This Mexico City itinerary is designed to give you an introduction to the culture and charm of the megalopolis while showing off some of the main highlights. There is SO MUCH to see and do that 4 days in Mexico City will really only let you scratch the surface. But hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere!
I’ve visited Mexico City quite a few times and this itinerary is an amalgamation of many different experiences I’ve had there. I’ve included a lot of the main attractions as well as some lesser-known spots.
I intend to give you a broad overview of the city to help you get a feel for it and inspire you to come back and see more! I’ve divided it by neighborhood to help you save on transportation time (and expenses).
Instead of providing detailed instructions on how to execute each of the activities within the itinerary, I’ve linked out to resources that will help you understand how to get there, book tickets, etc.
- 1 Mexico City Travel Tips: The Basics
- 2 Your 4-Day Mexico City Itinerary
- 2.1 Day 1: Condesa & Chapultepec Park
- 2.2 Day 2 – Coyoacán & Xochimilco
- 2.3 Day 3 – Centro Histórico
- 2.4 Day 4 – Teotihuácan
- 3 Transportation in Mexico City
- 4 Where to Stay in Mexico City
Mexico City Travel Tips: The Basics
Is Mexico City safe?
Mexico City is generally quite safe. Like any large city, some areas are rougher than others, but you are unlikely to visit those spots during your trip.
I have never had any safety issues while visiting Mexico City, but I do know multiple people who have had items stolen.
It’s important to take precautions against pickpockets, especially if you’ll be visiting packed spaces (such as free concerts in the Zocalo), or using crowded public transportation.
I know that Mexico is routinely scrutinized when it comes to safety, but, for what it’s worth, I feel completely comfortable traveling here, even as a solo female.
If you’re nervous about traveling alone to Mexico make sure you check out this article full of safety tips for female travelers. It’s packed with actionable tips to help you stay out of trouble on your trip.
When is the best time to visit Mexico City?
The best time to visit CDMX is whenever you can! As such a large city, there’s no shortage of fun activities to partake in all year round.
In terms of weather, the climate is quite mild all year round. It gets cold in the winter, but there’s still plenty of sun. Summer typically hot but it is also the rainy season, which means there are heavy rain showers, usually in the afternoon. The rain can be a bit inconvenient, but it won’t ruin your trip.
What to pack for Mexico City?
When it comes to clothing, your standard street attire is perfect for Mexico City. I’ve written a detailed guide on exactly what to wear in CDMX, but generally speaking, your typical day to day wardrobe is probably fine. Pack warm layers for the winter (it gets cold), and light layers for the summer (it’s hot during the day and cool at night).
Make sure to pack comfortable shoes (or sandals) because you’re bound to do a lot of walking. I go everywhere in my Vans slip-ons, but a pair of comfortable runners would be a good alternative.
Aside from clothing, here are a few items that might make your trip a little easier:
- A LifeStraw water bottle – Tap water in Mexico isn’t safe to drink… unless you filter it with a LifeStraw! This handy bottle will save you from having to buy single-use bottles or jugs of water during your trip.
- Antidiarrheal Medication – Having a few Pepto-Bismol (or whatever your favorite brand is) tablets on hand is a good idea. You wouldn’t be the first foreign visitor who fell ill for a spell on a visit to Mexico. It’s not inevitable, but it sucks to be caught off-guard. Having some emergency meds can be a lifesaver. Note: you can buy these at any corner store in Mexico, but again, it’s nice to have them before you need them.
- Kleenex – Public restrooms in Mexico aren’t always well-stocked. It’s wise to have a packet of Kleenex on you just in case.
- Portable Battery Pack – Snapping photos, updating your Insta story, and using Google Translate will drain your phone battery in no-time. Having an extra stash of juice is not only handy but also safer as you’ll have an Uber or an emergency call at the touch of your fingers.
Important things to know about Mexico City
- Museums in Mexico City are closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly.
- The currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso. While US dollars are commonly accepted in tourist hotspots like Cancun, they are unlikely to be accepted in Mexico City (apart from at the airport).
- If you choose to visit the Frida Kahlo house, it’s highly recommended that you purchase tickets in advance, as the lines can be super long. Reservations cost a few pesos more, but it beats spending hours in line!
And now for the most important Mexico City travel tip…
What to eat in Mexico City
If you’re anything like me, eating is probably at least 60% of the reason you bother to go anywhere. Just kidding! …or am I?
The point is, there is a LOT of great food in Mexico City. Whether it’s your first visit to Mexico or your 50th, I strongly encourage you to sample an array of Mexican plates, snacks, and beverages.
If you do not return home from Mexico in a food coma your trip was unsuccessful.
Here’s a brief foodie bucket list for your Mexico City trip:
- Tacos al pastor
- Barbacoa tacos
- All of the salsas
Your 4-Day Mexico City Itinerary
Day 1: Condesa & Chapultepec Park
Ideally, you would spend your first day in CDMX lounging around as you try to adjust to the altitude and the lower air quality. But, since you only have 4 days in Mexico City you have to hit the ground running… or, briskly walking at the very least.
It’s not uncommon for visitors to feel tired and headachey, or even nauseated when they first arrive. If you happen to experience any of these symptoms, just take it easy while your body acclimates.
Today’s activities are meant to help you get your bearings without over-exerting so you can enjoy the rest of your trip without feeling under the weather!
If you’ve taken my advice (and the advice of just about anyone else who has visited CDMX recently), you’ll be staying in the Condesa neighborhood. Today is all about getting to know your home base.
Brunch at Maque
Maque is a bakery/cafe located just across from Parque Mexico in the Condesa neighborhood. It is a great spot to savor a relaxing brunch with a background so photogenic that your friends back home will regret not making the trip with you.
If you’re in the mood for a light meal opt for a tasty pan dulce to pair with a latte. However, if you’d rather fuel up for the day, the traditional breakfasts at Maque are delicious as well. I recommend one of the egg dishes. But beware, they’re quite large so bring your appetite!
Morning: Wander Parque Mexico & Parque España
Parque Mexico and Parque España are two beautiful, adjoining city parks in Condesa. Here you will enjoy a leisurely, shaded stroll while people-watching or dog watching.
As someone who has an innate need to pet every dog, I find these parks positively overwhelming… In a good way!
You are sure to see quite an array of designer dogs in this park. You may even spot the famous Xoloinzcuitli, a rare breed of hairless dog that is native to Mexico!
The parks are bordered by a blend of stunning mansions, boutique stores, and an assortment of cafes and bars. You’ll definitely want to snap photos of some of them as these are some of the city’s most alluring casas.
Afternoon: Bosque de Chapultepec & Chapultepec Castle
Occupying nearly 1700 acres in the heart of Mexico City, Chapultepec Park is home to multiple museums, a zoo, a butterfly sanctuary, and many other points of interest. You could easily spend a day (or more!) taking in all that there is to see and do in Chapultepec park.
Castillo de Chapultepec
As a fan of historical buildings and home tours, I have to recommend visiting the Castillo de Chapultepec. This castle and its various inhabitants have had a tumultuous story throughout Mexican history; it has been the home of the Viceroy of Spanish, a military school, the President’s residence (say that 5 times fast!), and is now home to the National History Museum of Mexico.
The National History Museum contains all kinds of interesting artifacts from Mexico’s history, including a series of flags from the Mexican Revolution, a collection of antique jewelry, and some ornate carriages from the 1800s. You’ll also find some thought-provoking murals by famous Mexican muralists like Diego Rivera, Siquieros, and Orozco among other impressive pieces of art.
You can also tour some of the castle’s rooms, which are staged with period furniture and art pieces. My favorite part of the castle is the roof garden outside the former living quarters of President Porfirio Diaz. From there (and from the expansive patio on the ground floor) you can enjoy some stunning views over CDMX and the rest of the Bosque de Chapultepec.
Before you leave, don’t forget to visit the garden near the main gate. This manicured green space is both peaceful and photogenic.
After visiting the castle, perhaps you’d like to check out some of the park’s other attractions.
Visit one of Chapultepec’s lakes and rent a little boat to cruise around on, sample a tasty Mexican snack from a food cart, or simply wander the meandering, tree-lined paths. If you’re looking for a lot more culture, check out the Anthropology Museum!
