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Pack your bags and head south of the border. Mexico — the land of tacos, blue water beaches, and vibrantly colored markets is probably already on your bucket list. The lively, colorful, exciting capital city of Mexico is a city of 8.8 million inhabitants full of rich history, dynamic culture, and active city life.
You probably didn’t think of it as a gay travel destination, but CDMX, as it’s abbreviated in Spanish, boasts dozens of gay bars, cafes and one of the biggest pride celebrations in Latin America, putting it at the top of your list for your next getaway with your boo. Check out our gay guide to Mexico City to see more about your new vacation destination.
Generally considered to be more progressive than many other parts of the country, Mexico City was the first city in Mexico to legalize gay marriage in 2010, and since then has been considered an open-minded, gay mecca in Latin America. While it’s easy to look at recent history and say that’s the start of Mexico City’s spot as a progressive, open city, the history really starts with the pre-Columbian era. Many of the indigenous societies that first ruled the region had relaxed attitudes in terms of sexuality and gender. Mayans, Itza, and Zapotecs were said to have many instances of homosexuality that were accepted by society. In many indigenous cultures, there was also a third gender called the two-spirit, that was thought to hold special spiritual qualities apart from the rest of society. It wasn’t until the Spanish conquest and colonialism that these societies began to reject and penalize sexualities and gender expressions that differed from the set ‘norm’.
During the 18th-century French conquest, Mexican laws followed the Napoleonic code, which had decriminalized homosexuality. In the late part of the 19th century, however, new codes came about allowing police to criminalize homosexuality. This change in interpretation of the laws is what many historians believe lead to the growth of the underground LGBT culture in Mexico City and by the start of the 20th century, gay bathhouses, squares, and bars began popping up throughout the DF. In the early 20th century, police raided a party of wealthy LGBT men at what became known as “the dance of the 41”, causing more backlash against the community, and in the mid-20th century, many of the underground gay bars were shut down.
Since the 1970s, LGBT rights have taken a much bigger position in the city and in the country, following the creation of the Frente de la Liberacion Homosexual (FLH), which translates to the Homosexual Liberation Front, and in 1979, Mexico City saw the country’s first LGBT pride parade. Now, the city is much more open. In 2006, CDMX was the first spot in the city to legalize civil unions and in 2010, took the step to legalize gay marriage and adoption by gay couples.
The city’s queer scene has also exploded in recent years and Mexico City is now home to Latin America’s biggest gay pride event. The week-long celebration is highlighted by the pride parade, which usually happens with millions of people crowding the streets each June. Starting at El Angel de la Independencia statue in Zona Rosa, the route runs along the “Paseo de la Reforma” until it reaches Zocalo, in the historic center of the city. During the rest of the week, expect special events, deals, and celebrations in bars all around Zona Rosa. Details may be hard to access, especially in English, but if you find your way to Paseo de la Reforma, you can’t miss the parade, with thousands of LGBT people and allies decked out in rainbows, glitter, and great outfits.
Read more: Stay Safe in Mexico With this Guide
Zona Rosa and Colonia Juarez
Mexico City’s gayest neighborhood, Zona Rosa, sits in the heart of the city, in the Colonia Juarez neighborhood, offering up streets lined with fun shops, lively bars, quaint cafes, and packed clubs. Calle Amberes is particularly known for having the highest concentration of gay bars and clubs in the city.
Check out the city’s biggest party spot — Kinky. The three-floor club offers a little bit for everyone in any mood. Hungry? Grab some snacks on the first floor, called La chipocluda, a cantina style eatery full of snacks. Head up to the second floor to belt out your favorite songs with Karaoke. The third floor’s gran terraza lets you enjoy fresh air, good views, and all the music and dancing of the rest of the club. Kinky also hosts ladies-only nights every Thursday’s, making this a great option amongst queer women. Looking for more dancing? Head to Cabaretito Fusion, popular amongst the younger crowds. The club frequently has events during the weekends and hosts a lesbian night every Thursday.
