3 Days in Mexico City | Itinerary + 10 Best Things to Do

Mexico City is probably the most surprising city we’ve ever visited, and definitely the most underrated. Whether you are spending 2 weeks in Mexico’s capital or just 3 days in Mexico City, you will likely find this culturally rich city will exceed your expectations!

The thriving metropolis is known for both its modernity and its preserved history. With ancient ruins located right in the city center, as well as posh, upscale neighborhoods, and so many culinary delights, Mexico City is a sensory journey with so many things to do that it will surely leave its mark on your memory.

This guide to 3 days in Mexico City includes a suggested itinerary, tips for visiting and the top things to do in Mexico’s capital.

Our Personal Experience Visiting Mexico City for 3 Days

Paseo de Reforma
Paseo de la Reforma, one of the most popular streets in Mexico City and a great area to stay if you only have 3 days in Mexico City.

Gearing up for our 3-day trip to Mexico City, I didn’t get that pre-trip excitement. I wasn’t feeling giddy about going somewhere new. In fact, the day of our flight, I woke up almost dreading the trip.

Truthfully, I expected to hate Mexico City. Everything I’ve ever heard about Mexico City was negative. I had heard it was a dirty, smog-filled, over-populated, crime-ridden place.

It is a sad but common perception in the United States. We were actually visiting to prove that perception wrong, but a part of me feared we would prove it right. We set off to spend 3 days in Mexico City, but with some many famous Mexico City landmarks and fun things to do, we left wishing we had stayed much longer.

The reality of Mexico City

Perhaps it was because I had low expectations, but Mexico City was a pleasant surprise. In fact, in my opinion, Mexico City is better than Paris.

It’s beautiful, full of culture, has hundreds of museums, the food in Mexico City can’t be beat, and the people are friendly and welcoming.

Additionally, it is also significantly less expensive than Paris. A travel budget for Mexico doesn’t have to break the bank.

Is Mexico City safe for travel?

Father and daughter in front of Palacio de Belles Artes
Considering Mexico City with kids? It’s an incredible city for families!

While I’m sure there are parts of Mexico City that are not safe for tourists, the same is true for parts of New York City, Los Angeles, and other major cities in the United States. Still, it is probably the question we get asked the most about Mexico City. Is Mexico City safe for travel?

As with anywhere else you travel, just don’t let your guard down, trust your gut instinct, and you should be fine. For us, we were comfortable taking our toddler to Mexico City, and other parts of Mexico like the Yucatan Peninsula, and never felt unsafe during our stay.

3 days in Mexico City: Itinerary and where to stay

A street in central mexico city lined with mexican flags
Mexico City has a historic center located within walking distance to the posh Paseo de la Reforma street.

There is a lot you can see and do if you have 3 days in Mexico City because many of the popular attractions are in a short distance from each other.

We arrived in Mexico City after spending a few days in the beach town of Cancun. If doing the same, don’t make the common mistake of packing only warm weather clothing! Mexico City sits at a high elevation and tends to get cold. Luckily, it was somewhat warm during our 3 days in Mexico City, but you’ll want to pack appropriately.

We stayed at Barcelo Mexico Reforma on the beautiful tree-lined street of Paseo de la Reforma. The hotel was beautiful, ideally located, and had a wonderful restaurant located at the street level. This hotel makes for a perfect base for exploring the historic center and the downtown area.

Here is our recommended Mexico City itinerary:

Day 1

  • Stroll through Alameda Central Park
  • Palacio de Bellas Artes
  • Mid-morning coffee with a view (find out where below)
  • Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Templo Mayor
  • Street food lunch in the historic center
  • Zócalo
  • Dinner at Sonora Grill at hotel

Day 2

  • Stroll down Paseo de Reforma
  • Angel of Independence
  • Lunch along Paseo de Reforma
  • National Museum of Anthropology
  • Chapultepec Castle
  • Dinner along Paseo de Reforma

 Day 3

  • Monument of the Revolution
  • Explore Historic Old Town
  • Eat your weight in street food
  • El Moro Churros

Top 10 things to do in Mexico City in 3 days

Staying along Paseo de Reforma, we were only a short walk from the historic center of Mexico City, where you’ll find several sites you will want to visit on a short trip. Here is a look at the top ten things to do in the culture capital of Latin America.


