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 and spent 3 days in Mexico City.
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 this 3 days in Mexico City itinerary:
3 Days in Mexico City: When to Go
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.When considering what to wear in Mexico City, remember to pack a light rain jacket (such as this one) during these months!
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.
3 Days in Mexico City: Altitude
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:
Most visitors arrive for their 3 days in Mexico City via the Benito Juarez International Airport, which sits on the eastern part of the city, about 5 kilometers from the center. It is served by many international airlines with flights to and from most major cities in the world.
To get into city center, you have several options:
Taxi: There are six companies authorized by the SCT (Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportesto) pick up passengers from the airport – Porto Taxi, Sitio 300, Nueva Imagen, Excelencia, Confort and Yellow Cab. DO NOT get into an unauthorized taxi cab – don’t pay attention to the people who try to offer you transportation from the airport! To find a taxi, go to the Transporte Terrestre booth at arrivals, where you will pre-pay your fare and receive a ticket. Fares are pre-determined based zones – service to the city center will run you about 250 pesos (~$13 USD). It takes about 20 minutes to drive into city center, but this also depends on current traffic conditions.
Ride Share: Uber service is offered to and from the Mexico City airport. and is an easy, convenient, and inexpensive way to get into the city center. Both individual (X) and shared (pool) rides are available. I’ve found that an Uber X ride into the city is the fastest and easiest way to get into the city, and still very affordable at ~150 pesos (~$8 USD). Uber pickups occur at the curb outside baggage claim at arrivals. Just type in your terminal and door number when you request your ride.
By Bus: A convenient, yet cheap option to get into city center is to take the Metrobus 4 line. This runs out of both Terminal 1 (outside door 6 and 7) and Terminal 2 (stop is right outside door 3). The fare is 30 pesos (~$1.50 USD) – you must load this onto a Metrobus Smart Card, which can be purchased in the arrivals hall. The Metrobus 4 line runs from 4:30am to midnight daily, with buses coming every 15 minutes. Service to city center takes about 30 minutes. For more route information and timetable, see here.
By Metro: An even cheaper way to get into the city is to take the Mexico City metro – however, it is definitely the least convenient. The metro station stands about 10 minutes outside of Terminal 1. In the arrivals hall, turn left towards Gate A and walk through terminal until you see a long, covered sidewalk. Keep walking and you will see a sign with the Metro logo, showing the entrance of the Terminal Aérea station. From here, go downstairs and take line 5; you must then transfer to another line in order to get into city center. The trip takes about 50 minutes total. The fare is 5 pesos (~25 cents USD). You can purchase a ticket from the self-service machine or ticket booth in the station.
3 Days in Mexico City: Currency, money, and tipping
The local currency is 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. I always get some cash 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.
3 Days in Mexico City: Safety
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: Language
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.
How to Get Around During Your 3 Days in Mexico City:
Mexico City is one of the largest cities in Latin America, so one thing to keep in mind that it is HUGE at 573 square miles. Not only that, it is also one of the most populated cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people.
Put those things together and getting around during your 3 days in Mexico City can be a bit of a challenge – it is very spread out, and traffic is notoriously bad (seriously, I grew up in LA and the traffic here makes LA traffic look like nothing). I would highly advise against renting a car and driving, as this will cause more headaches than save you time.
My preferred method for getting around a city is to walk, but I quickly found that walking was not the best way to get around during my 3 days in Mexico City, aside from wandering around to explore individual neighborhoods. Getting around the city can be a bit of a challenge, so definitely factor in transit time when planning your 3 days in Mexico City itinerary – sometimes getting from point A to point B can take well over an hour, even though they are only a few miles apart!
That said, Mexico City has a fairly extensive (and cheap) Metro system that is highly developed, modern, and efficient. You can’t beat the fares – each ride costs 5 pesos, or about 25 cents USD. There are 12 lines that run throughout the city, which will get you to almost anywhere you need to go. Trains run Monday to Friday from 5am to midnight, Saturday 6am to midnight, and Sunday 7am to midnight. For information on routes and schedules, see here.
