The 6 best parks in Mexico City
As one of the largest urban agglomerations in the world, Mexico City may not conjure up the image of a ‘green city’, but it does offer a surprising array of lush green getaways in its lush urban parks. , its forests suitable for hikers and its fertile ancient gardens. Sure, the colossal capital can seem hectic at times, but no matter where you go, you are never far from the peace and quiet of a park.
Chapultepec Park (Bosque de Chapultepec)
For more than seven centuries, Chapultepec (Náhuatl for “Hill of the Locusts”) served as a refuge for Aztec nobles, a residence for foreign emperors and Mexican presidents, and, of course, as a popular getaway from modern Mexico City. . Approached from the eastern entrance, the majestic Chapultepec Castle rises above the park as a visual reminder of Mexico’s bygone aristocracy.
With nine museums, two cultural centers, and several large lakes spread across 1,700 acres of woodland, it could easily take days to visit all of the sites. A must-see is the world-class Museo Nacional de Antropología, a sprawling anthropology museum that exhibits more than most people can absorb in one visit.
Chapultepec is also home to important works of art by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the Museum of Modern Art and at the Fuente de Tláloc. And if you’ve got kids, head to the Papalote Museo del Niño to experience children’s wonderland with interactive exhibits.
Parque Nacional Cumbres del Ajusco
For stunning views of the Valley of Mexico, head south to the cool forests of Ajusco, where you can climb Mexico City’s highest peak. Some may find the summit of Pico del Águila (12,916ft) a bit overwhelming, but if you make it to the top the panoramic views are worth it, especially on a clear day.
For the less adventurous, Ajusco’s windy mountain road is dotted with open-air roadside restaurants that whip up delicious treats such as wild mushroom soup and quesadillas stuffed with cheese and squash blossom. We love home cooking and alfresco dining at Guarida del Conejo.
Looking for an overnight getaway from the city? Ajusco cooperative Parque Ejidal San Nicolás Totolapan has everything you will need with affordable log cabins, camping sites, mountain bike rentals and multiple trails to explore the surrounding pine forest by bike or on foot.
Xochimilco Ecological Park
Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Xochimilco canals are the last vestiges of a vast network of waterways that once crisscrossed the Valley of Mexico. Every day dozens of colorful gondolas (trajineras) ply the canals, offering visitors a glimpse of the city’s pre-Hispanic heritage as boats glide past chinampas, artificial gardens invented by the Aztecs.
The peaceful Parque Ecologico de Xochimilco and the nearby waters of Cuemanco provide some of the best birding opportunities along the canals. In this renovated ecological park, visitors can rent pedal boats and bicycles, visit an on-site museum or simply bask among colorful flower gardens.
You can rent a gondola inside the park (if Covid restrictions allow), or if you prefer something more festive, head to the nearby Cuemanco docks where passengers are cradled by mariachis on cold cervezas.
Parque Nacional Desierto de los Leones
Most locals visit this national park for a picnic and an afternoon stroll through its beautifully restored 17th-century Carmelite Convent with well-tended gardens. But there is much more to explore along the expansive hiking and biking trails that lead you to scenic streams, waterfalls, and ravines.
The pine and fragrant oak forest stays cool year round, making it ideal for long hikes – an ascent of Cerro San Miguel, the park’s highest mountain at 12,400 feet above sea level , offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains.
After a day on the trails, grab a bite to eat near the monastery, where restaurants prepare fresh trout and tasty corn-based snacks. And in case you were wondering about the unusual name of the park, the Carmelites called their remote monasteries “deserts,” while “leones” probably refers to the last name of a former convent official rather than the monasteries. lions of the animal variety.
We would be remiss if we didn’t include a park almost as old as the city itself! Built in 1592, Alameda Central is in fact the oldest park in the Americas and it remains one of the city’s most important landmarks.
Equipped with dancing fountains and cobblestone pathways flanked by lavender plants, the rectangular park is a popular weekend gathering spot and is surrounded by some of downtown’s most iconic sites.
At the eastern end of Alameda stands the splendid white marble Palacio de Bellas Artes, a first-rate fine arts hall that houses masterful murals by Mexico’s most accomplished artists, while on the west side from the park you can visit a museum which houses one of the most famous murals, aptly named Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda.
Around Alameda, you’ll find over half a dozen museums, several colonial-era churches, lively street chess matches, and some of the city’s best watchers.
Wondering where to go for a morning jog or a good cup of coffee? Head to the shady Parque México in the Condesa district, a former racecourse that was turned into a large, oval-shaped park in the 1920s.
Designed with European influences and lush tropical vegetation, it is considered one of the city’s most beautiful and friendly parks due to its attractive garden paths, soothing fountains, and the surrounding sidewalk restaurants.
If you love architecture, take a stroll around the park and admire the art deco gems along Avenida México and Avenida Amsterdam. Or just drop into a cafe and soak up the laid back vibe of one of the city’s hippest communities. Parque España, two blocks northwest, is another popular park in Condesa located in the heart of the central hipster district.