Mexico City is an incredibly diverse capital city. It may be one of the biggest cities in the world, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like it. What most people don’t realize, is that, unlike many other cities, there are so many other great neighborhoods to visit beyond the city center. Each neighborhood has its own vibe and even the architecture varies from one to the next. This is why it’s important to understand what each neighborhood has to offer so that you choose the one that suits you best!
Where to Stay in Mexico City– Locals Guide
1. Best Neighborhood to Stay in Mexico City
Why it’s great: La Roma is the best all-around neighborhood in Mexico City because it has something for everyone. It has family-friendly parks, an abundance of restaurants and street food, and beautiful architecture. It’s a very safe and trendy neighborhood that is a lot of fun to explore and it isn’t too crowded. It’s also centrally located, making it very easy to go out and explore other parts of Mexico City. I’ve lived in four different neighborhoods in Mexico City and La Roma is my favorite!
Keep in mind: La Roma is home to some of Mexico City’s most popular bars and restaurants. Usually, it doesn’t get too rowdy, but in Mexican culture, it is common to stay out late, especially during the weekends. So don’t be surprised if you see people going out to dinner at 10 pm or later. If you’re a foodie or want to bar hop from one trendy place to the next this is your neighborhood.
These are our Favorite Hotels in La Roma
Luxury: Brick Hotel
This elegant hotel turns heads as people walk by. The architecture and design are stunning and the rooms and bathrooms are nothing short of luxury. It’s located on one of the prettiest streets in La Roma, close to the most popular restaurants and bars in the neighborhood. Be sure to visit the nearby plazas of Rio de Janeiro and Luis Cabrera. They’re the perfect spot to sit on a park bench, sip a coffee, and watch life in La Roma go by.
Mid Range: La Valise, Mexico City
You’ll find this hotel in one of La Roma’s classic historic buildings. The rooms have been beautifully restored and feel comfortable and modern. Located in what I think is the best area of La Roma, this hotel is close to the best that the neighborhood has to offer. It’s also close to other neighborhoods like La Condesa, La Juarez, and the Historic center which are definitely worth a visit.
Budget: Hotel MX Roma
Located next to the famous avenue, Paseo de la Reforma, this hotel is affordable while still being close to all of the action and in a safe area. Each guest has access to the fitness center and the outdoor terrace. If you plan on taking public transportation to explore Mexico City, this hotel is close to the metro, city bus, and bike-share stations.
2. Safest Places to Stay in Mexico City
La Roma, La Condesa, Polanco
Why it’s great: These upscale neighborhoods feel very safe even after the sun goes down. There are always plenty of people out and the streets are well-lit. There are police officers posted on most major streets at all hours of the day. La Roma and La Condesa are great places to stay if you like beautiful, old architecture and want to have that cool neighborhood vibe. Polanco is more upscale and is the place to stay if you prefer to have a high-end experience. I have lived in La Roma and La Condesa and always felt safe when out and about.
Keep in mind: Even in the safest neighborhoods, pick-pocketing still happens. Make sure to never keep any valuables in your back pockets. Instead, secure them in a small discrete bag or purse that you can fasten shut.
These are our Favorite Hotels in the Safest Neighborhoods
Luxury: JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City
The JW Marriot Mexico City is located in the upscale neighborhood of Polanco. This is one of Mexico City’s younger neighborhoods, so the architecture and shops feel much newer here than elsewhere in the city. The JW Mariott is nearby the famous Michelin Star restaurant, Pujol, art museums, and shopping malls. If you want to shop at high-end stores and dine at upscale restaurants, this is the area for you.
Mid Range: Casa Mannach
Located on a tree-lined street right by my favorite park in Mexico City, this beautiful hotel is in the perfect location for exploring the best of Mexico City. The outdoor patio is perfect for relaxing in the afternoons and the spacious rooms make for a comfortable stay. Take advantage of the nearby cafes to try Mexico’s excellent coffee, explore the green space in the nearby park, and visit one of the many top-rated restaurants around.
This hotel is located in the cool neighborhood of Roma Sur. It’s the perfect place if you want to escape the tourist crowds and get a feel for more of the local vibe of the city. It’s a safe area and you’re close to a major avenue, making it easy to get pretty much anywhere in the city that you want to go. Some suites come equipped with a fridge, cooktop, and microwave for those who want to cook or are planning an extended stay in Mexico City.
