72 Hours of Culture, Sightseeing and Fine Dining in Mexico City

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Awesome Tips   Bucket List Worthy  

 

Photo credit: Lui Piquée
Photo credit: Lui Piquée

Once only a destination for intrepid travelers, Mexico City in recent years has exploded into life. Revamped public spaces, a mouth-watering culinary scene and a colorful tapestry of culture, tradition, and history has officially put Mexico City back on the map.

Having the second-highest number of museums in the world (Paris is in the top spot), a protected urban space double the size of New York’s Central Park, and more than 40,000 restaurants, Mexico City won’t leave you short of things to do, see and eat.

Mexico-city-street-performer
Photo credit: Geraint Rowland

Your 3-day Mexican adventure will be filled with chatting to local street performers, learning about Mexican art and design, eating in world-class restaurants and sipping cocktails in stylish art-deco bars – all within skipping distance of each other.

With this guide, we’ll make sure you pack your 72 hours in Mexico City with some of the best museums, dining and nightlife spots the nation’s capital has to offer. Be warned, though: you may find yourself staying a little longer than planned.

 

Day One

 

Morning:

 

Poached eggs at Giornale cafe
Breakfast at Giornale Cafe- Photo credit: Giornale Facebook page

Kick-start your adventure by treating yourself to a healthy breakfast at the Giornale cafe. They serve up delicious fruit smoothies, colorful açaí bowls and veggie-loaded omelets made to order. Don’t miss their perfectly poached eggs on rye bread topped with crispy parsley and juicy avocado.

Mexico City historical centre cathedral
Centro Historico- Photo credit: Ted McGrath

Once you’ve fuelled up, it’s time for some sightseeing. Everyone’s visit to Mexico City should begin with a walk around the city’s cultural hub: the historical center. El Centro Historico is home to famously huge plazas, stunning historical buildings, and a never-ending stream of museums. The best place to take it all in is from the Zocalo square: a 240m space crammed with street performers, vendors, and local retirees playing chess.

Franz Mayer Museum courtyard in Mexico City
Franz Mayer Museum- Photo Credit: Jeff Bridges

Once you’ve taken in the frantic buzz of the old town, dive into the relaxing Franz Mayer Museum that sits just off the main square. Set in a beautiful 18th-century former monastery and hospital, Franz Mayer houses the largest collection of decorative arts in Latin America. The best bit? The exhibit halls open up onto a luxurious colonial courtyard, where you can get your mid-morning caffeine fix in the outdoor cafeteria surrounded by lush green gardens.

Afternoon:

 

Staircase at the Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City
Staircase at the MUNAL- Photo credit: Jack Heald

Just a few minutes walk from the Franz Mayer Museum you’ll be able to have your next fix of art and architecture. At the Museo Nacional de Arte, a beautiful Italian Renaissance-style palace built in the year 1900, you’ll find collections representing every school of Mexican art until the early 20th century. They also hold several workshops, talks, and concerts throughout the year. You can check out their schedule here.

nieves-100-artesanales
Artisanal ice-cream- Photo source: Nieves 100% Artesanales Facebook page

After all that hard work learning about 19th-century Mexican art, you’re probably in need of an ice-cream. Just a 6-minute walk from Museo Nacional de Arte, you’ll find the freshest ice-cream in town. Nieves 100% Artesanales prepare their sweet goods using only fresh ingredients and traditional ice-cream-making methods. As Nieves’ ice-cream is made fresh every single morning, the flavors on offer change every day; but expect anything from coffee and banana to blackberry cheesecake.

 

Night:

 

The Aguachile dish at BIKO- Photo credit: Biko
The Aguachile dish at BIKO- Photo credit: BIKO

Locals and visitors alike anticipate the setting of the sun in Mexico City. This is because, as well as being a great place to party, the nation’s capital is home to some of the best restaurants in the world.

You’ll be doing Mexico’s culinary scene proud by eating your first evening meal at Biko; where every dish looks more like an art-nouveau painting than a meal. Spanish chefs Mikel Alonso, Gerard Bellver and Bruno Oteiza have coupled Basque flavors with Mexican ingredients to bring you a Spanish-Mexican fusion of pure bliss. Expect anything from stuffed piquillo peppers to sautéed prawns served with a dust made from their own heads. Be sure to try the confit pork jowl.

