Mexico City is massive with so much to do! It’s likely not possible to see everything in one visit, but you can at least plan on hitting up the major areas. I was in Mexico City in March and took about two days to see most of the attractions on my list. It’s totally doable to follow this itinerary while maintaining a leisurely pace for a weekend in Mexico City.
Getting to Mexico City
Direct flights to MEX shouldn’t be hard to find since it’s a pretty popular destination. For me, there were several direct flights per day from SFO to MEX. Once you land in Mexico City, I’d recommend using Ubers as they’re convenient, safe, and cheap.
We landed on a Friday night and took a 40-minute Uber from the airport to our Airbnb in Polanco. The neighborhood is an upscale section of town where there are restaurants and bars, hotels, and fancy shops. When I say upscale, it’s compared to the rest of Mexico, but prices for food and drinks are similar to what you would pay in the US. Because of giant hotel chains and the lively neighborhood, there are plenty of foreigners and ex-pats in the neighborhood.
After we checked in to our Airbnb, we got food and drinks in Polanquito, an area within Polanco where all the restaurants and bars are. The neighborhood is only about three to four blocks but there are plenty of options. We bar hopped cocktail bars and tried a variety of local Mezcals. We had unique cocktails at Licorería Limantour, champagne-infused cocktails at Jules Basement, and delicious drinks at our favorite bar, The Comrade. In addition to the drinks, The Comrade also had very nice décor and lighting.
The day can be split into two: city exploration in Downtown Mexico and traditional boat rides Xochimilco.
Mercado de la Merced
Start the day in Downtown Mexico City at Mercado de la Merced. This traditional market sells food, produce, and goods and is the largest market in Mexico City! We literally got lost inside. Even at 10 in the morning, vendors were selling tacos, tostadas, and other delicious Mexican street food you wouldn’t typically imagine as breakfast food. But they were delicious and worth all the calories.
Expect to spend about 1 hour.
Zocalo Square (Plaza de la Constitucion)
From Mercado de la Merced, it’s about a 15-minute walk to Zocalo Square through local streets and traditional architecture. You can’t miss Zocalo Square, it’s literally a massive open area with one of the biggest flags I’ve seen. This is the site for several ceremonies, gatherings, or other activities. You can also visit the Templo Mayor, the main temple of the Aztec, or admire the beautiful Spanish architecture of the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Expect to spend about 1-2 hours.
Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes)
It’s another 15-minute walk to the Palace of Fine Arts. I’d recommend walking along Av Francisco I. Madero as it’s pedestrians only and takes you through the local shopping district. I didn’t go inside the Palace of Fine Arts, but it was beautiful from the outside.
Expect to spend less than 1 hour.
La Ciudadela Market
If this interests you, La Ciudadela Market is an artisanal market with lots of local goods and souvenirs. This may be a good place to find quilts, Mexican Baja hoodies, or other handcrafted goods. It’s about a 20-minute walk from the Palace of fine arts.
Expect to spend about 30 minutes to an hour.
From downtown, take an Uber to Coyoacán to visit the cute town in the southern part of Mexico City. The Uber there may take 40 minutes because of the traffic, but you’re going to continue south to Xochimilco later anyway. First stop at Coyoacán should be Mercado Coyoacán and you should order the seafood tostadas. There were octopus, ceviche, shrimp and other seafood tostadas and it was one of the best street food I’ve had in Mexico. Then spend the rest of your time walking around the neighborhood and checking out the small historic square. It’s a much more laidback vibe than the rest of Mexico City and you can spend time people watching from the park benches.
Expect to spend 1-2 hours.
After you’ve had enough people watching for the day, take another 20-minute Uber to Xochimilco to relax on traditional boats. No need to make reservations ahead of time since the second you step out of your Uber there will be a local guy inviting you onto his boat. It costs 500 pesos ($25 USD) for an hour for the entire boat, which can fit at least 20 people. No wonder there were so many family gatherings, it’s such a cheap outing! The boat is powered by a steersperson using wooden sticks to push against the riverbed. Occasionally you’ll come across kitchen boats or mariachi boats and you can hire them for their services! It was really relaxing just floating down the river drinking local beer. The first picture is of Xochimilco!
Expect to spend 2 hours.
Teotihuacan was one of the largest cities in the ancient world and today it is best known for its pyramids. I would recommend going early in the morning to avoid crowds and the heat. The entire trip should take no longer than half a day and is easy to do from Mexico City. Read more about my trip to Teotihuacan here: Day Trip to Teotihuacan.
Expect to spend half a day.
The remainder of your Sunday can be spent exploring other neighborhoods or attractions that interest you. There are so many other major sites or offbeat gems to explore in Mexico City. I’m sure you can’t go wrong with whatever you choose to do.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Mexico City?