Metropolitan Cathedral

Metropolitan Cathedral, the largest church in the Americas
In front of the Metropolitan Cathedral, the largest church in the Americas.

In the center of the city is the beautiful Metropolitan Cathedral. It is the largest church in the Americas. The cathedral is free to enter and is just as stunning as some of the famous European churches. Attached is a tabernacle which is used as a baptistry.

The church bells toll every hour. Our daughter was positively gleeful watching the bells toll.


Zocalo, the largest plaza in the Americas and a popular place for events, festivals and protests.
Zocalo, the largest plaza in the Americas and a popular place for events, festivals and protests.

In front of the cathedral is the large open plaza Zócalo. It is giant and often used for large festivals and events. It is also a popular spot for protests, as we witnessed while we were there.

Although half of the plaza was closed off during our visit, when it is fully open, roughly 100,000 people can fit in Zócalo. By far, it is the largest plaza in the Americas, as well.

Templo Mayor

Woman selling handmade goods in front of Tenochtitlan in Mexico City
Templo Mayor, or Tenochtitlan, is the site of ancient ruins in the center of Mexico CIty. | Photo by Ivana Cajina from Unsplash

The Metropolitan Cathedral was erected right where an ancient Aztec temple once stood, so literally right in the heart of this major city you will find the ancient ruins and pyramids of Templo Mayor.

Also referred to as Tenochtitlan, which is the name of the ancient Aztec city that once existed here, it is one of the most fascinating ancient ruins in Mexico because a modern metropolis literally sits on top of it.

In addition to visiting the ruins, there is a museum you can tour filled with artifacts found at the site.

Historic Old Town

street art in Historic Old Town Mexico City
Old Town Mexico City has some of the most beautiful street murals in the world and is a must visit if you have 3 days in Mexico City.

Strolling through the historic center of Mexico City was one of our favorite activities. Vibrant street art and murals, shops, and markets make for a fun and exciting atmosphere. Besides just taking it all in, there is no particular attraction in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s just a cool part of town with awesome vibes. You’ll love wandering through the colonial-era plazas that transport you back in time and exploring the bustling markets, where the smell of street food and the sound of live music fills the air.

Paseo de la Reforma

Couple posing for photo in front of the Angel of Independence
Posing for a photo in front of the Angel of Independence along Paseo de la Reforma

While we were in Mexico City, we stayed in a hotel along Paseo de la Reforma. It is a wide avenue lined with tall trees. You will find several unique sculptures, monuments, and fountains in this modern area of the city.

There are also some great restaurants that offer a fine dining experience. One of the most famous monuments along Reforma is the Angel of Independence. The tall column with an angel on top towers above the street in the middle of a busy roundabout. It is dedicated to the Mexican War of Independence.

Monument of the Revolution

Monument of the Revolution is one of the top things to see in Mexico City in 3 days
The Monument of the Revolution is one of the top things to see in Mexico City in 3 days.

Just off of Paseo de la Reforma you’ll find another monument that shouldn’t be missed. The Monument of the Revolution is a large four pillar monument dedicated to the Mexican Revolution.

Remains from several important heroes of the Revolution are buried and memorialized there.

National Museum of Anthropology

Artifacts inside the Museum of Anthropology
Artifacts inside the Museum of Anthropology | Photo by Evan Wise from Unsplash

There are more than 250 museums in Mexico City. And by visiting some of those museums, you can learn so many interesting facts about Mexico and its history that will leave you intrigued and wanting to know more about the country and its culture.

Of the museums in Mexico City, the National Museum of Anthropology is the largest and most visited of all of them. It is an enormous collection of artifacts from Mexico’s rich Aztec history and the colonization of Mexico.

It is about a two mile walk or drive directly down Paseo de la Reforma. When planning your itinerary, keep in mind that all museums are closed on Mondays.

Palacio de Bellas Artes

Palacio de Belles Artes, a landmark that should be included on any Mexico City 3 day itinerary
Palacio de Belles Artes is an iconic Mexico City landmark and one of the top attractions in Mexico City.

Palacio de Bellas Artes is one of the most iconic buildings in Mexico City. The opulent neoclassical building hosts theatrical performances, operas, and art exhibitions. You’ll also find some of the most spectacular and famous Diego Rivera murals inside Palacio de Bellas Artes.

The dome roof is my favorite part of the building. It is colorful and seems to shimmer when the sun hits it.

