You only have 3 days in Mexico City? No worries: this Mexico City itinerary will guide you through the best things to do in Mexico City and what to see in Mexico City in 3 days.
Mexico City is a place that’s absolutely bursting with history and culture.
However, with so much to see and do, it can feel like an uphill struggle to fit everything in, especially if you’re only for 72 or 48 hours in Mexico City. To help you out, I’ve put together a complete Mexico City itinerary that will let you enjoy your three days in Mexico City and see all the most iconic Mexico City attractions.
Day 1| The Essentials: Mexico City Centro Historico & Zocalo
What better way of kicking off your Mexico City itinerary than by exploring its ancient heart? With its cobbled streets and winding alleyways, Centro Historico still contains plenty of traces of the city’s colonial past, setting it apart from other neighborhoods. What’s more, it’s also Mexico City’s cultural hub, with numerous museums, galleries, and incredible architecture to discover.
Once upon a time, the Centro Historico was home to Tenochtitlan, the capital of the mighty Aztec empire, until the Spanish settlers came here in 1521 and ransacked the city, razing it to the ground.
Centro Historico is extremely easy to get around on foot, so there’s no need to worry about transport today. We’ll start our itinerary at the very center of the city: the main square, or Zócalo. This vast space is one of the largest public squares in the world. Much like the neighborhood itself, though, Zócalo dates back to Aztec times, and was once the ceremonial center of Tenochtitlan, and there are often Aztec dances and reenactments taking place in the square.
Standing in the center of Zócalo, you’re flanked by some of the city’s most notable buildings. First, head to the Metropolitan Cathedral. This building is hard to miss- in fact, it’s the largest cathedral in the Americas! Not only that, but it’s also one of the oldest remaining buildings, too. If you want to experience a stunning view of the plaza below, then be sure to take the (Spanish language-only) tour up to the upper levels and the bell tower.
Come out of the cathedral, and your next stop is within view: the National Palace. While it’s no longer the President’s official residence, it’s still an incredible place and tours are free. Inside you can find murals by Diego Rivera (Frida Kahlo’s husband) showing the country’s history.
From the Zocalo, take Paseo Madero, which is a pedestrian street full of shops and cafès and restaurants, so a good place to stop for coffee or lunch.
If you’re an instagrammer like me, you also need to stop and take a couple shots at the Casa de los Azulejos [Sanborns restaurant] that’ll remind you of Portugal, and at the Palacio Postal (postal office) which has some really luxurios interiors.
Do you want to get a great glimpse of Mexico City from the top? Your three perfect days in Mexico City continue with the view from the Torre Latinoamericana [Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 2].
For 100 pesos (about $6), you get to go up the 45th floor and have a 360° view over the city. Highly recommended!
If you are into arts, don’t miss a visit to the Palacio of Bellas Artes [Av. Juárez, Centro Histórico]. The building includes an architecture museum and often hosts great events in music, dance, theatre.
If your 3 days in Mexico City include a Tuesday or a Friday night, don’t miss the Lucha Libre show. Lucha Libre is pretty much like wrestling, but dirtier and rougher. And locals love it! Go for watching the show, but mostly to join the action and scream at the fighters together with everyone else.
Beware: if you get easily offended, this might not be the show for you. There’s lots of politically uncorrecteness involved – the show might or might not include a midget and lots of cussing – but everyone seems to have a lot of fun.
Day 2 | A Colorful Day in Mexico City: Xochimilco & La Casa Azul
This morning you’ll be making two stops: La Casa Azul, and the Mercado de Coyoacan. Both are situated in the Coyoacan district, so make your way there via public transport (metro to Coyoacan stop) or a taxi (ask the driver to use the taximeter or you can download Cabify for better pricing).
Firstly, it’s time to visit La Casa Azul, or the “Blue House” [Londres 247, Del Carmen, Coyoacán]. Named for its distinctive blue walls, this house served as the childhood home of Frida Kahlo, possibly Mexico’s most famous artist. The house has now been converted into a museum of her life and works, and it’s a great place to learn more about the fascinating life of this giant of the art world. Tickets cost 200 pesos for foreigners and 80 for Mexicans. Definitely one to add to your 3-days itinerary in Mexico City.
Up next, let’s wander through this peaceful neighborhood until we find ourselves at the Mercado de Coyoacan. This authentic Mexican market is the ideal place to stop for some food, and it manages to not be too touristy, too. Instead, it mainly caters to the locals, serving up homecooked food as well as groceries, clothes, and crafts.
