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Two Day Itinerary for Exploring the Ancient Aztec Capital – Mexico City

Mexico City 2 day itinerary is essential for a trouble-free trip to this part of the world. Mexico City is the nerve centre of the country, which boasts of a variety of landscapes, mouth-watering delicacies, warm locals, and ancient history.

Centuries ago, the same Mexico City was the seat of the glorious Aztec empire, formerly known as Tenochtitlan. It smells of the ruins of its past, the history of Spanish Inquisition, the struggle for independence and the spirit of Mexican resilience.

In my current post, you can explore through my writing, the best places to cover in this wondrous region. This Mexico City 2 day itinerary covers major aspects of the city that juxtapose the old and the new seamlessly.

Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary

Mexico City is vibrant with exuberant and energetic people, beautiful town planning and a kaleidoscope of bright colors. Being one of the most populous cities in the Western hemisphere with a population of a whopping 21 million, you will be sure to find places crowded. However, you will still fall in love with this capital city. I surely did and cannot wait to go back again.

Mexico City Travel Blog: An Overview 

Mexico is one of the most diverse regions of the world. Along with the most laid back beaches, Mexico is also known for its wonderful culture, fascinating history and epic outdoor adventure.

A visit to Mexico City gives you the best insight into this wonderful country. The best part is that some of the most amazing sites are only a few hours drive away from the city. This made  my trip to Teotihuacan pyramids and my Xochimilco day trip fairly easy and convenient. 

Before venturing deep into details of the Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary, you should acquaint yourself with the essentials of this place.

Country

Mexico                

Languages Spoken

Predominantly Spanish and English

Climate

Pleasant throughout the year

Best Time to Visit

Although Mexico is suitable to visit in any month, March, April and November are the most ideal. This is when rainfall is less, and it doesn’t get too cold.

Currency

Mexican Peso / Mex$ / M$ / MXN

(1 USD = 19.1 MXN as per the existing rates when I travelled)

Visa Requirements

A tourist visa is needed to travel within Mexico. You do not need a visa if you have a valid visa or are a permanent resident of the United States of America, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom or EU.

Expense Level

Mostly cheap

Safety for Travelers

Moderate to Good

Top Travel Tip

Make bookings in advance. Else, you’ll end up spending more.

Mexico City Guide: Getting Around

Fortunately, Mexico City has an incredibly cheap transportation system. Popular ways of commuting are as follows:

By Taxi

Only hail pink and white coloured taxis, with CDMX written on them. They are safe and cheap to travel in.

Similarly, you also have the option to use Uber – rides are affordable and convenient.

By Metro

The Subway System in Mexico is known to be one of the cheapest (as low as 5 pesos a ticket) in the world. My Mexico City 2 day itinerary was smooth and cheap – thanks to the Metro.

Timings:

Monday to Friday: 5 AM to midnight
Saturday: 6 AM to midnight
Sunday: 7 AM to midnight

As a fair warning, avoid taking the metro during peak hours. Also, hold on tight to your belongings.

Tip: Download the app ‘Mexico City Metro App & Route Planner’ for easier navigation.

By Bus

Buses connect popular tourist spots in Mexico City fairly well. Tickets cost roughly 6 pesos. Most buses have a city map posted on the inside. Click a photograph of it – it will help you throughout your trip.

Tip: Download ‘Moovit’ on your smartphone. It will give you the best public transport options, depending on the locality, traffic, etc.

Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary map

Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary: Day 1

Firstly, I’m going to talk about all the places worth seeing when you’re in Mexico City. These are places brimming with historical, cultural, or gastronomical significance. For a perfect day in Mexico City, you simply cannot leave them out.

Ángel de la Independencia

My Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary began with a visit to Ángel de la IndependenciaThis is in the CBD (Central Business District) of Mexico City. The towering structure depicts Mexico’s 100 years of Independence from the Spanish conquistadors (leaders).

A spot popular amongst Mexicans for protests, rallies, and celebrations, tourists are always buzzing here.

This is also Mexico’s financial heart. In the vicinity, are lofty buildings which house some world-renowned banks.

Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary

This is the Angel de la Independencia, standing tall amidst renowned banks. It was built to commemorate Mexico’s War of Independence. The Angel has also been depicted in a number of publicity videos, and the opening of popular Netflix series Sense8.

Fun Fact: Since Mexico is prone to earthquakes, in the year 1957, the winged angel crashed to the ground after a strong quake. It was restored a year later, and subsequent earthquakes haven’t damaged the angel again.

Palacio de Bellas Artes

One of the main Mexico city attractions is the culture-infused Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts). The monument has a combination of Art Nouveau and Art Deco style of architecture.

It houses lots of murals in the interiors from some of Mexico’s greatest artists, like Diego Rivera.

Palacio de Bellas Artes

Palacio de Bellas Artes is so popular that travelers visit Mexico City just to explore this wonder. You simply CANNOT miss out on it. What really intrigued me was the fact that this palace took 30 years to complete, as against the initial plan of just 4 years.

Getting There (from Ángel de la Independencia)

One option is walking down 3kms to the Palace. But as per my Mexico City 2 day itinerary, conserve your energy and hop on to a metro. You can take the green line from El Ángel stop until Hidalgo. Get out of the metro station, and walk along Avenue Hidalgo or Avenue Jurez.

Entrance Fee

60 MXN

Entry to the building is free. This fee is for you to see the museum, which is absolutely worth the price. In addition, you could also access some of the temporary and permanent exhibitions.

The Museum is one of the main attractions of Mexico City and attracts a lot of visitors every day. You will find this place crowded at all times, Therefore, either be prepared to wait in a line or avoid waiting in lines with a skip the line entry ticket.

Timings

The Palace is open for visitors on all days from 10 AM to 6 PM, except on Mondays.

Other Things to See

The building also features a theatre. If you are really keen and have an extra day to spare, you can watch a ballet performance here. This one’s simple amazing 2-hour show with bright colours and music.

However, if you have just 2 days in Mexico City, you might not be able to cover other locations.

No matter how much time you spend at this cultural abode, it’s going to be insufficient. Many tours also offer a behind-the-scenes look at the venue, including its theatre curtain. What’s cool is that it is made of almost a million pieces of coloured glass from Tiffany’s.

Torre Latino Americana

Right beside the Palais of Bellas Artes, is the unmissable Torre Latino Americana. This is considered to be one of the world’s first skyscrapers, with a towering height of 204 meters and 44 floors.

Actually, it is an engineering marvel and an innovation for being a skyscraper built in an active earthquake zone. When it withstood the 1985 earthquake of a magnitude of 8.1, it started gaining more popularity.

In addition to the cool engineering, this skyscraper is also visited for the panoramic views that it offers. With a ticket that costs MXN 70, zoom to the top floor in an elevator.

This elevation gives you a bird’s eye view of the old areas of Mexico City versus the new. Without such an aerial perspective, you will not be able to appreciate the incredible town planning of the city.

Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary

For how huge and populous Mexico City is, the number of skyscrapers is really few. Torre Latino Americana is the most prominent of all, and you simply cannot miss out on the breathtaking views. Its central location makes it easily accessible, so do visit.

After the visit to the tower, explore the nearby area if it interests you. Pastelería Ideal, a bakery on the other side of the block sells assorted decorated cakes of various shapes, sizes, flavours and colours. Have a quick bite and walk towards the historic Avenue Cinco de Mayo.

Avenue Cinco de Mayo

This street is named after the Mexican Army’s victory against the French in 1862.

Avenue Cinco de Mayo is peppered with a number of interesting buildings. Simply keep your eyes open, and you will discover structures with miraculous architecture and detailing.

Furthermore, this street is filled with people dressed as human statues, aliens from The Predator movie or characters from Looney Tunes. There are also bands of Mariachi (a style of Mexican music) singers singing to their hearts’ content. Overall, it’s a really happy and lively place to be in.

Grab Some Food

Here, there are a plethora of restaurants for you to choose from. My favourite is the El Balcon del Zocalo, right at the end of this street. It is a restaurant overlooking the main square Zócalo – the political and religious centre of the country since Aztec times.

There is another classic Mexican restaurant called Mercaderes which serves mouth-watering local cuisine. It is slightly on the higher side, but totally worth the money.

