The floating gardens of Xochimilico and the ancient Mesoamerican city Teotihuacán are two of Mexico City’s most popular tourist destinations, and with good reason.
Xochimilico is a colourful series of canals built by the Aztecs. Teotihuacán is an ancient city of pyramids, built even before the Aztecs’ epoch. Mexico City’s rich history and cultural distinctiveness is evident in both destinations. Frida Kahlo famously spent time at each location—she even took Leon Trotsky and his wife to visit Teotihuacán when they were guests in her home during his exile in Mexico City.
If you are visiting Mexico City, I’d recommend paying a visit to both of these awe-inspiring destinations. If you are staying in the city centre, I’d plan to spend a full day each for Xochimilico and Teotihuacán.
Xochimilico is a series of canals in a southern suburb of Mexico City, the last remnants of an Aztec-built water transport system. The canals are completely chokka with flat-bottomed gondola-style boats called trajineras, each painted in vibrant hues and given a name. Visitors can ride on their own boat, while vendors selling drinks, food and flower crowns row their smaller boats right alongside. You can even hire a mariachi band from one of these smaller boats to join you on your trajineras and play music!
To hire a boat with a driver costs about £10, regardless of how many people you have on board with you. The more people you bring, the smaller the cost per person. (Ideal hendo, anyone?) We hired our boat from Embarcadero Nuevo Nativas as it wasn’t too crowded and the boat salespeople there weren’t too pushy. Pick a sunny day to go visit, grab a cold beer or michelada, kick back and enjoy the ride!
The weather in Mexico City was slightly cooler than it was on the West coast, so I’m wearing the same 2014 top I wore in Sayulita, only this time I’ve paired it with Fiorucci jeans. My sunglasses are secondhand Dior from Vestiaire Collective. The scarf is from Shop by Crisis Hackney, which I wore as a headband on my holiday last year. I always bring a silky scarf along on holiday as it is a versatile accessory that proves handy in unexpected heat or chill.
Located about 40km northeast of Mexico City, Teotihuacán is home to some of the most archeologically significant Mesoamerican pyramids. The site was used as a religious centre as early as the 1st century CE, nearly 1000 years before the Aztecs settled in the area. Today, visitors can climb up Teotihuacán’s Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon, as well as several smaller pyramids. Some claim to feel a spiritual connection from visiting this architectural phenomenon. Whether you seek enlightenment or not, this wondrous site is well worth a look.
Mexico City can get as chilly as 10 degrees in the early morning, but lots of direct sunlight means that Teotihuacán can stay warm year-round. It’s also a sizeable hike up to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, so it’s wise to dress comfortably and prepare to break a sweat.
I kept it simple and comfortable with vintage denim shorts from Atika, an old sports bra, an Adidas sweat-wicking tank and trainers. I wore a windproof jacket on the bus journey up, which I’d shoved into my Mat & Nat backpack. The headband is a scarf, handmade by my mom in the 1980s.
I might not claim to have found enlightenment from visiting Teotihuacán or Xochimilico, but I will say that visiting each site gave me a newfound appreciation for the planet we live on. How amazing that Earth can be home to 2000-year-old pyramids and a colourful canal boat party — and that’s just within the outer limits of the same city. Wonders like these remind me just how incredible our planet is – and that’s worth protecting.