Once you’ve seen the sights, sampled the food, and explored the distinctive neighbourhoods of CDMX, you’ll want to have at least a couple of souvenirs from Mexico City to remember your travels. In fact, there’s no shortage of unique pieces of local craftsmanship to take home with you, it’s more a question of where to start!
We’ve built up quite the collection of Mexico City souvenirs in the several years since we started making our annual sojourns in Mexico, from gorgeous pieces of hand-embroidered clothing to bottles of smoky-flavoured mezcal, so we know more than most about the temptations on offer at the capital’s numerous markets, street stalls, and boutiques.
In this post, we’ll take you through what to bring back from Mexico City, whether you are a fashion aficionado, a lover of folk art, or someone who just can’t get enough of that delicious Mexican cuisine!
Traditional Souvenirs To Buy In Mexico City
If you want something that will immediately take you back to the streets of Mexico City every time you look at it, these traditional souvenirs are full of local character, no matter whether they hail from pre-Columbian times or are a product of colonial Hispanic fashions.
#1 Frida Kahlo Mexico City Souvenirs
Frida Kahlo reigns supreme as Mexico’s most iconic artist, so it’s no surprise that merch bearing her face or facsimiles of her artwork are among the most popular gifts from Mexico.
We’ve seen all manner of items embossed with one of her famous self-portraits, including keychains, mugs, T-shirts, planters, sleeping masks – pretty much anything that could possibly bear an image. You can even find jewellery and clothing inspired by her fashion style.
Mal always admired Frida’s work and feminist standpoint and was super happy to buy a tote bag with her image!
#2 Talavera Pottery
Although colourful Talavera tiles and crockery originated in Spain, their popularity in colonial times birthed a huge production boom in Mexico, particularly in the Puebla region, which is blessed with high-quality natural clay.
We’ve picked up quite a few mismatched pieces of this tin-enamelled earthenware over the years because they brighten the kitchen fantastically, thanks to their sparkling hues and almost psychedelic patterns.
#3 Handwoven Textiles
In our experience, Oaxaca is a better place overall for picking up artisanal fabrics, but if you are only sticking to CDMX then you’ll still find a few places where you can get some high-quality items.
One of our favourite places to shop for textiles is Fabrica Social, a fair-trade enterprise that sells dresses, blouses, trousers, and accessories, all made by hand using traditional techniques.
#4 Alebrijes – Colourful Wooden Creatures
If you’re looking for something truly local, one of the best gift ideas from Mexico City is to purchase alebrijes. These fantastical papier-mâché creatures were first conceived in the 1930s by a CDMX native, Pedro Linares, who is said to have been visited by strange visions while sick. After recovering, he turned his dreams into a reality.
The decorative beasts are usually painted in bright colours, and you can find all manner of weird and wonderful creations. Note that it’s alebrijes from Mexico City that are made from papier-mâché, while examples from Oaxaca are usually made from wood.
#5 Lucha Libre Masks
If you’ve checked out some of our other CDMX articles, you’ll know that visiting the Arena Mexico for a lucha libre show is up there as one of the most unique experiences in the city. As a memento of the wrestling fest, one of the cool things to buy in Mexico City is a lucha libre mask.
The masks are usually some kind of Lycra-infused blend (for that much-needed stretchiness) and come in all kinds of wild iterations. Whether you hang it on the wall as a decorative item or use it to launch your own secret wrestler identity is up to you!
#6 Day of the Dead Candles
There are lots of souvenirs from Mexico City that you can purchase that are associated with Dia de los Muertos, including intricately decorated candles. You probably won’t want to light these beauties, which are normally decorated with (calaveras) skulls or are even skull-shaped themselves.
#7 Mexican Blankets (Sarapes)
If you want a piece of traditional Mexican clothing that you can wear back home, sarapes are a super flexible option that come in myriad different styles.
Essentially, sarapes are a kind of blanket that is worn as an outer layer of clothing. Traditionally, they were a men’s fashion item, particularly horsemen, but today they come in a variety of colours, cuts, and patterns for both men and women, from rainbow-hued options with poncho-like holes for heads, to monochrome ones that preserve a more authentic cut.
