So, you go on a beach vacation in Mexico and you have only a one day layover in Mexico city or you are on a business trip. These are probably the only reasons that you`d find yourself with so little time to explore this marvellous city. One day is not enough, 3 or 4 would be better in order to take in this city. Anyway, we have what we have and here I will give you some options about how to enjoy this day to the fullest.
First of all I have to warn you that in Mexico you have to eat a lot and if you have one day even more. Mexico is all about tastes, aromas, colours and every bite of Mexican food is a taste explosion. Be ready to discover a whole new universe. So, I would start my day with a hearty breakfast – probably chilaquiles. Chilaquiles is a traditional Mexican dish which consists of “totopos” – crunchy tortilla chips with salsa verde (green sauce), salsa roja (red sauce) or mole (an aromatic spicy sauce with a lot of different ingredients; many types of mole include chocolate as well), eggs or pulled chicken can be added to it as well. Typically it is served with cream and fresh cheese. Another option would be tamales Oaxaqueños (corn dough steamed in banana leaves and stuffed with chicken and mole). Azul Condesa or Cafe Toscano are good options if you go for chilaquiles. These two restaurants are located in the beautiful trendy neighbourhood of Condesa, where many foreigners and Mexican artists live. If you choose tamales go to Tamales especiales in Coyocan, (Centenario180, entre Berlin y Viena, Coyoacan, tel. 5554-5996) and you can start your sightseeing in that neighbourhood. Also you could go to la Pagoda Cinco de mayo 10 in the center.
What to see
As long as you are in Mexico I believe that you want to live an authentic Mexican experience which is why I suggest you go to Coyocan before Condesa/Roma/Polanco. These are neighbourhoods full of foreigners and have many nice restaurants and boutiques, but Coyocan gives you the feeling of being in a small Mexican town. This district is very calm and relaxed with many colourful houses and small cafes. In Coyocan I would go to the Frida museum first. The museum is the house where she was born and lived with Diego Rivera. Book the ticket online and you can skip the long queue. Afterwards you could go to the market near the central square to buy souvenirs, artisanal items and food.
Time for lunch
If you didn’t go to Azul Condesa for breakfast you might like to go to Azul historico for lunch. It is a pretty place in the center and very close to the attractions you are going to visit next. See my post with a review of this restaurant.
What else to see
The Zocalo is the central square, it is crammed full of people and very lively with many historical buildings. Wander around a bit and then go to Palacio nacional to see the murals by Diego Rivera. They are amazing and the palace is nice as well.
The Plaza de tres culturas is a unique place where three different epochs come together – the aztec’s ruins, a catholic church built between 1604 and 1610 and a massive housing complex built in 1964.
Depending on your preferences, I would choose between the following 2 options:
1. The Folkloric ballet in Palacio de Bellas Artes. The evening show starts at 7 or 8 pm. It is impressive with gorgeous costumes and elegant choreography – it helps you get a glimpse of the rich regional Mexican culture. It goes for 3 hours?
I would go to a cantina (local Mexican bar/pub). The is one in Zona Rosa name where they perform some national dances as well. Drink some tequila with sangrita and eat some mexican antojitos. You will see big mexican families gathering together to celebrate life with some mariachi music in the background.
If you go with the mariachi and eat there you may not have time or space in your stomach for a proper dinner. On the other hand, after enjoying the Folkloric ballet you will have the opportunity to indulge in a exceptional dinner at Bistrot Maximo. It is my favorite restaurant in the city. I have been there twice and both times it was phenomenal. You are able to read my review of this restaurant.
What to drink
1.Michelada (beer with salt, chile and lime juice etc.)
2. Pulque (fermented agave drink)
3. Agua fresca (natural cordial)
4. Hot chocolate
5. Tequila/ Mezcal
6.Wine – I would recommend Casa Madero
7. Natural fruit juices (try the ones from Ojo de agua)