Why you should visit Mexico City, with a 3 day and 5 day itinerary!

Why did I visit Mexico City?

My visit to Mexico City October 2015 started as a conversation between me and my adventure buddy / partner / best friend Jay.


“Hey, we have a long weekend coming up for Columbus Day.  I haven’t taken a day of vacation since I started this job almost a year ago, so let’s take of two extra days and have a 5-day weekend somewhere.”


“Awesome.  Let’s go to Mexico City.”

We booked tickets and were shocked at the price — just $350 USD and only 3.5 hours flight time.  Add our global entry to that, and it’s a quick and easy travel scenario.

This plan was perfect, except that Google doesn’t actually have a corporate holiday on Columbus Day.  Tickets were booked, though, and we weren’t turning back.  We made plans with Jay’s college friend (hi Lalo!) in Mexico City. I reached out to my travel buddy Paul from Bagan, Myanmar who had been living in Mexico City sincer our trip in Myanmar in January 2014.

Why should people in the US visit Mexico City?

  • Given that Mexico is our nearest neighbor other than Canada, it’s important to learn about Mexican culture. (Maybe then we wouldn’t actually consider building a giant fence between our two countries, jeez. I would apologize for injecting my political thoughts, but (1) it’s my blog and I’ll talk about what I want and (2) I actually think of these as humanitarian thoughts, not really political at all.)
  • It’s closer than you think. It’s 3.5 hours from San Francisco and 5 hours from NYC.
  • It’s a beautiful, incredible place. See the next section for proof points.
  • It’s very affordable.  $350 round trip airfare, most Airbnbs are $50/night or less, and produce is basically free thanks to their agriculture-based economy and year-round growing conditions.

What did I see when I went to visit Mexico City?

Vibrant neighborhoods. Roma Norte, Roma Sur, Condesa, Polanco, Coyoacán, Hipódromo. Brimming with people of all walks of life, full of enchanting neighborhood spots.

visit mexico city
We did a nice little bike tour around Coyoacan, the neighborhood of Frida Kahlo’s family home, the Blue House, as well as the house where Leon Trotsky was asylumed and ultimately assassinated. A treasure of a neighborhood.

Stunning museums. National Museum of Anthropology, Museo Anahuacalli (Diego Rivera’s personal art collection), and Museo Tamayo, which hosted one of the most amazing paintings I’ve ever seen.  And a rug made by Picasso.  A rug!

visit mexico city
A cultural demonstration outside the Museum of Anthropology — one of the most incredible museums I’ve ever visited.

Fantastic bosques (wooded parks). Chapultepec park gives Golden Gate Park in SF and Central Part in NYC a run for its money.  Hell, I’ll even throw in Parque Retiro in Madrid.  This is a stunning park.

visit mexico city
Mexicans have dogs and doggie dates, just like us!

Bucket List moment: The Blue House and the Studio Houses of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.  Not sure what else to say here, but for me it was an out-of-body experience to stand in the place where Frida Kahlo painted and experienced life and suffered and experienced more life.  To see the genius of Diego and to feel the bond between them is something I will never forget.

Visit Mexico City
The studio houses of Frida and Diego. (Blue is Frida, red is Diego)
Visit Mexico City
Me on the bridge between Frida and Diego’s studios. What an incredible life moment for me, checking that bucket list.
Visit mexico city
Oh, Diego — a man of straw hats and overalls. Work uniform, just like me. Photo from the home of Frida Kahlo’s family, the Blue House.

Incredible art.  Between Frida, Diego, and a host of other major Hispanic artists — every one of them left a little something in Mexico City for us to see. Diego was, amongst many things, a collector of pre-hispanic art — it is even rumored that he stole artifacts from sites like Teotihuacan to add to his collection of early Mexican art, which is on display at Museo Anahuacalli.

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Inside Diego Rivera’s stunning collection — Museo Anahuacalli.

Mind-blowing ancient wonders.  The pre-hispanic city of Teotihuacan was advanced in math and astronomy…but where did they all go?  What happened to them? I was left astonished and ready to start considering alien invasions by the end of our day trip with a fantastic hire-on-site tour guide.

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The four amigos in the pre-hispanic city of Teotihuacan.

So many tacos.  I’m confident that Jay ate every single taco for sale in Mexico, not just the city but the entire country.

Visit Mexico City
As soon as the photo was taken, Jay ate the taco in my hand.

Ok! I’m sold. What’s the recommended 3-to-5 day itinerary?

Have 5 full days? Try this itinerary below or check out this much more detailed itinerary written Sept 2016:

  • Day 1 — Chapultepec (including the various museums inside the park and the Castle).
  • Day 2 — Coyoacán. Bike tour, Blue House, Studio House, and Diego Rivera’s Museo Anahuacalli.
  • Day 3 — Teotihuacan.  Take a cab there and hire a tour guide at the entrance to the park.  Wear your own or buy a hat.  You’ll understand when you get there.
  • Day 4 — Gastronomy. Food tour + shopping in Polanco by day, Condesa/Roma/Hipódromo cocktail tour by night.
  • Day 5 — La Reforma. Angel de Independencia, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes. Bonus points: check these out at night as they are beautifully lit with lights!

Only have 3 days? Try this itinerary:

  • Day 1 — Chapultepec by day (including the various museums inside the park) and Condesa/Roma/Hipódromo cocktail and food tour by night. Extra time? Squeeze in La Reforma area. Bonus points: check La Reforma out at night as the main buildings are beautifully lit with lights!
  • Day 2 — Coyoacán. Bike tour, Blue House, Studio House, and Diego Rivera’s Museo Anahuacalli.
  • Day 3 — Teotihucan. Take a cab there and hire a tour guide at the entrance to the park. Wear your own or buy a hat.  You’ll understand when you get there.

Here’s Eater’s 3 day guide to Mexico City for those who want to be led by their stomachs or supplement the above recommendations with specific places to go. Updated early 2016 🙂


Visit Mexico City! Hopefully you’re on board with Mexico City and excited to check it out!  See you there soon!

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Erika Written by:

Operations zealot, writer, & art lover tackling sustainable development by day and dreaming up her next backpacking adventure by night.

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