Mexico City Travel Guide
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Tenochtitlan, el Distrito Federal, now la Ciudad de México – Mexico City has been known by many names in its centuries-long history. The capital of Mexico, this sprawling metropolitan area is home to more than 21 million residents.
Head downtown and admire the murals adorning the Palacio de Bellas Artes or grab an elote from a street vendor along the Zócalo, Mexico City's main square. Museum-hop through town, stopping at the Museo Frida Kahlo, the Castillo de Chapultepec, and the Museo Soumaya.After you work up an appetite, sample foods from all over at a Latin American food hall in La Roma, get tacos al pastor from a taquería just around the corner or sit down for a meal in one of the city's oldest restaurants.
Run your fingers along the spines of the books littering stores downtown or in La Condesa, where you can stroll through Parque México with a churro and hot chocolate in hand after.
Mexico City is packed with things to do, even if you're in town for one day or one week. Museums, experiences, and attractions can be found around every corner, whether you're looking for them or not. And even if you can't see everything you want to in one trip, Mexico City will always be waiting when you come back.
Mexico City is in the Central time zone. Mexico's Daylight Savings calendar is a bit off from the United States', so there are a few weeks a year the two zones are an hour apart. If it's spring or fall, check ahead.
Best Time to Go
Mexico City is always bustling, no matter what time of the year you decide to go. You may be drawn in during late October for Day of the Dead, where orange and pink marigolds pop up all over town, adorning altars to the city's departed. Or check in before September 15, when Mexico's president yells out el grito in front of thousands in the city square to mark the country's independence from Spain. If you're looking for something more lowkey, wait until spring and catch the purple jacarandas blooming all over town while strolling through the city's open streets.
Things to Know
Mexico City is a little bit like New York in that it's made up of alcaldías, which are similar to boroughs. There are 16 total, but during your stay you'll most likely only stop through three or four. Each alcaldía is made up of colonias, or neighborhoods.
You most likely won't need a car to get around in Mexico City, though it can be more convenient if you're making a day trip to a neighboring town. Mexico City's web of public transportation is robust, from the Metro, Metrobús, Trolebús, and more, and you're sure to see plenty of the city's ubiquitous pink-and-white taxis all across town. If you prefer ridesharing apps, Uber, Beat, and Cabify are all popular options, while bikes can be rented from the city's Ecobici program or apps like Dezba.
Mexico City moves fast, and can get crowded at times. Even if you're a travel pro, remember to step aside to look down at your phone for directions, and keep your belongings close.
Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN)
(Check the current exchange rate)
I don't speak Spanish: No hablo español.
I'm lost: Estoy perdido/a
I would like…: Me gustaría...
Calling Code: +52
Capital City: Mexico City
How to Get Around
Trains: Mexico City's metro is one of the most expansive (and cheapest) in the world. You'll have to buy a reloadable card to get around (for 15 pesos, or about 75 cents) – this card will work across the city's transit system, and you can load it up in the metro's ticket booths or the machines outside metrobús stations. Each ride costs five pesos, or 20 cents. Heads up: both the metro and metrobús have women-only cars, which usually have a separate boarding zone.
Buses: In Mexico City's central neighborhoods, wherever the metro doesn't go, the metrobús does. They have their own lane of traffic, so they can be faster than taking a car or taxi, and a ride is just six pesos. The city's trolebús functions similarly, while the RTP buses (for Red de Transporte de Pasajeros, or Passenger Transport Network) cost between two and seven pesos. At the same bus stops, you may see non-city buses or vans taking passengers – If you're curious where these go, they'll have their stops scrawled on the windshield.
Taxis: It won't be hard to flag down a pink-and-white taxi in most parts of town, and you can order one by downloading the city's official "App CDMX," available on iPhone and Android. You can use the app to pay with a debit or credit card, but most drivers will still prefer cash.
Ride service: Uber, Beat and Cabify are just a few of the rideshare apps in town. If Uber's surge rate seems pricey during rush hour, check Beat or Cabify to compare – you may just find a deal.