Lines are color-coded and each station as a unique logo. Signs display the direction that the trains are going, by naming the stations that are at the end of the line (i.e. Direccion Universidad). Be sure to pay attention to where you are going, as there is usually only one map in the station, usually near the exit.
You can purchase your fares onto a reloadable transit card, which costs 10 pesos (~50 cents USD). Look for the taquilla (ticket window) where you can buy your boletos (tickets); then feed the ticket into the turnstile. If you need to transfer trains, look for the Correspondencia (transfer) signs at the station.
Trains can be uncomfortably crowded during rush hour (roughly 7:30am to 10am and 3pm to 8pm); during these times, there are women and children only cars on the first car of each train. Pickpocketing is common on the metro, so be sure to keep a tight grip on all of your belongings, especially at these times!
As I was in Mexico City as a solo female traveler, I got a bit nervous and ended up not taking the metro at all – however, other friends who have been to Mexico City have all said that they found the metro to be relatively safe.
Instead, I relied on Uber as my primary method to get around during my 3 days in Mexico City. For me, it is the perfect option because you can type in your exact destination and avoid any confusion. It is very convenient and fairly inexpensive – most rides cost me under 100 pesos (~$5 USD), even if I was getting from one end of the city to the other in heavy traffic. On average, I would say a Uber X ride cost me about 40-60 pesos (~$2-3 USD).
You can also take a red double-decker Turibus, or tourist bus. These buses also offer commentary in eight different languages, with stops at 20 of the most popular sights and attractions in the city. You can also choose to stay on the Turibus for the entire route, which gives you a narrated tour of Mexico City. Buses run from 9am to 9pm daily – you can find more information about schedules and route here. Fares are 160 (~$8 USD) pesos on weekdays, and 180 (~$8.50 USD) pesos on weekends and holidays – you can purchase tickets here.
Here are more things you should know about Mexico City.
3 Days in Mexico City: Where to 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:
Chaya B&B Boutique : 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. Read more about my stay at Chaya B&B Boutique.
Hotel Carlota: This stylish boutique hotel is located in the up-and-coming 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).
What to Do and See in 3 Days in Mexico City
Centro Historico and the Zocalo
Start your 3 days in Mexico City at the Centro Historico – it is the heart of the city, and where you can find many historical attractions, which has given it UNESCO World Heritage status. The Centro Historico is clustered around the Zocalo, or the central square. Always bustling with energy, the Zocalo has been a central gathering place in the city since Aztec times. Even today, it hosts many events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and political demonstrations. It is also the home of a giant annual celebration for the Mexican Independence Day on September 15 – even if you come during the surrounding weeks, you will see it decked out in festive decorations!
The Zocalo is surrounded by 9000 buildings, of which over 1500 have been declared to be of historical significance. Therefore, it is the perfect place to being your 3 days in Mexico City, as there is much to see and explore here!
Here are some of the highlights of what you should see in the Centro Historico:
Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana): One of the city’s oldest and most iconic buildings, the Catedral Metropolitana stands right off the Zocalo and is Latin America’s oldest and largest cathedral. Construction of the cathedral began in 1573, but it was a work in progress during the entire colonial period; the finished architectural masterpiece towers 65 meters high and 109 meters wide. The interior, which is free to visit, is as ornate as the Baroque and Neo-Reniassance facade, with gold details throughout. The church was deliberately built near the nearby Templo Mayor to signify the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs – they even used stones from the original temple in order to build the church. Did you know that the church sinks gradually every year, thanks to the fact that the city was originally built on top of the lake, and has been subject to numerous earthquakes over the year? (Plaza de la Constitución S/N, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 // open 8am-8pm daily)
Templo Mayor: Before the Spanish conquest of the, the Mexico City was known as the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. The Templo Mayor was the main temple for the city, and had two shrines on top of the pyramid that paid tribute to Huitzilopochtli, god of war, and Tlaloc, god of rain and agriculture. It also had a spire that was devoted to Quetzalcoatl (the Aztec serpent God) as his form as the wind god, Ehecatl. Construction began in the 14th century, and was rebuilt six times. While it was destroyed by the Spaniards to build the nearby Cathedral, you can still see the runs of the old temple today, and the museum gives insight into the temple and its civilization. (Seminario 8, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Cuauhtémoc, 06060 // museum open 9am-5pm Tuesday-Sunday; closed Monday)
National Palace (Palacio Nacional): The grand Palacio Nacional is the seat of the government and houses the office of the President and the Federal Treasury. It is also where you can learn about over five centuries of Mexican history. The palace features a beautiful courtyard on the first floor, with ornate Renaissance-style columns and fountain. The second floor also houses nine grand Diego Rivera murals, which depict Mexican history from the arrival of Quetzalcoatl, to post-colonial life. The Palacio Nacional is open every day (except for when government events – check website), and is free to enter. Be sure to bring a photo ID in order to visit. (Plaza de la Constitución S/N, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06066 // open 9am-5pm Tuesday-Sunday; closed Monday)
I found that just walking around in the area gives you a good feel for the area, and is a great introduction to your 3 days in Mexico City. However, since many of the sites and buildings have such important historical and cultural significance, you may want to take a guided walking tour of the area. This tour is one that was recommended to me, and takes you around to all of the sites mentioned above, along with a few others, with commentary on Mexican history, culture, and gastronomy.
