The Perfect Mexico City 5 Day Itinerary

If there’s ever been a place I’ve been itching to return to as soon as I left, it’s Mexico City.

There was just something especially enticing about Mexico’s capital city, a surprisingly fun city to visit. It may be a busy metropolis home to 21 million people, but at times, Mexico City (or CDMX, as the cool kids call it) sure felt like a little piece of Europe tucked south of the United States (with a Latin flair, of course).

If you like good food, sprawling green parks, world class museums and beautiful weather, then Mexico City may just be your ideal next vacation.

Read on for the perfect Mexico City 5 day itinerary.

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An eagle mural on the side of a building in Roma, Mexico City, Mexico
An large flag of Mexico stands in the center of the Zocalo, Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral in the background, in Mexico City, Mexico.
Evelyn sits on a bench at the top of Chapultepec Castle overlooking the city in Mexico City, Mexico.
Cactus in a park in Mexico City, Mexico.

Where to Stay in Mexico City

Before you start planning your Mexico City itinerary, you’ll want to have an idea of where to stay.

One of the best parts about visiting Mexico City is that accommodations are super affordable! Our favorite areas were the centrally-located Roma and Condesa neighborhoods, which make for an easy home base between the historic center and Chapultepec Park.

If you fancy a hotel, you’ll find good options at:

Hotel Stanza ($) | On the footsteps of Jardin Pushkin and Churreria El Moro, Hotel Stanza is a cozy and affordable hotel for families in Roma. The on-site restaurant serves a breakfast buffet each morning (though you’ll have to pay extra for it).

Compare Prices at: Booking.com | Hotels.com

Casa Decu ($$) | This trendy hotel in Condesa features a rooftop terrace, free continental breakfast, and is a 20 minute walk to Chapultepec Park. And best of all, the suite-style rooms offer separate living spaces so your family can sprawl out.

Compare Prices at: Booking.com | Hotels.com 

Mondrian Mexico City Condesa ($$$) | Those seeking a touch of modern luxury will love a stay at Mondrian Mexico City, where you’re just steps from Parque Mexico. The hotel features 4 on-site restaurants, full-service spa, and beautiful views of the city from the upper floors of this 9-story property.

Compare Prices at: Booking.com | Hotels.com 

If you’re more of an Airbnb family like ourselves, you’ll find loads of affordable, family-friendly Airbnbs thoughout the city, like this one we stayed at in Roma.

Getting Around Mexico City

With all of its history, art, and outdoor spaces, Mexico City is a wonderful place to explore with kids! We found Uber to be the easiest way to get around, though I’ve read public transportation is quite good (and cheap!) as well.

But despite the efficiency of Uber, traffic is a neverending problem, so you’ll want to plan your days accordingly. In this itinerary, we’re sticking to one area of town each day, so you’re not spending all of your time in the car.

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We use Going to help us find the cheapest flights to anywhere in the world, domestic and international. Trust me, the premium membership easily pays for itself after one cheap flight booking!

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s how we recommend spending 5 days in Mexico City:

An large flag of Mexico stands in the center of the Zocalo, Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral in the background, in Mexico City, Mexico.
Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, Mexico.
Evelyn stares up at a tiled wall in Mexico City, Mexico.
The side of a yellow building reads "Artesanias Ciudadela" in Mexico City, Mexico.
A market stand selling vibrant colored toys and souvenirs in Mexico City, Mexico.

Day 1 | Wander El Centro Historico

The start of your Mexico City 5 day itinerary must include a visit to the historic center of the city. Here you’ll find not only the heart of Mexico City, but the beginning of the Aztec empire Tenochtitlan, established here in 1325.

Start your day at the Zocalo, or Plaza de la Constitution, Mexico’s largest and most vibrant square, where you’ll stand surrounded by historic buildings and the beautiful Metropolitan Cathedral.

Nearby, consider seeing the remaining ruins of the Aztec empire at Templo Mayor, an excavated site and museum which tourists can now explore. It’s just a few steps away from the Zocalo and requires a small admission fee.

After your visit to Templo Mayor, make your way to the Casa de Azulejos along with the Palacio de Bellas Artes for two equally stunning photo ops.

Laura’s Tip: head to the rooftop of the Sears building across the street for a bird’s eye view of that strikingly beautiful amber dome!