#8 Mexican Hammock
One of the most surprising facts we learned on our first trip to Mexico was that hammocks were a big thing back in pre-Columbian Central America. Apparently, back in the day, the Mayans used to use tree fibre to make their unique brand of compact, portable sleeping devices.
These later caught on in European navies as a space-saving idea, before becoming a mainstay of eco tents and minimalist-style décor. Today, you can find all kinds of dyed ‘hamacas ’in Mexico City’s markets, with the nicest ones made from cotton.
#9 Masks from the Yaqui Tribe
Mexico has a rich heritage of handcrafted masks that were used in various traditional ceremonies. The Yaqui tribe’s facial covering is one of the most distinctive, featuring hair that grows in tufts from the eyebrows and the jowls. They are still used today in dances by ‘pascola’ performers during sacred rites.
While the tribe is native to northwestern Mexico, you can find some examples of these carved wooden masks for sale in CDMX, scattered among examples of numerous other age-old folk arts.
#10 Handmade Guitars
One of the best souvenirs from Mexico City for musicians, there’s a rich history of guitar-making in this part of the world. Forget the electric versions, CDMX is all about the classical guitar, as well as other variations that you might see in, say, mariachi bands.
Prices vary enormously, from less than a hundred dollars for a factory-made instrument to hundreds (and even thousands) for a quality handmade item. The most prestigious instruments come from the town of Paracho, which is famous for its luthier craftsmanship.
Best Culinary Souvenirs In Mexico City
What to buy in Mexico City if you’re a gluttonous gourmand? While culinary souvenirs are always doomed to be ephemeral since you won’t be able to resist eating them for long, they make a nice gift to bring back for family and friends.
#11 Mexican Chocolate
Mesoamericans have been making chocolate for thousands of years, so it’s definitely one of the best Mexico souvenirs to splurge on if you’re looking for an edible memento.
There are loads of cool places you can go to get your sweet treats, but one of our favourites is the Museum of Chocolate of Mexico City, cutely abbreviated to MUCHO. Here, you can learn all about the history of chocolate and the traditional method of making chocolate, before going home with a hand-crafted selection.
If you want something a little more long-lasting than chocolate, keep an eye out for a handcrafted molinillo: a decorative whisk that has been used for centuries to froth up hot chocolate.
#12 Mexican Coffee Beans
While the State of Mexico isn’t known for its coffee production, produce from Chiapas, Veracruz, Puebla, and Oaxaca all flow into the capital.
We got a taste for Mexican coffee in some of the fabulous cafes that dot the city – Cafe El Jarocho in Coyoacan is a personal favourite – and many of these third-wave coffeehouses sell bags of quality beans at the counter.
While Madagascar might be more famous today for its vanilla production, the spice actually hails from Mexico, where it was originally used in sacred rituals and medicinal concoctions. Harvested from a specific species of orchid, its production continues in Mexico today, albeit at a much smaller volume than in other parts of the world.
If you’re shopping for vanilla around CDMX, make sure the bag you buy has been harvested from around its native habitat, Papantla in Veracruz.
A great Mexican souvenir for those who want to take the taste of CDMX home with them, you can find all the essential spices at markets like the one in Coyoacan (more on that below).
The key spices to look out for are achiote, allspice, coriander, coriander, cumin, and, of course, all the wonderful varieties of chilli powder.
Easily one of the most popular souvenirs from Mexico City, mezcal is the national spirit. Made from agave that has been cooked and fermented, it’s rather like wine, not in its taste (obviously) but in that it can be made from different types of agaves and using different production methods.
We had a very informative (and entertaining) drinking session at Bosforo that helped us get a better grasp of the varieties, which was incredibly helpful in guiding us towards which kind we wanted to buy to take back home.
While most people consume tequila in shot form with salt and lemon, it can actually be sipped and enjoyed, just so long as you find a quality maker.
A specific type of mezcal, tequila is made only from the blue Weber agave plant. As such, it has a much more limited flavour profile and is also looked down upon by many Mexicans as being on the whole a less sophisticated drink than mezcal. Having said that, we recommend heading to liquor stores like La Europea for a glimpse of the full range of options.