Evening: Dinner in Condesa
After a day of exploring the parks, it’s time for a delicious dinner. Condesa’s streets are lined with countless cafes, bars, and restaurants offering all kinds of food. You’ll find everything from wings and burgers to ramen, sushi, Mexican, vegan, and beyond!
If you’re in the mood for a simple but delicious meal of typical Mexican fare, hit up Antojitos Lety for flautas or a plate of enchiladas. Or, if you’d like a slightly more upscale meal, Sarina serves Mexican classics with a modern flare. After eating, grab an ice cream at Nevería Roxy, or head to one of the many bars to sip tequila or mezcal!
Day 2 – Coyoacán & Xochimilco
Today is all about two popular destinations in the south of Mexico City: Coyoacán and Xochimilco. In the UNESCO World Heritage site, Xochimilco, on a lively boat adventure you’ll discover the legacy of the prehispanic canal systems that once served the city of Tenochtitlán. Then, you’ll move on to Coyoacán and experience the charm of a traditional village. Finally, you’ll visit the famous Casa Azul, where Frida Kahlo lived and worked.
But none of this will be possible without a filling breakfast…
Breakfast: Sample traditional fare at Jugos Alex
Jugos Alex has “no-frills” in comparison with the numerous trendy eateries in Condesa, but I love it all the same. This is the perfect place to cross a few items off of your CDMX food bucket list. You’ll find tasty, affordable fare accompanied by exceptional service.
My go-to order is the huevos a la mexicana, which are scrambled eggs with tomatoes, onions, and chilis. I also recommend trying the café de olla, coffee infused with cinnamon and sweetened with unrefined cane sugar.
Another reason to love Jugos Alex: I recently visited with a friend who is a vegetarian and the staff members were more than happy to adjust menu items to accommodate her.
Morning: A Trajinera Cruise in Xochimilco
After breakfast, grab an Uber and head south from Condesa to Xochimilco. It will take about an hour to get to Xochimilco from Condesa (depending on traffic) and will likely cost about $200 MXN.
If you’d rather take the metro (for 5 pesos) you’ll need to get off at the Tasqueña station and then take a taxi/Uber to the embarcadero (where the boats leave from) called Nuevo Nativitas in Xochimilco.
Xochimilco is a borough within Mexico City which is known for its extensive network of canals. Historically, the canals were used to transport goods, between Xochimilco and Tenochtitlán (which we now know as CDMX’s historic center).
Nowadays, the canals are filled with colorful trajineras, larger, wooden boats that shuttle passengers on tours throughout the waterways. In the past, the brightly painted signs on the top of each boat (usually bearing a woman’s name), were decorated with freshly cut flowers, but these days, paint is more common.
While many residents of Xochilmilco do still use the canals to commute between work or school, they are most popular as a Sunday respite. Families, friends, and tourists alike will venture out to this borough, rent a trajinera for a few hours and throw a party, or simply kick back and relax, while drifting along the water.
As you make your way through the canals, vendors selling souvenirs, flower crowns, and a range of foods and beverages will approach your boat. Though, if you’re looking to drink, it’s more cost-effective to pick up a 6-pack before climbing aboard. You’ll also have the opportunity to hire a mariachi band to serenade you along the way!
Sunday is the busiest and most lively day to visit Xochimilco, as many local families are sure to be on the water. That doesn’t mean you should avoid this attraction on Sundays though; that’s the best time to go!
Solo Travel Tip: If you’re visiting Mexico City on your own, try to find a few other people to share the cost of the trajinera with you. Not only will it be easier on your budget, but this experience is more fun when you have companions to share it with! Ask fellow travelers at your hostel or hit up some Facebook groups for Mexico travelers (like mine!) to see if anyone is interested in joining you.
When I last visited Xochimilco I paid $700 MXN for a 2-hour excursion. I’m not sure if there’s a standard price for the experience, but I’d aim for somewhere in the ballpark of $700 – $900 MXN for 2 hours. You should not have to pay per person.
