Ultimate 5 Days in Mexico City Itinerary + Culture & Food!

Mexico City itinerary

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Hello and welcome to my Mexico City itinerary! This in-depth guide will help you spend an unforgettable 5 days in Mexico City, also known as CDMX, introducing you to the main attractions, coolest neighbourhoods, tantalising Mexican cuisine and more.

At the time of writing, I’ve been in living in Mexico for six months. No doubt over the coming months and years (who knows long how I’ll stay?), I will enrich this Mexico City blog with even more tidbits and quirky corners of the capital as I discover them.

Use my 23 Mexico City travel tips during your trip!

CDMX should be on every traveller’s Mexico bucket list. I’d argue Mexico City is one of the world’s most underrated capitals. You can get immersed in hectic local markets and eat street food for pennies, explore museums rivalling those of Paris and New York, and dine from menus curated by top world chefs.

Add hipster coffee shops, leafy parks, grand castles, ancient Mesoamerican ruins and vibrant nightlife to the mix? You’ve got a city like no other.

MEXICO CITY QUICK LINKS

Accommodation: Booking.com / Hostelworld

Copy of Lonely Planet Mexico / Mexican Spanish phrasebook

Activities: GetYourGuide

Food tours: Eatwith

Getting there: Skyscanner / Airport transfer

Is 5 days in Mexico City enough?

You may be wondering how many days are enough for Mexico City. In my opinion, you could spend way longer BUT five days in Mexico City is enough to explore the main neighbourhoods and take an iconic day trip that most travellers won’t want to miss.

With less than 5 days, you’ll have to skip a few incredible areas of the city and that would be a shame!

Mexico City itinerary for 5 days

During this guide, we’re going to explore pretty neighbourhoods Roma and Condesa, big and busy Centro (the UNESCO historic centre), charming Coyoacan once home to artist Frida Kahlo, sleepy San Angel neighbourhood, Xochimilco (canal networks accessed by colourful boats), enormous Chapultepec Park and upmarket Polanco.

I’ll share the must-visit attractions and travel tips for each area as we go. Since I’m a huge foodie, you’re going to be spoiled with eating recs!

We’ll explore the following areas during this Mexico City itinerary for 5 days…

mexico city map
Click for interactive version

Read next: a complete guide to solo travel in Mexico

Where to stay during 5 days in Mexico City

There are cities where you could book a hotel anywhere without it making much difference. For Mexico City, I would recommend doing a bit of quick homework.

Not only are many attractions located far from each other, but you wouldn’t want to grab a cheap room in a random area and feel unsafe.

Where to stay in Roma & Condesa

My preferred option! These neighbourhoods are near to amazing restaurants and attractions, plus they’re quiet, friendly and secure.

For cheaper prices, you could also check out nearby residential areas like Escandon, Tacubaya and San Miguel Chapultepec.

  • BudgetDistrito Condesa from $45 a night, right in the heart of Condesa on a quiet street with lots of cafes and restaurants around.
  • Hostel – Hostel Home for a friendly base and colourful communal areas to meet other travellers from around the world.
  • Splash outGalanga Thai House with stylish double rooms with gorgeous furnishings and artwork from $100. As a bonus, there’s an onsite restaurant serving amazing Thai food!
Condesa neighbourhood Mexico City
Get set for 5 days in Mexico City

Where to stay in Centro

Many people stay centrally near the Zocalo but prepare for things to be very busy outside your door. If that’s not a problem, I would recommend Casa Pepe as a backpackers option. Travellers rave about this friendly base with a roof terrace – you’re likely to meet other travellers exploring Mexico.

Where to stay in Coyoacan

Coyoacan is also a lovely option but factor in extra time and money for taxis because it’s a little far out. There aren’t many hotels here but you could consider a private like Pepper My Love! closeby to the Frida Kahlo Museum for $20 a night.

CDMX itinerary – quick overview

Day 1 Teotihuacan (morning), Roma & Condesa (afternoon)

Day 2 Centro: Palacio del Bellas Artes, Templo Mayor, Casa de los Azulejos, Palacio Postal, market shopping; Lucha Libre show (evening)

Day 3 – Coyoacan & San Angel: Frida Kahlo Museum, Mercado de Coyoacan, Plaza de la Conchita

Day 4 – Chapultepec (Museum of Anthropology, Chapultepec Castle, Museo de Arte Moderno) & Polanco (Tane Store, Soumaya Museum)

Day 5 – Xochimilco: trajinera tour; Dolores Olmedo Museum.

