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When I’m looking for a place to stay in a new city, I often just pull up a map, look for the main square, and try to stay as close to it as I can…. but with Mexico City that ISN’T necessarily the best approach.
The best areas to stay in Mexico City are somewhat spread out and whether you want to be near the Zocalo (the main square) depends on your preferences.
As the biggest city in North America, it can feel overwhelming when trying to decide where to stay in Mexico City. Each area has its own vibe, so where you stay can have a huge impact on your trip and overall impressions.
Luckily, I’m here to help!
Whether you’re here to visit all the incredible museums, have a crazy weekend partying, or simply to explore, I’ve got you covered.
If you’re in a hurry, these are my basic recommendations:
- For a residential vibe, you can go for the hipster-y Roma, boutique Condesa, or the underrated/up-and-coming Juarez.
- The historic center area is the most convenient for sightseeing, though it’s not quite as charming. For a nice atmosphere, try to stay closer to Alameda Central Park.
- For luxury, your best bet is the upscale area of Polanco.
Scroll along for my 6 favorite areas and hotel tips for each…
Vibe: beautiful parks, hipsters, cafes with outdoor seating, dog walkers, digital nomads, spacious residential streets
Location: just a 15 min drive or so from the sights in El Centro and Chapultepec park
The leafy, spacious, and charming neighborhood of Roma makes for a great introduction to Mexico City. Full of unique galleries and quirky cafes, it has a decidedly hipster vibe.
I somewhat prefer other less-hyped areas of CDMX such as Juarez, but there is a reason I’m still listing Roma here first.
Being so welcoming and having an international feel, it’s become somewhat of a default recommendation for first-time visitors. Roma is so popular with both tourists and foreign residents alike because it’s so leafy, low-traffic, and has plenty of cute markets and arty shops.
There are relatively fewer hotels in Roma and they tend to be higher-end. For example, there’s the beautiful Hotel San Fernando.
Roma became a popular area for middle-class citizens after the 1985 earthquake, but in the last ten years, it has become home to a lot of foreigners and young Mexicans who have started gentrifying the area.
You’ll sometimes hear more English than Spanish in the trendy cafes here, but it’s undeniably a beautiful neighborhood and a perfect introduction for first-time visitors.
Things to See in Roma
- To see some beautiful street art in Roma, visit Plaza Luis Cabrera. From there, you can walk along Calle Colima. Just about everywhere you look, artists have taken over massive walls with their murals.
- Roma is also home to two of the best contemporary galleries in Mexico City, Gallery OMR, and MAIA Contemporary. They house art from emerging artists in the Latin community, and it’s a must-visit for any art lover.
- After visiting the galleries, you have to make your way to the Mercado Roma, a market and trendy food hall with rooftop garden.
Vibe: a bit of everything… leafy residential streets bounded by busy commercial avenues, beautifully restored gothic-style mansions next to (a few) derelict buildings… the definition of up-and-coming
Location: ideally located between El Centro, Roma, and Chapultepec Forest; the Alameda Central park within walking distance
Juarez is one of the most eclectic neighborhoods of CDMX. If you ask me, it’s also one of the most underrated.
Compact, charming, and centrally located, it makes for a perfect base in Mexico City — especially if you’re looking for somewhere a bit less touristy.
I’ve stayed here at the Soy Local Hotel, which is an excellent mid-range option, with a colorful and very Mexican-style interior. I highly recommend it!
Juarez is a trendy area but also maintains its local charms. Much like Roma, it has its share of specialty cafes with outdoor seating and cozy art and boutique shops, but you may feel more like you’re truly inside the Mexican capital with authentic street tacos just around any corner.
In recent years, Juarez has started to become one of the most popular places for young locals. After La Condesa and Roma became mega popular and the cost of living in those neighborhoods rose, all the cool kids started making their way north.
For how big Mexico City is, staying in Juarez makes you feel like you’re in a small town with its tight-knit community and local markets.
Things to See in Juarez
- Grab some colorful Mexican trinkets to take home at the Mercado de Artesanias La Ciudadela, a traditional market with handmade items from all over Mexico.