InterContinental Presidente Mexico City
Address: Campos Eliseos 218, Polanco, Miguel Hidalgo, 11560 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 800 502 0500
This luxury hotel sits in the upscale Polanco neighborhood, known for its shopping and international business ventures. If you're looking to go all out, this is the hotel. Don't miss the restaurants inside, like Au Pied de Cochon and Chapulín, routinely voted some of the top spots in town.
The St. Regis Mexico City
Address: Av. Paseo de la Reforma 439, Cuauhtémoc, 06500 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 5228 1818
The St. Regis sits along Reforma Avenue, one of Mexico City's busiest streets and a hub for business headquarters and embassies alike. It also puts you close to a number of key landmarks, just a few blocks from the iconic Ángel de la Independencia statue and a short walk to Chapultepec Park. Check out the restaurant Diana – named after the fountain to the Greek goddess right outside – for classic Mexican dishes like tuna tostadas or modern twists, like avocado pizza and cauliflower ceviche.
Ignacia Guest House
Address: Jalapa 208, Roma Norte, Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 2121 0966
Pick a color: At Ignacia Guest House, you'll have your choice from the Black, Yellow, Pink, Blue or Green Rooms, each decked out from floor to ceiling in its corresponding tone. The historic estate house is in La Roma, one of Mexico City's trendiest neighborhoods, just blocks from Metro and Metrobús stations and across the street from the cool community space and outdoor garden, Huerto Roma Verde.
Nima Local House Hotel
Address: Colima 236, Roma Norte, Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 7591 7175
This four-room spot in La Roma is emblematic of the neighborhood's style – a classic Mexican-French fusion design known as Porfirian architecture, named after President Porfirio Díaz. The hotel shows off some of the movement's best features, like open-air terraces, art nouveau-inspired wrought-iron railings and a marble-lined breakfast nook. Here at Nima Local House Hotel, you'll be close to several popular parks, shops and stops like Pulquería Insurgentes, where you can try out pulques in flavors like soursop, tamarind and mazapán.
Address: Culiacán 10, Hipódromo Condesa, Cuauhtémoc, 06100 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 8116 9821
Head over to the streets of tree-lined Condesa to Casa Decu, an art deco dream filled with funky tile floors, private patios and a rooftop restaurant and garden space. The 27-room boutique hotel comes with plenty of personalized amenities (and is pet-friendly!) alongside the services of a bigger space, like a full gym and continental breakfast each morning. It's a short walk from sights like Parque México, a former horse-racing track-turned-park, cozy cafés and the famous Esquina de Chilaquil, a street stand serving up only-in-Mexico City tortas de chilaquiles that have locals lining up for blocks.
Address: Isabel La Católica 30, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 5130 6830
Head into the hustle and bustle of the historic city center for this 17th-century construction filled with modern luxuries. Take the arching stone stairway up to your room, or opt for the old-school birdcage elevator, but don't miss the sweeping fresco by Mexican muralist Manuel Rodríguez Lozano along the way. On the rooftop, make your way between the terrace restaurant and pool, each offering unbeatable views of the Mexico City skyline.
El Patio 77
Address: Joaquin Garcia Icazbalceta 77, San Rafael, Cuauhtémoc, 06470 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 5592 8452
With only eight rooms, each named and styled after states surrounding Mexico City, El Patio 77 is an intimate space occupying an 1890s mansion in the San Rafael neighborhood. Despite the luxurious home, the hotel prides itself on its eco-friendliness, with a rainwater collection system and gray water recycling program. Even some of the furniture is upcycled, giving the hotel an eclectic feel.
Comedor de los Milagros
Address: Medellín 225, Roma Sur, Cuauhtémoc, 06760 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 7158 0044
In the heart of La Roma, this food hall takes you all over Latin America in just one meal. Order up Colombian aborrajados, Argentinian chorizo, or Mexican volcanes, then top it off with an agua fresca or fruity cocktail.
Address: Calle de Durango 200, Roma Norte, Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 (55) 5514 9217
Routinely picked as one of the best restaurants in Mexico City, Contramar serves up the freshest seafood in town. Make a reservation beforehand: You won't want to miss the tuna tostadas, or the pescado a la talla – Contramar's signature snapper, split in half and topped with red chili sauce on one side, parsley sauce on the other.