Finally, wrap up day one of your Mexico City itinerary at La Artisinal Mercado de la Ciudadela. Sure it may be popular among tourists, but we found that this quiet market had some of the best handmade goods of anywhere in the city. Think bright colorful dresses, adorable felt stuffed animals, beaded bracelets and wooden toys. We took home an exciting haul of souvenirs!

Parroquia San Juan Bautista in Cayoacan, Mexico City, Mexico.
A bright blue colored building reads "Bienvenidos a la casa de Frida" in Cayoacan, Mexico City, Mexico.
A yellow building with two arches reads "Mercado Artesanal Mexicano" in Cayoacan, Mexico City, Mexico.
Looking through a park towards a yellow building reading "Mercado n.89 Cayocan" in Cayoacan, Mexico City, Mexico.
A plate with two tostadas accompanied by 5 different bowls of salsa in Cayoacan, Mexico City, Mexico.
Brightly colored pinatas and fresh produce at a market in Cayoacan, Mexico City, Mexico.
Laura holds Sophie on her hip and Evelyn stands at her side as they pose for a picture in front of Frida Kahlo's blue house in Cayoacan, Mexico City, Mexico.
A fountain with two coyote statues in the center in Cayoacan, Mexico City, Mexico.

Day 2 | Venture South to Coyoacan

Just a little south of downtown Mexico City is the colorful and vibrant neighborhood of Coyoacan, well-known for it’s most famous former resident, Frida Kahlo. Spend day two of your Mexico City itinerary exploring the area and all it has to offer.

First up on the itinerary, stop by the Jardin Centenario and the Parroquia San Juan Bautista. We found many pop up markets set up all around the the park and nearby Plaza Hildalgo, but if they’re not open, you can also stop by the indoor Mercado Artesanal Mexico across the street (though after La Ciudadela, this one was a bit underwhelming).

After strolling the plaza, head north a few blocks to Mercado Coyoacan. The traditional market is a great place to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, Mexican candies, and munch on the famous Tostadas Coyoacan (just make sure to look for “Las Originales”; there are a few imposters within the market house). Pick your tostadas off the giant menu on the wall and enjoy them anywhere you can squeeze in along the counter.

Of course, no itinerary for Coyoacan would be complete without a visit to Casa Azul, the former home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The home has been transformed into the Frida Kahlo Museum, dedicated to her life and work, and unless you like to wait in line for hours, you’ll want to purchase your tickets online in advance!

Laura’s Tip: After your visit to the museum, stop by Pan Gabriel for a tasty vegan bakery treat!

Evelyn looking over a balcony at Chapultepec Lake, Mexico City, Mexico.
Evelyn stands in front of an iron sculpture depicting two large angel wings in Mexico City, Mexico.
Looking up at Castillo de Chapultepec, Mexico City, Mexico.
Evelyn walks on a black and white marble floor outside Castillo de Chapultepec, Mexico City, Mexico.
Evelyn standing outside Castillo de Chapultepec, Mexico City, Mexico.
Laura, Sophie on her hip and Evelyn at her side, pose for a picture outside Castillo de Chapultepec, Mexico City, Mexico.
Evelyn sits in the letter O of a giant metal sign reading "Zoologico" in Chapultepec Park, Mexico City, Mexico.
A carousel in Chapultepec Park, Mexico City, Mexico.
A walkway packed with local vendors in Chapultepec Park, Mexico City, Mexico.

Day 3 | Explore Chapultepec Park

Mexico City’s Bosque de Chapultepec, or Chapultepec Park, covers over two and half square miles and is packed with museums, galleries, and entertainment inside. Moreover, it’s a popular place among locals looking to escape the busy city life. On the weekends, Mexico City’s residents come out in droves to play.

You could easily spend all 5 days of your Mexico City itinerary here alone, so planning ahead for how you’ll spend your short time in Chapultepec is a must.

At the top of every Mexico City itinerary should be a visit to Castillo de Chapultepec. This royal castle dating back to 1785 has changed hands many times, but now houses the National History Museum. Perched high on a hilltop overlooking the city, the architecture, gardens, and views are simply stunning.

Chapultepec Park is also home to the popular Museum of Modern Art, Museo Tamayo (a contemporary art museum showcasing paintings, scultures, and photography), and the National Museum of Anthropology (the place to learn about Mexico’s ancient civilizations).

