What are the best things to do in Xochimilco of Mexico City?
When people think of Xochimilco, they tend to think of just the canals and nothing else.
Especially foreign tourists.
However, there are plenty of other things that you can do in Xochimilco that are worth visiting.
Having spent some time traveling around briefly in Xochimilco, these are the main things I enjoyed the most while I was in that area of Mexico City.
So let's get to it.
Before we get to those other things to enjoy, let's just knock this out first.
Obviously, you have heard of the canals when looking up Xochimilco.
There's a few things to say about them based on my experience visiting them at least 3 times.
First, if you want to be on the water with a more lively experience, then visit the Nuevo Nativitas point of departure anytime past 11 AM.
That point of departure is the most popular spot for tourists.
It also has a reputation -- from what I've heard only -- of being relatively better when it comes to not getting scammed.
For those who don't know, there are scams in Xochimilco where they try to charge you per person when they should be charging you per hour regardless of how many people are with your group (up to a point obviously).
Some people get charged 4000 pesos, Or 3000.
You have taxi drivers who will lie to you saying that Nativitas is closed and try to take you to some other point where you'll get scammed.
If you hear that, know you are being scammed.
At any rate, I'm not saying the other points of departure are guaranteed to be bad. It's just that, based on what I've gathered, it seems like Nativitas is better on this topic.
Regardless though, you should remember what I said about Nativitas having a lot more people showing up.
When I first got on Xochimilco, it was to that specific point and I truly didn't begin to enjoy the canals until after the first hour because it wasn't as calm and quiet as I had hoped for.
If you want something more calm and quiet, you can check out departure points that don't have as many tourists like the one in Parque Ecologico Xochimilco.
That park is located across from another park called Cuemanco along the road known as Anillo Perif.
Otherwise, if you want a calmer experience, you need to get to the canals when they open.
Basically at around 8 or 9 AM (one of those hours is when they open, I forgot).
Even better if you show up on a day like Monday or Tuesday when less tourists are visiting.
For more information on Xochimilco, check out this article I wrote here.
Let's move on.
PS: the cost of the tour ride in 2022 is 500 pesos per hour but sometimes you can negotiate better rates depending on how long the ride will be and probably with more luck if you have a local negotiating for you.
Isla de Muñecas
This is an island that you'll find on the Xochimilco canals but you have to take a boat ride of about 5 hours total to see it.
Where you'll take 2.5 hours to get there and 2.5 hours going back roughly.
When I first got to Xochimilco, the tour guide said he'll show me the island of the dolls but it was bullshit.
He showed me some replicas of the dolls that they have on the side of the water.
You see these replicas on various points of the canal and the tour guide might bullshit you also saying that you'll see the island when you really are not.
You have to take 5 hours to get there and back.
And there are certain departure points that are more ideal for seeing the island than others.
At any rate, the island itself is cool to visit.
Part of me wonders though how true the story behind the island is or if it was all bullshit invented by folks in Mexico to invent a tourism spot to make money.
The story though is the following: basically a girl drowned yelling "my doll! I want my doll!" Then some dude felt guilty about her death and he began hanging dolls around his island. Then he went insane, isolated himself from others and he died someday near where the girl died. The end.
It doesn't feel as creepy as you'd imagine.
To get onto the island itself, there is a separate fee of 50 pesos as of 2022.
And they also charge a separate fee if you are using a camera to take pictures (though they won't charge you for using your phone supposedly).
For more information on my experience visiting the island, check out this article I wrote here.
It was cool overall. Worth checking out.
Parque Ecologico Xochimilco
Next, there is another park on the northern point of Xochimilco called Parque Ecologico Xochimilco.
I wrote an article about that specific park here.
Located on the road called Anillo Perif.
It's an OK park.
Quite nice actually.
You just walk around, enjoy the view of the lake, maybe get on a boat and whatever else.
Not much to say.
Across the road from the last park mentioned, you also have Cuemanco.
Cuemanco is another park that is mostly for people who want to exercise.
Play soccer, jog around, etc.
It's not overly exciting but makes for a decent walk.
Mercado de Plantas y Flores de Cuemanco
Next, we have a little plants and flowers market right next to Cuemanco park.
I've never been there so I can't say how nice it is.
Only that, from what I heard, apparently the plants and flowers are a little bit overpriced.
If you are into plants and flowers anyway, check it out.
It's open from 8 AM to 6 PM everyday.
Laguna de San Gregorio Atlapulco
For another lake to check out, try visiting the Laguna de San Gregorio Atlapulco.
You'll need to take an Uber to the area because taxis aren't going to know how to get there.
It's a lake that basically gets no foreign tourists whatsoever.
It took me two attempts to get there because it is right next to ejido land and there is a point you have to pass where a few random dudes will want to know why you are going there.
If you explain you just want to see this specific lake, it'll be fine.
In order to get a better view of the lake though, you'd have to get onto the ejido land itself past a gate.
However, the guy at the gate probably won't let you get past him but I've heard some people have been able to.
Maybe if you have your Uber driver explain the situation and ask if there is anything that could be paid to simply get a closer look.
With 100 pesos (or whatever), you'd have a better shot at seeing it perhaps.
