3 Days in Mexico City: What to Do, See, and Eat


Planning to spend 3 days in Mexico City and wondering what to do, see, and eat? Well, keep reading!



Mexico City is definitely a city that surprised me. If I were to be completely honest, I hadn't even considered going to Mexico City until recently - my perception of the city, like many others, was that it was dirty, crowded, and dangerous. But when I kept hearing that it was the new "hip" place to go, I was intrigued - and when I came across a cheap flight, I pulled the trigger.


3 days in Mexico City Roma

When I got there, I was smitten. Sure it is crowded and busy (it is a HUGE city with over 20 million people calling it home), but it is beautiful, with its colonial architecture and abundance of green spaces throughout the city. Add to that a bustling culinary scene, and its focus on arts and culture (Mexico City has the most museums in the world, with over 150), and during my 3 days in Mexico City, I fell in love. Mexico City is giant and there is so much to do that it can be hard to narrow down what spots to hit up. But I've done all the work for you - here are my top picks for what to do, see, and eat in 3 days in Mexico City:


3 days in mexico city coilorful picadors



BEFORE YOU GO: 
When to go to Mexico City: Temperatures in Mexico City are generally mild year-round, with temperatures rarely falling above 80 degrees or below 55 degrees. This means that any time of the year is a good time to go to Mexico City. Keep in mind that June through September is the rainy season, and you should expect some rainfall at least once a day, although this usually only lasts an hour or two.

I've been to Mexico City in early September, and found the temperatures to be warm, but not hot. It sometimes got slightly humid since it was during rainy season, and it would rain every evening around 5pm or so, like clockwork. The rain was not too bad, and usually just light rain, however, it did pour on my last night there, so carrying a lightweight umbrella (such as this one) may be a good idea. I've also been to Mexico City in November and found the temperatures to be relatively comfortable.

Altitude in Mexico City: What many people don't realize is that Mexico City stands at over 7000 feet altitude - that's almost 2000 feet higher than Denver. Those who are sensitive to high altitude should carry some drugs (most people should be fine). I definitely noticed that I was huffing and puffing more than usual when climbing stairs and such.

Getting to Mexico City: Mexico City is served by Benito Juarez International Airport, which sits on the eastern part of the city. It is served by many international airlines with flights to and from most major cities in the world. You can take the Mexico City metro or an authorized taxi into city center, but I found that Uber is an easy and fairly inexpensive way to get into the city.


3 days in mexico city mercado roma

Currency, money, and tipping: Mexico City uses the Mexican Peso. I suggest keeping some cash on hand for smaller purchases (i.e. street vendors). However, many restaurants and shops also take credit cards. Get some cash at a bank ATM for the most favorable rates - I did before leaving the airport. It is customary to add 10-20% for tips in restaurants (although some establishments include a "propina," or service charge, so check your bill), and 20-40 pesos ($1-2 USD) per round of drinks.

Safety in Mexico City: Mexico City is often misperceived as a dangerous city, however, many people are surprised at how safe it is in reality. While the US State Department issued a travel warning last year for many areas of Mexico, the Mexico City area was excluded. And, if you look at the list of cities with the highest homicides in the world, Mexico City is not even in the top 50.

This is not to say that you shouldn't take precautions and always be aware of your surroundings. Pickpocketing is a major concern here, so take caution with your belongings, especially in crowded, tourist-heavy areas, such as in Centro Historico, or on the Metro. Getting a money belt may be a good idea. I personally walked around with a crossbody purse with a metal chain that didn't leave my person at all times (something like this or this).

As with any major city, there are also definitely areas that you should not venture into. Some of these areas include Tepito and La Lagunilla. Some of these sketchy areas stand right next to the tourist-centric neighborhoods, so watch where you're going and take caution to not accidentally walk into these areas.

I will say that even as a solo female traveler, I felt relatively safe in Mexico City. However, as with any solo trip, please use caution and common sense - don't walk around late at night, don't go anywhere with strangers, don't drink too much, always watch your surroundings.


3 days in mexico city roma

Language in Mexico City: English is not as commonly spoken here as in other parts of Mexico (like Cancun or Cabo), so it is useful to learn a few basic Spanish phrases to get around. However, most hotels, attractions, and restaurants that are frequented by tourists are staffed with people who speak some English. 

