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The Ultimate 5 Days in Mexico City Itinerary

The Ultimate 5 Days in Mexico City Itinerary

Planning your Mexico City Itinerary? How exciting! As the largest city in North America, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Mexico City for all types of travelers.

In fact, there are so many things to do that planning a trip to Mexico City (CDMX for short), can be a bit intimidating.

However, it doesn’t have to be, and you’ve landed on the right article for a smart, done-for-you Mexico City itinerary.

How many days do you need in Mexico City?

With all cities of this size, you could spend a full year in CDMX and still discover new places all the time.

However, 5 days in Mexico City is actually a great amount of time to hit all the most popular places, as you’ll see in the Mexico City itinerary below.

The one thing that helps most with CDMX travel is to stick to a neighborhood by neighborhood agenda, and spend each day in just 1-2 areas near one another.

Doing this, you’ll make it to all the top places to visit in Mexico City, but in a relaxing, organized manner.

What to pack for Mexico City

Mexico City’s weather is colder than what many think.

This part of Mexico has what’s known as “Eternal Spring” weather, so expect cooler, springtime 65-75°F weather for much of the year. However, know that in winter, Mexico City temperatures drop to about 45°F at night.

CDMX is about 1.5 miles above sea level, and those not used to high altitude will want to add anti-altitude sickness medication to their Mexico packing list.

Beyond that, this is a very walkable city, so bring your most comfy shoes.

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How to avoid Mexico City traffic

With a population of well over eight million, the traffic in Mexico City’s traffic is infamous.

In fact, it’s something you’ll want to avoid at all costs!

This is why dedicating each day to 1-2 areas near one another is the smartest strategy — as it can often take over an hour to get across town.

Taking Uber in Mexico City over Public Transport

With just five days in Mexico City, you’ll also save yourself some precious travel time by using Uber over public transportation.

This is both relatively economical, generally considered safer, and makes getting around much quicker. 

For reference, the 8 mile (13km) bus trip from the Roma Norte to Coyoacan neighborhood costs about $1USD — but can take more than two hours.

This same trip via Uber costs about $5USD, and takes as little as 30 minutes.

If you do use public transport, try to avoid it during rush hours; 7am-9am and 5pm-7pm.

Now that you know all the basics of Mexico City travel, let’s get to this five day itinerary for Mexico City.

We’ll be starting with Day 1 at the Teotihuacan Pyramids, one of the best archaeological sites in Mexico.

5 Day Mexico City Itinerary

Day 1: Teotihuacán Ruins

Teotihuacán Ruins

Teotihuacan (pronounced tay-oh-tee-wok-on) is one of the oldest and most important of all Mexico archeological sites. It is also one of the 35 or so UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mexico. 

While devoting one entire day of your 5 day Mexico City itinerary to seeing Teotihuacan may seem like a lot — visiting this important site does warrant it.

Though located only about 35 miles (50km) from downtown, the drive from Mexico City to Teotihuacan takes 1-2 hours, depending on traffic. The best way to keep your travel time low is by leaving the city around 8am, so you’ll arrive for the 9am opening time.

This strategy actually serves two functions.

Teotihuacán Ruins and Pyramids

Most ruins in Mexico, Teotihuacán included, tend to lack one common thing — shade.

As historians, scientists and archeologists frequently conduct research here, trees have been cleared for ease of study, meaning finding shade is rare.

Arriving at the Teotihuacan Ruins at 9am when they open means you both beat the traffic, and also beat the heat. If you’re planning to climb the three pyramids at Teotihuacan, you’ll want to do so before the midday sun arrives.

When the sun starts beating down, head indoors to the Museo de Sitio Teotihuacán (Teotihuacan Museum), and the Jardín Escultórico (Sculpture Garden), which does have some trees and shaded areas.

After 3-5 hours of exploring the Teotihuacan archeological site, head to the nearby La Gruta restaurant. La Gruta translates to “the cave;” and yes, this restaurant is located inside of a cave! La Gruta has a great ambiance, and serves everything from tacos and enchiladas, to chapulines (grasshoppers).

