/ The Mexico City Guide
Mexico — By Laura Nazimiec on June 8, 2010 at 1:06 pm
Filed under: attraction, featuredarticle, weird and unusual

The Floating Gardens of Xochimilco

Something you may not know about Mexico City is that it exists over what was once the ancient Lake Texcoco.  The original Aztec inhabitants of Tenochtitlán constructed an extensive network of chinampas (floating plots of land or gardens), canals and waterways that extended throughout the city.  Today, all that remains are 114 miles of canals and gardens in the Xochimilco district of Mexico City.

Xochimilco, Ciudad de Mexico

Xochimilco Canals, Mexico City

The name Xochimilco translates roughly to Place Where Flowers Grow in Náhuatl.  Located toward the southern edge of Mexico City, Xochimilco (map) is one of the last remaining examples of the city’s original ecosystem and agriculture.  Farmers in Mexico City continue to harvest food, plants and flowers from the chinampas in the Xochimilco district and an urban farming cooperative has formed in the area.

Xochimilco is a favorite weekend destination among Mexico City residents and a popular tourist attraction.  Visitors to Xochimilco can hire a colorful wooden gondola, or trajinera (map), to cruise the canals and waterways.  It’s not unusual for family and friends to take to the waterways for parties or to celebrate special events.  Boats seat up to 20 passengers and standard per hour rates, roughly MX$140-160 per hour ($11-12), are posted.  Bargaining will often result in a reduced rate, especially on longer tours.

On weekends and holidays lanchas colectivos (shared boats) seating as many as 60 passengers offer reduced rates on standard one hour tours.  The best time to visit Xochimilco is on the weekends when the atmosphere is most festive and trajineras carrying vendors and musicians sail alongside the boatloads of visitors providing food, drinks and entertainment.

Isla de las Mu√Īecas

Island of the Dolls, Xochimilco

If you’re planning to be out on the water for a couple of hours and you’re in the mood for another of Mexico City’s strange and quirky attractions, consider a trip out to the Isla de las Mu√Īecas, or Island of the Dolls.

It’s a pleasant journey through sparsely populated areas of the canals.¬† All of the trajinera operators are familiar with the island and will take passengers there upon request.

The Island of the Dolls gets it’s name from the thousands of dolls, many partially decomposed and missing limbs, that are hung from trees and various structures all over the island.¬† The installation was created by island resident Don Julian who passed away a few years ago.

Prior to his death it was possible to visit the island and see the man at work.  He and his island were even featured on an episode of Globe Trekker.  These days the island has been converted into a rustic museum and memorial though it still appears the way that it did when Don Julian was alive.  Visitors to the island are charged a small entrance fee.

Xochimilco can be reached on public transportation from Mexico City‚Äôs historic center.¬† Take the Metro to Taxque√Īa station and transfer to the Tren Ligero.¬† Ride the Tren Ligero to the final stop and exit to your left.¬† Follow Avenida Morelos to the market and embarcaderos, or boat landings.

Photo Credits: Laura Nazimiec

Related places:
  1. A
    Parque Ecol?gico de Xochimilco, Xochimilco, D.f.
    Parque Ecol?gico de Xochimilco, Xochimilco, D.f., Mexico
    View Details and Book
  2. B
    Trajineras Xochimilco
    Xochimilco, D.f., Mexico
    View Details and Book
Tags: attraction, featuredarticle, weird and unusual


  • Juan Gonzalez says:

    So many years going to Xochimilco and I didn’t know there was an actual park named after it. I added to the map the location where one would typically hire the Trajineras, deep in the town of Xochimilco. If you zoom in really close, you can see the colourful trajineras on the satellite view!

  • Laura Nazimiec says:

    The satellite views are pretty amazing! Thanks Juan!

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