In March I visited Mexico for the first time to eat all the food and see all the art. I’m not a beach/resort person so we visited Mexico City. It was an amazing experience exploring this massive, crazy city. There are so many district areas/neighbourhoods to explore and in 5 days we saw so much of the city and ate so much amazing food.
To start this guide I’m going to go through some practical info and tips with where to stay, how to get around, when to go, etc. Mexico City (also known as CDMX) is really a massive city and even though they have a good public transit system we found it most convenient to use Uber which was easy to use, cheap and efficient. We were able to get everywhere in the city with Uber and although traffic is no joke we were still able to cross to city during rush hour in less than an hour. But be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get around if you have a reservation somewhere. We visited in mid March which was a great time in Mexico City. There were no major events happening so tourist-wise it wasn’t too busy. The weather was great with no rain and we got to see the beautiful purple jacaranda trees in bloom.
For our trip we stayed at Chaya B&B Boutique (read my full review here) in the Historic Centre right at the edge of the Alameda Central park. The hotel is on the top floor of a beautifully renovated art deco building, keep in mind there is no elevator so you need to walk up 4 flights of stairs. The hotel occupies a beautiful rooftop that is great for relaxing on at the end of a busy day with a cold beer. Every morning we enjoyed breakfast in the dinning room (included with our stay) and it was always delicious and fresh. The staff were all very friendly too. My only complaint with the hotel was that it was a bit loud some nights and the room was very hot since there is no AC and although there was a large fan in the room it was way too loud and strong to be used in the room unfortunately. Since there was a noise issue we couldn’t really open the windows at night to cool things down. The hotel is on a pedestrian street so to get picked up and dropped off by Uber we called them from the Hilton Hotel across the street that was more convenient. The building with the hotel also had a ton of food options which was nice for evenings when we were tired.
What To Do in Mexico City
Mexico City has a huge number of galleries, museums and cultural sights that you have so many options for what to do. We tried to do a mix of historical and modern/contemporary sights.
Museo Frida Kahlo: (Read my full blog post on the museum here!) This museum is a must when visiting Mexico City. It’s not very big but regardless of if you’re a Frida Kahlo fan you’ll be able to appreciate her life and art while visiting the Casa Azul, or Blue House where she lived for much of her life. Be sure to buy your tickets online 1-2 months in advance which guarantees your entry into the museum. If you can’t get tickets arrive at least 1 hour before opening to stand in line. The easiest way to get here is via Uber since it’s at least 30 mins south of the centre of CDMX in the Coyoacan neighbourhood.
Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo: (Read my full blog post about visiting here!) Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo lived in this modern house in the San Angel neighbourhood designed by the architect Juan O’Gorman. There isn’t much to see in the actual buildings except in Diego Rivera’s part of the house where they have recreated his studio area. There is also a display of the history of the building that has a very interesting architectural design. If you’re interested in modern architecture and Diego Rivera it’s worth a visit after touring the Frida Kahlo Museum, just hop in an Uber since it’s close by but a bit of a walk between the two.
After visiting this museum I’d recommend wandering around the San Angel neighbourhood just around the museum. It’s a really beautiful and peaceful residential area that is very different from a lot of Mexico City.
Casa Gilardi: (Read my full blog post about Casa Gilardi here) This private home designed by one of Mexico’s most important architects Luis Barragán was one of the most beautiful things we saw in Mexico City. The home is open during limited hours for tours by appointment only. The original owner still lives in the house but they allow you to explore some of the most beautiful parts of the house at your leisure. The entry fee is a bit steep but worthwhile considering how the owners are taking time out of their lives to generously open their home to the public to appreciate this important architect’s work. You can also visit the Casa Luis Barragán, the architect’s own home close by but tickets also need to be bought in advance.
Museo Nacional de Antropología: This massive anthropology museum was so interesting to visit. We really only explored the archeological part of the museum since there was so much to see and we only had an hour to explore. The museum provides an amazing look at Mexico’s history and is definitely worth a visit. The museum is in the large Chapultepec Park that is interesting to walk around and explore. Also on the opposite end of the park is the Museo de Arte Moderno that has interesting exhibitions and a great Frida Kahlo painting called “Las dos Frida”. There actually aren’t a huge amount of Kahlo paintings in Mexico’s museums so if you want to see a great painting by her go to this museum.
Museo Jumex & Museo Soumaya: These two museums are right beside each other in the upscale Polanco neighbourhood. Museo Jumex features rotating contemporary art exhibitions, while Mueso Soumaya is a private museum that has Pre-Hispanic, modern Mexican art, European old masters and modern European art. The building itself is impressive in its own right an worth walking over to see if you’re in the area.
Explore the Centro Histórico: The historic centre of Mexico City is one of the more hectic areas to visit but there are a ton of interesting historical, architectural and cultural things to see. One of my favourites was right by our hotel, the Palacio de Bellas Artes. The building is beautiful and to get a great view you can go across the street to the Sears and stop off at the cafe on one of the top floors for an amazing birds-eye view of the city and the building. We didn’t go inside the building itself due to lack of time. The building is at the edge of the Alameda Central park that is pretty to walk around and people watch.
