Where to stay in Mexico City For Sightseeing, Culture on a Budget or Luxury

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The Best Places to Stay in Mexico – Tips and Advice

  • Where to stay in Mexico City on a budget: Centro Historico. In startling contrast to most major cities, the historic center is ideal for people exploring Mexico City on a budget.
  • Transportation: is a consideration when deciding which area to stay in Lima. There is no Metro system as such, and the other public transportation options aren’t necessarily the best in the world. The taxis don’t have any meters, but the one saving grace is Uber, which obviously makes four-wheeled transport much more viable anywhere. This is a busy city though, so you’ll also need to allow for traffic congestion and rush hours if you are staying in any of the central areas.
  • The best area for nightlife: Bars, clubs, speakeasies: the lively neighborhood of Zona Rosa has been the undisputed king of Mexico City’s nightlife for years. Though the trendy neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma aren’t too far behind!
  • Where to stay for art and culture? The colorful Coyoacán, home of Frida Kahlo, is best for lovers of art and culture. For contemporary art, you will be better off staying in Condesa or Roma.
  • Best luxury location in Mexico City: Polanco is where you will find the most luxury brands and hotels – the Avenida Presidente Masaryk is particularly upmarket.

Bienvenido to the capital of Mexico, Mexico City! With a population of 21 million, Mexico City is the 7th largest metropolitan area in the world. A city this large is inevitably rich and varied, which is great for travelers! But it can make it difficult to even know where to begin.

This is a breakdown of Mexico City’s best neighborhoods – whether you’re a history buff, coffee lover, or just looking for an adventure.

Mexico Neighbourhood Guide

The 7 Best Areas To Stay In Mexico

1. Centro Historico – best for sightseeing and traveling on a budget

centro historico

You don’t exactly have to be fluent in Spanish to translate this one.

Centro Historico is the historic city center of Mexico City, home to Mexico’s most culturally significant buildings and symbolic monuments.

Finding the center square, Zócalo, is the quickest way to immerse yourself in history. You’ll discover many of the capital’s most culturally significant sites here. From the President of Mexico’s place of work in the Palacio Nacional to standing in the shadow of the gigantic cathedral Palacio Nacional Catedral Metropolitana; it’s perfect for sightseeing.

The cathedral, which took 250 years to build, was itself built upon the ruins of the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. While most of it is buried, you can visit the incredible Templo Mayor ruins adjacent to the cathedral.

A short walk away from Zócalo is the Palacio de Bellas Artes, arguably the cultural epicenter of Mexico City. Book a performance at the grand theater and see the famous Tiffany crystal curtain, made by the iconic New York brand in 1910.

There are dozens of museums and monuments to visit in Centro. But if you want something a little more lively, head to Plaza Garibaldi.

A complete change of pace from the fascinating but more solemn areas of Centro, Plaza Garibaldi is a square with a rowdy but exciting atmosphere; mariachi bands play throughout the day. Though fun, you should keep your wits about you – the plaza is drifting towards places with a reputation for pick-pocketing.

Best Hotels in Centro:

($$$) • Mumedi Design Hotel • 150m from Zócalo Square

($$) • Hotel Metropol • 150m from Museo de Arte Popular

($) • Hotel Castropol • 5 minute walk from Palacio Nacional

Best Airbnbs in Centro:

($$$) • Casa Sauto Suite • Metres from the Cathedral

($$) • Downtown Boho Loft • 500m from Palacio de Bellas Artes

($) • Isabel’s Loft • 5 minute walk to Zócalo Square

Best Hostels in Centro:

($$$) • Casa Pepe • 500m from Palacio Nacional

($$) • Hostel Mundo Joven Catedral • On the edge of Zócalo Square

($) • Casa MX centro • 15 minute walk to Palacio de Bellas Artes

2. Coyoacán – for art and culture lovers

coyoacán

If you’re looking for traditional Mexico, this is where you’ll find it.

Much like the paintings of most famous resident Frida Kahlo, Coyoacán is a splash of vivid color, and unapologetically authentic.

