Mexico City has a huge population and is one of the largest cities in the world. Because of its size it is also a very varied place. And it can therefore be a tough call figuring out where the best area to stay in Mexico City is.
We got totally sucked into Mexico City and ended up staying way longer than initially expected. There’s just so much going on. We loved it. In total we spent two months there, exploring this vibrant and fascinating capital.
During that time we stayed in a four different Mexico City neighbourhoods and visited many others. From mega modern to beautifully historical, and crazy busy to super chilled, each are very different and have their own individual vibe going on.
Best Area To Stay In Mexico City
Our top picks for the best area to stay in Mexico City are Roma and Coyoacán neighbourhoods.
Both for different reasons. Roma is collective of beautiful colonial buildings, green parks and great bars. It draws the creatives, the artists, the musicians, the poets and it oozes cool.
A little further from the centre, Coyoacán has more of a local village feel. It will give you a serious dose of Mexican culture and from its markets some of the best food you have tasted in your life.
However, it really does depend on your personal interests and the Mexico City attractions you prefer to be nearest to when considering where to stay in Mexico City. So for this reason, we’re going to give you the low down on the top 6 best neighbourhoods to stay in Mexico City, including guides to our favs of Roma & Coyoacan.
Centro Histórico Guide
Best For: Street Food, Museums and Architecture Lovers
This Mexico City neighbourhood was our first introduction to the country and packed with magnificent buildings, fascinating museums and so much vibrancy, we fell in love with it from the get go.
The majority of the buildings were built between the 16th and 20th centuries and prior to that this area was the centre of the Aztec Empire. The constant hive of activity of street performers and vendors in this busy colonial city centre spreads out in all directions from the main plaza, Zócalo.
Centro Histórico Attractions
One of the reasons that makes Centro Histórico one of the best places areas to stay in Mexico City is it’s proximity to all the big sightseeing hitters. If you’re only in Mexico City for a few days, you should should seriously consider staying here so you can take the most of your time.
This gorgeous outdoor green space located right in the centre of Centro Histórico is brimming with life. Mexicans and tourists alike make really good use of the space which has several ornate fountains, and lots of benches underneath the towering poplar trees for relaxing with a book or people watching.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
Hands down one of the most spectacular buildings in the whole of Mexico City never mind Centro Histórico. This stunner is best viewed externally from the rooftop cafe in the Sears department store opposite. The museum inside is equally fantastic and contains lots of politically important murals, including the ‘Man at the Crossroads’ by Diego Rivera.
Monumento a la Revolución
Originally designed as part of a houses of parliament for a government overthrown shortly after the build started, this beautiful building has gone through its fair share of interesting stops and starts over the years. Ride to the top in a glass elevator for the best panoramic city views.
Demolished and built upon after the Spanish invasion, this partly excavated site was once one of the most sacred temples of the Aztec era in Mexico. The museum inside containing many unearthed sacrificial stones and statues of fabled gods is fascinating.
Centro Histórico Restaurants and Bars
Being the centre of city, it’s busy around here. But there are so many choices when it comes to great bars and restaurants in Mexico City. So if this is one of your main considerations when choosing where to stay in Mexico City, Centro Historico could be a good fit for you.
El Morro – Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 42
This country wide renowned churreria serves the tastiest churros and hot chocolate in Mexico City, 24 hours a day. It’s seriously popular and seriously good, people queue right around the block at busy times. There are now several around this city but this the original and the best.
Rooftop Bars – Republica de Guatemala
There are several bars and restaurants along this street with stunning rooftop lookouts over Templo Mayor, the grand Catedral Metropolitana and Zócalo. Such a great location to enjoy a beer and a bite to eat.
Casa del Pavo – Peatonal Motolinia 40
You can’t go to Centro Histórico without going to the famous ‘house of turkey’ for a pavos torta, which is basically a turkey sandwich but a very delicious one. They aren’t massive so if you’re wanting more than a snack get the ‘menu del dia’ and fill up on 3 courses of turkey.
