Photo: Alina Martina Madarasz/Shutterstock

Xochimilco's Michelada Boats Will Make You Want to Visit Mexico City ASAP

Mexico City Culture
by Matador Creators Jan 17, 2023

If you’re a fan of savory cocktails, micheladas are hard to beat. No country does the beer-and-tomato-based drink better than its birthplace, Mexico, and there’s one destination in the Mexican capital that serves the coolest micheladas of all: the Xochimilco canals. Here’s everything you need to know about Mexico City’s boozy UNESCO World Heritage site, and why you need to spend a day floating down the Xochimilco canals, michelada in hand.

@foodwtf Ordering a #michelada on the #Xochimilco canals in #MexicoCity 🤤 A michelada is a classic Mexican cocktail made with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces, spices, and chili peppers 🎥 IG: #mexicofoodguide #foodie #foodietok #foodtravel #micheladas #mexico ♬ Cumbia Buena – Grupo La Cumbia

What’s a michelada, anyway?

A michelada is a refreshing beer-based beverage that’s popular in Mexico. It typically consists of a light Mexican beer mixed with a spicy tomato-based juice and for an extra kick. Popular additions include lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, various chili peppers or hot sauces, and Clamato, a type of tomato juice that has clam juice in it. The result is a savory and refreshing beverage that’s often referred to as a “Mexican Bloody Mary.”

Everything you need to know about the Xochimilco canals

Xochimilco is a district of southern Mexico City that’s famous for its unique system of ancient canals with floating gardens and chinampas, or artificial islands. Built by the Aztecs, Xochimilco is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list alongside Mexico City’s historic center.

Brightly colored gondolas called trajineras blanket the Xochimilco canals, cruising through vibrant flower petals that float atop Xochimilco’s waters. Some of these boats ferry tourists down the waterways. Others serve as restaurants and party boats. You’ll see mariachi bands playing live sets from some boats, locals selling souvenirs from others, and food vendors peddling snacks like chalupas (fried dough loaded with various toppings), sopes (a popular street food that resembles mini chalupas), and roasted corn. Then there are the unofficial bartenders who turn their trajineras into floating michelada stands — a visitor favorite.

If you plan on treating your trip to the Xochimilco canals like a booze cruise as many tourists do, you might want to consider stopping by the famous two-part market in Xochimilco town before you hit the water. That way you can load up on plenty of water and snacks to sustain an afternoon of day-drinking and hit two of Xochimilco’s most popular attractions with one stone. There are plenty of vendors both on the water and around the embarcadero where trajineras depart, but most local families come prepared with their own picnic baskets and coolers. Make no mistake — as many micheladas as there are flowing, the Xochimilco canals are a great Mexico City attraction for families.

Getting to Xochimilco

Xochimilco is easy to reach by metro from central Mexico City. All you have to do is ride the blue line all the way to the end to a stop called Tasqueña. From there, hop on the Tren Ligero line and ride it until the end. The last stop is Xochimilco.

Once you get to Xochimilco town, it’s about a 20-minute walk or 10-minute taxi or Uber ride to Xochimilco Embarcaderos where you can organize a boat tour. Prices for boat tours will be listed at whichever pier you depart from although negotiating is acceptable.

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