3. Best Area to Stay in Mexico City for Nightlife
Reforma, La Roma, Polanco, La Juarez
Why it’s great: Between these three neighborhoods, you’ll find any type of bar you’re looking for. For more trendy and hipster bars, check out La Roma’s nightlife. The bars here are very close together. Walk down the street Alvaro Obregon for an endless selection of Mexico City’s coolest bars. If you are interested in something more upscale, then wander over to Reforma or Polanco where you’ll find some of the city’s fanciest bars and clubs.
Keep in mind: Although Mexico City may feel very European at times, thanks to the Parisian inspired architecture, there are strict open-container laws. It is illegal to drink any sort of alcohol in public. So if you feel like having a drink, make sure to enjoy it from the comfort of a bar, restaurant, or your hotel so you don’t run into any trouble.
These are our Favorite Hotels for Nightlife
Luxury: Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City
The bar at the Four Seasons Mexico City has been rated one of the world’s best bars year after year. It’s the perfect place to stay and get your night started before going out nearby to a hipster bar in La Roma, a gay club in La Juarez, or an upscale bar in Polanco. This hotel is located right by Latin America’s largest urban park, Bosque de Chapultepec, and on the beautiful avenue, Paseo de la Reforma.
Mid Range: Casa Prim Hotel Boutique
This boutique hotel has it all, a restaurant, fitness center, bar, and a lounge. It’s located in a beautiful historic building in a great location for nightlife. It’s nearby to one of Mexico City’s most popular underground cocktail bars, Hanky Panky.
Budget: Capital Luxury Apartments
These hotel apartments are great for those on a budget because it comes with a kitchenette so you can cook a few meals to save money. It’s also a great option for those that want to stay longer in Mexico City without breaking the bank. It’s located in La Roma, close to plenty of bars and mezcalerias to try mezcal, tequila’s smoky cousin. Head to La Clandestina or Mano Santa to sample a variety of mezcals.
4. Where to Stay in Mexico City with Family & Kids
La Condesa & Coyoacan
Why it’s great: These neighborhoods are great for families because they are primarily residential areas but still have parks and restaurants to explore. Coyoacan has beautiful colonial houses but is a little further away from the action. La Condesa is more centrally located and also has beautiful homes and lots of restaurants and cafes to choose from. With beautiful, historic houses at every corner, these areas are wonderful to explore on foot. You’ll see plenty of other families out enjoying the parks or sitting at a local cafe in either of these relaxed and family-oriented neighborhoods.
Keep in mind: These are wonderful and popular neighborhoods to stay in, but they can be a little far from the main tourist attractions compared to other neighborhoods. If you are very interested in Frida Kahlo, then Coyoacan is the perfect place for you, but for other main attractions, you will need to take a short taxi ride or use public transportation to get there.
These are our Favorite Hotels for Families
Luxury: Casa 9
This classy, airy inn is nestled in the heart of La Condesa, a family-friendly, primarily residential neighborhood in Mexico City. There are still plenty of restaurants and cafes to try nearby but it’s not as hectic and commercial as other parts of Mexico City. I love walking the pedestrian alley on Mazatlan Street where people will bring dogs or little ones for a stroll. You’re also close to Parque Mexico and Parque Espana which have playgrounds and space for kiddos to roam and play.
Mid Range: Suites Los Camilos
This beautiful colonial-style hotel is in the colorful neighborhood of Coyoacan. This neighborhood is quieter than most areas in the city, making it an ideal choice for those traveling with young ones. The hotel is a calm walk away from the best sites in the neighborhood and great restaurants too.
Budget: La Casita de Coyoacán
This adorable casita in Coyoacan is a great place to enjoy a peaceful stay in the family-friendly Coyoacan neighborhood. It’s a 19-minute walk to the popular Frida Kahlo House Museum. You’ll likely want to go by car or taxi to visit other parts of the city. Luckily this hotel has free parking if you have a rental. The garden and outside patio are perfect for relaxing in the afternoons.
For short term rentals and additional hotels in La Condesa, we have a helpful map below. You can also use the search field to search Coyoacan.
5. Budget Areas to Stay in Mexico City That Are Still Safe
Historic Center & La Juarez
Why it’s great: The great thing about Mexico City is that pretty much no matter where you stay you can make it work for your budget. The Historic Center is very affordable because it caters to locals. La Juarez is another less well-known, affordable option. It’s located right next to the super popular La Roma and La Condesa, but the nice thing about La Juarez is that it is still a bit under the radar. Meaning you get a lot of the same things as the popular neighborhoods like the nice architecture, great restaurants, and cool bars, but at more budget-friendly prices.
Keep in mind: Mexico City is a very affordable destination. The cost of basic things like transportation and food is probably much cheaper than what you’re used to. If you’re on a budget, it won’t be hard to find affordable options and you probably will feel like you’re getting a great bang for your buck in most places in the city.
