I get one question over and over in email:
“What neighborhood in Mexico City should I stay in?”
In most other cities, this question would be SO hard and such a matter of personal taste, for which I’d tailor my suggestions to the personality, preferences, and desired possibilities of the recommendation-requester.
But for Mexico City, pretty much no matter who you are or what you’re interested in, I’d recommend one of these five Mexico City neighborhoods: Condesa, Hipodromo, Roma, Cuauhtemoc, or Chapultepec.
Plaza Rio de Janeiro
There are a few exceptions, for which I’d suggest Zona Rosa, Polanco, Coyoacan, Centro, Anzures, or Juarez – all of which I’ll touch on as well.[These suggestions are my personal opinion based on living in Mexico City for over a year, continuing to visit frequently, and potentially planning a move back in the future.]
Regardless the neighborhood you choose, I would definitely recommend considering Airbnb (if you haven’t stayed in one yet, here’s a link for $37USD off your first trip). You can score a 2-bedroom place (with space for 4-5 people) in one of the top neighborhoods for around $50 a night, or a huge, beautiful 3-bedroom place (with space for 6-7 people) for less than $100USD.
If you’re totally anti-Airbnb (and I haven’t always had the best experience, so I feel ya), I’ll also give a few recommendations for hotels for each neighborhood below.
Top 5 Mexico City Neighborhoods to Stay in
This is about to get a bit confusing. Colloquially, La Condesa consists of three colonias or officially recognized neighborhoods: Colonia Condesa, Colonia Hipódromo and Colonia Hipódromo Condesa. Even more, the area this neighborhood is in is often referred to as Condesa–Roma, combining not only Condesa and Hipodromo, but Roma as well. To be honest, the whole area is awesome and feels similar, sliding pretty seamlessly from one colonia into the next, all with the shared attributes of cool design stores, lots of trees, incredibly walkable, and seemingly endless cute and/or quirky places to grab a bite to eat or a cocktail/coffee to sip streetside. This is also the best areas for vegans or vegetarians like me. However, I’m going to split them up in this guide, discussing Condesa and Hipodromo and Roma separately.
Hanging out with a puppy in Condesa
My number one most favorite neighborhood in all of Mexico City, and also where I’d recommend first-time tourists to stay. With a plethora of accommodation options (both hotels and Airbnbs), diverse restaurant choices (most vegetarian-friendly), and conveniently located to all of Mexico City’s attractions, it’s hard to beat trendy, bohemian, and fun Condesa.
This neighborhood is also home to some fabulous green spaces, including picturesque avenues lined with trees and Parque Espana (on the border with Hipodromo).
If/when we ever move back to Mexico City, THIS is the neighborhood we’d choose to live in (this is also the neighborhood we chose for an upcoming travel blogger mastermind retreat).
Hotel Recommendations (by budget):
High: Condesa DF, $250 a night (book on Agoda or Booking.com)
Medium: Casa Condesa Amatlan 84, $95 a night (book on Agoda or Booking.com)
Low: Condechi B&B, $45 a night (book on Agoda or Booking.com)
Often lumped in or confused with Condesa, Hipodromo is technically its own colonia (neighborhood). It’s actually not Condesa, but Hipodromo, that is home to Parque Mexico (considered to be the “green lungs” of this area) and Avenida Amsterdam, two of the most famous and visited (for good reason) attractions in this area.
Hipodromo is also home to Plaza Popocatepetl (north of Parque Mexico), organic restaurants, vegan cafes and shops (including my FAVE: Mr. Tofu, home of Daiya cheeze), nightly foodtrucks, yoga studios, design shops, and endlessly dog-friendly options.
It’s well-known for its cool art deco architecture.
Hotel Recommendations (by budget):
High: Flow Suites Condesa [the name is Condesa but technically it’s in Hipodromo. See how confusing this is??] (book on Agoda or Booking.com)
Medium: Hotel Parque Mexico, $90 a night (book on Agoda or Booking.com)
Low: Izta 54, $53 a night (book on Agoda or Booking.com)
3. Roma (Norte and Sur)
Roma is known for being a bit edgier, hipster-y, and cheaper than big sister Condesa, but with pretty much all the same amenities with none of the (supposed) pretentiousness. It plays host to secondhand stores, funky cafes and shops.