SO, let’s get stuck into our Mexico City itinerary for 5 days…

Day 1 Mexico City itinerary – Teotihuacan / Roma & Condesa

Sunrise at Teotihuacán Pyramids Mexico City itinerary

Start your trip right with a trip to Teotihuacan, a vast archaeological complex that will take your breath away.

Built in the year 200 AD, this enormous Mesoamerican site was the sixth-largest city in the world during its heyday. It features the enormous Pyramid of the Sun connected to the other ruins by the dubiously named Avenue of the Dead.

You can take an organised day trip or catch a public bus the 40kms from Mexico City to Teotihuacan. For an unforgettable experience, take a Teotihuacan hot air balloon ride.

Because it gets hot and busy later in the day, my best tip is to visit for sunrise. The early wake-up will feel excruciating but I promise it’s worth it!

Browse Teotihuacan tours with GetYourGuide. This early morning balloon ride and breakfast tour is the ultimate bucket lister.

If you take a tour, you’ll arrive back in Mexico City by 1pm. Spend the rest of the day relaxing in my favourite set of neighbourhoods…

Afternoon – Roma & Condesa

Roma Condesa 5 days in Mexico City
Roma street art

Welcome to my hood! Roma and Condesa neighbourhoods are home to countless brunch cafes, coffee shops, art galleries and parks.

Add them to your Mexico City itinerary for a leisurely afternoon after Teotihuacan.

How to get around Roma and Condesa: These areas link together and can be explored by foot. You can walk anywhere in 30 minutes, or board a JUMP e-bike to speed things up. Unlock them with the Uber app.

If you’re arriving by Metro, the closest stations are: Centro Medico (exit for Roma), Chilpancingo (Roma South), Cuauhtémoc (Roma North), Patriotismo and Juanacatlán (Condesa). We’ll discuss CDMX public transport in detail later on.

Brunch or lunch

French toast breakfast at Lardo CDMX
Lalo’s famous French toast

After your early start at the pyramids, you’ll likely be starving. Head to Lalo in Roma (order the French toast), a hipster cafe with quirky murals on the walls. Lalo is always busy with shared tables so, if you’d rather a more upmarket brunch, try Lardo. The pancakes are unreal!

Alternatively, eat chilaquiles (crispy tortilla chips topped with salsa, cheese, cream and a fried egg) at pretty Ojo de Aqua, quirky and colourful Chilakiller’s Loungería, or relaxed Chilpa with build-your-own bowls.

Chilakiller’s Loungería

If you’re just after a quick bite and strong coffee, visit Forte cafe and sink your teeth into a citrus almond croissant.

Things to do in Roma & Condesa

Take a leisurely walk around Roma and Condesa. Start at Parque Mexico where you can take homeless but loveable pups for weekend walks. From here you can wander along Amsterdam, a tree-lined walkway that was once a horse racing track.

Head over to Huerto Roma Verde, a community garden hosting everything from art exhibitions made from recycling to Hare Krishna festivals. I like the street art and sculptures as well as the pop-up cafes outside.

Street art at Huerto Roma Verde Mexico City
Huerto Roma Verde

Roma markets

There’s so much to eat during five days in Mexico City so I’d recommend grazing little and often. Take a walk around Mercado Medellin to soak up the culture.

This colourful Colombian market is packed with piñatas, crafts, local goods, fresh fruit, veg and flowers. Sample authentic Mexican food, ice cream and local beverages.

Flowers at Mercado Medellin
Mercado Medellin

Another food market you can check out is Mercado de Roma. It’s not exactly authentic, more of a hipster market with pop-up stands from popular Roma and Condesa cafes. Prices are inflated but it’s a good option for slowly easing yourself into the street food.

Visiting Condesa on a Friday? Be sure to visit the Friday Market which runs along Campeche. Head to Cardinal Coffee House (Campeche 346) to find it across the road. Try the blue corn quesadillas or seafood tostadas.