Almacen is another popular club in the neighborhood, featuring two floors of dancing to pop and electronic music and what’s sure to be a memorable night. This bar the place to be, and as the legend goes, the night gets wilder the later it gets, so be sure to stay through closing. Men will love Boy Bar, formerly known as Lollipop, the exclusively male club that offers three floors of dancing, drag shows, electronic music, and karaoke. Even though Boy Bar does have a cover charge, the bar is always packed, so you can rest assured it’ll be worth the money.
Be sure to explore the rest of Colonia Juarez, as well. With gourmet restaurants featuring food from every corner of the earth, you can be sure to find the best food in the city. The neighborhood was the historic center of Mexican wealth and at the start of the 21st century, Colonia Juarez got a facelift with many new, trendy locales constantly pouring in. Check out the tree-lined streets boasting historic architecture, art galleries such as Marso and Arredondo\Arozarena, theaters like Teatro Milan, and cultural centers.
Condesa and Colonia Roma
Condesa and Roma are your other go-to neighborhoods. This relaxed and upscale area features leafy, tree-lined streets donning bars, restaurants, and hotels, all welcome and open to the queer traveler. Condesa is deemed the “bohemian” center of the city and La Roma is the DF’s hipster capital. Check out Colonia Roma’s museums, markets, and parks, always full with local musicians or street performers.
La Condesa is home to El Armario Abierto, which translates to “The Open Closet”, a bookshop dedicated to sexual health and general queer issues. The shop was opened by two of Mexico’s top sexologists, in 1998 as a way to bring more resources about the community to the general public. El Armario Abierto has books for kids and teens to learn about different identities and explore their own, as well as books for adults and teens on sexuality, domestic and sexual abuse, and sexual health, and the shop features workshops and speaker series.
La Condesa is also home to a number of nice gay bars. Try the male favorite Tom’s Leather Bar, which features three free drinks upon entry to the club. Pong Bar Condesa is another favorite, offering you cheap beers and fun games. Covered in neon lights and beer pong tables, this is a relaxed option for anyone looking for some laughs along with their drinks. Check out Real Under, just around the corner. The bar, decked out in red and black decor on all sides, has a punk rock theme to it, but is just as friendly and open as any other bar in the neighborhood.
You can’t head to Mexico City without visiting the Centro Historico. Full of exquisite cathedrals, rich history, grand palaces, museums, and more, Centro Historico is quintessential CDMX. Visit the main square, Zocalo, and admire what was once the center of the ancient Aztec empire. Visit the ancient ruins at Templo Mayor, marvel at the beauty of the Metropolitan Cathedral, or visit any of the nearby museums.
Palacio de Bellas Artes is a popular spot in the center of the city, featuring art installations by world-renowned artists. Plus, the building itself is so beautiful, it’s worth going even just to admire the architecture. If you liked this art, check out Artspace, a local museum showcasing art by Latin American artists, or head to the Museo Frida Kahlo, dedicated entirely to the iconic Mexican artist.
For a unique museum experience, check out the Museo Juguete Antiguo (MUJAM), or Antique Toy Museum, in English. The museum shows you a different side to Mexican culture and heritage through the antique toys of the country’s history. The space has also become a cultural center with unique street art and murals, and concerts featuring up-and-coming artists occurring regularly.
Between cultural and art museums, charming cafes, outdoor adventures, and more, the city is anything but boring. Foodies will love Mexico City’s street food tour, put on by Club Tengo Hambre, which translates to “I’m hungry club.” The tour meets at Bellas Artes, in Parque La Alameda, right in the center of the city, and takes you to six different verified, popular street food vendors, as well as two of the most frequented public markets in the city. I hope you came with an empty stomach because you’ll be stuffed by the end of this three-and-a-half hour tour. The tour has a booking fee of 90 MXN or about 5 USD.