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 Art-deco styleroof 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).
While you should definitely admire the beautiful architecture, seeing the inside is also a must, as it also features several notable murals on its four floors, as well as some historical and cultural exhibits. The fourth floor also houses the National Architecture Museum, which has rotation exhibits on contemporary architecture, as well as some temporary art exhibitions.
The Palacio de Bellas Artes is the home of the acclaimed Ballet Folkorico. The beautifully choreographed show, which features traditional folk dances and costumes of Mexico, is a highlight in the city. If you spend your 3 days in Mexico City while the Ballet Folkorico is performing, it is definitely recommend that you catch a performance at the Palacio de Ballas Artes (I missed them, and it is definitely at the top of my list for next time!) – you can get tickets here, or you can book here for tickets plus round-trip transportation from your accommodations.
Address: Av. Juárez S/N, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro
Admission: Museum is 60 pesos; see calendar for ticket prices for Ballet Folkorico performances
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.
Address: C. Tacuba 1, Cuauhtémoc, Centro, 06000
Hours: Monday-Friday 8a-7:30pm, Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday 10am-2pm
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!
Address: Av Francisco I. Madero 4, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro
Hours: 7am-midnight daily
Chapultepec Park (Bosque del Chapultepec)
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 often known as the Central Park of Mexico, but at 1600 acres, it is actually more than double the size. It also gets over 250,000 visitors each day.
Just walking through the park seems a world away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis that Mexico City is. It also works as the lungs of the city, with its trees absorbing some of the smog and carbon in the city. It is a great place to take a walk (or go for a run, if you’re a runner like me!) and to enjoy some greenery, but the park also offers a wide array of activities and attractions, including a zoo, museums, historical monuments, cultural exhibits, a lake, a botanical garden, an amusement park, an archaeological site, and more. It is also a great place for biking – in fact, you can take a bike tour which lets you see all of the highlights in the park!
The park’s history dates back to Pre-Hispanic, during which it was used as a summer residence of Aztec rulers. There are several statues and monuments that are dedicated to various rulers from these times. It was also the site of the Battle of Chapultepec, one of the most significant battles during the Mexican-American war.
The park is divided into three sections, and many of its most popular attractions are within the Primera Seccion, or the first section. This section is open Tuesday-Sunday from 5am-8pm during Daylight Savings time (first Sunday in April until the last Sunday in October), and until 7pm the rest of the year. A few also reside in the Segunda Seccion (second section). The third section, Trecera Seccion, is made up of mostly natural areas, and is much less frequented. The Seguna and Trecera Seccions are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Some of the most popular attractions inside Bosque del Chapultepec include:
Chapultepec Castle (Castillo del Chapultepec): Built during colonial times, the Castillo del Chapultepec is the only castle in North America to have housed actual sovereigns. It stands on Chapultepec Hill, at the highest point in the park, which means there is a spectacular view of the city below.