We went to the top floor of the Sears building across the street where we were able to get an amazing birds-eye-view of Palacio de Bellas Artes. On the sixth floor, there is a small coffee house where you can sit out on a terrace and enjoy the picture-perfect view.

Eat street food

elote a popular street food in Mexico City
Elote or roasted corn is a popular street food item in Mexico City

While we enjoyed one night of fine dining on Paseo de la Reforma, we also made sure to taste the delicious street food that Mexico is known for. Mexico City has some of the best street food in the world. Tamale carts, street tacos, sweet corn with lime juice and chili powder.

It’s not only fantastic, but it will be definitely keep you on budget. Street tacos for a dollar or two, sweet corn for $1 USD. You can eat inexpensively and enjoy every bite!


El Moro Churros

Churros at El Moro Churreria
Churros are a popular dessert in Mexico, and with good reason. They’re delicious!

While we are on the topic of food do not go to Mexico City and skip churros. If you’ve never tried a churro, it is a popular Mexican dessert.

It is cylinder-shaped pastry, deep fried and covered in cinnamon and sugar. It is crunchy on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside. Churros are often served with melted chocolate, caramel, or other dipping sauces.

While you can buy churros from a street vendor or churros cart, I particularly enjoyed our experience at El Moro Churreria. Just a few blocks from Palacio de Bellas Artes, this small churreria is inexpensive and the staff are extremely friendly. The churros are the best I’ve ever tasted!

You get 4 for the pesos equivalent of approximately $3.00 USD. Although we shared an order, I wished I would have splurged for my own order. One person can definitely eat all four. And don’t worry about a fork. This dessert is best eaten by hand.

Other things to do if you have more than 3 days in Mexico City

While all of these attractions are within walking distance of each other, there are other areas of the city that will require taking a taxi or public transportation.

If spending just 3 days in Mexico City, you probably won’t have time to see or do much more than the things above.

If you plan to spend longer in Mexico City, there are a lot of great day trips from Mexico City, including historical sites, cultural attractions and natural marvels all within a couple hours’ drive. Here are a few other tourist sites to consider if staying longer.


the pyramid at Teotihuacan
The pyramid at Teotihuacan. | Photo by Ruben Hanssen from Unsplash

This well-known ancient city is home to one of the largest pyramids in the world and sits right outside of Mexico City.

A day trip to Teotihuacan is definitely worth doing! Similar to the Mayan ruins in Belize and Tikal in Guatemala, Teotihuacan was a Mesoamerican city that will give you a glimpse of what life was like in the Pre-Columbian era.


Coyoacán, Xochimilco Canals, and Frida Khalo museum

Crowds of people on a boat ride through Xochimilco
A boat ride through Xochimilco is a crowded by fun day trip. | Photo by Roberto Carlos Roman Don from Unsplash

Take a boat ride through the waterways of Xochimilco and discover the colonial beauty of the artsy community of Coyoacán.

Visit the Frida Khalo Museum and learn more about this fascinating female leader, who has inspired books, movies, and women around the world.


Chapultepec Castle

a grand dining table inside the Chapultepec Castle
The interior of Chapultepec Castle. | Photo by Arpa Sarian from Unsplash

Chapultepec Castle is near the Museum of Anthropology. You can definitely fit this into a full 3-day itinerary for Mexico City.

However, we stayed longer at some of the other attractions, and did not have time to visit during our stay. It offers some of the best views of Mexico City though.

Why Mexico City is the most underrated city in the world

Alameda Central Park in Mexico City
Alameda Central Park is just one of the amazing greenspaces in Mexico City.

Since returning home, I’ve actively been looking for airfare deals to go back to Mexico City. Most importantly, it taught me not to believe everything you hear about a place. There is so much to see and do in Mexico City, and it’s just a short flight from the United States.

Surprisingly though, we did not meet or see even one other person from the United States while in Mexico City.

Considering its close proximity and the number of tourist attractions we visited while there, you would think we would have met at least one other US resident. But I truly believe, most people from the US simply overlook Mexico City.

So, if you’ve considered visiting, don’t let the misconceptions and the dangerous perceptions of Mexico City keep you away. And give yourself at least 3 days in Mexico City, if not more!

Have you ever been to Mexico City, or do you have a question or comment about this 3-day Mexico City itinerary or any of the best things to do in Mexico City? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know your thoughts on how you’d spend 3 days in Mexico City in the comments below!

