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.
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 even to know where to begin.
In this article, I will break down the best neighborhoods to help you determine where to stay in Mexico City from my travelers to the city – whether you’re a history buff, a coffee lover, or just looking for an adventure.
Best Places to Stay in Mexico City
Just need a quick recommendation on the best accommodations in Mexico City. Here are our quick picks for the best places to stay.
Now that we have you all settled with great accommodations, let us take a closer look at where to stay in Mexico City, but looking at the best areas and what they offer.
7 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Mexico City
1. Centro Historico
Best for Sightseeing and Traveling on a Budget
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 important 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 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.
Centro Historico Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay in for History and Cultural Attractions
- Best Hotels – Mumedi Design Hotel • Hotel Metropol • Hotel Castropol
- Best Hostel – Casa Pepe • Hostel Mundo Joven Catedral • Casa MX centro
- Apartments – 1 Bedroom Apartment • 2 Bedroom Apartment • 3 Bedroom Apartment
- Where to Eat – El Cardenal ($$), Cafe De Tacuba ($$), Centro Castellano ($$)
- Where To Drink – Bar Pata Negra, Terraza Catedral, La Opera
- Top Attractions – Museo del Temple Mayor, Zocalo, Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México
For Art and Culture Lovers
Much like the paintings of the 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, and 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 meaningful events, including the Day of the Dead celebration.
Across the Plaza Hidalgo is 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 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 was killed with an ice pick in a somewhat gruesome fashion. Coyoacán is a tranquil escape perfect for culture lovers and quiet introspection. However, this does come at a price: it takes around 40 minutes to get to the center of Mexico City via the metro.
Coyoacan Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay in for Families and a Traditional Ambiance
- Best Hotels – Agata Hotel Boutique & Spa • Calle Berlin Boutique • La Casita de Coyoacán
- Best Hostel – Hostal Cuija Coyoacan
- Best Apartments – 1 Bedroom Apartment • 1 Bedroom Apartment • 1 Bedroom Apartment
- Where To Eat – Corazón de Maguey ($$), Fonda El Morral ($$), Los Danzantes ($$$)
- Where To Drink – El Hijo del Cuervo, La Celestina, La Bipo
- Top Attractions – Frida Kahlo Museum, Mercado de Coyoacan, Plaza Coyoacan Zocalo
3. La Condesa
Trendy and Bohemian Neighborhood
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 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, Condesa has become a little pricey as it’s become so popular.
La Condesa Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay in for Nightlife
- Best Hotels – Condesa DF • Hotel Parque México Boutique • Condesa 185
- Best Hostels – Anys Hostal • Hostel Condesa Chapultepec
- Best Apartments – 2 Bedroom Apartment • 1 Bedroom Apartment • 2 Bedroom Apartment
- Where To Eat – Lardo ($$), Azul ($$), El Pescadito ($$)
- Where To Drink – Wallace Whiskey Bar, La Clandestina, Celtics Pub Irelandes Condesa
- Top Attractions – Art Deco Ring, Parque Mexico, Foro Shakespeare
Suggested Reading: The Most Dangerous Cities in Mexico – A Guide
For Young Creative Types
You may recognize this neighborhood from Alfonso Cuarón’s Academy Award-winning movie Roma, which was loosely based on his experiences growing up in the area during the 1970s.
But you’ll find that quite a lot has changed in the 50 years since the movie’s setting. Roma has become one of the most attractive districts in Mexico City. In many ways, a little sister to Condesa, Roma is the bohemian hipster of Mexico City’s neighborhoods.
There are quirky museums and cafes, street art on every corner, several contemporary art galleries – including Galería OMR – and a permanent population of creative young professionals.
The atmosphere is lively like Condesa, with similar crowds and architecture. Which district has the best food is debatable, but I think Roma has the edge over Condesa.
Get your fill of tacos and churros at the fantastic Mercado Roma, a gourmet food hall with a rooftop garden. Roma also has some of the best vegetarian food in the city – and the best coffee.
If a day spent lounging outside coffee shops and perusing contemporary art sounds ideal, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere better than Roma. Late into the evening, go dancing in Mama Rumba – the best salsa bar in Mexico City.
If you’re stuck with two left feet, visit the moody and atmospheric La Clandestina bar instead; there are a few better places to try mezcal, tequila’s fiery cousin.
Roma Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for Food and Culture
- Best Hotels – Nima Local House Hotel • Hotel MX condesa • Hotel Monarca
- Best Hostels – Metro Hostal Boutique • Roomies Hostel
- Best Apartments – 2 Bedroom Apartment • 2 Bedroom Apartment
- Where To Eat – Lalo! ($$), Delirio ($$), Cafebreria El Pendulo Roma ($$)
- Where To Drink – Licoreria Limantour, GinGin, Balmore Roof Bar
- Top Attractions – Mercado Medellin, Mercado Roma, Street Art Chilango
For Luxury Travelers
Polanco is the best choice for travelers looking for a bit of luxury during their stay. For those looking to shop in style – 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, you’ll find all the most luxurious brands on this avenue. 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 regarding 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.
Polanco Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay in for Luxury and Upscale Shopping
- Best Hotels – Orchid House Polanco • Suites Obelisk • Capital O Caravansaro
- Best Hostel – Yoga, Bed and Breakfast – Golden Buda
- Best Apartments – 3 Bedroom Apartment • 2 Bedroom Apartment
- Where To Eat – Casa Portuguesa ($$), El Bajio Polanco ($$), Hacienda de Los Morales ($$$)
- Where To Drink – Cantina la 20, Limantour Polanco, Gin Gin Polanco
- Top Attractions – Polyforum Cultural Siqueiros, Soumaya Museum, National Anthropology Museum
6. Zona Rosa
Nestled within the broader neighborhood of Juarez, Zona Rosa is a small district with a big reputation. For years this has been the heart of Mexico City’s nightlife, popular with tourists and locals alike.
