Xochimilco Mexico City: The 2024 Complete List

You might have already heard about Xochimilco in Mexico City.

But in which part exactly is and what is its history?

Well, we are about to share with you a complete list of EVERYTHING you need to know about Xochimilco!

Most of our facts are based on our historian guides, and of course, our local experience.

Let’s start this Mexican adventure together.


In this post about Xochimilco Mexico, you are about to learn:

Xochimilco Mexico History

It was at the beginning of the 16th century that the Spaniards conquered the ancient Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. At that time it was a breathtaking city in the middle of the great lake Texcoco. Nowadays, it is what we know as Mexico City, located over a dry lake. However, there are still remains of this ancient metropolis that you can see most vividly in Xochimilco.

Xochimilco in Mexico City 🇲🇽

Xochimilco is one of the 16 boroughs within Mexico City. It is centered on the formerly independent city of Xochimilco, which was established on what once was the southern shore of Lake Xochimilco in the pre-Hispanic period.

What does Xochimilco mean? 🤔

The name “Xochimilco” comes from Nahuatl and means “flower field.” This referred to the many flowers and other crops that were grown here since the pre-Hispanic period.

Pre-Hispanic period 🗿

The first settlements in the area were associated with the Cuicuilco, Copilco, and Tlatilco settlements during the Classic period. The Xochimilca people considered one of the seven Nahua tribes that migrated into the Valley of Mexico, first settled here around 900 BC.


Xochimilco is mostly famous for its chinampas. Those small, rectangular areas of fertile arable land were ubiquitously used by Aztecs and their neighbors to grow crops on the shallow lake beds. Tenochtitlan was a floating city-state, and Xochimilco is one of the few places still preserving this peculiar irrigation tradition. Due to its historical importance and preservation of ancient Mesoamerican construction techniques, in 1987 UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site.

What are the trajineras?

In the present time, Xochimilco is widely popular for its colorful boats – trajineras. Those are the prototypes of Venetian gondolas here in Mexico. Trajineras are normally very colorful and have bright decorations. Each of them has a particular, curious, and often funny name. In addition, as part of the tradition, many of them often get their names after women.

Inside a trajinera ⛵

Trajineras often host parties and celebrations. It’s popular for Mexicans to go to Xochimilco, rent a boat, have fun with their friends, and blow off steam with some drinks and music.

Xochimilco Boat Ride (Trajineras)
Colorful trajineras in Xochimilco

Music, party, and Xochimilco Mexican food🎵

Mariachi and marimba bands create a festive ambient: they travel through the canals on their boats and play for visitors. Around your trajinera, you’ll often see vendors in their boats. They sell all kinds of Mexican snacks and drinks for you to buy. 

People usually come here to have a special weekend/celebration with their loved ones, since you can bring your food and drinks. You can also bring your speakers but it will be easier to just rent some audio there if you feel like it. 

Xochimilco in Mexico City
Mariachis in a Trajinera

Trajineras experience 🥳

In trajineras you can also go on a more educational or ecological tour, here you will visit the area of ​​the protected natural reserve of Xochimilco (by the Cuemanco pier), as well as the place where the chinampas are grown. 

Xochimilco Mexican Food

You can also experience the impressive culinary scene of Xochimilco Mexico, through its food market. Stretching across the size of an average town, the Xochimilco market is a paradise for food enthusiasts. As you wander through its bustling halls, you’ll see the abundance of fresh vegetables, fruits, and a lot of local food stalls. In addition, you can buy a souvenir, why not?

Traditional food 🌮

Definitely, when tasting the traditional delicacies, you are going to fall in love with Mexico. Moreover, for the adventurous palate, the market offers a delightful surprise – fried spicy grasshoppers known as “chapulines,” a truly exotic delicacy.

But as we mentioned above, in the trajineras you can have some Mexican snacks that you are going to adore. Furthermore, they can be hand-made. Sounds deliciously great, right?

xochimilco mexican food
Lady cooking quesadillas in a Trajinera

Xochimilco markets 🌷

Beyond the gastronomic delights, the market also hosts a plant market. Here, you can buy different plants and spices to enhance your culinary creations. Yummy!

Xochimilco’s market is a must-visit destination for any food lover in Mexico City. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the exquisite quesadillas, tlacoyos, tacos, and the different antojitos (Mexican Snacks).

🌮Check out our post: Traditional Food of Mexico (Top 20 Dishes)

Xochimilco Private Tour
Xochimilco Handicrafts at the Market

Festivities, culture, and traditions

Xochimilco is not only renowned for its natural beauty but also for its rich folklore, interesting festivities, captivating culture, and deep-rooted religious traditions.

The region’s folklore is a tapestry woven with ancient legends and myths, passed down through generations. Tales of mythical creatures and enchanting spirits bring an air of mystery to Xochimilco’s cultural heritage.

Festivities ✝️

Throughout the year, Xochimilco comes alive with an array of colorful festivities. The annual Carnival of Xochimilco fills the streets with incredible parades, elaborate costumes, and music, creating an atmosphere of joy and celebration. Another significant event is the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, where locals pay homage to the revered patron saint of Mexico.