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Day 2: Coyoacan and Xochilimco 

Coyoacan and Xochilimco, both located in the south of the city, are two of Mexico’s most visited and most colorful places! Coyocan, the former home of Frida Kahlo, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in CDMX — and Xochimilco (pronounced so-chee-mill-co), is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where people ride colorful gondola-style boats through its canals.

First Stop: Coyoacan

Coyocan

Start your day in Coyoacan, which offers a glimpse of old what old school Mexico City life looked like.

It is one of the oldest surviving parts of CDMX, with buildings like the Iglesia de San Juan Bautista cathedral that date back to the 16th Century.

Enjoy a coffee in one of the cute Coyoacan cafes, like Cafe El Jarocho or Cafe Avellaneda, then walk over to the Casa Azul (Blue House), otherwise known as the Frida Kahlo Museum. Do yourself a favor and purchase tickets in advance, as the line to get in is often long.

To see more Mexico City museums in Coyoacan, the Diego Rivera-Anahuacalli Museum and National Museum of Popular Culture are both great. Also check out the Jardin Centenario (Centennial Garden) to see the coyote fountain, and Mercado de Artesanias (Artisan Market) for shopping and souvenirs.

Grab a quick lunch at the Mercado de Coyoacán (Coyoacan Market), before heading to Xochimilco. Coyoacan has the best tostadas in Mexico City, and in this colorful, traditional mercado, you can sample different tostadas from a number of vendors.

Second Stop: Xochimilco

Boats in Xochimilco

After eating, grab an Uber for the 45 minute drive to the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco. If you’re wondering, What is Xochimilco? — It is a series of man made canals, hand-dug by the Aztecs centuries ago, and originally used as a waterway thoroughfare for commerce and trace.

Nowadays, Mexico City locals and visitors alike flock to these canals to ride on one of the brightly-colored trajineras (gondola boats).

As the boats are big enough to accommodate about 15 people, the atmosphere in Xochimilco is definitely festive.

Besides the trajinera boats with visitors, there are other boats floating by with vendors selling tacos, tamales, esquites, beer, pulque, a pre-hispanic alcoholic drink, and more. You’ll also see boats with full mariachi bands on board that you can hire to serenade your boat.

Most Xochimilco cruises are about three hours, but many boats stay out late into the night, especially on weekends. 

Day 3: Centro Historico and Zocalo

Centro Historico (Historic Downtown) and the Zocalo, which is the Main Square within downtown, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This area of town offer endless amounts of history, and no shortage of things to see, but with only one day, here are the top 10 things to do in Downtown Mexico City.

1. Torre Latinoamericana (Latin American Tower)

This skyscraper is one of the most iconic buildings in the Mexico City skyline. Head to the Mirador (Lookout platform) on a clear day for some amazing CDMX views. As it costs about $200 pesos ($10USD) to access, don’t bother on cloudy or foggy days, since you won’t see much.

Mexico City Travel Tip: There is a nearby Sears department store that has a cafe on the top floor, and offers similar views. You can go up for free, as long as you buy something in the cafe.

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2. Palacio Nacional

The 650-foot-long (200m) Palacio Nacional (National Palace) spans one complete side of the Zocalo, or Main Square.

This impressive building houses the National Archives and Federal Treasury of Mexico, as well as the four murals by Mexican artist, Diego Rivera, depicting the country’s history.

3. Metropolitan Cathedral

Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral)

Using some of the Templo Mayor’s rocks, Spanish conquistadors ordered the giant Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral) to be constructed.

Of all Mexico City’s many churches, this one is the most opulent, and actually has the largest pipe organs on the Americas Continent.

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5. Templo Mayor

The Templo Mayor (Main Temple) was once the most important building for the Aztec Empire. During the Spanish conquest, they buried the temple underground, but it was excavated in the 1970s-1980s.

Now, you can tour the temple remnants and head to the indoor museum to see artifacts found during the excavations.

