18 Places To Visit If You’re In CDMX During The Holidays

This holiday season I took a trip with a couple of colleagues to Mexico City. It was my first time visiting the capital of my parents home country and all my expectations were exceeded. I have to admit that I have been curious about visiting Mexico City for a few years now but I let the rumors about Mexico not being safe (especially for women) stop me. After spending five nights in Mexico City, walking through Condesa for morning coffee, talking with locals and tourists, exploring landmarks and Ubering everywhere, I can’t wait to go back and see more.

If anyone is considering visiting Mexico City, go! I walked and Ubered everywhere and I felt completely safe at all times. There is way too much to see, eat and drink in just five days, but here is what I did during my trip this holiday season.

Day 1

Breakfast at Lalo!

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You can kiss your dieta goodbye as soon as you touch down. Mexico City has the best pastries I’ve ever had in my life. Lalo has everything from Mexican staples like Huevos Rancheros and Chilaquiles to American favorites like French Toast. Everything here is delicious.

Day at the museum at Diego Rivera Anahuacalli

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My jaw dropped the second I walked into this museum. The Día de los Muertos exhibit is still open and it is absolutely breathtaking. I 100% recommend a guided tour. There’s so much history and so much of Diego Rivera’s backstory that goes into the building and unless you’re doing hours of research, the only way to get the full experience is through a tour guide.

Day at Casa Azul

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Frida Khalo. Enough said, right? Stepping into Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera’s house is a surreal experience for any art fan. Original photographs of Frida hang throughout what is now the museum, her kitchen is close to how she left it, but what left the biggest impression on me were her dresses. Elaborate garments made of linen stand in wire mannequin shaped hangars and even more impressive are her thick, leather corsets. Something not many people know is that Frida’s ashes are inside Casa Azul. Before she passed away, Frida had an urn made in the shape of a toad because that’s what she used to call Diego, Sapo. The toad-shaped urn sits next to the main dresser in her bedroom.

Snacks and a walk at the park at Villa Coyoacan

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After hours of museum-ing, you’re going to be hungry. I walked a few minutes until arriving at the Villa Coyoacan. It’s a park surrounded with different food and accessory vendors. This is a good place to get yourself some authentic esquite, tostilocos or my personal favorite, papitas preparadas con chile y limón.

Dinner at Dulce Patria

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Dulce Patria rose to popularity in 2017 after being listed as one of the best restaurants in the world. Almost two years later, the restaurant is still a packed house on a weekday night. I started with a two mezcal cocktails that I couldn’t get enough of. For dinner, I had the enchiladas de mole with a platano macho as the filling — a delicious option for vegetarians. By the time the dessert menu came out, I was absolutely stuffed but if dessert is your thing, you have to order from Dulce Patria. The desserts here are a work of art, just like everything else en la ciudad. Something that makes this restaurant extra special is that the main chef is a woman, Chef Martha Ortiz. #SupportLatinaEntrepreneurs

Drinks at La Unica

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Nothing helps a heavy meal settle like some more cocktails. I walked through the super posh neighborhood of Polanco and headed to La Unica where I enjoyed another mezcal cocktail. If you have something to celebrate, let the waiters know, they step out singing with giant sparklers.

Day 2

Airbnb Experience: Alebrije Painting Class

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This was the first AirBnb Experience and I am hooked. The class started with a lot of information on the origin of Alebrijes and how they gained enough popularity to make it to the big screen of a Disney movie. Everything the instructor shared was fascinating and she was so passionate. Following the mini history lesson, we chose the Alebrije we wanted to paint. My four classmates and I had about an hour to paint designs on our figurine, but the instructor was kind enough to allow us to stay as long as we’d like. We took advantage of this extra time because who knew painting Alebrijes could be sooooo therapeutic?

Dinner at Lardo

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Another very cute spot to head for dinner is Lardo. It is also listed in many top restaurant lists and with good reason. Their bread is absolutely amazing and they have a great wine and cocktail list. The portions here are big enough to be shared family style. Our group shared a few appetizers including hummus and ceviche. For my entree, I went with curried veggies and it did not disappoint.

