24 Hours in Mexico City

By Briana Seftel

Explore Mexico’s capital city in one perfect day! From a lavish breakfast to world-class museums, Mexico City gives visitors a glimpse into the cuisine, culture, and history of Mexico all in one place.

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Morning: A leisurely breakfast

Start your day with a delicious and filling breakfast. At Restaurante El Cardenal, you can get a traditional breakfast for just around 8 U.S. dollars. Oder the cinnamon infused Mexican hot chocolate, then grab a sweet roll from the waiters shuffling around with baskets of warm baked goods. Main dishes range from enchiladas to "Revueltos a la cazuela" (scrambled eggs cooked in a clay pot).

Mid-morning: Stroll through history

Work off your breakfast by taking a walk through the Zocalo, Mexico City's main square and one of the largest city squares in the world. Begin at Catedral Metropolitana, then make your way east to the Palacio Nacional (the presidential palace). Don't miss the Diego Riviera murals covering the walls of this grandiose colonial palace.

Early afternoon: Experience Mexico City’s breathtaking museums

Mexico City has plenty of options when it comes to museums. One of the most famous is the Palacio de Bellas Artes, housed in a beautiful Art Deco-Art Nouveau structure. See works by Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Jose Clemente Orozco and more.

Another great choice is the Frida Kahlo Museum in the painter's former home, Casa Azul (Blue House). See the belongings and mementos that shaped the artist as well as her own vibrant and evocative paintings.

Blissfully uncrowded, the Franz Mayer Museum is housed in gorgeous 18th-century building with a quiet cloister, and features rotating exhibits displaying the country's best decorative arts.

Late afternoon: To el mercado!

No trip to Mexico City is complete without eating at one of its many mercados (markets). The largest and most well-known is La Merced on the eastern edge of the city. Stalls overflowing with epazote and fresh corn, as well as street food vendors hawking carnitas, are a quintessential Mexico City sight!

For an equally tasty but less overwhelming experience, head to Mercado Medellin in Roma Sur. Come hungry and sample fresh juices, ice cream, tacos and more.

Early evening: Shop 'til you drop

Roma Norte and Roma Sur are known as Mexico City's hip neighborhoods, so if you're looking for a truly special souvenir, make your way here. On the other hand, head to La Ciudadela, the go-to market for handcrafts for nearly 50 years. Brightly colored otomi dolls (Mexican rag dolls), Oaxaca alebrijes (whimsical painted animals), guitars, and blankets are just some of the few crafts that can be bought.

Night: Dinner and Mariachi, anyone?

For innovative Mexican cuisine, look no further than Pujol. Consistently ranked as one of the best restaurants in the world, getting a table won't be easy - but tasting Enrique Olvera's food will be well worth it. End your day at Plaza Garibaldi, where every night the city’s mariachi bands gather to play their tunes.

If you have more than a day… Take a day trip to Teotihuacán!

Located less than 30 miles outside of Mexico City, the ancient city of Teotihuacán ("the place where the gods were created") is a fascinating complex of pyramids and temples. This UNESCO-certified site was one of the most powerful cultural centers in Mesoamerica, yet no one really knows who built it.

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