#17 Traditional Mexican Candy
Mexico has a whole bunch of candy you’ve probably never heard of, which makes wandering down the aisles of the local supermarket a bit like going into a badly lit Willy Wonka sweet factory. These bites make for great gifts for people back home with a sweet tooth, though some of them are a bit of an acquired taste.
From our observations, Pulparindo (a chewy sweet composed of tamarind, chilli and salt) and Mazapan (a crumbly peanut lozenge) seem to be ubiquitous in the hands of kids and adults alike. Both are tasty and moreish, so we’d recommend starting there if Rebanaditas (a lollipop that mixes sweet watermelon flavour with a chilli powder kick) sounds a little too, er, hot to handle.
#18 Molcajetes (Stone Mortar and Pestle)
When we were on our Mexico City food tour, we saw the traditional molcajete in use and just had to snag one for home.
These traditional stone mortars and pestles have been in use for thousands of years to grind spices. The most authentic ones are made from volcanic rock, and you can find many with cool designs carved into the surface.
#19 Mole Paste
Another one of the classic souvenirs from Mexico City, you’ll need your mole paste if you want to recreate authentic enchiladas, soups, and more. Plus, it’s super cheap to get your hands on at either a local grocery store or a food-oriented market (more on that below).
Many craftspeople in Mexico are trying to keep alive the artisanal traditions that once flourished around the country. By purchasing some of their pieces you are not only gaining a beautiful souvenir, but you are also supporting local creators.
#20 Dia De Los Muertos Masks
Something to spook your friends back home, Day of the Dead masks can be purchased for a very reasonable price in CDMX at the various markets around town, particularly in the lead-up to Dia de los Muertos.
Many of them are elaborately painted and make for beautiful house decorations, despite their skeletal appearance.
#21 Artisanal Coffee Mugs
We’ve already talked about Talavera pottery, but there are lots of other artisan ceramics you can find in the city’s various boutiques and markets, from Oaxacan barro negro (black clay) to Guanajuato majolica.
For something a bit more modern, we love the Marvilla store, which has simple, earthy, handcrafted, perfectly formed pieces of pottery that are great for everyday use while also attracting plenty of compliments from discerning guests.
#22 Folk Art and Papel Picado
Folk art makes for some of the more memorable souvenirs from Mexico City, and it comes in all shapes and sizes, from blown glassware to leather goods.
One of our favourite forms is papel picado, a style of Mexican paper cutting that is used to make bunting and banners during celebratory occasions like Mexican Independence Day, Dia de los Muertos, a wedding, or even a birthday.
#23 Contemporary Art from Local Artists
Mexican art didn’t stop with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. CDMX is a hub for the country’s contemporary artists, many of whom display their works in galleries around the trendy Condesa and Roma Norte barrios.
If you have a blank space at home that needs filling, you’ll find plenty of originals and prints that will make a statement as part of your home decor.
#24 Huichol Art
The Huichol are an indigenous people that predominantly live in the states of Jalisco, Durango, Zacatecas, and Nayarit.
While they produce a lot of cool folk art, they are most famous for their gorgeous multicoloured ‘paintings’, which are made using yarn or beads and often depict sacred motifs, including deer, corn, and peyote.
#25 Customized Papel Picado Banners
Papel picado is so ubiquitous in CDMX, you don’t have to settle for ready-made items. Instead, you can have a customised item made that will forever immortalise your trip to the country, made in one of the traditional workshops in the city suburbs. How’s that for a completely unique souvenir?
Best Fashion and Jewellery Souvenirs To Buy In Mexico City
Not all artisanal mementoes have to hang on your wall. Fantastic fabrics and distinctive indigenous clothing abound in the streets of Mexico City, just waiting to be snapped up by an eagle-eye fashionista.
#26 Silver Jewellery
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t partial to Mexican silverwork.
The most famous place in the country for silver jewellery is Taxco, a day trip away from CDMX. Here, you’ll find workshops where the silver is crafted as well as markets where you can buy earrings, necklaces, and other jewellery to take back home.
#27 Embroidered Clothing
All kinds of embroidered apparel can be found in Mexico City, much of it intricately hand-stitched. One of the best examples of this is the huipil, a loose-fitting tunic that is a common piece of clothing for indigenous women.