After your trajinera experience, it’s time to call another Uber and head to Coyoacán. The Jardín Centenario is a good place to begin your exploration, and it’s just a few minutes walk from the Frida Kahlo house.
If you didn’t fill up on snacks during your Xochimilco cruise, plan to grab lunch in Coyoacán. There are plenty of cafés surrounding Jardín Centenario and Plaza Hidalgo, which is right next to it. Among them, you’ll find La Casa de Los Tacos, which comes highly recommended.
Cafe El Jarocho is a good option if you’re more in the mood for a coffee. The cafe de olla and the hot chocolate are both excellent.
Afternoon: Casa Azul & Explore Coyoacán
Many visitors trek down to Coyoacán to visit Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, but this charming little city is well worth a visit, even if you couldn’t care less about the Frida museum.
I’ve plotted some key stops on this map, but I encourage you to just wander around. You never know what you’ll find! Follow your heart or your nose and see where it takes you!
Begin your visit to Coyoacán at the Jardín Centenario and work outwards from there. The cobblestone streets of this area are lined with boutique shops, hole-in-the-wall eateries, and bookstores.
Closer to the square, stop by the Mercado Artesanal Mexicano. This is the perfect place to pick up souvenirs. You’ll find everything from embroidered dresses and blouses to keychains and jewelry, pottery, and so, so much more!
You may also wish to pop into the food market, called Mercado Coyoacán. It’s a great place to stop for a cheap bite to eat and to experience a traditional Mexican market. If you’re too full for a snack right now, pick up some Mexican candies or a palanqueta (a peanut bar) for later!
As you work your way into the residential part of the city you’ll encounter plenty of dreamy homes and picturesque buildings to admire.
The Casa Azul
If you DO wish to visit the Frida Museum, make reservations ahead of time as the line to enter is usually very long (read, hours). If you’re intrigued by Frida’s life and art the Casa Azul is a good place to learn more about her story. And, if you’re like me and love creeping on other peoples’ houses you’re sure to enjoy the experience.
My favorite part of the museum is an exhibit dedicated to Frida’s clothing. It highlights some of her iconic looks and explains how both her Mexican heritage and her physical ailments helped shape her signature style.
Dinner: Hacienda de Cortes
Once you’ve worked up an appetite after an afternoon of exploring, grab dinner at the Hacienda de Cortes before heading home. This hacienda was once home to a series of Mexican artists and actors before being converted into a cultural center and restaurant in 1993.
The colonial architecture and peaceful garden make for a charming backdrop as you enjoy a menu of traditional Mexican specialties.
Day 3 – Centro Histórico
Today you’re going to learn all about Mexico’s history. Naturally, Mexico City’s Centro Histórico is the ideal place to do that.
If you’re only casually interested in the history of Mexico and don’t have the patience for a lot of museums, hopefully, you’ll still appreciate the sight-seeing aspect of today’s itinerary.
Today’s activities may take you anywhere from a few hours to an entire day depending on whether or not you decide to visit any of the museums along the way.
Further Reading: What to See and Do in Mexico City’s Centro Histórico
If you’d like to minimize the amount of walking you do today I recommend buying tickets for the TuriBus. This hop-on/hop-off tour bus offers a brief narration of sites between Condesa and Centro Histórico and stops at key points of interest. If you’re interested in visiting many of the museums, you can hop off and do so and then grab the next bus when you’re done. However, if you’re not afraid of logging a few miles you can accomplish most of this route on foot. Up to you!
I did do the TuriBus tour on my last visit to Mexico City and I did enjoy it but you’ll need to start early to make the most of the experience. Click here to learn more about it!
I’ve plotted out the itinerary items I’m about to mention on this Google map to help you orient yourself:
Breakfast: La Casa de los Azulejos, aka Sanborns
You’ve probably seen images of this stunning blue and white tile building plastered all over Instagram. What you may not realize is that it’s actually a department store called Sanborns! These stores/restaurants can be found throughout Mexico and they’re a great place to get a reliable meal, especially for breakfast. This happens to be the original Sanborns location.
