Mexico City has been on my bucket list since we moved back to California. So when a long weekend came up, we jumped at the chance to take a trip to Mexico City for three days. Mexico City, also known as CDMX, is truly massive and home to about 9 million people (that’s over 4 times the size of Paris!).
We filled three days with eating as much as we could, visiting museums, seeing the historical sites and of course, stopping for cocktails along the way. In this guide, I’ll share travel tips like when to go and where to stay along with my exact itinerary for three days in Mexico City.
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Where to Stay in Mexico City
When we had drinks at Fifty Mils in the Four Seasons, my husband and I kept saying, “We really should have splurged and stayed here.” The hotel was impeccable and I’d recommend it based on our experience there.
Honestly, I wasn’t really crazy about the unnamed hotel we ended up staying at. We got stuck with a bottom floor room where the only window faced an interior stained glass window. So it lacked natural light and I also had to kill two small insects (do I dare say of the cockroach family) in the bathroom. Look, I get it. It’s a big tropical city. I’m not panicking, but I wouldn’t want to recommend an accommodation knowing that and have you be disappointed.
Other accommodations I had my eye on:
Four Seasons for a five star experience.
Casa Decu with a fun roof top patio and a view.
Nima Local House Hotel for a small luxury boutique accommodation.
Eat Breakfast at Cafe Nin
Formerly known as Pandaria Rosetta Harve, Cafe Nin is a charming bakery that’s part of the Rosetta family of restaurants. While they’re known for their guava rolls, you can stop in here for food and drinks all day long. We sat at the counter and watched locals come in to get their daily baked goods to go. They even offer gluten free and vegan muffins.
Go to Biblioteca Vasconcelos
Straight from breakfast we hopped in an Uber to Biblioteca Vasconcelos. We spent less than an hour walking around and looking at a few books, but I suspect you could spend hours here. The interior was truly one of the more unique libraries I’ve ever seen.
Lunch at Contramar
Contramar is one of the most popular and well-known restaurants in Mexico City. Accordingly, the wait would be rather lengthy without a reservation. I emailed about a week ahead of time and they said noon was the only available spot. Early lunch it is. As we approached the restaurant, I could hear the buzz of people from a few doors down. That’s always a good sign. We eagerly took our seat at an outdoor table and ordered their famed tuna tostadas, a dish I won’t soon forget.
Visit the National Anthropology Museum
Even with three days in Mexico city, we couldn’t fit in the temples of Teotihuacán. The National Anthropology Museum felt like the next best thing. In some ways, the museum was even better because we got to learn about different regions of Mexico. As interesting as all the artifacts were inside, I also loved the waterfall feature and structures outside.
An afternoon at the museum brought us right up to cocktail hour. Fifty Mils was voted one of the top 50 bars in the world. At only around $10 each for a high quality drink in a luxury setting, I don’t even know why we hesitated getting a second round.
While the outside patio in the Four Season’s courtyard is lovely, take a seat at the bar. It’s truly the best seat in the house to watch the bartenders and see the full array of cocktails they craft. We even saw one with the cup made of ice on a pedestal above a small succulent. As the ice melted, it dripped down to water the plant.
Late Night Tacos
I don’t know how we managed to beat the line at Orinoco, but I’m lucky we did. By the time we ordered and sat down, there was line out the entrance. We happily sat at the counter and watched the chefs prepare tortillas and slice meat for tacos al pastor (I have a video saved in my highlights on Instagram). Not only was the food delicious, but I loved the energy and casual atmosphere.
Eat Breakfast at Lalo
Get the chilaquiles. Just do it.
Visit the Frida Khalo Museum
We had some free time between breakfast and our 10:30 slot to visit Casa Azul. The Parroquia San Juan Bautista and a nice park are just a few blocks away from the museum and this area is definitely worth visiting since you’ll be in the area.
I can’t stress this enough: Unless you want your morning to turn into a 4 hour ordeal, you need to buy your tickets online before. We arrived shortly after they opened at 10 am and there was already a huge line around the block. The line for pre booked and printed tickets took just a couple of minutes. You can buy a photo pass at a small stand inside for 30 pesos.
