The Best 5 Day Itinerary in Mexico City Including a Road Trip to Puebla

5 day itinerary in Mexico City.

Mexico City has quickly become one of our new favorite places to travel — it’s a 3.5 hour flight from LA (and cheap!), full of culture, adventure and has delicious street food and top ranked restaurants. Last year, we visited Mexico City between Christmas and New Years (check out our itinerary for those short on time). When it came time to pick where to go this year, Kevin didn’t hesitate suggesting Mexico City once again.

Kevin is excited for Mexico City! Okay, I’ll permit a quick nap to hit the ground running.

Last year’s trip was fun, even if we had a few hiccups along the way. As we like to joke, any disaster makes a funny story later. With that said, this year’s itinerary was about 50 times better! Let’s just say we learned from our newbie mistakes — i.e. staying in a comfortable neighborhood (Condesa vs. the historic central Zocalo), getting outside the city to see Puebla (and knowing we’d basically get screwed over on any car rental) and booking a hotel with laundry and without bed bugs! I know, gross. I’m still scarred from that experience!

Like West Hollywood, the dogs in Condesa seem to rule their masters! The neighborhood is full of cafes and adopted pups.

Without further adieu, below is our packed and entertaining 5 day itinerary in Mexico City.

Day 1

Mexico City airport

  • Arrive in Mexico City in the early afternoon and check-in/drop off luggage at hotel
    • Picking a good neighborhood to base yourself is critical: I would NOT recommend Zocalo (i.e. the historic center). It’s a fine place to visit during the day, but we didn’t find it ideal at night time.
    • We highly recommend the neighborhoods of Condesa or Roma — both for their comfortable and artsy vibe. Polanco is also nice, but a little stuffy for our tastes (think high-end Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills).

Inside the art deco lobby of the Casa Mali Hotel in Condesa

  • We stayed at the hotel Casa Mali, which is a small boutique hotel located along the park in Condesa. The rooms are very tiny, but each come with a washer/dryer. There is nothing like finishing a trip without any dirty clothes! We paid $182 USD a night all inclusive.
  • 1:30-4:30 PM, Check out the Chapultepec Zoo
    • The Uber ride will take less than 10 minutes from Condesa.  The Cost? Not even $4 USD.
    • It isn’t the best zoo, but it’s free! It’s a good way to work off any jet lag and stretch the legs after a long flight.

  • 4:30-6 PM, Walk from the zoo to the nearby neighborhood of Condesa, packed with restaurants and cafes.
    • Be sure to stop for some fresh-baked bread at Pastelerias Esperanza to snack on during your walk. If you’re still hungry, you’ll want to stop at one of Mexico’s oldest and most famous ice cream stores Neveria Roxy.

Kevin enjoys some ice cream — even after sampling just about every flavor!

  • 6-7:30 PM, Relax back at the hotel or hang out at one of the many nearby cafes in Condesa.
  • 7:30 PM – on, Walk to nearby Mercado Roma, which is a high-end Mexican food hall. Be sure to head upstairs to sample the popcorn at the stall called La Palomiux. We ate the entire bag before we even left the food hall!
    • Continue walking towards Zona Rosa and grab a light and casual dinner at El Califa, known for their tacos al pastor.
    • Finish the night by browsing for books at Cafebreria El Pendulo or head upstairs for live music with deserts and Mexican wine at Bukowski’s Bar (one of our favorite spots in the city).

Mmm, fresh guacamole. We’ll have more!

The bookstore and Bukowski Bar is open late and a fun place to spend the evening with live music.

Day 2

  • 8:30-10 AM, Bikram Yoga Condesa – This is a lovely studio about 5 minutes away from our hotel.
    • I accidentally booked us for a Core 40 class, which is basically a hot yoga class directed by the teacher (rather than the prescribed Bikram sequence). Kevin loved learning all the Spanish yogi words though.

  • 11 AM, Quick bite at Maque which serves the best corn muffins you’ll ever eat. We basically had corn muffins every morning. Trust us! It’s called “Panque de Elote” in Spanish.