These are our Favorite Budget Hotels
Budget 1: Hotel Catedral
Staying in Hotel Catedral means staying right near all of the action in Mexico City’s Historic Center. You’re just a five minute walk to the Zocalo and picturesque pedestrian streets. This cushy hotel has all you need for a comfortable stay including private balconies overlooking the historic streets at an affordable price.
Budget 2: Galeria Plaza Reforma
Did someone say rooftop pool? This hotel is located in the affordable neighborhood, La Juarez, so you don’t have to sacrifice amenities to stay within budget. It’s centrally located so you can easily visit other popular neighborhoods like La Roma and the Historic Center via a quick Uber ride. It’s the perfect place to stay if you plan on visiting Mexico Cit for Dia de los Muertos because it’s just block away from the main avenue where they host the parade.
Budget 3: MC Suites Mexico City
Centrally located, MC Suites Mexico City is a great option for budget travelers that don’t want to sacrifice location. Free parking is available and is a great way to save money if you have a car. This area is great for those that want to get a real taste of Mexico City and not just the touristic verison.
6. Best Locations to Stay in Mexico City for Sightseeing
Why it’s great: Most of the iconic Mexico City tourist attractions you see in photos are in the Historic Center. Here you’ll find the Bellas Artes building, the Zocalo, and Torre Latina just to name a few. By staying in the Historic Center you’ll be able to visit most of the tourist attractions in this area on foot. Avenida Francisco I. Madero is a wonderful pedestrian street with great shopping. As the name suggests, the Historic Center is home to some of the oldest buildings in Mexico City and there are several great walking tours here to help you explore the area.
Keep in mind: The Historic Center is the most crowded neighborhood in Mexico City. The streets are packed with tourists and locals and traffic can be heavy. It’s a great place to visit and see some of the main tourist attractions, but can be overwhelming for some, especially families with small kids. If you don’t mind the hustle and bustle of big cities and want to experience Mexico City to the max, this is the place for you.
These are our Favorite Hotels for Sightseeing
Once a palace in the 17th century, this chic and modern hotel is a total treat. With high ceilings and tasteful decor, each room is a comfortable escape from the busy streets of the Historic Center. Let’s not forget about the rooftop. Up there, you’ll find a pool, comfortable lounge chairs, and a bar. Downtown is the perfect luxurious getaway.
Mid Range: Casa de la Luz Hotel Boutique
This beautiful boutique hotel is minutes from the best attractions of the Historic Center. It has everything you need including room service, a gym, and an on-site restaurant. This historic building dates back to the 1500’s and highlights Mexico City’s unique architecture.
You’ll have all the comfort and amenities you’re used to when staying in this Hampton Inn & Suites in Mexico City’s Historic Center. The central lobby has probably one of the most beautiful stain-glass ceilings you’ll ever see. It’s located just two blocks from the Zocalo so you’ll have plenty to explore nearby and the area is secure. Perfect for budget travelers, a free hot breakfast is included every morning.
Where NOT to Stay in Mexico City
Although it may be right next to the safe and popular La Roma, steer clear of Doctores. It may seem like a good option to stay in Doctores for its central location and for the affordable prices, but for your own safety, it’s best to stay elsewhere. It’s known for being a rougher neighborhood and as soon as I moved to Mexico City I quickly heard from all the locals that it’s a place you want to avoid.
What to Bring to Mexico City
As your trip to Mexico City approaches, you want to make sure you’ll have everything you need to have the best experience possible. I know I wasn’t fully prepared for my first trip to Mexico City. For starters, the weather was very different from what I was expecting! Below are a few items I wouldn’t travel to Mexico City without. If you want a more comprehensive list, check out our full Mexico City Packing List.
1. Neck Wallet
Having a safe place to keep your valuables is essential in Mexico City. Pickpocketing is not unheard of in the crowded parts of town. Keeping your phone and money out of your back pocket or other easy-to-reach places could make the difference between a good and bad experience in Mexico City. This neck wallet is a great and discrete option for keeping your valuables safe.
2. Windproof Umbrella
If you planton visiting Mexico City during the summer months then you can not leave home without an umbrella. It rains practically every day during the rainy season. This umbrella is perfect for Mexico City’s unpredictable weather and it fits two.
3. Theft-Proof Backpack
If you plan on traveling Mexico City with larger sized valuables then consider investing in a theft-proof backpack. This one is great because it always protects your credit cards from scanners. It’s also water resistant so you don’t have to worry about your expensive electronics getting damaged.
