With its brightly painted trajineras (flat-bottomed boats), traditional chinampas (floating gardens), and network of flower-perfumed canals, Xochimilco—the “Flower Garden”—is the kind of place that will have you reaching for your camera at every turn.
The floating gardens of Xochimilco make an easy half-day trip from Mexico City, and the quintessential way to explore is a traditional trajinera boat ride around the Xochimilco canals and islands. Xochimilco tours are often combined with a Mexico City sightseeing tour, visits to historic sites such as the National University of Mexico or the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan, or a tour of the Coyoacán neighborhood, where highlights include the Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum and the Frida Kahlo Museum.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Opt for a 2-hour boat tour to fully explore the site.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing so you can easily climb on and off the boats.
- Some of the larger trajineras offer food, drinks, and mariachi music on-board.
How to Get There
The Gardens of Xochimilco are located about 14 miles (23 kilometers) south of the Zócalo in Mexico City. To get there by public transport, take Metro Line 2 to Tasqueña station. From there, the Tren Ligero trains runs directly to Xochimilco; follow the signs to the embarcadero on arrival.
When to Get There
Xochimilco can get crowded; locals and tourists alike visit on weekends and holidays. The festive atmosphere is all part of the experience, but opt for a weekday or early-morning visit if you prefer to avoid the crowds.
The Floating Gardens of Xochimilco
Xochimilco’s floating gardens are the last vestige of Mexico’s elaborate chinampas—the agricultural system set up by the ancient Aztecs. Devised to make the most of the fertile lake lands of the Anahuac Valley, the chinampas are comprised of small, man-made islands of farmland linked by a network of canals. Though most of the Aztecs' massive system of canals have long since been drained, the suburb of Xochimilco offers a glimpse into the ancient beauty of Tenochtitlán, and the remarkably preserved site is now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.