From tamales and tacos to elotes (corn on the cob) and chapulines (roasted grasshoppers) there is street food everywhere you turn in this popular Mexico City neighbourhood. Be sure to wander away from the main pedestrian areas and down some side streets to find some real gems.
Mercado San Camilito
Just near Plaza Garibaldi is a building that houses more than 70 kitchens and they have everything. There is so much choice it’s pretty overwhelming so you need to be decisive to choose which one to eat at because they all smell so good.
Pulqueria La Risa – Calle Mesones 55
There’s a few great bars along the Corredor Cultura Regina in this area but this one was one of our favourites and it’s definitely a good place to try your first pulque. We actually like it, but the original pulque drink is a pretty unusual taste and texture so maybe go for a fruit flavoured one if it’s your first try.
Best For: Hipsters, Cafes, Bars & Culture Lovers
The first thing you’ll notice about this extremely popular Mexico City neighbourhood is the cool and trendy feel it has. Technically divided into two separate areas, Roma Norte and Roma Sur, this awesome area to stay in Mexico City is seriously hipster with lots of awesome bars.
Historically an area that many aristocrats called home it has a very European vibe going on. Art deco style mansions and colourful graffiti adorn the very European feeling streets. It also very close to the party scene in Reforma or Zona Rosa as the area is interchangeably known.
There are less big sightseeing attractions to do in Roma Notre and Roma Sur and apart from the odd market stall, you’ll find the neighbourhood won’t really get going until late morning. Yet it is well connected to mosts parts of the city, including Centro Historico, making it an excellent choice when it comes to the best area to stay in Mexico City.
Plaza Rio de Janeiro
A tranquil and picturesque open space with an elegant fountain at the centre, this park is perfect for soaking up the laid back artistic vibe in Roma whilst marvelling at incredible colonial buildings surrounding it.
Overflowing with beautiful bookstores, this artsy neighbourhood in Mexico City is also an excellent choice for book lovers. The well renowned Mexican chain of El Péndulo has a wicked branch here, with multilevel balcony seating, but there are also countless independents too.
Galleries and Museums
With a much more contemporary twist, the galleries and museums of Roma such as Galeria OMR and Museo del Objecto de Objecto are a big draw for many to this Mexico City neighbourhood. And thanks to its artistic residents new ones are popping up all the time.
Roma Restaurants and Bars
It’s a younger crowd in Roma and there’s a continually growing concentration of expat communities here. It’s not hard to see why people gravitate here once you get a feel for the style and swagger of the place. It’s that kinda place that if you visit from staying elsewhere in Mexico City, you’ll likely wish you chose to stay in Roma instead.
Mercado Roma – Calle Querétaro 225
This popular market is probably best described as a gourmet food hall. Many of Mexico City’s up and coming chefs come here to try out new and exciting cuisines on the more than willing crowd. Expect to wait a while for a table for at busy times.
El Palenquito – Av. Álvaro Obregón 39
This place is small and friendly with a great selection of mezcals, beers and tasty snacks on offer, we regularly sampled probably a few too many mezcals here of an evening while we were staying in Roma Norte.
Pinche Gringo BBQ – Cumbres de Maltrata 360
If you fancy a break from the more traditional food while you’re in Mexico, this awesome BBQ joint is the perfect spot – definitely try the mac and cheese. They have also have some great craft beers and a comedy night in English on the first Thursday of every month.
Dosis – Av Álvaro Obregón 24B
There are so many great cafes in this popular Mexico City neighbourhood you’ll be spoilt for choice but this one was a definite favourite of ours. If you’re a coffee lover, the Mexico City neighbourhood of Roma is seriously the place to be. The cafes all have decent wifi too.
Lucille – Orizaba 99
If you fancy a game of pool and some tasty pizza with nice draft beer, then this is your place. It can be a little loud but there’s indoor and outdoor seating, the service is great and the pizzas are huge.