Lit up cocktail bar: Jules Basement, Mexico City
Jules Basement cocktail bar- Photo Credit: Jules Basement

The night is still young. Continue spoiling yourself with a few after-dinner cocktails at Jules Basement. This 1920’s Prohibition Era themed bar gets the party going with expertly crafted drinks, stylish decor, and live jazz music from 9.00pm. Their show-stopper cocktails include the “Oscar Wilde”, a Jameson whiskey blend with passionfruit puree and apple nectar, and “The Colony”; an exquisite Tanqueray No. 10 gin with fresh grapefruit juice and Maraschino cherry liquor.

Hotel room in Las Alcobas, Mexico City
Room at Las Alcobas- Photo credit: Las Alcobas

When your feet can take no more, end your night at relaxing Las Alcobas. Located in Mexico City’s Polanco District, it’s within short distance from popular attractions such as Chapultepec Forest, the National Archaeology Museum, and Paseo de la Reforma. You’ll be truly pampered here: every room is equipped with a hydromassage bath, and skin treatments using natural, local ingredients are offered daily at the on-site Aurora spa.

Day Two

 

Morning:

Monumento a la Revolución- photo credit: Haakon S. Krohn
Monumento a la Revolución- photo credit: Haakon S. Krohn

It’s day 2 in Mexico City, and there’s no doubt you’ll be itching to see some more spectacular sights.

You’ll find nothing less than spectacular waiting for you at the Monumento a la Revolución Mexicana. Originally destined to become a luxurious government building, the construction of Monumento a la Revolución was halted by the outbreak of Mexico’s revolution in 1912. Today, its four pillars are the resting place of revolutionary heroes such as Pancho Villa and Francisco Madero.

Since 2010, however, Monumento a la Revolución has become much more than a mausoleum. With its 62-m-high observation deck offering impressive views over the city, a fascinating revolution museum, a basement art gallery and lovely plaza dotted by geyser-like fountains, visitors usually end up spending a lot longer than planned.

 

San Carlos Museum- photo credit: Alejandro Linares Garcia
San Carlos Museum- photo credit: Alejandro Linares Garcia

Just around the corner from Monumento de la Revolución lies the beautiful Museo Nacional de San Carlos. Dedicated to 14th-20th-century European art, this extensive collection displays work by the likes of Anthony Van Dyk, Goya, and Rubens. It’s worth popping in just to see the unusual neoclassical rotunda structure of what used to be an 18th-century palace.

Afternoon:

A Taco Combo at Chetito's Bar & Grill- photo credit: Chetito
A Taco Combo at Chetito’s Bar & Grill- photo credit: Chetito Facebook page

After a busy, culture-filled morning, some hearty food is in order. A half-an-hour stroll or a quick 10-minute taxi ride will bring you to some of the tastiest tacos in Mexico City. Chetito’s Bar & Grill has combined a gourmet cooking style with traditional Mexican flavors to bring you a mouth-watering selection of 20 carefully-crafted tacos. From chargrilled steak topped with goats cheese and caramelized onions to crispy shrimp and avocado, your quick lunch bite might just turn into a full-on afternoon food-fiesta.

Sinagoga Historica Justo Sierra- photo credit: Arditti Arquitectos

And now for something a little different. If you’ve never been to a synagogue, the Sinagoga Historica Justo Sierra might just blow you away.  The marble-effect pillars, the luxurious crystal chandeliers, and the shining gold detailing are completely mesmerizing. The synagogue, officially opened in 1941 under the name Nidje Israel, was built for the first Ashkenazim immigrants to arrive in Mexico City from Eastern Europe. It’s possible to take a guided tour; where you’ll learn about the building’s history and the Ashkenazim community. They also have an events schedule- including concerts, film screenings, and book launches- here. 

Night:

 

-photo credit: Pehua
Rabbit on “arroz caldoso” -photo credit: Pehua

Continue treating your taste buds by spending your second night at luxurious, but very traditional Pehüa. Pehüa in the Aztec language Náhuatl means “beginning”. Whilst the presentation of the food may be beautifully modern, Quintonil-born chef Leslie Ramos takes her flavors, ingredients, and recipe inspiration from pre-hispanic Mexico. Make sure you try the esquites de maiz criollo; a centuries-old snack made from rare varieties of corn.