The castle also had other uses during its history, including as a military academy, and was the site of the Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War. It also served as the Presidential Residence for a time (it was later moved to Los Pinos, also in the park, in 1941). Today, the castle houses the National History Museum. The inside of the castle has beautiful, ornate rooms and halls that also house various history exhibits; the outside features a lush garden along with panoramic views.
Chapultepec Castle can get super busy, so I’d recommend doing a guided visit, which not only lets you skip the line, but will give you more insight into the history and significance of the castle. (Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, 11100 // open 9am-5pm Tuesday-Sunday; closed Monday // 75 pesos)
National Anthropology Museum (Museo Nacional de Antropologia): Widely regarded as one of the best museums in all of Mexico, the National Anthropology Museum boasts the world’s largest collection of ancient Mexican art. The museum’s also displays ancient human remains, Pre-Classical pottery, and has exhibits about Mexico’s present-day indigenous groups.
You could spend all day here, but some of the museum’s highlights include a Sun Stone or an Aztec calendar, a recreation of Pakal’s tomb, and a jade mask of the Zapotec Bat God.
The museum can be a bit overwhelming to see on your own, so to get the most out of your visit, I would recommend doing a guided visit, which will ensure that you see all the highlights, as well as get more insight into their significance. You can also combine this with a tour of the Chapultepec Castle on this tour. (Av. Paseo de la Reforma s/n, Polanco, Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, 11560 // open 9am-7pm Tuesday-Sunday; closed Monday // 64 pesos)
Museum of Modern Art (Museo de Arte Moderno): The Museum of Modern Art is also widely regarded as one of the best museums in Mexico City, and showcase art from renowned Mexican and international artists. The collection is very well-curated and always changing. The highlights here are definitely the exhibits featuring contemporary Mexican art. It is also famous for its circular, domed building, which allows the museum to be bathed in gorgeous natural light. (Av. Paseo de la Reforma s/n, Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, Miguel Hidalgo, 11100 Ciudad de México // open Tuesday-Sunday 10:15am-5:30pm; closed Monday // 70 pesos)
Roma and Condesa
Be sure to leave some time to wander around the Roma and Condesa neighborhood on your 3 days in Mexico City itinerary. These neighborhoods, which are right next to each other, are super trendy, lined with hip cocktail bars, fashionable boutiques, cafes, and more!
Condesa has a bit of an upscale vibe, and is home to many stylish boutique hotels. It is also full of tree-lined streets and lush green spaces. Roma has a bit more of an artsy, hipster edge, with lots of cool murals scattered throughout the streets. Both have its share of beautiful colonial buildings, along with tons of delicious restaurants, hipster coffee shops, trendy boutiques, and cool bars that you should definitely check out (many of my recommended places to eat down below are in these neighborhoods).
You can spend an entire afternoon, or even day just wandering up and down the streets. Aside from just wandering, be sure to also check out the Mercado Roma, which is hipster central, and has a great collection of trendy eateries.
Casa Azul/Museo Frida Kahlo
Arguably the most popular museum in Mexico City, the Museo Frida Kahlo is dedicated to the life and works of the famous Mexican artist. Most recognizable by the iconic cobalt blue facade, the house is where Kahlo was born, spent her childhood, lived in with her husband Diego Rivera, and where she died.
What makes the museum unique is that rather than focusing on the artist’s works (although there are a few galleries that showcase some of her paintings), it is really a celebration of her life and gives you an insight into her life. 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 incredible art along the way. The house also gives you insight into her relationship with Diego Rivera, which I also found interesting. I only knew some of Friday Kahlo’s story prior to visiting the museum, and I definitely left inspired.
It is definitely a must-visit on your 3 days in Mexico City – I loved it so much, that I returned again on my second visit to the city! As it is one of the most popular attractions in Mexico City, advance planning is a must – be sure to pre-purchase your tickets in advance (especially if you are planning to go on the weekend or busy seasons)! I have heard from many friends who have tried to show up on the spot and were denied admission because all tickets were sold out. I would even recommend getting a skip-the-line ticket here.
Casa Azul is located in the Coyoacan, which is definitely worth wandering around before or after your visit to the museum. It has an artsy, bohemian vibe, and I fell in love with all of the colorful facades in the neighborhood. There are also several other museums in the vicinity, including ones dedicated to Diego Rivera and Leo Trotsky.
