There are some places that you leave knowing that you’ll be back, and Mexico City is one of them. It’s well-connected, cosmopolitan, and has so much to offer. While I recommend spending a week here, I know many people come for a long weekend, so I’m putting together a shortened Mexico City itinerary – what to do in 3 days in Mexico City!
Mexico City Itinerary (3 Days)
3 days in Mexico City is more time than you might think and it’s possible to do A LOT in this amount of time. Try to make sure to book your flights to arrive early in the morning and leave in the evening to give yourself as much time as possible – or if you can’t arrive early in the morning then come the night before so you can wake up already there!
The first thing you need to know is that Mexico City is HUGE. You cannot possibly do all the things you want to do. Even shortening my week there into three days to kind of show you a variety was very difficult. At the bottom of this 3 day Mexico City itinerary, I have put more information in case you stay for 5 days. It’s basically all the things I couldn’t fit on here but are SO cool. You might want to replace some of the things on this itinerary for those: for example, if you could care less about the markets maybe change it to a museum I list later on!
Read More: 20 Essential Tips for Mexico City
To try to help, I have made a map and starred the places mentioned in this blog post. You can zoom in and out to see where things are and help you decide other places to go. If you are in an area and have extra time, use this map to see if there is something nearby you could do.
Day 1 in Mexico City
Check into your affordable stylish Airbnb or boutique hotel. There are so many awesome places to stay in Mexico City that it’s really fun to look around for the perfect place for you. You’ll find Airbnb’s from $40-$80 that will blow you away. I’m writing a post dedicated to the options that I stayed at and loved the most. When it comes to areas, Roma and Condesa are great neighborhoods to start searching.
The photo below is from this Airbnb listing for $80 a night. If you want the luxe one for $180, this is the Condesa Airbnb (the one with the bathtub below – it was so amazing). I have a post coming in a couple of weeks with all the best options, so just two in this post to start!
If you book an Airbnb, you can sign up with a new account using my link and get $40-$52 off your booking. That is a night free for some of the cheaper listings (and there are plenty under $40)! You can also just sign up now and use the credit on a later trip to anywhere.
Head out for lunch! Honestly, the options for lunch are plentiful and you can hardly go wrong. I rarely just pop into places and instead look up places that are highly reviewed or go where my friends and Instagram followers recommend. I’ll share the places that we decided to go since I already put a lot of time researching into it!
We had such a great meal at Delirio in Roma. After, we wanted something sweet and had to pop into one of the many El Moro churreria’s. You might as well just stop into one every time you go by because they are delicious! This place was just a typical churro stop but recently did a huge rebranding to look the way it does and people are obsessed. It’s been around since 1935.
Because a lot of the major things to do require getting there early, today you can’t really do the main attractions so why not go shopping? Alternatively, you could head out to El Castillo de Chapultepec if you were not interested in shopping. I’ll give information on both so you can choose!
For shopping, we enjoyed Casa Fusion Mercado which was a home that was turned into several boutique shops, each room being a shop. It also has some cafes. You can buy great souvenirs here that are homemade by local people. This isn’t your typical Mexican market like downtown and is more like boutique shopping, yet affordable. It’s kind of like walking into an Etsy shop. I bought my nephew the cutest dinosaur onesie and Laura got some unique mezcal. They also have vintage items and a flea market here.
Next, grab an Uber to the Polanco neighborhood. This is much more upscale and has shops like Zara and H&M but also all the coolest boutique stores like Ikal and Lago DF. They aren’t cheap but I did get the most amazing earrings ever!
You could alternatively go to El Castillo de Chapultepec, which is the only royal castle in the Americas. It was built by the Spanish in 1785. After many years of royals living there, it was abandoned during the Mexican War of Independence and eventually, Mexican presidents started living there up until 1939 when it was turned into a museum, which is now the National Museum of History. Keep in mind that this museum closes at 5 PM. It offers some amazing views of the city!