Galleries in Roma & Condesa

Stroll Roma Norte (Roma North) which is one of the coolest parts of Mexico City. As well as leafy Plaza Río de Janeiro with its replica of Michelangelo’s David, you can explore the art galleries and museums.

These include the Object Museum which is an exploration of ourselves through everyday items (entrance is 50 pesos) and Galleria OMR, a contemporary gallery displaying work by Mexican and international artists.

Street tacos Roma Mexico City
Tacos Frontera, Roma Norte

Evening options in Roma and Condesa

Dinner: Roma Norte is an atmospheric area for dinner. Check out Butcher & Sons for amazing burgers or Contramar for seafood and famous fig tarts. If street food is more your vibe, tuck into cheap and cheerful tacos at Tacos Frontera with nopales (cactus) topping for vegans. Treat your sweet tooth across the road at El Moro, everyone’s favourite churreria.

Chilled drinks: Head for evening drinks at Jardín Chapultepec, a beer garden with excellent burgers and beers on tap.

Cinema: I love Cine de Tonala, an arty cinema in Roma Sur which doubles up as a hipster cafe, bar and restaurant. Cinema tickets are only 50 pesos and excellent margaritas aren’t much more. Check if the night’s movies are showing in English.

Nice bars: Consistently ranking in lists of top bars around the world, 1920s-themed Licorería Limantour serves classic cocktails with international flair. Don’t miss the jamaica (hibiscus) mezcal cocktail. Another bar that will suit gin lovers is Gin Gin, a lively drinking spot known for mixing gin with coconut-infused tonic, rosemary, lime and more.

Clubs: An upbeat option for salsa dancing is Mama Rumba. If you’re keen for an official class, visit on a Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday and pay 100 pesos. Iconic club, Patrick Miller, is the place to watch locals show off in organised dance circles before it turns into a regular club after 10pm. Finally, don’t miss Pata Negra for a lively night with DJs and flowing drinks.

Tacos in Roma & Condesa

You’ll find countless places to eat world-class tacos. Here are just a few:

  • Tacos Orinoco on Avenue Insurgentes are known for their generous meaty tacos served with crispy potatoes. The hype is huge so prepare to queue!
  • Tacos Alvaro Obregon also serve tasty tacos, volcanos, gringos and more in no-frills surroundings
  • El Tizoncito are famed as the birthplace of tacos al pastor. Be sure to try the famous bean dip with tortilla chips
  • Taqueria El Califa is a good place to ease in gently with classy tacos on ceramic plates
  • Tacos Hola can’t be beaten for 20 peso lunchtime tacos with loads of veggie options
  • (VEGAN) Por Siempre Vegana serve faux-meat tacos including Seitan. These are a bargain at five for 50 pesos including an agua fresca (fruit water) and unlimited toppings like nopales, pineapple, salsa etc
  • (VEGAN) La Pitahaya Vegana serve pretty pink tacos with gourmet vegan ingredients including almond, coconut, pumpkin, braised cauliflower and grilled pineapple. Pay 180 pesos for three.
Pink tacos La Pitahaya Vegana Roma Norte
Insta tacos at La Pitahaya Vegana

More Roma & Condesa food for your Mexico City itinerary

Dessert in Roma and Condesa: Visit Helado Obscuro for alcoholic ice cream, the Secret Donut Society (a hipster Roma venue where finding dessert is a mission) and Ficelle Boulangerie Patisserie for the prettiest cupcakes in town.

Check my complete Roma and Condesa food guide and save these for your 5 days in Mexico City!

Coffee and cafes: Book lovers shouldn’t miss Cafebre El Pendulo, a cosy bookstore cafe. For a laptop cafe with great coffee and the best avocado toast of all time, visit Blend Station. Head to Cardinal (either the Roma or Condesa branch) for the best cortado in town.

Chocolate: Those with a sweet tooth will love the award-winning chocolates in endless flavours from Tout Chocolat. Then, there’s Tierra Garat, a chain of chocolate cafes where you should order the chocolate con chile (hot chocolate flavoured with chilli). Finally, El Moro is the chocolate and churro cafe I mentioned earlier, the prettiest one overlooking Parque Mexico.

