How To Experience A Slice of Mexico in One Day

Mexico City is the one of the largest cities in the world. At one point in every traveler’s life, whether it’s on the way to Cuba, on the way to Colombia, or down to Peru, Mexico City is a popular layover for airlines. If you have a chance, you can either spend one whole day, or choose any one of these things to experience during a layover.

Things to Know

  • There are luggage lockers at the airport if you don’t want to carry all your things with you.
  • There is a subway/metro station at Terminal 1 and the flat fee is 5 pesos
  • The metrobus is about 40 pesos altogether (30 for the ticket, 10 for the metrocard you have to buy).
  • The airport has limited wifi, but enough to order an Uber which costs about 5 USD to get to city center.
  • Depending on traffic, it takes about 45 minutes from the airport to the city center.

Ok, now that you can guestimate how much time you have in Mexico City, here are the things that you can do in one day. Pick and choose as you please, or mix and match your options!

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Option 1

Wake up early in the morning and have breakfast at one of the street vendors stations. Some have hot coffee, hot chocolate, tamales, or even chilaquiles.

Catch a bus to the Teotihuacan pyramids. You’ll want to get there early to beat the crowds. (First bus leaves at 6 am and they go every 30 minutes) Expect to spend about 2-3 here.

Eat at Cinco Estrellas if you’ve worked up an appetite before heading back into town.

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Option 2

Head over to La Ciudadela to get some shopping done. Buy a blanket, buy a comal, buy some turquoise or just wander the colorful aisles. Try some crickets sold outside the market. 

Things to Do in Mexico City

Things sold at La Ciudadela

Eat some street tacos on Calle de Balderas (near La Ciudadela)– I had some amazing birria there. Birria is traditionally made with goat meat stew, and this birria was juicy and flavorful.

Wander over to Palacio de Bellas Artes– enter if you’d like, or just enjoy the scenery.

Rest at Don Porfirio Cafe which is on top of a Sears in front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes. It has a beautiful view of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, but you might be fighting people for a seat. Definitely order one of the hot chocolates though!

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Option 3

Wander the stores of the Historical Center

Admire the intricate details of the art in the Metropolitan Cathedral

Get lost in the extremely hectic Mercado de la Merced, just a few blocks away

Things to do in Mexico City

The meat section of Mercado de la Merced

I kept this list short because Mexico City is big. Like, really big. There’s a lot of people and you will be tired especially if you’re doing a lot of walking, so keep this in mind. You don’t need to experience everything in 12 hours, as long as you can take your time at each spot and get a full understanding of the people in the country you’re visiting, your short visit will be a success.

Have you been to Mexico City for a layover? What did you do?


My name is Tuliyani, traveler, adventurer, dreamer, and bartender. I’m slightly obsessed with finding cheap flights to anywhere and doodling. 


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