This post was written in February 2017 and has been updated in April 2018.
There is SO much to do, see, and eat in Mexico City, so if you only have three days in Mexico City, you’re going to have one seriously packed itinerary. That being said, I get a lot of people asking me what they should do for a long weekend in the city. It’s a quick 2-hour flight from most Southern states in the US, so a three-day escape is a great way to enjoy a nice long weekend in Mexico.
Here’s what 3 days in Mexico City should look like:
Day 1 – Centro Historico
The first day is all about the Centro Historico (the central historical district).
Get here early or come right after work the night before. You’ll want to make sure you enjoy every last moment of your time in the city.
Check into a hotel in the city center, like Chaya B&B. I wrote a review of their amazing beds and delectable breakfast here. If you’re too early to check-in, they’ll let you leave your bags so that you can head out and enjoy the day.
Walk through Alameda Park and grab a snack from one of the food stalls there. The esquites (hot, fresh corn with chile, mayo, and lime) are really great. My mom still raves about the platanos (fried bananas) that she had from here too – so try those if you want something a little sweeter.
Then head over to Palacio de Bellas Artes. It’s the stunning building with the orange and yellow domed roof. It’s prettier from the outside, but you can walk in and have a wander around. The Museum of Fine Arts is here if that is something that interests you.
Otherwise, keep walking in the same direction towards the Zocalo – the main square. Here you’ll find the Metropolitan Cathedral. It’s free to enter and is pretty impressive both inside and out. There are often things going on in the main square – live performances, art installations, or protests. On the hour every hour you can climb to the roof of the cathedral. Go to the desk inside and ask about the tour, it costs 20 pesos (roughly $1).
Note: As of April 2018, the rooftop tours of the cathedral are currently unavailable due to earthquake damage from the September 2017 earthquake. If this changes, I will update this post with more details.
The next stop should be Templo Mayo. An old Aztec ruin, it’s a fascinating place to walk through. It costs 70 pesos to get in (about $3.50). Be sure to head into the museum after you walk through the ruins. It has so many incredible Aztec pieces from all over the country. It’s also a nice way to refresh your understanding of Mexican history.
Grab some lunch to fuel up at Cafe de Tacuba. It’s something of an institution here in Mexico City. The food is cheap, authentic, and so delicious. There’s always live music and the decor inside is seriously something to behold. There’s usually a line on the weekends, but I’ve never waited more than 15 minutes.
If you’re more interested in tacos, check out the basket tacos at El Flaco or the pastor tacos at El Huequito. Both are great places to grab something delicious for lunch in the city center.
The last thing I recommend checking out in the historic district is the National Palace. It’s the seat of the federal government in Mexico and you can visit it daily from 9am-5pm. The best part is the incredible mural by Diego Rivera. Seeing the rest of the inside is pretty impressive, too. Be sure to have an ID on your in order to get in (you’ll need your passport if you don’t have a Mexican ID). Keep your eyes peeled for the resident gang of cats.
Head back in the direction of the Bellas Artes and stop for a view in the Latino America building. It’s the really ugly, old glass building diagonally across from the Bellas Artes. Luckily, once you’re inside you don’t have to look at it (ha!). The view from the top, which costs you 100 pesos ($5) to go to, is one of the best in the city. If you’d rather, you can skip the viewing platform and head for drinks on the 41st floor – but the drinks will probably cost you more than 100 pesos!
For dinner, it’s time to sample some Mexican street food. Head to the corner of Juarez and Calle de Balderas for the best tacos in the city (okay, obviously that’s subjective, but you GUYS these tacos are WOW). There is a taco stand right outside a Banamex bank that sells tacos called “birria” tacos. Order them. Get the consume on top. If it’s not the best thing you’ve ever eaten, well, let me know what is.
Top it off with a piping hot, freshly fried 10 peso (50¢) churro at one of the churro stands along the same corner and call it a night, because it’s not going to get any better than that.
Day 2 – Chapultepec Park & Around
Wake up early to make sure you don’t miss out on the breakfast at Chaya B&B. It’s immense. Definitely get the chilaquiles if they’re available.
Then either hop on the subway or get an Uber down to Chapultepec Park. You’ll want to let the driver know you want the entrance near Torre Mayor (the tallest building in Mexico City & the one nearest the main entrance of the park).
Head straight up the hill to Chapultepec Castle. The view is breathtaking and the museum is fascinating. The entrance fee is 70 pesos ($3.50). Inside you’ll find the Mexican Declaration of Independence, the first ever Mexican flag, and tons of furniture from all the royals that once lived here.
Once you finish at the museum you can either have a stroll around the lake, shop at the dozens and dozens of stalls for popcorn, sunglasses, and bags, or if it’s sunny, get yourself on a paddle boat and enjoy the lake. There’s also a free zoo in the park. They have three beautiful giant pandas.
