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The classic boat ride through the gardens of Xochimilco

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Cross Xochimilco

One of the delegations that make up Mexico City is xochimilco. It is located southeast of the city and the name comes from the Nahuatl language: flower planting

The site is very old but today it has been transformed into a beautiful park where locals and tourists walk around and board pretty colorful boats. Boat trips through Xochimilco have become a real tradition.


Xochimilco Lake

The city of Mexico was built on a vast lagoon that before the arrival of the Spaniards had already developed between the canals and on the islands.

How? Word chinampa denotes a method of Mesoamerican agriculture: rafts covered with earth where vegetables and flowers were grown. They floated on lakes and lagoons and are precisely the ones that gave Tenochtitlán the idea of floating city.

Xochimilco is historically, culturally and anthropologically important because it was a place of chinampas. A) Yes, in 1987, UNESCO granted it the honor of World Heritage so that the place and its relationship with the ancient technique are not lost in the city.

Xochimilco Lake

Xochimilco Lake

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In the Valley of Mexico there are five lakes and one of them is Xochimilco. It’s not the size it was centuries ago and has been reduced to channels but it retains a certain area and remains attached to two other lakes in the group.

It’s a fresh water lakeOthers in the valley have salt water, but their water is not drinkable. For centuries it was used for agriculture and its springs were springs from the nearby mountains. As Mexico expanded, water from these springs began to supply the city and many lakes and lagoons in the valley began to dry up.

This took place between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century and in order not to damage the ecosystem further, carps and lilies were introduced. Of course, the native species were affected by these “invaders” and the situation did not improve until the 1980s when they came to terms with the environmental problems.

Xochimilco Lake It has a maximum depth of six meters Hardly, the water of its canals comes from the Cerro de la Estrella and receives a special treatment so that it is not contaminated.

Walks through the canals of Xochimilco

Boats in Xochimilco

The piers closest to the center from where the friendly boats leave are numerous.. There is the Fernando Celada on Laguna del Toro, you have another on Laguna de Caltongo, on Nueva León Avenue, and another at the end of Calle del Salitre and Calle del Nogal.

If you don’t want to meet too many people It’s not practical to take these walks on weekends because it is a classic outlet for the Mexicans themselves. The exception is if there is a special event that day, such as the contest for the most beautiful flower in the Ejido on May 20, which is the San Bernardo Festival or the Niñopan Festival.

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There are boats every day of the week, hundreds of them. They are known as trajineras and they are painted in many attractive colors. They are named after the owner usually names them after his wife, girlfriend or one of his children.

Fares usually depend on the size of the trajinera and the length of the journeyBut it’s all a matter of bargaining. You can walk for half an hour, 45 minutes, an hour, two hours. What is good is that you can load drinks and food and eat while walking since the biggest boats have a table in the middle where you sit and stay.

Trajineras up close

There are boats that have bands with musicians and mariachis. You can tip them when they walk past you and even ask them for a special song. The canals are beautiful, the boats colorful and you can see the city in the distance, the neighboring houses with their gardens that descend towards the canals and the flowers.

In the dock area there are markets where you can buy crafts and food. In season everything is open but maybe if you go in winter or on weekdays some will be closed.


A good place to shop is the Xochimilco Market, two blocks with dozens of stalls selling all kinds of food, clothing, flowers, religious items and more. Here you can buy what you take on a walk in the trajineras, for example. And otherwise there are boats that only sell food and they don’t walk anyone.

To complete the walk, you can visit the nature reserve that beyond the channels is where you can see how this chinampa technique worked and if you have time left in the area in general there are other attractions.

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There are houses from the time of Porfirio Díaz, santiguas houses some transformed into shops, Pedro Ramirez del Castillo street and Benito Juarez street. Is the House of Art and the House of the Cacique Apochquiyahuatzin.

saint bernardine temple

there is also the Temple and Convent of San Bernardino, great historical monument. It was founded by Fray Martín de Valencia in 1535 and it looks like a castle, with its ramparts. The bell tower dates from 1716 and has a clock from 1872. The cloister dates from 1604 and is a good example of indigenous and Spanish syncretism.

Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata

You can also take a look at Reform Hotelan early 20th century building that witnessed a meeting between Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapataleaders of the great Mexican revolution, and the beautiful 17th century Capilla del Rosario.

Do you like the art of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo? So don’t leave out of the walk the Dolores Olmedo Patino Museum In addition to the work, it has a beautiful garden where peacocks wander.

Mexico is a beautiful city, but you can hardly say you’ve visited it if you haven’t taken the boat tour through Xochimilco.

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