- Visit the Angel of Independence, where you can see the giant goddess atop the column with her arms raised towards the sky. It’s a symbol of Mexico’s independence and a major landmark in Juarez.
- Zona Rosa in the west of Juarez is a buzzing area with loads of clubs to go wild at, and it’s also the most LGBTQ+-friendly part of Mexico City. (It’s not a red light district, by the way — that would be a Zona Roja.)
Where to stay in Juarez
BEST FOR BOUTIQUE STAY
Vibe: residential and spacious streets with trendy cafes and brunch places. Less hipstery than Roma and not as posh as Polanco
Location: arguably somewhat far from El Centro, but right next door to Chapultepec park, home of the stunning anthropological museum
After going to Mexico City a handful of times, La Condesa continues to romance me with its streets lined with trees and the art deco design that seemed to captivate the whole city. You might even get a sense of a European vibe as you take in the architecture and the many outdoor cafes.
I’ve stayed here at Casa Pancha, a boutique hostel that certainly fits the style of La Condesa, while also being budget-friendly. However, you’ll mainly find boutique apartments and B&Bs in this area, like Casa S0la.
Thanks to some of the finer hotels and restaurants located here, La Condesa is perfect for a boutique stay in CDMX. The area is somewhat upscale, though not to the level of the super-exclusive district of Polanco. I love how it’s a little fancy yet also very soulful.
It’s definitely one of the best neighborhoods to stay in if you’re working remotely. You’ll find cafes full of laptops and other internationals taking Zoom meetings and getting some work done before the sun goes down. Because once it does, La Condesa becomes a chic bar scene with a ton of different options to choose from.
Things to See in La Condesa
- La Condesa is a slow life. You’ll see tons of people out early in the morning going for a jog or heading to yoga, making it feel more like home than a tourist destination. Start your morning with a coffee from El Ocho and then meander over to Maque for their delicious Chilaquilas.
- In the afternoon, walk the streets and pop into all the quirky boutiques. You’ll find Mexican designers, vintage stores, and bookshops.
- Once the sun starts setting, enjoy a cocktail from Baltra Bar, which made the world’s 50 best bars list. Tuesdays are martini night, and you’ll see people pour in as the doors open.
Where to stay in La Condesa
Vibe: the sense that you’re in the beating heart of the city with lots of tourist sights and monuments; a bit of a deserted feeling at night
Location: you can’t be more central!
For first-timers who want to spend their days exploring the history and culture of CDMX, the Centro Historico is an appealing option. The neighborhood is literally the heart of the city as it surrounds the Zocalo (main square) and puts you right in the middle of the action.
It’s within walking distance of all the most popular museums and historical landmarks, such as the National Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral.
However, when the shops close at night, the streets can also have a bit of an empty feeling. It’s a safe enough area; you may notice more police presence because of the many government buildings around, but don’t let that give you the wrong impression.
El Centro is great especially during the day, and it wins handily in terms of practicality and sightseeing potential, as everything is just a walk away.
If you can, I recommend staying west of the Zocalo (main square), towards the Alameda Central Park. This is a better area and will put you within perfect walking distance of the most sights. The Casa Lomah Hotel is an excellent option here, which is still within a 15-minute walk to the main square.
Things to See in Centro Historico
- One of the best places to visit in Centro Historico is the Templo Mayor, which was once a major temple of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan and now serves as an archaeological site and museum.
- I also recommend visiting the Palacio de Bellas Artes. The orange-hued dome stands out among the surrounding buildings. The cultural center hosts a variety of different events throughout the year, as well as showcases beautiful murals by famous Mexican artists.
- For the absolute best view of Mexico City, head to the top of Catedral Metropolitana, where you can climb the stairs in the church and get a 360 view of the whole city.
Where to stay in Centro Historico
BEST FOR LUXURY
Vibe: upscale residential area nestled between business districts; lots of luxury apartments and high-end hotels and shopping
Location: somewhat far removed from the tourist sites, but close to Chapultepec park
If you love to spend your evenings dining at five-star restaurants, perusing galleries with a bubbly in hand, or purchasing some luxury items, then Polanco is where you’ll want to be.
