ViaHero · January 23, 2020
Any discussion of Mexico City’s magic will include its neighborhoods. Delightfully distinct and pulsing with personality, Mexico City’s 350 colonias offer something for every type of traveler.
These are eight of *our* favorite Mexico City neighborhoods—but for personalized advice, work with a local to plan your trip.
Roma and Condesa have been declared barrio magicos—neighborhoods of magic—by the city. The magic is evident as soon as you arrive! Full of color, Art Deco mansions, sweeping green spaces, and plenty of hip cafes, bars, and restaurants, Roma and Condesa offer charm and centrality.
You’ll find no lack of incredible Airbnbs and boutique hotels in this part of the city. If you’re looking to add a dose of magic to your Mexico City stay, treat yourself with a room at Maria Condesa Hotel. The sixteen rooms here are styled with unique features by Mexican designer Piñeda Covalin.
In Roma, locals suggest checking out Mercado Roma. This fancy food hall has coffee, churros, and an excellent rooftop. In Condesa, our trip planners recommend getting off the beaten path—you’ll find some delicious street food at the Condesa metro station at Chilpancingo. You’ll also find fantastic coffee and craft beer in Roma-Condesa, so get some local advice to figure out where to go first.
Street art climbs the walls like ivy in Roma. Locals say that Roma’s color makes wandering through the neighborhood an excellent (and free) afternoon activity. Condesa’s Parque Mexico is also a good stop for budget travelers. It’s beautiful, green, and a favorite hang out for Condesa’s canines.
Well-traveled and central, Roma and Condesa are considered to be among the safest of Mexico City’s neighborhoods. However, Roma borders Doctores. Locals tell us travelers should generally avoid this area, especially at night.
At first glance, Polanco may seem posh—but don’t be fooled. This sleek part of Mexico City is enhanced by its stellar museums and proximity to Chapultepec Park.
You can find cute Airbnbs for less than $50 a night. Or, you can pony up to stay in one of Mexico City’s unreal hotels—like the ambitiously weird W Hotel Mexico City. Polanco has a chic reputation, but locals tell us you’ll be able to find a place to stay to fit your budget.
Polanco is home to some of the best restaurants in the world: Pujol and Quintonil. Foodies, enjoy. You’ll also find some great taco-and-tequila joints in Polanco if you know where to look. Our trip planners can suggest their favorite spots. And we haven’t even gotten started on Polanco’s speakeasies!
Locals suggest making a beeline to the stunning Museo Soumaya. Twisting from the earth in a cascade of silver tiles, this 100% free museum is packed with treasures from Mexican and European artists. The museum’s unique architecture will look pretty great on Instagram, too.
Like Roma and Condesa, Polanco is considered safe.
Don’t leave Mexico City without spending at least a few hours exploring Chapultepec Park, which borders Polanco to the east. Twice the size of New York’s Central Park, Chapultepec contains trails, lakes, *castles*, a zoo, and more.
Once the top pick for Mexico City’s elites, a 1985 earthquake devastated Juarez and San Rafael. But these neighborhoods are experiencing a renaissance. Today, they’re an exciting hub for young people and creatives.
You don’t have to break the bank to stay in San Rafael. El Patio 77 is less than $100/night and claims to be the first sustainable B&B in Mexico City. (Affordable and good for the environment? Win-win!). Each room in this 19th-century refurbished townhouse is themed around a different Mexican state.
Benefit from local insights in Mexico City—our trip planners tell us that the San Cosme market in San Rafael is an excellent place for traditional Mexican food, like tortas (meat-packed sandwiches) and pambazos (meat-packed sandwiches dipped in salsa, then fried). Locals also suggest enjoying a surprising meal in Juarez: the neighborhood is home to Mexico City’s Little Seoul.
Echos of their former glory resound in Juarez and San Rafael. Both are quickly becoming havens for artists fleeing high rents in Roma and Condesa, so expect to find a mix of art galleries and unusual places to visit, like the abandoned Art Deco Cine Opera.
Juarez is known as a late-night hotspot. Take the same precautions you would in a big city: don’t accept drinks from strangers, take an Uber when it’s time to go home, and don’t wander off alone.
Coyoacan and San Angel are not as central as other neighborhoods. But they’re worth the trek! Chill and artsy, Coyoacan and San Angel are full of classic Mexico City charm.
Coyoacan and San Angel are more residential than other Mexico City neighborhoods. That means you can find charming Airbnbs for between $20 and $50 USD per night (for the whole place!). You’ll also find a healthy selection of hotels.
Our trip planners tell us that Coyoacan has two great markets for those curious about Mexico City’s famed street food: Mercado Coyoacan and Mercado de Antojitos. Locals suggest sampling the fried quesadillas and tostadas! Then, work it off by taking a vigorous stroll in the nearby Viveros de Coyoacan park.
In Coyoacan, the main attraction is the Frida Kahlo museum. Locals tell us you should get tickets in advance. In San Angel, aim to visit on a Saturday so that you can enjoy the town’s Saturday market, Bazar Sabado.
Largely residential, Coyoacan and San Angel are considered safe.
The beating heart of Mexico City, Centro Historico is packed with museums, restaurants, hotels, and, of course, the iconic El Zocalo square.
Although central, this neighborhood offers accommodations for all budgets. If you have pesos to spend, the glamorous Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico is a true wonder. (Locals recommend stopping in either way to gape at this former department store’s stained-glass ceiling.)
For a compelling mix of good tequila and Mexican history, locals recommend stopping in at Bar La Opera, near Palacio de Bellas Artes. Definitely ask your bartender to point out the bullet hole that Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa left in the ceiling.
Centro Historico is a hub of activity. Here, you can walk through the shadow of the looming Catedral Metropolitana to explore Aztec ruins at Templo Mayor. You can visit El Zocalo, Mexico City’s vibrant public square, to watch festivities, protests, or musicians busking for change. Locals say you shouldn’t leave without stopping by two of Mexico City’s most iconic sites: Palacio Nacional and Palacio de Bellas Artes.
Keep an eye on your belongings here. Pickpocketers know that Centro Historico is a popular destination for visitors to CDMX.
Definitely find time to see Diego Rivera’s famous murals. Most people go to Palacio Nacional, but you can also admire Rivera’s work at the Secretariat of Public Education building.
Whether you're deciding where to stay in Mexico City or wondering where you should explore, make your travel stress free by working with ViaHero. When you have a local plan your trip, you know you're getting on-the-ground advice from the people who know best. Curious how it works? Check out this sample Mexico City guidebook.