Mexico City is suddenly on everyone's travel radar, and with good reason - the city is home to some of the best museums, art, and food in the world. Yet, from the outside looking in, Mexico City can be an overwhelming place to visit.
For starters, it's the largest metropolitan area in the Western hemisphere and it’s home to a TON of people, 8 million in the city and 21 million if you include surrounding areas. The city's shear size means it takes a long time to get anywhere and there’s heavy traffic on the roads at all times. On top of that, the city’s high elevation at 7,350 feet, combined with heavy pollution, makes it hard for even a fit person to breathe easy. And, while the city is trying really hard to combat issues like traffic and pollution, the honest truth is that D.F. is not a city that’s obviously beautiful from the outside. You have to be willing to search for pockets of beauty. Once you find them, you will see why everyone has Mexico City on their travel wish list.
This travel guide has information on where to stay in Mexico City, what to see, and our favorite spots to eat and drink. Use the table of contents to jump around!
table of contents
getting here & around
Direct flights from major cities in the US to Mexico City are pretty cheap right now!
Mexico City is massive and looking at the city map can be deceptive - something that looks like a short walk can actually be an hour. UberX is your friend here. It’s much cheaper than you’d expect because the dollar is so strong. We found that most 30 minute rides were only $2-3 USD.
If you use this guide you’ll be visiting the neighborhoods of Polanco, Condesa, Roma, El Centro and Coyoacán.
Polanco is the Beverly Hills of Mexico City. It’s the most ritzy and the safest neighborhood. Because of this, a lot of the hotels and higher-end restaurants are located here. It’s fun to walk around the streets and people watch. The locals are impeccably dressed here.
The neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma have an artistic, hipster feel to them. By day, you’ll find great spots to eat, shop and hang out. By night, you’ll find speakeasies, cool cocktail lounges and sceney clubs.
Coyoacán is an artists' neighborhood outside the main city center, but only a short Uber ride away. Adorable cobblestoned streets are lined with trees, colonial houses and the occasional cafe or shop. This neighborhood is especially known as the home of famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
El Centro is the city center of Mexico City. Many of the historic sites like Zocalo Plaza (hello, James Bond circa 2015), the National Palace, and Palacio de Bellas Artes are here. It can be really busy and crowded during the day, but it’s worth spending part of a day here to see the sites.
There are so many hotel options to choose from in Mexico City, it can be overwhelming. We've narrowed it down for you.
Campos Elíseos 204, Polanco Chapultepec | Website
It’s not one of the little boutique hotels recommended by all the other travel sites. Instead, it’s a large business hotel centrally located in Polanco. It was recently renovated and has an impressively designed lobby and bar area. Rooms are comfortable, quiet and reasonably priced - making it a great option for last minute trips when the cute boutique hotels are too pricey or unavailable. Rooms from $150/night.
#WildTerrians Tip: There’s a great little coffee shop and bakery in the lobby - perfect place to start your mornings off.
If you're willing to spend a bit more, Mexico City has a handful of boutique & design hotels. We didn’t stay at these, but we’ve listed out the ones that are conveniently located and highly recommended.
Las Alcobas (Polanco) - rooms from $320/night | Website
Condesa DF (Condesa) - rooms from $200/night | Website
Hotel Habita (Polanco) - rooms from $200/night | Website
If you're down for an Airbnb, there are a ton of great options in Polanco.
Biko - dinner
Presidente Masaryk 407, Polanco | 52.55.5282.2064 | Website
Wondering how we feel about this restaurant? Well, if we could eat at Biko every single night for the rest of our lives, we would. Biko is rated the 43rd best restaurant in the world and the 6th best restaurant in Latin America. Dine here once and you will understand why. Biko gets everything right - the service, the food, the ambiance, and the wine are perfection. The menu, influenced by both Basque and Mexican cultures, is divided into modern small plates and more traditional large dishes, both of which are plated like works of art. You have the option of a tasting menu, but we recommend ordering a la carte so you can try more (we were passing our plates back and forth all night despite the funny looks from across the restaurant). Our favorite dishes were the camarones (shrimp), papada con maiz queso (pork jowl with corn cheese), and pato con melon y jamon (duck with melon and ham). We shared a bottle of wine, 7 main dishes, and 2 desserts and the bill came to $170 USD including tip (so, yeah, this is a steal if you ask us). Definitely make reservations in advance.
#WildTerrians Tip: You are going to order dessert here, maybe even 2-3 to share (don't worry, the gym will be there tomorrow). Our favorite was the pay de lemon con merengue (lemon pie with merengue).
Quintonil - dinner
Newton 55, Polanco | 52.55.5280.2680 | Website
Okay, so we may be a little partial to Biko, but Quintonil is definitely worth a visit if you have a second night in Mexico City. Quintonil is currently ranked the 12th best restaurant in the world and the 6th best restaurant in Latin America (we know it's ranked higher than Biko, but rankings aren't everything). The chef really focuses on fresh produce, plants and herbs in his cooking and many of the ingredients are grown in Quintonil’s very own urban garden. The dishes are super creative. Prices are about the same as Biko.