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This guide to three days in Mexico City was originally published in August 2017 and was most recently updated in June 2024 for accuracy and current information.

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28 comments on “3 Days in Mexico City | Itinerary + 10 Best Things to Do”

It’s so tempting to just go to the beaches in Mexico because the beaches are so incredible. I went to Mexico numerous times before finally visiting Mexico City. And now I love both parts of the country equally.

I have heard so many good things about Mexico city! I am visiting beginning of November, so I will definitely save this article!

I couldn’t agree anymore, Mexico City is really surprising, I too like you wasn’t feeling excited about it before I arrived, I thought it would be just another city where I fly into, get my baring’s and head off to explore the rest of the country but how I was wrong. I fell in love with Mexico and that love affair started with Mexico City. So glad you guys enjoyed it too 😀

I love the historic old town and the palacio de bellas artes, these are kinds of places I like to visit. It’s more accessible for those living in the US, so far for us from here in Dubai, that’s why I’ve never actually considered it. Good post, will refer to it when I plan a trip.

Not sure I personally would’ve called it the “most overlooked city in the world.” I’ve heard a lot of great things about that city, and this post really solidifies that! Palacio de Bellas Artes looks absolutely gorgeous, and the Chapultepec Castle sounds really cool! Too bad you hadn’t had time… if only there were more hours in the day right? 🙂

Glad you liked Mexico City! We are taking our toddler for his first visit in November. Chapultepec (specifically, the zoo) and Xochimilco were on my list as things I thought he’d especially like but I’m going to have to add the Palacio de Bellas Artes as well–I’ve only seen it from the street so now I want to check out your views.

That’s amazing you think it’s better than Paris; though I’m not a big Paris fan, so I can believe you on this! I love the Palacio del bellas artes and all the museums there; I can’t wait to return there soon.

I wasn’t the biggest Paris fan either. Perhaps I just had really high expectations of it and so it didn’t live up to what I anticipated. I guess it was the opposite with Mexico City. Since I didn’t expect to really like it, it far exceeded my expectations.

My Mexico is simply beautiful. Glad you enjoyed it, good tips! Definitely bookmarking for my next time there!!

I have the same apprehensions about Mexico City. Glad there a bit unfounded. Like you said, every big city has their dangerous areas but as long as I’m smart about it seems like some really cool things to visit. I wonder if anyone has made it through all the 250 museums…

I had the same apprehension about Mexico City before I went last year, but absolutely fell in love with it! So much that I’m going back over Labor Day! So much to see (and eat) there that I just had to go back.

I’ve only heard negative things about Mexico City too until this post! But I think that a lot of cities in Latin America get a bad rap for being dangerous, whether or not it’s actually true. It definitely looks vibrant and lively though. Which was your favourite neighbourhood in the city?

It’s great to hear that you were pleasantly surprised by your experience in Mexico City! I’ve recently mentioned the idea of going there to my boyfriend and he seemed so uninterested. I think mostly because we don’t know too much about the city, so I’m going to have to share this with him because I am intrigued!

I’ve never been to Mexico City but you’ve made me want to go even more! I’ve only been to Tijuana and Juarez (not glamorous places at all, ha) for volunteer trips as a kid. I’d love to go back and explore more. I love Mexico!

I moved recently to Mexico City because of my husband’s work and can only reassure that it is one of the most captivating cities in the world! The unique puzzle of complitely different atmosphere and character of it’s neighborhoods makes it amasing and truly interesting. San Angel is another incredible part of the city. A real old Mexican pueblito. ….after having lived in Rome, Bangkok, Dubai, Milan and Frankfurt – I can only say, that I love it and find it incredibly fascinating.

Mexico is somewhere I keep putting off visiting because of safety issues and traveling with the kids, but you’ve definitely reassured me – and Mexico City looks amazing! I had no idea there were so many amazing (and child-friendly) things to do there. I’m definitely going to do some research, we might have to book a trip!

Mexico has a bad reputation, but it is truly one of my favorite countries. Most of the safety issues are all along the border and drug related. If you avoid those areas of Mexico, and you aren’t into the drug scene 😉 then Mexico is a great place to visit!

I had been to Mexico possibly a dozen instances and haven’t begun to go to the city. Great guidelines and pics! Bookmarking for after I surely make it there!

This was a great post. what you said is really helpful to me and it was really interesting as well. Keep up with your good work.

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