History buffs have long adored Mexico City for its historical significance, the array of available museums, and stunning landmarks.
One of the best parts about this city is the diverse neighborhoods you’ll inevitably encounter in CDMX during your exploration. Turn one corner, and you’ve hit the late-night, hip area. Within walking distance, a few blocks away, you’ll end up in a neighborhood filled with upscale shops.
Polanco, one of Mexico City’s wealthiest districts, is dotted with upscale hotels, retail centers, significant theaters, art galleries, and museums.
It is one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Mexico City, and it is not uncommon to see Ferraris and Lamborghinis driving down its streets. If you are looking for a taste of luxury while visiting Mexico City, Polanco is the place to be.
But not only is this neighborhood known for its luxury shops and hotels, but it has also transformed into a gastronomic mecca, home to several modern bars and some of Latin America’s top dining establishments.
If you’re looking to discover a few new activities to partake in when you’re in town, below are some of the top things to do in Polanco, Mexico City.
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Looking for a fun-filled Mexico City travel itinerary? Check out my 4-day Mexico City itinerary that hits up the city’s highlights and hidden gems.
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: Armonik Suites ($), Orchid House Polanco ($$), or Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel ($$$)
- 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
7 Unmissable Things To Do In Polanco, Mexico City
In a nutshell, here are the awesome things you should not miss during your visit to the vibrant neighborhood of Polanco.
- Dine At Polanco’s Best Restaurants
- Feast Your Eyes On Art And History
- Polanco Boasts Many Active Theaters And Malls
- Take Part In Polanco’s Exciting Tours
- Visit the Inbursa Aquarium
- Soak In The Beauty Found In The Neighborhoods Parks
- Explore Polanco’s Best Nightlife Hotspots
1. Dine At Polanco’s Best Restaurants
Polanco is sometimes denoted as the “Beverly Hills of Mexico.” It is home to some of the most acclaimed restaurants, high-net-worth individuals, fancy hotels, and diplomatic missions/embassies. In addition, one of Latin America’s priciest real estate markets exists here.
One of the best things to do in Polanco? Enjoy a top-notch meal in one of the area’s best restaurants. With that said, here are just a few ideas of what the area has to offer.
Pujol Mexican Restaurant
Ask any fine-dining foodie what’s at the top of their must-eat list in Mexico City–chances are, it’s Pujol. In fact, The Wall Street Journal ranked Pujol the finest Mexican restaurant in Mexico City!
Enrique Olvera, the chef behind New York’s Cosme and Atla, provides two dining choices at his highly regarded restaurant.
First and foremost, you can opt for a multi-course tasting menu in the formal dining room. Alternatively, a “taco omakase” dinner with a variety of tacos, antojitos, and botanas is served at the low-slung bar.
The good news in both cases — you’ll likely get to try Olvera’s legendary Mole Madre dish no matter which you select.
Pro Tip: Since this is one of the nation’s most well-known restaurants, you will need to make a reservation beforehand.
Quitonil Mexican Restaurant
Quintonil deserves at least as much praise for its strong sense of location and cuisine as Pujol, which has long ruled as the traditional upscale lunch for tourists to Mexico City.
Native foods from Mexico, including maize, beans, squash, chiles, mushrooms, and a few dishes with meat, are featured in a nine-course tasting menu. If you don’t want to spend the time and money on the tasting menu, you can still eat off the à la carte menu.
Desserts here stand out just as much as the main meal!
Licorería Limantour Cocktail Bar
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!
In Mexico City, Limantour is regarded as the bar with the best cocktails; its mixologists are so good that they even teach others around the city. Numerous cocktail experts come here to witness the craft in action, but it’s also well-liked by a usually hip audience.
The food, which includes a variety of small dishes, including crab tostadas and Spanish-style potatoes, is excellent.
2. Feast Your Eyes On Art And History
Polanco is a posh, elegant, and beautiful neighborhood with a blend of contemporary and traditional Spanish colonial architecture.
In light of this, you wouldn’t want to skip some of Polanco’s finest works of art and history, which can be found in their renowned museums. The following are some of the best places to enjoy history and art on your next visit.
Since its inception in 2011, the Soumaya Museum has swiftly become one of Mexico City’s most recognizable attractions.
