Mexico City has been known by many names throughout its multi-century-long history. It’s been called Tenochtitlan, el Distrito Federal, and now la Ciudad de México–or Mexico City.
Mexico City is the capital of Mexico and is one of the liveliest and largest cities in the entire world. This massive metropolitan area (and by massive, I mean 573 square miles in total) is home to more than 21 million residents.
With such a dense population, you can bet there are tons of cultures, colorful neighborhoods, and styles that come together to form such a vibrant city perfect for exploring.
So with so much to do, how do you decide what to actually do? Well, we’re here to help with that. If you’re visiting Mexico City for 3 days, we’ve built out the perfect itinerary for you to hit the highlights and get a good taste of the diverse culture.
Expect a few epic days filled with mural hunting, museum-hopping, grabbing tacos and elote from street vendors, fine dining, people-watching and shopping in diverse neighborhoods, learning about Mexico’s history, exploring historical wonders and cultural attractions, and much more!
So without further ado, let’s jump right into your perfect 3 days in Mexico City itinerary.
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Looking for a bit longer of an itinerary? We have a jam-packed 4-day Mexico City itinerary as well. Go check it out!
Table of Contents
MEXICO CITY IN A NUTSHELL
Here’s a quick overview of all the useful info you need to plan an awesome trip!
- When To Go: During the dry season, which runs from December to April.
- Where To Stay: I love staying in the hip/trendy Roma Norte neighborhood! We like Hotel Marbella ($), ULIV Apartments – Roma Norte ($$), Casa Goliana ($$$), and Brick Hotel Mexico City ($$$).
- Nearest Airport: Mexico City International Airport (MEX)
- How to Get Around:
- Uber: Uber is probably the safest way to get around the city. However, you’ll want to keep your doors locked and your windows rolled up to prevent thieves on motorcycles from rolling by and snatching things from you! (I’ve witnessed this with my own eyes in CDMX — it happened to our Uber driver!)
- Taxi: You should only use authorized taxis or taxi apps, such as Easy Taxi or Cabify.
- Metro – The Mexico City Metro is an affordable way to get around the city. It is one of the largest metro systems in the world and has 12 lines that serve different parts of the city. The metro has women/children-only train cars for safety. Having said that, riding the Metro is not the safest way to travel throughout the city. There have been horror stories about people getting pickpocketed or robbed at knifepoint.
- Must-Do’s: Go to the Frida Kahlo Museum (at her actual house!), explore the colorful district of Coyoacán (one of Mexico City’s oldest districts), take a free walking tour of Centro Historico, take a day trip to Teotihuacan — the City of the Gods!
- Before You Go: Make sure you can get into the country. Check that you have a valid passport and that it won’t expire within 6 months of your trip!
- When You Get There: Do NOT lose the little immigration form paper you receive once you leave the airport. You will need this to leave the country of Mexico. Put this in a safe place (preferably with your passport) for the duration of your trip. If you lose this paper, you will have to pay a fine of $60 USD.
- ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Spanish: “Hello” = “Hola” and “Thank you” = “Gracias”.
- Currency: the Mexican peso (MXN) – click for current conversion rates
WHY VISIT MEXICO CITY?
Just a hop and a skip away from many major cities in the US (we’re talking a 5-hour flight or less), Mexico City has quickly become a popular weekend destination for travelers, explorers, and culture seekers alike.
Honestly, there are so many reasons why Mexico City should be on your radar. You can expect really good food, oodles of historical sites, epic shopping opportunities, a popping nightlife scene, and endless cultural opportunities at every possible turn. But most importantly, Mexico City is affordable as heck.
If you’d consider yourself a foodie, then you will love Mexico City. Seriously, it’s a major foodie destination with good eats ranging from street food at rock bottom prices to fine dining at half the cost of what you’d pay in the USA.
And if you’re looking to do some shopping, there are so many hip, independent boutiques where you can buy high-quality goods (clothes, accessories, home decor, furniture) for a third of what you’d pay in the United States.
History buff or architecture lover, are you? There are so many free or affordable attractions dotted throughout the city, such as the Diego Riviera murals, Basílica de Santa María de Guadalupe, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Museo Soumaya, Palacio Nacional, and much more.
As you can already tell, Mexico City is perfect for the budget-conscious, culture-loving traveler who thrives in bustling destinations filled with big-city energy. And oh boy, are there a lot of people here!
Although the city does grapple with problems such as high crime and pollution (as do many other large urban cities), many neighborhoods such as La Condesa, Roma, and Polanco are safe. Having said that, as long as you exercise caution as you would anywhere else you go, you should not be deterred from visiting at all.
All in all, Mexico City is filled to the brim with things to do, so regardless of whether you’re visiting for 3 days or 2 weeks, you will never be bored. Museums, landmarks, good food, and super unique experiences can be found at every corner, whether you’re looking for them or not!
BEST TIME TO VISIT MEXICO CITY
Mexico City is always bustling, no matter what time of the year you decide to go. While March through May is undoubtedly the most popular time to visit Mexico City, we recommend visiting Mexico City between the months of March to April and October to November. These months will be your best bet for dry and mild weather.
Between March and May, the streets will be even more crowded than they already are given the high population of the city. If you can deal with the increase in crowds, you will get near-perfect weather. Temps usually hover around the mid to high 70s.
