The neighborhood of Polanco in central Mexico City grew quickly and soon became one of the most popular neighborhoods in Mexico City for tourists and locals alike. This affluent, upscale neighborhood offers a variety of restaurants and cafés, as well as some of the best museums and art galleries in the city.
A lot of the new businesses in Polanco are housed in remodeled old colonial buildings. This gives the area a special historic feel, combining vintage and modern elements and offering the best of what Mexico City has to offer.
This guide, written by a long-term resident of CDMX, will run through the best things to see and do in Polanco Mexico City.
Visit the Soumaya and Jumex Museums in Plaza Carso
Plaza Carso is a large complex that contains Museo Soumaya, Museo Jumex, and The Plaza Carso shopping center. Polanco offers a wide range of rich cultural experiences, and two of the very best ones happen to be just across the street from each other!
The Museo Soumaya building is a sight in itself. From its unique shape to the shiny silver exterior, the shell of Soumaya promises just as much as its interior. The museum houses an immense variety of objects.
You will find everything here from pre-Hispanic sculptures to modern and contemporary art by Mexican artists and artists from around the world. The collection includes worlds by Auguste Rodin, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Vincent Van Gogh, among many others.
In fact, Soumaya holds the biggest collection of Rodin sculptures outside of France. If you’re visiting Soumaya to get a taste for the art of the Mexican giants of painting and sculpture, you can head straight for the stunning Rio Juchitan Mural by Diego Rivera.
Admission to the Soumaya Museum is completely free and the museum is open every day from 10:30 to 18:30.
If after you’re still feeling artsy after your visit to Soumaya, head across the street to Museo Jumex. Here you will find an amazing private collection of modern and contemporary art featuring works by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Marcel Duchamp, and Gabriel Orozco.
Jumex puts on incredible temporary exhibitions regularly in addition to their permanent collection. So, you’re sure to find something to see whenever you may visit.
Access to the Jumex Museum costs around $50 MXN (about 2.50 USD) and they offer a discount for students, teachers, and seniors.
Stoll along Avenida Presidente Masaryk
Riddled with luxury brands, upscale stores, and high-end boutiques, Avenida Presidente Masaryk is to Mexico City what the Rodeo Drive is to Los Angeles. Along the avenue, within just a few feet of each other, you’ll spot Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Cartier, Hugo Boss, Hermes, Burberry, and the flagship stores of many other luxury names.
While walking down Avenida Presidente Masaryk, you will also find a lovely selection of restaurants, cafes, and bars. You can grab a drink and a bite to eat here, whatever you’re in the mood for, or whatever time of day it is.
Check our Cambalache Polanco for the best Argentinian food in Mexico City. For authentic Mexican dishes with a special twist, Porfirios is the obvious choice while Café Toscano serves up the best brunch options for miles.
Pop into Cafebrería El Péndulo for a coffee and a book
Cafebrería El Péndulo has several locations across the city, and one of them is conveniently located just a short walk from Avenida Presidente Masaryk. El Péndulo is a book lover’s paradise.
The work “cafebrería” is a portmanteau of the Spanish word for “coffee shop” and the Spanish word for “bookshop”. As its name suggests, the concept of this book oasis combines a coffee shop with a bookstore.
The result is a unique laid-back experience. Grab a rich Chiapas coffee and a pastry and browse the shelves for a while before heading back out into the bustling streets of Polanco.
Get a refreshment or dessert at the Nevería Roxy
Nevería Roxy is another unique experience that has several locations across Mexico City. It is undoubtedly a dessert staple when visiting Polanco Mexico City.
Roxy is one of the best-rated dessert sports in Polanco. It is loved by the locals while also being a popular tourist spot.
The shop offers a range of flavors of ice cream and sorbet and has a very special design and color palette that characterizes it and sets it apart from other establishments.
The shop has a classic 70’s feel and decoration style, making visitors feel like they’re at an authentic 70’s diner enjoying the best ice cream in town!
Take an afternoon sunset walk through Parque Lincoln
Lincoln park is one of the many green spaces you’ll find scattered along the urban landscape of Mexico City. It is a large, public, dog-friendly park, riddled with interesting sculptures and historical statues.
Look out for the intricately carved figures of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. The large clock tower is the emblem of the park and is even the icon of the Polanco metro station, situated just a few blocks from Lincoln park.
The clock tower building is now used as a public art gallery that hosts incredible temporary exhibitions year-round. In July of 2022, the gallery welcomed a sample of original drawings and sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci.
Within the park, you can also find a small lake, an open-air theatre, and an aviary that serves as a sanctuary for exotic birds that have been rescued from illegal trafficking or adverse conditions. Outside, along the perimeter of the park, you can find restaurants varying in food type and price range.
Parque Lincoln is overall a lovely place for a leisurely walk or a moment of rest.
Have a world-class meal at the recognized Pujol Restaurant
Pujol is one of the best-known restaurants in all of Mexico. The Polanco Mexico City eatery was named the best restaurant in Mexico City by the Wall Street Journal in 2017.
It is currently number 12 on the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Chef and owner, Enrique Olvera, is known and loved by food lovers and critics across the globe.
The culinary experience at Pujol is based entirely upon native Mexican ingredients and staples, and inspired by the Japanese omakase, where visitors trust the chef to guide their entire tasting experience. In addition to the food, Pujol also has a long-standing reputation for offering unique and high-quality tequila and mezcal from around the country.