If you are thirsty and thrifty, pay a visit to Jugos Canada, which serves fresh fruit juices from an assortment of tropical fruits.

Catedral Metropolitana

At the end of Avenue Cinco de Mayo, this stunning cathedral stands in all its glory.

It was built by the Spanish in 1573, and their influence on the cathedral’s architecture is clearly evident. An air of peace on the inside contrasts with noisy scores of people on the outside.

Entrance Fee

Free of cost

Timings

Every day, 8am-8pm

Mind-boggling Fact

Since its construction in the 16th century, the cathedral has been sinking into the ground. This is attributed to the consumption of underground water in this populous city.

When you enter the church, you will see scaffolding set up to reverse the damage being caused by the land caving in slowly beneath your feet.

Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary

A trail of people walking towards Catedral Metropolitana, on Avenida Cinco de Mayo. This street is perpetually filled with locals and tourists alike. Walking to the cathedral was an incredible experience in itself! It was the perfect melting pot of cultures.

Lastly, if you want, you can climb the bell tower (MXN 20), marvel at its history and walk on the roof of the cathedral.

Zócalo

Officially known as Palacio de la Constitución, Zocalo is a famous urban square, with lots of government buildings.

Here, you will find street performers called concheros (traditional Aztec dancers.)

Dressed in colourful clothing with headgears adorned with bright feathers, they’ll catch your attention in a jiffy. They dance to beating drums and it is enthralling and full of passion.

Finally, if you are interested, you can enter the Palacio Nacional, which has the Mexican President’s office. The walls inside are adorned with murals from Diego Rivera, depicting Aztec life and the Spanish Inquisition.

Templo Mayor

Next on my Mexico City 2 day itinerary was Templo Mayor. This temple was discovered accidentally in 1978 while laying underground cables in the city. It is a culmination of 700 years of Aztec life, followed by Spanish rule and present Modern Mexico.

The site also features a museum, housing artefacts from this era like skulls and ceramic figures.

Entrance Fee

70 Pesos for both the temple and the museum; it is free for Mexican citizens and residents on Sundays. Charges for using your camera are additional.

Again, I would like to point out that expect crowds here. A skip the line ticket is much more convenient than a regular one.

Timings

Tuesday-Sunday, 9am-5pm

Also Know

You can opt for an audio guide (available in both English and Spanish) if you want to know about the history better. Note that you need to pay for it separately.

By now, it is 3.30 – 4 pm. Hire a cab to Chapultepec Castle. If your energy levels are still high, take the metro blue line from Zócalo to Pino Saurez station. Here, change from blue to the pink line and get off at the Juanacatlán station. Walk around half a kilometre to reach Chapultepec.

Bosque de Chapultepec 

A vast green space in the heart of Mexico City, this is one of the largest parks in the world. Along with a wide variety of flora and fauna to explore, this park also hosts museums, monuments, fountains, a world-famous zoo, and a castle.

This castle, Castillo de Chapultepec is situated on top of a hill and provides great views of the city. You can either hike up by yourself or take an uphill train ride for just 10 pesos.

Castillo de Chapultepec

This is the enchanting Castillo de Chapultepec. The castle offers incredible views of Mexico City and the lush green park, and is considered a sacred hilltop by the Aztecs. To know more about its history, you could opt for an audio guide for about MXN 65.

Layout

This park is so huge that is divided into 3 sections.

1)    Primera Section – Features the zoo, the castle, a few museums, and an artificial lake you can boating in.

2)    Segunda Section – Features a large amusement park, fountains, public art, and some other museums.

3)    Tercera Section – This part of the park is less visited by people and is mainly covered with wildlife and wooded areas.

Timings

Section 1: Tuesday to Sunday, 5am-8pm

Section 2 and 3: Open 24 hours of the day, throughout the week.

Entrance Fee

Entrance to the park is free, but you will have to pay for some of the other attractions if you wish to visit them.

A Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary will not be able to accommodate exploring every part of the park. However, it is a great place to simply sit and relax. Munch on a local snack, read a book or pick up some souvenirs.