Address: Calle Ozuluama 4, Hipódromo, Cuauhtémoc, 06100 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 2454 4662
Make your brunch dreams come true at this French-inspired pasterlería near the leafy Parque México. Sip on a cappuccino and people watch from the wide-open windows, or head upstairs, where you can tear open a freshly baked concha and dig into a steaming plate of enmoladas.
Café de Tacuba
Address: Tacuba 28, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc, 06010 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 5521 2048
Mexico City's historic center has a number of well-known restaurants, but perhaps none as famous as Café de Tacuba. Over a hundred years old, this restaurant has been popular among presidents and artists alike, and is even where Diego Rivera had his (first) wedding reception. If you're looking for a true, traditional Mexican meal, you'll find it here.
Address: Av. Insurgentes Sur 253, Roma Nte., Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Phone: +52 55 5514 6917
Get a taste of northern Mexico at Taquería Orinoco – a chain from Monterrey with seven locations– with tacos de chicharrón, bistec or al pastor, all served up on flaky flour tortillas. Corn tortillas are an option, too, as is a costra, or crust, of cheese layered across the top. The restaurant's hours, sometimes open until 4 or 5 a.m., make it a popular spot for the city's late-night party-goers.
Address: Parque Centenario 12, Coyoacán TNT, Coyoacán, 04000 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 6585 2477
Snag a patio spot at Los Danzantes in Coyoacán, one of the best places in the neighborhood's central square to grab a bite and watch as street performers, vendors, and locals pass you by. Here you can try dishes like fried grasshoppers served with queso fresco and guacamole, duck tacos and squash blossom-stuffed chicken breast.
Things to Do
El Centro Histórico
Mexico City's Centro Histórico, or Historic Center, is where centuries-old constructions clash with American-inspired skyscrapers, street markets and more museums than you can count. Don't miss the highlights: the Palacio de Bellas Artes, filled with Diego Rivera murals and fine arts exhibitions, the Zócalo and its Metropolitan Cathedral, and the artisan goods at the Mercado Ciudadela.
Address: Avenida México, Hipódromo, Cuauhtémoc, 06100 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Parque México has sometimes been called "the lungs of the city" – for a place that's always on the move, the tree-lined, art deco-themed park can be a place to catch your breath or slow things down. Go for a stroll and watch break dancers, musicians and quinceñeras collide in the park's main plaza, or check out the dogs up for adoption across the street on Sundays. After that, go to Churrería El Moro for some ready-made churros and a Mexican hot chocolate.
La Roma – technically a neighborhood split in two, with Roma Norte and Roma Sur, is one of the most popular spots in the city, and for good reason. Stop by the house famous from Alfonso Cuarón's "Roma" at Tepeji 22, or smell what's cooking in the Mercado de Medellín (if you need recommendations, enlist Anaïs Martinez – also known as The Curious Mexican – for a gastronomic tour). Meanwhile, if you're curious to learn what makes this neighborhood so special, just call up Lydia Carey, author of "Mexico City Streets: La Roma," for a walking history tour.
La Casa Azul/Museo Frida Kahlo
Address: Londres 247, Del Carmen, Coyoacán, 04100 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 5554 5999
See the place where Mexico's own Frida Kahlo made the magic happen. Her Casa Azul, or Blue House, is decked out in the artist's work, and some rooms still look like Kahlo herself could return at a moment's notice. A ticket also gives you entry to Diego Rivera's Museo Anahuacalli, a 15-minute drive away.
Bosque de Chapultepec
Not even New York's Central Park can beat this place, a massive urban forest spanning almost 2.8 square miles. The Bosque de Chapultepec is packed with gems, including the Castillo de Chapultepec – the only castle in the Americas ever occupied by European royalty – the Museo Nacional de Antropología and the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo.
Address: Bulevar Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Ampliación Granada, Miguel Hidalgo, 11529 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 1103 9800
Arguably the most dazzling museum in Mexico City – the Museo Soumaya's exterior is formed of more than 16,000 reflective hexagons, each twisting the building toward the sky – the Soumaya also houses one of the most impressive art collections in town. The museum is Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's own, and shows off works like Auguste Rodin's "La Porte de l'Enfer" and "The Thinker."