If you chose to go to Chapultepec Hill instead of shopping, then please do yourself a favor and rent a Lime scooter to get there! Just note: you’ll have to leave it just before the bridge you need to cross because you have to go up stairs, over a highway overpass, then re-rent one on the other side if you want to keep riding. Lime scooters are a smidge more expensive than an Uber but you skip traffic and they are so much fun. The park at the castle is perfect to ride around in!
The park at the base of the castle, Bosque de Chapultepec, is huge and I read it’s bigger than Central Park in NYC. There are several other museums here like the Modern Art Musem and the Natural History Museum.
If you want a bite to eat while you’re over here, there is a very unassuming place under the highway – literally- that has the best torta of my life!! It’s called El Heuquito and it’s a chain. I highly recommend grabbing a sandwich!
You’ll probably want to head home after shopping or sightseeing. Dinner at Amaya is a great call for the evening. They do Baja-style seafood and are always changing up their menu. It’s one of the most recommended places in town. While I didn’t love my seafood risotto, the corn appetizer was a favorite meal of the trip.
If you want to party, head to the very-trendy Jule’s Basement.
Day 2 in Mexico City
Breakfast at Lalo! is a must. We actually ate here twice and I could have come back again. The acai bowl was so refreshing, the pastries were amazing (especially the guava one!) and it’s some of the best chilaquiles I’ve ever had. You can have avocado toast here or traditional Mexican food which makes it perfect for travelers.
Now, you’ll want to head to the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan. This is the same thing as “The Blue House” and is where she and Diego Rivera lived – it’s also where Leon Trotsky lived with them until his assassination. If you can, get online and book a ticket. Do NOT do this through anything other than their website or they may not allow it (ie: TripAdvisor or Viator skip the line passes). The site would not take my USA card or my Mexican bank card so it seems a bit fickle. If you had an online ticket you go in a shorter line so it’s worth trying. The longer line can be hours. We waited for about 40 minutes. It’s hot in the sun, waiting on the sidewalk.
You really get to see a lot here and they’ve left it how it was from her bedroom to her paints!
You’re going to need a beer after this. Head to lunch at El Parnita. This taco joint was one of my favorite vibes of the trip! You can mix and match all kinds of tacos so try something new. I got a sausage taco that blew me away. So delicious!
For the afternoon, if you didn’t already go to the Castle, now is the time. If you did do that, you could shop with the above places OR you could head out to Tetetlan. This is a restaurant in Jardines de Pedregal – and I know you just ate but it’s not really about the food to me. The area it’s in was just volcanic rock and Diego Rivera was chatting with his friend Luis Barragan (the famous architect you’ll surely hear about in Mexico City) about how much potential it had. Luis decided to go out there and turn it into a neighborhood by building and designing 200+ homes. The most famous is Casa Pedregal. You can visit several of his homes in Mexico City like Casa Pedregal or Casa Luis Barragan BUT you need to get an appointment and they are sometimes booked months out. But don’t fret – you can still see his work at Tetetlan! Right next to Casa Pedregal is the restaurant which he designed from what was once horse stables. The flooring is glass so you can see the volcanic rocks below. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen architecturally and they have a great shop (seriously very well curated) with very fair prices. I bought some pottery from Oaxaca. The food here was good but not great, I’ll be honest, but it’s still worth going. I’d just get a coffee and check it out!
PS: If you want to go to the museum “archives” next to Casa Luis Barragan, you don’t need an appointment and can just sign in, which we did. We didn’t really know what we were looking at though!
Head into town and get ready for dinner. We ate at Parcela. We loved the tacos here and the design of the place, but it wasn’t “popping” to say the least. If you want more of a vibe, Contramar is highly rated seafood. The thing is, most of what was recommended to us were seafood and Yucatecan style food – and being that I live in Merida, I wasn’t into a lot of them. Other recommendations were European or Fusion and we just wanted traditional Mexican food so tried places that had different options. Pujol, Maximo Bistrot, and Fonda Fina came highly recommended to us as well.