The area is known for its high rises and luxury apartments and can make just about any visitor feel like a million bucks.
Due to its high affluence, it’s perhaps a little less soulful than other areas. Among the Hyatt Regency, the foreign embassies, and the Leica and Hermes shop windows, you’ll find many walled-off modern homes with security fences and private parking garages.
I’m probably not the target audience for Polanco, but if you are a luxury-loving traveller, then look no further than one of Mexico City’s most affluent (and safest) neighborhoods.
There are hotels costing over $1000 per night here, but you can also find some mid-budget gems, such as the Casa Amari.
Things to See in Polanco
- If you’re big on fine dining, you’ll immediately fall in love with Polanco. The neighborhood has multiple restaurants on the World’s 50 Best List, including Pujol and Quintonil.
- At Quintonil, you can enjoy a 10-course tasting menu showcasing modern Mexican cuisine, while Pujol offers a more traditional approach with their famous mole dish.
- In addition to dining, Polanco is also home to some of the best museums in the city. Visit the famous Soumaya Museum; with over 60,000 shimmering hexagons making up its exterior, it’s become one of the most impressive architectural structures in the city.
Where to stay in Polanco
Vibe: the feeling of being in a village inside a city. Tree-lined streets, cafes with outside seating, and a mostly ‘local’ atmosphere
Location: the only downside is being 30 minutes driving south of the tourist center. However, you’re very close to the Frida Kahlo museum and the canals of Xochimilco
Coyoacan is a colorful little neighborhood in Mexico City. Once its own town before CDMX grew, you can still feel the village-like vibes in Coyoacan.
The barrio is famous for being the birthplace of the artist Frida Kahlo, with her former home having become one of the most-visited museums in Mexico City.
But there is so much more charm than just the people that come from the neighborhood. The cobblestone streets are lined with colorful houses and green parks, perfect for a leisurely stroll or to sit and relax.
Things to See in Coyoacán
- Visit the Frida Kahlo Museum, also known as the Blue House, which was once the home of Frida Kahlo. The museum is now filled with her personal belongings and art collections.
- Another incredible art museum in Coyoacan is Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares. The small museum displays Mexican culture through beautiful textiles, pottery, and other traditional handicrafts.
- After exploring the main attractions in Coyoacan, make sure to visit the local markets, such as Mercado de Coyoacan, where you can eat some traditional food and buy some homemade souvenirs.
Where to stay in Coyoacan
Tips for Mexico City
Are there areas to avoid in Mexico City?
I’m not gonna lie: there are definitely some bad areas in Mexico City!
The safer areas are generally west of the Zocalo (main square), or the southwest. This includes the areas mentioned in this article. If you head south or east from the Zocalo you’re likely to end up in some bad areas.
Areas that are near tourist areas that have a bad reputation include Doctores (east of Roma) and Tepito (north of the Zocalo). However, most neighborhoods you are unlikely to end up in as a tourist as they are distant suburbs.
Are there other areas to stay?
Yes! We’ve only highlighted 6 areas to stay in Mexico City, but there are many others.
Cuauhtémoc, San Rafael, and San Angel are some other examples of areas with a good reputation where you can look for accommodation.
You can often find great hotel deals in areas that are not the super-popular Roma or Condesa. On my last stay in CDMX, I found a great hotel in Cuauhtémoc for an incredible price. However, it is less of a tourist area so some visitors may feel like they’re missing out by staying in an alternative area.
What’s the best way to get around?
Where you stay exactly ultimately doesn’t matter too much as you’ll likely be moving around the city for your sightseeing.
The metro system is pretty decent, though it breaks down a lot and can get super crowded during rush hour. I only recommend taking the metro if you’re traveling on a budget.
Otherwise, your best bet is to take Ubers. Traffic can slow you down sometimes, but it’s still a comfortable and generally speedy way to get around the neighborhoods that are of greatest interest to tourists.
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Posted DEC 16, 2023