Getting Around in Mexico City: Mexico City has a fairly extensive (and cheap) Metro system that can get you around to almost everywhere you need to go. Uber is also a convenient and relatively inexpensive way to get around - most rides cost me under $5 USD, even if I was getting from one end of the city to the other in heavy traffic.

Here are more things you should know about Mexico City.


STAY: 
Mexico City has an abundance of accommodation options to suit your preferences and budget, from boutique hotels, to Airbnbs, to trendy hostels. I've stayed at these boutique hotels and highly recommend them:
This centrally-located boutique hotel with a B&B concept was created with the ideal traveler experience in mind. The beautifully decorated property is like an oasis in the middle of a busy, bustling city, with greenery and succulent details everywhere. Included in the room rate is a delicious breakfast with both a continental and a hot, traditional Mexican dish every morning. The rooms are not fancy, but are stylishly decorated and comfortable. This was the perfect home for my 3 days in Mexico City. Here is more about my stay at Chaya B&B Boutique.
This stylish boutique hotel is located in the up-and-comign Colonia Juarez neighborhood. The hip, design-centric property also features a beautiful courtyard and pool area, along with a bar and restaurant, which is known to be delicious (I did not personally have time to eat there, though). 


DO + SEE:
3 days in mexico city zocalo
Zocalo 
Always bustling with energy, Zocalo is the common name for the central square and the heart of Mexico City. It has been a central gathering place since Aztec times, and is located one block away from the site of the Templo Mayor, which was considered to be the center of the universe. Today, giant and iconic Mexican flag flies over it, and it is the home to numerous historical and government buildings, such as the National Palace and National Cathedral. It is also home to many events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and political demonstrations.

 
3 days in mexico city castillo chapultepec
Chapultepec Park + Castle 
Chapultepec Park is one of the largest urban city parks in the Western Hemisphere, and serves as a main ecological space in the city. It is also home to several popular museums, including the National Anthropology Museum (widely regarded as one of the best museums in the city) and Museum of Modern Art. One of the most visited attractions here is the Chapultepec Castle, which is the only castle in North America to have housed sovereigns. Today, it also serves as the National History Museum, and also offers a spectacular view of the city below.

Arguably the most popular museum in Mexico City, the Museo Frida Kahlo is dedicated to the life and works of the iconic Mexican artist. What stood out to me the most was learning more about her inspiring life story and how she lived through the hardships thrown her way, while creating amazing art along the way.

Located just an hour outside the city, Teotihuacan, which was the largest pre-Aztec civilization in its time, makes a perfect day trip. The Piramide de la Luna and the Piramide del Sol (which is one of the tallest pyramids in the world) are the highlights here. You can take an organized tour here, but it is also easy (and cheap) to hop on a bus and do a self-guided tour. Either way you do it, this is Teotihuacan is definitely a must-see during your 3 days in Mexico City!

Want to read more about planning a day trip to Teotihuacan? Read this guide to visiting Teotihuacan.
Luis Barragan is a contemporary architectural legend, known for his geometric and colorful style. His buildings are deceptively simple, but he is renowned for his dramatic use of light and reflection to manipulate a space and give it a subtle and lyrical appearance. You can find his work scattered all over the city, but the only way to see his house (his main creation) is to book a tour through his foundation. The tour is informative and gives you an interesting insight into his life and his ideas - highly recommended.

The Palacio de Bellas Artes (the Fine Arts Palace) is one of the most iconic buildings in Mexico City. It is a cultural center that houses a theater, concert hall, and museum, along with a number of murals by prominent Mexican artists. That domed roof is stunning (pssst...the best view of it is from the cafe on top of Sears across the street. Or, if it's closed, from the cafe on the 9th floor of the Torre Latinoamerica). I haven't had a chance to see a performance here yet, but I would love to see the Ballet Folkorico here someday.

 
3 days in mexico city palacio postal
Palacio Postal 
Palacio Postal is the main post office in Mexico City, and located near Zocalo, and just around the corner from the Palacio de Bellas Artes. It was designed by Italian architect Adamo Boari, who also designed the Palacio Bellas Artes. It was built in the early 20th century, and blends several different architectural styles. Did you know that the bronze railings on these staircase were cast in Florence? Insane. There is also a small postal museum where you can see the first stamp ever issued in Mexico.