#WildTerrains Tip: Book this baby way in advance - like as soon as you book your flight. It will be impossible to get a table last minute, so don’t even try to walk in without a reservation unless you have someone the likes of Justin Bieber with you.
Mercado Roma - lunch
Queretaro #225, Colonia Roma | 52.55.5564.1396 | Website
For a casual lunch or a quick bite, head to Mercado Roma - a trendy, hipster food market right in the heart of the Roma neighborhood. The market consists of a bunch of food stalls run by Mexico City’s up-and-coming chefs and foodies - selling everything from tacos to churros. The stalls are packed in tight, but there are some wooden communal tables in the back of the market where you can sit down and eat.
#WildTerrains Tip: Try to avoid Mexico’s lunch hour (around 2pm), since it can get really crowded here.
Ojo de Agua
Calle Citlaltépetl 23, Condesa | 52.55.5555.5555 | Website
Ojo de Agua was introduced to us by our friend Michelle Meyer - a major foodie and creator of the only bilingual food blog in Mexico City, Michelle On Bell. Ojo de Agua is an adorable juice bar and healthy eating spot that looks like it was plucked out of L.A. and dropped into the Condesa neighborhood in Mexico City. Baskets of fresh fruit line the walls and you’ll find Mexico City’s trendiest residents sitting at their little tables. It’s the perfect break from way-too-many-tacos. We had the açaí bowl and fresh juice and it was heavenly.
Colima 256, Cuauhtemoc, Roma Norte | 52.55.5511.6767
A fun, new restaurant with an amazing outdoor patio. Perfect for a leisurely lunch or Sunday brunch if the weather is nice. The food and drinks are great, too.
Note to our travel planners: You may see Malamen listed on many other Mexico City travel guides. Sadly, this restaurant is now permanently closed, so cross it off your list!
There are plenty of drinking holes to choose from in Mexico City, from casual sports bars to mega clubs. Per usual, we hit up the best cocktail bars in the city and narrowed down our favorites to these...
Maison Artemisia - cocktails
Tonalá 23, Colonia Roma Norte | 52.55.6303.2471 | Website
The second floor of Maison Artemisia is a dark, swanky speakeasy that makes you feel like you're on the set of Midnight in Paris. It’s got a sexy, moody vibe with velvet chaise lounges and glowing absinthe concoctions. The suspender-clad bartenders (c'mon, what else would they be wearing?) are seriously skilled here. We’re not sure if this happens every night, but there was live blues music when we visited. The bar opens around 7pm when a green light at the street-level entrance illuminates. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Puebla 109 - cocktails
Puebla 109 | 52.55.6389.7333 | Website
An old mansion with a cocktail bar inside? Yes, please! Puebla 109 takes up several floors of the building and contains a restaurant, cocktail bar and a private dining club. Their cocktails are carefully crafted with fancy herbs, fruit, shrubs and smoke. The bartenders get extra points for being super friendly and letting us try a few sample drinks before ordering.
Licoreria Limantour - cocktails
Oscar Wilde #9, Polanco | 52.55.5280.1299 | Website
Another great cocktail bar option. Licoreria Limantour has received a ton of awards for their innovative and lengthy cocktail menu. There are two locations - one in Polanco and one in Roma Norte. The cocktails can be a bit on the sweet side, but it’s super fun to spend a night here taste-testing and people-watching.
Romita Comedor - day drinking
Avenida Alvaro Obregon, Colonia Roma | 52.55.5525.8975 | Website
Romita Comedor is hidden on the top floors of an unassuming mansion. The large dining space is filled with hanging plants and designed around massive large two-story windows that give it a greenhouse feel. An open-air terrace is the perfect spot for afternoon drinks.
Colima 178 A, Colonia Roma | 52.55.5207.2976 | Website
Rosetta Panderia is a really cute (but tiny) neighborhood coffeeshop that serves up great coffee and seriously delicious croissants and cinnamon rolls in the Colonia Roma neighborhood. Grabbing a seat may be tough, but the surrounding neighborhood is great for walking around and exploring with your espresso and treats in hand.
Alma Negra Cafe
Tabasco 152, Colonia Roma| 52.55.4162.5899 | Website
Mexico City is really starting to get into the third wave coffee culture and Alma Negra is hipster coffee at it’s finest. If you’re a coffee snob (ahem.), this is your home - and we mean that in the best way possible.
Centenario 16, Coyoacán | Website
Before you head to Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in the Coyoacán district, make a pit stop at Café Negro for a caffeine jolt. This tiny little cafe makes great espresso drinks and has yummy pastries that will keep you happy if there’s a long queue at the museum.
Fun Fact: Did you know Mexico City is the city with most museums in the world? 150 to be exact. As you can imagine, there's a lot to see in this city!
