Mexico City has so much to offer, it reminds me of London in that way — you could easily fill two weeks and still need more time! Friends recently visited and I tried my best to organize their days in Mexico City around opening times and neighbourhoods. I won’t go into detail and history — this is a compact itinerary for you to use to plan your time.

Friday — Head down to the zócalo (the main plaza in the historic centre). Our first stop was Torre Latinoamericana as you can go up to the mirador and have a bird’s eye view of Bellas Artes. The cheaper option is the Cafe de la Gran Cuidad for muffins and croissants. (Cash only). There is another restaurant higher up the tower but we have never been there. After that, we walked to El Moro for churros, a family business started in 1935 by Spanish brothers. We like the Spanish chocolate as it’s nice and thick and I also love their cafe de olla which is a spiced coffee. After a bellyful of sugar we walked to the zócalo via the pedestrian street Madero to go by the Casa de los Azulejos, a beautifully tiled house with a restaurant inside and a Diego Rivera mural on the landings by the washrooms.

At the end of Madero you will reach the zócalo. The zócalo is an impressive, wide plaza. Anchored by shops and hotels, the Palacio Nacional and the Cathedral. At the back of the Cathedral is the Templo Mayor, a wonderful museum and the ruins of the pyramid which was originally there (before the stone was used to build the cathedral). You can wander around on the sidewalks and see the pyramid bases without going into the museum (which is sometimes the best with children) but the museum is well worth exploring.

There are many places to eat on the zócalo and we have been to a few, but our favourite is behind the cathedral that overlooks the pyramids and it’s called La Frapp, you enter in on the corner via the bookstore and go upstairs.

One of my favourite places downtown is the SEP building (Secretaria de Educacion Public) which houses over 100 murals painted by Diego Rivera and his assistants, outlining the history and customs of Mexico. It’s a working building, but you are free to enter and stroll around the hallways to look at the murals. There are usually very few people here when I have been, so it’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of downtown.

Then we walked up towards the Post Office (Palacio Postal) which is worth walking through as it has gorgeous architecture. We haven’t been on on in-depth tour yet, but you can tour Bellas Artes, which also hosts a ballet folkloric on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, which we have seen and is beautifully done.

From here we walked through Alameda Park towards the Museum of Chocolate, but we were running out of time, so instead we went to the Museum of the Revolution, which you can go to the top for great views over the city (cafes are up there as well) or down into the basement for the museum. The museum is all in Spanish, but is really well done.

Oh dear I said I would be short!

Saturday — Pre-book your tickets for a morning tour of the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacán. You need to pre-book and arrive early to line-up outside. There is a really nice gift shop just down the road from the main entrance. Then you can go to the Coyoacán market on Ignacio Allende street. I have bought ceramic tiles to make coasters, Mexican wrestling t-shirts, fruit, bouquets of flowers and piñatas here, to just name a few things! There is a great juice bar where you can try Jamaica (hibiscus flower) juice and tacos. We had pizza at Bottega Napulē and a great hot chocolate and cafe de olla across the street on the corner at Café El Jarocho. The Coyoacán plaza is very nice with a church and an artisan market as well. I like Taller Experimental de Cerámica for handmade coffee and tea mugs. The factory is in Coyoacan and they have a shop as well Saturdays in San Angel. I have heard how good Los Danzantes but we have never managed to make a reservation on time.

There are a few day trips from CDMX that are very popular. I have heard of people taking ubers to Teotihuacán and Xochimilco. We have our own vehicle so it makes a bit easier and we have also rented a driver and van when we have more people.

Teotihuacán and La Gruta restaurant

Sunday — we did a day trip to Teotihuacán, we had also booked a hot air balloon ride, but it was cancelled due to fog. You can hire a tour guide at the gates to Teotihuacán or just walk through without one. We have had lunch at the La Gruta (cave) which is chilly, and can have a long waiting list, so it’s best to go early. They have a traditional menu and it’s a fun experience. And we have also eaten in the restaurants along the road behind the pyramids as well and enjoyed a typical meal.

On a Sunday you could also rent bikes from the local city bike scheme and bike up Reforma in the morning. Every Sunday morning they close the wide street to allow for bikes, roller blades, scooters and joggers to enjoy seeing the city from this perspective.

Monday — some museums are closed on a Monday so it’s best to check in advance. We booked a day trip to Valle de Bravo to see the butterflies. From November to March the monarchs come to Mexico for the winter (original snow birds!) We went to Piedra Herrada. The butterflies are more active in the sun, so we arrived around noon. You can walk or take a horse up the steep hill. You have to hire a guide to take you, they are on-site. Everything is charged separately so bring cash and sneakers to walk in. The path is steep but not difficult. We went into town for lunch, traffic can be a nightmare as it’s one way into town around a lake so be prepared! We have eaten at Trattoria da Giancarlo and Rione di Trevi and both were good.

Riding on trajinera boats and meeting axolotls.

Tuesday — This time we went to Xochimilco. This area is known for the floating chinampas (floating small islands) and a glimpse to how Mexico City used to be before they started filling in the lake to build the city. You can take a colourful trajinera boat up and down the canals.