Not just because of the art that’s inside, but also because of the way the building looks. The massive silver structure, tiled with hundreds of silver hexagons, is one of the city’s most showy pieces of architecture.
The museum’s 66,000-piece collection includes works by great artists such as Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo. Aside from Mexican painters, the collection is dominated by European classics such as Matisse and Degas.
One of Latin America’s most significant private collections of modern art, which includes pieces by Andy Warhol, Martin Kippenberger, Cy Twombly, and Damien Hirst, is housed in Museo Jumex.
Various media are used, from paintings and sketches to light and video works. And just like Museo Soumaya, the architecture here is as unique as the art.
British architect David Chipperfield created the 15,000-square-foot sawtooth-topped white concrete cube. It’s an amazing sight in itself!
Moreover, you can easily kill two birds with one stone by visiting the Soumaya Museum (mentioned above) on the same day, as it’s just across the square.
Polyforum Cultural Siqueiros
The Polyforum Cultural Siqueiros is a must-see in Mexico City. The massive mural, painted by Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros, is one of the largest in the world and is an impressive sight to behold.
The mural depicts the history of Mexico, from the Aztec civilization to the present day, and is a powerful representation of Mexican culture and identity.
Visitors to the Polyforum can also enjoy a variety of other cultural activities, making it a great place to learn about Mexican art and history.
3. Polanco Boasts Many Active Theaters And Malls
In addition to its restaurants and museums, Polanco is home to exquisite malls and fascinating theaters, which together might provide for a delightful full-day excursion.
These kinds of activities include:
Teatro Telcel presents Broadway productions in Spanish, including The Lion King and Les Misérables, just near the Soumaya Museum.
Though every seat offers a view of the stage, the finest ones are in the middle due to the comfortable sitting and excellent acoustics.
This is a fun activity for families with children and music enthusiasts of all ages.
Antara Fashion Hall
Antara is a small shopping center with a posh, polished vibe. Numerous foreign retailers are represented here, ranging from high-street chains like Zara and Mango to fashion houses like Carolina Herrera and Hugo Boss.
Even if you’re not in the mood to buy anything, you can still visit for a Moyo frozen yogurt and people-watching!
Angela Peralta Outdoor Theater
To give Mexico City a venue akin to the Hollywood Bowl, this theater was constructed in 1939. It is an excellent location for outdoor performances despite being significantly smaller (it has a capacity of 5,000).
Along with musical concerts (jazz and classical music included), the location also holds family-friendly theatrical shows.
El Palacio de Hierro
Back in 1891, J. Tron y Cá brought luxury and grace to life by opening CDMX’s first and most cutting-edge department store.
El Palacio de Hierro has so much to offer, from beautiful architecture to some of Polanco’s most elegant high-end shopping experiences.
The initial building of El Palacio de Hierro was constructed with an interior made of iron and steel and a lovely design that the most exquisite and significant stores influenced in Paris, New York, London, and Chicago.
The building’s facilities were twice expanded due to its early success. Then, unfortunately, a fire destroyed the structure, and in 1921 it was renovated with Art Nouveau and Deco elements before being reopened and repositioned as Mexico City’s most fabulous department store.
4. Take Part In Polanco’s Exciting Tours
A Mexico City hop-on and off full-day tour is the perfect way to see all the sights and sounds of this vibrant city, even Polanco.
From the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan to the modern skyline of downtown, there is something for everyone on this tour. The tour includes transportation to and from all the major attractions, so you can sit back and relax while you take in the beauty of Mexico City.
If you’re short on time, this is the best way to see Mexico City in a single day at your own speed and without worry, allowing you to jump on and off at any moment with a single ticket.
Four routes are available, including the Historical Center Route, which offers 19 different stops in itself.
The Polanco Route is ideal for exploring, shopping, and seeing the city’s most cutting-edge architecture at each of its 7 stops.
With 18 stops, the South Route will take you through the city’s hippest areas and give you a taste of architecture and archeology.
Lastly, there’s the Temples route, which features some of Mexico City’s most significant historical landmarks.
Each path takes three hours to complete and will take you through pre-Hispanic, colonial, and contemporary periods of Mexico City.
5. Visit the Inbursa Aquarium
More than 5,000 creatures representing 230 different species live at the Inbursa Aquarium, the only underground aquarium in Latin America.