World cuisine: Whatever you want to eat, you’ll find it in Roma or Condesa. I love the wood-fired pizza with burrata (plus the desserts and margaritas) at Pizza Felix. For quirky pizza toppings including chilaquiles, chile relleno and mac & cheese, visit Pizza del Perro Negro. For ramen and sushi, it’s all about Gin Chan or Kura.

Day 2 Mexico City Itinerary – explore Centro

Palace of the Arts Mexico City itinerary
A Mexico City itinerary must!

Big and busy Centro Historico will be a total contrast to your first day wandering Roma and Condesa. Despite being hectic, this UNESCO World Heritage Zone is a must for 5 days in Mexico City. The main square is called the Zocalo and is the biggest of its kind in Latin America.

Despite all the grand and historic buildings, there are endless busy taquerias and local food stands. Although they stand out like a sore thumb against the ancient architecture, they’re the soul of the Zocalo. You know you’re in Mexico City when you see quesadillas being flipped in front of decadent palaces.

Centro is the best place to learn about Mexico’s rich history. Follow this Mexico City itinerary as we explore the museums, markets, churches and sunny squares.

Top tip – Most museums are closed on Mondays and free on Sundays. Centro Historico (as well as Xochimilco and Coyoacan) will be super busy at weekends. Time your CDMX itinerary accordingly.

Morning in Centro itinerary – mini walking tour

10am: After experiencing Roma’s trendy brunch cafes the day before, why not grab a local Mexico City breakfast at El Popular? Pay 100 pesos for huevos rancheros, filter coffee and juice.

11am: explore Palacio del Bellas Artes (Palace of the Arts). This grand marble and gold building is full of classic art by artists including Diego Rivera. It was even the location of Frida Kahlo’s funeral.

In the evening, it doubles up as a ballet venue so you could consider returning for an evening out. Entrance to the gallery is 70 pesos or free on Sundays.

Cafe Don Porfirio Zocalo CDMX
Palace of the Arts from Cafe Don Porfirio

1pm: For 360-degree panoramic views, pay 70 pesos to head up the Torre Latinoamericana tower. Another option is to buy a drink at Cafe Don Porfirio directly opposite Palacio del Bellas Artes. This viewpoint isn’t half as high but it’s a lovely place to sit outside and soak up city views.

2pm: Next, head to Templo Mayor, the remains of an ancient city known as Tenochtitlan, built by the Mexica people. The site has religious importance because it’s believed that a snake and eagle (shown on the Mexican flag) appeared as a vision to locals who subsequently built the temple on this site.

Templo Mayor was built in 1325 and sadly destroyed by the Spanish in the 1500s who used the stone to build Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral right beside it. This is one of the largest and oldest cathedrals in the Americas so it’s an impressive albeit tragic monument.

3pm, Casa de los Azulejos: This gorgeous blue-and-white tiled building translates as House of Tiles. Head inside for evidence that Mexico City (built inside an ancient lakebed) is sinking. The wonky corridors and beams add character to the decadent interior.

House of Tiles Mexico City 5 days
House of Tiles

Afternoon

3.30pm, Palacio Postal: The architecture of this 100-year-old building is worth exploring while downtown. The exterior isn’t spectacular but the interior is lined with gold and marble making it a real hidden gem to peep inside!

4pm, Chinatown: Okay, this is probably the worst Chinatown I’ve visited but it’s worth a quick wander. Sample a colourful rainbow steamed bun and admire dragon statues.

4.30pm, El Moro: Visit the original branch of this iconic chocolate and churro cafe. Arguably the best, this flagship cafe is always packed with locals queuing out the door. Grab a seat in the diner-style venue and guzzle hot chocolate and churros to your heart’s content.

5pm, Explore the markets:

In the afternoon, wander through Mercado de San Juan to experience busy local life. For contrast, arrive at La Ciudadela, a colourful crafts market where you can shop for clothes, bags, rugs, pillowcases, art, souvenirs… the list goes on!

Save some space in your luggage because you’ll want to purchase a lot during 5 days in Mexico City!

Rather explore the markets with a guide? Find the best food in San Juan and Merced markets with GetYourGuide.

Safety in the Zocalo

Unlike Roma, Condesa and Coyoacan where I have no zero safety concerns, I would recommend keeping an eye on your bag around Centro, especially around tightly-packed markets.

After dark, call an Uber rather than walking. I’ll discuss transportation options in detail towards the end of this blog.

Evening – Lucha Libre show

Even if you’re not into wrestling, Lucha Libre is more of a show than anything else combining costumes, acting and even a bit of aerobics. It’s been part of Mexican culture since the 1800s so it’s an entertaining addition to your Mexico City itinerary.

You can see the luchadores wrestlers perform in iconic costumes seven nights week at Arena Mexico. Get your tickets on the door or book in advance. By booking a Lucha Libre tour you have a bit more security as Arena Mexico isn’t in the safest area, but it’s still ok to go independently – just call an Uber and don’t stroll the neighbourhood at night.

Day 3 Mexico City itinerary – Coyoacan & San Angel

These two charming neighbourhoods sit close together in the south of Mexico City which is why I’d recommend visiting both during 1 day.

San Angel Market holds a Saturday Market so visit then if possible.

Getting to San Angel/Coyoacan: An Uber from Roma/Condesa will cost 150 pesos to either San Angel or Coyoacan. Instead, you can arrive into Coyoacan metro station for just 5 pesos but note it’s a 20-minute walk from Coyoacan historic centre.

 San Angel market cdmx itinerary
San Angel

San Angel

This lesser-visited suburb of Mexico City is charming and sleepy with pretty churches and parks.

The Saturday Bazaar sprawls the streets and covered market halls, selling contemporary Mexican art, gourmet cheese, chocolate, bath products, jewellery, antiques and more. This is bound to be a highlight during your five days in Mexico City.

Even if you can’t visit at the weekend, it’s worth a wander around this pretty part of Mexico City.

San Angel and Coyoacan are just a 10-minute drive apart. After San Angel, jump in an Uber to Coyoacan, once a small town until Mexico City sprawled and engulfed it. You’ll feel as if you’ve escaped the capital altogether thanks to the leafy parks and sleepy backstreets.

Read next: the best things to do in Coyoacan

Frida and Diego statue Coyoacan itinerary Mexico City
Casa de Cultura Jesus Reyes Heroles (culture house)

Frida Kahlo Museum, Coyoacan

This is what puts Coyoacan on the map. Frida Kahlo was Mexico’s most famous artist and she lived out her days with her husband Diego Rivera here in the Blue House where you can see plenty of her original artwork.

My best tip for visiting the Frida Kahlo Museum is to book Frida Kahlo museum tickets online in advance. It’s extremely popular and you could queue for hours and not get in, especially at weekends. Once you’re inside, you’ll want to spend 1-2 hours admiring exhibits and relaxing in the sunny courtyard.

Lunch at Mercado de Coyoacan

This bustling covered market is one of my favourites in Mexico City. It’s worth a visit just to sample the many tostada toppings at Tostadas Coyoacan (I’d recommend chicken mole and shrimp & avocado).

Wander the atmospheric market and shop for souvenirs.

Afternoon activities in Coyoacan

  • Mercado Artesanal Mexicano – shop at this market known for its handcrafted goods and souvenirs
  • Parroquia San Juan Bautista Church – one of the oldest churches in the Americas built eight years after the conquest of Mexico
  • Plaza de la Conchita – a crumbling, pale yellow church beside a pretty square
  • Chapel of Santa Catarina – a final chuch with a vibrant yellow exterior.
  • Casa de Cultura Jesus Reyes Heroles – a free-to-visit cultural centre with Aztec relics, artwork and statues of Frida and Diego. Find it beside the Chapel of Santa Catarina and grab coffee afterwards at Meson Antigua, a brightly coloured restaurant with indoor murals.
Yellow church Coyoacan
Chapel of Santa Catarina

Where to drink coffee in Coyoacan

  • Cafe Negro – visit for excellent coffee and enormous sandwiches and salads. The Wi-Fi is strong.
  • Cafe Avellaneda – this tiny coffee shop is a local institution, well worth adding to your CDMX itinerary. Grab a seat at the bar and chat to the other guests.

Read next: The best cafes and restaurants in Coyoacan

Day 4 Mexico City itinerary – Chapultepec & Polanco

Chapultepec Park 5 days in Mexico City
Chapultepec boating lake

For the penultimate day of your Mexico City itinerary, we’re headed to two brand new neighbourhoods, neither of which bare any resemblance to the ones you’ve seen already.

To save money, plan this day out for a Sunday when the museums are free.

Morning

A corner of Mexico City I haven’t yet introduced is Chapultepec Park, bigger than Central Park in New York. This is one of my favourite places to take a walk in the sunshine and escape the noise and traffic.

It’s also home to the oldest castle in the Americas where Romeo and Juliet was filmed, plus museums, art galleries, a zoo and food market.

10am: Start your day by grabbing coffee at Libreria Porrua Bosque de Chapultepec, a quirky bookshop cafe with trees growing inside and views over the lake. The coffee isn’t world-class but it’s worth a visit for the surroundings.

If you have the time and energy, hire a pedalo and explore the lake.

Chapultepec Cafe Mexico City itinerary
Bookshop cafe

10.30am, Museum of Anthropology: Just a moment’s walk from Libreria Porrua is Museo Nacional de Antropología, in my opinion the best museum in CDMX. You’ll learn about the Mayas, Aztecs and other pre-Hispanic civilisations. Entrance is 70 pesos.

Other things to do in Chapultepec

12pm, Food Market: You could easily spend hours at the Anthropology Museum so you’ll probably be hungry by the time you leave. Wander through the large food market in the centre of the park and try quesadillas, tortas, huaraches, mole and various other Mexican foods. It’s not gourmet but nothing will cost you more than 100 pesos!

1pm, Chapultepec Castle: Exploring this impressive castle, museum and art gallery is a must for five days in Mexico City. Built upon a sacred Aztec hilltop in 1775, the Spanish are of course responsible for this European-style castle. In fact, it’s the only castle in the Americas to have ever inhabited royals.

This iconic spot is the filming location of Baz Luhrmann‎’s Romeo and Juliet. Other tidbits of history include the fact it was abandoned during the War of Independence, then defended by six children who lost their lives during the Mexican-American War. Pay your respects at the Niños Héroes (Hero Children) statue. Entrance to the castle and Museum of National History is 70 pesos. Closed Mondays.

2pm, Museo de Arte Moderno: If you’re not all cultured-out, swing by this modern art gallery before leaving Chapultepec Park. Here you can see the famous Two Fridas painting, a self-portrait following her divorce from Diego. Entrance is 70 pesos or free on Sundays (closed Mondays).

Afternoon – Polanco

Polanco Mexico City itinerary

Polanco is Mexico City’s most upmarket neighbourhood. I wouldn’t recommend staying there unless you want to haemorrhage money but it’s somewhere you should spend a half-day exploring just to see how the other half live.

Mexico Mi Amor sign Mexico City
The Tane Store

Things to do in Polanco:

  • Tane Store: This is nothing but a Mexico City Insta spot probably engineered by the jewellery store. But who’s complaining? This is one of Mexico City’s most iconic photo spots so swing by and snap some.
  • Shop for accessories, jewellery and homeware at hipster market, Mercado Escondido.
  • Wander Lincoln Park home to the Martin Luther King Monument.
  • Soumaya Museum: One of the most iconic sights in Mexico City is this private art museum built by the richest man in Mexico, Carlos Slim Helú at a cost of $70 million. Inside is 600,000+ pieces of art including mosaics, statues, religious art and more. You can visit for free (although there are often long queues for tickets) until 6.30pm. Closed Tuesdays.
Soumaya Museum Polanco itinerary Mexico City
Soumaya Museum

Where to eat and drink in Polanco

While you might not expect authentic street food in such a fancy neighbourhood, there are plenty of stands outside Soumaya Museum. Since there’s a thriving Jewish community in Polanco, you can also sample authentic fare at Klein’s Polanco.

For lunch, dinner and coffee, visit Cafebrería El Pendulo, the Polanco branch of Mexico City’s library cafe.