Galería Mexicana de Diseño
Address: Tabasco 204, Roma Norte, Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 5280 0080
If you're looking to take a piece of Mexico back home, hit up this gallery for its variety of modern Mexican wares. Whether you opt for an Acapulco chair, hand-felted print rugs, or a monstera-leaf gold lamp, every item can be shipped and ready for you upon arrival.
Avenida Presidente Masaryk in Polanco
As if Polanco couldn't be any more posh, Avenida Presidente Masaryk has developed a reputation in recent years as the shopping street in town. Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Hermès all call the avenue home, along with boutiques, national designers and Mexican chocolatier Jose Ramón Castillo's QUE BO! serving up sweet bites just around the corner.
Address: Calle Dr Mora 9, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 5512 3810
The Barrio Alameda, constructed in the late 1920s, bills itself as an "urban meeting point," where food, drink, fashion, and art come out to play. Here you can pick up vintage clothes, old-school vinyls, and handmade patches from various storefronts, all under one roof.
Centro Santa Fe
Address: Vasco de Quiroga 3800, Lomas de Santa Fe, Contadero, Cuajimalpa de Morelos, 05348 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Phone: +52 55 3003 4330
Santa Fe – the ritzy neighborhood on the edge of town where international conglomerates have been drawn over the past few decades – is dotted with malls, but perhaps none as impressive as Centro Santa Fe. The biggest mall in Mexico, this centro comercial counts national giants like Sanborns, Liverpool, and Palacio de Hierro among its anchor stores.
Under the Volcano Books
Address: Calle Celaya 25, Hipódromo, Cuauhtémoc, 06100 Ciudad de México, CDMX
If you're curious to learn more about Mexico as you head home but your Spanish isn't quite up to par, not to fear: Under the Volcano Books has been keeping English speakers in the city informed for decades now. Owner and writer Grant Cogswell custom-tailors recommendations to your interests, and the bookstore always has the newest arrivals.
Neighborhoods to Know
El Centro Histórico: Mexico City's downtown is always bustling, and where many of the city's residents head to during the weekend. You might see protesters in the main square, vendors hawking their wares through the streets and visitors brunching among the surrounding terraces.
La Roma: Filled with fin de siècle mansions, art deco dwellings and art nouveau-style storefronts, any architecture lover needs to stroll through this colonia. Originally a middle-class residential neighborhood, then left destroyed after a massive earthquake that rocked Mexico City in 1985, La Roma has found new life as a hotspot for artists, twentysomethings, and tourists from all over.
La Condesa: La Roma's fancier cousin next door, La Condesa is a tree-lined paradise built for walking. Parque México and Parque España are popular places for residents to relax, and cafés, bookstores, and restaurants abound in this neighborhood.
Coyoacán: The neighborhood artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera called home, Coyoacán has built a reputation for itself as a bohemian haven. Don't miss the performers around the main square's kiosco and the Parroquia San Juan Bautista Coyoacán next door – which has a cafe in the back if you're looking to stop and catch your breath – along with the Mercado de Artesanias and the Mercado de Coyoacán, each selling snacks, artisan goods and more.
Polanco: A trip to Mexico City isn't complete for any shopping lover without a visit to Polanco's Avenida Presidente Masaryk. If that's not your style, a number of Michelin-worthy restaurants like Pujol and Quintonil are just down the road, and the neighborhood's brick-lined streets are just a few blocks from the Bosque de Chapultepec.
Mexico City has a rather temperate climate, with temperatures not getting too hot or too cold. Due to the city's location in the Valle de México, a 7,000-foot-high basin surrounded by mountains, pollution can hang in the air for days – unless it's rainy season (from around mid-May to mid-October), when storms rain down on the valley almost daily. The rains tend to come in the afternoons, and can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, so plan accordingly.
The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month.
January: 43°F to 72°F
February: 48°F to 73°F
March: 50°F to 79°F
April: 54°F to 81°F
May: 55°F to 81°F
June: 57°F to 77°F
July: 55°F to 75°F
August: 55°F to 75°F
September: 55°F to 73°F
October: 52°F to 73°F
November: 50°F to 73°F
December: 46°F to 72°F