Photo credit: Brian Buck
Photo credit: Brian Buck

Keeping the theme of old-school Mexico, continue the fun with some tequilas at the laid-back, but full-of-character Fronton 1946. The oldest bar in the Coyoacan neighborhood, this is where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera liked to take their nightcap. To the sound of live jazz on Thursdays, the Fronton serves up drinks that promise to “transport you to another time”. Be sure to sample their specialty 3-shot Mezcal taster; a cousin of tequila made from a plant native to Mexico.

Club-Mono-Mexico
Photo credit: Club Mono Facebook page

A few of those Mezcal rounds later and chances are you’ll want somewhere to party. With national and international DJs providing techno, dance and electronic sets till 5 am, Club Mono is a great place to throw some shapes. Set in a century-old house, it features high ceilings, black and red decor, secluded VIP areas and, most importantly, a huge dancefloor. Sets change every day, so check their schedule to see what sounds they’ll be playing on the night.

Day Three

 

Morning:

Mercado Roma- photo credit: Mercado Roma
Mercado Roma- photo credit: Mercado Roma

It’s the morning after the night before, and no doubt you’re in need of one thing only: delicious comfort food.

No trip to a city is complete without visiting the local market. Mercado Roma is Mexico City’s first ever gourmet food market; bringing top-quality spices, seafood, cheeses, hams and baked goods that are hard to find elsewhere. This three-level, orange-tiled, bustling market has over 50 vendor stands. Stroll around and stock up on some delicious snacks to take home, and then head to the Moro Churreria stand for the perfect hangover cure: freshly made sugar-coated churros and a cup of piping hot chocolate.

el-moro-churros

Afternoon:

Numedi Design Museum- photo credit: Numedi
Numedi Design Museum- photo credit: MUMEDI

Now that you’re fuelled up and back in action, it’s time to tick off some more of Mexico City’s amazing museums. If you’re having a tough time choosing, we’d recommend making a stop at Mexican Design Museum, MUMEDI. This pop-culture museum, shop, and restaurant was created to promote and support emerging Mexican designers. MUMEDI’s exhibition itinerary changes regularly, but expect anything from Snoopy fashion to Wonderwoman graphics. The gift shop, which sells design-smart homeware, jewelry, souvenirs and handbags crafted by local artisans, is also worth a browse.

Papalote museum- photo credit: Papalote
Papalote museum- photo credit: Papalote

If you’re traveling with kids, you shouldn’t miss the chance to visit the Papalote Museo del Niño. This innovative, interactive museum makes learning about science, technology, history, and archeology ridiculously fun. In just one day, kids can join an archeological dig, try out crazy tech gadgets and games, make a radio program and even try out some science experiments. The planetarium and IMAX theatre shouldn’t be missed either.

Night:

 

Starters at Merkava- photo source: Merkava Facebook page
Sharing plates at Merkava-  photo source: Merkavá Facebook page

It’s your last meal in Mexico City, so we better make it count. If you’re a big hummus fan, Merkavá might just be your dream come true. This is Mexico’s first ever “Hummusiya”; a restaurant that specializes in hummus. Although they’re always creating new “Hummus of the day” options, they have six main varieties. Think hummus topped with ribeye steak, chili, and coriander, roasted chicken on a bed of edamame beans, or aubergine with an olive paste and finely chopped basil- all served with piping hot pitta bread made in the wood-fired oven. Heaven.

K6-gastro-pub-mexico-city

It’s your last evening in Mexico City; so it would be rude not to. Just a 6-minute walk from Merkava, laid-back Kitchen 6 gastropub has an impressive selection of artisan craft beers. With almost 50 beers to choose from, there’s a bottle here for every mood, taste, and occasion. Cheers!

There’s no doubt you’ll leave Mexico City feeling like 72 hours just wasn’t enough. However, with this itinerary you’re guaranteed to have made the most of every precious minute in Mexico’s colorful capital.

 

About the Author: Jessica

Jess Vincent is a freelance travel writer, editor and content strategist based all over the world. She left her graduate job in London to pursue her love of adventure, storytelling and content creation on the road. Follow her story on Instagram: @Jesssicav94

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