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Mexico City's Best Neighborhoods To Visit in a Weekend

Updated: Feb 3

If you had asked me before I visited Mexico City what vibes to expect, I wouldn't have told you anything about European culture. I didn't know the streets housed grand buildings, tree-lined promenades, or featured cuisine from French to Spanish. I wouldn't have expected one of the world's largest ancient pyramids to sit a mere 30 minutes outside of town, and I definitely wouldn't have known that insects garnished most of my Mexican meals. With this melting pot of cultures, beautiful mountain air and colorful marketplaces, I was determined to explore many of the Mexico City neighborhoods, and I did it in just 3 days.


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Need to Know


Truth be told, all you really need is a long weekend to experience Mexico City, but you should linger longer. A few tips to begin:

  • It's 7,382ft elevation - higher than Denver - so be sure to drink lots of water and take it easy on your body the first day.

  • Being at higher altitude, the weather will be chilly in the morning and evenings but the sun will be brutal during the day, even if you don't feel the heat. Wear lots of sunblock.

  • Uber is available (or at least it was in 2018), watch the rating scores of your driver

  • Taxis are a good way to get around

  • There are subways that we didn't take, just be safe

  • Don't know where to stay? Start here: Show me hotel deals in Mexico


Mexico City's Best Neighborhoods

Although Mexico City boasts so many more neighborhoods to explore, the ones I've listed are the ones you can prioritize if you only have a few days to soak everything in.


I suggest focusing in on Polanco, Chapultapec, Centro Historico and of course making time to see Teotihuacan. Longer visits can merit time for San Angel and beyond.


Polanco


Seek out Polanco for a feel of Europe. Tree lined streets and green spaces are plentiful in this area, along with old biddies walking their tiny poodles and teacup pups. Restaurants offer varied European cuisine and there's a lot of your standard Marriott style hotels in this area too.


Jaleo bar de tapas is a great place for dinner in Polanco. Spilling out onto the sidewalk this is one of many great people watching restaurants in the upmarket Polanco area.



Chapultapec Park


Be sure to visit Chapultapec Castle and stroll through the park. If desired, visit the Anthropology museum.

Beautiful stained glass windows at the Chapultapec castle
Beautiful stained glass windows at the Chapultapec castle
City views and opulence at Chapultapec castle
City views and opulence at Chapultapec castle

Make sure to stop and try some Dorilokos, popular taco-inspired bags of Doritos topped with taco meat and garnish. A great snack!


If time, check out the famous zoo in the park.


Street food stand reading "Dorilokos"
Dorilokos stand in Chapultapec Park

Centro Historico

Walk to Mercado de la Merced. Be aware you will see a lot of "Red Light District" type of stuff going on, and big crowds. Stick close together and browse the many lanes of shopping. You'll see more local stuff here than souvenirs. Think socks, belts, kitchenwares, etc.


If you want to get an insider view of the market, consider taking the Merced adventure tour.


Definitely stop and try any one of the dozens of stands offering "tlacoyos", a Mexico City street food. It's basically a tostada with all sorts of meat, onions and flavors on top. YUM.


A girl makes tortillas at a street food stand
One of many must-try tlacoyos street food stands

My finished tlacoyo with all the fixings
My finished tlacoyo with all the fixings

For more touristy shopping, try La Ciudadela Market for typical Mexican souvenirs. From there, walk the 15 min to Palacio de Bellas Artes. It's a beautiful building in itself, but grab the best views at the secret cafe across the street. It's inside the Sears on the top floor. Order a coffee and snap some pics! It's called Cafe Don Porfirio.


A historic building with a gilded roof and mountains in the background
Palacio de Bellas Artes

Walk back towards Zocalo taking Paseo Madero. Here you will find a pedestrian street with shops, restaurants and cafes. Walk past Templo Mayor, through Zocalo square and main palace building.