A step back from the busy central districts, Coyoacán is overflowing with culture and charm. It rides the line between quiet and bustling perfectly – making a stay at Coyoacán relaxing without being dull.

The colonial-era architecture is quintessentially Mexican, resplendent with the usual bright canary yellows and dusky terracotta oranges. Town squares, gazebos, live music, along with a handful of museums, galleries, bookshops, and cafes have all helped establish Coyoacán as one of the cultural centers of Mexico City.

The spiritual heart of the neighborhood is in Jardín Centenario. The central plaza features the iconic Coyote Fountain (Coyoacán means ‘the place of coyotes’ in Nahuatle). While the nearby Jardín Hidalgo hosts the district’s most important events – including the celebration of the Day of the Dead.

Across the Plaza Hidalgo are the baroque church of San Juan Bautista, an ornate example of 16th Century Spanish craftsmanship – and one of the oldest houses of worship in the city.

If you fancy the bustle of a market, go and haggle over artisan crafts – or try some delicious street food – in Mercado Coyoacán and Mercado de Antojitos. It’s worth a stop for the tostadas alone!

But the biggest attraction to this district is, of course, the famous faces that once called it home.

The iconic Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo, was born and spent most of her life in Coyoacán. You can visit her house, La Casa Azul, now a wildly popular museum dedicated to her life and works.

A rather unexpected former resident is León Trotsky, a Soviet revolutionary and Lenin’s right-hand man. The León Trotsky Museum is where he lived and, in a somewhat grisly fashion, was killed with an ice pick.

Coyoacán is a tranquil escape perfect for culture lovers and quiet introspection. Though this does come at a price: it takes around 40 minutes to get to the center of Mexico City via the metro.

Best Hotels in Coyoacán:

($$$) • Agata Hotel Boutique & Spa • 500m from Frida Kahlo House Museum

($$) • Calle Berlin Boutique • 600m from Frida Kahlo House Museum

($) • La Casita de Coyoacán • 1.6km from National Cinematheque

Best Airbnbs in Coyoacán:

($$$) • Suite en Mansion Jacuzzi n Private Pool • 3 minute walk to center of Coyoacán

($$) • ECOROOF with terrace in Corazón de Coyoacán • 5 minute walk from downtown Coyoacán

($) • Jorge’s Mini Loft • Easy walking distance from Frida Kahlo’s house

Best Hostel in Coyoacán:

($$) • Hostal Cuija Coyoacan • A few minutes walk from Frida Kahlo House Museum

3. La Condesa – a trendy and bohemian neighborhood

la condesa

La Condesa is undeniably cool. Art deco mansions, leafy boulevards and an absolute plethora of cafes, boutiques, and restaurants help make this bohemian district one of the most popular in Mexico City.

The wide tree-lined avenues of Condesa feel a world away from the most densely populated parts of the city. It’s a neighborhood that feels relaxed, but dynamic. From chic cafes and street art to some of Mexico’s best nightlife, Condesa is a perfectly located district that gives you a bit of everything.

It borders the largest park in Mexico City; Chapultepec. Chapultepec is twice the size of New York’s Central Park and has two lakes, a zoo, and an actual castle. It really feels more like Europe than Mexico! For a smaller park, visit the dog-friendly Parque Mexico.

Condesa is a young and trendy neighborhood, well-located and safe. Unfortunately, as it’s become so popular, Condesa has become a little pricey.

Best Hotels in Condesa:

($$$) • Condesa DF • 300m from Plaza Condesa

($$) • Hotel Parque México Boutique • 150m from Parque Mexico

($) • Condesa 185 • 14km from Mexico City International Airport

Best Airbnbs in Condesa:

($$$) • Loft with private terrace • In the heart of Condesa

($$) • The White Apartment • Very close to Chapultepec Castle

($) • Antonio Apartment • Metres from Chapultepec Park

Best Hostels in Condesa:

($$$) • Anys Hostal • 4km from city center

($$) • Hostel Home • 850m from Parque Mexico

($) • Hostel Condesa Chapultepec • 800m from Parque Mexico

4. Roma – for young creative types

roma

You may recognize this neighborhood from Alfonso Cuarón’s academy award-winning movie Roma, which was loosely based on his experiences growing up in the area during the 1970s.

