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72 Hours in Mexico City: What to Do in Mexico’s Capital

72 Hours in Mexico City: What to Do in Mexico’s Capital

Of all the places we’ve traveled in this great big beautiful world of ours, Mexico City (known affectionately as CDMX) has to be one of our absolute favorites. Aside from everything being incredibly cheap (seriously, name another place in the world where you can get three tacos for a buck, and a beer and a double shot of the good stuff for three), it’s also an incredible cultural experience. The city itself is full of proud history, heritage, and culture, along with incredible museums, street art exhibits, classic architecture, etc.

Mexico City seamlessly blends old and new, with endless opportunities for entertainment and authentic experiences, as well as awesome nightlife, tons of food and drink, and fun literally everywhere you look.

The team from Milagro Tequila invited us out to CDMX for a quick romp around town a couple weeks ago, and we took full advantage of the opportunity. We had 72 hours in Mexico’s beautiful capital city, and here’s what we did.

Day 1

Grab a Good Hotel

If you want to experience CDMX and everything it has to offer, where your home base is will have a huge impact on your time there. We settled with The Four Seasons Hotel Mexico because it’s right on the Paseo de la Reforma (the main road that runs diagonally through the heart of the city). It’s also quiet, spacious, and removed, so you have a place to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the city when you want to, but you are never far from all the action.

We also recommend picking a higher end hotel because they take extra care in filtering the water in the rooms, and also provide plenty of bottled water that you’d have to pay for elsewhere. Even so, we recommend not drinking the water anywhere in Mexico—better avoid traveler’s diarrhea whenever necessary.

Aside from its central location, we like the Four Seasons because its bar, Fifty Mills, is one of the best places in the city to grab a high end cocktail when you can’t neck anymore beer-tequila combos.

Other options include the Las Alcobas, The St. Regis (located practically next door to the Four Seasons), or the Marquis Reforma Hotel, located just across the street. There are a ton of Airbnb rentals around the city that are both beautiful and cost effective, but everywhere is a “stay at your own risk” type of situation. If you’re comfortable with that, go for it.

Visit Chapultepec Castle

The first thing we did when we got to CDMX—even before we had our first meal—was walk up Chapultepec Hill, to visit and tour Chapultepec Castle. We’re going to embrace discovering Mexico City’s history a lot over the next 72 hours, but we cite Chapultepec Castle specifically for two reasons. The first is that it offers unparalleled, breathtaking views of the city. Again, we’ve seen a lot of beautiful things in a lot of beautiful places all around the world, but the views from the castle are unrivaled. The top terrace offers a nearly 360-degree panorama of everything Mexico City has to offer, from its sweeping cityscape, to its beautiful, lush forests. The second reason is, aside from being the only royal castle in all of the Americas, it’s also the home of Mexico’s National Museum of History. Not only have some of the rooms in the castle been preserved with incredible care and detail, but there’s a plethora of period-centric murals to help visitors understand Mexico’s history and its fight for independence against Spain.

Whether you’re a fan of art, a casual history nerd, or just like a good view, your time in CDMX isn’t complete without a visit here.

Take a Walk Through Chapultepec Park, and Up Through Paseo de la Reforma

There’s a lot to see and do right off the Paseo de la Reforma, but one of our favorite things (aside from our self-guided tour of the castle), was walking through Chapultepec Park, and checking out all the history and heritage there.

Walking back through the park from the castle, we covered this area, near the pond edging the Av H. Colegio Militar, the small street market along the road, on to the Av Juventud Heroica, which crosses the Circuito Becentenario and greets visitors with a massive photography exhibit outlining just a chunk of the city’s history and culture.

We found ourselves wishing these types of public art exhibits were more popular in the U.S.

After that, we walked up through the Paseo de la Reforma, past La Estela de Luz monument, and up to the shining gem of CDMX, El Ángel de la Independencia, a victory column erected to celebrate the centennial of Mexico’s War of Independence, where Mexico defeated Spain in an 11-year war.

To be there on the eve of Mexico’s Independence Day was moving, but it’s an incredible stop any time of year.

Go to a Lucha Libre Match

Friday nights in Mexico City revolve around one thing and one thing only: Lucha Libre. In case you didn’t know, lucha libre is Mexican wrestling. It technically pre-dates American wrestling by over 80 years, and if you ask any Mexican (or any non-American, really), our cookie-cutter American wrestling doesn’t hold a candle to real-deal lucha libre.

We just so happened to have found ourselves at the Arena Mexico, which has been the original home of modern Mexican wrestling since 1940, on Lucha Libre’s official 85th anniversary.

The stadium was packed with proud Mexicans from all over the country coming together to not only celebrate one of Mexico’s largest forms of entertainment (second in the country only to fútbol), but also to celebrate Mexico’s past. We weren’t able to get our cameras inside the stadium for the action, but trust us when we tell you that being there is the experience of a lifetime.

In fact, it was so special, we wrote an article about it.

