Here at Wander we are close to Mexico and we know it well. So we couldn’t start our series of in-depth city guides with any other destination. Moreover, The New York Times recently selected the Mexican capital as the top destination for 2016
and we couldn’t agree more. Mexico City is a huge metropolis
that offers the traveler seemingly endless experiences and attractions to enjoy. It has ruins from the Aztec era at the Templo Mayor in the city center, ornate buildings of the colonial period and is also flourishing with many new spots to enjoy such as the Soumaya museum and Paseo de la Reforma that is constantly reshaping its skyline.
The city is so big and busy that every time you visit you can find new things to do. We would recommend dividing the visit into parts so you don’t miss anything and you don’t waste your time in its world famous traffic jams. We have done it for you so planning your next trip gets easier!
Where to stay in Mexico City depends a lot on your preferences. We have recommended the best hotels in the coolest neighborhoods so you can base camp and move around depending on what you like.
What to see, where to stay and where to eat in each of the must see neighborhoods of Mexico City
Downtown Mexico City
The city center is one of our favorite places. There are so many fantastic things to check out that it can be hard to decide what to visit in Downtown Mexico City. This is the itinerary we like:
We’d start in La Alameda. It has recently been rebuilt and is now a fantastic place to walk with new ideas and places popping out in the surroundings. The most recent place to keep an eye on is the Barrio Alameda. It has a hipster atmosphere with small shops that show all the creativity of Mexican artisans, some restaurants plus a delicious ice cream shop (Glace – they change the flavors constantly but “Flan Romano” is our favourite). After that, you can cross the Alameda to visit the stunning Palacio de Bellas Artes. This is a great venue to catch a symphony! Your next stop is the Casa de los Azulejos for a bite to eat. Save some room for fresh bread at El Cardenal (Palma St #23). After refuelling and a rest, get into the heart of the city: the Zócalo.
In the iconic square you will be able to visit the cathedral and the National Palace that hosts a stunning mural by Diego Rivera (make sure it’s not Monday). After the cultural visit you can go up to one of the terraces around the Zócalo to have a panoramic view and take in the immensity of the square. We recommend you to go to the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, in a corner of the square, which is gorgeous on its own (recently featured in the last James Bond movie) and has a privileged view from its rooftop terrace. You can also go to the terrace of El Mayor (Argentina St. #15 upstairs of the Porrua library) where you will enjoy the view of the Templo Mayor and the back of the cathedral.
Where to stay in Downtown Mexico City
Best Boutique Hotels in Downtown Mexico City
- Downtown Mexico: located in the palace of the countess of Miravalle is a cool hotel. You can have breakfast at the central balcony of the palace and access your room from there. The rooftop bar is also great.
- Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico: notable for its historic sophistication and Old World elegance, with remarkable turn-of-the-century Art Nouveau décor and a stunning stained-glass ceiling in the lobby.
Best Hotel Deals in Mexico City Downtown
- Hilton Mexico City Reforma Hotel (Av. Juarez, 70): A safe choice with a great location in front of la Alameda. This hotel is the perfect choice to explore the city center and the Revolution Monument along with the Paseo de la Reforma.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Hotel: a modest and comfortable hotel in the middle of the city center.
Best bed & Breakfast in Mexico City Downtown
- Chaya B&B: on the rooftop of the Barrio Alameda is a brand new beautiful and delicate b&b, the attention to detail is perfect and so is the idea of hanging hammocks on the front of each door.
Book the best hotels in Downtown Mexico City at wander
Coyoacán District Mexico City
The main attraction of the neighborhood is La Casa Azul (the blue house). It was the former home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
and it's been converted into a beautiful museum where you can get a feeling of how they lived and how their creative process was.
The center of Coyoacan is really cute, the tree-lined cobblestone streets, colonial-era estates hidden behind high walls and several interesting churches, museums and artisans’ markets make it one of the most pleasant places to visit in the capital, especially on a Sunday when locals go to wander around and have coffee and churros. You can have a charming walk along the Francisco Sosa Street where you will find great façades and will bring you directly to the arches that dominate the center of this picturesque neighborhood.
Where to stay in Coyoacan, Mexico City
Coyoacan is not the best neighborhood for a long stay because it’s quite far from the rest of the interesting places in the city. However, if you want to stay there because you love the bohemian feel we recommend you to stay in the boutique bed and breakfast Pug Seal Coyoacan (Cda. B. Domínguez, 16).
Best restaurants in Coyoacan, Mexico City
- La Ruta de la Seda (Aurora,1): an Ecopâtisserie where you can have a homemade piece of cake, it is famous for its organic and tasty pastries.
- El Jarocho (Av. Mexico 25-c), you will have to line up but it’s one of the best coffees in town.
- Los Danzantes (Pza. Jardin Centenario, 12) traditional Mexican food in the most privileged spot, the lime soup is delicious!