4. LifeStraw Water Bottle
You can’t drink the tap water in Mexico. And constantly buying bottled water isn’t good for your wallet or the environment. Bringing a water bottle that can
filter out impurities like this LifeStraw bottle is very useful in Mexico City.
5. Spanish Phrasebook
Most people speak a bit of English, but you’ll be much better off if you know some key Spanish words and phrases. This phrasebook could be a lifesaver if you’re struggling to communicate with someone. It’s also worth learning a bit of the language of the country you’re visiting.
6. Travel Insurance for Mexico City
A virtual private network (VPN) is an extremely useful travel tool that I always make sure I have ready to use. It gives you the ability to maintain your electronic privacy even when connected to public wifi networks like in hotels or restaurants. Anyone can access these public networks and potentially hack your private digital information. To keep my passwords and bank info safe, I always use a VPN like NordVPN on my devices.
FAQs about Mexico City
1. When to Visit
My absolute favorite time of year in Mexico City is in April/May. The bright purple jacaranda trees are in bloom all around the city. The weather is quite warm during this time and the rains haven’t started yet. You’ll probably be spending the majority of your time outside and the weather in the spring really is ideal. You won’t have to worry about avoiding the rain and the nights won’t be as cold as in the winter.
2. What to Do
Just outside of Mexico City are the impressive Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan. Experience this amazing archaeological site from above on a Teotihuacan Air Balloon Flight & Breakfast.
Cantinas are a huge part of Mexican culture. They’re popular places where locals go to drink, eat, and be merry after work. Discover some of the greatest Mexican cantinas on this Cantinas Walking Tour with Tasting Sessions.
Nothing is more Mexican than mariachi. Visit Mexico City’s best spot for mariachi on this tour Garibaldi by Night with Dinner at Bellini.
3. Our Favorite Restaurants
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get incredible food in Mexico City. For some of the best tacos try Tacos Alvaro or Tacos Alvaro. Chilakillers has some of the best breakfasts in town and their chilaquiles are to die for.
For mid-range restaurants, you can’t go wrong with the amazing Thai and Vietnamese food at Kiin Thai-Viet Eatery. If you’re craving Mexican seafood then the highly regarded Contramar won’t disappoint. La Capital is also a nice place to enjoy well-presented, classic Mexican dishes.
If you want the full foodie experience then you have to go to the Michelin Star restaurant Pujol. Another top-notch dining experience is at Quintonil. Some argue that it’s more deserving of a Michelin Star than Pujol. One of the best meals I had in Mexico City was in Maximo Bistrot where they put interesting twists on Mexican classics.
4. What to Wear
The weather in Mexico City is fairly mild year round. It’s never too cold in the winter nor is it too hot in the summer. No matter what time of year you plan on visiting it’s always important to dress in layers. During the day it’s usually very warm, but at night you’ll almost always need some sort of jacket.
It’s also important to keep local customs in mind. Almost everyone in Mexico City wears pants year round. Occasionally women will wear dresses, but you would stick out by wearing short shorts. Short-sleeves and tank tops are far more common and you would be just fine wearing either.
5. Fun Seasonal Events
Day of the Dead, arguably Mexico City’s most popular event of the year, is in full swing by the end of October. The Day of the Dead parade is a spectacle to be seen that stretches the length of one of Mexico City’s longest avenues, Reforma. Get into the spirit by painting your face like a skeleton and following the parade all the way to the Zocalo in the Historic Center. Eat Day of the Dead treats like pan de muerto and sugar skulls as you wait for the dead to pay the living a visit. Day of the Dead celebrations usually start the 30th of October and end the 2nd of November.
6. Local Knowledge
If you want to visit a local market, on Tuesdays in La Condesa there is a food market that pops up for the day on Agustin Melgar street. This is a fun place to go if you want to sample some of the local fruits and veggies or have a quick local lunch.
There is an amazing flea market called La Lagunilla not too far from the Historic Center. You can browse through some amazing vintage furniture, eat delicious food, and enjoy a beverage as you wander through the market. It’s closer to a rough part of town but it’s still a very popular tourist attraction. Go during the day and keep your valuables secure and you won’t have any trouble.
If you want to spend time in some green space, Mexico City has several beautiful parks to explore. There’s Parque Mexico in La Roma which is a wonderful park for families and dog-owners. There are nice paths to walk, a playground, and a dog park.
Not far from Parque Mexico is Bosque de Chapultepec, a massive green space in the middle of Mexico City. It’s one of the largest parks in the western hemisphere. There’s a zoo, a castle, a lake you can take paddle boats out on, and so much more. Bosque de Chapultepec is pretty crowded with families during the weekends, but is much more relaxed during weekdays.