Xochimilco Mexico, which is also known as the floating
gardens of Xochimilco, is an area in the outskirts of Mexico City that is known
for having 50 miles of canals that were once built by
the Aztecs as irrigation and way to navigate through the
ancient Lake Xochimilco, which is no longer in existence.
Today, visitors can take a boat ride through the canals
or go shopping in the small
souvenir stands that line the waterway. Taking a boat
ride is a great way to learn about Aztec civilization
and culture and provides a relaxing afternoon activity
for families or couples.
Lake Xochimilco once occupied a large portion of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, which is now modern day Mexico City. The Aztecs created artificial islands out of mud and plants, which eventually became an abundant source of flowers and vegetables for the region. Although the floating gardens of Xochimilco don’t actually float, the light-weight mud makes them appear as though they are floating. Even though Lake Xochimilco has dried up and the canals have shrunk, Xochimilco Mexico still has some navigatable canals in existence.
The floating gardens of Xochimilco consist of two main areas that are worth visiting. The first is an area where visitors can board a colorful boat called a trajineras and tour some of the canals. Each long and narrow boat is decorated with colorful flower designs and sometimes have mariachi musicians on board who will entertain you as you glide through the canals. In the past, the boats were decorated with real flowers that were grown from the islands of Xochimilco. Each boat is steered by an informative guide who will fill you in on the history of the Xochimilco and the agricultural resources it provides to the surrounding area. You’ll pass by historical buildings, unique cafes, and vendors selling handcrafted items out of their smaller boats, or chalupas. The vendors sell everything imaginable, such as jewelry, wooden dolls, drinks, and food. Some of the chalupas are like floating kitchens, with hot tortillas and tacos. If you see something that you want to buy, ask your tour guide to stop next to the chalupa for a moment so you can make your purchase.
The other section of the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco consists of an ecology center, or Parque Natural Xochimilco. It is there that visitors can learn about the history of Xochimilco Mexico and what people are doing to preserve the area. There is also information about Aztec and Mayan ruins that can be found in various regions as you travel Mexico.
Xochimilco is located about fourteen miles from
the Zocalo, or the central plaza in Mexico City. The site
takes about forty five minutes to an hour to get to by
train from Mexico City, but it is well worth the visit.
Some Mexico City hotels offer coupons for boat rides through the Xochimilco gardens
and others provide tours and transportation.
Boat tours of Xochimilco Mexico are available every day, although the area is less crowded and more pleasant on weekdays. If you don’t like big crowds, avoid visiting on Sunday afternoons when large tour groups are visiting.