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Updated September 2023

Setting out for what would be 2016’s top city to visit (according to the Times), I was determined. My father said it was one of his favorite cities, others talked of its splendor in cuisine and arts, and one friend even said they could have stayed a few weeks there. What would this all mean for me?

A six-day trip in Mexico City, filled with surprises and wonder, and recognizing that our perceptions are often rooted in myths.

Mexico City was vibrant. Every turn seemed to bring something new, whether a local artisan in the Condesa showcasing their forward-thinking style in design, or perhaps a small coffee shop creating a space where locals poured in and out of. The city is metropolitan, and to the likes of NYC, where somehow 22 million people, come in and out, weaving through the city in different neighborhoods and boroughs – it’s all beautiful. Tall skyscrapers shaped like legos stacked tower over the Centro, whereas in the Roma the streets are lined by colonial historic buildings painted with lush greenery. Rooted in old tradition and marked by innovative design, Mexico City is truly the city that has it all.

Short on Time? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best Hotels in Mexico City:

  1. Casa Polanco, for the best luxury hotel
  2. La Valise, for the best design hotel
  3. Hotel Carlota, for the best budget-friendly hotel

If you’re planning to visit Mexico City, don’t miss my city guide for design lovers, and my coverage of the best hotels, best restaurants and things to do in Mexico City!

Lastly, read my Mexico City Travel Guide for Design Lovers for a more in-depth guide to the city!

A Quick Guide to Mexico City


What to Know Before You Go

  • Credit cards are widely taken, but pesos on hand is important for street food and local markets.
  • Uber is very convenient to use and we used it a couple of times a day. Should you need a taxi, have your hotel/restaurant arrange it.
  • Best time of year: Year-round.
  • Lunch is at 3 pm, not noon.
  • Not a city to wear shorts, it’s quite professional/metropolitan, similar to NYC.
  • Three to four nights is a good amount of time to experience the city.

Where to Stay in Mexico City

Las Alcobas

The famous winding stairs at Las Alcobas

Rated one of the top hotels in Mexico City and located in the swanky Polanco district, Las Alcobas has perfected service. They understand how to help the international traveler who is looking for an in-depth experience in Mexico City. We stayed here for three nights and adored the design of the rooms and space, finding it to be the best place to call home. Book the best rates here.

Casa Polanco (Polanco)

Casa Polanco
Image via Booking.com

Set inside a renovated Spanish Revival-style mansion, Casa Polanco‘s goal is to make guests feel as though they’re staying at a friend’s home. Rooms are bright, art nouveau, and neutral, providing the perfect sanctuary from the city’s hustle and bustle. When you do venture out, you’ll find yourself in the posh Polanco neighborhood, with tons to see and do just steps away. Book the best rates here.


Where to Eat in Mexico City

I’ve included my short list of go-to spots below. For my complete list of where to eat in Mexico City, read my guide to the best restaurants in Mexico City!

Quintonil

A perennial member of the World’s 50 Best List, the menu highlights fresh ingredients with an artistic presentation.

Mercado Roma

Similar to the likes of Chelsea Market, this three-floor space with a rooftop beer garden, and a plethora of dining options is not to be missed.

Pujol

Another perennial member of the World’s 50 Best List, with just 13 tables and a coursed-out dinner featuring traditional Mexican cuisine.

Anatol

An intimate dining space inside Las Alcobas, this restaurant features cuisine from Mexico to classic American dishes — be sure to try the burrata and salmon gravlax.

Rosetta

Classic Italian and Mexican-influenced dishes, in a historic building.

Merotoro

A Baja-style spot with surf and turf elevated dining.

El Huequito

This spot can’t be missed for Al Pastor tacos.

Churreria El Moro

Churros and Mexican hot chocolate all around — we went here almost every day.

Dulce Patria

Colorful and playful dishes over a coursed meal, featuring fine ingredients.

Barra Alipús

Known for their mezcal drinks.


Where to Get Caffeinated in Mexico City

Hotel Carlota Pool Patio

A hip hotel that features a lobby worth hanging out, this spot is the place to be in the late afternoon.

Chiquitito Cafe

Located in the Condesa, this small coffee shop is favored by locals for a great cup of coffee.

Panaderia Rosetta

Bakeshop and coffeeshop featuring all that you could want in a bakery, with incredible pastries.

Cafe Toscano

Located right next to Plaza Rio de Janeiro, this cafe is a classic.

Otrocafé

With a selection of traditional cuisine, Otro also does tasteful cappuccinos and lattes.

La Balance

A French-style bakery and cafe.


What to See & Do in Mexico City

For more inspiration, be sure to check out 9 things to do in Mexico City!

Biblioteca Vasconcelos

A modern wonder and an absolute gem of a library to walk through at least once.

Chapultepec Castle

Situated at the top of the hill, this castle hosts the National Museum of History.

Parque Mexico and Parque Espana

Two parks in the city that are leafy and host a wide variety of local music, great benches for hanging out, and strolls.

Mexico City Cathedral & Zocalo

Area for history

San Ildefonso

Both a college and museum, this place is noted for its incredible murals.

Xochimilco

Visit the famous water canals.

Walk Avenida Amsterdam

Located in Condesa, this avenue is great for interior design shops

Museums

Frida Kahlo’s Casa for a tour of her life and works, Museo Tamayo for contemporary art, Museo Soumaya for a collection of works from Rodin to Chinese artifacts, and Casa Luis for one of Luis Barragan’s famous works.

Neighborhoods

Be sure to check out the Condesa, Roma, Polanco.

For a deeper dive into the city, my Mexico City Travel Guide for Design Lovers!

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:


Xx,
Jessica

5 Comments

  1. If you want to try something very typical, go to Salon Corona in Calle De Bolivar, Centro Historico. Only locals go there to enjoy tacos al pastor and beer. Very recomended!

  2. Thanks for this, am headed to Mexico City in a couple of days and getting very excited!

  3. Great photos and suggestions! Mexico City has been one of my fave cities that I’ve visited. I’m surprised you left out the Anthropology museum as it is an amazing museum and one of the best in the world.Another activity suggestion – on Sundays, they close the zocalo and main streets off to cars and have a bike day! Rent bikes and ride along Mexico City’s main streets for an amazing experience.

    • Jessica Wright Reply

      Thank you for the extra tips! I didn’t make it to the Anthropology Museum and dying to go back for a round two!

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