It is also located on the way to the Xochimilco canals, so you can easily make a stop there as well (I ended up not going and I am still kicking myself! Please do not be me and go – everyone that I know who has been there always raves about how much fun it is!). To maximize your time, I’d suggest booking this tour that includes admission into the Frida Kahlo Museum, a walking tour of Coyoacan, and to the fun, colorful canals of Xochimilco.
You can also combine the museum with a trip to the pyramids of Teotihuacan, another must-visit on your 3 days in Mexico City (see below), with this tour.
Address: Londres 247, Del Carmen, 04100
More info: https://www.museofridakahlo.org.mx/en/the-blue-house/
Hours: Tuesdays 10am-5:30pm; Wednesdays 11am-5:30pm; Thursday-Sunday 10am-5:30pm. Closed Mondays, and on January 1, May 1, December 14, December 25. Special hours (10am-2pm) on September 15, December 24, December 31.
Tickets: 230 pesos (~$12 USD) on weekdays, 250 pesos (~$13 USD) on weekends. Pre-book tickets here.
Located just an hour outside the city, Teotihuacan, which was the largest pre-Aztec civilization in its time, and a must-see during your 3 days in Mexico City. These 2000 year old pyramids were named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987 and are accessible on a quick day trip from Mexico City.
The two highlights at Teotihuacan are Pyramid of the Sun (Pirámide del Sol) and Pyramid of the Moon (Pirámide de la Luna). Standing over 70 meters tall, the Pyramid of the Sun is one of the tallest in the word, and one of the few which you can still climb to the top. You will have to huff and puff your way up 248 steps to the top, which is a quite the workout (especially on a sunny day, since there is no shade), but the sweeping views of the site and of the valley beyond are absolutely magical!
The Pyramid of the Sun is by far the most popular attraction at Teotihuacan, so I suggest you arrive to the site early in the day and to go there first – partially to beat the crowds, but also the trek up can take a lot out of you. If you do it first, you can relax for the rest of the day!
The Pyramid of the Moon is the second tallest pyramid, standing about 45 meters high. You can only climb about halfway to the top, but the views are still pretty awesome! Obviously, you are not going up as high as the Pyramid of the Sun, but I found the steps to be steeper, which I found to be harder to get up – I was definitely sore the next day!
Other highlights include the Avenue of the Dead (Calzada de los Muertos), Quetzalcoatl Temple (Temple of the Feathered Serpent), Quetzalpapalotl Palace (Temple of the Quetzal Butterfly), and the Teotihuacan Museum. Be sure to also make a stop at La Gruta for lunch, where you get the experience of eating a meal inside a cave!
There are a few ways to get to Teotihuacan:
Via Organized Tour: This is the easiest way to get to Teotihuacan, and let someone else take care of the logistics for you. There are many day and half-day tours to Teotihuacan, which are a convenient way to see the pyramids. Some of these will even let you access the site before it officially opens to the public, letting you see the pyramids without the crowds. The limitation of going on a tour is that you are on a schedule so you may not be able to explore as freely as you would have gone on your own.
Here are a few recommended choices for guided tours to Teotihuacan:
- Early Morning Teotihuacan Tour with Archaeologist: This tour allows you to see Teotihuacan before it officially opens, along with guidance and insight from an archaeologist.
- Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Tour: Soar above the pyramids as you watch the sun rise above the horizon in this special tour. Afterwards, explore the pyramids from the ground. My friend did this one and her photos looked absolutely incredible – a truly special experience for sure. If you don’t want to wake up for the sunrise but still want the experience of seeing the pyramids from a hot air balloon, there is a day version of this as well.
- 6 Hour Small Group Tour: Explore Teotihuacan with a smaller group, and end your day as you see the sun set over the pyramids.
- Teotihuacan and Frida Kahlo Museum Tour: This one allows you to see both the pyramids and the Frida Kahlo Museum, which is also another must-see (see above)!