5. Palacio Bellas Artes

Palacio Bellas Artes

If you’ve seen an image of Mexico City, chances are good it was of the golden-domed Palacio Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts).

This classical European building is itself a work of art, but make sure to head inside and see the impressive art deco interior.

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6. Plaza Garibaldi

Looking for some mariachi music in Mexico City? Plaza Garibaldi is basically a 24/7 party for locals and visitors to dance and hear this iconic Mexico music.

While Mexico City is largely safe, do use Uber to get home if you’re hanging out at Plaza Garibaldi late into the night.

7. Alameda Central

Located right next to Palacio Bellas Artes, there’s Parque Alameda Central (Alameda Central Park), a large and well-maintained, urban park with beautiful sculptures and fountains.

As Centro Historico is quite hectic, Alameda Central makes a great place to take a break and have a taco picnic on a park bench.

8. Centro Historico Museums

Mexico City has about 150 museums in total, with many located right in downtown. Some of the best museums in Centro Historico include:

  • Museo de Arte Popular (Museum of Popular Art)
  • Museo Nacional de Artes (National Art Museum)
  • Museo de la Memoria y Tolerancia (Memory and Tolerance Museum)
  • Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso (Former College of Saint Ildefonso)
  • Diego Rivera Mural Museum: Though the only painting here, this is where you’ll see his most iconic work, Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central). This museum is located near the painting’s namesake park, the Alameda Central.

9. Barrio Chino (Chinatown)

Are you even in a major city if it doesn’t have a Chinatown!? While the Mexico City Chinatown isn’t big, it is worth walking through even to just snap some photos of the colorful paper lanterns hanging in the streets and traditional red arch entryway.

10. Eat Tacos

Centro Historico has many of the best taquerías (taco shops) and restaurants in Mexico City.

Some of the standouts include: Los Cocuyos, El Huequito, Taquería Arandas, El Pescadito, and Tacos de Canasta los Especiales, where you’ll find tacos de canasta (basket taco), Mexico City’s original street food taco.

Want dessert? If you still have room, head to Churrería El Moro for some churros y chocolate (churros with chocolate dipping sauce).

If churros aren’t your thing, try anything that catches your eye at Pastelería Ideal, and the iconic Mexico City bakery.

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Day 4: Reforma, Chapultepec Park and Polanco

Bosque de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Park) is one of the world’s most-visited urban parks.

It is also massive, at about 1,700 acres (7km²). Chapultepec spans the entire area between the Reforma and Polanco neighborhoods, so it makes sense to visit these three places in one day.

First Stop: Reforma

Reforma Avenue, Mexico City

Start your day with a stroll down tree-lined Avenida Reforma (Reforma Avenue). Check out all the street art and statues, including the iconic, golden Angel de la Independencia (Angel of Independence).

Walking west, you’ll eventually wind up in Chapultepec Park.

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Second Stop: Chapultepec Park

Given its impressive size and sheer number of attractions, you could spend a week here and not see everything. From the beautiful Castillo de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Castle), nine museums, two lakes, a zoo, and still more, you must be selective with your time.

Castillo de Chapultepec is a must see for most visitors to the park. It is North America’s only real castle, meaning that at once time, royals did live in it.

The once-home to Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota is now one of the best tourist attractions in Mexico City.

Though it has nine museums, the one most opt for is the Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Museum of Anthropology). At the most visited museum in Mexico City, you’ll journey back in time through Mexico’s history, starting with the ancient Olmecs civilization.

For those more into art than history, the Museo de Arte Moderno (Museum of Modern Art) and Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo (Tamayo Contemporary Art Museum) make great choices.

There’s also the Chapultepec Zoo with more than 200 animal species — and two panda bears.

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Third Stop: Polanco

Polanco is the most posh of all Mexico City neighborhoods. If you’re in need of retail therapy, head to Avenida Presidente Masaryk (President Masaryk Avenue), often called the “Rodeo Drive of Mexico.”

Museo Soumaya (Soumaya Museum), Parque Lincoln (Lincoln Park) and Museo Jumex (Jumex Museum) round out the list of best things to do in Polanco during the day.

