3 Days in Mexico City: What to See, Do and Eat

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Article written by: Rebecca
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Planning 3 days in Mexico City? Here’s the perfect itinerary for your first-time visit to this incredible city.

If there’s one city that I’m always happy to go back to, it’s Mexico City.

I’ve visited this city a handful of times now and just thinking about this energetic city brings back memories of amazing architecture, surprising art, centuries-old history, an incredible culture, warm people and – most importantly for me – to-die-for food. 

It’s a city where you can be in awe of thousand-year-old ruins and then wander through cosmopolitan neighbourhoods, all within a few minutes’ taxi ride.

While 3 days in Mexico City isn’t enough to fit all of this in, you can certainly try. Which is where this Mexico City travel guide comes in.

Here, I’ve included everything I’ve learned from my visits and put it all into what I think is the perfect 3-day itinerary covering the very best things to do in Mexico City.

A vibrant Diego Rivera mural depicting a bustling market scene with various figures engaging in trade and carrying goods in front of a depiction of ancient Aztec pyramids and the cityscape. This mural is located in the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City.

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Is 3 days in Mexico City enough?

If you’ve got 3 days in Mexico City, it’s plenty of time to see the main highlights, try all the food and experience some nightlife. You will need to prioritise what you want to do and plan ahead – Mexico City is enormous and traffic jams are frequent, so getting around can take longer than expected.

Of course, Mexico City is one of the largest metropolises in the world – you could easily spend weeks here (or add Mexico City to a longer, 2-week Mexico itinerary).

Mexico City itinerary

The best way to visit Mexico City is to plan the days out by neighbourhood so that you’re not spending hours in a car or navigating public transport. This is how I’ve structured this 3-day itinerary.

Also, plan your activities around certain days. On Mondays, most museums are closed, so make sure you know this in advance!

Map of the best Mexico City attractions

Here’s everything on this itinerary laid out on a map and colour-coded by day.

Day 1

Start the morning in the trendy neighbourhoods of Polanco, La Condesa and Roma, stopping for a breakfast of chilaquiles.

A dish of chilaquiles topped with white cream, crumbled cheese, and a delicate purple edible flower, served with a side of bread on a marble table. Chilaquiles are a delicious breakfast staple in Mexico City.
Delicious chilaquiles

Museo Nacional de Antropología

Now that you’ve eaten, start your day by brushing up on some history. The Museo Nacional de Antropología is Mexico’s most famous museum.

The permanent collections are a little dusty but they’re comprehensive. Most of the exhibition signage is in Spanish, so have a translator ready on your phone.

It’s a huge museum so it never feels really crowded, although some exhibits draw larger crowds. Plan to spend a few hours here – this is one huge museum.

Information: Closed Mondays, cost: MXN$95

The expansive, modern courtyard of the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, featuring a large square reflecting pool and a striking, cantilevered roof structure.
Museo Nacional de Antropologia’s impressive interior

Bosque de Chapultepec

Head over to the Bosque de Chapultepec for a leisurely stroll.

One of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere, Bosque Chapultepec was a surprise to me when I first visited Mexico City more than a decade ago. I wasn’t expecting to find such a large, green space in a city with a terrible reputation for pollution.

It’s one of the best places to visit in Mexico City when you’re in need of some downtime. Grab some food and a cold drink from the carts throughout the park and take a seat by one of the park’s lakes.

Centro

Don’t linger in the park too long – there’s still more to do today. Jump in a taxi or Uber to Centro, the central area of Mexico City. Spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around the Zócalo, Templo Mayor and the Palacio Nacional.

The Zócalo – Mexico City’s main square – is always buzzing with people and musicians, so it’s great for people watching.

Mexico City's Zócalo with the towering Metropolitan Cathedral in the background, a large Mexican flag waving prominently in the foreground, and people milling about the square.
Mexico City’s Zocalo

It’s also where the Palacio Nacional is located. Here, you can see Diego Rivera’s famous murals – for free!

These paintings tell the history of Mexico and you’ll be spellbound as you ponder the intricate details of each image.

During peak hours, there’s often a long line at the entrance – it’s one of the most popular Mexico City attractions. Make sure to bring some form of ID. A driver’s license will usually suffice, but a passport is better; the security guards will take this and store it securely until you exit.

Information: Palacio Nacional, Av. Pino Suárez, facing the zócalo, open daily, free

A detailed mural by Mexican artist Diego Rivera, filled with dense crowds of people from different eras of Mexican history, including soldiers, labourers, and activists, with symbolic imagery interwoven throughout.
One of Diego Rivera’s incredibly murals

Next, head over to Templo Mayor. Mexico City is built on the ancient city of Tenochtitlan and you can see some of the ruins at Templo Mayor, right in the heart of the city. 

The site is a fairly “new” discovery (as far as centuries-old ruins go), and excavations continue to this day.

