5-Day Itinerary for Discovering the Best of Mexico City, from Ancient Ruins to Modern Art

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Advisor - Timan Goshit
Curated By

Timan Goshit

  • Mexico

  • Food & Wine

  • Arts & Culture

  • History

  • Relaxation

  • Local Food

Angel de la Independencia in Mexico City.
Curator’s statement

Mexico City, a bustling metropolis of roughly 9 million, instantly mesmerizes visitors with its welcoming people, rich history and and bold flavors. There is something for everyone to explore, from the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan to quirky museums to the modern art of the Palacio de Bellas Artes. And of course, no visit to Mexico City would be complete without sampling the delicious food, from street tacos to Michelin-rated mole. Whether you have a weekend or a month, Mexico City would love to have you!

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Day 1 - Indulge in Reforma and Zócalo

Golden winged statue in Mexico City.

Stay in the Reforma district, on or near the Paseo de la Reforma, a massive street chock full of monuments and skyscrapers. Cafes and international restaurants and bars are plentiful and make for quick food runs if squeezed for time. Reforma with its business feels like the cosmopolitan heartbeat of Mexico City.

Once settled, visit the Zócalo, formally known as Plaza de la Constitución, the sprawling main square in Centro Histórico that’s always brimming with activity. Stroll through the open-air market where vendors sell everything from food to trinkets and street performers compete for your attention.

If you have an hour to kill, visit the Museo del Estanquillo, a free museum dedicated to all things art: paintings, sculptures, film and cartoons. There’s a lovely rooftop terrace, worthy of the journey alone, that offers views of the historic district’s eclectic surrounding architecture.

Take a walking tour of the Centro Histórico to learn more about the city's history and culture. You can see the Metropolitan Cathedral, a beautiful example of colonial architecture, and the National Palace, which has been the seat of government in Mexico since the 16th century. Also, be sure to visit Bellas Artes.

Grab dinner and drinks at the nearby rooftop bar Tarraza Cathedral. Sip on craft cocktails with a bird's eye view of the Zócalo plaza directly in front. End the night at a traditional Mexican bakery, known as a panadería, which sells countless breads, pastries and cakes. Pastelería Ideal is a favorite. Good luck choosing only one sweet item!

Day 2 - Day trip to Teotihuacan

The ruins of Teotihuacan

Take a day trip to Teotihuacan, an ancient city about an hour outside of Mexico City. Explore the pyramids and temples of Teotihuacan, which were built over 2,000 years ago. The Pyramid of the Sun is the third-largest pyramid in the world, and the Pyramid of the Moon the second-largest in Mesoamerica. It’s best to explore the ruins with a guide.

Optionally, visit the Teotihuacan Museum to learn more about the history and culture of the city.

Have lunch at the candle lit cave restaurant La Gruta that serves Mexican Food with pre-Hispanic influence.

After a day at the mercy of the sun, you’ll probably appreciate a relaxed night. Use the evening to explore at your leisure and sample foods like pozole, al pastor tacos, ceviche tostadas and menudo. The city stays open late and there is food everywhere!

Day 3 - Polanco, Castle, Anthropology and Condesa

Bosque de Chapultepec museum.

Head to Polanco for a light breakfast or something more substantial like chef Enrique Olvera’s ENO. Next, head to Chapultepec Castle for some photos. There’s a tree lined trail if you’d prefer to walk to the castle from Polanco.

Then spend a few hours at the National Museum of Anthropology, which houses a vast collection of artifacts from Mexico's indigenous cultures. See the Aztec Calendar Stone, the Chacmool and other artifacts. Enjoy the rooftop views of the city from the museum's cafe.

Have dinner in the Condesa neighborhood, which is known for its trendy restaurants and bars. The ceviche tostadas at Micheviche must be experienced, it’s an explosion of fresh flavors and textures that won’t disappoint. End the night with freshly made churros and Mexican hot chocolate at Churrería El Moro.

Day 4 - San Juan Market, Barbacoa, Music &Tacos

Mexico City skyline.

Visit the traditional San Juan Market for Triana Café Gourmet’s famous coffee and local ingredients, like chiles and pink pine nuts. For the more adventurous explorer, you can whet your palette with a sampling of exotic meats and dried bugs. It’s known that bugs aren’t universal delicacies so vendors will still allow visitors to take pictures without purchases.

Save your appetite for the nearby Barbacoa La Preferida for some of the most succulent pit roasted lamb tacos you’ll find in the city.

In the evening, enjoy emerging musical performances at a unique venue hidden in a bookstore at Cafebrería El Pendulo Roma. Grab late night tacos at Taqueria Orinoco, arguably one of the best all pastor tacos in the city.

Day 5 - Xochimilco, Reptiles, Cuisine, Mezcal

An ancient building in Mexico.

Visit Xochimilco, a floating garden network that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a boat ride through the canals and enjoy the colorful trajineras (boats). Drinks (micheladas), snacks (roasted corn) and flower headbands are available for purchase and sold from other trajineras. Decision fatigue will be your greatest enemy here. Once a floating market passes by, you may not see it again!

Build up some courage to visit the mini reptile zoo that houses the elusive axolotl–storied creatures believed to have evolved to avoid being sacrificed in Aztec mythology.
Have lunch at a restaurant in Xochimilco that serves traditional Mexican food, like enchiladas suizas and menudo.

Once you’re back in the city, grab a traditional Spanish dinner and desserts. Centro Castellano, known for its impeccable service.

End the night with a mezcal flight at Bósforo.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out Fora's guide to a coastal luxury getaway in Los Cabos.

Advisor - Timan Goshit

Travel Advisor

Timan Goshit

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Mexico.