Itinerary: Three Days In Mexico City

Mexico City is a huge metropolis with seemingly infinite things to do. We visited Mexico City over President’s Day weekend, so we had three full days to explore. We’d gotten so many recommendations from friends that we found it really hard to narrow down everything into just a weekend! Here’s the itinerary we’d recommend if you only have three days to explore this bustling and vibrant city.

Day One: Downtown

Mexico City’s downtown area is the metropolis’ humming center of activity, tourism, and business. It’s also the historical center with significant archeological finds (many only discovered in recent years), and several important monuments.

Zócalo & Templo Mayor

The Zócalo, one of the largest public squares in the world, is the heart of Mexico City and has been the site of innumerable protests, demonstrations, and other public gatherings over the centuries. The Zócalo was also the main square of the pre-Columbian Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. You can see the ruins of the huge pre-Columbian temples that dominated this site at an archeological dig and museum just off of the square called Templo Mayor. The Templo Mayor, only discovered in recent years, was the main temple of the Aztec civilization for many hundreds of years. It’s a great introduction to the pre-Columbian history of the city, and puts into perspective just how ancient the region’s civilization is.

Madero Street

After exploring the Zócalo , we recommend turning onto bustling Madero Street, the main pedestrian walkway in the Centro Historico. You can stop for lunch at El Cardenal, a traditional Mexican spot with yummy house-baked pastries, homemade hot chocolate, and a vegetarian section in the menu. Then make your way along the rest of the street—just make sure to avoid the hawkers trying to sell everything from gold jewelry to eyeglasses.

Walking down Madero Street

Alameda Central & Palacio de Bellas Artes

You can take Madero Street all the way to the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the arts and culture center of Mexico City. The building is beautiful, but be sure to check the schedule of events before paying your entry fee. When we went there the primary exhibits were closed, so there wasn’t much to see, although the inside of the building is stunning as well, with several important murals by Diego Rivera. After that it’s time to relax in the Alameda Central park next door, which is essentially Mexico City’s Central Park—and the oldest park in the Americas.

Dinner at Contramar

Contramar has some of the best seafood in the entire city. If you love ceviche or fish tacos, you can’t miss it! Be sure to make a reservation in advance, because it’s extremely popular.

Day Two: Chapultepec OR Market Food Tour, & Roma/Condesa

On your second day, we recommend exploring some of Mexico City’s other quaint neighborhoods and parks. Chapultepec Park is huge and has several top sights to see, including the Anthropology Museum. It’s a not-to-miss museum with innumerable artifacts from ancient Aztec and Mayan society. Or, if you’re not a fan of museums, we recommend a walking food tour through some of Mexico City’s many markets. In the afternoon we loved wandering through the leafy and charming streets of Roma and Condesa, two adjacent neighborhoods with lots of character, cute cafes, and nice parks to relax in.

Plaza Rio de Janeiro in Roma

Bosque de Chapultepec

This giant public park (have you noticed a theme? Mexico City is full of parks!) is full of interesting sights—including the Anthropology Museum, the Modern Art Museum, and the Castillo de Chapultepec. Or you can simply wander the paths and take in the people watching and street food. We happened upon a group performing the Danza de los Voladores in the park, an ancient ritual involving four or five individuals who swing from the top of a 30-foot pole on ropes until they reach the ground.

Mexico City, Mexico

Museo Nacional de Antropología

The top sight we recommend in Chapultapec park is the Museo Nacional de Antropología or the Anthropology Museum. The artifacts are simply stunning, particularly in the Teotihuacan and Mayan galleries.

Market Food Tour

If you feel like something a little different, we recommend heading on a food tour of the markets of Mexico City. There are tons of different types of markets, from normal fruit and vegetables to a flower market and a witchcraft market. Having a tour guide will help you explore the intricate, bustling market areas without getting lost (or worse), and will open you up to exploring many more things than you might have on your own. We ended up doing a street food tour at night (which Jeremy liked more than Daniela), and many of our friends told us the market tours they did during the day were the highlight of their trips.

Wandering through the Roma/Condesa neighborhoods

If you have time in the afternoon, we recommend exploring the Roma and Condesa neighborhoods by foot. This is an up-and-coming area with a bohemian feel, sort of like Brooklyn, with trendy cafes, galleries, bars, and cute restaurants along leafy boulevards with old homes. If you decide to spend the evening in this area, we recommend our favorite of all the bars we tried: Casa Franca, a jazz place with an eclectic, mysterious feel, like you’re inside someone’s home

Parque Mexico in Condesa

Day Three: Coyoacán

On your third day, we recommend heading to one of the neighborhoods outside of the city center. There are several areas of Mexico City that used to be their own distinct villages or towns, but eventually got swallowed by the urban sprawl. Fortunately, they still retain their small town vibe and can be a breath of fresh air after the hectic central areas of Mexico City. We recommend exploring Coyoacán, a neighborhood about 30 minute’s drive South from Roma/Condesa. We spent most of the day wandering the small streets and parks and exploring the local Sunday market, but there’s lots more to do in this neighborhood—including the highly rated Frida Kahlo Museum.

Avenida Francisco Sosa

Walking along Avenida Francisco Sosa, one of the main streets of Coyoacán, will reveal lots of architectural gems and cute little alleyways to explore. We started our day with brunch at El Olvidado, a cute cafe just off the street. From there, we wandered lazily around the leafy neighborhood, seeing a mix of colorful painted houses and gates that hide beautiful homes owned by people who value their privacy. We then ducked into the nearby cultural center, which offers beautiful shaded parks, and an art center with (again) its own park.

Iglesia de Santa Caterina

Jardin Centenario

We wandered along Avenida Francisco Sosa until we got to Coyoacán’s main public square, the Jardin Centenario, which on Sundays turns into a huge open air market. We walked by stalls selling everything to fresh mole sauces, to rotisserie chickens, to local homemade sweets—and everything in between. In the middle of the square there were middle schoolers dancing to traditional songs and blissfully few American tourists (maybe we were just lucky?). Either way, this square is great for people watching or for picking up last minute souvenirs.

Museo Frida Kahlo

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Frida Kahlo Museum, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Mexico City. It’s just a few blocks from Avenida Francisco Sosa, and is located in the house where she grew up. Just be sure to get a reservation in advance, because the line to get in can be very long and tickets can and do sell out.

No matter what you decide to do during your stay in Mexico City, we can guarantee you’ll have an exciting trip with tons of yummy food and interesting sights to see!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *