When you think of Mexico, you might initially think of Cancun or Puerta Vallarta, but Ciudad de Mexico should be at the top of your list. We loved spending a long weekend in this colorful and vibrant city full of culture and amazing food. One nice thing about CDMX is that its climate makes the weather pretty great in any season: warm with average high temperatures ranging from 70-80°F/ 21-27°C all year. We recommend visiting in the Spring when the city turns purple when the jacarandas are in full bloom. This large capital of Mexico is not only the largest city in North America, but is one of the largest cities in the world. That being said CDMX has a lot to offer, so here are some of our favorites from our trip!
General trip tips: We felt very safe in the areas of the city that we visited. There are no mobile boarding passes in CDMX - get to the airport in time to wait in line. Ubers are prevalent and very inexpensive for getting around (splurge on a black/SUV, it's marginally more). Make sure to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water at this high elevation.
Top Things to do in Polanco, CDMX
Polanco is a very affluent area of CDMX, full of nice residences, parks, cafes, and shopping. The Avenida Presidente Masaryk is lined with upscale shops and the pretty side streets include beautiful homes (some are great examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture that was popular in the 20th century, a style derived from Southern California) surrounded by lush landscaping. This is a great area to walk around, get an afternoon drink in the sun, and grab dinner at one of the area’s two World 50 Best Restaurants.
Parque Lincoln is situated in the heart of Polanco, and is the perfect place for a stroll or to enjoy a coffee or ice cream on one of the many benches (both can be purchased from the cafe in the middle of the park). It also hosts a variety of exhibits an cultural events throughout the year.
This shopping area, or outdoor “shopping mall”, is another great example of Colonial Californiano (Spanish Revival) architecture. It includes various upscale stores and some authentic Mexican handcrafts (check out Selectiva de Artes Populares de México).
Cafebrería El Péndulo
This unique bookstore and cafe combo is a fun stop in Polanco. You can dine on the second floor terrace, enjoy a cocktail in the cafe lounge, or have a coffee and read in the book area. They have a great selection of books and gifts, and sometimes have live bands playing music.
Top Things to do in La Condesa & Roma Norte, CDMX
These two neighborhoods are trendy and vibrant areas of Mexico City. Both are home to some of the best restaurants and parks in the city, full of young people and boast a lively atmosphere.
This home was designed by the architect Luis Barragan, known for his minimalist style and intermittent use of vibrant color. It is located on the border of the city’s main park called Bosque de Chapultepec. Today, the family that commissioned and owns the casa (and still partially live in it), provide private tours of the home. Ours was mainly self-guided, but we had to make a reservation for a specific time.
Tips: You must make a reservation in advance via email/facebook/whatsapp. The tour is 300 MXN/person, plus an extra 500 MXN to take pictures. We paid for one of us to take photos.
Check out [Hotel CondesaDF's large rooftop bar](Hotel CondesaDF), the perfect location for a quick break when exploring La Condesa as it is situated adjacent to Parque España. A great spot to grab an afternoon or evening cocktail and snack.
Roma Norte and La Condesa are spotted with lovely parks. Parque México (officially Parque San Martín) is a large urban park in La Condesa, known as the cultural center of the neighborhood. The park is in a large elliptical shape that is characterized by Art Deco design and decor and it contains nice walking paths, ponds, and fountains.
Plaza Luis Cabrera
The Plaza Luis Cabrera is a lovely park and giant fountain in the middle of Roma Norte. The area feels like an upscale neighborhood, and the plaza is lined with various restaurants that almost all have outdoor seating. We stopped into Cabrera 7 for an evening margarita and light taco snack before a later dinner one night.
This area is full of various mercados. Mercado Roma is a great lunch spot, as it is full of food vendors, some of which have nice bars you can sit at and enjoy some authentic cuisine. The place has a fun lively vibe with plenty of food options.
Mercado Medellín is a traditional indoor Mexican market, full of fresh produce, butchers, plants, flowers, spices, etc. It is a fun way to experience how the locals shop.
Fuente de Cibeles
Situated in the heart of Roma Norte, this fountain of a Roman goddess is a replica of a historic fountain in Madrid. The fountain is located where several streets meet - an intersection of the trendy and vibrant area. There is also a small flea market on El Oro.
(You can also head south to Del Carmen to check out Museo Frida Kahlo, a museum dedicated to the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.)
Top Things to do in the Historic Center, CDMX
Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo)
Plaza de la Constitución is the main plaza in CDMX’s historic center. It is surrounded by the Palacio Nacional and the Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México. With Aztec roots (Templo Mayor), the plaza is home to many cultural events, one of which we witnessed when we visited.
Tips: Stop into Pastelería Ideal for some traditional Mexican pastries.
Located at the Plaza de la Constitución, the National Palace is a government building that houses the office of Mexico’s President. It has been the site of the ruling class since the Aztec empire, and contains several murals by the prominent Mexican painter Diego Rivera.
Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México
The grand Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral was completed in the early 17th century and is considered the largest and oldest cathedral in Latin America. The exterior was built in a Renaissance Herrera style and the interior is very ornate, lined with several chapels. The two organs are also considered the largest 18th century organs in the Americas.
Gran Hotel Ciudad de México
Pop into the Gran Hotel Ciudad de México just to see the lobby and foyer of the hotel. Don’t forget to look up to see the vaulted ceiling with beautiful Tiffany stained glass.
