ViaHero · March 19, 2019
One of the coolest parts about traveling to Mexico City is experiencing its vibrant, diverse neighborhoods (there are over 350 of them!). Below, we’ll break down the 10 best
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1. Roma: A quirky hipster scene
Roma was recently designated as a “Barrio Magico” by the city—and the magic of this place will be *instantly* clear when you see Roma’s vibrant Art Deco architecture and stunning street art.
Hipsters rejoice—Roma is also home to a bustling third-wave coffee scene (check out Buna for an *excellent* cup of joe). To get a taste of all that Roma has to offer, from churros to coffee to craft beer, (oh my!) zip over to Mercado Roma. This fancy food hall has *everything*. Including a wonderful rooftop view.
Psst—admiring the street art is a great non-touristy activity in Mexico City (not to mention free!)
2. Condesa: Scrumptious street food and gorgeous parks
Roma and Condesa are sister neighborhoods with a shared history, and their proximity puts them high on the list of places to visit in Mexico City. Like Roma, Condesa is flush with color, which makes this a gorgeous day trip or home base for visitors. Its wide, leafy boulevards also make Condesa feel far from the hustle and bustle of downtown (even though it’s only a few miles away).
One of Condesa’s main attractions, the gorgeous Parque Mexico, is filled with dogs, music, and plenty of benches to take it all in. It’s such a lovely respite from the city. And once visitors have built up an appetite, they can indulge in some of the best tacos in the neighborhood.
A local trip planner who lives in Condesa can point you when in the right direction when it comes to a perfect night out in this part of town. Rest assured: Roma and Condesa are among the safest of Mexico City’s neighborhoods, even at night.
Pro tip: For some of the best street food in Condesa, head to a surprising spot: the Condesa metro station at Chilpancingo. Browse the stalls just outside the station for tons of delicious local options like tlacoyos, thick corn patties stuffed with beans and meat.
3. Polanco: Posh with personality
Treat yo self! Polanco is filled with high-end shopping, fancy cocktail bars, and some of the world’s best restaurants. If you’re wondering where to eat in Mexico City, you might want to start in Polanco.
And Polanco’s not just a beautiful face with a vapid personality. It contains some of Mexico City’s best places to go. Visitors can explore the brilliant Museo Soumaya (another great, free activity) and the beloved Museo Nacional de Antropologia. Polanco is also intertwined with some of Mexico City’s best parks, including a section of the truly astounding Chapultepec Park.
Like Roma and Condesa, Polanco is considered to be among Mexico City’s safest neighborhoods.
4. Coyoacan: Art, street food, and nature
Ohhh Coyaocan. Coyaocan is the quiet artsy kid among Mexico City’s neighborhoods. It has a lot of the same attributes that make Roma and Condesa sparkle, but since it’s a bit further away it has a quieter, chiller vibe. Coyaocan’s biggest draw is the spectacular Museo de Frida Kahlo. Visitors can learn about her life and enjoy her art, from inside her “blue house.” You should definitely talk to a local about prebooking tickets—this place is popular.
Coyoacan has two great markets for those curious about Mexico City’s famed street food: Mercado Coyoacan and Mercado de Antojitos. Sample the fried quesadillas and tostadas. Then, work it off by talking a vigorous stroll in the nearby Viveros de Coyoacan park.
5. Juarez: The next cool thing
Juarez used to be one of the grandest places in town before falling on hard times, which includes the 1985 earthquake that devastated the entire city. Rejoice, for Juarez is back! Or rather, getting there. The result? An eclectic mix of hip new places and classic restaurants from the mid-20th century.
Today Juarez hosts some of the city’s best art galleries and a ton of speakeasies (so definitely ask a local trip planner where the best bars can be found—you don’t want to end up missing out on the neighborhood’s best experiences).
One of Juarez’ newest draws is Milan 44, a fancy mall-type place where people can buy cheese, and then go to a yoga class. Seriously.
