One Great Weekend: What to do in Mexico City
A heady mix of traditional cultures and cosmopolitan buzz, there is no doubt that Mexico City is having a moment. A rich indigenous and Spanish colonial history, a vibrant arts scene and one of the most exciting culinary scenes on the planet, the allure of Mexico City is endless. As one of the world’s largest cities, it’s nearly impossible to ever fully know Mexico City but you can certainly get a taste of the Mexican capital in two days time. Here are my recommendations for what to do in Mexico City.
Hotel Villa Condesa
Located in the art-deco neighborhood of La Condesa, Hotel Villa Condesa offers a quiet oasis in Mexico City. Behind the blue gate this boutique hotel features an airy courtyard and spacious rooms. Hop on one of the complimentary bikes to explore nearby Chapultepec Park.
Hotel Downtown Mexico
With its rooftop pool and trendy shops and restaurants, its no surprise that Hotel Downtown Mexico is one of the most buzzed about hotels in Mexico City. Occupying a seventeenth century mansion near the Zocalo, this boutique hotel mixes traditional and modern design elements seamlessly offering up one of the most unique hotels in the city.
Pug Seal Boutique B&B Polanco
Pug Seal Boutique B&B Polanco offers an elegant, yet unpretentious stay in the upscale Polanco neighborhood. High design meets the comforts of home at the art hotel with some of Mexico City’s best restaurants and shopping just steps away.
Mexico City’s version of Central Park, Chapultepec Park stands as a green oasis among Mexico City’s urban sprawl. On any given day you can find locals and visitors strolling throughout the park’s many trails or visiting one of the several museums on the park’s grounds. Rising high above the rest of the park is Chapultepec Castle, once serving as a presidential residence the castle is now home to the National Museum of History.
Museum of Anthropology
The Museum of Anthropology, located within Chapultepec Park, is Mexico’s most visited museum and one of the most fascinating museums I’ve been to. The museum’s striking modern exterior houses one of the world’s largest collections of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican artifacts including the Aztec Stone of the Sun Calendar and massive Olmec stone heads.
Once the center of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, the Zocalo is the heart of modern day Mexico City. Bordered by the National Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral the Plaza de Constitution ( the formal name for the Zocalo) plays host to a number of cultural events and celebrations.
Palace Bellas Artes
Home to Mexico’s national Ballet Folklorico, the beautifully domed Palace Bellas Artes stands as Mexico City’s regal grand dame. In addition to hosting a vareity of performance, the Palace Bellas Artes is home to two museums and houses murals by notable Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo.
Mexico City’s fine dining scene has never been hotter or more diverse, but if you only have time for one high end meal make it Pujol. Chef Enrique Olvera inventive take on contemporary Mexican cuisine has earned Pujol(in the elegant Palanco District) a spot on many a “best restaurant” list with standout dishes such as a one year aged mole and street corn coated in a coffee mayo and sprinkled with smokey chicatana ants. With the multi-course tasting menu running about $80 USD, Pujol is the most affordable Michelin star dinning experience on the planet.
Can’t get a reservation to Pujol but still want a taste of what Mexico’s best chefs have to offer? Make a bee line to Fonda Fina where Chef Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil (also one of San Pelligrino’s 50 Best Restaurants in the World) offers up his take on classic Mexican comfort food at this Mexican bistro. Tucked into the artsy La Condesa neighborhood Fonda Fina serves a fine array of tamales and smokey moles that pair pefrectly with a mezcal cocktail or mango margarita.
Mezcal is the spirit of choice in Mexico and there is not better place in Mexico City to sip this smokey libation (served with orange slices and ground chile) than Bosforo. The staff at this tiny mezcalaria, located on a side street in the frenetic Centro, features dozens of mezcal from across Mexico. The friendly and knowledgeable staff won’t steer you wrong.
Mercado de San Juan
Mercado de San Juan is a dizzying foodie utopia in Mexico City’s Centro neighborhood. Spend a few hours wandering among an impressive array of produce, meats, seafood and Mexican specialties, Mercado se San Juan is a true feast for the senses.
Helados Santa Clara
Helados Santa Clara has been serving up some of Mexico’s best ice cream since 1924. With small batch ice cream in over 50 flavors (caramel macadamia was a personal favorite) this is the place to get your ice cream fix in Mexico City.
Do you have any other recommendations for Mexico City? Please let me know in the comments!