Mexico City’s rainy season arrives around mid-May to mid-October. During this time, storms will frequently rain down on the valley on an almost daily basis. The rains tend to come in the afternoons and can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. While you certainly won’t be rained in during your entire trip if you go during these months, it is something to keep in mind as you plan your trip.
Despite the weather, Late October is a really popular time to go due to Day of the Dead, where orange and pink marigolds pop up all over town, adorning altars to the city’s departed.
Once the winter months roll around, the city quiets down and is met with cooler, drier weather. While it can still be in the high 60s to low 70s during the day, you will most definitely need a jacket once the sun goes down. This can be a great time to find flight/hotel deals!
- High Season: March to May – highs in the mid to high 70s – best weather of the entire year
- Low season: June to September and December to February – summer months are still warm but super rainy and winter months are the coldest – the best time for budget travelers
- Shoulder Season: October to November – chillier weather than summer – best for experiencing Mexican culture (like Dia de los Muertos / Day of the Dead events)
HOW TO GET TO MEXICO CITY FROM THE AIRPORT
If you’re booking flights to Mexico City, you will want to fly into the Mexico City International Airport, officially known as the Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX).
Benito Juárez International Airport is Mexico’s largest and busiest airport, located just four miles from Mexico City’s city center.
From the airport, the easiest option for getting to Mexico City is to take a taxi or an Uber.
Airport taxis are available 24 hours a day outside Terminals 1 and 2 and are not only convenient but actually pretty reasonably priced. A one-way ride from the airport to town will cost you around $13-15 USD (MX$250- MX$300) and the ride to the city center (Centro Historico) will take about 20 minutes.
Once you land at the airport, you can buy your taxi ticket at the “Transporte Terrestre” kiosk near the arrival gates in the walkway area.
The official airport taxis are easy to find, featuring a red/gold or pink/white design. Once you locate these taxis give the driver your ticket and you’ll be on your merry way.
Pro Tip: We’d highly recommend hopping in authorized taxis ONLY and avoiding rides offered by non-authorized drivers since scams are a common issue in Mexico City.
The other, slightly more affordable option is to take an Uber. Uber fares cost around $10-12 USD to travel from Mexico City Airport into the city center.
This is how we got to and from the airport during our last Mexico City group trip.
Pro Tip: Bookaway is also a great resource to check out (and book) different transportation options that’ll get you to and around Mexico City. You can book bus tickets, private/shared transfers, cars, and even flights all in one place.
HOW TO GET AROUND MEXICO CITY
Mexico City is super easy to navigate with the help of ridesharing, taxis, and its robust web of public transportation options.
You will most likely not need a car to get around in Mexico City (unless you are planning to go on day trips out of town), but you will need to rely on some set of wheels to get around.
Similar to the above, the SAFEST and most convenient ways to get around Mexico City are by rideshare service or taxi.
The metro and the bus are other options if you’re looking for the cheapest transportation option, but they aren’t the safest.
Rideshare Service (Uber)
Uber is the most used mobile app for booking a car or taxi service. It is often cheaper than using the city’s official cabs. This is how we got around 100% of the time during our last Mexico City trip.
For other rideshare app options, check out Beat and Cabify. If Uber’s showing you surge pricing that you don’t like, pop onto the Beat or Cabify apps to compare prices – you can easily save money on your trip this way!
Again, look for the red and gold OR pink and white taxis in order to get around by cab. You can easily hail one down within the city, or you can order one by downloading the city’s official app, TheCity.mx App. From there, open up Mi Taxi, which comes pre-installed in the app.
You can use the app to pay with a debit or credit card and you can also pay in cash.
Mexico City’s metro is the most affordable way to get around town. Not only does it quickly get you to some of the most popular tourist attractions, but you can ride it for next to nothing.
Each ride costs approximately $0.25. You’ll have to first buy a reloadable card to use, which will cost $15 MXN (~$0.75 USD). This card will work across the entire city’s transit system and you can load it up at the ticket booths in the train stations or at the machines outside the metrobús stations.
Is riding the metro in Mexico City safe?
While I have not experienced any crime on the Metro myself, a long-time resident of CDMX and reader of the blog let me know that riding the Metro is not the safest way to travel throughout the city.
There have been many horror stories of people getting pickpocketed or even robbed at knifepoint. These people do it for a living and are very calculated about where they do their criminal acts to avoid getting caught.
Pro Tip: If you are concerned about safety/security as a woman and have no other choice but to take the metro, do note that both the metro trains and metrobús have women-only cars which usually have a separate boarding zone.
Buses can take you anywhere else the metro does not take you. There is seriously a bus route for anywhere and everywhere you would want to go. Bus fares cost a flat rate of 6 pesos per ride.
There are several different types of buses you can choose from (Trolebús, RTP, AETNA, EcoBus, etc.), and they are all very affordable options.
The stations are mostly located in the middle of Mexico City’s main drags, including Avenida de Los Insurgentes and Paseo de la Reforma, though some can be found curbside. To ride, tap your smart card at the barrier upon entry; you do not need to tap upon exiting.
HOW MANY DAYS TO SPEND IN MEXICO CITY?
In all honesty, we would ideally recommend a full week in Mexico in order to really dive into the heart and soul of the city! And even after a week, you’ll find plenty more to do and see.
But we get it, not everyone can take that much time off from work and life responsibilities. For first-timers who are short on time, we would recommend 4 to 5 days ideally.
4 to 5 days will allow you to see a lot of the major landmarks and attractions. It will allow you to try a large breadth of restaurants and cuisines, and it will allow you to explore some of the trendy up-and-coming neighborhoods as well!