Casa de los Azulejos (The House of Tiles)
This 18th century palace now houses a store and restaurant (Sanborns). The facade is lined with blue and white tiles of the Puebla state, and the interior has an open vaulted space where the restaurant presides.
Palacio Postal (Correo Mayor)
Visit this still-operating postal building to see the beautiful architecture, comprised of mixed styles, built at the beginning of the 20th century. It is also home to the Naval Historical Museum as of 2013, which covers various eras of navigation in Mexico.
Tip: There was a really neat outdoor book market to walk through behind the Palacio Postal on Condesa.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
The Palacio de Bellas Artes is a cultural hub for CDMX, and home to many of Mexico’s art treasures, including paintings, scultures, and photographs. The building itself is beautiful inside and out, surrounded by beautiful gardens and the Alameda Central park. It houses murals by the famous Mexican painters Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
Created in the late 14th century, the Alameda Central is the oldest public park in the Americas. It is a nice park to walk through and admire the ornate fountains and statues; it is especially pretty when the jacarandas are in bloom!
La Cuidadela Mercado
This massive handicraft market is the perfect place to shop for souvenirs as well as authentic Mexican textiles and goods. You can buy pottery, hats, clothing, baskets, tiles… you name it!
Top Things to do in Bosque de Chapultepec
Bosque de Chapultepec
The Bosque de Chapultepec is a sprawling park (1,700 acres) in the heart of Mexico City, the perfect place to spend a weekend day exploring the museums, zoo, lakes, and castle. The Avenue Paseo de la Reforma routes directly through the park. On Sundays, the road is closed to traffic and tons of people use the road to run, bike, and skate.
Tips: Rent bicycles on a Sunday and join the locals on the Av. Paseo de la Reforma. You can also rent a paddle boat on the Lago de Chapultepec on a nice day.
Castillo de Chapultepec
The historic Castillo de Chapultepec is located on a hilltop in the Bosque de Chapultepec. Due to its location, it offers great views of Mexico City. It also currently houses the National Museum of History.
Tips: On Sundays the castle and museum are free for Mexican citizens, so it may be more crowded. Try to arrive earlier in the day if you plan to visit on a Sunday (like we did).
Museo Nacional de Antropología
The Museum of Anthropology is a must-do museum in CDMX. The museum contains several exhibition halls, containing artifacts that date back to Maya civilization, surrounded by a large courtyard.
Tips: Aim to arrive before 10am to avoid the large crowds on weekends. Tickets cost 75 MXN pp. You can buy tickets in advance, but not necessary if you plan to arrive early. The museum is also quite large so you could easily spend half a day here. Due to time constraints, we spent about 1.5 hours here and picked the exhibits we wanted to see. Just outside the museum, on the Av. Paseo de la Reforma, you can find Alas De La Ciudad, a sculpture of bronze angel wings by Mexican artist Jorge Marín. A perfect photo-op!
Food and Drink in Mexico City (CDMX)
Honestly, we booked our trip around when we could get a reservation at Pujol, located in Polanco. After seeing it on the first season of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, and coming highly recommended by a bunch of our friends, this was a must do for us when we planned out trip to CDMX; we were not disappointed. Pujol takes you on a pre-fixe journey (two options) that is stunning, not to mention the 1,800+ day old mole we tried (you just have to experience it yourself!). We also enjoyed having another glass of wine on the beautiful outdoor terrace after dinner.
Contramar is located in Roma Norte and is known for amazing seafood. We highly recommend making a reservation in advance and ordering the Tostadas de Atun.
The ambiance at Rosetta was really special. Set in a cozy space with warm decor, this Roma Norte restaurant is a great dinner spot with Italian food (though Mexican inspired), by the chef Elena Reygadas. There is also a Rosetta bakery catty-corner to the restaurant that serves Elena’s famous bread!
Located in the Historic Center of CDMX, Azul Historico has such a cool ambiance. Surrounded by various boutique shops, the restaurant serves traditional Mexican cuisine. A great lunch spot when exploring the Historic Center.
Qué Bo! Is a unique chocolate shop that serves various gourmet chocolates, like truffles, as well as chocolate inspired beverages (hot and cold). We enjoyed some fine chocolates and a “cold chocolate” drink. You can also get chocolates to go!
You can buy street tacos from various vendors throughout the city. We found one of Anthony Bourdain's favorites in the historic area called Taquería Los Cocuyos.
Other recommendations: Quintonil, Limosneros, El Cardenal, Lorea, Masala y Maíz, and many others!
After dinner options in Roma Norte/ La Condesa
- Casa Franca: cozy and dimly lit jazz bar and lounge with great cocktails
- Hanky Panky Cocktail Bar: a fun speakeasy (walk to the back of the taqueria) with very unique cocktails - we had great mezcal, a cocktail in a bag, and dried grasshoppers to compliment them
- Vinopremier MX: a nice wine bar to try various Mexican wines
Where to Stay in Mexico City (CDMX)
Hotel Marquis Reforma
Located on the Avenue de la Reforma, we found this hotel location to be perfect for exploring Polanco, La Condesa, Roma Norte, and Bosque de Chapultepec. Our room was a nice size and had some of the lovely touches you would expect from an upscale hotel. The hotel spa (open to hotel guests) containing hot tubs, an indoor pool, and a sauna, was a fun way to unwind. The gym is also large and very well equipped!