The floating gardens of Xochimilco

Enjoy boat tours of the canals with friends and try traditional Mexican snacks in Xochimilco, one of the most iconic places in Mexico City
Trajineras de Xochimilco
Foto: Alejandra Carbajal
By Time Out Mexico City editors |
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One of the most classic places to visit in Mexico City is Xochimilco. Since 1930, they’ve been offering tourist trips in trajineras through more than 184 kilometers of waters that integrate the zone’s canals and chinampas.  

The chinampas represent a cultivation method that has been used since pre-Hispanic times in the Valley of Mexico. The area was, after all, a lake, and the best way to farm was to use artificial islands in the lake itself. Today, they are an example of sustainability and productivity: they provide five annual harvests of high-quality vegetables. Yolcan, a project that focuses on fair trade and rehabilitation of the chinampas, offers a food club that delivers fresh produce from farms in Xochimilco to homes and businesses across the city. 

Enter the canals of Xochimilco and enjoy its trajinera tours, along with the theater programs during the Day of the Dead season and discover the richness of its ecological reserve. And don’t forget to take advantage of a snack or two during your tour.

The best places to visit in Xochimilco

Cuemanco, Xochimilco, trajineras
Foto: Alejandra Carbajal

Cuemanco

In operation since June 5, 1993, this is the zone’s most ecological space as its tours pass through the Xochimilco ecological reserve, a place where they still preserve chinampa traditions. It’s also the headquarters of La Llorona, a piece of musical theater, with lights and dance that has been hosted among these canals – illuminated by torches - every October and November for the past 20 years.

Isla de las Muñecas en Xochimilco, en la Ciudad de México
Foto: Alejandra Carbajal

Isla de las Muñecas

Your tour through the wetlands of Xochimilco will be altered by an island where doll parts hang from trees. The story goes that an old inhabitant of the area, Julián Santana Barrera, collected dolls that were taken out of the trash, and hung them around the property in order to protect himself from the spirit of a little girl. Julián later drowned in the canals, which adds to the site’s already enigmatic nature.

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Belem de las flores, Xochimilco, trajineras
Foto: Alejandra Carbajal

Belem de las Flores

From here, you’ll see tours leaving for the most popular canals, including the chinampa canals and night tours. On Fridays and Saturdays, they operate practically all night, and it’s worth asking about the next event: movie projections, theater works or other spectacles are common place.

Fernando Celada, Xochimilco, trajineras
Foto: Alejandra Carbajal

Fernando Celada

Opened in 1968, motivated by the Olympic Games, and carrying the name of the poet, dramatist and journalist: Fernando Celada, a famous local son. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some of the native bird life.

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Trajineras de Xochimilco
Foto: Alejandra Carbajal

Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas

This is where you’ll find the final remnants of the México-Tenochtitlan lake. This shoving off point into the canals is one of the most popular and here you’ll find an artisan’s market and a food market. The rent of a trajinera reaches 500 pesos per hour. It doesn’t matter how many people are in your group, nor the size of the boat. Nor can they force you into a minimum rental period. Don’t be fooled, and don’t miss out on your chance to take part in the lovely custom of bartering.

Check out more attractions in Mexico City

Amaneceres monumentales desde el Monumento a la Revolución
Foto: Iván Macías
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We recommend the places that house the archaeological legacy of pre-Hispanic cultures, monuments and the city’s biggest lung, just past the metropolis’ first skyscraper.

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