The Plaza de la Constitución is the centre of the historic area. Around the massive square is the equally massive Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México. Just around the corner is the Gran Hotel Ciudad de México that is worth popping into to see the beautiful glass ceiling. Also any fans of James Bond will surely recognize it from the opening of Spectre.
One of my favourite things in the historic area was the Secretaría De Educación Pública. This government building is free to visit and features amazing murals by Diego Rivera. We were the only ones there when we visited around 4pm so all the office workers had left for the day. To see more of Diego Rivera’s work there is also the Diego Rivera Mural Museum that has a beautiful mural of the Alameda Central park. In the Palacio Nacional there are also Rivera murals but we never made it there to see them. If you’re interested in Mexico’s Pre-Hispanic history you can visit the Templo Mayor to see an archeological sights and learn more history.
Some really nice areas to walk around are the Roma Norte, Juarez, Roma Sur and La Condesa neighbourhoods. There are lots of pretty streets, great good, parks and fun shops in these neighbourhoods.
Where To Eat in Mexico City
Pujol: Pujol is one of Mexico City’s top restaurants and is ranked #12 on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. They offer a set price, multi-course tasting menu with a seafood and vegetarian option. Our meal here was so special and everything was delicious. Reservations are necessary and should be booked as far in advance as possible. If you have one special and splurgy meal in Mexico City have it be here. Read about our amazing meal here!
Rosetta: Rosetta is a beautiful modern Italian restaurant in Mexico City’s beautiful Roma Norte neighbourhood. We ended up eating here twice since we loved it so much. Everything was so delicious and fresh with a Mexican twist. Reservations should be made in advance. Read about our experience here!
Masala y Maiz: This place was amazing, we had the best brunch! Our hotel served breakfast but I knew that I wanted to come here one day for brunch. Everything we had we delicious and they had such great flavour combinations, fusing Mexican dishes, flavours and ingredients with Indian ones. Make a reservation for brunch on weekends or go for dinner. Read about our delicious brunch here!
Lardo: Lardo was a mini Mediterranean fest with amazing fresh ingredients. Our lunch here fuelled us before flying home. We ordered so much food and there was so much more we wanted to try. Definitely make a reservation if you can since it is popular amongst tourists and locals. Read about our delicious lunch here!
All the tacos! We came to Mexico City with tacos in mind and although we didn’t actually eat as many street tacos as we had intended since you can only eat so much in a day, all the tacos we did have were great. Here are some of the places we ate at plus some that looked great that we didn’t get a chance to try. There were even two vegan taco places that we tried that were really good. El Huequito, Los Cocuyos, Rich Tacos Toluca, El Truix, El Greco, The Vegan Pitahaya, Por Siempre Vegana, Taquería Los Parados, Los Panchos, Orinoco, Jenni’s Street Quesadillas, Los Panchos, Tostadas Coyoacán in the market building. Don’t forget the salsa, it really makes the taco!
We also stopped by a lot of great cafes to have a coffee and a snack while wandering. Some of the nice ones we stopped at were Niddo, Cicatriz Cafe (both pictures below), Buna Cafe – Rico, Eno (this one is in the Museo Jumex so it’s perfect for taking a break at in between galleries), and Cafe Negro (this one is close to the Frida Kahlo Museum).
Something sweet! Mexico City isn’t all about the churros, although they are great! Make sure you go for churros at one of the many El Moro Churrería locations around the city. You cannot miss the guava buns from Panadería Rosetta, the bakery of the Rosetta restaurant, there are several locations around the city. While having drinks on the patio at Rosetta one night we saw so many people passing by with ice cream so I knew we had to go looking for it. Turns out just down the street was an amazing ice cream shop, Helados Cometa. The flavours we had were unlike any I’ve ever had before with fresh Mexican ingredients. It really hit the spot on a warm evening.
Where to Shop in Mexico City
We found lots of great shop in Mexico City of Mexican made souvenirs to bring home. Some of our favourites were Onora where we found beautiful woven baskets in different materials, ceramics and textiles. Taxonomia was another favourite for home decor and fashion accessories. For a great selections of mezcal that we can bring home go to MisMezcales. Some other great stores were Loose Blues, Querencia, Happening, and Rio 69. If you want some Mexican coffee to bring home stop by Buna Cafe for a bag of beans. We also found a bunch of great stores in the Azul Historico, this renovated building in the historic centre has a bunch of small local shops and a few restaurants.
While Mexico City isn’t my favourite place I’ve been and I’m not sure if I’ll be rushing to return, but I definitely had a great time here. The most memorable thing about our trip was definitely the amazing food we have everywhere. All the people we encountered were friendly and getting around was easy for the most part with Uber. As someone who doesn’t handle crowds and chaos well Mexico City was a bit of a challenge for me personally but our experiences here were all positive.
For some more Mexico City inspiration check out my Mexico City Colourful Photo Story!