Xochimilco, Mexico – More Than Just Canals and Rajineras
Xochimilco, once fed by Aztec civilizations, now stands as an iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site and draws locals for rides on colorful flat-bottomed trajinera boats.
However, don’t let that put you off. There’s so much to see, from floral displays to the surreal Island of Dolls! Don’t be put off! There is much worth seeing at the museum.
Many tourists visit Xochimilco to enjoy floating along its canals on vibrantly painted trajineras (barges). Unfortunately, however, these tours could be damaging chinampas wetlands due to noise pollution and waste from passengers onboard the barges.
Consider taking both metro and train to get to Xochimilco: ride the blue line metro until Tasquena then transfer to Tren Ligero light rail for one stop towards Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas.
From there it’s only a short stroll to the boats at Nuevo Nativitas. Once onboard your vessel, don’t forget to ask your driver to stop by an greenhouse (“invernadero”) where you might spot beautiful flowers, river turtles, and perhaps the endangered Mexican axolotl (an endangered translucent salamander). Don’t forget pulque either; an ancient drink with low alcohol content that can be found for sale along the canals; its delicious and refreshing!
Things to Do In Xochimilco
Xochimilco may be best known for its canals and colorful trajinera, but there’s much more to offer beyond these attractions. The district hosts an expanding selection of experiences – from bee and embroidery tours to axolotl and kayaking adventures!
Join a Pulque Cruise! Locals sell this ancient Mesoamerican beverage from their boats; with low alcohol content yet nutritional value.
Other options for exploring include visiting an invernadero (huge greenhouse) or zoological park where you might spot an endangered amphibian native to canals – an axolotl. You could also combine your ride with visiting Dolores Olmedo Museum which boasts an extensive collection of Frida Kaho and Diego Rivera art.
Public transit is the easiest way to reach Xochimilco. Take the blue metro line from Zocalo to Tasquena, then switch over at Tren Ligero station on to the Xochimilco train – don’t forget your CDMX reloadable card!
Xochimilco Food & Drink
Xochimilco is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site; it’s also an active, vibrant neighborhood full of food vendors and mariachi musicians with colorfully painted trajineras cruising past. Many of the city’s premier restaurants such as Enrique Olvera’s Pujol and Jorge Vallejo’s Quintonil source ingredients from nearby farms for their menu offerings.
Local street foods are just as memorable. Huitlacoche dates back to Aztec times. It is make from fermented maguey sap. You can taste this traditional Mexican treat at a pulqueria alongside beer or traditional local cocktails such as michelada (made with beer, tomato juice, salt, and lime juice) produced at one of Xochimilco’s bars.
Get help from your guide and climb aboard a classic Trajinera boat to explore the canal. Enjoy sipping on tequila, margaritas or water while playing Mexican board games such as Loteria (Mexican Bingo) or Pirinola roulette along the way. Finally, stop by one of the floating islands (chinampas) for lunch and learn to create your own michelada cocktail cocktail!
Tourist agencies tend to overprice and rush through day trips of Xochimilco, often costing far too much in both time and money. Save yourself some stress and save some money by opting out of tours altogether by taking public transit – the metro to Tasquena followed by Tren Ligero all the way down to Xochimilco should cost no more than 10 pesos and is safe, convenient, and simple!
At Xochimilco, you may come across local families picnicking, rowdy teenagers singing along to their favorite tunes and mariachi bands serenading lovers – all activities which make Xochimilco an ideal place for photos! Just be sure to do it in an appropriate manner. Feel free to take as many as you wish without violating anyone’s rights!
At Xochimilco, boat rides typically last one hour but include stops at ecological reserves and the Island of Dolls. Add travel time from and to city center and you have yourself an entire day’s activities ahead of you if opting for guided tours; negotiate rates early to maximize enjoyment!