Having said that, I’ve created this 3-day Mexico City itinerary for those who may not have a full 4 to 5 days to spare.
So now that we’ve gotten all the good-to-know things out of the way, let’s dive right into your perfect 3 days in Mexico City! Don’t forget to read all the way to the end, where you’ll find a map of this 3-day Mexico City itinerary.
3 DAYS IN MEXICO CITY: DAY 1
Day 1: Get your bearings; discover Centro Historico.
To kick off your epic 3 days in Mexico City, we’re going to start you off at the heart of it all–Centro Historico!
Mexico City’s historic city center is not only beautiful to look at from the European / American / Latin American influences, but it’s also packed to the brim with things to do. From street markets to grand plazas, architectural buildings to more museums than you can count, you can easily spend a whole day here.
Light breakfast at San Juan Market
Let’s start the morning off with some fuel for today’s adventures. Food lovers and aspiring cooks, rejoice because we are going to hit up a food market!
The San Juan Market is commonly referred to as the “chef’s market,” due to the high-quality produce, meat, seafood, and specialty/imported items sold here.
San Juan Market (Mercado de San Juan) is actually two buildings, located a block apart. One focuses on fruits, meats, and veggies, while the other is filled with stalls serving full meals, juices, and pastries.
You’ll want to grab some breakfast at the second building after you’re done browsing the first. Don’t forget to order some crispy ants, grasshoppers, and beetles for snacking!
All in all, even if you don’t grab food from here, it’s a really neat place to see where locals, neighbors, chefs, cooks, and tourists all come together to shop. The market is open daily, from 7 am to 5 pm.
Take a free walking tour
As with any major city, I always recommend people to start their trip off with a free walking tour of the city to get their bearings. With a pay-what-you-wish walking tour, not only will you get a better understanding of the city’s layout, but you’ll be able to learn some history and appreciate the local culture more.
Each guide has his or her own unique route, but typically they’ll take you through the different areas of Centro Historic. The tour companies also offer tours in other neighborhoods (like Coyoacan or La Roma), which we recommend you also take if they interest you!
Once you have a better understanding of these neighborhoods, feel free to come back later and explore them in more depth.
Another benefit that we love to take advantage of? Being able to ask the local tour guide for food recommendations! Some of our best meals abroad were a result of tour guide recommendations.
While there are many more tour companies out there here are two that will get you started:
Reservations are usually required so be sure to make one before you show up at the meeting spot.
If you didn’t get enough of the historic city center or you want to linger longer to really soak in the hustle and bustle of the city, head back to the Zócalo.
This is Mexico City’s main square and the largest community meeting place in all of Latin America. Depending on the day you visit, you may even catch a special event or festival occurring while you visit!
When we last visited, Mexico City was holding a huge multi-day festival called CDMX Festival of Indigenous Cultures in the Zócalo. It was a ton of fun learning about all the different indigenous cultures and we were so happy to have stumbled upon such a cool event. Be sure to check the events calendar before arriving!
Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
Within steps from the Zócalo is the Metropolitan Cathedral, which is breathtaking, to say the least.
Not only is this one of Mexico’s most beloved architectural masterpieces, but it is also Latin America’s largest and oldest cathedral.
Feast your eyes on all the intricate details and snap some photos of the historic architectural masterpiece before moving on to the next item on the list!
From the Metropolitan Cathedral, walk a few yards over to Templo Mayor, an impressive set of Aztec ruins that you don’t need to travel to the middle of nowhere for. That’s right, these ruins are right in the middle of the city!
We recommend you slow it down at this point and enjoy the interpretive signage explaining Aztec culture and religion. There are signs in English and Spanish.
From Templo Mayor, you won’t have to get too far to reach the National Palace, or Palacio Nacional. This is the president of Mexico’s home and office rolled into one.
The palace is most famously known as being the home of a few murals by Diego Rivera, which you absolutely cannot miss. These murals make up one complete art piece named “The History of Mexico.”
We recommend you soak in all the little details of the mural because it’s crazy that such an iconic piece of work is on display to the public for free!
Fun Fact: For those of you who don’t know who Diego Rivera is, he is a Mexican painter whose bold large-scale murals stimulated a revival of fresco painting in Latin America. He is undoubtedly one of the leading artists of the 20th century. Plus, he was the husband of the also-famous artist Frida Kahlo (who is also a really big deal in Mexico).
Palacio de Bellas Artes
For more unbelievably grand murals, head to the Palacio de Bellas Artes. At this concert hall and arts center, you’ll be able to see murals by world-famous Mexican artists sprawled across the top floor of the white-marble palace.
The murals by the likes of David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, and Jose Clemente are located on the 2nd and 3rd floors.
Admission is $75 MXN per adult and free for those under 13 or with a disability. Entry is free on Sundays for both tourists and locals.
From there, wander your way into a few of the nearby historic buildings, including Palacio Postal, one of the most beautiful and magnificent post offices I have ever laid eyes on! Don’t forget your camera for this one.
Climb the Torre Latinoamericana
Right across the street from the Palacio de Bellas Artes is the Torre Latinoamericana. The Torre Latinoamericana was Latin America’s tallest building when it was constructed back in 1956, and while that is no longer the case, it remains the dominant focal point of the Centro Histórico.