I’m sure many people are so enamored with the exterior that they fail to even realize there are steaming plates of delicious chilaquiles awaiting them inside. Don’t let that be you. After snapping a few photos, head inside to cross a few items off your Mexican food bucket list!
After breakfast, head to the Zócalo, which happens to be the largest in all of Latin America. This area was where the Mexica city of Tenochtitlán once stood… until Cortés arrived, conquered it and built churches all over the place (literally). Obviously, I’m simplifying a little but you get the point.
Bordering the Zócalo you’ll find some major points of interest that are worth a visit, including…
Museo de Templo Mayor
Even if you’re aware of the history, seeing the ruins of Templo Mayor on the edge of the Zócalo and noticing how the modern city was built literally right on top of them, really helps you realize the drastic impact of colonialism.
If you’re curious to learn about what the Valley of Mexico was like before Spanish colonialism be sure to visit the Templo Mayor museum. Inside you will tour the ruins and admire an assortment of prehispanic artifacts while learning about the history of the region.
This enormous building is the seat of Mexico’s federal government. The Palacio Nacional is open to the public and admission is free. You will have to leave your ID at the entrance and pick it up again when you exit. If you’re not comfortable leaving your passport, your driver’s license will suffice.
Inside there is a beautiful courtyard garden, a gift shop, and a museum with rotating exhibits related to Mexican history and culture. However, the main attraction within the palace is undoubtedly Diego Rivera’s famous “History of Mexico” mural.
This work of art occupies the stairwell leading to the second level and continues in segments along the walls of the second level balcony. The mural was commissioned by the government following the Mexican Revolution and painted between 1929 and 1935.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
Constructed over 30 years between 1904 and 1934, this impressive, impossible-to-miss building combines Art Nouveau and Neoclassical styles on the exterior and Art Deco details on the interior.
The Palacio de Bellas Artes houses a theatre as well as an art museum and the National Museum of Architecture. It’s well worth going inside the building just to admire the architecture and decor. The theatre features an incredible stained glass curtain designed by Tiffany!
You’ll also find murals by the likes of Rivera, Siquieros, and Orozco, which are also worth a look.
Next to the Palacio de Bellas Artes you’ll find the Parque Alameda, also known as Alameda Central (which translates to “central park”). On weekends there is an outdoor market here where you can purchase all kinds of souvenirs and snacks. On weekdays, it’s a peaceful place for a stroll through the trees.
Paseo de la Reforma
This European style boulevard stretches from Bellas Artes all the way to the Bosque de Chapultepec. It is lined with statues and monuments to important moments in Mexican history, including the famous Ángel de la Independencia. You’ll also encounter a series of luxurious hotels and restaurants. During special events, such as Independence Day or Dia de Muertos this avenue hosts parades!
If you’re up for it, the walk along Reforma is quite pleasant. The sidewalks are wide and there is plenty to see and do. The walk from Bellas Artes to the Angel is about 3.7 km. If you’re not keen on the walk I’d recommend cruising the route in an uber or on a TuriBus just so you can check out some of the monuments along the way.
Dinner – La Casa de Toño
Nothing will help you recuperate from a long day of walking and browsing museums quite like a bowl of Pozole. Cross this hominy-based soup off your foodie bucket list at La Casa de Toño in the Zona Rosa neighborhood.
La Casa de Toño is a popular spot among locals. Literally everyone I spoke to in Mexico City recommended it. It’s quick, it’s budget-friendly, and the pozole is fantastic. They even have a vegetarian-friendly version. The menu offers plenty of other classic Mexican specialties, including flautas, enchiladas, and more, but everyone recommends the pozole above all.
Evening: Catch a performance of the Ballet Folklórico at Bellas Artes
If you’re not completely worn out from a busy day in Centro, perhaps you’d like to see a performance of the Ballet Folklórico! The Ballet Folklórico highlights the traditional styles of music, dance, and costumes from different regions of Mexico. Plus, you get to enjoy it from a seat in the stunning theatre within the Palacio de Bellas Artes!
I haven’t had a chance to see this performance yet (unless YouTube clips count) but it’s on my bucket list. The show gets wonderful reviews on Trip Advisor and the videos I’ve seen on YouTube just leave me wanting more. If you have the energy be sure to check it out!
