Do you have only 3 days in Mexico City and are you unsure where to start exploring?
The capital of Mexico is a massive city and with all the museums, parks, churches, plazas and more it would honestly take you a lifetime to explore. What will capture you, though, is the incredible atmosphere. The people of Ciudad de Mexico – that’s its Spanish name – are among the most friendly you could meet in your travels. The city is bursting with life – something is happening at all times, every day.
With so much to see and do, how can you make the most of Mexico City in just 3 days? Stop worrying! I have lost count of how many times I have been to Mexico City, and I am happy to share a fabulous Mexico City itinerary with you. If you follow it, you will get to see loads even with this short amount of time – even though the city is massive.
My 3 days in Mexico City itinerary will take you to the best places to visit in town. You will also get loads of hacks that will help you maximize your time in town and have a proper blast.
Ready to discover how? Continue reading!
The Best 3 Days In Mexico City Itinerary
Map of Day One
The first day of this Mexico City itinerary is all about the heart of the city. Click here to review your itinerary and get an idea of the walking distances. You can rearrange the order of necessary!
If you want to have a quick overview of the city, you may consider joining a free walking tour. These depart daily at 10:00 am from the Palace of Fine Arts.
You begin your 3 days in Mexico City journey in the historical center, the Plaza de la Constitucion – known as Zocalo. This plaza dates back to the Aztec times where the people held many parades, ceremonies, and rituals. Today, it is still the center of it all and a main gathering place. The events that take place in the Zocalo include festivals, religious ceremonies, and political events. In the center of the plaza, you will see the flag of Mexico proudly swaying in the breeze.
The Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the most important budlings in Mexico City. It is located on the northern side of the Zocalo. It not only has a religious significance but is notable for its spectacular art and architecture. The construction on this marvel began in 1573 and was completed in 1813. Inside, visitors will see various styles of architecture that reflect the time period of its construction including Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassical.
Templo Mayor is Spanish for ‘Greater Temple’. This was the main temple for the Mexican people when Mexico City was known as Tenochtitlan. This UNESCO World Heritage Site receives nearly a million visitors a year. This temple is packed with symbolism of Aztec beliefs in gods. The legend is that the god Huitzilopochtil gave the people a sign that they had arrived in their promised land. The sign was an eagle with a snake in its beak atop a nopal cactus.
For information on guided visits of Templo Mayor, click here.
This structure is the official residence of the President of Mexico and the seat of the federal executive. Located in the Plaza de la Constitution, the palace has been the location of Mexican rulers since the Aztec Empire, and has been known to symbolize the Spanish civilization origins in the new world. On Independence Day, this is where the President rings the bell and reenacts the annual Grito de Dolores (Cry of Pain) from the palace balcony.
Casa de los Azulejos
Casa de los Azulejos, or the House of Tiles, is a must-see in Mexico City. This 18th century Baroque Palace has a unique façade of blue and white Puebla tile on three sides of the building. Inside the main courtyard there is a fountain with beautiful mosaics that is surrounded by columns and a stained-glass roof. Today it is the flagship location of Sanborns, a Mexican department store and restaurant chain.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
If you are in the mood to see live entertainment during your time in Mexico City, this is the venue for you. The palace has hosted many cultural events including opera, theatre, dance, and music performances. It has also hosted many fine art exhibitions. Inside you will see the gorgeous murals painted on the top floors by renowned Mexican artists.
The views from Torre Latinoamericana are stunning. Besides being a staple of the Mexico City skyline, this landmark has the distinction of being the first skyscraper built on a seismic zone, and it is in fact known for surviving many earthquakes, including that of September 1985 that was a magnitude of 8.1 on the Richter Scale. Since then, it has become a symbol of safety for the citizens of Mexico City.
The Mirador Torre Latino is open Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm. A combined ticket for the viewpoint and the Museo Bicentenario is 170 pesos ($8.5 USD). You can get tickets here.
Modeled after the Champs-Elysees in Paris, Reforma is one of the most interesting neighborhoods in the Mexican capital, with lots of museums, shops and good restaurants. Its most prominent landmark is El Angel de la Independencia, a tall column with the statue of an angel on top that dominates the view of the area. It’s a nice place to end the day before you head to dinner.
Map of Day Two
The second day of this Mexico City itinerary will take you to Coyoacan, one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city, to visit two interesting museums. Click here to review your itinerary. You’ll have to use public transport to get to Xochimilco!
Keep in mind that pretty much all museums in Mexico City are closed on Monday so plan your visit to this part of town accordingly.
For a completely hassle free day, consider joining a guided tour that goes to Coyoacan, including a visit of Frida Kahlo Museum, and then takes you to the lovely Xochimilco. For more information, click here.