Hop: The Beer Experience – Roma 13, Cuauhtémoc
This cosy bar has a great selection of beers and is regularly tipped as the best craft beer bar in the whole of Mexico City. It has a great vibe and the music isn’t too loud making it a great place to have some chill time with a few friends over a drink, or two…or three.
El Desposito – Alvaro Obregon 21
Yet another great bar serving excellent craft beer in Roma, we were staying just over the road from this joint so spent quite a fair few evenings here. As well as all the beer on tap they also have a vast selection of bottled international ones which you can also purchase to take home.
Best For: Fashionistas, Bars and Outdoors Lovers
Bordering with Roma are the slightly posher, tree-lined wide avenues of Condesa. A fashionable, bohemian, art enclave with brightly coloured facades and plenty of beautiful green spaces, this is one of Mexico City’s prettiest neighbourhoods.
Together with Roma it has been designated as ‘Barrio Mágico Turístico’ – Magic Neighborhood for Tourists. This charming Mexico City neighbourhood has a bounty of boutique shops, cute cafes and classy nightlife.
Without a doubt, Condesa’s green spaces are the reason it lands high on the list of best areas to stay in Mexico City. As with most capital cities, traffic and pollution can be overwhelming, but not Condesa.
Time is spent outdoors in Condesa and this park is always busy. From frisbee to football and skateboarding to hula hooping this popular spot is a hive of activity from dawn until dusk. There are also lots of dog adoption stations nearby which are just the cutest.
The leaf lined pedestrian walkway of Avenida Ámsterdam encircling Parque Mexico feels like a little slice of jungle. Away from the chaos and heat, it makes for a really peaceful and shaded stroll.
Condesa Restaurants and Bars
Similarly to Roma, there are lots of independent bars in this favourite area to stay in Mexico City. It one if types of places that you can just really enjoy discovering. Finding your favourite spot in park and moving onto your favourite bar for a afternoon cocktail. Condesa is a place take it down a notch.
La Botica – Campeche & Atlixco y Tamaulipas 396
This dive bar is makes for a lovely chilled evening. The service is great and there’s indoor and outdoor seating with the occasional mariachi band coming past to belt out a few tunes. They have beers, a great selection of mezcals and some really tasty cocktails.
We have no idea why as we didn’t experience it anywhere else but you do have to also order something to eat with your drinks – they do have small snacks like grasshoppers though.
La Terazza del Catador – Tamaulipas 134
This is one of the cheapest bars we found in this area. And by cheap I don’t mean scummy at all – it’s a really nice place but $20 peso beers are a very good deal in this area. They do loads of offers and the pizzas are really good too. It’s quite small and gets really busy Friday and Saturday nights so get there earlier over the weekend.
El Aserrin – Fernando Montes de Oca 18
This bar has a really nice vibe to it and again the service is spot on. They bring out complimentary snacks with your drinks and it’s really reasonably priced. We didn’t eat here but they do serve more substantial things.
El Pescadito – Calle Atlixco 38
We didn’t think much of the seafood in Mexico City was all that great quality but this place is different and serves really amazing fish and prawn tacos. They have a salad and sauce bar to add all your toppings. Try the marlin for something a little different. El Pescadito is also a chain so you’ll find others dotted around.
Yamasan Ramen House – Calle Tamaulipas 103
We have really high Ramen standards since backpacking in Japan so trust us, we wouldn’t be including this if the food here wasn’t really good. It’s reasonably priced too for the area. The place gets really busy so expect to queue but service is quick.
Indoor Market – Avenida Michoacan and Vicente Suarez
This place doesn’t have an actual name that we know of so you’ll have to search it out but trust us it’s worth it. There’s 3 great restaurants in there but the one in the middle with the biggest seating area is the best. They serve the most delicious 4 course meals with a drink for $60 peso each which is around £2/$2 and there’s a different menu each day with two options.