 
3 days in mexico city casa de los azulejos
Casa de los Azulejos The Casa de los Azulejos (or "house of tiles") was an 18th century palace built by the Count del Valle de Orizaba family, but today is the flagship location of the restaurant chain Sanborns. It is one of the most photographed buildings in Mexico City, and distinguished by the iconic blue tiled facade - such a gorgeous exterior! 

EAT: 
One of the things that initially drew me to Mexico City was because I kept hearing that it had a booming culinary scene. Mexico City is home to anything from world-class fine dining establishments, to amazing street tacos, and anything and everything else in between. Be prepared to eat during your 3 days in Mexico City - a lot! 

 One thing to note: Lunch is the main meal of the day here, and it is eaten later in the day, around 2pm. May restaurants open for lunch, but not dinner, so be sure to check opening times.

 
3 days in mexico city what to eat pujol
Pujol 
Hands-down one of the best meals I've ever had in my life. It is a splurge, but a steal compared to restaurants of similar caliber elsewhere in the world - the 6 course tasting menu costs around $85 USD (I'd expect a similar meal to cost well over $200 at home in San Francisco!). Chef Enrique Olvera is renowned for putting his own unique, sophisticated twist on traditional Mexican cuisine, which was highlighted in an episode of the Netflix series "Chef's Table." Each of the 6 courses are inventive and creative. My favorite course here was the mole, which is world-famous and absolutely mind-blowing!

 
3 days in mexico city what to eat eno chilaquiles
Eno 
Eno is Olvera's casual outpost, serving up classic breakfast and lunch fare. The chilaquiles here are probably the best I've had, EVER. There is a location right next to Pujol, but there are a few others around the city. Definitely a must for breakfast!

 
3 days in mexico city what to eat contramar tuna tostadas
Contramar 
This is a popular spot for lunch (or an early dinner), and is famous for its tuna tostadas, which I still have dreams about. The menu is full of delicious seafood specialties, and the grilled fish (served with a chili sauce and a chimichurri sauce) is also a must-have.

 
3 days in mexico city what to eat nicos turkey mole
Nicos 
Frequently hailed as one of the best restaurants in Mexico City by both visitors and locals, Nicos sits a bit outside of City Center, but it is a must. Nicos specializes in traditional Mexican cuisine, in a classy but unpretentious environment. The guacamole, which is prepared table-side, is to die for.
Confession: I totally went to El Moro 6 times in my 3 days in Mexico City. Yes, it's THAT good (and I'm also a sucker of their cute branding). El Moro has been around since 1935, and is still super popular today. I couldn't get enough of the consuelos (ice cream sandwiches) - I had one every day.
Located in the hip Roma district, Fonda Fina comes from the chef of the acclaimed Quintonil, and serves up fine yet casual Mexican cuisine with a focus on fresh ingredients and seasonality. This place has a hip but rustic vibe, and the dishes are creative without being pretentious. The Mezcal cocktails are super tasty as well. 

Azul
One of the most popular restaurants in the city, Azul serves solidly good classic Mexican fare in a kinda romantic atmosphere. There are two locations: one in the upscale Condesa district, and another one in Centro Historico, just next to the Zocalo. Both are super busy (for good reason!), so be prepared to wait or make a reservation.

 
3 days in mexico city what to eat la gruta
La Gruta 
While technically not in Mexico City, La Gruta is definitely worth a stop if you trek out to Teotihuacan (and as I said above you SHOULD go to Teotihuacan). Set inside a volcanic cave and decorated with twinkling string lights and colorful chairs, La Gruta serves traditional Mexican cuisine in a magical setting. The food is solid and the experience is unique. 

Cafe Nin (Panaderia Rosetta)
Located in the hip Roma neighborhood, Cafe Nin dishes out excellent coffee and European-style pastries, as well as sandwiches and light bites. This is the perfect spot for a quick breakfast. I was in love with the Berlinettas, which are like cream-filled donuts. 