Casa Azul is simply incredible. From thoughtful exhibitions of her clothing to touring her home, it was an intimate museum experience that expressed so much of her life, pain and work.
See the Historic Center
Spend the afternoon in the historic center. Get dropped off near the Zócalo and then walk west towards the Bella Artes. This area was completely packed when we went because there was special event going on. The main road that circles the Zócalo was closed off causing a bit of a traffic jam.
While you’re in this area, check out the House of Tiles and the Palacio Postal. The post office closes early on Sunday, so plan accordingly.
Stop for Gelato
We kept walking west in search of an afternoon treat. Joe Gelato is a short walk from the market. After living in Italy for a few years, I’ve had my fair share of gelato and Joe Gelato was excellent. The flavors were unique with nod to local flavors like Marigold, cinnamon and cocoa.
Dinner at Taqueria el Califa
They have multiple locations throughout the city and have been making tacos for over 25 years. I’ve never seen cheese served so many ways. The amount of cheese my husband and I consumed here is unbelievable. Almost as unbelievable as our bill. We got a couple of tacos, a crater, their specialty cheese taco, guacamole, a pita, grilled nopales with cheese and a soda for about $25. It’s all served with 4 different salsas that I happily sampled as if I were a judge in a salsa tasting competition.
Breakfast at El Moro
Have the breakfast of champions and get churros at El Moro. I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a mocha in my life, but getting the Choco Moka felt right and I didn’t regret it. There’s multiple El Moro locations around the city and they’re open all day, making it easy to stop here as many times as you want over the weekend. I confess, we went to a few.
If you haven’t had your chilaquiles fix yet though, head to Lardo, Niddo or Eno for a more savory breakfast instead.
We spent the next few hours strolling the streets of La Condesa and Roma Norte. Parque España and Parque México are lovely parks to walk through. Any dog lover can’t miss these leafy spaces as it’s where many people walk their dogs.
These neighborhoods make you wonder if they built the houses in the middle of a jungle or if a jungle grew up around the homes. They call Sacramento, California the “City of Trees” but I think La Condesa really takes the cake.
We also wandered though Cafetería El Péndulo (locations in Zona Rosa, La Condesa and Roma Norte). It’s a beautiful bookstore with a quaint cafe serving coffee, small bites and drinks. The books are all wrapped in plastic wrap which takes a considerable amount of joy out of visiting a bookstore, but I think still it’s worth a stop.
Get a Coffee
I got a pick me up coffee at Cicatriz before we had to head to the airport. It was quite the hipster scene and I didn’t mind one bit.
If you’re staying longer than a weekend or are more into temples than Frida, consider visiting Teotihuacán or the canals of Xochimilco. These two activities were on my list, but it was hard to fit it all in with just three days in Mexico City. The Teotihuacán temple is quite far from the city center so budget at least a half day with transportation time.
Mexico City Travel Tips
How to get around Mexico City
I took more Ubers over three days in Mexico City than I usually do for three months at home. It was so easy and I only had one negative experience when I couldn’t find the driver. Using Uber is the most efficient and convenient way to see the city.
Quick tip: Be sure to check with your carrier because you do not want to come home to a massive bill after using roaming data. My cellphone plan had a free option to use data in Mexico.
The longest drive we took was to and from the airport for 40 minutes and cost $7. The Mexico City airport is one of the very few and exclusive locations of an American Express Centurion Lounge. If you’re a Platinum card holder, you get free access to this luxury lounge. Don’t miss it. The margaritas are excellent.
Visiting expensive destinations (I’m looking at you Switzerland) just stresses me out. I like to eat out and stop as we pass a fun looking bar without having to budget it out. Mexico City was so easy to experience with affordable Ubers, reasonable museum entry fees and inexpensive quality food.
When to visit CDMX
Fall is my preferred season of travel and CDMX was no different. Summer is the rainy season, so we opted for November and had beautiful weather.
Visiting Mexico City for a long weekend soon? Pin this post for later!