Information: Seminario 8, Centro Histórico, open 9am to 5pm daily (except Mondays), MXN$95

Ruins of the Templo Mayor, an Aztec archaeological site, with layers of stone and several carved skulls visible, set against the backdrop of modern buildings.
Ruins of Templo Mayor – right in the heart of the city

Finally, walk over to the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

This beautiful building houses many great works of art, but you don’t even need to enter to be blown away. It’s a pretty spot to take in as the sun is going down, and always seems to be buzzing with students and families.

Or seek out the incredible view of Palacio de Bellas Artes from above. You can get an amazing photo from Cafe Don Porfirio in the Sears store in Mexico City. Head to the 8th floor for beautiful views (and you grab a margarita while you’re at it).

The grand Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, with its distinctive yellow and orange dome, captured on a sunny day with pedestrians and a statue in the foreground.
Palacio de Bellas Artes

Churros and hot chocolate

It’s late in the afternoon. Your feet are screaming from walking all day. You’re in need of a sugar hit – and the best place is El Moro. Order the thick Spanish hot chocolate and dip those sugar-coated churros right in. Took me back to my days wandering Andalucía in Spain, eating as many churros as I could!

We visited El Moro in the centre, but there are other restaurants in Mexico City, including a rebranded one in Roma which is very Instagrammable.

Information: Eje Central Lazaro Cardenas 42, Centro, open daily

A plate of freshly made churros, dusted with sugar, next to a mug of hot chocolate, both resting on a marble cafe table.

Dinner

End day 1 of the itinerary with a meal at one of the world’s best restaurants. Mexico City is home to not one, but THREE of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and on my last visit to the city, my husband and I dined at two of them.

Housed in a bright, open space Quintonil’s menu is full of fresh food with a focus on farm-to-table dining. I recommend the seasonal tasting menu – be ready for some unexpectedly delicious surprises.

At Pujol, the standout dish is the Mole Madre, Mole Nuevo: two kinds of mole, one of which has been aged for 1,000 days.

You’ll need to book well in advance to snag a table at either restaurant.

Quintonil: Av. Isaac Newton 55, Polanco, closed Sundays

Pujol: Tennyson 133, Polanco, closed Sundays

An artistic, gourmet dish arranged in a circle with green garnish on a white plate, creating a contrast with the marbled table below.
One of the dishes at Quintonil – you’ll never guess what this is!

Day 2

Have a small breakfast because you’re about to try some amazing food.

Market food tour

Start your day in the bustling markets of Mexico City on a food tour. Narrow walkways, squeezed in by produce spilling off tables, leaping out of the way as men pushing laden carts barrel towards you… you’ve got to be on guard in the markets in Mexico City but they’re certainly worth a visit.

On our last visit, we took a tour of Mercado de la Merced with Eat Mexico. These trips aren’t cheap but get you straight to the best food stands with a knowledgeable guide. 

My husband and I speak Spanish but there’s no way that we would have found the best food to eat or been able to navigate the confusing corridors of the market without the help of our guide.

A colorful market stall in Mexico City displaying a variety of goods, including dried chilies, beans, and other traditional Mexican ingredients.

Be brave and try the insects! No doubt you’ve heard of people eating grasshoppers (chapulines) in Mexico? That’s not all that’s consumed. On this tour, you can also try baby shrimp, ants’ eggs and mosquito larvae. Not for the faint of heart.

You can also eat cow’s head tacos (which are actually quite delicious).

Assorted traditional Mexican cooking ingredients on display at a market, including a large bowl of dark chapulines (grasshoppers), a bag of insects, bright red baby shrimp, and fresh limes.

Frida Kahlo Museum

Head over to the Frida Kahlo Museum – take a taxi or Uber. Almost synonymous with Mexican art, Frida has left her mark on the art world globally. The Blue House was her home and is now a museum, and allows an intimate look into her life.

You must buy a ticket online in advance, and they’re timed, so you’ll need to plan your day around this Mexico City activity.

Londres 247, Del Carmen, Coyoacán, closed Monday, MXN$320 for foreigners

The entrance to the Museo Frida Kahlo, with a bold sign above the door, set against the museum's iconic blue walls, with trees and a blue sky in the background.

Coyoacán Market

Once you’re done exploring Frida’s costumes, home and artworks, pick up a few souvenirs at the nearby Coyoacán Market. Here you’ll find colourful hand-woven blankets, tequila glasses and handmade jewellery.

Information: Ignacio Allende s/n, Coyoacán, open daily

Lucha Libre

Tonight, get rowdy with the crowds at a Lucha Libre match! Being in amongst the sweating, heaving, hollering crowds is something you’ll never forget.

The wrestling match is highly staged and highly comical, and actually may just be the most fun you have in your 3 days in Mexico City.

