Perfumed with flowers and plied by trajineras, a sort of gondola cheerfully painted to reflect the canals' lush beauty, the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco were once the agricultural breadbasket of Mexico City. Today, these last lovely remnants of ancient Lake Texcoco are more a destination for young lovers and enchanted tourists in search of a romantic afternoon.
Though most of the Aztecs' massive system of canals have long since been drained, the suburb of Xochimilco ("Place of Flowers") offers a glimpse into the ancient beauty of of Tenochtitlán. The "floating gardens" that once fed the great nation are smaller, but still here; the trajineras may now come equipped with engines, but they are still festively decorated, and many carry troupes of mariachis and offer relaxed "restaurant" service.
The gardens make for a mellow day, cruising through the islands and homes. Though Xochimilco has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is still a working neighborhood, with people (perhaps) living as they did long before the Spanish arrived.
The Gardens of Xochimilco are located about 23 kilometers (14 miles) south of the Zócalo in Mexico City. Most tour operators arrange the trip, but it's easy to do on your own.
Go to the end of Metro Line 2 (the Blue Line, which runs directly under the Zócalo in the city center) and exit at the Tasqueña station. From there, Tren Ligero runs directly to Xochimilco; follow the signs to the embarcadero. The first trajineras (colorfully painted, flat- bottomed boats) you'll see may be a bit more expensive; peso-pinchers can continue down the waterfront to look for less ornate trajineras that might be willing to bargain.
Tours & Tickets
Drift through the magnificent floating gardens of Xochimilco in a colorful ‘trajinera,’ a flat-bottomed boat characteristic of this unique agricultural region. ... Read more
Mexico City, Mexico
Duration: 6 hours (approx.)