Day 2

Street Tour of Historic Downtown

Realizing there was just too much for us to see and do on our own, we enlisted the help of a local tour guide to take us through Centro Histórico, which is essentially the central neighborhood in Mexico City.

Though the city center was occupied by groups of traditional dancers and vendors selling patriotic ephemera for the celebration that evening, we were still able to get an incredible view of some of the city’s ancient Aztec ruins of the Templo Mayor, as well as the Metropolitan Cathedral, The National Palace, etc.

One of the things that struck us most about walking around Mexico City is that a lot of the historic center feels very European. That’s on purpose, thanks to the Spanish rule through the early 19th Century, and the French taking over for much of the Mid-19th Century.

Our tour concluded with a brief look at some of the city’s most beautiful and historic churches. These, too, are exceptional pieces of history, many being built from Mexico’s exclusive Tezontle rock, and based off beautiful Gothic design. The best part is that so many of these churches are within walking distance of one another, including the Catedral Metropolitana de México, Parroquía de San Hipólito, Iglesia La Profesa, and our personal favorite, Parroquía de San Miguel Arcángel.

Take a Taco/Street Art Tour

Learning history can make a man hungry, so after we finished with the walking tour, we made our way to some grub. It seems almost unfair to group these two together because Mexico City’s street art scene really is something exceptional—and so are its taco spots.

In fact, of all the things we got to do in CDMX, we wish we had more time doing this.

Our faithful and knowledgeable guide, Milagro Tequila National Ambassador Jaime Salas, who spent a large chunk of his life wandering through and falling in love with Mexico City, took us to a handful of his favorite spots, including a small chain called El Huequito, Taqueria Los Cocuyos, and what we’ll remember as our favorite tacos ever (there was a line stretching out the door from the moment we walked up to the moment we left), Taqueria El Turix. Seriously, if you’re going to hit one taco spot while in Mexico City (though, we have no idea why you’d do such a silly thing), make sure it’s this one.

As we traveled from taco spot to taco spot by van, Jaime pulled over to show us some of his favorite street art. We couldn’t begin to go through all the stuff we saw (Mexico City embraces its local mural arts scene), our far and away favorite was the mural by local Mexican artist Seher One. The picture above simply doesn’t do it justice, but hey, we did the best we could.

Dinner At El Balcon del Zócalo

When we think of Mexican food, we think of beans and rice, salsa, guacamole (it isn’t extra in Mexico), tacos, etc. But Mexico City (Mexico in general, frankly) is a land of incredible and diverse regional cuisine. The food you can expect to eat in Mexico City won’t be the same as in, say, Guadalajara or Jalisco.

But of all the restaurants we could have went to that weekend, we chose El Balcon del Zócalo. This massively popular and renowned restaurant is centered on the rooftop of the Zocalo Central, a beautifully redone boutique hotel right in the heart of Centro Histórico. By the time we got there, the square had filled with tens of thousands of people, waiting anxiously for the ceremonial Cry of Dolores. We literally finished up our dessert, then walked out onto the balcony to watch the ceremony.

If we had to pick a single favorite moment on this trip—a single memory that’ll stay with us for the rest of our lives—it was watching the huge crowd of proud Mexicans chant “Viva!” in unison during the ceremonial Cry of Dolores.

Luckily, even if you’re not there on Independence Day, the food is still exquisite and the view is spectacular.

Bar Hopping Around CDMX

Mexico City is home to one of the low-key best bar and nightlife scenes of any of the cities we’ve traveled to.

As you can imagine, things start to get a little hazy for us here (we were, after all, on a tequila trip), but some of our favorites included Xaman, an excellent and strangely spiritual little cocktail joint (when we say spiritual, we mean there’s a guy who literally walks around giving Limpias to people in need); Hanky Panky, a world-class speakeasy-style cocktail bar upstairs from a shabby, unassuming neighborhood taqueria; Bar Oriente, a bar that, by the time we arrived, had transformed into a full-on club, complete with two DJs; and Fifty Mils, the renowned cocktail bar located just inside the Four Seasons.

Our time in CDMX was limited, and there are literally dozens of incredible places to see and be seen around the city, but these are a few of the ones we experienced firsthand.

Day 3

A Pass Through The Market

If you’re following our path to a tee, by Day 3, you should be pretty worn out. We took a ride out to one of Mexico City’s most popular craft markets, La Ciudadela, which was a marvel, in and of itself.

This massive, semi-covered market is spread out over 172,000 square feet, and includes over 200 stalls, each filled to the brim with bags, leather goods, sculptures, blankets, clothes, cigars, and all the other typical market wares.

We got lost there for two hours, and it was awesome.

Go to the Diego Rivera Mural Museum

Last, but certainly not least, we finished our time in Mexico City with a visit to the incredible Diego Rivera Mural Museum.

Rivera is considered one of the most prolific painters and muralists to ever come out of Mexican, and between 1922 and 1953, he painted murals all over Mexico—and the world. The museum is considered the definitive collection of his work, and of all the museums in Mexico, this one is the one to check out.