Xochimilco Private Tour
Xochimilco Church

Patron saint festivities 🙏

In fact, most of its festivities come from the Catholic syncretism with the indigenous religion. Here, the patron saint festivities are a marvel that you have to experience at least once in a lifetime.

In certain towns in Mexico, these traditions are something that the locals do with a lot of devotion and love. And of course, it is also a reason to celebrate and have fun like there is no tomorrow.

Art Everywhere 🎨

As we said, Xochimilco’s culture is deeply intertwined with its cherished traditions. The art of chinelo dance, with its distinct masks and lively movements, showcases the region’s unique cultural identity. Additionally, Xochimilco Mexico is known for its impressive handcrafted pottery and embroidery, which reflect the skill and creativity of its artisans.

Pilgrimages ⛪

Religion holds a special place in the hearts of Xochimilco’s residents. The Basilica of San Bernardino, a magnificent colonial church, stands as a testament to their devotion. Pilgrimages to sacred sites and colorful religious processions are integral parts of the local religious customs. This place is a treasure trove of folklore, festivities, culture, and religious traditions.

Urban legends

In the enchanting canals of Xochimilco Mexico, whispers of haunting tales and urban legends echo through the waterways. One such legend is that of La Llorona, the weeping woman, who wanders the banks in search of her lost children, her mournful cries echoing through the night.

Another chilling story revolves around the eerie Island of the Dolls, where hundreds of weathered dolls dangle from trees, their lifeless eyes peering into the souls of passersby.

Locals claim the dolls are possessed by the spirits of deceased girls, haunting the island with their presence. As night falls, stories of ghostly apparitions and unexplained phenomena emerge, captivating the imagination of those who dare to venture into the mystifying realm of Xochimilco’s urban legends.

Xochimilco in Mexico City (island of the dolls)
Creepy dolls in Xochimilco

Traditions 👺

In fact, La Llorona spectacle in Xochimilco is a multidisciplinary performance of music, theater, and dance. In Xochimilco, year after year through the dances, the costumes, and the staging, the spectators have the opportunity to remember, become aware, and take action on the Day of the Dead tradition.

Where is it?

Xochimilco is a district located in the southern part of Mexico City. It is situated about 28 kilometers (17 miles) south of the city center. Known for its unique system of water canals and floating gardens, Xochimilco offers a picturesque and unique escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Xochimilco is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to experience the authentic charm of Mexico City.

mexico city private tour guide
Lady in a chinampa at Xochimilco lake

How to get to Xochimilco Mexico?

If you are in Mexico City, Xochimilco is definitely a place to experience. It is vivid, colorful, and fun, and is a connection with local nature and community. Administratively, it is part of the capital and you can easily get there by public transport.

From Taxqueña metro (subway) station take the tren ligero (“light train”) to Xochimilco station. From there, it’s a 20-minute walk or short taxi drive to Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas, the most popular place to take a boat. Otherwise, you can always take a taxi or Uber to get there directly.

xochimilco mexico city
Watch the sunset in this beautiful place

Except for Nuevo Nativitas, there are some other (less visited) places to get your trajinera ride. One of our favorites is Cuemanco. It can take you slightly more time to get there, but if you are looking for more tranquility and nature, you will be rewarded.

The canals there are wider than in Nuevo Nativitas which means fewer “traffic jams”. Moreover, it’s a bit further from the residential area so if you take a longer ride (2 hours or more) you can go deeper into nature enjoying its vivid plants and wildlife. If you are looking for fewer people and more nature, this is your best choice, especially in the mornings (boats start operating around 9 am).

What is the cost to enter?

You can hire a trajinera directly from operators in one of the main docks in Xochimilco. The current average price is approximately 500 MXN per hour per boat, which is approximately USD 27.

The incredible atmosphere created by the people around you adds to the richness of the experience. It is worth considering visiting Xochimilco with a larger group, as each trajinera can accommodate up to 20 people.

xochimilco tours
Get ready and enjoy the ride while admiring one of the most emblematic places in Mexico. You can have music, food, and lots of fun!

Xochimilco importance

Xochimilco Mexico holds significant importance in the country’s cultural tapestry. With its enchanting canals and floating gardens, Xochimilco offers a glimpse into Mexico’s rich history and traditions.

It is a place where ancient Aztec farming techniques are still practiced, preserving the heritage of the land. Xochimilco is a cherished UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts visitors from far and wide.

Exploring its colorful trajineras, interacting with the friendly locals, and indulging in delicious traditional cuisine, you’ll experience the heart and soul of Mexico. Xochimilco is a gem that shows the country’s stunning culture and reminds us of its deep-rooted heritage.

Xochimilco in Mexico City
Mexican “Gondola”

Our tours

We offer authentic and sustainable experiences and strive to constantly develop new off-the-beaten-road routes with maximum immersion in local nature, culture, and traditions.

Informative video

These are some of the most important things to know when visiting Xochimilco. Of course, there is still a lot to say about this beautiful place! What is your opinion about it?

Other useful advice is welcome, let us know in the comments!

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