But you’ll find that quite a lot has changed in the 50 years since the movie’s setting.

Roma has become one of the most attractive districts in all of Mexico City. In many ways a little sister to Condesa, Roma is the bohemian hipster of Mexico City’s neighborhoods.

There are quirky museums and cafes, street art on every corner, a number of contemporary art galleries – including Galería OMR – and a permanent population of creative young professionals.

The atmosphere is lively like Condesa, with similar crowds and architecture.

Which district has the best food is debatable, but I think Roma has the edge over Condesa. Get your fill of tacos and churros at the fantastic Mercado Roma, a gourmet food hall with a rooftop garden.

Roma also has some of the best vegetarian food in the city – and the best coffee. If a day spent lounging outside coffee shops and perusing contemporary art sounds like your ideal, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere better than Roma.

Late into the evening, go dancing in Mama Rumba – the best salsa bar in Mexico City. If you’re stuck with two left feet, visit the moody and atmospheric La Clandestina bar instead; there are few better places to try mezcal, tequila’s fiery cousin.

Best Hotels in Roma:

($$$) • Nima Local House Hotel • Less than 1 km from Parque Mexico

($$) • Hotel MX condesa • 800m to the Angel of Independece.

($) • Hotel Monarca • 350m from Foro del Tejedor

Best Airbnbs in Roma:

($$$) • Casa Cabrera B • 10km from Mexico City International Airport

($$) • Heart of Condesa Art Deco Building • 800m from Mercado Roma

($) • Art Deco House • Central in Colonia Roma

Best Hostels in Roma:

($$$) • Hostel Home • 850m from Parque Mexico

($$) • Metro Hostal Boutique • Right in the heart of Roma

($) • Roomies Hostel • 15-minute drive to Mexico City International Airport

5. Polanco – for luxury travelers

polanco

Polanco is the best choice for travelers looking for a little luxury in their stay.

For those looking to shop in style – and are unconcerned with the perils of a limited bank balance – the best place to start is Avenida Presidente Masaryk, often referred to as the Champs-Elysées of Mexico City. Lined with upscale boutiques and designers from Louis Vuitton to Gucci, this avenue is where you’ll find all the most luxurious brands.

But not everything in Polanco requires deep pockets. The beloved Museo Soumaya is free to enter and has an impressive pre-Hispanic era collection.

Like Condesa, Polanco borders Chapultepec, the largest park in the city. It’s only a short walk to the zoo, lakes, and castle – a real breath of fresh air in one of the most populated cities on Earth.

As for food and drink, Quintonil is one of the finest restaurants in Central America. Something similar could be said in regards to bars at Licorería Limantour.

For coffee lovers, there’s the charming El Péndulo, which is part bookshop, part cafe – it’s so popular that another smaller branch opened in Roma.

Best Hotels in Polanco:

($$$) • Orchid House Polanco • 500m from National Museum of Anthropology

($$) • Suites Obelisk • 200m from Avenida Presidente Masaryk

($) • Capital O Caravansaro • Less than 1km from Museo Soumaya

Best Airbnbs in Polanco:

($$$) • Jewel in prime building in Polanco • 100m from Avenida Presidente Masaryk

($$) • Casai Executive, Luxurious 1br Apartment in Polanco • 200m from Avenida Presidente Masaryk

($) • Stylish loft across Camino Real Polanco Hotel • A few minutes walk from Chapultepec Park

Best Hostels in Polanco:

($$$) • Yoga, Bed and Breakfast – Golden Buda  • 17km from Mexico City International Airport

6. Zona Rosa – for nightlife

zona rosa

Nestled within the wider neighborhood of Juarez, Zona Rosa is a small district with a big reputation.

For years this has been the heart of Mexico City’s nightlife, popular with both tourists and locals alike.

Home to a thriving LGBT community, Zona Rosa has everything from clubs and gay bars to music lounges and karaoke.