Naturally, there are a great deal of family-friendly activities within Chapultepec Park too! The most popular is Papalote Museo del Nino, a children’s museum that offers both indoor and outdoor hands-on activities and is so large in size that you could easily spend an entire day taking it in. If you’re looking for a quicker activity, the Zoologica de Chapultepec is free and fun for littles to explore.

Families looking to relax like a local can explore the Jardin Botanico, rent a boat and cruise around Lago de Chapultepec, play at Playground Tamayo, or feast on Dorilocos and chicharrones from one of the many street vendors.

3 colorful boats travel down a causeway in Xochimilco, Mexico City, Mexico.
A row of traditional gondola boats in Xochimilco, Mexico City, Mexico.
A causeway with several colorful boats in Xochimilco, Mexico City, Mexico.
The pyramid of Teotihuacan, outside Mexico City, Mexico.
Intricate Aztec carvings at Teotihuacan, outside Mexico City, Mexico.

Day 4 | Day Trip to Xochimilco or Teotihuacan

On day 4 of your Mexico City itinerary, it’s time to head out of the city! Choose your own day trip adventure, either cruising the canals of Xochimilco or exploring the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan.

Day Trip 1: Xochimilco

For a DIY day trip to Xochimilco‘s canals, you can get there by using public transportation (though the journey is long and may require a few transfers), or taking an Uber to Nuevo Nativitas. While we’ve not done Xochimilco ourselves (yet!), I have consistently read this is the best embarcadero to start your day at since it’s where all the locals go.

If you’re not going to Xochimilco on a guided tour, you’ll need to hire your own trajinera, or boat. The current going rate for a boat is 500 pesos per hour, but you can negotiate on this is you’re wanting a longer cruise.

For more info on DIY’ing your own Xochimilco day trip, I found this blog post especially helpful.

And if the idea of arranging all of this yourself with kids sounds stressful (I know it did for us!), book a guided tour that takes care of all the details for you.

TOP RATED TOURS

xochimilco

Day Trip 2: Teotihuacan

The single most popular day trip from Mexico City has to be to the pyramids of Teotihuacan. The ancient city is located 25 miles northeast of Mexico City and is an adventurous family’s dream!

Teotihuacan is tourist central, so it’s best seen via a customizable guided tour to avoid terrible crowds and hawkers. This top-rated private tour would certainly be my pick.

Laura’s Tip: Want to skip the day trip? Spend day 4 heading back to Chapultepec Park to see whatever you missed!

Looking down from a balcony at Mercado Roma, Mexico City, Mexico.
Fruit vendors inside Parque Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico.
A large colorful playground in Parque Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico.
A brightly colored mural on a gate in Condesa, Mexico City, Mexico.
Matt walks with Evelyn on his shoulders passing a sign that reads "Avenida Amsterdam" in Condesa, Mexico City, Mexico.

Day 5 | Explore Roma & Condesa Like a Local

Before the Netflix film boosted the neighborhood’s popularity, we chose Colonia Roma as the base for our Mexico City itinerary for it’s bohemian vibe and wide variety of shops and restaurants.

But even if you’re not staying there, I highly recommend taking in the local culture of Roma and Condesa on your last day in Mexico City.

One of the best ways to experience Roma and Condesa is through food! As you wander the lush green streets, admiring new murals on every street corner, you’ll find no shortage of trendy sidewalk cafes and bakeries. Be sure to make time for a stop at Mercado Roma too, a fancy food hall where you can try a little bit of everything in one place.

And you no Mexico City itinerary is complete without a stop at Churreria El Moro. Their Roma location may not be the original, but it’s certainly the most photogenic!

In between bites, wander among the beautiful plazas and people watch (Plaza Luis Cabrera, Plaza Rio De Janiero, or Plaza Popocatepetl were a few of our faves).

And of course, take a stroll through Parque Mexico. This giant park in Condesa is the place to spend a weekend afternoon, when vendors come out with kid-friendly activities and food carts. Parque Mexico also happens to have our favorite playground in Mexico City!

PS: Looking for more places to eat and wander in Roma? Check out our Roma neighborhood guide!

Ready to plan your Mexico City itinerary?

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Have you been to Mexico City? What would you include in your perfect 5-day itinerary?

xo laura

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