In the afternoon, it’s time to head over to a district with a very different feel: Xochimilco. Located in the south of Mexico City, this borough remained separate from the rest of the city for most of its history. For that reason, it’s got a unique feel about it which makes it well worth a visit while you’re in town.
How to get to Xochimilco: take the metro to the Tasqueña metro station (line 2), and transfer to the “tren ligero” to Xochimilco. When you step off the train. follow the signs to the “Embracadero”. It’s quite a long journey, but you will save a lot of money!
Xochimilco is famous for its canal network. Once upon a time, these canals connected most of the settlements in the Valley of Mexico, but nowadays, only the canals in Xochimilco remain. That’s not to say that they are small, though- there’s still a 100-mile network that winds its way through the entire district!
Amongst the canals lie chinampas, or floating gardens. The best way to see Xochimilco is by trajinera- a colorful boat like a gondola, which you can hire for a tour of the waterways. Along the way, you’ll likely come across mariachi bands offering to serenade you, as well as some tasty street food if you get hungry.
After all that sightseeing, you’re bound to be hungry. Well, you’re in luck- Mexico City has some of the most delicious street food in the world. There are often stalls all around the Zócalo, but if you want to take a walk further afield, just stroll down any of the nearby streets and you’ll find plenty of food.
If you want something a little bit more folkloristic, head to Plaza Garibaldi in the historic centre, which is also known as Mariachi square… you’ll soon understand why! Eat at one of the restaurants around the square, and the mariachis will come and ask if you want a song. Even if you don’t, someone else around you will and you’ll get to listen to them.
Day 3 | The Cool Side of Mexico City: Rome Norte & Condesa
So far, we’ve explored some of Mexico City’s more historic districts, but today you’ll be visiting a thoroughly modern neighborhood: Roma Norte. If you only have 48 hours in Mexico City, follow the itinerary for the first two days, but if you hav emore time these modern neighborhoods are really worth a visit.
As the hub of Mexico City’s hipster population, it’s one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in town. Located just two miles from the very center of Mexico City, it’s a world apart from Centro Historico.
Be sure to arrive early (not sleeping in!) and stop by Panaderia Rosetta [Colima 179, Roma Norte] for some freshly ground coffee and a tasty pastry for breakfast. You can tell it’s a local favorite because of the crowds. You might have to battle your way in, but it’s worth it!
You’ll quickly see that the standard uniform for locals is streetwear coupled with a skateboard- after all, this is one of the hippest parts of the city, so don’t be surprised if the crowds seem quite a bit younger than you!
Whatever your age, though, there’s sure to be something for you fashion-wise at one of the many independent clothes stores which litter the district. There are very few chain stores in this part of tow; instead, it’s all about originality, and I love it! I particularly recommend Goodbye Folk [Colima 198, Cuauhtémoc], a sprawling vintage store where you’ll be able to pick out clothes from across the ages, as well as shoes that are made to order. There’s even a “secret” barbershop tucked away in the back!
When lunchtime rolls around, there’s one place in Colonia Roma that you simply have to visit: Contramar [Calle Durango 200, Roma]. This ever-popular eatery is famed for its tostadas de atun, a beautifully cooked tuna loin served with crispy leeks and a spicy mayo.
If that’s not your thing, or the restaurant is jam packed, then you could also try the nearby Butcher & Sons [Orizaba 87, Roma Nte], a trendy diner where the burgers are named after musical icons and even the milkshakes come with a sprinkle of spice… after all, this is Mexico!
Churros in Mexico City are a big thing! Do you like churros with a sauce of dulce de leche (cajeta)? What if I told you that this huge plate above was only $1? Yeah? Then head to the Churreria El Moro. There are quite a few in the city, but this super instagrammable one is at Río Lerma 167, Colonia Cuauhtémoc, which isn’t too far, so you can make a little tasty detour before heading to your next destination. Your 3 days in Mexico City won’t be complete without some churros… you can even add some hot chocolate to the package!
In the afternoon, it’s time to head to the neighboring district of Condesa. A bit less hipster-y than Roma Norte, it’s still super cool. Rather than skateboarders, expect to see the cream of the crop of Mexico City’s classy youth, along with plenty of artists and intellectuals.