Wandering around CDMX, we’ve seen a lot of different patterns and designs, but our favourite is still the pure white version offset by a colourful collar.
#28 Huaraches (Traditional Mexican Sandals)
One of the most practical souvenirs from Mexico City, you can buy huaraches at a local stall, and then wear them around the city for the rest of your visit!
These comfortable sandals are traditionally made from leather and date back to before the arrival of Europeans in the Americas.
#29 Rebozos (Traditional Shawls)
Unlike sarapes, rezbozos are a traditional outer garment usually associated with women.
While principally used as a shawl to keep warm, we’ve also often seen them being used around Mexico as a way for a mother to carry an infant on her back. In short, they are a multifunctional marvel.
#30 Mexican Hat (Sombrero)
We’re sure we don’t really need to explain what a sombrero is, as it’s quite possibly the most recognisable Mexican item of clothing of all time. Given the familiarity to foreign tourists, these wide-brimmed hats are pretty easy to find all over CDMX, made from either straw or the more modern felt.
#31 Mazahua Embroidered Belts
For something a little less obvious than the sombrero, the State of Mexico is home to the Mazahua people, who have their own distinctive tradition of embroidery. This can be found on all kinds of items, from wool chincuetes to belts made from maguey fibre.
7 Best Places To Buy Souvenirs In Mexico City
Now that we’ve talked about some of the different kinds of mementoes you can find in Mexico City, it’s time to look at where to buy souvenirs in Mexico City, from popular markets to weekly bazaars.
#1 Mercado de Artesanías La Ciudadela
La Ciudadela is a Mexico City artisan market dedicated to folk arts and crafts from around the country. It’s here that you’ll find papier-mâché alebrijes, colourful examples of handmade pottery, guitars, jewellery, and all manner of woven textiles, including hammocks and rebozos.
Since opening in the late 1960s, La Ciudadela has expanded to encompass more than 350 stores. Most of them are small independent sellers, with representatives from all of Mexico’s 32 states among the vendors.
La Ciudadela is open from 10 am to 7 pm, and we recommend that you set aside at least an hour to leisurely explore the offerings. On our first trip, we spent half a day examining all the wares, just to make sure we had seen absolutely all the keepsake possibilities!
#2 Mercado de Coyoacán
Arguably the best place to buy souvenirs in Mexico City related to food and drink, the Mercado de Coyoacán has been around since 1921. Both Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were regular visitors, stopping in for a bite now and again between their artistic exploits.
In fact, that’s what the market is most famous for street food like octopus-topped tostadas and quesadillas, as well as stalls selling traditional candies, mole pastes, and spices. There’s a mixture of traditional crafts, too, including huipils and Talavera pottery, but that’s more of a minor point.
The market is open from 8 am to 6 pm daily, so you can pop in for a late breakfast, a lunchtime meal, or an afternoon snack.
#3 In front of the Frida Kahlo Museum
The best Frida Kahlo souvenirs Mexico City has to offer are, unsurprisingly, found near the Frida Kahlo Museum. While the building’s in-house shop contains some exclusive items, it’s a fairly small affair with a limited range.
Fortunately, there are numerous street vendors out front offering all kinds of merch, from T-shirts to totes. You’re guaranteed to find your perfect Kahlo keepsake out here, including the floral crowns that the artist was so famous for wearing on top of her hair.
#4 Bazar Sábado (Saturday Bazaar)
There are several different weekly markets to be found within Mexico City, but the Bazar Sábado is one of our favourites due to the quality of the arts and crafts items, including papel picado pieces and paintings by local artists.
Located to the southwest of the city centre, the Saturday Bazaar is found in the San Angel neighbourhood, with the nearest metro being Metro Line 3’s Miguel Ángel de Quevedo. It’s a bit of a trek from most of CDMX – even Coyoacan is about a 20-minute drive – but it’s worth making the journey if you love your textiles, paintings, and pottery.
#5 Antara Polanco
Found in the chichi neighbourhood of Polanco, not far from the Museo Soumaya and its extensive art collection, Antara is the place to go for fashion-oriented souvenirs from Mexico City.
Of course, the place is largely stuffed with international luxury brands like Hugo Boss and Armani, but if that is your jam, then the Antara is absolutely the place to go.