A few tips:

  • Don’t bring a camera – it WILL be confiscated. Cameras on mobile phones are fine.
  • Buy tickets online in advance at Ticketmaster.
  • BUT, if you want a true experience of one of the most fun things to do in Mexico City, then take the metro or an Uber to Arena México (Dr. Lavista 189) and line up with everyone else to buy your tickets in the chaos. This is what I did on my first trip to Mexico City.
  • If you’d prefer to have someone else manage everything, there are a few tours that organise group trips to lucha libre fights, including this one and this one, both of which get great reviews.

Day 3

Today’s the earliest you’ll be getting up on your 3 days in Mexico City, because you’ll be heading out to Teotihuacan.

Teotihuacan

Regardless whether you’re a history or archaeology buff or not, Teotihuacan will blow your mind.

This ancient Mesoamerican site has many significant pyramids, some of which you can even climb. From the top, there are great views out across the whole complex. Teotihuacan is just outside of Mexico City and can be visited on a day trip.

You can either take public transport to Teotihuacan, or join a tour to have transport taken care of.

You can even take a hot air balloon over the site!

Plan to spend about half the day out here.

Aerial view of the ancient Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan, showcasing the Avenue of the Dead and the Pyramid of the Sun, with a scenic mountain backdrop under a clear sky. Teotihuacan is an ancient site outside of Mexico City.
The historic site of Teotihuacan

Xochimilco

Does spending the afternoon on a colourful boat, surrounded by Mexican families, mariachi music and food cooked on boats that pass you by sound like a great idea? Then head over to Xochimilco to join the party on the canals.

It’s easy to rent a trajinera (one of the colourful boats) when you get there. You’ll pay around MN$600 per hour. I recommended doing this on a weekend in Mexico City, when everyone is out having fun (it’s quieter on the canals during the week).

If you’re solo in Mexico City, then consider joining a group tour like this one for more fun! Most tours include a visit to the Frida Kahlo museum as well.

Colorful trajineras, traditional Mexican flat-bottomed boats, lined up along the canals of Xochimilco, adorned with vibrant decorations and names painted on the sides. Grab some friends and rent a boat to explore Xochimilco in Mexico City.

Tacos

Finish the night off by finding some street food and enjoying a taco (or three!). From street tacos to cochinita pibil to the hangover cure that is pozole, your tastebuds will love you. Eating in Mexico City is worth the trip alone.

A plate of classic Mexican pozole, a traditional soup or stew, accompanied by tostadas topped with lettuce and cheese, presented on a table with colourful tablecloth.
Pozole
An overhead view of a table with various Mexican salsas and condiments in clay bowls, including chopped onions, limes, and a plate of tacos with guacamole.
Tacos in Mexico City

Mexico City travel tips: Everything you need to know before you visit

When to visit Mexico City

March to May and September to November are the best times to visit Mexico City for the best weather. The rainy season is between June and September.

Spring brings the blooming of jacaranda trees – a gorgeous sight. And if you’re lucky enough to visit in early November, you may be able to participate in the country’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations (it’s on my bucket list!).

Where to stay in Mexico City

Because this city is huge, it can be confusing figuring out where to stay in Mexico City. Here are a few areas to consider.

A tree-lined street in Mexico City's Condesa neighborhood, with outdoor cafes and brick buildings, bustling with pedestrians and parked cars on a sunny day.

Centro Histórico

When I first visited Mexico City over a decade ago, I stayed in a hostel in the Centro Histórico. It’s a great place to get a feel for the city, and is close to all the main tourist attractions – the Zócalo, the Palacio Nacionál, Templo Mayor. It’s always buzzing with street vendors and performances.

  • Zocalo Central – this centrally located hotel is highly rated for its great customer service. Plus, some rooms even overlook the Zócalo! Check rates on Booking.com and Expedia
  • Hotel Historico Central – another hotel in a great central location. Guests rate the comfy beds, and there’s a gym if you need to work off all those tacos! Check rates on Booking.com and Expedia

Polanco

This is the fancy area of Mexico City. Here you’ll find Louis Vuitton and other luxury brands. But, you can still order a breakfast taco from a street vendor on the corner. We stayed in Polanco on our most recent visit to Mexico City and loved the area.

  • W Hotel – on our most recent visit, we splurged on a room at the W Hotel (it was my birthday!). It’s everything you expect of a W Hotel: hip staff, funky rooms and fun bars. Check rates on Booking.com and Expedia
  • Las Alcobas – from this hotel, you can easily walk to the National Anthropology Museum and Chapultepec Park. This hotel is 5-star so expect top-notch service and mouth-watering meals from the hotel’s two restaurants. Check rates on Booking.com and Expedia

Roma

This area has so much going with bars, restaurants and markets. It’s got a total hipster vibe and is safe. A great neighbourhood to stay in for your first visit to Mexico City.