Before night falls, Zona Rosa alternates as a popular shopping district. It’s a more affordable option than the designer boutiques of Polanco, and has a nice blend of the usual international brands and more local artisan boutiques. If you enjoy the rummage of thrifting, you could easily find a unique, gorgeous piece of clothing without the hefty price tag!

The Paseo de la Reforma, one of Mexico City’s most famous streets, runs partially through Zona Rosa. The towering Monument of Independence, or El Ángel, is an iconic symbol with great cultural significance for Mexico. It was erected in 1910 to commemorate 100 years of independence from Spain.

There are plenty of museums and exhibits to explore: why not start at Art House Mexico or the Museo del Chocolate?

For a slightly unusual Mexico City experience, visit ‘Korea town’, or ‘Little Seoul’. An influx of Korean migrants to the city in the 1970s, all concentrated into a few streets in Zona Rosa, transformed the area into a place to find amazing Korean food, fashion, and culture.

Best Hotels in Zona Rosa:

($$$) • Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City • 800m from Chapultepec Castle

($$) • Galeria Plaza Reforma • 150m from Angel of Independence

($) • Posada Viena Hotel • 400m from Cuauhtémoc Metro Station

Best Airbnbs in Zona Rosa:

($$$) • Unique Loft in crown building • Central in Zona Rosa

($$) • Trendy loft 2 blocks from El Angel • 10km from Mexico City International Airport

($) • Ivan’s Entire Rental Unit • Short walk from the Angel of Independence monument

Best Hostels in Zona Rosa:

($$$) • U-Co Juarez • 350m from Plaza La Rosa

($$) • Wanderlust District • 10km from Mexico City International Airport

($) • Capsule Hostel Mexico City • Close to Paseo de la Reforma

7. San Rafael – for budget travelers looking for a central authentic neighborhood

san rafael

Colonia San Rafael is an often overlooked neighborhood that is just starting to turn heads. Once known as the ‘Broadway of Mexico’ – you can still see the district’s old glory days written in the 19th Century mansions and art deco buildings.

An influx of young creatives to the area has helped put San Rafael back on track as a neighborhood on the rise.

After being priced out of Condesa and Roma, many local artists have relocated to San Rafael. They’ve brought with them some of the artsy, chic vibe that has made those neighborhoods so popular.

With cafes, street galleries, and an ever-increasing amount of bars and restaurants, San Rafael is an up-and-coming neighborhood that will only get better over the next few years.

For now, you can enjoy a district that has so far avoided being completely commercialized for tourists. You can experience some authentic Mexican food at traditional cantinas like La Polar.

For theater buffs, there’s plenty left over from San Rafael’s time as the ‘Broadway of Mexico’.

San Rafael is perfectly located to explore the rest of Mexico City. It sits wedged between Polanco to the west, Centro to the east, with both Roma and Condesa to the south. The Paseo de la Reforma runs alongside.

The metro station is a few minute’s walk away – don’t miss a tour to ‘The Floating Gardens of Xochimilco’. Seeing the vibrant canal boats on the water is an unforgettable experience.

Best Hotels in San Rafael:

($$$) • Hotel Black • 10km from Mexico City International Airport

($$) • Hotel Stella Maris • 3km from Zócalo Square

($) • Hotel SR92 • 1km from the Angel of Independence

Best Airbnbs in San Rafael:

($$$) • Exclusive Penthouse in México City near downtown! • 5-minute walk from Paseo de la Reforma

($$) • Entire Apartment | Fully Equipped, Wifi, Parking • 10km from Mexico City International Airport

($) • Apartment 31 • 30-minute walk to Chapultepec Castle

Best Hostels in San Rafael:

($) • Suites DF Hostel • 150m from Paseo de la Reforma

($) • CASA MX alameda • 8 minute walk to Palacio de Bellas Artes

This is the heart of Mexico – the capital is a vibrant city, with a rich culture and history. There’s something here for every type of traveler to enjoy.

A quick roundup of Mexico City’s best hotels, hostels & Airbnbs: