48 Hours in Mexico City
There’s a lot of ground to cover if you want to leave with a well-rounded experience.
With nearly 22 million people, “CDMX” is the world’s tenth largest metropolis. And that’s why a quick weekend there is as bustling as the city itself. From Aztec anthropology to Frida Kahlo to molé and mescal, here is everything you need to see, do, and taste on a 48-hour visit in the Mexican capital.
Where to Stay
Consider Hotel Carlota, in the graffiti-adorned Juárez neighborhood, for its private balconies and inviting lobby pool. Alternatively, Condesa DF offers Bohemiam décor and a rooftop bar. Plus, you can easily jog the nearby verdant Avenida Amsterdam loop around Parque México.
Get a jump on the morning with a workout class at boxing studio Hit Hard. Then, refuel with breakfast at Lardo. Order the huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs) as well as romero (rosemary) buns. Chase it all with a French press and then walk to El Angel de la Independencia to photograph the city’s monument that celebrates its independence from Spain in 1821.
From there, go west to Parque Chapultepec, up the hill to the Chapultepec Castle. This was the former residence of Emperor Maximilian I. It’s been converted into a museum of royal relics, but the best part is the panorama of CDMX that it provides.
Hail an Uber (it's the easiest way to get around; EasyTaxi and Cabify are alternatives) to Plaza de la Constitución. This is the second largest public square in the world, and was the site of many Aztec gatherings prior to Spanish occupation. Now it’s home to festivals, markets, and celebrations year round.
Next, trek over to the Palacio de Bellas Artes to see the murals of Diego Rivera before heading to lunch around the corner at the traditional El Cardenal. Try the chilaquiles verde and a cinnamon-spiced café de olla.
With a new burst of energy, walk five blocks south to Mercado San Juan, if only to gawk at the seafood, butchery, and insects for sale. After one lap, continue a couple blocks west to Mercado Ciudadela, which is an artisan market. If you want to leave the city with authentic silver jewelry from Taxco, Oaxacan rugs, and hand-carved gifts, then this is your best chance to do it all in one place.
After a pitstop at the hotel, get yourself to Contramar in Condesa for a fresh seafood appetizer before dinner at Huset in Roma Norte. Ask to sit in the garden and be sure to try their off-menu avocado pizza.
It’s already been a long day, but if you’re up for it, go for a craft cocktail alongside the great DJs at the off-the-grid Xaman bar in Juaréz.
Request a car to take you to San Angel Inn for breakfast (try the omelette with fresh salsa) often accompanied by live music. Afterwards, cross the street to Museo Casa Estudio to tour Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s neighboring studio spaces. You'll need another ride to Viveros de Coyoacán, a huge tree nursery in the heart of the Coyoacán neighborhood. Stroll through the park for an hour, spotting fencing lessons, band practice, tightrope walkers, jugglers, and more. Then, walk north to Frida Kahlo’s home, the infamous Casa Azul, to see how the painter lived.
A couple blocks south, find Mercado de Coyoacán, where you’ll have one more chance to pick up a few artisan products, but the real treat here is the tostada stand in the center of the market. Look for the big yellow signs with tostada menus and order two or three (at least one molé con pollo) and get an ice-cold horchata to drink.
Next up is a boat tour of the Xochimilco canals. This activity will take a few hours of your day—including cars to and from—but it’s worth it. You’ll pass floating mariachi bands, food and drink vendors, and islands decorated with dolls.
If you want something upscale for dinner, you’ll have booked a table at Pujol well in advance. It’s Michelin-quality five-course Mexican dining. The customizable menu includes options like sea bass, charred eggplant, molé aged a few years to perfection, and roasted pineapple for dessert. If not Pujol, you should look in advance to see if Hidden Kitchen has any events and openings for a one-of-its-kind experiential, local-fare meal.
Head to Cine Tonalá in Roma Sur for a mescal nightcap if that’s all the energy you’ve got left. If there’s still wind in the sails on a weekend, then your night can go until morning at MN Roy. Inside you get the city’s best house DJs, a young and hip crowd, and an intimate space.
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