Home to a thriving LGBTQ+ community, Zona Rosa has everything from clubs and gay bars to music lounges and karaoke. Before night falls, Zona Rosa alternates as a famous shopping district.
It’s a more affordable option than the designer boutiques of Polanco and has a nice blend of the usual international brands and more local artisan boutiques.
If you enjoy the rummage of thrifting, you can easily find a unique, gorgeous piece of clothing without the hefty price tag! The Paseo de la Reforma, one of Mexico City’s most famous streets, runs partially through Zona Rosa.
The towering Monument of Independence, or El Ángel, is an iconic symbol with great cultural significance for Mexico. It was erected in 1910 to commemorate 100 years of independence from Spain.
There are plenty of museums and exhibits to explore: why not start at Art House Mexico or the Museo del Chocolate? For a slightly unusual Mexico City experience, visit ‘Korea Town’, or ‘Little Seoul’.
An influx of Korean migrants to the city in the 1970s, concentrated into a few streets in Zona Rosa, transformed the area into a place to find excellent Korean food, fashion, and culture.
Zona Rosa Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay in for Upscale Shopping and Nightlife
- Best Hotels – Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City • Galeria Plaza Reforma • Posada Viena Hotel
- Best Hostels – U-Co Juarez • Wanderlust District • Capsule Hostel Mexico City
- Best Apartments – 2 Bedroom Apartment • 4 Bedroom Apartment • 2 Bedroom Apartment
- Where To Eat – La Casa de Tono en Zona Rosa ($), La Casa de los Abuelas ($$), El Bajio ($$)
- Where To Drink – Xaman Bar, El Scary Witches, Bar Milan
- Top Attractions – Monument of Independence, Fountain Diana, Paseo de la Reforma
7. San Rafael
For Budget Travelers
Colonia San Rafael is an often overlooked neighborhood 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 some of the artsy, chic vibes that have made those neighborhoods so popular. With cafes, street galleries, and an ever-increasing number of bars and restaurants, San Rafael is an up-and-coming neighborhood that will only improve over the next few years.
For now, you can enjoy a district that has avoided being completely commercialized for tourists. You can experience some authentic Mexican food at traditional cantinas like La Polar. There’s plenty left over for theater buffs 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, and Roma and Condesa to the south. The Paseo de la Reforma runs alongside.
The metro station is a few minutes walk away – don’t miss a tour of ‘The Floating Gardens of Xochimilco‘. Seeing the vibrant canal boats on the water is an unforgettable experience.
San Rafael Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay in for Art Lovers and Foodies
- Best Hotels – Hotel Black • Hotel Stella Maris • Hotel SR92
- Best Hostels – Suites DF Hostel • CASA MX Alameda
- Best Apartments – 2 Bedroom Apartment • 1 Bedroom Apartment • 2 Bedroom Apartment
- Where To Eat – La Tonina ($), La Tia ($), Restaurante El Chivito
- Where To Drink – Cantina LA Castellana, Bar Milan, Parker & Lenox
- Top Attractions – Iglesia de San Cosme y San Damian, Cine Opera
FAQs About Where to Stay in Mexico City
What are the best places to stay in Mexico City for tourists?
The best area to stay in Mexico City depends on the type of tourist you are. Budget travelers and history lovers will want to base their trip in the city’s historic center, whereas visitors looking for an upscale experience will feel more comfortable in the luxurious accommodation found within the Polanco neighborhood.
However, thanks to their central location, the historic center, Roma, and La Condesa neighborhoods make for convenient stays for first-time visitors looking to experience everything the city offers.
What hotels in Mexico City are best for families?
With a safe neighborhood and plenty of things to do nearby, Coyoacan is one of the best areas in Mexico City for families, with Suites Perisur Apartamentos Amueblados and Chalet del Carmen being some of the best hotels for visiting with your little ones.
What are the top attractions in Mexico City?
With seven centuries of history, Mexico City’s top attractions include historical landmarks, museums, and cultural monuments. Some of the city’s top attractions include the National Museum of Anthropology, the Templo Mayor Museum, and the Palacio de Bellas Artes.
What are the best hotels in Mexico City?
So, Where Should You Stay in Mexico City?
- Centro Historico — Home to Mexico’s most culturally significant buildings and symbolic monuments, Centro Historico is an ideal neighborhood to stay in if you wish to explore popular tourist attractions as much as possible.
- Coyoacán — The hometown of iconic artist Frida Kahlo, Coyocan is the ideal area to visit for art and culture lovers.
- La Condesa — Art deco mansions, leafy boulevards, and many cafes, boutiques, and restaurants make La Condesa the trendiest area of Mexico City you can stay in.
- Roma — Drawing the youthful and creative, this affluent neighborhood in Mexico City is an ideal location to stay for those who love food, art, and vibrant nightlife.
- Polanco — Opulence in abundance, Polcano is the neighborhood to stay in for those who love shopping and fine dining.
- Zona Rosa — Home to a thriving LGBTQ+ community, Zona Rosa is ideal for those who want to experience Mexico City through karaoke bars and clubs.
- San Rafael — A growing neighborhood that has seen an influx of youth, San Rafael is not as heavily tourist-focused, which means you get a more authentic experience of what life is like in Mexico City.
The various areas of Mexico City differ in their appeal, and where you choose to stay can define your overall experience. Pick a place that suits your needs but be ready to explore the various areas so you know where else you may want to stay on your next trip!