San Angel District, Mexico City
You have to visit this neighborhood on a Saturday morning. Each corner of this fantastic area is perfect for a picture and has a painting market and an artisan’s market with many treasures to discover. San Angel also has plenty of emerging creative business and delicatessen shops that are adding even more character to a place that is charming on its own. The houses are stunning and its beautiful gardens show up by the walls in the form of intense purple bougainvilleas. There is no way you can get lost in San Angel, just wander around and stop at one of the following places we recommend.
Best restaurants in San Angel, Mexico City
- Mercado del Carmen (Amargura,5): this is the trendiest concept in the capital. You can find several types of food here and have it at common tables in a relaxed atmosphere.
- L’encanto de Lola (Amargura, 14): This is a great spot if you want to make a quick stop so you can continue exploring the city. Grab an original sandwich in this cool place.
- San Angel Inn (Diego Rivera, 50): this is one of the most traditional restaurants in Mexico City. Located in an old hacienda, the place is beautiful, especially at night when its Mexican-colonial architecture style shines at its best. Food might not be the best in town but the setting is worth it.
Where to stay in San Angel
San Angel is also not a handy neighbourhood to stay in, but if you feel like you want to spend the night, you can try the Stara Suites San Angel Inn, from this cute and handy hotel you'll be convenient to Museo Diego Rivera and Jardin del Arte.
Polanco District, Mexico City
This is probably one of the best places to stay in Mexico City. It’s a fashionable neighborhood with plenty of options to stay and eat. If you are staying in one of the luxury hotels in the neighborhood you will be able to easily access Chapultepec Park and visit the beautiful Castillo de Chapultepec. The castle dates from the Porfirio Diaz days and has a privileged view of the Paseo de la Reforma from its balconies. Polanco also gives you an easy walk to the Museo Nacional de Antropología (The National Museum of Anthropology), which is a key piece if you want to know more about Mexican history.
Be sure to walk through Polanquito, an oasis in the middle of one of the busiest neighborhoods of the city. The small buildings and easy sidewalks are perfect for a stroll on your way to what is called the Fifth Avenue of Mexico City, Avenida Mazaryk, where you can find the best boutiques if you want to do some chic shopping. The Museo Soumaya is also relatively close and it’s one of the most recent architectural jewels of the city. The building design is stunning and has several interesting art pieces inside.
Where to stay in Polanco, Mexico City
Best Boutique Hotels in Polanco, Mexico City
- Las Alcobas (Masaryk, 390): it’s a beautifully designed boutique hotel. The hotel is a former residence that has been crafted into a series of private, earth-toned, intimate alcoves.
- Habita (Masaryk, 201) member of one of the best boutique hotel chains, it defines itself as Mexico City’s spin on a contemporary design lifestyle hotel.
- W Mexico City (Campos Eliseos, 252): the hotel has been recently redecorated; it’s very modern and lively. The living room transforms into a club in the night attracting many people to have a drink after a long day of exploring the city.
Best Hotels in Polanco, Mexico City
- Casa Castelar (Emilio Castelar 34): This hotel offers a comfortable place to stay in the heart of Polanco.
- JW Marriot Hotel (Andres Bello, 29) and Hotel Presidente Intercontinental (Campos Eliseos, 218): these two hotels are located close to several good hotels in a very hand area and offers you a fantastic overview of the Chapultepec Park.
Book the best hotels in Polanco Mexico City at wander
Where to eat in Polanco, Mexico City
- La Casa del Pastor (Alfredo Musset, 3): if you haven’t eaten tacos yet, you should try this taquería located on a corner with Masaryk.
- Quintonil (Newton, 55): our favourite in town and one of the best restaurants in Latin America. Quintonil offers a delightful menu, many of the dishes include locally sourced native ingredients.
- Tori Tori (Anatole France, 71): you need to try the Mexican version of Japanese cuisine; we think it’s very unique and tasty. Tori Tori and El Japonez (Emilio Castelar, 135) are excellent options.
La Condesa District, Mexico City
La Condesa is also one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Mexico City but has more of a high- class bohemian atmosphere. It has some of the liveliest nightlife in town. The area is also notorious for a wide offering of restaurants and bars. You can have an afternoon walk, visit the parks, admire the architecture and enjoy a delicious meal in one of our restaurant recommendations.
Where to stay in La Condesa
Best Boutique Hotels in La Condesa
- Condesa DF (Veracruz, 102): another one from the Habita Group, has a contemporary design in a very traditional and bohemian surroundings.
- Maria Condesa (Atlixco, 132): the best thing of this hotel is location, it’s at the very heart of Condesa district and it has a simple design decorated with traditional handicrafts.
- Hippodrome Hotel Condesa (Av. Mexico 188): a refined boutique hotel on a tree-lined street in the center of the neighborhood.
Best Hotels in Condesa
- AR 218 (Alfonso Reyes, 218): a comfortable and elegant hotel that will make you feel at home.
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Where to eat in Condesa
- Taqueria El Califa (Altata, 22): to eat a very good taco al pastor in a cool atmosphere with an attentive staff.
