We had six days in Mexico City. Here is what we did (and where we stayed).
Thursday, June 30th, Day One
I arrived at 5:20 am, so I headed to my Airbnb where my gracious hosts allowed me to ‘check-in’ early and catch some shut-eye. A few hours later I drowsily pulled myself out of bed, and realized I’d forgotten to call my credit card companies (rookie mistake!). But it was okay, as I had the internet, and used it to let my banks know I was traveling. I also had a hard time changing money in my neighborhood (advice: change money at the airport – I usually don’t do that, but it proved to be the best way in Mexico City). After I sorted myself out, I grabbed the metro to explore Colonia Condesa, one of the hip neighborhoods of the city. (The metro is especially crowded, but incredibly convenient and cheap! It is only 5 pesos per ride – about 30 cents.) I stopped for a tea at Cielito Querida, an excellent café, with locations all over MC. Then I walked through Parque Mexico, which was a delightful stroll, especially walking by all of the ‘doggie schools’ with the obedient, leash-less dogs all lined up in rows.
Friday, July 1st, Day Two
Our Airbnb was not in a touristy or hip neighborhood – but that was fine with us, as it meant that there were lots of small, inexpensive eateries around. We had breakfast at our hosts’ favorite spot – Villa Casona – a white linen restaurant without white linen prices. It was also painted bright yellow, which added to the cheerfulness of the place. In Mexico it is customary for the waiter to bring around a platter of pastries to choose from once you are seated. Yes please! Breakfast was good, though we were a bit unclear on what exactly we were ordering (that happened a lot).
Next we headed to the Frida Kahlo Museum and Leon Trostsky’s house in Coyoacan. I highly recommend both. We got tours for both (audio tour for Frida, and a real live tour guide for Leon). We learned a ton (did you know Frida called Diego her little frog?), and it was well worth our time. Afterward we walked around the plaza in Coyoacan, taking in the sights. There were tons of people milling around the fountain of coyotes in the center of the plaza, and it was a real festive atmosphere.
We had dinner that night in Centro Historico at Limosneros, which is a restaurant not to be missed! The prices are closer to US prices, but the food and drinks were well worth it, and the ambiance was fantastic. If you are still hungry for dessert, wander down to Esperanza Pasteleria for a pastry.
Saturday, July 2nd, Day Three
This was the day of our epic walking tour. We went with Journeys Beyond the Surface, which was a bit on the expensive side, but worth the price, in my opinion. Here are the things we saw during our eight hour (!) tour:
- Zocalo Square
- National Palace with many amazing Diego Rivera Murals
- The Metropolitan Cathedral
- Sanborn’s café (just to look at murals)
- Tacubaya Café (beautiful artwork and colors, as well as good food)
- Palacio Postal
- Palacio de Bellas Artes
- Parque Alameda with Diego Rivera mural
- Castillo Chapultepec
- And a few other small things I can’t remember
Our tour guide was fantastic and knowledgeable, and he never seemed to get tired!
For dinner we went to Alipus Endemico in Colonia Condesa. We had amazing mole and mezcal! They even brought out little orange wedges with a chili dusting to complement the mescal.
Sunday, July 3rd, Day Three
After our eight-hour walking tour, we were happy to sleep in a bit. We eventually got up for a late breakfast in Coyoacan – it was nice to walk around the plaza in the cool, sleepiness of the morning. We then ubered over to the Museo Antropologia, which is a must-see, despite the museum fatigue I was feeling from the previous days’ shenanigans. However, instead of reading plaques and trying to absorb a lot of info, I just wandered the museum, gazing at the beautiful exhibits and spaces, and not feeling one bit guilty that I wasn’t learning much. Sometimes it is just nice to be in a beautiful place.
Afterward we found a really cool open-air Starbucks across the street. Normally, I don’t like to visit chains on vacation, but this one was so beautiful we couldn’t resist. It was almost like drinking tea in a garden. We then wandered through Chapultepec Park, which is an excellent thing to do on a Sunday, since all of the families are out and about. People were paddleboating on a little lake, or getting their faces painted, or buying food from a street vendor, and busy being in a general state of merriment. It was really fun to be in the midst of that. We bought a cup full of juicy, ripe, delicious mango to fuel our little trek through the park.
Sunday night, we scored tickets on ticketmaster for 20 bucks a pop to see Ballet Folklorico at Palacio de Bellas Artes, and it was totally worth it. The dancing and costumes were amazing, and the venue was pretty incredible as well.
Monday, July 4th
We celebrated our nation’s independence by checking out the ancient ruins of an ancient Meso-American city – Teotihuacan. We booked a tour through Viator tours. It was nice, though I remember feeling we could have been better briefed on what to bring/what was going on. For example, I had to call the day prior to get some info from them (how much pesos should we bring, is lunch included, etc). Tour prices are kept low by utilizing public transportation, which was fine with me, but a little time consuming.
Anyway – Teotihuacan. Go see it! The city was established around 100 BC, and after that it only took about 350 years to build. It also has some fun names, like avenue of the dead, the pyramid of the sun, and the pyramid of the moon. The steps are crazy steep, and there are a lot of them, but the views are totally worth it.
Our tour ended back at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, so we wandered a couple of blocks over near Chinatown to a street that our guide said had a lot of good local restaurants. We had a late lunch at Restaurante Testal, where we tried chicharonnes, pozole, and authentic tostadas, which just came with veggies and a type of delicious cream. If anyone know what this cream is, or what it is called, please let me know in the comments!
Exhausted, we took the metro home, but later found some energy to head out to Limantour Licoceria in Roma Norte. As we walked around Roma Norte, we were impressed with the array of nice restaurants in the neighborhood. This was definitely one of the hippest spots in Mexico City. We just had a couple of cocktails and appetizers, but the fries were literally some of the best of my life! They had so much flavor – you definitely must try them.
Tuesday, July 5th – last day L
On our last day, we checked out Panaderia Rosetta, recommended in the eater.com guide to Mexico City. We were not disappointed. The café was adorable – wooden counter tops piled high with pastries – and patrons could sit at the ‘bar’ i.e. right at the counter in view of all their delicious pastries (best marketing technique I’ve ever seen!). The coffee and pastries were delicious – as well as the egg dish we ordered. Afterward, we wanted around revolution avenue and looked at the statues along the street. Our last lunch was at La Gualgazeta and it was my favorite meal of the entire trip, as well as one of the cheapest. They sautéed a bunch of veggies (including nopales) and pineapple together with just the right amount of cheese, and served it with fresh tortillas. Amazing. And about 3 dollars.
Fat, happy, and full of knowledge of Mexico City, we boarded the flight back to SF, sad to leave such an exciting and vibrant city.
Where we stayed:
I highly recommend Airbnb. Other travelers we met were doing this too. It is so much cheaper than a hotel and soo much nicer. I recommend this one:
Fernando and Alejandro were the best – we had such a great time staying with them!