A fiesta on a canal. That is the best way to describe Xochimilco to somebody in one sentence. It really is an enjoyable time to sit back on a wonderfully decorated boat and to drift along a canal with a drink in one hand, snack in another, and mariachi bands in the background.
Visiting Xochimilco from Mexico City for a boat ride is essential when staying in the city. There is no reason why this should be missed. Especially if it is placed at just the right time in your itinerary. If you know you have a long day the day before, then it is the perfect activity for the next day. Get somebody that you met, a group of people, or meet people there on the day of and go in on a boat ride here and have a fiesta.
It is the perfect time to unwind from the pressure and stress of traveling. A time for yourself. With the people you want to be with partying with people you may not know, but bonding over the enjoyment of Xochimilco and everything that this canal has to offer.
We arrived at Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas in Xochimilco on a Monday at 11:00 a.m. There was nobody there. The locals in the market were just beginning to open their doors. There were a few locals in the scattered grouping of boats, but nobody on the canal and just one person trying to sell us on a canal ride.
There are many different entrances to the canal, though we were recommended to visit Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas. While we deciding when we should get on a boat to see if more people would show up, we shopped around the market that stretches along a small section of the canal in this area. We watched as some locals were painting and decorating pieces of a boat that would later be assembled.
The best time to visit Xochimilco is on the weekend during its operating hours. This is when you can take advantage of the fiesta that happens on the canal. It is also the busiest time. It is probably better to get there at 10 a.m. when things kick off to get your boat and get on the canal before things get crazy. However, there are more than enough boats on the canal at any given time.
Weekdays are great if you are looking for a more relaxing cruise on the canal. As we said, we arrived at 11:00 a.m. on a Monday. It was around noon when we finally decided to get onto the boat and there was only one other boat on the canal, though several other smaller boats offering drinks, snacks, and services. It was a lovely cruise and we were able to really enjoy the time together.
The best part about this was that we also got to experience the party aspect of Xochimilco on the second half of our canal cruise as more and more boats were departing and joining in the festivities. We loved our experience here. Complete your day by visiting the nearby Coyoacan area and seeing the Frida Kahlo museum and so much more.
How to Get to Xochimilco from Mexico City
We have one way to recommend getting around Mexico City. And that is Uber. Sure public transportation is great to be able to see more of the local life of others. We have heard of a lot of stories about it being much safer than people think. But we also got several stories from our AirBnB host about people getting pick pocketed while on public transit.
We were not interested in taking the risk, especially with our limited amount of time in the city. We want to make the most of our time, so Uber is the best bet. Not to mention it is incredibly inexpensive and convenient in Mexico City. The traffic here is bad and driving here would be enough to cause you to have a mental breakdown if you were to rent a car.
The taxis here look broken down and barely holding on. We avoided those. Uber has a great infrastructure in place to assure your safety and comfort. The forty minute drive from La Condesa, Mexico City to Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas, Xochimilco was roughly 100 pesos.
Xochimilco Boat Tour
When we were ready, we paid the $500 pesos to get on a boat to a gentleman who we were approached by when we first arrived. He hailed one of the drivers, and we followed him along the large assortment of boats to one of them at the very back with good access to the canal. There are literally probably one hundred boats parked along the canal all painted and decorated with vibrant colors and each has its own name.
We got in and our driver spoke to us in Spanish (we do not speak Spanish) and pushed us off with a long paddle until we got through to the opening of the canal. We enjoyed the wakening of the locals on the banks of the canal either farming or preparing their day.
Along your ride are smaller boats that will approach your boat and offer you various snacks, drinks, and services. For example, we got a taken of us while cruising on our boat. There were mariachi bands that you can pay for and they will board your boat and play for you. We could definitely see how this could turn into one massive party on this canal if we were to visit on the weekend.
The one hour canal ride takes you to a flower shop / market where you get out to stretch your legs and to see what there is for sale here. Unfortunately there was no reason for us to purchase a plant to bring back with us, but we did get a cool little Groot flower pot to bring back with us.
From here, we board our boat again and are taken back to the beginning. On our way back is when more and more boats embarked. Mariachi bands were playing and people were enjoying drinks. The party was just starting on this Monday. It was a great balance for us to depart and really enjoy the peace and tranquility, while on our way back we were able to enjoy the party that was just beginning. We would not have wanted it any other way.
Xochimilco Boat Price
A one hour tour on the canal is $500 pesos. This is a fixed price and generally is not negotiable. This is per boat though, so you can get a group of people together on a boat to pitch in. You can have roughly 20 people on a boat and splitting this $500 peso charge.
Is the tour worth this price? Absolutely. As mentioned before, this tour includes half an hour to a flower market / shop along the canal where you will have time to look around the shop and then hop back into the boat to make your way back to the beginning. Any other extras like snacks, drinks, mariachi bands, or photos are extra along the tour.
You can meet people there or somewhere along your travels to try and split the cost of the boat tour in order to make it more economical. However, if you are going to do this it is better to do it before you get to the gate of Xochimilco so that the salesperson does not see that you are not arriving together.
There is a longer tour that you can also purchase which will take you to the Island of Dolls, but this was not in our budget nor were we interested at the time to do this tour.
Add Xochimilco to your Mexico City itinerary. It is the perfect unwind from any pressure and stress that comes from travel. The perfect canal ride with drinks, snacks, and music. Is there a better way to engulf yourself in Mexican culture?
We think not. And though we arrived when there was nobody, we were on our way back along the canal when the party was getting going. There is no doubt that this is a great one hour tour whether you enjoy a quiet time and want to go during a weekday or you want to fiesta on the weekend.
Have you been to Xochimilco before? What was your experience here? Let us know in the comment section below.