However, make sure to stick around Polanco if you want to enjoy some Mexico City fine dining.

Chef Enrique Olvera’s Pujol, named one of the best restaurants in the world by the prestigious 50 Best list, is located in Polanco.

As it’s not easy to get a reservation at Pujol, there’s also Quintonil and La Docena, two restaurants that also made the list.

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Day 5: Roma Norte and La Condesa

If you don’t want to be one of those people who “need a vacation from my vacation,” this last day is all about really having no plans at all.

Enjoy strolling around two of the prettiest CDMX neighborhoods, Roma Norte and La Condesa, for a perfect end to your Mexico City itinerary.

As they are located right next to one other, start in whichever you’d like and then head to the other one.

Both have a similar relaxing vibe, with beautiful architecture, cool street art, sidewalk cafes, great parks, boutique shops, and plenty of options for a nice dinner and drinks.

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Roma Norte

Does the name Roma combined with Mexico City ring a bell?

If you’ve seen Alfonso Cuaron’s 2019 Oscar-winning film, Roma, it was named after this very neighborhood. Within Colonia Roma, you’ll find the Roma Norte and Roma Sur (North and South) neighborhoods, though Roma Norte is the prettier of the two.

In Roma Norte, you’ll find some of the most beautiful streets and architecture in all Mexico City. Vintage buildings in every design esthetic, from colonial and mid-century modern to art deco, line the streets — each one somehow more interesting than the next.

Enjoy a stroll down Avenida Álvaro Obregón (Alvaro Obregon Avenue), the main street in Roma Norte. This is where you’ll find some of the best cafes and taquerías, a few unique shops, and cool bars and speakeasies at night.

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La Condesa

Just across one of Mexico City’s main streets, Avenida Insurgentes (Insurgents Avenue), you’ll find Roma Norte’s sister neighborhood, La Condesa. 

Get to know La Condesa on a stroll along the tree-lined Hipódromo (Racetrack). Once a horse racing track, this circular, walkable pathway goes around Avenida Amsterdam (Amsterdam Avenue), and offers a great way to explore Condesa.

Don’t miss Parque Mexico (Mexico Park) and Parque España (Spain Park), two of Mexico City’s nicest parks, both located in Condesa.

This more upscale neighborhood also has some great shops, like Viejo Amor, Carmen Rion, DIME and Víntich.

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Best Places to Eat and Drink in Roma and Condesa

Besides leisurely strolling around, shopping, enjoying the architecture and street art, Rome Norte and La Condesa hace some of the best restaurants, cafes and bars in CDMX. Here are a few recommendations: 

  • Breakfast & Brunch: Panaderia Rosetta, Lalo!, Que Sera de Mi, Maque
  • Lunch: Contramar, La Docena, Lardo, Pujol el Molino, Boicot Cafe
  • Taquerías: Taquería Orinoco, El Hidalguense, El Pescadito, Tacos Hola el Güero, Por Siempre Vegana Taquería (vegan tacos)
  • Dinner: Rosetta, Maximo Bistrot, Azul Condesa, Merotoro, Fonda Fina
  • Bars: Casa Franca, Limantour, Wallace Whisky Bar, La Clandestina, Hotel Condesa DF

Final Thoughts: 5 Days in Mexico City

We’ve reached the end of this Mexico City itinerary! Hopefully, you can have a better idea of how to tackle a visit to this large city, which has an endless number of things to see and do.

If you follow this guide, and stick to 1-2 neighborhoods each day to minimize your time spent sitting in Mexico City traffic, a five day trip in the 12th largest city on Earth is doable. 

Did you learn any Mexico City travel tips from this article you’ll use? What places sparked your interest from this 5 day Mexico City itinerary?

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AUTHOR BIO

Shelley is a former Miami travel magazine editor, who ditched the office for the world! After traveling solo to half the states in Mexico, she now calls Merida, Mexico, home. Shelley empowers other women to cross Solo Travel and Mexico Travel off their bucket list through her Travel Mexico Solo blog and Dream To Destination podcast.

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