You can go to the main boat launches and book a boat which will float past garden shops, the centers that have axolotls (amphibians only found here) and some will take you past the mini Island of the Dolls. To go to the main Island of the Dolls you need a full day and to leave earlier. You can bring your own food or buy it off the floating boats — chips, drinks, beer, tacos and more. You will need cash for this day.

Museum of Anthropology, the Flying Aztecs and the Tamayo museum and shop.

Wednesday — This was the day we did Chapultepec Park and area. You can start off with the impressive Museum of Anthropology. After you exit you will hear drums and behind the market stalls you will see a large pole. Here you can see the Flying Aztec dancers (donation payment) as they climb and then fly their way down a pole spinning and playing music, it’s very impressive! On the way to the main portion of the park you can go via Tamayo Museum (rotating exhibits), the building is beautiful but my favourite part was the shop at the back! You can enter the shop without going via the museum. There is also a playground here nearby. Next up is the Museo de Arte Moderno which also has rotating exhibits. Enter into the park and you can do botanical gardens, the zoo or go up to the castle. Note; the castle is free on Sundays so the lineups are very long on a Sunday!

SEP buliding with Rivera murals, Museum of Popular Art, Cuidadela market, Angel of Independencia on Reforma, Nim Bakery.

Thursday — We did a 10 km walking tour of Roma Norte/ downtown/ Condesa neighbourhoods. First we started walking down Reforma to see the Angel of Independencia. Then we went to Nin Bakery or you could also go to Panaderia Rosetta Puebla location. Both are popular so it’s much faster if you do take away. I prefer the coffee at Nin and the baked goods at Rosetta (the cardamon coffee doughnut was my favourite of the three things I tried).

Then to the Museum of Popular Art which has a wonderful gift shop, and many floors of popular Mexican folk art.

After this you can either eat Azul Historico which has a nice, small menu of local food and is in a small courtyard. Followed by a trip to Cuidadela market to buy hand made Mexican souvenirs (and Mexican wrestling masks). Or you could go to Cuidadela first and then go to Bazaar Fusion for a delicious outdoor light lunch and more shopping. (Note; Bazaar Fusion is closed on Mondays).

Then a short uber or walk to Condesa via Roma Norte neighborhoods will bring you to Amsterdam Hippodromo which is a 2 km oval road with a leafy walking path in the middle of a former horse racetrack. It goes around Parque Mexico. You will find many places to eat and people watch along here but ones we have liked are Tout Chocolat for a spicy hot chocolate and croissant, Merotoro for seafood and Nam Koku for Asian cuisine (I am still dreaming of their noodles). If you are craving Patagonian steak then we loved Patagonia and we felt we were truly back in Argentina and Chile. Lardo is a bit further afield and has a really nice ambiance, reservations recommended.

Portrait of Children in Museum Soumaya on an afternoon, Soumaya Rodin exhibit and the museum from the outside.

Friday — At the far end of Polanco you will find my local Costco (ha ha!) but more interesting perhaps for you, is at this end of town you will find the Jumex museum (rotating exhibits) and across the street is Soumaya. Soumaya Plaza Carso location has Rodin on the top floor and then as you rotate downwards through the buiding you see art through the ages. This free museum is packed with art and a wonderful way to spend half a day. For the children, next door the mall Plaza Carso has Go Karting and they much preferred that! There is also the Aquarium across the road as well.

San Angel

Saturday — You can go to the San Angel end of town any day, but only on Saturdays will you find the outdoor art and crafts market. This can be combined with Diego and Frida’s studios, as well as Museo Anahuacalli which is free with your Frida Museum (Blue house) tickets. You can find details on San Angel and the Saturday bazaar here.

Lagunilla antiques market

Sunday — Only on Sundays will you find the Lagunilla antique and vintage fair — you will find big and little treasures and it is one of my favourite ways to spend a morning. Also on a Sunday is the time to book your Luchador match. Mexican wrestling is truly art, panto, insanity and a good time out. The Sunday afternoon is a family friendly match. We always book with Fernando (bilingual) at CompaBus Tours as he organizes everything, explains what is happening, (otherwise we would be totally lost!) he gets the wrestlers to come over for photos and you can even get in the ring after for your family photos. One of our favourite things to do! (This is also the same wrestling ring used to film Jack Black’s movie Nacho Libre, which is one of our favourite movies!)

Luchador (Mexican wrestling) match

And, so far, this is our CDMX – Mexico City – itinerary! Remember, most museums are closed on a Monday, the Ballet Folkloric is only Wednesday and weekends, Bazaar San Angel is a Saturday and Lagunilla and lucha matches for families are on a Sunday. (But I have been told there is a lucha match every night in the city.)

If you haven’t yet filled a suitcase with Mexican arts and crafts, some really nice shopping in the Polanco end of town can be found at Hilos en Nogada, Tienda Map (next door Caffé Biscottino serves a nice coffee!), Onora and the Ministry of Tourism on 172 Masaryk has rotating exhibits from different parts of Mexico with things for sale.

Our family Christmas card from the lucha match.

Published by mamashinetravel

I'm a wife, mother of three children, Canadian Maritimer living in Mexico and planning getaways for the next available long weekend! I'm a Come From Away, but happy to be where I'm at.

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  1. This is such a great “everything you need to see in CDMX” itinerary! And the writing is wonderful. Thank you for this great suggestion, which I will use this summer for a friend coming to town, it is just perfect!


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