For a small fee, you can go up to the top of the building to soak in the aerial views of the surrounding city and mountains. Views from the 44th-floor observation deck and the 41st-floor lounge bar are wonderful–you can really get a sense of the massive size of the city from up here!
Eat some street tacos
Did you really go to Mexico City if you didn’t get street tacos at least once? NO!
Because Mexico City takes their tacos seriously. Namely, the al pastor taco. There are at least four iterations of tacos al pastor in the city, so we recommend sampling as many tacos as you can fit in your stomach!
In fact, this may be Mexico City’s most essential dish nowadays. There are a million unnamed spots that you should simply stumble upon and try, but here are a few more well-known names in Centro that will get you started:
- Los Cocuyos
- El Tizoncito
Eat some churros
From there, get yourself ready for churro time at Churrería El Moro, specializing in all things churro and sweet.
This was the first time I had tried churros and ice cream together, and let me tell you, they are a match made in heaven!
If you’d like something sweet to dip your churros in, get a cup of sauce (caramel, chocolate, condensed milk) or even a cup of hot chocolate to pair with it.
Depending on how much time you have left in the day, you could either head back to your hotel for a quick rest before heading to dinner, OR you could skip the rest and explore more!
Explore the Juarez neighborhood
The neighborhood of Juarez is located just to the left of Centro, making it a convenient colonia to check out. Juárez offers the perfect balance between relaxed vibes during the day and fun party spots with live music at night!
You’ll find cool speakeasies to explore, along with indie shops offering both modern fashion items and traditional garb. For shopping, check out the minimalist store Utilitario Mexicano as well as the adorable boutique called Loose Blues. Planta is another fun design house and shop dedicated to urban greenery, as is Filia, a futuristic shop with pieces by independent Mexican brands.
This area is also home to the Zona Rosa, a gay-friendly district of busy streets and even busier bars and nightclubs! There is also a thriving Korean immigrant community here which can only mean one thing–really good food!
We recommend eating dinner and grabbing drinks in this neighborhood before heading back to your hotel for some much-needed rest.
3 DAYS IN MEXICO CITY: DAY 2
Day 2: Chapultepec Park, Roma, Condesa
Start your day off right at Chapultepec Park with views of nature and a bit of physical activity to burn off some of what you ate yesterday!
Clocking in at a size even New York’s Central Park, Chapultepec Park is a massive urban forest spanning almost 2.8 square miles. No matter how much you like walking/jogging, you’ll never run out of land to explore.
The Bosque de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Park) is packed with cool landmarks, such as the Castillo de Chapultepec, Museo Tamayo, The Museum of Modern Art (free on Sundays), The National Museum of Anthropology (the most visited museum in Mexico City), and much more.
There is even a full amusement park inside the park! We didn’t visit it, but La Feria Chapultepec Magico is a fun thing to do in Chapultepec Park if you’re visiting with kids.
National Museum of Anthropology
The Museo Nacional de Antropología is world-famous for its extensive collections of archaeological and anthropological artifacts dating back prior to the Spanish arriving in Mexico. It contains the world’s largest collection of ancient Mexican art and also has various exhibits about Mexico’s present-day indigenous groups.
As stated above, this is the most visited museum in Mexico, receiving more than two million visits per year. So if you’re eager to learn more about the origins of Mexico and its culture, this is a must-see attraction to add to your 3 days in Mexico City!
If you want to get the most out of your Anthropology Museum experience, consider a guided tour! This affordable tour will help you learn about all the key highlights of the museum and enrich your visit so much more.
Oh, and did we mention there is a zoo at the park too? That’s right, if you love animals (specifically giant pandas because yes they have 2 pandas here), pop into the Chapultepec Zoo for an hour or two while you’re here. Zoo admission is completely free!
Species from different regions are exhibited, such as the giant panda, Xochimilco axolotl, and volcano rabbits.
Visit the Chapultepec Market
I first discovered this tianguis while wandering around Mexico City aimlessly on a Saturday afternoon. It was one of the best discoveries of my entire trip! If you love browsing around and shopping for local goods, this is the place to do it.
What you’ll find at this Saturday market is a lot of vendors selling anything from local art, handcrafted goods, beaded jewelry, old books, and other curiosities. In between the browsing, be sure to stop at some of the food stands to get a taste of the local gastronomy.
Many times, there are other free activities going on such as small musical performances. It’s a great place to try local street food, catch a puppet show, shop for souvenirs, or just wander around soaking up the atmosphere!
Fun Fact: A tianguis is an open-air market or bazaar that is traditionally held on certain market days in a city neighborhood in Mexico and Central America. The city has more than 1,400 tianguis and many have been around for centuries. You can find tianguis pretty much everywhere, so keep a lookout while strolling through the city!
Explore La Condesa
This neighborhood is undeniably hip and up-and-coming, with new businesses and boutiques popping up constantly. You can expect to find many vintage shops, specialty shoe shops, jewelers, and accessory shops lining the avenues in La Condesa.
To fulfill your shopaholic dreams, head specifically to the following avenidas: Michoacán, Amsterdam, Tamaulipas and Vicente Suárez.
There is also an incredible food scene here! You’ll find food from all different influences starting with authentic tacos and ending in open concept restaurants that are bright and airy.
Head to Lardo, an Instagram-worthy restaurant with plants lining the exterior and exceptional food served inside. For tacos, El Kalimán boasts the best authentic tacos in the neighborhood.