Best foodie pick – the corn muffins at Maque. Yes, corn muffins!

  • 11:30 AM – 1 PM, Templo Mayor Museum
    • After a quick bite, head down to the Zocalo to see some ancient ruins right in the heart of Mexico City. It was one of the main temples of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan. The museum is much more impressive than we imagined.

Ruins of Templo Mayor

  • 2-3 PM, Late lunch at Sanborns de los Azulejos (or “House of Tiles”) inside an 18th-century palace.
    • There are multiple dining rooms, but the main hall is the most impressive.
    • However, the wait can be over 1 hour. Our recommendation is to head upstairs (past the restrooms), where you’ll still get a view. Most people have no idea about the separate seating — and we immediately got a table. It’s the same exact food!

Sanborns de los Azulejos

  • 3-5 PM, Check out a museum. We ended up going to the Franz Mayer Museum, which had a special exhibit on Tim Burton. It’s a lovely space and just a few minutes away by foot from the restaurant.
  • 6-7 PM, Couples massage at Remède Spa at the St. Regis Hotel. Easily one of the top 5 massages I’ve ever had. This place is posh — facilities include an indoor heated pool and Jacuzzis with a panoramic view of the city. There is also an impressive gym. The cost for a massage (and access to the facilities) is $160 USD per person.

Working out with a view at the St Regis Hotel

  • 9:45 PM, Dinner at Pujol (in the Polanco neighborhood).
    • One of our favorite experiences in Mexico City — and a big reason we came back.
    • Reservations are essential. You can book a spot on OpenTable or try calling 1 month ahead. Chef Enrique Olvera serves modern takes on classic Mexican dishes. Pujol regularly shows up as one of the world’s best restaurants. Cost: 1,839 pesos (about $100) per person, tax included; drinks pairing 1,465 pesos (about $77) per person.

Plate of 2 types of mole with a tortilla made of fresh leaves. Kevin doesn’t typically like mole, but he loved this one.

We bonded so much with the wait staff, they invited us back to the kitchen to get a tour. So be nice to your server!

Day 3

  • 9 AM, Of course, we can’t help but have another corn muffin from Maque. We’re addicted!
  • 10-11:30 AM, Leon Trotsky House Museum
    • Very close to the Frida Kahlo House Museum, so easy to combine the two museums.
    • This museum honors Trotsky who was forced into exile outside the Soviet Union because of his criticism of Joseph Stalin’s government.
    • There is a lot of juicy details to his story – including an affair with Frida Kahlo. His home is like a fortress but it wasn’t enough. He eventually was struck in the back of his skull with an axe by a Stalin supporter while in his home.

On the walking tour at the Leon Trotsky House, which is all in Spanish.

  • 12-1 PM, Lunch nearby at Tostadas Coyoacan. Just go – this was my favorite food on the trip. And just for a few bucks! It’s located in the middle of a food market – it’s confusing at first, but just follow the crowd.

These are delicious! Pulled pork, chicken and beef. Order several!

  • 3 – 4 PM, Xochimilco Boat Ride
    • A surprisingly enjoyable activity that turned out much better than we expected. The reviews online are a mixed bag. But it easily was a top 5 favorite activity. We hired a boat for 1 hour, but do your homework going here (and know how much to pay!).
      • Cost: 350 pesos per hour, about $19 USD, (NOT per person); signs advertise 500 pesos per hour, but we had no issue bargaining.

  • 6 PM, Coffee shop time. Fancy Starbucks in Polanco. Kevin is in heaven.

  • 7:30-11:30 PM, Late Night Tacos & Mezcal Tour (Condesa/Roma). Cost: $130 per person.
    • This tour takes you from one end of the city to the other. We ate tacos, drank many samples of mezcal and even had some grasshoppers.

Sampling some of the intestines taco. No part of the animal goes to waste at this taco stall!