Street Vendors 
Mexico City is famous for its street food, and there are stands on seemingly every corner serving up everything from tacos, tamales, fresh fruit, and more. The Al Pastor tacos are super cheap (35 US cents a piece) and DELICIOUS. Afraid of food poisoning? Pick out the stands that have a crowd of people, who all look like professionals - these folks don't have time to be sick, so it is a good bet that they are eating at a legit spot. 

Have you been to Mexico City? What are some of your favorite spots?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase or booking, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

3 days in mexico city

Comments

Thank you for a very detailed post! My husband is Mexican and he has told me how lively Mexico City is, but of course, there’s always that hesitation for me. Showed him your post and he said I told you so! 😄
Odette said…
Thanks for sharing such an elaborate post. Your pictures make Mexico City seem truly amazing, I never thought of going but now it will definitely go on my bucket list!
Annie said…
all those pictures of yummy food, makes me want to get on a flight right now. Ice cream churrito sandwiches? yes please!
Dana said…
How cool! La Gruta looks incredible, I've never seen anything like it! The food looks amazing too. How easy do you think it is for vegetarians to get by in Mexico City??
RJ said…
Did not know there was so much to do in Mexico City! Great round up on things to do there, now I'll have to make a trip there soon :)
Vanessa Ball said…
So much information about Mexico City; hotels, food, things to do! My perception is that the city would dirty so you have changed this!. Thank you!
Maegan White said…
SO many great tips here! I've been dying to go to Mexico City! The food looks heavenly and I loved that tile wall. It reminded me of Sevilla!
MIchelle C said…
Mexico City really has a lot to offer. I'm sure we'll pass through again, though we tend to stay in smaller towns when possible. Thanks for sharing!
WOW! This is such an awesome comprehensive guide for Mexico City! I'm so glad you included the ruins too, that's definitely something I've had on my list to go and see!
Karolina said…
Very cool post - so detailed! wow! and great photos 👏🏻 😍
Carol Guttery said…
I've only been to the airport there. I'd love to go for the street art.
Sarah said…
This is such a great guide! Mexico City is one of those places which has always been at the top of my 'desperate to visit' list yet isn't so easily accessible for me and I am yet to go there. Your pictures are stunning and I will be referring back to this when I finally make it there.
Ruth Rieckehoff said…
I have been to Mexico City twice on short trips. I have not seen as much as I have wanted. And, I have not been to Teotihuacan. SO, it is time to visit again. I am glad you escape the pre-conceptions and gave the city a chance. I will encourage people who love travel to go.
Taylor said…
Wow!! Your photography is amazing - such beautiful colors! I visited Mexico City about 10 years ago but haven't had the opportunity to get back there again yet. And all the food.. so mouthwatering! Thanks so much for sharing :)
Sarah said…
This is an awesome guide! You're photos are beautiful and the food-OMG! Adding Mexico City to my list!
Jac said…
Mexico City's on my list of places to go, and this looks like a great way to get started... bookmarked! :) I love the Azulejos house and Teotihuacan looks super cool.
Sierra said…
This is SUCH a detailed and amazing guide to Mexico City! You're making me want to go there right now. I just saw flights to Oaxaca for super cheap the other day, which peaked my interest in getting to Mexico soon! I haven't ever been as a tourist to really explore, and I'd love to try and see a lot of these spots you recommended! All the food looked INCREDIBLE. Oh my god. Also so jealous you got to eat at Pujol! I loved that episode of Chef's Table and definitely have that place on my food bucketlist!
Kristen said…
What an amazing and thorough guide this is! The B&B you stayed at is so adorable. I cannot even imagine how delicious the food was. I need to get to Mexico City soon!
Kristine said…
Thanks for setting the record straight! Mexico City looks more hip and happening than I'd imagined it to be, oops. Maybe one day I'll be able to get there and experience this city for myself!
Danielle said…
Love this post! Even when I was in Cancun, tour guides told us that Mexico City was "very dangerous" and we shouldn't visit. I've seen so many people enjoying their time in Mexico City recently, so thank you for this! Your photos are gorgeous too!
Ivory said…
I have never been to Mexico city but makes sense that many have a misconception about it. When I traveled to Mexico, I was cautious but it is a lot safer than it seems, as long as you are aware as you would in any new place.

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