Day 2 of Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary

The second day of the Mexico City trip will take you to the outskirts of the city.

Parque Nacional Desierto de Los Leones 

About 30 kilometres from the city is the monastery in the Desierto de Los Leones National Park.

While Mexico City is a fine amalgamation of chaos and beauty, take a break from the city’s fast-paced life. Head to this monastery nestled in the Sierra de las Cruces Mountain Ranges, and get a taste of the other side of Mexico.

There is no public transport that connects downtown Mexico City with the national park. The best option is to book a cab to and fro, which will cost you around MXN 300.

Tip: Try your hand at bargaining and bringing the fare down.

If you are a slow traveller and love the peace and calm, this place is for you. It is a former convent of the seventeenth century and the park is spread across more than 1500 hectares. This is a great place to hike if you have the time. Pine and oak trees are scattered across the park. The resulting fragrance that fills the air is soothing, in contrast with the city smothered with vehicular pollution.

Also, this monastery was built by barefoot Carmelite monks back in the 17th Century. Today, several buildings associated with the monks and their lifestyle are in ruins. You could step real close and get a real feel of their history.

This trip took me about 5 -6 hours, following which I went back to the city. Next in line was Coyoacán – previously a village but one that still retains the old-world charm.

Coyoacán

Houses here are brightly painted with different hues. It’s almost like you’re in a Mexican village right in the middle of a metropolitan. This was one of the most beautiful explorations of my Mexico City 2 day itinerary.

Warning: You’re going to want to move to this locality. Forever.

A Cobalt Hue Building

Most travellers are immediately drawn to a striking cobalt blue building. This is the great Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s museum. It’s the place which saw Frida Kahlo take birth, grow up, live, get married to Diego Rivera, and eventually her death.

The entry fee is MXN 200 and absolutely worth for the beautiful art pieces, photographs, and paintings you get to see.

Explore the neighbourhood on foot, and at your own pace. You will see that every church, park and building seems to be handpicked and artfully placed.

The roads here are not asphalted but cobble-stoned. Thus, it has a beautiful rural charm to it. As evening approaches, the locality lights up with music concerts, hippie markets, and street vendors. The smell of taco fills the air, and you can walk up to any stall and gorge on delicious local cuisine.

While looking for a way to explore Coyoacán and Frieda Kahlo Museum, I came across this really great cycling tour. I love to bike, and this was one of my best memories. Our tour guides were excellent and knowledgeable and showed us around the markets, the neighbourhood and museum. I would recommend it to all bikers like me.

The Market

The Coyoacán market is unlike any other marketplace. Cute craft stalls and carts selling Mexican crafts line the market. Most of the goodies are handmade by the locals, and not mass-produced in a factory.

Tip: Do try to bargain if you’re buying a lot, but kindly don’t push it. It’s necessary to protect the artisan’s work and value – their profit margins are anyway small.

Things to buy in Coyoacán:

If you want to indulge in some shopping, do include this place in your Mexico City 2 day itinerary. 

Leather Belts

Leather Wallets

Beaded Jewelry

Incense Sticks                                                 

Handbags

Tee Shirts

Mariachi Hats

If you want to embrace a new look, you could get henna tattoos, dreadlocks, and braids done right here.

Spend the rest of the evening exploring Coyoacán. Trust me, you’re not going to want to leave too soon.

Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary: Breakdown of Budget

On average, two days in Mexico City will cost you around USD 200. This, of course, depends on your choice of transport, accommodation, food, shopping, etc.

The expenses on my Mexico City 2 Day itinerary were as follows.

Average Daily Cost

M$ 300-400

Accommodation

M$ 150-200

Food

M$ 50-80

Mineral Water

M$ 40-60

Internal Transportation

M$ 30-40

Tips at eating places

M$ 25-35

Miscellaneous

M$ 400

Where to Stay on your Mexico City Trip?

Since Mexico City is a city that attracts tourists from far and wide, finding budget accommodation is not all that hard. Following are 2 options you could choose to stay in, as per my Mexico City 2 day itinerary.

These choices are based on my personal experience in these stays.

