Xochimilco Canals Day Trip

The ancient Xochimilco canals, about an hour south of the Centro Historico of Mexico City, are a world heritage site dating back to the Aztecs. Xochimilco is a district of Mexico City in the Valley of Mexico. The name "Xochimilco" means "where the flowers grow" which is fitting because Xochimilco is famous for its floating gardens. The region was once a pre-Columbian town, settled by the Xochimilca people around the 9th century. At the time, the area was all lake and wetlands. The Xochimilca wanted to make use of the area for farming, but traditional farming methods would not work because of all the water. So, they engineered a creative solution! They constructed rafts out of reeds to float on the water, covered them with mud pulled from the bottom of the lake, and used that fertile mud to grow fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Over time, the rafts took root and became islands, which also formed the canals we see there today.
Nowadays the canals and the traditional boats used to traverse them (called "trajineras") are mostly used for tourism. The canals are a popular place to visit for both foreigners and locals. Some will grab a boat tour for a lesson in history, and others will take a trip to enjoy beers and music. But Xochimilco has plenty to offer beyond just the canals, if you have more time to spare, it is worth exploring the town to enjoy markets, museums, and food! Whatever your preference, a visit to the canals of Xochimilco is a must-do on your trip to Mexico City. On my week long trip to Mexico City, I took two day trips that ended up being the highlights of my time in Mexico. A visit to the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan, of course, and my day trip to Xochimilco. Xochimilco can be easily visited on a day trip from the center of Mexico City. There are many tour operators that arrange various tour options that include Xochimilco. For example, it is possible to take a full day tour that combines a couple sites like the Frida Kahlo house and the canals of Xochimilco (as well as round trip transportation).
A day trip to the Xochimilco canals will for sure be centered around a ride on the trajineras, and it should be - the boat trip is not only a learning opportunity, but tons of fun. There are beautiful views, and along the way vendors selling everything you could possibly want, from hats and jewelry to empanadas and fresh beer. My favorite part of riding a trajinera was the mariachi bands. All throughout the canals, mariachi bands hop from boat to boat, so you can hear their vibrant music throughout the canal system. You can hire the band to come aboard your boat for a private concert, or just do as I did and listen from afar. Brings lots of cash in case you would like to buy food, drinks, or hire a band while on the boat. Prices on the water are higher than the typical on-land prices for food and drinks.