End your night at Hanky Panky, Mexico City’s most popular speakeasy. You do need to get directions from them and an appointment to enter. I just sent a message via Facebook to their page and they got back within an hour, so make sure to do it earlier in the day you’ll be visiting. In your initial message tell them the time you’re coming, as they will ask. They meet you outside and do so by appointment. Sometimes they can make you wait – be ready for that.
Day 3 in Mexico City
Wake up for an early food tour with “The Curious Mexican“. She’s a local chef and blogger who knows this city like the back of her hand and knows where to find the best local food – can explain it to you. I got more insight from this tour than I have living in Mexico for the last 9 months! It was perfection. I did the morning “CDMX tour”. I’m not going to share all the locations as it wouldn’t seem fair to give away her tour – but I highly recommend this.
We got to try the best tamales in town, truly local food I’d never heard of, learn so much, and have the most amazing green chorizo of my life. The best part was learning about the chiles of Mexico vs outside Mexico and how to make our own salsa. Now I know which chiles are my favorites and which I don’t like and can make salsa myself at home. It’s so easy but so important to know how the dried chilies and fresh go together. She also took us to trendy places like El Moro and Lalo! So you get to see such a mix on this tour.
Part of the tour takes place in La Flor de Jamaica (named this as there were once a lot of Jamaicans living here) which is a very nifty market to check out!
While you’re downtown, after the tour, there are a few things to do and see. First I recommend the main tourist market, La Ciudadela Mercado, which you’ve likely seen photos of. It’s the largest and most popular. It’s also touristy and over-priced. If you are going elsewhere in Mexico maybe wait to shop directly from the source but if this is your only stop then by all means, go crazy!
After here, we walked to Artesenias San Juan which is a very small (but soon to be remodeled) artisan market. It’s quiet and half-empty but I did find a gorgeous silver ring here. FYI, there are people selling gems and they are fake.
Relax and go for a pre-sunset view of the best view in town at Sears! No, seriously! Go to the main Sears downtown and go up to the 8th floor to Cafe de la Gran Cuidad. Try to get a seat at a barstool that overlooks the square below and is straight across from the Palacio de Bellas Artes. You can also go inside this building to see murals painted by Diego Rivera.
To end the trip, have a chilled out dinner and drinks at Mercado Roma. They have everything from Indian curries to El Moro churros inside. They will have live music. Check the timings as they are only open until 8 PM early in the week then late-night Thursday onward.
Time to take an Uber back to the airport.
If you decided to visit for 5 days in Mexico City, here are a few more things to add on to your Mexico City itinerary.
Mexico City Itinerary (5 days)
The obvious thing to add if you have more time is a day trip to Teotihuacan. This won’t even take a day! It opens at 9 officially, but sometimes earlier – it’s kind of random. Leave Mexico City at 8 am via Uber or local bus (I did Uber so we wouldn’t have to wait around at all and it was $30 each way). We were back by noon! We spent 9-1030 on the pyramids. You can get an affordable guide there if you’re interested in learning more in-depth about them.
There are also hot air balloon rides you can take early on. I have done several over the years and wasn’t interested but if you haven’t this would be an epic place to take one.
Another fun thing to add in is Mercado de la Bola for a meal. I loved wandering around this local market and we tasted everything we could!
If you want to find the famous pink wall you always see on Pinterest, it’s at Hotel Camino Real in Polanco and you can hit this up when you’re out that way shopping!
Make time for more street food. When you see a taco stall on the road that has 10 or more locals eating, grab a taco. For 50 cents, it is the perfect snack!
Roma and Condesa are cool neighborhoods and spending time wandering around them into cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops, is a must. Rent a scooter and ride in the middle tree-lined path between the roads. It’s safe and fun.
Add in the museums you missed at the Bosque de Chapultepec park. You will also want to consider making appointments to see Luis Barragan’s homes or adding in more tourist attractions like the Leon Trotsky house or the Soumaya Museum.
There is also more to do downtown like hanging out in Zocala, the main square, and listening to the mariachi! I hope you enjoy Mexico City as much as I did.
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