Private Guide: Another way to see Teotihuacan is with a private guide. This is a great way to see the pyramids, as it will give you a personalized tour, catered to what you want to see and know more about. You can sometimes book a guide through your accommodations, and many times you will see guides for hire outside the site. Otherwise, you can book a highly-recommended private guide here.
Via Bus: Taking the public bus to Teotihuacan is an inexpensive way to see the pyramids. The best thing about finding your own way there is that you can explore on your own terms and spend as little or as much time at the site as you want!
Buses leave from the Terminal Central del Norte station, which is easily accessible via Metro. Once there, make a left and look for the sign that says “Puerta 8” (gate 8), where you will find the Autobuses Teotihuacan booth. I found the employee there to speak English and to be very helpful. Purchase a ticket for Los Piramides here – a round-trip ticket will run you 100 pesos (~$6 USD).
Buses leave every 15-20 minutes, and the trip takes about an hour, depending on traffic. Once you arrive at Teotihuacan, you will be dropped off at Puerta 1, where you can purchase your ticket into the site. Note that they will not check your ticket until the second gate, so be sure to buy one beforehand so you don’t have to go back!
Once you are ready to leave, head to Puerta 2 and walk through the parking lot to the main road. Be sure to check the time for the last departing bus, around 6pm.
Via Uber: Uber is a relatively affordable way to get direct transportation to Teotihuacan – it usually costs ~200 pesos (~$11 USD) each way, but this is highly dependent on the traffic conditions (which can be bad) and the route taken. Also note that the most direct way to Teotihuacan is through toll roads – you must tell your driver that it is okay to use these roads (if it is indeed okay with you), and be sure you have cash on hand to pay toll. If you use Uber to get to the pyramids, keep in mind that cell service is spotty at the site and there is no WiFI, so you may have difficulty requesting a ride back into the city. There are definitely a lot of cars waiting around the entrance, so availability is not a problem if you find cell service.
Want to read more about planning a day trip to Teotihuacan? Read this guide to visiting Teotihuacan.
More info: http://www.teotihuacan.inah.gob.mx/
Hours: Daily, 9am-5pm
Admission: 70 pesos (~$4 USD)
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. I hadn’t even heard of Luis Barragan prior to my 3 days in Mexico City, but this was something that was highly recommended to me by several people, so I booked the tour without knowing what to expect. Seeing as one of the things that Mexico City is known for is its architecture, I thought it would be interesting. After paying the Casa Luis Barragan a visit, I can definitely say that it’s a must on your 3 days in Mexico City itinerary!
The tour is informative and gives you an interesting insight into his life and his unique ideas. This was a very inspiring tour, especially as a creative. It was definitely interesting to hear about the inner workings of his creative mind, and to see how he laid out various concepts in his architectural works!
Along with his house and studio, another one of Barragan’s iconic works is the Casa Gilardi, which is only accessible by asking arranging a visit with the house’s owners. An easier way to see both of Barragan’s famous houses is if you book this combination tour. If you want to delve further into Barragan’s life and see his other works, an all-day tour of his buildings is available here.
Address: Gral. Francisco Ramírez 12-14, Ampliación Daniel Garza, Amp Daniel Garza, Miguel Hidalgo, 11840
Tickets: 400 pesos; book here.
Polanco is dubbed the “Beverly Hills of Mexico City,” and you will find it lined with ritzy luxury boutiques and high-end restaurants. However, what makes Polanco a must-visit on your 3 days in Mexico City are the highly-acclaimed museums that are in the neighborhood, each boasting a must-see collection!
Even if you don’t feel like spending an afternoon in a museum, they are worth a stop because they have some unique architectural elements and are some of the best photos ops in the city – the Museo Soumaya is famous for its modern, curved silver facade, and the Museo Jumex has a stunning living green wall.