Coyoacan is located in central Mexico City and is a great place to relax and take in your surroundings. This bohemian neighborhood is full of things to do and see such as markets, bookstores, cafes and some of the best museums in town – including the Casa Azul. You can also take a stroll around Jardin Centernario park and see the colonial architecture. One of the most famous fountains in the city, Vivero Coyacan, is located here and surrounded by many tropical plants and cacti.
Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo Museum)
One of the most important landmarks in town and an absolute must see if you have 3 days in Mexico City is the former residence of famous Mexican surrealist artist Frida Kahlo surrealist artist portrayed by Salma Hayek in the 2002 film Frida. Also known as the Casa Azul (blue house), this museum is dedicated to the artwork and life of the artist, who spent most of her life there.
The museum was established by husband and fellow artist Diego Rivera after her death, in pursuance of Kahlo’s wishes. Besides paintings from Kahlo and Rivera, there are sculptures, books, and furniture located here that are personal belongings of Kahlo. There is also a lush garden located on the property and a display of Frida Kahlo’s dresses.
Frida Kahlo Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Admission is 230 pesos ($11.50) during the week, and 270 pesos ($13.60) during the weekend.
Leon Trotsky Museum
Also located in Coyoacan, this museum honors political asylum seeker Leon Trotsky, who sought political asylum from Russia and came to Mexico, where he first lived with friends Frida Kahlo and Diego in the Casa Azul. Trotsky lived in a house in the center of the complex with wife Natalia Sedova from April 1939 until August 1940. He was assassinated in the study here and the home was turned into a museum and asylum institution beginning in 1990, the 50th anniversary of his death.
Leon Trotsky Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is 40 pesos ($2 USD).
This working-class neighborhood is located 17 miles south of Mexico City center. It is known for floating gardens within a lake that create the famous Xochimilco canals, which were part of the water transport system built by the Aztecs. You can take a delightful cruise on one of the colorful gondolas. You can also get some tasty street food offered by the many vendors located here. On the weekends, this neighborhood is lively with live music provided by mariachi bands.
If you want to experience true Mexican culture, attend a freestyle wrestling match known as Lucha Libre. Aside from football (soccer), this is the most popular sport in Mexico. The participants wear colorful masks and use many wrestling ‘high flying’ maneuvers that have definitely inspired the sport in America. Lucha Libre matches take place in three main arenas of Mexico City. The largest and most popular venue to spectate Lucha Libre is Colonia Doctores.
You can get Lucha Libre show tickets here.
The final day of this Mexico City itinerary will give you the option of visiting one of the city’s most iconic parks and one of the best museums in the country (once again, remember museums are closed on Mondays across the city). You will then join a guided afternoon tour to Teotihuacan.
If you head out really early and keep things swift, you can actually see all three attractions on the same day. Start with Chapultepec, since the museum won’t open before 10:00 am anyways.
Bosque de Chapultepec and Chapultepec Castle
The largest park in Mexico City is about twice the size of New York’s Central Park – in other words, massive! Chapultepec Park is a lovely place for a walk. If you have time, you may pop into one of the many museums located there, or even visit Chapultepec Castle, from where you can enjoy fantastic views of the city.
The National Museum of Anthropology is by far the most impressive in the country. History buffs will be in awe of the archeological and anthropological artifacts on display here. Highlights of the museum are the Stone of the Sun or Aztec Calendar, Pakal’s tomb, a mask of the Zapotec Bat God, and the Aztec Xochiplilli statue.
The National Museum of Anthropology is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is 80 pesos ($4 USD). For guided visits, click here.
Any trip to Mexico City would not be complete without a visit to Teotihuacan. The fabulous Pyramid of the Sun is the largest on the site and has to be seen to be believed. It will take you approximately three hours to explore the site properly. Unlike other archeological sites in the country, you will be allowed to climb some of the pyramids such as the Temple of the Moon. There is also a museum on the grounds that is worth a visit.
Unless you decide to skip the museum or Chapultepec, you are better off joining an afternoon tour to these Aztec pyramids, which are located about one hour drive out of town. A reputable operator twill provide transportation to and from the site, and a local guide will be sharing interesting facts and history about it. For guided afternoon tours of Teotihuacan, click here.
If you wish to go on your own, your best option is to take a bus from Autobuses del Norte terminal – it’s located on the Yellow Line 5.
Bonus! Day Four
There’s no such thing as getting bored in the capital. If you have more than 3 days in Mexico City, I recommend joining a guided food tour and then visit another incredible museum.
Roma and Condesa Food Tour
If there is one thing Mexico is famous for, that’s the food. If you have an extra day, you should definitely head to Roma and Condesa for a food tour and indulge yourself on the many flavors of Mexico. When you wander around these neighborhoods with your guide, you can sample local food such as tacos, churros, homemade ice cream, and even a shot of tequila from a local cantina.