After you work up an appetite from all the exploration, it’s time to head to the Roma neighborhood, the coolest neighborhood in Mexico City.
Your first stop here is Mercado Roma, a wonderful food hall where you can sample foods/cuisines from all over Latin America. This chic, upscale multi-level food hall also features a whole slew of international eats (Indian, BBQ, Italian, you name it) as well as a rooftop beer garden.
If nothing here suits your tastebuds, check out the bustling produce/fruit market Mercado de Medellin a few blocks down. They have food there too.
Looking to fully taste the culinary renaissance of the Roma neighborhood?
We’d highly recommend taking the Colonia Roma Food Tour where you’ll be able to sample tasty fish tacos, Oaxaca and French cuisine, and mezcal while learning about the neighborhood’s history and development into one of Mexico City’s hottest dining spots!
Get Jenni’s Street Quesadillas
Feeling more like street food? There is no better street vendor in Roma Norte than Jenni’s Street Quesadillas!
Jenni, the famed quesadilla lady of Roma Norte, can be found on the corner of Colima and Merida every morning around 11 a.m. Locals come in droves to eat quesadillas, tlacoyos, and pambazos. You can get these filled with meat or vegetables of your choice.
We especially love quesadillas filled with flor de calabaza (squash flowers). Try one for yourself!
Grab drinks at Licorería Limantour
If you could only visit one bar in all of Mexico City, make it Licorería Limantour! This cocktail bar has become an institution in Mexico City’s bubbling nightlife scene and was even voted as one of the world’s best bars.
The space is beautiful, the drinks are colorful, creative, and delicious as heck, and there is really nothing to not like about this place!
Nightlife at Zona Rosa
Keep the party going by heading to Zona Rosa for some energetic nightlife!
Zona Rosa is a small section of the Juarez neighborhood that is known for its nightlife! This is a neighborhood perfect for party animals.
You can stroll through the neighborhood during the day to check out some of the fun, eclectic stores ranging from new and trendy ones to those selling vintage wares and authentic Mexican items.
But once night falls, you can bet you’ll find some of the liveliest bars and restaurants here (specifically on Calle Genova).
Create an unforgettable night by going out to dance in a nightclub, singing at a karaoke bar, watching a cabaret show, enjoying a cocktail drink with friends at a hip bar, or listening to live music at a restaurant bar!
3 DAYS IN MEXICO CITY: DAY 3
Day 3: Coyoacán
Coyoácan is most known as being home to Frida Kahlo’s famous blue house and museum. You’ll also find the Mercado de Coyoácan here, both of which are on your 3 days Mexico City itinerary.
Grab breakfast and explore Coyoacán
Begin your day with a visit to the Coyoacán neighborhood, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Mexico City dating back to pre-Hispanic times. As you stroll the cobblestone streets, take in the 16th-century mansions and colorful houses.
The charm of this neighborhood is helped by the quiet, cobblestone streets that line the area. You’ll really get that old, traditional charm while strolling through the streets of Coyoácan!
Get a quick bite to eat and explore the many museums, cafés, bookstores, and markets of this Mexican neighborhood to get a real taste of the local culture.
La Casa Azul / Frida Kahlo Museum
Museo de Frida Kahlo is an unmissable attraction in Mexico City. In fact, this captivating museum was by far one of the main highlights of my last trip to Mexico City!
Coyoacán is where Frida Kahlo spent most of her life, having lived in the same house until her death in 1954. This house, known as La Casa Azul (The Blue House) and was donated by her husband Diego Rivera with the intention of making it a museum in her honor.
The house is adorned as any old house would be, with personal items and artifacts, but it’s also completely decked out in her artwork.
Pro Tip: A ticket also gives you entry to Diego Rivera’s historic museum, Museo Anahuacalli, located a 15-minute drive away.
Mercado de Coyoácan
One of my favorite markets in Mexico is Mercado de Coyoácan. This market provides a healthy mix of local and touristy goods, featuring everything from groceries to brightly colored handmade artisan items.
If you’re looking to bring something back for the folks at home, the Mercado de Coyoacán is the perfect spot to hunt for souvenirs at prices that are generally lower than those in central Mexico City.
Can’t get enough of the shopping? You can also check out the nearby Artesanías Coyoacán just a 5-minute walk away. This is a two-story market where vendors sell everything from candy to shoes, aprons to Lucha libre masks, and paintings to body piercings!
If you’re up for something touristy yet fun, then you must make time to visit the neighborhood of Xochimilco. This neighborhood is distinguished by a number of rain canals that have been in existence since pre-Hispanic times.
With its brightly painted flat-bottomed boats (trajineras), traditional floating gardens, and network of flower-perfumed canals, Xochimilco—aka the “Field of Flowers”—is a unique way to get a peek into characteristics of the Mexican culture. Having said that, don’t expect to see actual flowers around you.
It’s more about the boat ride experience and the music. The colorful boats are a sight to see and the music from the Mariachi bands will make you feel like dancing!
Pro Tip: As this attraction is frequented by tourists, be prepared for vendors to come up trying to sell you food/souvenirs. If you’re not interested, just politely tell them no thanks!
Don’t want to do too much planning today? This popular combo tour will take you to both the Frida Kahlo Museum and Xochimilco!
On this tour, you’ll discover the colonial beauty of Coyoacán, visit Casa Azul, then drift through the waterways of Xochimilco while enjoying snacks aboard a trajinera boat.