When you get there, take the submersible elevator to the museum’s basement where you’ll discover a sunken ship while studying storms, waves, and tsunamis.
Ascend to the higher levels to observe corals, sharks, piranhas, penguins, turtles, crocodiles, jellyfish, and sharks.
Once you’re ready to leave, head to the museum’s retail area to peruse a selection of educational materials or buy a souvenir before leaving!
6. Soak In The Beauty Found In The Neighborhoods Parks
Like Central Park in New York and Hyde Park in London, Mexico City has Chapultepec Park, a 1,700-acre park with museums, botanical gardens, a big lake, and a zoo.
Visitors can also take a ride on the park’s scenic cable car or take a stroll through its beautiful gardens.
In addition, the lake in the heart of Chapultepec Park is packed with pedalo boats that serve as movie seats. Yes, you read that right!
The Boat Cinema at Bosque de Chapultepec is remarkable, one-of-a-kind, and great fun. The boats are brought close together and transformed into warm and snug seats, ideal for couples or families with children after 8 p.m.
Being just a 10-15 minute walk from the Polanco area, Chapultepec Park is a great place to explore with your time in Polanco.
But that’s not all. The following are more exciting parks home to Polanco.
Plaza Uruguay, a little park with trees in the center of Polanco, is a tranquil spot ideal for getting away from the bustling metropolis.
A bronze monument of General José Artigas, an Uruguayan commander sometimes referred to as the father of the Uruguayan independence movement can be seen inside the plaza.
Calzada de los Poetas
Chapultepec Park is home to the Calzada de los Poetas, which is a pedestrian walkway lined with trees and benches.
The walkway is named for the Mexican poets who used to gather here, and it offers a peaceful place to stroll or sit and enjoy the scenery.
Your magical stroll will be enhanced by the lovely vegetation and serene surroundings.
The park is situated in Mexico City’s Polanco district. In the park is a monument of Martin Luther King Jr. and a reproduction of Abraham Lincoln – The Man (also known as Standing Lincoln).
Overall, it is a lovely dog-friendly park with green trees, works of art, a small lake, and lovely chairs to soak in the views.
6. Explore Polanco’s Best Nightlife Hot-Spots
There are many places to spend a fun evening in Mexico City, from relaxed bars and chic restaurants to buzzing cantinas where mariachi musicians play.
If you’re in Polanco, this is good news! There are lots of places where you can learn how to salsa dance and shake your hips, or if you’d rather rock out and party til the sun comes up, there are some fantastic venues with DJs and live bands open well into the night.
You can easily spend the evening bar-hopping along the fashionable Avenida Presidente Masaryk (the most expensive street in Mexico!), which is situated north of Chapultepec Park and runs right through Polanco.
On streets off the central Avenida, you’ll find several little underground clubs including Virgilio, a well-known hangout.
In general, the clubs are pretty upscale, so expect to pay a pretty penny for drinks and such. But if upscale is what you’re looking for, going out in this part of town is ideal!
Jules Basement, the first speakeasy in the city, is a must-see and can be accessed through a unique refrigerator door. La Santa features a posh atmosphere where attendees are expected to dress to impress.
Dinsmoor, an underground speakeasy that can only be entered through personal links to the club, is even more exclusive.
And finally, the well-kept Scotch, which can be accessed by a rear entrance and is located down an alley, is the place to go for something more relaxed.
Other Things To Do In The Polanco Neighborhood
Aside from all the cool attractions, Polanco is an area known for its variety of good food. Try Chapulín if you’re an adventurous foodie or Au Pied de Cochon for a higher-end French-inspired eatery.
For an eatery that’s equal parts hip, artsy, and colorful, check out Carajillo Masaryk!
If you’re looking to wander around local street markets (one of our favorite things to do when abroad), head to the Saturday street market in Lincoln Park to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, tacos and other Mexican snacks!
Where To Stay In Polanco, Mexico City
All in all, this neighborhood is one of the safest to stay in Mexico City. If you’re looking to stay in this neighborhood, here are a few hotels we recommend.
Where To Stay In Polanco, Mexico City:
ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR VISITING 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 4 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…)
MEXICO CITY: ESSENTIAL PACKING LIST
Along with your usual travel clothes, here are a few things I suggest you bring for your Mexico City trip:
- 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.
- 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.