway to Autobuses del Norte station (line 5). We were warned against using the subway in Mexico City but we loved it! For 5 pesos you can go anywhere, quite quickly too. Yes keep your belongings close, yes there is a higher chance of being groped, but the first cars are reserved for women only, though men were always in them, you still had options. The Mexico City subway is efficient and just another way to experience the culture, we recommend skipping the expensive prepackaged tours for Teotihuacan and just taking the subway to the bus instead.
We used an amazing online guide by Becky from SightDOING and it was one of the easiest travel experiences ever.
After the subway you hop on a 45 minute/1 hour long coach ride north and it drops you off right in front of the ancient city. Pay 70 pesos (cash only) and then opt to get a local guide or not. If you are getting a guide they will start you at 800 pesos but you can barter them down to as low as 500. We opted for no guide as we just wanted to explore at our own pace and we aren’t the biggest architectural bluffs.
Make sure you climb the Sun Pyramid and Moon Pyramid and explore the entire surrounding. It is huge, give yourself at least two hours of exploring time here.
Hot Tips for Teotihuacán:
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 9 am to 5 pm.
There is virtually no shade on this site so pack lots of water and sunscreen.
Do not visit on Sundays as all Mexicans get in free so it will be busier.
All blogs say to get there at 9 am to avoid the crowds, we ended up getting there at 3pm as were meeting up with a friend in the morning and there were not that many people there, but then you run the risk of running out of exploring time, so if you can get up early, do it!!
We ate a big breakfast at Farmacia International (which we definitely recommend for a locally run, delicious and affordable breakfast spot) before heading out. We didn’t eat at Teotihuacán as we heard the food was nothing too exciting, but there are lots of restaurants you can eat at in Teotihuacán, along with shopping and accommodation as well if you want a break from the hustle and bustle of MC.
If you do Teotihuacán in the afternoon like we did you can hit up one of the awesome markets in the AM. There is the San Juan Market, Mercado de la Merced and Mercado de Sonora, which is known as the witchcraft market.
Day 2 - By Night
Despite our long day in the sun, we were ready to make the most of our Saturday night out in Mexico City. I had planned a few key spots I wanted to hit, making sure I had made reservations before leaving Toronto. Mexico City is known for its cuisine, so try and plan ahead! For dinner we made our way over to Polanco, arguably the fanciest neighbourhood in Mexico City, but also full of some of the best restaurants. We were very excited for Dinner at Blanco Castelar. This gorgeous restaurant is situated in an old mansion, decorated with grand chandeliers, family style tables and adds ambiance with a touch of soft lighting and candles to light your meal. The servers are quite prompt and are full of recommendations to make your experience as full as it can be. The menu is deliciously sourced with local ingredients, each plate is crafted with such care, and their cocktail and wine list is quite expansive. The servers definitely know how to sell you on their most pristine menu items. ;)
Highlights: Tacos de lechon confitado, Tostadas de atun & Endivias braseadas.
As we finished dinner, we had espresso based cocktails to finish up so we headed to Blanco’s rooftop bar. The space matched the glamorous feel of their restaurant but was accompanied by a DJ and open air views. Whilst gazing up at the stars, we finished up our drinks, took in the vibes of their of so hip space and got ready to head out to our next stop of the evening. Dancing at Mama Rumba!
Mama Rumba is by far one of the most fun dance bars I’ve ever been to. It’s a jam packed little club situated in the heart of La Roma. The evening starts with a DJ, as locals and tourists alike people warm up their moves, twirling, shaking and joyfully dancing their way across the dance floor. The grand finale comes on around 12am, a live band that is so fiery you’ll want to be dancing up there with them! We spent Saturday night dancing all our cares away and truly had the most magical time. If you like salsa, meringue, bachata or even just have a tiny curiosity for it. Definitely hit up Mama Rumba, you won’t regret it!!
Day 3 - By Day
Another early morning, stayed out until 3am the night before? No problem!
Make your way down to the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan and make sure to get there early! The entrance line is wild as this is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Mexico City. TIP! buy your ticket online a head of time to not be disappointed by the extra long line up for people buying at the door.
Once you finish exploring the tranquil gardens and beautiful art of Frida, head down the block to Mercado de Coyoacan; our favourite market in Mexico city. Inside you will find tons of taquerias jam packed with families indulging in all the tacos, higher quality jewellery and souvenirs then any of the other markets. On the weekend there is also an outdoor market where local artists take to the park and have their beautiful art up for sale. Enjoy some time in Coyocan just walking the streets and taking in the colourful life all around you.
Since you are already south in the city, make your way down to Xochimilco. This is one of my favourite things we did in Mexico City. Get yourself a boat for 500 pesos and slowly drift through the lively stream as you pass mariachi’s, bartenders, flower markets all ready to serve you. Many people will gather into a boat and rent speakers and celebrate birthdays and bachelorette parties, but we honestly had just as good of time the two of us people watching. Make sure you have enough pesos on you to be able to partake in all the libations on offer!
If you aren’t completely knackered, make your way back into the city centre and walk through Chapultepec Park and up to the top of Castillo de Chapultepe for sunset. This park is bigger then Central Park so you won’t be able to cover it all but there is a beautiful, lush, tranquility to this park that you must at least take a stroll through it!
Day 3 - By Night
Best Tacos in Mexico City. El Califa.
Ok, so you could totally debate this best taco title, but Mexico City is known for the best tacos in the country. You can find a variety of great restaurants but we ADORED El Califa. The service was superb, the menu was expansive and we were stuffed upon leaving for a pretty ideal price. El Califa is situated in the La Reforma district of Mexico City, very much the business hub of the city and not far from our AirBnB. The restaurant was buzzing all night long, we had a wonderful final night dinner.
Highlights: Rajas Costras, Gringa/Pollo Pastores & of course the GUAC! You can’t go a day in Mexico without eating guac.
Our hope was to go out one last time, but Sundays seem to get pretty quiet after 10pm. So we opted for one more margarita at the only bar that was open in Polanco, made some more friends and then called it a night before getting on our early morning flight the next day. Tulum, here we come!!!
A few more tips for Mexico City!
Almost everything is closed on Mondays so try to not visit Mexico City on this day.
Uber. No taxis!
A lot of places only take pesos, so always have some on hand.
Bring a small Spanish translation book with you, or have an app on your phone. You’ll want to have a translation guide handy.
Come hungry, you’ll want to try ALL the food!!
Get ready to smile a lot, meet a lot of really great people and see some of the most beautiful architecture in North America. Mexico City, you are a treat!
Peace, Love and Good Vibes.
Cornelia & Lindsey