Things to do in Mexico City

Itineraries for Your Trip to Mexico City

Mexico City locals share their perfect days.
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3 Days in Mexico City for First Timers

Curated by Zoë SmithZoë Smith is a British travel writer, editor, and digital content creator who has lived, worked, and traveled over six continents, and is currently based near Nantes, France. She has written for Rough Guides, CNN, and Culture Trip, and is digital editor at FrenchEntrée.

With three days in Mexico City, you have enough time to visit top sights such as Zocalo square and to explore outside the city. Take advantage of guided tours, explore the city’s UNESCO highlights, and go deeper into the culture, sampling Mexican cuisine, shopping at local  markets, and experiencing local sports. Here are some ideas.

Day 1

Start with a hop-on hop-off bus tour of Mexico City, which offers the convenience of a guided tour but the freedom to disembark as you wish. Hop off at top attractions such as the Zocalo, home to the magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace; the ancient Aztec ruins of Templo Mayor; the Palace of Fine Arts in Alameda Park; and the House of Tiles. Stay on the bus along the grand Paseo de la Reforma Boulevard and jump off to visit the hilltop Chapultepec Castle and the National Museum of Anthropology. Walk down through the forests and lakes of Chapultepec Park into the colorful neighborhood of La Condesa to browse the shops and tuck into typical Mexican cuisine at one of the many restaurants. In the evening, attend a lucha libre (masked wrestling) match. Afterwards, head to Plaza de Garibaldi and enjoy a drink at one of the streetside bars, while mariachi bands play in the square.

Day 2

Start in the southern suburbs of Mexico City at the floating gardens of Xochimilco—a network of canals and chinampas (man-made islands) that date back to Aztec times. Arrive early to avoid the crowds and set sail around the UNESCO-listed landscapes aboard a traditional trajinera boat. Next, head to the nearby neighborhood of Coyoacán, one of Mexico City’s most picturesque. Use your prebooked skip-the-line tickets to enter the Frida Kahlo Museum, known for its long lines, and check out nearby Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum too. Back in the city center, shop at the La Ciudadela artisan market for typical Mexican handicrafts. Head to the San Juan Market a few blocks away for street food, or, for a real Mexican culinary experience, sign up for an evening cooking class. 

Day 3

If you only have time for one day trip from Mexico City, make it the ruins of Teotihuacan. The ancient “City of the Gods” is a top archaeological site in Mexico. To get the most out of your visit, choose to explore with an archaeologist guide and discover the history of the pre-Aztec city. Highlights include climbing the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, walking along the Avenue of the Dead, and visiting the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Palace of Quetzalpapalotl. On your final evening in the city, attend a performance of the Mexico City Folkloric Ballet. The shows are held at locations including the Palace of Fine Arts or Chapultepec Castle and feature costumes, live music, and traditional folk dances from all around Mexico—a memorable way to end your vacation. 

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