In recent years,Mexico City has been named the best destination to visit by the likes of National Geographic and the New York Times. Thanks to its varied and delicious cuisine, art, culture, music, world class museums, ancient history, and more – it’s a fascinating place that you can spend an entire vacation getting to know. But if you only have 48 hours, here are the top things you should do, eat and drink in this bustling city.
What to Do in Mexico City:
Visit Some of the Many World-Class Museums
Mexico City has some interesting, top quality museums. It would be impossible to see them all in a short trip, but pick a couple of the ones below that interest you most, and enjoy the beautiful architecture of each one while you are there.
Museo Frida Kahlo
Regardless of how much one knows about Mexico, everyone has heard of Frida Kahlo, one of the most famous painters to come from this artistic country.
The museum dedicated to her life is absolutely worthy of a visit. It’s located in her home where she was born and where she died. This is the space that she created most of her art, so it’s an interesting way to get an intimate glimpse into her life and creative process.
Museo Nacional de Antropología
The National Anthropology Museum is nothing short of exhaustive. Each double-level hall showcases a pre-hispanic Mexican culture, on the bottom floor vs how they live today, on the top floor. Everything is very well curated and explained.
The National Museum of History in Chapultepec Castle
This history museum’s location and building is just as interesting as what is inside of it. It’s located at the highest point of the very large, lush Chapultepec park, and is housed inside a historic 18th century castle. You can admire the structure from the outside before entering to discover more about Mexico’s history.
The first reason to visit Museo Soumaya is the amazing, unique and modern design of the building. Once you get your fill taking photos outside, you can enjoy the huge private art collection inside.
Stroll Pretty Neighborhoods – Roma, Condesa, Coyoacan
You might be surprised to find out that many parts of Mexico City are downright beautiful and charming. The 3 best neighborhoods to stroll around, sip coffee, and take pictures are:
La Roma – Roma is the young, artistic neighborhood. You can find lots of street art, clothing boutiques, record stores and coffee shops here.
Condesa – Condesa is a leafy and beautiful neighborhood right next to La Roma. It’s a bit more quiet and residential than Roma, but still full of great restaurants, coffee shops, and stores. Be sure to stop by lovely Parque Mexico.
Coyoacan – Coyoacan is a colorful and artistic neighborhood full of public parks, charming cobblestone streets, and colorful buildings.
Get to Know the Bustling Centro Historico
The Centro Historico is the oldest part of the city and full of important sites. Start in the Zocalo, the central square that is one of the largest squares in the world. It’s also bordered by the impressive Cathedral, and the Palacio Nacional (National Palace). You can view ruins of the pre-hispanic city that was here before on the north end of the square.
Then be sure to visit Bellas Artes, the striking cultural center and concert hall. Even if you don’t have time to go inside, it’s definitely worth checking out the unique architecture.
Then head across the street to the Torre Latinoamericana to enjoy the rooftop aerial view of the city (Tip: if it’s a smoggy day, you won’t have much visibility from the top and might want to skip the visit).
Squeeze in a Quick Side-Trip to Teotihuacan
You might think a trip outside the city sounds too difficult for a short trip, but the incredibly impressive ruins of Teotihuacan are actually quite close from the center of the city.
If you take the bus that leaves from the Terminal Central de Autobuses Norte, it will take about 1-1.5 hours to reach the site. If you are short on time, you can always call an Uber or taxi and be there in 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on traffic. These huge and important ruins are amazing to explore, climb, and learn about the pre-hispanic history of Mexico.
What to Eat in Mexico City:
Mexico City is most famous for their tacos, street tacos in particular. You’ll find bustling stands in every neighborhood, cooking up tacos al pastor, arrachera (steak), chorizo (sausage), and more. Look for busy stands – they will be tasty and will be serving fresh food.
If you are too intimidated to try a street food stand, head to the much loved Taqueria los Parados in La Roma.
Chilaquiles are a quintessential breakfast item of fried tortilla strips doused in salsa and topped with crema, cheese and egg or chicken. Head to La Chilpa in leafy Condesa to try a plate of them, and pair it with a fresh juice or coffee.
Pozole is a traditional soup that is both delicious and a fun experience to eat. It’s served with all the fixings – tostadas, cabbage, raddish, lime, crema, avocado, etc.. Try it at the popular local chain, La Casa de Tono.
What to Drink in Mexico City:
Mezcal is a liquor that is becoming very popular in Mexico and internationally. It is made from the agave plant, but has a totally different flavor than tequila. It’s almost always made in small-batches by traditional methods, so each glass and each variety is different – making for a fun tasting experience. Try it out at La Clandestina or Bosforo.
If sipping mezcal straight (the traditional way) is too much for you, try a delicious mezcal cocktail instead. Head the pretty roof of Condesa DF hotel or the patio of Traspatio.
If you prefer a non-alcoholic drink, try one of the dozens of aguas frescas available. Aguas frescas are flavored waters – similar to juice, but not as intense or sweet. You’ll find many flavors including lime, hibiscus, horchata (rice milk), passionfruit, mango, papaya and many more. Find these aguas at street stands or in traditional restaurants.
Enjoy your 48 hours in historic, artistic, and delicious Mexico City!
Guest post by Susan Ripley of Brooklyn Tropicali