Mexico City has a lot of green areas to explore despite being as densely packed as a city can get. The parks and squares around the city always have that Sunday afternoon feel that invites locals and visitors alike to stop in their tracks and enjoy a moment of peace under the shade of a tree while listening to an organ grinder cranking his instrument. These are the best outdoor experiences you can have around Mexico City.

Castillo de Chapultepec in Mexico City aerial shot

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Chapultepec — Chapultepec is the largest urban forest in Mexico City and home to some of Mexico City’s top sights. The forest is divided into three parts with the first two being the most attractive to visitors. In the first portion, you can find some of the city’s most important museums, such as the National Anthropology Museum and the Modern Art Museum; the city zoo; the Chapultepec Castle; and an artificial lake where you can rent rowboats. In the second part, you’ll find the La Feria amusement park, Museum of Natural History, two more lakes, and plenty of trails to walk or jog around. You can spend the whole day here, just be mindful of crowds during weekends and national holidays.

Ciudad Universitaria — The largest campus of Mexico’s National University is also a wide open green space with lots of opportunities for outdoor activities. The campus contains the Pedregal de San Ángel Ecological Preserve, one of the most important protected natural areas in Mexico City. You can check out the preserve by walking through the Espacio Escultórico, a trail with abstract sculptures that connects the University Cultural Center with the central area of the campus. The botanical garden is maintained by the Biology Institute and is a popular trail for joggers and plant enthusiasts alike. On Sundays, people take advantage of the lack of academic activities to bike, skate, or jog around the different circuits.

Viveros de Coyoacán — Viveros is just a few blocks away from Coyoacán’s main square. This huge wooded area is a popular spot for morning runners. Its main circuit is well-maintained and stretches for a mile and a half with several other trails crossing the forest in all directions. The area serves as a nursery of trees and is an important part of the reforestation efforts in Mexico City.

Traditional Mexican trajineras in Xochimilco, Mexico City

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Xochimilco — This neighborhood still has plenty of the water canals that defined Mexico City way back before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. There are several piers where you can rent a traditional trajinera, a colorful wooden boat that fits as many as 20 people, to explore the area while smaller boats cater to all your food and drink needs. There are even boats with musicians — usually mariachi trios — if you’re in the mood ofora more festive ride. Nuevo Nativitas is the most popular pier to embark from in a trajinera. You can either rent a private boat or join a group in a collective trajinera.

Santa Fe, Mexico City

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La Mexicana — This is one of the newest urban parks in Mexico City. La Mexicana is located in Santa Fe, an up-and-coming business district on the outskirts of the city that was in urgent need of green areas. This new park has a jogging track, a skate park, an artificial lake, and an impressive view of one of the fastest growing areas in Mexico City.

Parque México — This urban park is the heart of Mexico City’s hippest neighborhood: Colonia Condesa. Parque México is a popular meeting spot and is in walking distance of some of the area’s best cafes, restaurants, and nightclubs. The central area of the park is a wide open space decorated with imposing Art Deco structures. This peculiar architectural style and a pond full of geese as a backdrop make this an excellent spot to take some Instagram-worthy snaps. Parque México is a favorite stroll area for local dog lovers and their pups.

Aerial view of Alameda Central and the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City

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Alameda Central — Dating back to 1592, Alameda is the first urban garden of the Americas and one of the most traditional parks in Mexico City. Its location next to the Bellas Artes Palace makes it easily accessible from both the Centro Histórico and Paseo de la Reforma. This is a great spot to recharge after a day walking around the Centro Histórico, and it’s within walking distance of important attractions such as the Chapultepec, Franz Mayer Museum, Latin American Tower, and aforementioned Bellas Artes. The whole park is packed with fountains and sculptures, some of which date back to the mid-19th century.