Your Guide To 48 Hours in Mexico City

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Anecdotally, it seems like every close friend has traveled south to Mexico’s capital city — and Google Trends agrees: interest has nearly doubled during the last three years. Recently, I joined the party and booked a flight to the frenzied city, drawing me in with the same fire my friends have experienced. Read on for a day-by-day 48-hour guide.

We like

  • Conveniently located in the historic district 
  • Fairly-priced accommodations.
  • Excellent gastronomic options within the hotel.

We don't like

  • The property’s interior was incredibly noisy — the sound bounced off the hard surfaces!
  • The concierge’s communications were sub-par, with 5+ hours between messages.
  • The restaurant stopped accepting new tables after 7 p.m.

Day 1: 

We ordered an Uber directly to our hotel from the airport, and tip: I’d recommend ordering a car as you grab your bags — it can eliminate language barriers, you can quickly see the price, and it’s a seamless experience. On the way to our hotel, my partner observed the seemingly threaded civilizations weaved within the city’s fabric, acknowledging the modern edge that shaped our route downtown; it was an astute observation as I closed my eyes to combat car sickness.

Known by many names in its storied history, the vibrant capital of Mexico has an intoxicating mix of old and new — and the Circulo Mexicano, a boutique hotel located in the Centro Histórico— pays homage to the city’s storied past while honoring its contemporary Mexican culture. Circulo Mexicano brings together Grupo Habita’s hospitable hotelier with an architectural wonder designed by the celebrated house of Ambrosi | Etchegaray while sitting at the intersection of pre-hispanic ruins and the National Palace.

A view from Circulo Mexicano’s rooftop — stunning! Credit: Circulo Mexicano 

Walk outside the twenty-five-room property, and you’re in the Centro Historico neighborhood — marked by a giant flag that notes both the city’s center and the country. The stately neighborhood gives way to colorful markets and charismatic cantinas, and it’s best to stretch your legs uncovering the Zocalo while wandering toward the smell of Al pastor meat. By this point, we were hungry for lunch, and we stopped at a hotel-recommended spot, Tacos Victoria, and spent a maximum of $8 USD for enough food to satisfy my never-ending partner’s appetite. 

We wandered throughout the district; our journey led us along the famed Calle Madero, stopping in the Palacio de Postal and Palacio de Bellas Artes Museums. As we meandered back to our hotel, chance brought us to the remnants of ancient civilizations standing sentinel at the Museo del Templo Mayor entrance. Your visit to this museum starts with a walk through the site before proceeding, and is worth the visit. Tip: If you’re staying at Circulo Mexicano, leverage their WhatsApp ‘text’ service and concierge about museum opening and closing times — Google Maps listed incorrect hours for multiple properties, and they were a great resource to have on-hand, correct information!

Palacio Postal — interchangeably referred to as Correo Mayor, or the Main Post Office — is a functional (and beautiful!) post office. Credit: Alyssa Kluge

After a 14-hour day, we had a casual bite on-site at the property’s Itacate del Mar restaurant, the same purveyors of the city’s celebrated Contramar. We ended the night on the property’s rooftop bar with a complimentary ‘welcome’ cocktail as our nightcap before sleeping in the modern, minimal room. 

DAY 2 AM: 

Rested, we hopped into a $5 Uber to the Roma Norte neighborhood and joined the never-ending line at Panaderria Rosetta. Tip: Buy the Guava roll! Buy it! 

Today’s focus is food —  our odyssey kicked off with a calorie-laden feast at the Panaderia Rosetta, where I shamelessly surpassed my typical daily intake. Takeaway coffees in hand, we found a rhythm exploring the neighborhood before our next reservation, first up — shopping.

We hit Perla Valtierra’s shop housed in a Proveancal-style former home with scalloped-edge ceramics in colors like emerald, inky black, pretty pinks, and Marseille Blue. With only a small carry-on, I bought a small, walnut-colored taper candlestick flanked with a mini wing-like design that now sits on my bedside table. Later that day, I realized that many of the area’s restaurants and shops had a Valtierra ceramic vase or piece adorning their windows or tables, and I found myself wishing I had brought a bigger bag. In the neighborhood, we also stopped in a colonial-style mansion home to Casa Bosques, a curated bookstore, and its downstairs neighbor, Fueguia 1833 Mexico, an unexpected sensory perfume shop. 

A peek into Perla Valtierra’s shop in Roma Norte. Credit: Alyssa Kluge 

Before our Lardo lunch reservation, we called an Uber to travel to the Frida Kahlo Museum. Tip: You must buy your ticket in advance, and they’re strict on attending during your ticket’s allocated time — we booked more than a month in advance, and few tickets were available! The vibrant museum was colorful, painting an intimate look at her remarkable life. While we only spent an hour here and about an hour round-trip in the car to trek to the vibrant Coyocan neighborhood, it was worth the trip. Tip: If you can swing it, spend a few extra hours in the area — we were pressed for time, and small shops and restaurants dot the neighborhood we didn’t have time to see!

Lardo’s lunch ranks among my top five meals ever. Helmed by Chef Elena Reygadas, the impeccable service and divine dishes, including surprising Lamb Kebabs with a pita-like twist and grilled, savory Octopus paired with knockout cocktails, made it a 10/10. Tip: At 7,000 feet, be mindful — the altitude and alcohol have their own rhythm! 

The exterior of Lardo, a celebrated restaurant in the Roma Norte neighborhood. Credit: Alyssa Kluge 

Day 2 Afternoon:

Post-Lardo lightheadedness prompted a quick hotel nap, fortified by an espresso martini at the bar. Energized, our bar crawl continued to Hanky Panky, a swanky, secretive speakeasy ranked among the top 50 bars in the world. With no “address,” this speakeasy is accessible through a hole-in-the-wall taqueria where you share your name and number of guests with the host. We knew we were in the right place when suddenly, a small group emerged from a beer fridge as we walked by! Even at 7 pm, we waited for half an hour before entering and sat at the intimate bar where we navigated their “passport” book of drink options. We savored the Gulrot, inspired by Oslo’s Himkok Cocktail Bar, and the tequila-forward Casa Batillo, a Mediterranean garden-like drink in a glass. Sitting at the bar was a front-row ticket to mixology magic — it was a great experience! 

A view from the Hanky Banky bar seats. Credit: Alyssa Kluge 

To cap the night, we made our way to Rosetta, an enchanting eatery housed within a former Beaux Arts mansion, now adorned with a plant-filled courtyard and an upstairs bar featuring pastel frescoes and French windows that offered glimpses of the bustling street below. Tip: We tipped 25%; the service industry depends on tips here, and is expected — tip generously! Here, we experienced delicate dishes like warming risotto and morsel mushrooms and were glad we made reservations eight weeks in advance; as the clock neared 10 p.m., the ambiance still buzzed with eager diners, a testament to Rosetta’s popularity. After a long day, we faded quickly and couldn’t order dessert as the altitude, alcohol, and 20,000 steps caught up with us — and a 4:45 am alarm the next day was another reason we had to run. 

Rosetta’s entrance, an enchanting eatery housed within a former Beaux Arts mansion. Credit: Alyssa Kluge 

Viva la Mexico!

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