  • La Valise Mexico City – on the upper end of the price range, the rooms at this sophisticated, stylish boutique hotel are to die for. Seriously, go check out the balconies that seem to just flow straight from the bedroom. Check rates on Booking.com and Expedia
  • Hotel Villa Condesa – this small boutique hotel has just 14 rooms, so you can count on wonderful attention from the hotel staff. The hotel also has bikes for guests, so you can pedal your way around Mexico City. Check rates on Booking.com and Expedia

Condesa

Most tourists find their way here and for good reason. Wide avenues, lots of green spaces, cute boutique shops and classy cafés and restaurants make it a great place to stay in Mexico City.

  • Casa Mali by Dominion – step into the luxurious interiors of this small hotel and you’ll feel relaxed immediately. This is an affordable option in a great location. Check rates on Booking.com and Expedia
  • Red Tree House – the motto of this lovely B&B is “staying with friends” and that’s certainly how you’ll feel. Staff are attentive but there’s none of the distant formality of the big hotels. The Treehouse room looks incredible! Prices are ridiculously affordable. Check rates on Booking.com

Coyoacán

If you’re looking for something a little different and off the beaten path, Coyoacán is a great choice. It’s a little further from the city centre, but you’ll be close to great markets, amazing street food and popular Mexico City tourist attractions like the Frida Kahlo Museum.

How to get around Mexico City

Traffic in Mexico City is terrible, due to the city’s huge population (more than 22 million people in the entire metropolitan area!) and the fact that drivers are CRAZY! While renting a car in Mexico will give you a bit more flexibility to get to outer areas like Teotihuacan, there are other ways to get around Mexico City in three days.

The absolute easiest way to get around is by Uber. There are always plenty of drivers around and it’s super affordable. Handy too if you don’t speak much Spanish.

Taxis are also plentiful. Make sure the driver turns on the meter when you get in and speak as much Spanish as you can.

The metro is fantastic and super cheap. It’s very easy to use and also entertaining when on board – all sorts of performers and sellers get on trying to make a buck.

Is Mexico City safe?

Mexico City gets a bad rap, and not always deservedly so. Yes, there’s crime and yes, you need to be alert at all times.

It’s important to remember that a lot of the crime that draws international media attention – narco crime – happens outside of Mexico City, so don’t let that influence your decision to visit Mexico City.

Some helpful tips to stay safe during your 3 days in Mexico City:

  • Learn some basic Spanish, enough to get by in taxis and on public transport, so no one takes advantage of you
  • While public transport is economical and extensive, it’s often better to travel by private transport at night. Uber is a great option
  • Be careful with your cash and only carry with you what you need. Also, put money in different spots – some could go in your wallet, some in another pocket, some (for the ladies) inside your bra
  • Don’t flash around your expensive camera and phones
  • Try to blend in: don’t walk around with a map in your hand and camera slung around your neck, don’t speak loudly in English
  • Don’t carry your passport around with you, take a copy instead
  • If something does happen, don’t fight back! Valuables can be replaced, your life cannot

Wrap up: 3 days in Mexico City itinerary

Mexico City is one of the great cities of the world, and 3 days here will give you a taste of what makes it so special. If you prioritise your activities and plan your itinerary, you can fit a lot into a few days!

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Have I left anything off this 3 days in Mexico City itinerary? Drop your favourite things to do and travel tips in the comments below.


Related posts

Before you go… you might like these Mexico travel guides.

MEXICO TRIP ESSENTIALS

  • Book flights to and around Mexico online with Skyscanner. I like this site because it shows me which dates are cheaper.
  • Find great hotels across Mexico. Check prices on Booking.com and Expedia online.
  • Check out the huge range of day tours throughout Mexico on GetYourGuide or Viator. There’s something for everyone.
  • A copy of the Lonely Planet guide to Mexico will be handy.
  • One thing I always purchase is travel insurance! Travel Insurance Master allows you to compare across multiple policy providers, while SafetyWing is great for long-term travellers and digital nomads.

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About REBECCA

I'm a travel junkie who started dreaming about seeing the world from a very young age. I've visited more than 40 countries and have a Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management. A former expat, I've lived in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Argentina and the United States. I share travel resources, tips and stories based on my personal experiences, and my goal is to make travel planning just that bit easier.

8 thoughts on “3 Days in Mexico City: What to See, Do and Eat”

  1. What a colorful city! I have been to Mexico a few times but haven’t made it to Mexico City yet. All the delicious food is reason enough to want to visit! Saving this for later.

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  2. I’ve been dreaming to go to Mexico for years now, but I promised myself to spend at least two weeks should the opportunity arise. However, its distance from Indonesia and my limited annual leave have been putting that dream on hold. But for sure if for the entire year I only take that one vacation to Mexico, I think I will never regret it. This post is a reminder for me to not forget that dream. Thanks Rebecca!

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