This is the neighborhood I stayed in when my brother and our friend came to visit, and I chose it mainly for its fun bars and restaurants, inexpensive prices both in terms of accommodation (we got a steal of a deal on a 2 bedroom Airbnb) and dining/drinking, and proximity to everything else (we walked to Chapultepec Park, for example).
My husband (the professional security consultant) would add that Roma Norte is more problematic in terms of pickpockets and robberies than Roma Sur.
Hotel Recommendations (by budget):
High: Casa Goliana La Roma, $150 a night (Book on Agoda or Booking.com)
Medium: Stanza Hotel, $67 a night (Book on Agoda or Booking.com)
Low: Hotel MX Roma, $50 a night (Book on Agoda or Booking.com)
This is the beating business heart of Mexico City. If you’re a serious business guy on a serious business trip, this is probably where you’ll want to stay.
It’s also incredibly safe (if arguably boring), and convenient to pretty much everything including Chapultepec Park, the Angel of Independence, and totally walkable to any of the other neighborhoods in this Top 5 list.
This is where I’ll be staying with my husband and brother-in-law for our upcoming Mexico City long weekend staycation.
I don’t know why, but Chapultepec often gets left out of neighborhood recommendations (someone please tell me why!) when it’s actually so convenient to the other neighborhoods if you like to walk, and has SO much to do without even leaving the zone… like: Chapultepec Park! Chapultepec Zoo! Chapultepec Castle! A big outdoor market! The anthropology museum! The voladores! Regular outdoor art installations!
I guess the one downside that I can recognize is it’s at least a 15 minute-ish walk to be in an area with a variety of bars/restaurants.
Other Possible Mexico City Neighborhoods To Stay in
Zona Rosa, or “The Pink Zone” is full of hotels, shops, and restaurants, and is the center of the LGBT community in Mexico City. Calle Amberes is known for being the heart of the action.
First off: Vogue calls this place “Mexico’s Chicest Neighborhood“.
It is known as a luxurious and safe (if supposedly a bit snobby) neighborhood, with lots of options for high end shopping (though you should keep in mind that shopping in Mexico for brand-name items is more expensive than in the US, even if the items are made here, except for Mexican-specific brands and designers).
Polanco also has tons of five-star eateries and hotels, some nice little parks, incredible museums (the Soumaya is my fave), an aquarium, and the best fancy-pants weekend brunch with live music in the city (Saks).
Polanco is a BIG neighborhood broken into several sections, and when we first lived in Mexico City, we lived here (in the cheaper section). We chose Polanco for its safety, relative inexpensiveness of apartments compared to amenities (strange considering it’s known as a “high end” neighborhood), and walkability. My husband loved the large number of American restaurants in easy proximity (including TGI Friday’s).
At a market near Frida’s house
One word to sum up Coyoacan that everyone knows? FRIDA!
Coyoacan is home to Frida’s famous Blue House museum, along with cool markets, local life, and lots of hippies.
The downside to this neighborhood is that its a ways out from everything – traffic can be annoying (this is a serious consideration – Mexico City traffic is UNREAL).
The Zocalo of Mexico City’s historic center
Literally the center of the city (especially in terms of heart and soul), the historic center is also the literal center of history. Here you’ll find antique buildings, gorgeous churches, secret courtyards, fabulous museums, and the National Palace (open to visitors, just bring your passport).
There’s tons of street food, restaurant food, everything you could want, but this area can still be a little rough at night, especially the further away from the Zocalo you get.
Anzures and Juarez
I’m lumping these two together, though they aren’t adjacent in real life (Cuauhtemoc comes between them) because they’re similar in vibe and in amenities. Both are conveniently located for reaching the museums and for walking to the “Top 5” neighborhoods. They’re also both calm and safe, with cool architecture and bar/restaurant offerings of their own, with one added benefit: they’re both cheaper than what you’ll be able to get for hotels/hostels in any of the Top 5 neighborhoods.