Day 4 – Teotihuácan
On the final day of your Mexico City itinerary, I recommend visiting the Teotihuacán ruins to learn about Aztec history and scale the Pyramid of the Sun. Honestly, I think this site is worth a visit even if you’re not interested in the historical significance of this ancient empire; the structures are incredible!
It’s easy to get to Teotihuacán using public transportation, but many visitors opt for a tour which typically has transportation and a tour guide included. You can hire a guide on-site as well. It’s worth hiring a guide as there are very few interpretive signs to help you understand what you are looking at.
On my last visit to Teotihuacan, I went with a tour group and I really enjoyed it. I learned so much more about the history of the site than I could have otherwise. Plus, it was nice not to worry about coordinating transportation. Our guide was knowledgeable about the site and bilingual, which was convenient since my archaeology vocabulary in Spanish is seriously lacking. After touring the ruins we stopped for lunch (and souvenir shopping) at a nearby restaurant (the food was great!), before heading back to the city. If you’re curious about a tour, this is the one I took and can recommend.
You can visit Teotihuacán in half a day, especially if you go as part of a tour. However, I always seem to be totally wiped out after visiting. It tends to be very hot and there is very little shade at the site. Combine that with scampering up and down towering pyramids and you’re bound to be exhausted at the end of the trip. I’d allow a full day to visit and recover from visiting Teotihuacán.
Dinner – El Hidalguense in Roma
This is your last dinner in Mexico City so you should go all out. Make the journey over to Roma Sur and hit up El Hidalguense. This family-run restaurant is known for serving some of the best barbacoa tacos to be found in all of Mexico City.
The restaurant was recently featured in the Netflix series, Taco Chronicles, (go watch it, now) but it’s been a popular spot among locals for a while. Because there can be too much of a good thing, El Hidalguense is only open Friday through Sunday. You may encounter lines, but it will be worth the wait. And don’t forget to bring cash because they don’t accept credit cards.
Transportation in Mexico City
Mexico City has a plethora of transportation options for you to choose from. Lauren of Northern Lauren has a fantastic post that breaks down each of them. She includes info on where each transportation method operates, when you might use each of them, and how much they each cost.
I usually just use Uber. I like that you can track exactly where you’re going and who your driver is. It’s also nice that you don’t need to have cash on hand. This is especially helpful if your Spanish speaking ability is limited. You won’t have to worry about being short-changed.
If you’re looking to save money, the metro and the bus systems in CDMX are a good way to go, at less than 10 pesos per ride. Just be sure to mind your belongings as the metro is a notorious hotspot for pickpockets.
Where to Stay in Mexico City
In my opinion, the best areas to stay in Mexico City are either Roma or Condesa. Not only are these neighborhoods centrally located, but they are also walkable, safe, and home to plenty of eateries, nightlife, and green spaces.
If you’re curious to know your other options, check out this great guide to Mexico City’s neighborhoods. It will surely help you figure out the lay of the land.
You will find tons of adorable, budget-friendly Airbnb options in Condesa.
Josue was a great host, the apartment was clean, well-appointed, and enormous. I appreciated the plethora of books, art, and plants that adorn the space as they make it feel homey. The apartment is conveniently located in the heart of Condesa, within walking distance of plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, a supermarket, and more!
I stayed here on my most recent visit to Mexico City (August 2019) and had a wonderful time. The location of this rental is excellent. It’s within a block of a supermarket, and tons of cafes, bars, and restaurants. The street is quiet and the apartment is well-appointed with all the essentials necessary for a great stay! The only downside was that the internet signal was a little weak.
This looks like a very promising option, though I haven’t stayed here personally. Reviewers state that the apartment is located within easy walking distance of plenty of eateries, including the famous churro spot, El Morro. The apartment looks bright and comfortable, plus it comes equipped with a washer and dryer. If you’ve been on the road for a while, you’ll be glad to have the option to wash your clothes!
If it’s your first time using Airbnb you can use my link to save up to $52 off your first trip!
Not a fan of Airbnb? No worries! You can search Booking.com to find accommodation that fits your specifications and budget.