Mezcal tasting at La Clandestina

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There’s something about dinner in Mexico city that makes you want to have mezcal after. If you’re a beginner mezcal drinker, head here immediately after dinner. This cute half-outdoor and half-indoor bar serves mezcal flights complete with a breakdown of the type of mezcal it is and what to pair it with. The servers and super friendly, bilingual and this place is a good vibe all around.

Day 3

Air Bnb Salsa Making Experience

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I signed up for this class expecting to learn how to make basic pico de gallo, salsa verde y salsa roja. Little did my tastebuds know what was about to hit them. The class starts with a trip to the mercado in tacuba to hand pick all of the ingredients. Natalia was great about explaining why we’re going with certain chiles over others, what their origin is and what flavors they give. Bonus: she also tells you what to look for when you’re picking your fruit. From the mercado, we walked a few blocks to her place to start cooking. From dicing the fruits and veggies to crushing them on the molcajete, every step of the class is completely interactive and explained thoroughly. Of course the last part is the best where you get to sample every salsa with ships and homemade quesadillas with queso Oaxaqueño. Warning: If you don’t do well with spice, bring extra water. I tolerate spicy food but the habanero chiles are on another level.

Lunch at Parcela

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Parcela is unlike anything else I had seen before. This restaurant makes you feel like you’re eating in a treehouse — in the best way possible. The ambiance is relaxing, the appetizers and micheladas are amazing. Although I’m vegetarian, people at different tables kept ordering burgers and they looked incredible. This is a must for anyone who wants to have a serene lunch experience.

Chocolate Making Experience at La Rifa Chocolatería

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I have never really been into chocolate but this experience changed my life. At this AirBnb experience, the hosts explain the origin of Mexican chocolate and how with the labor of dozens of men, women and children, it arrives to CDMX coming from as far as South America. There’s a mini tasting session that happens during the lecture part of the experience but it gets better. After that, we were taken to where the magic happens and employees peel, crush and mix that cacao with sugar to make the chocolate. The chocolate is then cooked and the baristas turn that into hot coco. It’s soooo good.

Sightseeing and shopping at El Zocalo

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El Zocalo is so beautiful during the holidays. Hundreds of lights and Poinsettias adorn the city square. No matter what time it is, the area is full of tourists and families taking selfies and playing with the light-up toys vendors are selling. If you’re in need of some shopping, this is a good place to get it done. There are stores many of us are familiar with such as Zara, and smaller, authentic Mexican stores as well. I bought one thing and that was the famous Mexican mascara to bring back to my coworkers.

Day 4

Walk to Ojo de Agua

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This brunch place was highly recommended by several friends and colleagues and I’m so glad I followed their suggestion. Everything is prepared with fresh fruits and vegetables as seen by the displays of fresh produce along the walls. The place is well-lit and has fun music playing. The neighborhood is especially enticing for dog lovers since there’s a fountain across the street where dogs are free to run through.

Pyramid watching at Teotihuacan

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If you’re in Mexico City one of the bucket list items on most people’s list is the pyramids. Although it was about an hour and 20 minutes from where I was staying in Condesa, I made the journey in an Uber ride. My regret during this activity was not doing a guided tour. It was an incredible feeling to stand there in front of the pyramids but I feel like I didn’t grasp the entire experience without learning more about the history.

Visiting the Virgen de Guadalupe at her Basílica

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I grew up Catholic and going to Catholic school, so I’ve always had a desire to see the Basilica in person especially because year after year I watch las mañanitas on tv. I happened to visit on December 8th and the area was already crowded with busloads of peregrinos. Regardless of religious beliefs, it was very moving to see so many people come together to say thank you and to pray for their well being and that of their families. Outside of the main Basilica, there is a statue of Pope John Paul III, a few other small churches and indigenous dancers. Also a must for anyone visiting CDMX.

Tacos at El Caifan

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Taco stands never get old but if you’re looking for a place where you can sit down and eat El Caifan will give you that same taco fix. This is a chain but the tacos are still very authentic and include a salsa bar and tacos al pastor directly from the trompo. The one I went to is next to Barrio Chino and lots of small shops and vendors.

Day 5

Rosetta

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My trip started with pastries and it ended with pan dulce and I have zero regrets. This panadería has conchas, croissants, muffins, basically anything you could dream of — but better. I had a concha and a taste of an almond pastry and I was blown away. Go with friends, order a dozen different panes and share.

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