Mexico City Hostel

Beds starting at MXN$180 per night

Centrally located

Proximity of good eating places

Free Wi-Fi

Availability of shared kitchen

Availability of both single rooms and dorms

24×7 front desk facility

Hostel Zocalo     

Beds starting at MXN$190 per night

Centrally located – near the Cathedral

In-house cafe

Tea and Coffee making facilities

Free Wi-Fi

24×7 front desk service

Hospitable staff

For a cheap Mexico trip, you could try your hand at Couchsurfing. It is a great option for budget travellers and also a great way to meet like-minded people.

Mexico City Foodie Guide: What to Eat?

One of the things to do in Mexico City is immersing in its cuisine. A large proportion of tourists in Mexico, visit the country for its delectable food. To be honest, that doesn’t quite surprise me. Mexican food doesn’t just stop at saucy, tangy tacos.

Following is a short list of dishes you MUST try while in Mexico City.

Quesadillas – A type of taco, often filled with vegetables, meat, spices, and cheese.
Enchiladas – A corn tortilla served with chilli pepper sauce.
Pozole – This is a soup, made using corn as a base. It is slow-cooked and generally topped with lettuce, onion, lime, and chilli.
Guacamole – This dish often accompanies tortilla chips. Its base is avocados.
Churros – Although originally from Spain, Churros is a popular dessert in Spain. It is basically a fried strip of dough, covered with cinnamon and sugar.

The list of must-try dishes in Mexico is literally endless. In addition to food, Mexico is also renowned for its liquor and inventive cocktails.

The best part is that Mexican food caters to non-vegetarians, vegetarians, and vegans alike. That’s pretty rare, isn’t it?

Safety tips for Backpackers in MExico City

Some safety tips that you need to follow while backpacking in Mexico City. Pin it to your board on Pinterest for later reference

Mexico City Safety Tips for Backpackers

Stereotypes would say that Mexico could be a dangerous choice for a holiday. But in my opinion, Mexico is pretty safe. You simply need to exercise basic caution, as you would at any other location.

  1. Use public transport freely during the day, but try resorting to private transport at night.
  2. Do not accept free drinks from strangers, and do not get too drunk at any point. Drink, but be responsible.
  3. Learn some Spanish – Knowing a few words and phrases in the local language always helps in unpleasant situations. And anyway, Spanish is relatively easy to learn.
  4. Avoid drinking tap water as far as possible.
  5. If you’re travelling to Mexico City alone as a woman, stick to well-lit, and decently crowded localities once the sun goes down.
  6. Be careful about cash and other valuable belongings. If you want to withdraw money from the ATM, do so in broad daylight.

If you stick to these basic tips, you’ll be just safe in Mexico City.

Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary: Handy Travel Tips

As a first-time visitor to Mexico City, here are a few things that you need to be careful about:

Unexpected Weather

Always keep a light raincoat handy. Unexpected showers are common in the city.

Cash

Small businesses selling souvenirs and street food vendors will refuse to accept credit cards, so carry cash all the time.

Bargaining

When you are in the birthplace of the Aztec civilization, you’ll be itching to buy souvenirs. Be wary of the shopkeepers and try to negotiate a price. Prices are often hiked simply because they’re catering to foreigners.

Tipping Waiters

Tipping is almost like an unsaid rule in Mexico. The standard amount is roughly 10% of the total bill.

My Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary covers the significant part of the city which combines its past and present in the right proportion. Like any other city, it is never enough as time doesn’t permit us to explore the way locals do. Visiting Mexico City will surely leave an impression on you, and you will want to visit this country again soon.

Happy wayfaring 🙂

About the Author

Mexico City 2 Day Itinerary

Supriya A.N. hails from the garden city of Bangalore in southern India. She is always on the lookout for fun experiences across the globe. After scuba diving in the Mediterranean, counted shooting stars in the Sahara, flying in a helicopter over Barcelona, she now aims at horse riding in the Mongolian steppe, pet whales off the coast of Baja California and many more adventures. She loves salad over pizza, non-fiction over fantasy, movies over sitcoms. Constantly flipping pages of travel books, she is hugely inspired by Michael Palin and Pico Iyer. She’s also keen on the arduous journey the snow geese make every year from the Canadian Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico every winter.

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