This private museum has over 66,000 works of art from 30 centuries of time. Here you can view priceless works of art from Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica and Mexican art from the 19th and 20th centuries. You can also see works from European masters such as Salvador Dali and Rodin here as well.
Practical Tips To Make The Most Of Your 3 Days In Mexico City
Where to Stay in Mexico City
There are many great places to stay in Mexico City. The following hotels are centrally located in the city for best access to all the sites:
- Hotel Zocalo Central is located next to the Cathedral in the Zocalo.
- Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico is perfect for a five star experience.
- Hostel Mundo Joven Central is the best choice for those on a budget that still want a great location.
For more information, make sure to read my post Where To Stay In Mexico City.
How to get to Mexico City from the airport
There are several ways to get into Mexico City from Benito Juarez airport.
AIRPORT SHUTTLE – This is an easy and comfortable way of getting from the airport to the city. You can book an airport shuttle through most online travel sites. For more information, click here.
TAXI – Taxis operate from both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. You’ll have to buy your taxi ride on the ticket booth after arrivals and before actually getting on the taxi. Taxis observe a flat fee – rides to the centro historico cost between 250 and 300 pesos (between $12.50 and $15 USD).
METROBUS – The Metrobus line 4 runs every thirty minutes from the airport (Terminal 1 by Gate 7, and Terminal 2 by Gate 2)to the city center. The bus runs Monday to Saturday from 4:30 am to midnight, and on Sunday from 5:00 am to midnight. Tickets are 30 pesos and can be bought at the vending machines inside the terminal or by the bus stop.
REGULAR BUS – Various bus companies offer rides from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 to the Mexico City center.
METRO – If you do not have too much luggage, the metro is a cheap and easy way to travel. The closest metro station to Mexico City Airport is near Terminal 1, at “Terminal Aérea” station – that’s the Yellow Line, aka Line 5, which runs from Pantitlán to Politécnico. A one-way ticket is 5 pesos ($0.25 cents) and can be bought in one of the vending machines at the metro station or at the ticket booth. The metro runs Monday to Friday from 5:00 am to midnight; Saturdays from 6:00 am and Sundays from 7:00 am.
How to move around Mexico City
There are several ways of getting around Mexico City.
METRO – The metro is one of the best options to get around the city. It is quick and cheap, with tickets costing $0.25 USD. A little advice for this mode of transportation before you ride the first time – the front two cars on the train are reserved for women and children only. It is recommended that you only carry smaller bags on the trains, so you do not stand out as a tourist. Like most urban subway lines, the busiest times are the morning and evening rush hours.
UBER OR TAXI – This is another convenient and cost-effective way to get around the city. Uber is widely used in Mexico City by both locals and tourists. If you prefer a taxi, make sure you are in an official metered taxi that you can catch at one of the sitio signs. You can also ask the front desk at your hotel to call one for you.
METROBUS – Although usually crowded, the Metrobus is a cheap and efficient way to see the city.
TOURIST BUS – At a cost of about $14 USD, you can take a ride on a double decker tourist bus that rides past all the popular sites and provides commentary in eight languages. You can get tickets here.
COLECTIVO – Colectivos run through the major arteries of the city and are generally less crowded than the Metrobus.
Safety In Mexico City
I have never had an issue in the many times I have visited Mexico City, but this doesn’t mean that you should not keep your eyes open. On the contrary, like with any major tourist destination, Mexico City has a few scam artists looking to prey on tourists. Here are a few things you need to be aware of!
PEOPLE WITH SOB STORIES – Avoid engaging with anyone asking for money because of lost belongings. People should ask assistance from police and the embassy if this happens, not strangers on the street.
BAGS AND VALUABLES – Keep the properly closed and keep an eye on them at all times. This is good advice when visiting anywhere so pickpockets cannot take advantage.
ONLY USE OFFICIAL TAXIS OR UBER – An unofficial taxi may overcharge you and even rob you of your cash. If hailing a cab on the street, make sure the license plate numbers start with A or B, which is included on legitimate taxis.
PICK YOUR ATM WISELY – Phony ATMs and card scammers are common in Mexico. Only use an ATM that is located at a bank for safety. You should also use cash as much as possible to avoid getting your card numbers duplicated by scammers.
Useful things to have
- A guide book – I recommend the DK Eyewitness Mexico City guide;
- A Data Plan – For using apps such as Google Maps or Uber. You should also download offline maps;
- Travel insurance – Get yours here and read why you need it here.
Make sure to read my other posts about Mexico:
- The Best Travel Tips For Mexico
- The Best Mexico Itinerary
- The Best Museums In Mexico City
- The Best Things To Do In Puebla
- The Best Beaches In Mexico
- The Best Things To Do In Yucatan
- What To Eat In Mexico
- How Not To Get Sick In Mexico