Best For: Entertainment, Frida Kahlo Fans, Food Lovers
Translated as ‘The Place of Coyotes’, this is my favourite neighbourhood in Mexico City. Everything spans outward from from two main squares lined with bars, cafes, restaurants, street vendors and performers.
It has a has a really lively but welcoming atmosphere and the buildings and parks are just gorgeous. If you’re a foodie like us there’s tonnes of eating options here and we consistently had some of the best food in Mexico City in this neighbourhood.
The first thing you’ll notice about Coyoacán is that the surrounding buildings will look very different to the other best areas to stay in Mexico City. They are shorter, more colourful and some how even more beautiful. The second thing you’ll notice is the abundance of Mexican culture that welcomes and envelopes you.
Nicknamed ‘The Lung’ because of how green it is, this beautiful park is an exercise lovers’ paradise. There’s multiple yoga classes and an extremely well used running track around the perimeter. It’s so well used we thought we’d entered a marathon when we got there one morning! Even if working out isn’t your thing, it’s a great place to go for a picnic or chill under a tree with a book.
Frida Kahlo’s House
A famous Mexican painter and worldwide feminist icon, Frida’s iconic house has been turned into a really interesting museum. It’s so popular you’ll be queuing around the block even on weekdays. There are only so many tickets sold each hour so buy them online beforehand to avoid unnecessary queues (just make sure you get in the right one).
A marxist revolutionary, Leon Trotsky is a big name in the communist history of the former Soviet Union. But the reason there is a museum about him in Coyoacán is because he took refuge in Mexico in 1937 following being exiled and was subsequently assassinated in this house. There’s not too much see but if you’re interested in political history it’s worth a visit.
Coyoacán Restaurants and Bars
If you more than a few days in capital, this best neighbourhood to stay in Mexico City would make a great accompanying contrast to a few days in busy Centro Historico. That’s not to stay Coyoacán isn’t busy, it is. But it’s not frenetic, it’s happening in way that just makes you want to constantly be outside exploring.
La Cerveceria de Barrio – Jardín del Centenario No.9
This bar restaurant is a chain and we’d been in a few around Mexico City but weren’t particularly wowed until we went to this one. It’s just a really nice space. The outside seating area and the terrace are great for enjoying a few drinks and bite to eat while watching the activity out on the square in front.
Doña Chela Cervantes – Ignacio Allende 15
If you haven’t tried a michelada yet in Mexico City, here is the place to do so because they are amazing. When we went here on an evening we had to queue for a while but that’s true of many of the bars around the Coyoacán squares. The service is great and they do food too.
La Coyoacana – Higuera 14
When somewhere has the biggest queue in town, you kind of know it’s going to be good. Well this place doesn’t disappoint. From the outside it doesn’t look so big but inside there’s a huge courtyard and several rooms with at least of couple of mariachi bands playing. If you’re peckish get the guacamole and tortillas – never seen so much guacamole!
There’s lots of street food in Coyoacán, our favourite stall was on Felipe Carrillo Puerto and it sold these huge kebabs, literally the biggest we have ever seen & they were so tasty. You have to wait a while for them to be cooked but trust us it’s worth the wait.
Cafe Negro – Centenario 16
We worked out of this delightful little coffee shop on a few days. The coffees and frappes are reasonably priced and the wifi is pretty quick. They sell nice cakes and teas too.
Mercado de Coyoacán – Ignacio Allende
Seriously you have to go here for the best tostados you will likely eat in your entire life – they are just that good. They have every filling you could imagine and and they pile them on. The market is huge so you might be wandering around for a while until you find the bright yellow tostadas restaurants section but once you do you’ll know. And you’ll be back, again and again.
Mercado de Comida de Coyoacán – Higuera 30
Way smaller, there’s only about 10 stalls here but the food is good. Towards the back there is a busy place that makes the most delicious fried quesadillas with fillings of your choice to order and they are crazy cheap.
Because we didn’t actually stay in Polanco or San San Ángel we have less recomendations to eat and drink in these Mexico City neighbourhoods. However they still make our list for the best area to stay in Mexico City because even from visiting them for just a few hours you tell immediately that they would also be great places to stay.
Best For: Luxury Seekers, Outdoor space and Museums
The most affluent neighbourhood in Mexico City and home to Mexico’s international embassies. Polanco’s prestige and respectability smacks you in the face as soon as you enter the neighbourhood.
But we didn’t feel like it had as much character as the other neighbourhoods and there definitely wasn’t as much going on. There’s plenty of exclusive designer shops and fine dining options around here if that’s your thing.
Other than it’s reputation as probably the safest area to stay in Mexico City, due to the affluence of it’s residents, the other main draw it’s Polanco’s proximity to Chapultepec Park. A hub of entertainment, there isn’t anything that you won’t find going on in this huge green space on any given day.
Meaning ‘Hill of Grasshoppers’ this is Mexico City’s largest park, it is huge and includes several lakes and museums. Sunday is the big day here with vendors lining practically every path and families enjoying picnics and boating on the water. Don’t miss the Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers).
National Museum of Anthropology
Situated inside Chapultepec Park, this museum is world renowned for its collection and explanations of the history of the Mexican people. It’s huge and practically impossible to absorb all the information, you need a good few hours here if you’re a museum fan.
Landmarked by its iconic shimmering architecture, you literally cannot miss this fabulous museum. The large private art collection of over 66,000 pieces makes it the most visited museum in Mexico City and will capture your attention from the moment you set eyes on it.
Polanco Restaurants and Bars
Even if you aren’t staying in Polanco, it’s worth taking a detour on your way to Chapultepec Park to this tasty little number. It’s that good you may decide that Polanco is in fact the best area to stay in Mexico City based solely on this tasty taco joint.
Taqueria El Fogon – Avenida Horacio 130
We ate a lot of tacos in Mexico City and this place served some of the very best. It’s really clean, the service is excellent and it’s a very reasonable price for the area and Mexico City in general. Of course being in the posh area it is, there is a maître d’ and valet parking on offer too!
San Ángel Guide
Best for: Tranquility, Colourful streets and Upmarket Stays.
Wandering through the cobbled streets of this neighbourhood you get a real sense of the colonial grandeur that once was here. Huge mansions stand behind thick wooden gates adorned with colorful trailing flowers.
We only spent a day here but it was clear to see that it is a really tranquil and beautiful area of the city, a quieter alternative to Coyoacán if you like.
San Ángel Attractions
I really we’d have had more time to explore this last recommendation on our list of the best area to stay in Mexico City. We felt like there was so much more to discover and enjoyed being well off the Mexico City tourist trail. Next time Mexico City!
Plaza San Jacinto
Once a week this area of the neighbourhood pulses with people and colour for the Saturday Bazar. There are tonnes of flowers and unique artisanal crafts on offer.
Museo Casa Estudio Diego y Frida Kahlo
If you’ve watched the Frida film with Selma Hayek (which you totally should) you’ll recognise this museum as the two separate houses that Diego and Frida lived in with the bridge between the two. It’s not as good as the museums in Coyoacán in our opinion but still worth a trip.
Jardin de la Bombilla
The garden was built to commemorate the former post-revolutionary president Álvaro Obregón, who was assassinated here in 1928 while having lunch at a restaurant called La Bombilla. It contains the impressive Monumento a Álvaro Obregón, some really pretty fountains and several of the colourful large CDMX letters you’ll see all around the city.
San Ángel Restaurants and Bars
As soon as we walked past this place while doing our research for the best area to stay in Mexico City, we knew we’d have to eat here. It was full of munching local residents which is always a good sign.
Marisqueria La Bamba – Esquina Av. Insurgentes Norte
Again one of the very few places we found in Mexico City that served really good seafood dishes and they have a great selection here too. The restaurant is just inside Mercado Paradero Indios Verdes. If you’re feeling adventurous try the seafood soup, it comes with everything including a whole crab!