6. Zona Rosa: The city’s best nightlife
Nestled in Juarez is Zona Rosa, a neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood known for its nightlife and as Mexico City’s LGBTQ core. There are tons of clubs, restaurants, and bars in the area, including Mexico City’s best gay bars.
During the day, Zona Rosa is a great place to go shopping, or as a destination to see one of the city’s most famous monuments: El Angel (officially Monumento a la Independencia, or, basically, Angel of Independence). The monument was finished in 1910, which coincided with the 100-year anniversary of Mexico’s independence from Spain. However, Zona Rosa gets mixed reviews when it comes to safety at night—after all, drunk club-goers are easy targets for pickpockets.
Pro tip: If you’re (gasp) tired of the Mexican food fare, check out Little Seoul, Mexico City’s Koreatown. It’s located mostly in and around Zona Rosa.
7. San Rafael: Up-and-coming cool
Like the nearby Juarez neighborhood, San Rafel is on the upswing. The mansions from its glory days still largely remain, which result in an eclectic architectural vibe. There’s tons of great food, including the mouth-watering Mercado San Cosme.
If you’re a foodie, San Cosme is one of the best places to visit in Mexico City—it’s swimming with stalls offering things like tortas (delicious meat-packed Mexican sandwiches) and pambazos (delicious meat-packed Mexican sandwiches dipped in salsa and then fried).
For those looking to get off the beaten path, San Rafel is an excellent destination. The neighborhood is becoming a place where artists go, especially once priced out of Roma and Condesa, and so there are a ton of great galleries. Visitors will also notice leftovers of San Rafael’s glory days, like the eerie, abandoned Cine Opera.
Even though it’s under the radar, San Rafael is considered to be fairly safe.
8. Centro Historico: Home to all the classics
Hey—just because there’s “history” in its name doesn’t mean that Centro Historico is boring. It’s like your cool grandpa who is full of weird, amazing, beautiful stories. Seriously—some of the best things to do in Mexico City can be found in the Centro Historico. Ask a local travel expert to create a walking tour so you don’t miss anything.
Among the best things to see in this neighborhood are Palacio Nacional, where the president works, Zocalo Square, where all big national events or holidays are celebrated, Catedral Metropolitana, the city’s enormous historic cathedral, and the just-adjacent (and absolutely amazing) ruins of the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan.
Centro Historico is pretty safe, especially during the day. At night, take care to not wander into some of the surrounding neighborhoods, which have dicier reputations.
9. San Angel: For an old-world feel
Just south of Coyaocan, San Angel shares the quiet, thoughtful nature of its sister neighborhood to the north. For anyone looking for a real authentic market, San Angel’s Bazar Sabado is a must-see. Visitors can march across the cobblestone streets, enjoy the colorful historic mansions and old churches, and stop in the market for authentic souvenirs.
If this isn’t your speed, then check out the mummies at the Templo y Ex-Convento del Carmen, an ancient monastery that has been converted to a museum.
Largely residential, San Angel is considered to be safe.
Pro tip: The market is at its best on Saturdays.
10. Narvarte: Mexico City’s best tacos away from the crowds
If Juarez and San Rafael are off the beaten path, then Narvarte is somewhere in the woods. This is great news for the adventerous—while Narvarte is considered to be fairly safe, it is also an often overlooked destination. Just across the highway from Roma, it’s also an easy stop to add to a Mexico City itinerary.
This middle-class, non-touristy neighborhood is known for its international cuisine, great bars, and some of Mexico City's best tacos.
*Bonus*! Neighborhoods to steer clear of:
Honestly, most of Mexico City is just like any other big city. There are great neighborhoods and ones you should avoid. Just as in London, Paris, and New York, constant vigilance is the name of the game. Be smart, be aware, and don’t go wandering down any dark alleys. And have fun!
Armed with this neighborhood know-how, you’re ready to dive into Mexico City. To experience it like a local, travel independently with an itinerary built by a trip planner who actually lives there (it’s like having a best friend in Mexico City help you plan your trip). And as always, feel free to send us a message if you have any questions.
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