From Chapultepec, get yourself over to the nearby suburb of Condesa. Grab some fish tacos at El Pescadito or Contramar. Both are incredibly popular for lunch. I personally prefer El Pescacadito – its way cheaper and tastier in my opinion. Have the marlin taco.
Then it’s time to explore the areas of Condesa and Roma. Walk around Parque Mexico, stop for a beer at El Deposito. There are some beautiful art deco buildings along Alvaro Obregon.
Once you’re all shopped out, head to Mercado Roma. I wrote a full review of this amazing food market here. This is a seriously great place to eat. There are tons of bars inside serving up tequila and mezcal cocktails. Get a burger from Butcher and Sons or a Mexican-Japanese fusion burrito at Umami Burrito. There are also delicious tostadas and of course, amazing churros to be had.
If it’s a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, head out to one of my favorite craft beer bars in the area, or a good mezcal bar like La Nacional or El Palenquito.
Day 3 – Coyoacán & Souvenir Shopping
Coyoacán is one of my all-time time favorite neighborhoods in Mexico City. I wrote an entire post about all the things you should do there here.
You can get a metro or an Uber here from the city center. Head for the main square and check out the cool fountain with coyotes on it (not real ones, obvi). The name Coyoacán comes from the native language, Nahuatl, and means place of the coyotes.
My favorite street food and my favorite shopping are in Coyoacán. Make sure you’ve had a good breakfast so that you can start with the shopping. And remember, pace yourself. You’ll definitely want to be enjoying all these delights throughout the day.
The Coyoacán market is on the corner of Ignacio Allende and Malintzin streets. It has absolutely everything inside that any person could need. There are fruit stalls, vegetable stalls, butchers, people selling blenders, other people who just fix them, and of course, plenty of food to eat.
Stop when you get to the area in the market where EVERYTHING around you is yellow. This is Tostadas Coyoacán, the best tostadas around. Grab a seat and pick from the enormous menu. I recommend the ceviche. Remember though, only try one or two, there’s plenty more eating to be done.
Outside the market, there is a big park where an art market is on each Sunday. There are beautiful paintings and the artists are there selling the pieces themselves, which I always find very cool. Grab a bench and watch the old people who meet there each Sunday to dance. Call me sentimental, but it’s one of those sites that makes the sinuses sting.
As you walk back to the main square you’ll see one of the oldest coffee roasters in Mexico City, Cafe el Jarocho. It’s not personally my favorite coffee shop in town (Café Avellaneda on Higuera street is), but it is very popular and a cup of coffee is VERY cheap, like the cheapest I’ve ever seen in Mexico City.
Head into the main church in Coyoacán, San Juan Bautista (St John the Baptist). The church is over 3o0 years old and was built on top of an old Aztec school.
Then check out some more souvenirs at the Mercado Artesanal Mexicano – look for the bright yellow arches at the entrance near the main square. Here you’ll find all manner of tchochka (the fact that I’ve used this word twice on this blog in the last week is SO exciting). There’s Mexican pottery, jewelry, leather goods, embroidered clothing, llama hair blankets, and you can even get a tattoo!
It’s time to eat again. Go to Higuera street and on your left side (if you’re coming from the market) is the Mercado de Antojitos (the best place on earth to be honest). Go straight to Stall #14 and get yourself a huitlacoche quesadilla. Try the Flor de Calabaza, too.
If you’re still hungry, go to the stall at the left corner of the entrance and order flautas con todos (with everything). These little flute shaped tortillas are filled with joy and topped with cream and cheese (more joy). If you’re thirsty, at the back right corner is a fantastic fresh juice shop. It’s my favorite place for Horchata in Mexico.
As evening sets in, head to Centenario 107. This is both the address of the bar and the name of it. They do great craft beer and, if it’s possible that you’re still hungry, some really nice Mexican meals.
Get My Mexico City Guidebook!
If you found this quick post helpful, you may be interested in Mexico City: A Travel Guide. It’s a digital guidebook that you can download straight to your phone and access while you’re on the go in Mexico City.
Other Random Tips About Visiting
- If you come on a Sunday, be sure to take a stroll or bike ride down the Paseo de la Reforma.
- The metro is a cheap and easy way to get around the city, just be sure to avoid it during rush hour and don’t keep valuables in your pockets.
- If you’re looking for some top class restaurants to enjoy while you’re here, check out Pujol, Fonda Fina, Quintonil, Amaya, Maximo Bistrot, or Nico’s.
- If you’re staying for longer than three days, check out my 5-day itinerary here or my 7-day itinerary here.
- Mexico City is perfectly safe, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
- Mexican Food is HEAVENLY. Be sure to eat all the street food.
- Uber is king here. It’s also crazy cheap. Here’s everything you need to know about using Uber in Mexico City. If you don’t already have it you can get a discount by using this code when you sign up: laurab18897ue
Have any questions about traveling to Mexico? Let me know in the comments!
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