- Maque (Ozuluama,4): it's one of the best options to have breakfast or brunch in Condesa. Having enchiladas first and then finishing with a Concha (a typical Mexican pastry) is the perfect Mexican combination.
- Litoral (Tamaulipas, 55): a restaurant that uses good sea products and treats them carefully, with a delicious result.
- Azul Condesa (Nuevo Leon, 68): traditional Mexican food.
- Tortas de chilaquil (Alfonso Reyes and Tamaulipas): if you are a street food lover, you have to line up to try this sandwich of tortillas in a spicy sauce, cream, beans, cheese and chicken. You won’t have to eat in a day but it’s sooo good.
La Roma District, Mexico City
La Roma is the trendiest neighborhood in Mexico City. It's packed with new restaurants, cool bars, art galleries and design shops. Visiting this district is all about walking, rambling and sitting in the many terraces there are to enjoy Mexico City's warm weather. We would never finish restaurant recommendations here, new concepts are emerging constantly and it's really up to what you are in the mood for. However, we recommend some spots where you just can't go wrong.
Where to stay in la Roma Mexico City
Best hotels in la Roma, Mexico City
- Four Points By Sheraton Mexico City Colonia Roma (Alvaro Obregon, 38)
- Hotel Villa Condesa (Colima, 428)
Best Boutique hotels in Roma Mexico City
- Hotel la Casona (Durango, 280): a small, cozy, boutique hotel in a mansion that is a historic monument.
- El Patio 77 (Icazbalceta 77, Colonia San Rafael): A cute and, most importantly, ecofriendly bed and breakfast located in a house from the 19th century.
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Where to eat in Roma Mexico City
- Casa Lamm (Alvaro Obregon, 99): beautiful art exhibitions take place in this gorgeous house where you can eat in a great terrace.
- Rosetta (colima, 166): both the restaurant and the bakery are great, the bread is delicious and coffee is probably some of the best in town. The restaurant has Italian food with a Mexican twist that makes it especially tasty.
- Mercado Roma: many small food locals are available in this trendy market.
- Maximo Bistrot (Tonala, 133): we recommend you make a reservation in advance if you want to find a table; the place has been in fashion for a while and we totally understand its success. If you can’t find a reservation we also recommend the little brother in front named Lalo!. A much more informal place with great food.
- Contramar (Durango St., 200): one of our top restaurants in the city. They cook a delicious fish based menu and only open for lunch. Make sure to try Pescado a la Talla, a red snapper grilled with a mild chili sauce (reservations are recommended).
- To have a cool drink with local beverages such as mezcal or tequila, go to Limantour (Alvaro Obregon, 105), which mixes some of the bests cocktails in town.
Zona Rosa and Reforma Areas, Mexico City
The Paseo de la Reforma is a large avenue that has some of the most iconic monuments of the city.
You can rent a bike and use the cycle path to go over the avenue and enjoy the jacarandas (amazing blossoming trees from March until May), the buildings and the places of interest such as the Revolution monument, the Angel de la Independencia, the Diana Cazadora to end your ride in the Chapultepec Park.
Where to stay in Zona Rosa and Reforma
Best Boutique Hotels in Zona Rosa
- Room Mate Valentine (Amberes, 27): a cool hotel in Zona Rosa if you want to stay in this lively neighborhood. Very close to Rosetta, one of the best choices to have breakfast-
Best hotels in Reforma
- St. Regis Hotel (Reforma, 439) : a luxury hotel that is the choice of the stars that visit the city.
- Four Seasons Hotel (Reforma, 500): A beautiful garden in the middle makes this hotel an oasis at the door of the Chapultepec Castle.
- Marquis Hotel Reforma (Reforma, 465) : a comfortable option in the Reforma Avenue.
Book the best hotels in Reforma Mexico City at wander
If you have time... Don't miss the following recommendations!
If you visit all this districts we have recommended here, you have seen most of the highlights. Of course we are talking about Mexico City, which is one of the biggest cities in the world and there are so many MORE things to discover. If you have extra time, we recommend you to add these activities to your visit:
Go to Xochimilco.
It’s called the Venice of Mexico.Families and friends hire trajineras
(the typical boats) to enjoy lunch, tequila and beer along the ride while they enjoy traditional music like mariachis and banda. Grab some supplies, go to an embarcadero, get on a trajinera
and enjoy the fun! Before you go to Xochimilco you can visit the beautiful Dolores Olmedo Museum
, located in an ancient hacienda it hosts temporary exhibitions along with a Frida and Diego’s collection.
- Make a day trip to the Pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacan
. The archeological site has tremendous value for Mexican history and the Pyramids are stunning. The astonishing size of the Pyramid of the Sun and the greatness of La Calzada de los Muertos are something unforgettable. Climb up the stairs and enjoy the views from the top!
We hope you enjoy your stay in Mexico City and you make the most of it with these tips.