Day 4

  • Today is a full day exploring the city of Puebla, which is known for its compact historic downtown and cuisine.
  • 9 AM, Pick up your car rental
    • Renting a car in Mexico City can be a real hassle – but knowing this helps cushion the blow (and prepares you).  Rentals may look cheap online (like $5 a day), but they get you on the insurance and fees.
    • Renting a car with a international agency also doesn’t help. Most branches are individual franchises (meaning, no incentive to the renter).
    • Most rates will run about $45-50 USD a day with all taxes and insurance (check your bill closely for added charges). Hertz attempted to add a “hotel tax” which was basically a made up fee (since it wasn’t at a hotel).
    • Ideally, rent from the airport – that way, you can “shop around” and bargain if you have the desire.
  • 11:30 AM, Arrive in Puebla (a 2 hour drive from Mexico City)
  • 12-1:30 PM, Walk around the historic Zocalo and shop for antiques at Alley of the Frogs.

Live music outside one of the many antique shops on Alley of the Frogs in Puebla

  • 1:30-2:00 PM, Grab a strong alcoholic shot at the famous La Pasita, which started off as a grocery store but now sells unusual libations like the house’s namesake Pasita, made from raisins and is very sweet.
  • 2-3 PM, Eat authentic mole at El Mural de los Poblanos
    • Mole poblano, which contains chocolate, represents the pinnacle of the Mexican cooking tradition. And it was born out of Puebla. It has a very distinct flavor that Kevin usually doesn’t enjoy. But once again, he loved this kind. We got the sampler that included 6 different taste profiles.

The mole sampler at El Mural de los Poblanos

Get your name on the list for a table as the place fills up quickly!

  • 3:30-6 PM, Visit the Baroque Museum
    • I could tell Kevin had some serious doubts about this museum. But it turned out to be, as he said, “The best museum he’s ever been to.” Now, that’s quite the endorsement!
    • The museum is massive, but does an incredible job of taking you through history and how the baroque period came about. What could have been a very dull and obscure topic was truly fascinating and so well done.

Outside the striking Baroque Museum in Puebla

Some of the art on display in the special exhibit section.

  • 6 PM, Drive back to Mexico City (arrive at 8 PM and drop off car rental)
  • 10 PM, Cabaret La Perla (Zocalo area), 2 drag diva performances a night (the other starts at 1 AM). Uber directly here to avoid any hassles.

Day 5

Checking out the murals on our morning bike tour.

  • 9 AM – 12 PM, Urban Art Bike Tour by Poráy Reforma ($32 pp)
    • Meets at the bike shop off the Fontan Hotel Lobby (Hidalgo metro station)
    • This is a comprehensive bike tour operated by the very personable Gabby, who covers not only street art, but the history and current events in Mexico City.

  • 1-2 PM, Grab lunch at La Hosteria de Santo Domingo
    • Order their signature dish “Chiles en Nogada” – meat stuffed poblano chiles bathed in nogada, a walnut cream sauce and garnished with pomegranate seeds and parsley. Yum! These are typically only available in the summer and early fall, but La Hosteria serves them year round.

Chiles en Nogada, one of our favorites and a specialty dish in Mexico.

  • 2-4 PM, La Lagunilla Market (flea market/food stalls, hours, 11 AM – 6 PM on Sunday)
    • This is a Sunday-only antiques market. It’s a little tough to find at first, but after getting to the general area we eventually found it (after asking no less than 4 people!).

  • 4-8 PM, Relax/Open to explore
  • 9 PM, Grab dinner at Blanco Colima
    • This is where we spent our New Year’s Eve, and it is a gorgeous space. They went all out to ring in 2018. The space is an old mansion with multiple rooms and floors. We particularly enjoyed the high-top tables inside the downstairs bar.

Celebrating New Year’s at Blanco Colima

Have a great time in Mexico City!  And be sure to read about all our travels in Mexico here.

The Best 5 Day Itinerary in Mexico City Including a Road Trip to Puebla
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The Best 5 Day Itinerary in Mexico City Including a Road Trip to Puebla
Check out our 5 day itinerary in Mexico City with a bonus spot in Puebla. This is an itinerary that covers all the best restaurants, museums and hot spots.

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