Dine at a restaurant of your choice
Mexico’s dining scene is unbelievable, so you have to make time to try out a restaurant or two of your choosing!
For foodies who enjoy fine dining, try to snag reservations at one of the following restaurants:
- Máximo Bistrot Local
For budget travelers who can’t get enough of the street eats, check out some of our favorite casual eateries:
- Taquería Orinoco
- Los Cocuyos
- El Tizoncito
- Los Danzantes
- Café de Tacuba
- El Turix
- Antolina Condesa
- Tamales Madre
- … and any street vendor you find!
GOT MORE TIME IN MEXICO CITY?
If you’ve got more days to spare in Mexico City, consider some of these other attractions. There’s something here for every type of traveler!
Take a day trip to Teotihuacan
About an hour outside of town sits Teotihuacan, one of the most unforgettable places to visit in all of Mexico. This ancient city was founded around 200 CE and abandoned around 750 CE long before the Aztecs arrived.
When the Aztecs found this empty, impressive city 450 years after it was abandoned, well… it’s no surprise that they gave it the name that we now use for the city in English: The City of the Gods.
While at Teotihuacan, you absolutely cannot miss the impressive Pyramid of the Sun, the largest building in Teotihuacan, and one of the largest in Mesoamerica. In terms of size, it comes in third to the two Egyptian pyramids of Giza!
For this day trip, we recommend going on a day tour so that all the logistics are taken care of for you. On top of that, visiting this mystical site with a guide will help you learn a lot more about its history and cultural significance than if you were visiting alone. Our opinion? Staring blankly at a set of ruins is a lot less fun.
- Teotihuacán: Exclusive Early Access & Local Tastings – 9 hours long
- Teotihuacan, Shrine of Guadalupe & Tlatelolco Day Tour – 7 hours long
One of the most bucket-list-worthy ways to see Teotihuacan is on a hot air balloon ride! That’s right this hot air balloon tour will take you over the pyramids in Teotihuacan Valley on a 45-minute flight. This one is a bit pricier than a regular guided tour, but it will be that much more epic!
Visit the Tequila and Mezcal Museum
If you love drinking tequila or mezcal, then you will love this museum located in Centro Historico. At the Museo del Tequila y Mezcal, you’ll get to learn all about the process of tequila and mezcal production, as well as browse the collection of over 700 different bottles.
The tasting at the end of the tour will grant you about a half shot of tequila and a half shot of mezcal, but you can purchase more at the bar.
This museum has one of the most impressive-looking exteriors of all of Mexico City and can easily be recognized from anywhere! Museo Soumaya’s unique exterior is made out of more than 16,000 reflective hexagons and is a sight to see for architecture lovers.
Inside, the Soumaya also houses one of the most impressive art collections in the city. It features Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s private collection of over 66,000 pieces of art which range from Mesoamerica to the modern-day, including plenty of Diego Rivera pieces as well as Rodin’s “La Porte de l’Enfer” and “The Thinker”!
If that’s not enough to get you excited, then look forward to the artworks by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Vincent van Gogh and El Greco. The best part is that this museum is completely free to enter!
Visit Polanco Neighborhood
Polanco is a neighborhood in Mexico City that offers a very high-end and luxurious atmosphere. In fact, this neighborhood is famed for its luxury shopping along Presidente Masaryk Avenue, the most expensive street in Mexico!
Here you’ll find plenty of shops and restaurants, plus a host of cultural offerings including the Soumaya Museum and Museum of Anthropology. There is also a Saturday tianguis (outdoor market) in Lincoln Park to buy fresh fruit, vegetables, tacos, and other Mexican goodies.
Barrio Alameda is one of Mexico City’s coolest and most stylish places to shop, grab lunch or get a quick drink with your buddies. It’s home to 30+ businesses ranging from food and drink establishments, as well as fashion and art galleries.
Here you can pick up vintage clothes, old-school vinyls, sneakers, and handmade hats all under one roof!
Experience a Lucha libre event
Lucha libre, also known as Mexican wrestling, is very, very ingrained in Mexican culture and in fact has the second-highest spectator rate after football (soccer) in Mexico.
The current home of Mexican wrestling is the famous Arena Mexico. Built in the 1950s specifically for the luchas (fights), it now hosts regular luchas every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday.
One of the best and easiest ways to see the masked wrestlers in action, learn more about this sport, and immerse yourself in it is on a guided tour!
On a tour, you’ll be able to discover the fascinating history, rules, and personalities of Lucha libre then catch a live match at Arena Mexico, often called Mexico’s “cathedral of Lucha libre.”
Two great tour options include:
MAP OF THE 3-DAY MEXICO CITY ITINERARY
WHERE TO STAY IN MEXICO CITY
El Centro Histórico
Good for: Travelers who want to be in the middle of all the action, history buffs
Centro Historico is undoubtedly one of the best places to stay in and explore while visiting Mexico City. The name translates to ‘historic city center’ and, no surprise–offers plenty of stunning architecture along with ancient buildings.
This is the best neighborhood to stay in if you’re looking to take in as much history as possible during your trip. Do this by visiting as many museums and landmarks in the area as you can!
Where To Stay In Centro Historico, Mexico City:
Good for: architecture lovers, artists, twentysomethings, and travelers looking for a hip/trendy neighborhood
Roma is a budget-friendly neighborhood that is well-known for its hipster appeal. Upon entering the neighborhood, what you’ll notice is that it’s got a combination of many things–art deco mansions, colorful street art, and, of course, the ever-growing hipster vibe.