However, the most famous restaurant in Polanco (and possibly the whole city) is Pujol. Voted one of Latin America’s best restaurants, chef Enrique Olver uses traditional Mexican ingredients in his imaginative modern dishes. You’ll need to shell out over $100 USD per head and book three months in advance but fans of fine dining will tell you it’s worth it!

Day 5 Mexico City itinerary – Xochimilco

Xochimilco is sometimes referred to as the ‘Venice of Mexico City’ although I can’t say I particularly see the resemblance.

The boats that roam Xochimilco’s waterways are not delicate gondolas but enormous trajineras, brightly painted with images from Mexican culture. Still, it’s worth including this vibrant area in your Mexico City itinerary for 5 days.

Colourful trainers Xochimilco Mexico City itinerary 5 days
Colourful trajineras

Trajinera tour

For a fun day out, head to Embarcadero Nativitas where you can arrange a tour price with the vendors.

Since they rent out a whole boat per group, you’ll want to buddy up to make this cheaper. If you’re not staying in a hostel, I’d suggest waiting at the pier and asking other pairs / small groups if they want to join. Alternatively, book a tour then you don’t need to worry.

Browse Xochimilco tours with GetYourGuide.

While enjoying your tour of the Xochimilco waterways, you’ll have the chance to purchase Mexican snacks like tamales and quesadillas from passing boats.

This day out can be whatever you make it: some people bring beers, hire a mariachi band at the pier and make it a party. Others cruise down the waterways and enjoy the greenery and nature. It’s entirely up to you.

To escape the crowds and support local livelihoods, I would recommend taking a Floating Gardens of Xochimilco tour with Pachoa Mexico. We didn’t board a trajinera but we were able to explore the islands in greater depth by canoe and learn how the area has been used by farmers for centuries. We didn’t see another boat all day.

Floating Gardens of Xochimilco Mexico City itinerary
Eco tour around the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco

Afternoon – Dolores Olmedo Museum

Once you’ve had your fill of Xochimilco, visit Museo Dolores Olmedo on the way back to the city. Dolores Olmedo was a businesswoman, artist and friend of Frida and Diego, and this museum displays work by all three artists including Frida’s famous Self-Portrait With Monkey.

The museum is set inside an enormous 16th-century estate with a garden of Xoloitzcuintle dogs. These hairless pooches are thought to guide their owners into the afterlife, making them popular pets in Mexico. Entry for foreigners is 100 pesos and the museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am-6pm.

Getting around during your Mexico City itinerary

This depends what’s more important to you: time or money. I take the Metro or Metrobús most places as it’s only 5 pesos a journey. But if you have just 5 days in Mexico City, you may be best off calling Ubers to save time.

  • Metro: these underground trains can be busy and hectic but they’re a cheap and efficient way to get around. Keep your bag close and use the women & children carriage at night. Journeys cost 5 pesos. To buy a travel card and top it up, approach the counter and say ‘Puedo tener una tarjeta con x pesos?’
  • Metrobús: these carriages travel along electric tram-style lines between designated boarding stations. You tap on and off with your Metro card and journeys also cost 5 pesos. Like the Metro, these routes and times show up on Google Maps.
  • Regular buses: I’ve never mastered these as the routes don’t show up on Google Maps. If you speak a little Spanish and ask the driver where they’re going, give them a go. Pay in cash but don’t expect change.
  • Uber: these are much cheaper than at home. You’ll pay around 150 pesos for a thirty-minute ride, or 80 if you select Uber pool. I’d always suggest taking Uber at night in Mexico City rather than walking.

SIM cards when visiting Mexico City

For a short Mexico City itinerary, you might not bother with a SIM card. But if you’re out and about calling Ubers at night, I find they can make life easier and more secure.

I use a Telcel SIM card which I top up monthly in the 7-Eleven. For 150 pesos, you’ll get calls, texts, 4gb of mobile data, plus unlimited social media and Whatsapp for a month (which can be used all over Mexico if you’re travelling after). Ask or show the cashier ‘Tarjeta SIM Telcel con paquete 150, por favor’.

Additional day trips from Mexico City

If you have days to spare in Mexico, the capital is an excellent place to use them. Tag these days on to your Mexico City itinerary.

