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Itinerary: A Perfect 3-Day Weekend in Mexico City

See the sights, eat the food, drink the drinks, get back home in time for work on Monday

You could spend a year in Mexico's capital city and not see everything there is to see or taste everything there is to taste. But vacations can be hard to come by, and plane tickets tricky to wrangle. If a weekend jaunt is all you've got, here's how to make the most of 72 hours in DF.


Three days of straight eating and drinking — walking from one taco stand to the next, stopping into pulquerías and mezcalerías and cantinas along the way — sounds like a great idea, but this city does have a lot in the way of culture, history, art, and architecture. So maybe take a break from stuffing your face to enjoy some indoor and outdoor activities, see some sights, and snap some photos. Here's our downloadable, mapped out guide to a perfect long weekend in Mexico's capital city.

Friday

9 a.m. Breakfast: No matter where in the city you're staying, by 9 a.m. tamale vendors will be out on street corners, quietly selling their meaty masa cakes and atole. Walk around the block or ask a local, hotel concierge, or your Airbnb host to point you in the right direction. You'll likely pass a juice stall too, and watch out for the men on bicycles who sell pastries and hot cafe con leche.

10 a.m. Mid-morning activity: Unless you're staying in a southern colonia, take a train to Coyoacán and get off at the Viveros Metro station. Alternately, take an Uber to Viveros Coyoacán, the city's tree nursery which is also open as a public park. It's a forest among the quiet houses and bustling commerce of Coyoacán, a delegación or borough home to dozens of smaller neighborhoods. Pockets of the park hide street stalls in case you get hungry or thirsty. Look for the kids selling fresh coconuts too.

12 p.m. Lunch: Grab a car (or, if it's a nice day, walk!) to Los Sifones, a casual neighborhood restaurant on the Eastern side of Coyoacán famous for its square tortillas, arrachera, and molcajetes calientes, stews of meats, cheeses, and vegetables served boiling in a stone molcajete.

[Clockwise from top: Viveros Coyoacán [Photo: Diego L. Cuevas/Flickr]; Taco arrachera at Los Sifones [Photo: Daniela Galarza]; Taquería Los Cocuyos [Photo: Jason Thomas Fritz]

2 p.m. Afternoon activity: While in Coyoacán, visit the Frida Kahlo Museum. From Los Sifones, it's a 26-minute walk or 10-minute car ride. Known as the Casa Azul, this is the home Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived in until the end of their lives. The entire house is preserved, including the kitchen and so much of Kahlo's art. A friendly, black and white cat named Stalin wanders the grounds. Pro tip: Buy tickets in advance online so you don't have to wait in line. If there's time, the Leon Trotsky museum is nearby too.

4 p.m. Coffee break: Walk down the street from the museo to Rafaella, a comfortable, open air coffee shop. Relax with a latte and a concha, which the shop bakes in-house.

6 p.m. A walk and drinks: Head back to the subway or call an Uber to get to the neighborhood around Bellas Artes in el Centro. It's a nice place to watch the sun set, depending on the time of year. Nearby is an old colonial building that has been converted into a multi-use retail space with a few restaurants, cafes, and bars inside called Barrio Alameda. Mezcalería Mundana is on the first floor in the back. Order a mezcal and maybe a sangrita or just take a sip and suck on the fruit dusted with chili salt that servers bring out for free.

9 p.m. Dinner: Once you're good and hungry, walk over to Taquería Los Cocuyos, a sidewalk stall in the city center that serves some of the best street tacos you'll find anywhere. The tripa and lengua are particularly popular here.

11 p.m. Drinks: Order a nightcap at Bósforo. If you're still hungry the bartender will make you a quesadilla to order.

Saturday

9 a.m. Breakfast: Start the day with a coffee and pastry at Mexico City's best bakery, Panadería Rosetta. There are two locations, but the larger ones is in Juárez. Every single thing is exceptional, but our favorites are the guava and cheese danish, chocolate concha, cream doughnut, and tiny rosemary focaccia buns which are both salty and sweet.

11 a.m. Mid-morning activity: Wander over to Roma Norte for people watching, window shopping, and gallery hopping.