....Or maybe if the dude at the gate was just given a blowjob by his wife. Then maybe he'd be happy enough to let you past.
At any rate, you technically don't have to get onto the ejido land to see the lake.
There is a dirt road next to it that you can drive down that leads to a dead end where you can see the lake easy enough from there also.
I enjoyed visiting the lake anyhow. It was nice to look at.
For more information on the lake with photos, check out this article I wrote here.
Xochimilco has a lot of really nice churches like most of Mexico City.
If you want, have your taxi driver show you around some churches.
As you can see in this article here that I wrote, I took a taxi and only paid like 6 or 7 dollars an hour to be driven around for literally more than 7 or 8 hours.
Something like that.
Checking out as many churches and neighborhoods in Xochimilco.
Very much worth it.
You can check out that article cited for some recommendations on what churches to visit also.
Two Neighborhood Ideas: Santiago Tepalcatlalpan & Santa Cecilia Tepetlapa
When taking that taxi around, there were a few neighborhoods that were interesting to me.
I just enjoyed visiting them.
They were Santiago Tepalcatlalpan & Santa Cecilia Tepetlapa.
The former was much more active anyway with more people and a lively feel outside.
Both were nice to visit anyhow.
If you wish to visit some lesser known neighborhoods of Xochimilco, I'd recommend those two.
And, quite frankly, wouldn't even mind living in Santiago Tepalcatlalpan.
Museo Dolores Olmedo
There was a museum in Xochimilco called Museo Dolores Olmedo.
I can't give it the strongest recommendation because it was closed when I went to visit and seems to be closed indefinitely as of this writing.
However, I'm sure it'll open up someday in the future.
It's the most recommended museum in Xochimilco so give it a try if you can and maybe tell me in the comments below of this article how it was.
Museo Arqueológico Xochimilco
This is another museum in Xochimilco called Museo Arqueológico Xochimilco.
It has a bunch of pre-Hispanic artifacts and they seemingly host events every once in a blue moon.
It was OK to visit.
Check out this article I wrote here on the place.
Zona Arqueológica y Centro Ceremonial Cuailama
This is an archeological site of some pre-Hispanic group.
It's supposedly open 24 hours everyday.
There isn't much to see though over here.
When I went, all I saw were some signs with information about the place and an open field on the top of some area that you get to after climbing up some stairs.
Regardless, it makes for an OK visit.
The main appeal I had from it was that it truly was just nice to sit down, relax and enjoy the view of the city in front of you.
You will likely be the only person visiting like I was.
Entrance is free obviously. There's nobody at the entrance to take your name, charge you or whatever.
And, when you finish seeing the place, go check out the neighborhood right outside this archeological zone.
It's more of a humble neighborhood but it was interesting to walk around.
Here's an article I wrote on this entire place.
Mercado de Xochimilco
You have a little market in the center of Xochimilco that is worth checking out.
If you like visiting markets, you'll like this one. It has plenty of people and plenty of stuff to buy.
It's not too empty inside.
More on that market here.
The Center of Xochimilco Alcaldia
Right next to the Xochimilco Market is the Xochimilco Alcaldia.
Has a little plaza looking area where events can be held.
And has a little park to enjoy also.
Nice to visit.
The only complaint is that you might get approached by hustlers wanting to show you the canals but they aren't too aggressive.
Catedral de Xochimilco
In the same area as the last two spots is the Catedral de Xochimilco.
Arguably the nicest church in the area.
Worth checking out.
Here's some pictures of that place in this article I wrote here.
Centro Deportivo Xochimilco
Next, we have a sports center in Xochimilco.
Not worth visiting unless you plan on being physically active or want a green space to sit down and relax in.
More on this place in this article I wrote here.
Bosque de Nativitas
Here is a small park area where you can go horse riding.
If I remember right, I think the 2022 prices were like 100 pesos for half an hour.
They might try to pressure you to go the full hour.
I only went half an hour and it was more than enough.
Though, after it was finished, I wasn't sure if we actually did a full half hour (I didn't check the time before I got on).
It just felt like they maybe shorted the time a bit.
But, like I said, I felt more than fine with the time I got.
It wasn't that interesting.
But makes for an OK activity and is really the main thing to do in this area.
More on this place in this article here.
Mercado De Flores Madre Selva
Here there is a little market area right behind Bosque de Nativitas.
It's OK to visit.
Not sure what the prices are because I don't care to buy flowers or plants.
But I did stumble across it when I was visiting Bosque de Nativitas.
It's popular though and plenty of people like buying there seemingly.
So check it out also if you like buying plants and flowers.
Final Thoughts: Best Things to Do in Xochimilco
Got anything to add?
Drop other recommendations below if you have anything else that you like in Xochimilco that I didn't include or experience in the area.
There's plenty of other little spots to see obviously.
Including maybe some street markets or maybe little parks here and there.
Not to mention the fact that there are -- like in the rest of Mexico City -- annual events held.
For New Years, Day of the Dead or whatever else.
I didn't include anything about that because I don't have experience going to annual events in Xochimilco.
Though I do know that it's popular to visit the Doll Island mentioned before on Day of the Dead for obvious reasons.
So I'll leave it at that.
Leave any comments below.
Follow my Twitter here.
And thanks for reading.