Puebla

I would recommend spending a couple of days in Puebla, a gorgeous city just 2 hours from Mexico City. However, if you have limited time, take an organised day trip from Mexico City.

Street art Puebla Mexico

Sample local candies along Calle del Dulches (Sweet Street), journey inside Cholula Pyramid and wander the Artist’s Quarter. Sample delicious local delicacies, mole poblano (chocolate and chilli sauce best eaten over chicken enchiladas) and chile en nogada (a giant chilli stuffed with a fruit hash and bathed in creamy walnut sauce). Puebla food is the best!

To visit Puebla, take an organised day tour or catch an early bus from Tapo (Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente). Book on busbud.

Tepoztlán

Another day trip from Mexico City is to Tepoztlán, a charming town 1.5 hours from the capital. Striking craggy mountains surround Tepotzlán which you can hike into by visiting Archaeological Zone Tepozteco. From here you’ll get beautiful views over the town and countryside.

Reward yourself at the local market where you can try prehispanic cuisine including burgers patties made with pink hibiscus, squash, mole and ginger. Vegans will be in the element. Read more about the Tepoztlán food here.

Vegetarian burgers Tepoztlán Mexico
Prehispanic buffet

Taxco

Taxco is a traditional silver mining town 2.5 hours from Mexico City. Catch a bus from Mexico City’s Taxqueña (Terminal de Sur) or take an organised Taxco day tour from the capital.

taxco mexico

lf you have time, I’d recommend staying overnight to explore the many lovely things to do in Taxco including shopping for silver jewellery and eating speciality dishes such as rose mole and queso malinalli.

Mexico City packing list

Here are a few things I would recommend taking to Mexico City:

Travelling further around Mexico?

  • Head south to Oaxaca state. I had a blast in Oaxaca city eating mole, visiting Hierve el Agua, spotting street art and experiencing Dia de Muertos. While in Oaxaca, take a trip to Puerto Escondido where you can see dolphins, turtles and luminous plankton
  • Guadalajara is the other ‘big city’ that can rival Mexico City for me. I spent 4 days in Guadalajara exploring the Zocalo, Tlaqueupaque art district, Chapultepec, and visiting Tequila and Lake Chapala as day trips
  • Queretaro city (and state) is four hours from Mexico City. I spent a blissful weekend here, hopping between the Queretaro wineries and visiting Pueblo Magicos (magic towns voted by the tourist board), Bernal and Tequisquiapan
  • Guanajuato state has a few cities of interest to travellers. I visited San Miguel from Mexico City which I enjoyed (despite its rep as an American retirement hub) but I preferred colourful Guanajuato city where I spent Christmas 2019.

Thanks for reading my Mexico City itinerary for 5 days!

VISITING MEXICO?
These are my trusted resources:

Getting around by air – the quickest (and often cheapest) way to travel between Mexican cities is by flight. I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.

Getting around by bus (environmental option) – buses in Mexico are comfy with free snacks and an in-journey entertainment system. I use Busbud to find the best prices.

Driving in Mexico – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals in Mexico (and all around the world)

For hotels in Mexico, I use Booking.com – they also have self-catering apartments. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com.

To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.

Browse Mexico tours and activities on GetYourGuide. I always check Viator in case they have a better price.

For Mexico food tours with passionate local chefs and foodies, check out EatWith.

Need to top up your Spanish? Pack a Lonely Planet Mexican Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary.

Need travel insurance? I use World Nomads. They cover 150 countries and have 24-hour emergency assistance. 

Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and tips!

For more travel content, follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Check out my other Mexico City blogs:

See you next time,

Rose

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5 day Mexico City itinerary

2 thoughts on “Ultimate 5 Days in Mexico City Itinerary + Culture & Food!

  1. Angus and Emmylou says:

    Hey Rose, just finishing up my 6th day in Mexico City. Had a look at the blog initially just for some inspiration but found myself going back to it over and over again. Didn’t manage to get to all the places you recommended but so thankful for your recommendations. Super easy to follow along, looking forward to reading more 🙂

    • Rose says:

      Hello! Thanks for commenting, I’m always so happy to know people enjoyed the blogs. Mexico City is amazing, isn’t it?!

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