Inside Panadería Rosetta, Juárez [Photo: Daniela Galarza]

OPTION 1
1 p.m. Lunch: Call an Uber and journey north to colonia Claveria and Restaurante Nicos, the best restaurant in Mexico City. Order the guacamole, sopa seca de natas, anything with a mole or the pato en pepita roja, a recipe from the 1988 edition of Gran Larousse de la cocina mexicana. Note: A reservation is strongly recommended.

OPTION 2
1 p.m. Lunch: Make your way on foot to Fonda Mayora, a new restaurant from the chef behind Restaurante Nicos. Order the guacamole, chilaquiles, pescado del día, or one of the specials listed on the menu board, plus, if you're into it, a glass of mezcal.

4 p.m. Sightseeing: Call an Uber to take you to El Angel, a city landmark and one of its central points, and then walk over to Monumento a la Revolución, a gorgeous, massive structure a 20-odd minute walk to the Northeast.

5:30 p.m. Coffee break: Have an espresso at the cafe inside la Revolución while watching the sun set. Depending on the weather and smog conditions the city can glow pink for a full 15 minutes.

OPTION 1
6:30 p.m. Dinner: Take a car back to Roma and grab a table at Contramar. All of the seafood is exceptional, but the tuna tostada is the signature item here. The drinks list is casual and desserts are fresh and well-executed but not fussy.

10 p.m. Drinks: Romita Comedor is a classy bar and restaurant; grab a seat in front of the fireplace or linger at the bar and ask for a good mezcal recommendation.

Monumento a la Revolución, A dish at Quintonil [Photos: Daniela Galarza]

OPTION 2
7:00 p.m. Dinner: With enough advanced planning you too can snag a reservation at Pujol, chef Enrique Olvera's much buzzed about, fine dining institution in the tony neighborhood known as Polanco. Even better, try to get a reservation at Quintonil, where you'll find one of the best tasting menus in the city.

Sunday

9:00 a.m. Breakfast: Start the day with fresh fruit, a juice, licuado, or a coffee in Mercado San Juan. If you don't have a tour guide, just know that there's a lot to take in. Follow your nose to the cheese stall for a sample or the coffee stall for a cappuccino.

11:00 p.m. Sightseeing: 20 minutes away on foot is the longtime center of city, political, and religious life: the Zócalo square. There's almost always an event going on, and if it's raining wander into the massive church, decorated with priceless stained glass, mosaics, sculptures, and paintings. Nearby is the Templo Mayor, the ancient ruins of the Aztec capitol.

1:00 p.m Lunch: Go old school with a grand lunch at La Operá, a cantina that has been operating since 1876. A bullet hole in the ceiling purportedly from Pancho Villa is the place's claim to fame. On the menu, find chamorro (pork shank) and huachinango a la Veracruzana (red snapper with tomatoes and olives); the main courses can be big enough for two.

3:00 p.m. Afternoon Activity: Spend the afternoon wandering through Bosque de Chapultepec, the largest park and public space in the city, and stop into Museo Nacional de Antropología, a monumental building which honors the indigenous people of the Mexican plateau and tells the story of the Spanish conquest. Plus, there's a diorama of an early tianguis, or weekly open air market where people come from all over the country to sell food and wares. These markets, first popularized in the pre-hispanic period, are an essential part of daily life in the city to this day.

Clockwise from top: Tamales inside Mercado San Juan [Photo: Daniela Galarza]; Museo Nacional de Antropología [Photo: Miguel Angel Alvarez/Flickr]; Lalo! [Photo: Official]

5 p.m. Snack: Outside the museum you'll see several stands selling chips; at least one will be peddling Dorilocos, a crazy snack you should taste at least once.

6:30 p.m. Drinks: Head to Miralto inside the Torre Latinoamericana, one of the city's tallest buildings. Tell the guy at the elevators you're going up to the bar to avoid paying the fee to get to the observation deck.

8 p.m. Dinner and Drinks: Finish the weekend off with a last sip of mezcal and a few small bites at Xampañería.

Lead photo by Alejandro de la Cruz/Flickr

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