Roma is famous for its food offerings, specifically its food markets like Mercado Medillin and Mercado Roma. It’s also known for its growing food scene, quirky museums, and engaging art galleries.
Where To Stay In Roma, Mexico City:
- Hotel Marbella ($)
- ULIV Apartments – Roma Norte ($$)
- Casa Goliana ($$$)
- Brick Hotel Mexico City ($$$)
Good for: Travelers looking for a trendy, yet relaxed neighborhood; good shopping and nightlife
This neighborhood is undeniably hip and up-and-coming, with new businesses and boutiques popping up constantly. Among the stunning art deco buildings, you can expect to find many vintage shops, specialty shoe shops, jewelers, and accessory shops lining the avenues in La Condesa.
Here, you’ll find great nightlife options available too, from live music to bumping beats played from a DJ stand.
If you’re hoping to spend your days strolling through tree-lined boulevards, shopping in hip boutiques, trying the latest and greatest restaurants, and being in close proximity to many of Mexico City’s most famous landmarks, this is the neighborhood for you.
Where To Stay In Condesa, Mexico City:
Good for: art lovers, solo travelers, and couples who enjoy a cozier, romantic atmosphere
Coyoácan is most known as being home to Frida Kahlo’s famous blue house and museum. You’ll also find the Mercado de Coyoácan here, featuring everything from local foods to brightly colored handmade artisan items. Based on these two famous spots, you may have guessed, this is a neighborhood catering to art fiends!
The charm of this neighborhood is helped by the cobblestone streets that line the area. You’ll really get that old, traditional charm while strolling through the streets of Coyoácan!
Where To Stay In Coyoácan, Mexico City:
For more details on where to stay in Mexico City, check out our Mexico City neighborhood guide.
WHERE TO EAT IN MEXICO CITY
Mexico City’s got a lot of good food, and there’s a wide range of options to fit literally any budget. Below are some of the most popular fine dining options and my favorite affordable restaurants / street eats.
WORLD-FAMOUS FINE DINING OPTIONS
- Máximo Bistrot Local
- Licorería Limantour
- Tokyo Music Bar
- Hanky Panky Cocktail Bar
- Xaman Bar
CHEAP AND DELICIOUS EATS
- Taquería Orinoco
- Los Cocuyos
- El Tizoncito
- El Huequito
- Los Danzantes
- Café de Tacuba
- El Turix
- Super Tacos Chupacabras
- Antolina Condesa
- Tamales Madre
BAKERIES AND SWEETS
- Pastelería Maque
- Pastelería Ideal
- Churrería El Moro
- La Rifa Chocolatería
MEXICO CITY: ESSENTIAL PACKING LIST
Along with your usual travel clothes, here are a few things I suggest you bring for your 3 days in Mexico City:
- Travel Documents | Passport, student ID, medical card, proof of travel insurance, printed documents of your flight/hotel bookings, etc.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not lose the little immigration form paper you receive once you leave the airport. you will need this to leave the country of Mexico. Put this in a safe place (preferably with your passport) for the duration of your trip. If you lose this paper, you will have to pay a fine of $60 USD.
- Packing Cubes | Start packing the smart way. The key to smart packing is going to be compartmentalization, aka your packing cubes. This set comes in a bunch of different sizes, so you can create a separate compartment for undies and socks, one for clothing, one for toiletries, and one for anything else you may want to organize. By using packing cubes, it’s so much easier to pull out only what you need, rather than dig through all of your luggage to find that one thing you’re looking for.
- Laundry Bag | Warm destinations + lots of exploring = lots of sweaty, smelly worn clothes. Don’t spoil your entire bag by mixing worn clothes with your unworn clothes! Definitely bring a laundry bag to separate your clean clothes from your dirty clothes to maintain the utmost freshness.
- Smartphone UV Sanitizer and Charger | Our phones gather all the grime and bacteria we touch throughout the day, and then they are stored in warm, dark places like purses and pockets, which make for great breeding grounds for bacteria to grow. They are the third hand we never wash, but should! Using a UV sanitizer such as PhoneSoap on a regular basis will help keep germs and illness at bay.
- Flip Belt | A travel belt is a smart traveler’s best friend. They are the best thief-proof tool for airplane travel, public transportation travel, walking around abroad, and just about everything else in between. I always, always use a Flip Belt to carry around identification, important documents, and money that I want to keep safe and right by my side.
- Rain Jacket | If rain is in the forecast, don’t forget to bring a rain jacket so that you are not deterred from exploring the city. My top recommendations are Marmot Men’s PreCip (for men) and The North Face Women’s Venture 2 Jacket (for women).
- Packable Puffy Jacket | If you’re traveling in the fall or wintertime, you’re going to need layers. You have a lot of options here, but I personally have the North Face Thermoball, and it’s kept me warm throughout my many years of exploring! A jacket that’s packable is key.
- Travel Daypack | I’m a huge fan of the Fjallraven Kanken Mini Backpack. It’s stylish and has ample room for all the snacks and water you’ll need, as well as for your camera and the safety essentials for the hike.
- For something more thief-proof, check out a few of our favorite anti-theft travel bags here.
- Walking Shoes | One pair of closed-toed shoes is always crucial for any trip. My all-time favorite travel shoes these days are the tried and true Ecco Soft 7 (they’re stylish, comfortable, and have been raved about for decades since they were first created)! Really, you can walk miles and miles without feeling foot pain! And the best part is that they have them for both men and women.