Museo Nacional de Antropología
Chapultepec Park, Polanco | 52.55.4040.5300 | Website
If you go to one museum while you’re in Mexico City it should be the National Museum of Anthropology. The museum contains a massive collection of archaeological and anthropological artifacts from pre-hispanic Mesoamerican civilizations - Teotihuacan, Toltec, Aztec, Mixtec, Zapotec, Olmec, and Maya. It’s worth the trip just to get a better understanding of the complicated history and significance of this city. Highlights of the exhibits include the Aztec Calendar (Piedra del Sol), a copy of Aztec ruler Moctezuma’s quetzal feathered headdress, and many ceremonial and sacrificial items. Closed on Mondays.
The National Palace
Plaza de la Constitución, Centro Historico | 52.55.3688.1255 | Website
The National Palace was built on top of the home of the last Aztec ruler Moctezuma II, and was the home of Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes. Now, it is an important governmental building that houses the Mexican Treasury and National Archives. The building uses much of the same stone from Moctezuma II’s home, making it an important representation of the Mexican people as a blend of both Spanish and Aztec decent. You can tour the grounds, but you’re really here to see one thing - Diego Rivera's massive murals depicting the entire history of the Mexican people from 1521 to 1930. Closed on Mondays.
Museo Frida Kahlo
Londres 247, Coyoacán | 52.55.5554.5999 | Website
La Casa Azul - or The Blue House - is located in the adorable neighborhood of Coyoacán. It's the house that artist Frida Kahlo grew up in and later lived out her final years. After her death the house was turned into a museum under the instruction of her estranged husband Diego Rivera. The rooms are exactly how she left them - filled with artistic quirks and many of her most famous works. Even a selection of her clothes are on exhibit.
#WildTerrains Tip: Buy your tickets online and skip the queue (it was REALLY long when we visited!)
Castillo de Chapultepec
Bosque de Chapultepec | 52.55.4040.5228 | Website
Smack in the middle of Mexico City is a large 18th-century castle on a hill overlooking the entire city. The castle was home to Mexican Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota. You can tour the entire castle and see how they lived. Celebrity fact: it was a significant film location for Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet with Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.
#WildTerrains Tip: Wear comfy shoes because you’re going to hike up a very steep hill to get here.
Plaza Carso, Blvd. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 303, Colonia Ampliación Granada | 52.55.1103.9800 | Website
Soumaya is a private art museum and an architectural masterpiece designed by Mexican architect Fernando Romero. The collection, which belongs to billionaire Carlos Slim (the Warren Buffet of Mexico), contains more than 66,000 pieces and includes important works by Rodin, Dali, Picasso, Da Vinci, Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet and more. Best part: it’s free.
Wild Terrains DIY Taco Crawl
Yep - you read that right. We spent an entire day visiting 10 of Mexico City’s favorite taco establishments. We kept an elaborate scorecard and picked our favorites to create an ultimate taco crawl for you: Our Mexico City Taco Crawl.
Take a guided tour or rent a driver for a day to visit Teotihuacan (about an hour and a half outside the city, depending on traffic). Teotihuacan is most famously known for it’s two large pyramids - the sun and the moon - and for being the largest Pre-Columbian city in the Americas. Many archaeological findings from the site are at the Museo de Antropología, though the on-site museum provides a solid introduction to the area. The site is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
#WildTerrains Tip: Slather on some sunscreen and bring a hat - there’s no break from the sun while you explore the ruins.
Mexico City | Website
Colorindio is one of the top places to purchase high quality, handcrafted textiles in Mexico. They sells one-of-a-kind rugs, pillows & linens and we bought as much as we could shove in our suitcases to take home. We were lucky enough to stumble upon their pop up at an outdoor market in Mexico City and meet the owners - Paulina & Libia. Paulina and Libia are huge advocates for the weaving communities in Chiapas and Oaxaca, where all of Colorindio's products are sourced. The stitching techniques used by these artisans are so complex only a few communities in the world know how to do them. Colorindio doesn't have an ecommerce site but if you visit Mexico City you should definitely check them out and see if you can catch them at a local market or showroom!
Mercado de Artesanías de la Ciudadela
Avenida Balderas y Plaza de la Ciudadela, El Centro | 52.55.5510.4807 | Website
Looking for artisan goods to take home with you or give as gifts to family and friends? Then, La Ciudadela is a must visit. It’s a permanent market located in El Centro that’s filled with local textiles, artwork, and trinkets. You can spend hours wandering through the different stalls finding gems to take home with you. The market is open 7 days a week during daylight hours. Most vendors only accept cash so come with bills.
Medellín 67, Colonia Roma | 52.55.5207.8682
Rome Quince is a concept store and cafe located in an old restored mansion in Colonia Roma. They have gorgeous home decor items - all of which have very (read: very) hefty price tags, but it’s fun to look around! If you can afford to splurge here, great. If not, it’s worth a visit just to be inspired.
Lope de Vega 330, Polanco | 52.55.5203.0938 | Website
A stylish home decor shop located in Polanco. Artisan products are sourced from all over Mexico and carefully curated for contemporary design enthusiasts. You’ll want to throw out everything you own and completely redecorate in their color palette. Worth every penny.