#6 Mercado de Sonora
Back to more traditional fare, the Sonora Market is a sprawling area about a 20-minute walk from the Zocalo (town square). While you can find a variety of fabric and ceramic goods, this place sets itself apart because of the unusual number of stalls dedicated to herbal medicines and occult objects.
If you’re looking for old-school remedies made using flowers, roots, and even snake blood, this is where you’ll find them. We’ve also discovered the Sonora Market to be an excellent source of Dia de los Muertos souvenirs.
We recommend heading to the Mercado de la Merced beforehand to grab a few eats from the local food stalls to fuel your shopping spree.
#7 Pineda Covalin
One of the standout souvenir shops in Mexico City, Pineda Covalin’s clothing is inspired by indigenous culture but showcases the suave sophistication of modern Mexico. We’re particularly enamoured of the bright designs that feature Mesoamerican-inspired patterns, but there is also attractive apparel that pays homage to Mexico’s local wildlife, from hummingbirds to butterflies.
Since the brand was founded by Cristina Pineda in 1996, it has grown to encompass multiple branches, so you can find outlets throughout CDMX, including in Polanco and the Centro Historico.
5 Useful Tips For Shopping Souvenirs In Mexico City
We’re sure you don’t need to be told how to shop, but there are a few tips that might come in handy before you venture into Mexico City’s bustling markets.
#1 Bring Cash
A lot of places will not take cards, even places that you might assume would because they are so regularly frequented by tourists. Make sure you bring cash. The last thing you want is to miss out on an awesome bargain just because you’ve forgotten to go to the bank.
#2 Wear a Bum Bag on Your Body
This is a good recommendation for any occasion when you are going somewhere abroad where there are bound to be crowds. Using a bum bag means thieves won’t be able to simply whisk your money out of your pocket or handbag when you’re not looking. Plus, you can store quite a bit of stuff in these compact bad boys.
#3 Consider Local Fashion Designers for Clothing and Accessories
Some of the best things to buy in Mexico City are wearable pieces of art that showcase the best of modern Mexican fashion. We’ve already highlighted Pineda Covalin and Fabrica Social as two awesome places to shop for stylish apparel, but we also recommend checking out local designers like Carla Fernández and Ricardo Seco for couture clothing.
#4 Inspect Items for Quality
Mexico is filled with brightly coloured clothing and crafts that are designed to dazzle. Just make sure you aren’t so dazzled that you forget to cast a careful eye over the goods before you hand over your pesos. Particularly when it comes to street sellers and markets, the quality of the merchandise can vary greatly from stall to stall.
#5 Practice Polite Haggling in Markets
Our experience of visiting CDMX markets is that most vendors expect a bit of bargaining, particularly when it comes to more expensive items and objects that are largely aimed at tourists, such as traditional handicrafts and apparel. Just make sure you keep things cordial, and if you’re not happy with the price, simply walk away.
Best Souvenirs From Mexico City: FAQs
What is Mexico’s famous souvenir?
There are lots of famous Mexican souvenirs, from straw sombreros to sugar skulls. You could go old school with items like rebozos and huipils that date back to pre-Columbian times, or you could opt for comparatively modern but still traditional things like mezcal, mole, and alebrijes.
Do I have to declare souvenirs at customs?
In almost all cases, no, you will not have to declare your souvenirs at customs. The most common exceptions are if you are bringing any kind of fresh food with you (spices and candies are fine) or a lot of alcohol. Most countries have per person limits for the amount of booze that can cross national borders, so don’t plan on bringing tequila back for all your friends.
What can you not bring back from Mexico?
There are very few things you might consider bringing from Mexico as a souvenir that would not be allowed to come back with you on holiday. Having said that, regulations vary from country to country, particularly when it comes to foodstuffs and plant life, so make sure you check your home nation’s rules before going wild at the markets.
Best Souvenirs From Mexico City: Final Thoughts
By now you’ve probably realised that there is quite a big range of souvenirs from Mexico City for you to consider purchasing as mementoes of your trip. One of our favourite things about Mexico is that there are so many truly unique pieces of apparel, art, and eats to buy. Our least favourite thing is how it won’t all fit in the luggage!
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