12-Hour Layover Itinerary

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Your perfect Mexico City 12-hour Layover Itinerary

Fortunately, a 12-hour layover itinerary for Mexico City can include the short time it takes to get from the airport into the city-center. It's not that far away!

There's still plenty of time to check some things out, even if your ultimate destination is elsewhere.

You really can get back to the airport - having seen and experienced a lot of Mexico City - even in just a few hours.

  • For those totally new to Mexico City, the Centro Histórico makes the most sense, as it's the very heart of the city.
  • For basics on getting downtown and getting around, see the Essential City Guide which has loads of details.
  • All of the places listed in the itinerary are repeated, and more browsable at the bottom of this page.

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  • 8 AM: The Zócalo

One can easily arrive to the Zócalo from the Airport, by taxi, Metrobus, or by Metro to Metro station "Zócalo." The Metrobus Linea 4 (take the South Route/Ruta Sur) from the airport and get off at the station "Museo de la Ciudad." You can't miss the Zócalo. It's just four blocks north.

From the Zócalo, you can't miss the Palacio Nacional. It makes up the entire east side of the Zócalo and it's a good way to get your bearings. Inside, you'll find one of the most famous of Diego Rivera´s murals. Entry is free and you'll need to check your bags.

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  • The Metropolitan Cathedral

It seems almost ridiculous to put the cathedral second, as it so dominates the entire Zócalo area. But you can go at your own pace, to one or the other first.

The Metropolitan Cathedral will deeply interest those pursuing colonial and viceregal history, and those with an interest in art and architecture. For the spiritually minded, Catholic or otherwise, it's the center of Catholic life in Mexico.

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  • Palacio de Correos

The Postal Palace is just one of those spectacular public buildings that never ceases to amaze. It's still operating, though, for many of us, snail mail is not quite what it used to be. It's still a wonderful place to peer into and it doesn't take all day. In fact, an hour's visit is quite enough.

Next peer into the second Sanborns restaurant in the world...

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  • La Casa de los Azulejos

At lunchtime, on a weak traveling stomach, Sanborns nearly always has something light and not terribly taxing. This Sanborns just happens to provide even that much more of a feast for the eyes. You can read more about it here. With lunch, a visit should take about 90 minutes.

  • If you're interested, we put together a whole section on similar 18th-century residential palaces you can visit in Mexico City's Center.
  • Alameda Central & Bellas Artes

You almost can't visit Mexico City without taking in at least a little bit of the Alameda. It's most charming, entirely geometrically in the style of a formal garden, and it's the first real city park in the Americas. Here's a bit more about it (plus some photos).

Bellas Artes is the big wedding cake palace that you'll encounter if you're crossing the street from Azulejos (above). It's home to the National Architecture Museum, and a few other galleries.

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  • The Diego Rivera Mural Museum

As it houses but one painting, the Diego Rivera Mural Museum is frequently overlooked in Mexico City's enormous quantity of world-class museums. This one houses a mural Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central.

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  • La Ciudadela

From the Alameda, one need only head south through the neighborhood of San Juan Moyotlan (technically it's Centro Histórico, Area 5) to souvenir heaven and shopping!

The Ciudadela Market is a fantastic way to close an afternoon prior to your trip back to the airport.

Everything is listed below, to make it easy. Now get going.


Laboratorio Arte Alameda

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The Postal Palace: Palacio de Correos de México

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Museo Kaluz

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Barrio Alameda

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The Zócalo

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Diego Rivera Mural Museum (Museo Mural Diego Rivera)

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Palacio de Bellas Artes

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La Ciudadela Artisan Market

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La Casa de los Azulejos

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The Alameda Central

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The Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City

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