Museo Soumaya: Named after the late wife of one of the world’s richest men, the Museo Soumaya boasts a collection of over 66,000 works of Latin and European art that spans over 30 centuries. The collection is housed in one of the most-recognizable buildings in Mexico City, and the galleries inside feature pieces from masters such as Auguste Rodin, Dali, and Diego Rivera. (Blvd. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Presa Falcon esquina, Granada, 11529 // Open Wednesday-Monday 10:30am-6:30pm; closed Tuedays // Free admission)
Museo Jumex: Also housing a large donated art collection, Museo Jumex features an extensive collection of contemporary works from acclaimed artists, such as Gabriel Orozco, Francis Alys and Andy Warhol. The building itself, designed by David Chipperfield has a striking design. (Blvd. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 303, Granada, Miguel Hidalgo, 11520 // Tuesday – Sunday 10am-7pm; closed Monday // Admission: 50 pesos)
If you get hungry after all that museum hopping, there is also some great street food in this area! You can taste the best of it on this highly-recommended Polcanco street food tour!
Your Perfect 3 Days in Mexico City Itinerary
Here is the itinerary I used on my 3 days in Mexico City trip – follow along to be able to see all the highlights in the city!
- 3 Days in Mexico City Itinerary – Day 1: Start your day exploring the Zona Historico. Check out the Zocalo and admire the beautiful colonial architecture of the surrounding attractions – the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and Government Building. Visit the site of the Templo Mayor. Take in the beauty if the Palacio Postal, and snap a photo in front of the Casa de los Azulejos. Admire the beauty of the Palacio Bellas Artes. Spend the afternoon at the Frida Kahlo Museum and wandering the colorful streets of Coyoacan – this would also be a great time to check out the fun canals of Xochimilco!
- 3 Days in Mexico City Itinerary – Day 2: Explore the beauty of Chapultepec park, and admire the city views from the Chapultepec Castle (be sure to check out the interior as well). Check out some of the museums in the park – the Anthropology Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art are great choices. Afterwards, head over to the Roma and Condesa neighborhoods for lunch, and to wander the streets. Head to Polanco, and check out more art at the Museo Soumaya (or just snap a photo of the unique, modern facade). Tour the Luis Barragan House.
- 3 Days in Mexico City Itinerary – Day 3: Spend the day exploring the pyramids of Teotihuacan! Be sure to not miss the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, and the Avenue of the Dead. Explore some of the smaller pyramids as well, and eat lunch at La Gruta. I found this to be an all-day affair, so by the time I got back, it was dinnertime; if you get back to the city earlier, I suggest you cross another museum off your list, since they are so many of them!
What to Eat in 3 Days in Mexico City
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.
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! Advance reservations are a must here – keep in mind that they go quickly (we booked ours 2 months in advance)!
Address: Tennyson 133, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc, 1155
Hours: 1:30pm-10:45pm, Monday-Saturday
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!
Address and Hours: multiple locations, see here
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.
Address: Calle de Durango 200, Roma Nte., Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Cuauhtémoc”
Hours: Monday-Thursday 12pm-6:30pm, Friday-Saturday 12pm-8pm
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.
Address: Av. Cuitláhuac 3102, Claveria, Azcapotzalco, 02080 Ciudad de México
Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30am-12pm/1pm-7pm; Saturday 8am-12pm/1:30pm-7pm; closed Sunday
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.
Address and hours: multiple locations, see here.
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.
Address: Medellín 79, Roma Nte., 06700
Hours: Monday-Wednesday 1pm-11pm; Thursday-Saturday 1pm-midnight; Sunday 1pm-7pm
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.
Azul Historico: Isabel la Católica 30, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000, open 9am-12pm/1pm-11pm daily
Azul Condesa: Av Nuevo León 68, Hipódromo, Cuauhtémoc, 06100, open Monday-Saturday 9am-11pm, Sundays 9am-6pm
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.
Address: Circuito Arqueologico, Avenida del Puente S/N, 55820 San Francisco Mazap
Hours: 11am-7pm daily
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.
Address: Havre 73, Juárez, Cuauhtémoc, 06600
Hours: Monday-Saturday 7am-9pm, Sunday 7:30am-6pm
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.
If you want to make sure that you hit up all of the best street food vendors in the city, I would highly recommend doing a food tour. There are many tours are available, but here are some highly recommended ones:
- Mexico City Secret Food Tour
- Authentic Downtown Food Tour
- Original Markets and Street Food Tour
- Mezcal, Tacos, and Pulque Tour
Have you been to Mexico City? What are some of your favorite spots?
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