Condesa is absolutely packed with trendy boutiques, so if you’ve got some spending money left, you might want to spend your afternoon shopping for the latest fashions. For the culture vultures among you, you might want to stop and see a show at Foro Shakespeare [Calle Zamora 7, Cuauhtémoc, Condesa], a theater set up to showcase cutting-edge performances by independent theater companies.
Condesa really comes alive after dark, though, so why not spend your final hours here in Mexico City partying the night away? It’s the local custom to live it up until the small wee hours, and there are countless bars and clubs tailored to every music taste and age group.
Whether you’re looking to put on your dancing shoes and boogie away to some modern pop, or enjoy a more relaxed evening soundtracked by some 70s tunes, there’s no better place to enjoy Mexico City’s nightlife than Condesa.
Bonus! Day 4 | Day Trip to Teotihuacan
I hope you enjoyed your Mexico City itinerary so far! If you have 4 days in Mexico City, use it for a day trip to the Teotihuacan pyramids.
HOW TO GET TO TEOTIHUACAN FROM MEXICO CITY
It’s quite easy to get there. Make your way to the Terminal de Autobuses Norte; from here, there is a bus leaving to Teotihuacan every 30 minute (100 pesos return trip, or approximately USD $6). The ride takes about 45 minutes-1 hour depending on traffic. Try and get to Teotihuacan as early as possible to beat the crowds that arrive with the organized tours. You can enter the site as early as 7am.
There are guides at the entrance if you want to go on a guided tour, or you can just go on your own. the climb to the top of the two main pyramids is quite some exercise, but totally worth it. The view is beautiful from up there!
In order to be at the pyramids before the crodws arrived, I spent the night before in Teotihuacan, but I honestly don’t recommend it. There isn’t one single restaurant open at night in Teotihuacan and we ended up eating plain bread. Also, if you prefer the comfort of a luxury hotel, you won’t find it here. I stayed at a 3-star hotel that was barely decent, and that was the moust luxurious option. Just make your way here early in the morning!
Where to stay in Mexico City: Chaya B&B
Mexico City at first might feel crowded and loud, and a little overwhelming. I was extremely glad I chose Chaya B&B, a boutique hotel that really felt like an oasis of peace in the midst of the chaos. Located in Barrio Alameda right in the city center, Chaya B&B is surrounded by cafès and shops, and it’s only a 10 min-walk to the main pedestrian street that leads to the Zocalo.
I’ve stayed at many luxury hotels in the past, but few of them had the personality that Chaya can boast. From the common spaces such as the dining room and the studio, it looks like Chaya comes from the pages of one of those design magazines I adore. I also loved the rooftop terrace with the hammock area… sooooo nice to be able to relax after a long day out.
And the room. Let’s talk about that room! I was so lucky to stay in the Master Suite, that is known for having the best bathtub in all of Mexico City. I definitely agree! I looooooved the bathtub. The room is super spacious, offering a living room plus a room with a huge shower and the bath tub area, and a view over the Alameda Park.
Every morning, I was able to choose between continental breakfast and a cooked one that also included a daily Mexican special. The staff is great and you are welcomed with a shot of Mezcal… what’s not to love?
Overall, I couldn’t recommend more Chaya B&B. With rates starting at $90 for the Standard Room and $160 for the Master Suite, I feel Chaya offers great quality-price value and is one of the best places to stay in Mexico City.
Is Mexico City safe? What about the earthquake?
Before heading to Mexico, everyone felt the need to warn me about it. Be safe! Mexico is dangerous! But… is it really? Sure, there are parts of Mexico that are extremely dangerous and you shouldn’t venture to, and there are areas in Mexico city and other cities where you definitely shouldn’t go, but isn’t it the same for any coutry in the world?
Honestly, I felt perfectly safe in Mexico City. The tourist areas are patroled by loads of policemen, which mostly avoids the petty crimes to happen. Just make sure you ask your hotel receptionist if the area you are heading to is safe. Take a taxi when is dark (have your hotel call for one) or use Uber and Cabify cars that are trackds and safer. You will be fine!
Regarding the earthquake, it was really sad to learn that the influx of tourists almost stopped following the earthquakes. It’s a huge problem for a country that relies on tourism and as of now, Mexico City is more than ready to welcome the tourists. You will see some buildings that are blocked off because unsafe, but most of the buildings are totally fine. Mexico city, and Mexico in general, need you right now! Heading there is the best thing you can do to help getting the country back on their feet.
Have you been to Mexico City? Do you have any tips that I left out?
I got offered a media rate for my stay at Chaya B&B, but I would totally go back without any discount!