Pujol is a giant of Mexican cuisine and culinary identity. If you’re looking to have a world-class meal and splurge on the best of the best, it is definitely the place to go.
The menu is different each day, but the corn base of the dishes stays the same. This is what makes Pujol so special.
If you want to eat at Pujol during your Mexico City itinerary, be prepared to reserve your table as far as 6-8 weeks in advance.
Get acquainted with one of the biggest names of the Mexican muralist movement at the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros
The Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros is a hidden gem within Polanco’s vibrant art scene. David Álvaro Siqueiros was one of the most recognized and celebrated Mexican muralists of the twentieth century.
He was a social realist painter and worked alongside some of the best-known names of the Mexican art scape of the past century, including Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. Siqueiros is one of the big names in Mexican art and politics of the early to mid-twentieth century.
His work always held a bit of a political incline and undertone. He believed in art as a vessel for social and political change.
One of his most famous works, titled ‘El pueblo a la Universidad y la Universidad al pueblo’, is displayed on one of the main administration buildings of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Siqueiros famously expressed his wish to portray the University as an institution “in service of the nation”.
While this specific piece can only be appreciated in University City in Coyoacán, other famous works by Siqueiros are on display at the Sala de Arte Público. The establishment is a museum and research center that works to keep the legacy of the muralists alive. It is well worth a visit during your time in Polanco Mexico City.
Spend the day at the Bosque de Chapultepec
Get off the línea 1 metro at the Chapultepec stop, which leads you out right into the Bosque de Chapultepec. A visit to Chapultepec is a day trip in itself, as the park covers over 1,600 acres of land.
The “forest” is divided into five sections. The first is the oldest and most popular, as it contains a lot of the park’s main attractions, such as the botanical gardens, the Chapultepec castle, the Chapultepec Zoo, and the National Museum of Anthropology.
Chapultepec park is known as ‘the green lung of Mexico City’ and is twice the size of Central Park in New York City! The space is used by locals and tourists alike for sports events, regular running routes, and social gatherings.
Bosque de Chapultepec has three large lakes within its boundaries. But the most famous of them is the infamous Lago de Chapultepec.
The Lago de Chapultepec is one of the many iconic sights that characterize Mexico City.
Within the area that compromises Chapultepec, there are several museums open to the public. Among these are the Museo de Arte Moderno, the Museo del Caracol, the aforementioned Museo Nacional de Antropología, and the Museo Tamayo de Arte Contemporáneo. One of the main attractions of The Museum of Modern Art is that it houses art by famous painters Frida Kahlo and Remedios Varo.
Visit the Chapultepec Zoo
Pop by the Chapultepec Zoo while you’re in the area. This is the perfect day activity if you’re looking for an exciting and enriching experience for the whole family.
The zoo is home to more than 200 species and is known for the success of its conservation programs for threatened and endangered animals. One of the zoo’s main attractions and what its best known for is for being the first zoo outside of China to successfully breed giant panda and other endangered species in captivity.
You can also view endemic species from Mexico here. For instance, the axolotl of Xochimilco or the rabbit of the volcanoes.
Within the Bosque de Chapultepec, towering over the city, is the Chapultepec Castle. The castle dates back to the late 18th century and was originally built as a summer home for the Spanish representative of the King in colonial Mexico.
However, it was abandoned when the War of Independence broke out and remained so until it was eventually turned into a military academy. It became the site of the Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War in 1847.
During the Second Mexican Empire, the castle briefly became the home of Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife Carlota. Maximilian I was an Austrian archduke who was appointed as Emperor to Mexico by Mexican royalists.
However, he only lived at the castle for a brief period before he was tragically executed in 1867 by opposing forces of the Restored Republic.
The site of the Chapultepec Castle, on top of Chapultepec Hill, is a perfect example of the incredible history and culture that Mexico City holds. The word Chapultepec comes from the Nahuatl chapoltepēc meaning “on the hill of the grasshopper”.
The hill was a sacred spot for the Mexica people. There have even been important areological discoveries of Teotihuacan and Toltec items and altar spaces in the greater Chapultepec and Chapultepec Hill areas.
It later became an important site for the Spanish during the colonial period, when the original castle was built. Then, it was later a military academy, a presidential residence, and an imperial residence.
It is also known today for being one of the few castles in North America that actually housed a monarch. The castle is currently the home of the National Museum of Cultures and offers incredible and unique views across the city from above.
Museo de Antropología
Mexico City is known for being the city with the most museums in the world. The National Anthropology Museum is one of the best places to start exploring this magnificent legacy!
The Museo de Antropología houses one of Mexico’s richest collections of pre-Columbian art and historical objects. It offers over 500,000 artifacts spread across 23 rooms to learn about and it can easily become overwhelming, so it is definitely worth it to look into a guided tour.
The museum’s most famous artifact is the amazingly imposing Aztec Sun Stone, measuring 12 feet in diameter and weighing over 50,000 lbs. Another must-see is the jade mask of the Zapotec bat god, dating back to around 100 b.C.
The premises of the museum include a lovely café to unwind after your visit and enjoy a variety of traditional Mexican dishes, as well as a large inner courtyard.
The museum is closed on Mondays. It opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00.
Visit the Antara shopping center
The Antara Fashion Hall is located near Plaza Carso and offers some of the best shopping outside of Presidente Masaryk. You’ll find every brand and store you could want here, as well as a varied food court, sushi and pizza restaurants!
Spend the day at Antara browsing, shopping, and dining, catch a movie at the cinema, or pop in quickly for a last-minute buy or an emergency purchase.