As you’ll have hopefully come to see, the best areas to stay in Mexico City are pretty varied depending on your interests and tastes. And even though our favourite neighbourhoods to stay in Mexico City were Coyoacán and Roma, we thoroughly enjoyed staying in all of them.
More Mexico City Information
Is Mexico City Safe?
The areas we have covered in this guide are the safest neighbourhoods in Mexico City. The chances of being involved in or witnessing a serious crime as extremely slim. The most common issue is petty theft. However, as travel bloggers we are often carrying around a lot of expensive equipment and we had absolutely no problem at all.
Of course the same rules apply as anywhere, don’t be flashy with your stuff and don’t give people the opportunity to steal your belongings. I’m not saying there aren’t unsafe places in Mexico City, but as far as the places you are going to be visiting as a tourist, it’s a complete misconception that Mexico City is dangerous.
Best Time To Visit Mexico City
Summer in Mexico City also coincides with rainy season and runs from late May to mid October. So if you want to completly avoid the downpours, it’s best travel either side of this period. However, most days it usually only rains in short bursts in the last afternoon and evening so they can be easily avoided.
It never really gets cold as such in Mexico City and winters are mild with average temperatures of 55F/13C. May is the hottest month where temperatures will typically reach around 64F/18C and it gets pretty humid before the rains come.
The end of October is really nice time to go because the rains will have stopped, but it will still be warm and it’s also the Day of the Dead festival celebrations. Although be sure to book accommodation well in advance because it will be busy.
How To Get Around Mexico City
The metro system in Mexico City is easy to navigate and is a very inexpensive option when it comes to getting around Mexico City. A single journey ticket costs just 5 pesos ($0.27/£0.20GBP).
It can get seriously hectic at rush hour so is best avoided at those times and it can be a hotspot for pickpockets. However, we used the Mexico City metro often and had no problems whatsoever. But the same applies as for any subway system in the world, be aware, watch your belongings and don’t have things in your pockets.
Uber is a great alternative for getting around Mexico City and is also very cheap. Alternatively, if you can, our best suggestion is just to walk. It’s safe and you will see more of the city that way.
Do You Speak Spanish?
It may come a surprise given the size of the place, that outside of the international hotels, many people in Mexico City don’t speak English. Even at some of the major tourist attractions it’s rare. And as for taxi drivers and market stall holders, forget it.
You can of course usually get by, but since we started learning Spanish we found that it has hugely enhanced our travel experiences. Not to mention enabled us to travel around Spanish speaking countries more confidently.
Which is why we’d like to recommend this Travel Spanish Confidence course we took recently. It enabled us move beyond a basic level to being able to communicate effectively in Spanish.
If you don’t know a word of Spanish however, this won’t be for you yet. Better to get started with Duolingo or some basic language classes first.
More Things To Do In Mexico City
There are so many things to do in Mexico. It just one of those enticing places that, no matter how long you spend there, it will always leave you wanting more.
Going Anywhere Else In Mexico?
Our 8 month Mexico backpacking trip took us to so many epic places that it’s hard to narrow down which were our favourites but we’ll try.
If you are after some beach time with a laid back vibe, Mazunte should be calling you. Equally in terms of chill out time by the water, you won’t find many more beautiful places than seven colours of Bacalar Lagoon.
Best Travel Insurance For Mexico
As with any trip abroad, make sure you have a good quality travel insurance in place. Our go to travel insurance provider is World Nomads. They have a no bullshit approach when it comes to policy wording and are perfect for adventurous travellers like us. Get a no obligation quote here:
If you found this information and neighbourhood guide to Mexico City useful, please let us know in a comment. Or if you need any more help in planning your trip, hit us below and we’ll do our best to help. We love Mexico City and hope you do too!
This post was updated in October 2018 to include the most up to date and accurate information.