Where to Stay, What to Do and What to Eat in Mexico City

Stay at a hotel that was once a department store, lounge in a boat on the canals of Xochimilco and drink hot chocolate frothed up tableside.
 

Photograph by Jon Arnold Images Ltd/Alamy

Mexico City has it all: rich history and culture, world-class museums, diverse architecture, and more amazing restaurants than you can fit into a single visit (though you’ll certainly try). Ready to dive in? Here are hotel, activity and food options for history buffs, food fans, culture-seekers and nature-lovers.

Where to Stay

 

For history buffs: Gran Hotel Ciudad de México

On the Zócalo Plaza in the heart of the city, just steps from the Templo Mayor and other key attractions, the Gran Hotel Ciudad de México features old-world elegance in art nouveau surroundings. Built in 1899, the five-star property (originally a department store) recently starred in the James Bond flick, Spectre.

For food fans: Las Alcobas

Photograph courtesy of Las Alcobas.

Two of the city’s top restaurants are on-site at boutique hotel Las Alcobas, located in the Polanco district. Sharing plates at Anatol range from modern Mexican to western fare, while Dulce Patria serves contemporary takes on Mexican classics. Don’t skip the cocktail list, which features ingredients like cactus.

For culture-seekers: The Pug Seal Belisario

The Pug Seal Belisario in the southern neighbourhood of Coyoacan—named for revolutionary hero Belisario Domínguez—is more B&B than boutique hotel with just seven rooms, each with its own unique decor. The property is also walking distance to local sights like the Trotsky and Frida Kahlo museum.

For nature-lovers: Casa Malí by Dominion

In the heart of trendy Condesa, Casa Malí by Dominion attracts guests for its stylish art deco elements and its convenient suites, each with a kitchenette and washer and dryer. But you’ll love it for its access to green space: beautiful Parque México across the street and the nearby green oval of Avenida Amsterdam.

 

What to Do

 

For history buffs: Visit Teotihuacan

Photograph by ASK Images/Alamy

The ancient city of Teotihuacan, which hit its peak some 1,500 years ago, is a must-visit. Join an Urban Adventures day tour for a guided exploration of the site and its massive pyramids. The tour also takes you to nearby villages to learn about traditional local food and to drink and dine in a family home.

For food fans: Chef Ruth Alegria’s food tours

Chef Ruth Alegria’s food tours give visitors an insider’s look at what’s on offer in Mexico City’s bustling markets. Come with an appetite and some cash on hand; while tastings of fresh-made tacos, fruit smoothies and more are included in your tour, there’s always more to buy—a cast-iron tortilla press, perhaps?

For culture-seekers: La Casa Azul

Photograph by David Crossland/Alamy

Frida Kahlo might just be Mexico City’s most famous daughter, so a visit to her museum, housed in La Casa Azul (the blue house), where the artist was born, lived and died, is a must. Here, you’ll see not just artwork by Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera, but learn about the lifestyle of their circle of contemporaries, too.

For nature-lovers: The canals of Xochimilco

Photograph by Margaret Metcalfe/Alamy

On a sunny day there’s no better place to be than lounging in a colourfully painted pole-driven boat on the canals of Xochimilco, with a wreath of flowers in your hair, as mariachis and souvenir vendors float by. Before you leave, shop the market near the dock for snacks (spicy crickets, anyone?) and tchotchkes.

 

Where to eat

 

For history buffs: El Cardenal

Photograph by José Ignacio

In a city dense with fantastic food at all price points, El Cardenal stands out for its longevity—it’s been serving its take on time-honoured Mexican dishes for close to 50 years. Come early for breakfast; pair fresh pastries with nata (cream made from raw milk) before indulging in spicy sauce-covered scrambled eggs.

For food fans: Azul 

Photograph by Daniel Aviles

Traditional Mexican cuisine is the specialty at all three locations of famed Azul restaurant. Choose from dishes like cream of pumpkin flower soup and black-bean tamales and save room for a hot chocolate in your choice of flavour (think vanilla, chili or licorice); it’s frothed up tableside with a wooden molinillo (whisk).

For culture-seeker: Los Danzantes

Los Danzantes has been feeding Coyoacan residents for more than 20 years. Come for its traditional cuisine, including vegetables grown in the chinampas (artificial agricultural islands) of nearby Xochimilco. Be sure to order the house brand of mezcal, which has been distilled in Oaxaca since 1997.

For nature-lovers: Máximo Bistrot

Photograph courtesy of Máximo Bistrot.

Máximo Bistrot might hit best-of lists for its well-crafted cuisine, but you’ll be happy to support its business practices. It’s known for sustainably sourcing not just ingredients (in large part purchased daily from nearby markets), but its dishes and wooden furniture, made by local artisans.

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