- Clothing | A few pairs of casual pants, shorts, skirts, a few casual t-shirts, 1 long sleeve shirt for layering on cool evenings, 1-2 dressier shirts, dresses, pants or skirts for evenings out.
- Socks and Underwear | Enough for your entire trip.
- Hat, sun visor, or Buff bandana | Sun protection is key for any destination. Keep the sun off your skin with a fancy sunhat, baseball cap, Buff bandana, or sun visor. All three can be used to shield your neck and forehead from the sun.
- Hand Sanitizer | Hand sanitizer gel or wipes are a must any time you’re going to be in contact with surfaces many other people have touched. Never leave your hotel room without it! And if you do happen to forget it, remember to wash your hands often, especially before eating or touching your face.
- Body Wipes / Feminine Wipes | Feeling a bit gross after a hike (or even after a walk outside on a hot, humid day) but don’t have the time to shower right that instant? Just whip out one of these body wipes for a quick refresher. The feminine wipes I like are infused with cucumber and aloe. Trust me, you will feel and smell so much better. Always good to have a few handy in your travel bag.
- Portable Power Bank | You’re probably going to be out all day, snapping away taking pictures… the last thing you want is to be exploring with no phone battery! A portable power bank is a must-have, and Anker’s ultra-light, ultra-portable power bank is tried and true by so many travelers! I never embark on a day of urban exploration without it.
- Travel Adapter | If you’re traveling from abroad, a universal travel adapter is a necessity. This 5-in-1 travel adapter is perfect for travel use with cell phones, laptops & other devices anywhere in the world. NOTE: If coming from the USA, you won’t need a power plug adapter in Mexico.
- Soft Hydration Flask | Stay hydrated throughout the day with a water bottle that can go anywhere with you—and fold up when not in use. I love the packability of these bottles!
- Sunscreen | A must for any sunny destination. Sunscreen is especially important given the high elevation of CDMX.
ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR MEXICO CITY
- Mexico City sits about 7,382 feet above sea level. You’ll want to prepare yourself for the high elevation by drinking lots of water, avoiding alcohol your first day, and using sunscreen at all times.
- Mexico City’s air pollution is really bad, so on days when the air quality is extra poor, you’ll want to travel with a mask to avoid breathing in all the bad air.
- If you’re looking to save money on your trip, take public transportation — but with caution. Riding the bus or the metro costs less than $1 each ride, but it does come with the risk of being pickpocketed.. or robbed.
- Do not use the metro after dark, especially if you are traveling alone. The metro and its surrounding areas can be hotspots of crime at night. It’ll be better to just order an Uber, just to be safe.
- Avoid moving around the city during rush hour. The roads, buses and trains are especially crowded from 7 am to 10 am and 6 pm to 9 pm. Stick to walking during these hours or prepare to be on the road with a lot of others.
- Most museums are closed on Mondays. If your 3 days in Mexico City fall on a Monday, do plan accordingly and try to schedule your museum days either before or after Monday. Other aspects of the city (restaurants, bars, shops, etc.) are business as usual.
- During lunch try comida corrida, the three / four-course lunches that many restaurants serve at a fixed price. The value for food is great!
- As a general rule, tip a minimum of 10% in restaurants and bars. Tipping taxi drivers or street vendors is not necessary.
- Don’t drink the tap water or have drinks with ice cubes. While you should try the food, you definitely should not drink the tap water. You can get sick from the tap water, so stick to bottled water during your trip.
- Don’t flush your toilet paper! Most places in Mexico have plumbing that isn’t equipped to deal with excess paper, so be sure to throw your used toilet paper in the trash bin instead. (This one is hard, but do try to ignore your muscle memory of tossing it in the toilet!)
- Exercise caution when traveling throughout Mexico City. Do not flash your money or phone freely, even when taking taxis or Ubers. It is not too uncommon for phones/other belongings to be snatched right out of car windows. (This actually happened to one of our Uber drivers while she was giving us a ride…)
And that concludes this post! We hope that this 3-day Mexico City itinerary has inspired you to try something new! If you have any questions about the destinations or have your own travel tips to share, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below.
Looking for more Mexico travel tips?
- WayAway | This site compares flight ticket fares from hundreds of agencies. You’re going to get the best prices on the market, at least $10 lower than those on Skyscanner, Kayak, and Priceline.com. The best part is? The WayAway Plus membership. With the membership, you’ll get up to 10% cash back on airline tickets, hotel bookings, car rentals, and other travel services.
- DEAL ALERT! Use code ‘travelswithelle’ for 10% off WayAway Plus.
- Booking.com | Honestly, this is my go-to accommodation booking site. This site has free cancellation and no prepayment required on reservations which is huge for me. It also has amazing abilities to filter accommodation options by rating and price. Honestly, it’s shaved off so many hours of endless research for me and has made booking hotels and other accommodations a breeze.
- Viator | Viator is a huge online marketplace for all things tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, ATV tours, sailing trips, walking tours, hot air ballooning, and more.
- Go City | Go City offers great value-for-the-money attraction passes in various destinations around the world. Whenever I want to play tourist in a city, I always check to see if Go City operates in that city. The money you can save with this pass is unreal (as opposed to buying admission tickets for various attractions separately).
- SafetyWing | SafetyWing is by far one of the best travel medical insurance for travelers as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those heading abroad.