When the sun sets, stick around the beating heart of the city because even the historic center of CDMX has gay bars to be discovered. Check out La Purisima, a disco-themed bar featuring pop and rap music, 60s themed decor, and dancers throughout the night. Not too far by is Hibrido, hidden on the third floor of an antique shop. Hibrido is known for large techno parties that go well into the next morning.
The upscale, high-class neighborhood of the city, Polanco, is most often described as the Beverly Hills of Mexico City, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore the streets lined with sleek buildings and high-end restaurants. Try a meal at one of Mexico City’s top restaurants, Pujol, famous for traditional Mexican cuisine with modern twists. Quintonil is another top restaurant in the city, though you’d never expect it by looking at its plain, stucco exterior. Inside the doors, however, Quintonil features a menu full of rich, flavorful fusion dishes.
Polanco isn’t just for foodies. If you’re looking for some luxurious nights out, Polanco is the place to be. Guilt is a top club in the city and is widely considered to be one of the most high-end clubs in Mexico City. The club has a strict dress code, so avoid tank tops and flip-flops, and there is a cover charge to enter, but the experience is well worth it. Guilt is popular amongst queer men and queer women and is straight-friendly as well. Envy is another classy bar in the city, catering to the queer community, with great music to keep you going all night.
Polanco during the day is home to some great museums. Museo Nacional de Antropologia is great for those who want to learn about Mexican and Latin American culture and archaeology, beginning with the pre-Columbian civilizations that ruled the land in over 20 different rooms. Be sure to check out the rotating temporary exhibits and head to the courtyard to admire the sculptures and waterfall. If you didn’t get your fill of history, head to the Museo Nacional de la Historia for more Mexican culture.
Saunas are a popular part of Mexican culture. Men and women enter spaces to soak up the intense heat in safe, hygienic spaces throughout the city. If you’re looking to do what the Mexicans do, head to one located throughout the city. So.do.me is a popular gay sauna right in the heart of Polanco. The name itself is a play on words and the spot is catered toward the LGBT community. The entry fee is 300 Mexican Pesos but is well worth the price with friendly and accommodating staff and welcoming spaces.
Read more: Your 2-Day Itinerary for Mexico City
Where to Stay
Find the best place to lay your head down at night. While there are no gay-only hotels in Mexico City, there are dozens of gay-friendly and gay-owned hotels for you and your partner to stay in comfortably. Check out one of DF’s top hotels – Condesa DF, right in the heart of the Condesa neighborhood. Condesa DF features 40 clean, simplistic rooms with spacious terrace and patio spaces throughout the property. The first-floor restaurant features fusion and Mexican cuisine by gourmet chefs, bars, and on the top floor, you’ll find a rooftop bar overlooking the city. Plus, this hotel is one of the top gay-friendly places to stay in the city.
Another top option in the neighborhood is the Red Tree House, a gay-owned bed-and-breakfast. The 1930s home was converted into an artsy b&b where the owners and staff are attentive and friendly, aiming to make the space more like a home away from home than just another hotel, while still giving guests privacy in individual rooms with private bathrooms.
Just around the corner from Condesa, find the elegant Hotel Geneve, set right in the middle of all the action in Zona Rosa. Hotel Geneve has always been on the progressive side of history. In its earliest days, the hotel was one of the first hotels in the city to allow single, unaccompanied women to stay in their rooms. Given its history and importance, it’s no wonder that Hotel Geneve is a top gay-friendly spot now. Hotel Geneve’s rooms are clean and spacious and the common spaces include a movie theater, sauna, bar, and restaurant.
If you’re looking to be close to all the bars, shops, and clubs, head to Hotel Suites Amberes, right on the same street as Zona Rosa’s most popular spots: Calle Amberes. Choose between a one bedroom or two bedroom suite, each complete with a kitchenette and supplies you need to cook for your boo. With bars, restaurants, a gym, and transportation to and from the hotel, what more could you really ask for?