Once a separate village and now one of Mexico City’s 16 "delegaciones" (boroughs), Coyoacán is a popular place to visit, especially on weekends, because of the beautiful architecture, plazas, and narrow streets. There's an abundance of museums, and you’ll also find cafés, restaurants, shops, and boutiques to easily spend a few days exploring. Many visitors come to Coyoacán to visit the Frida Kahlo museum, but, you should take at least a full day to enjoy the surroundings after your visit to the famous “Blue House”. Here are some ideas for what to do to make the most of your time in this fascinating neighborhood.
The house where Frida Kahlo was born, lived for many years, and died is the best place to get a feel for the private life of this great artist. You can see some of her work here, but the main attraction is seeing the work of art that she called home. She and her husband the muralist Diego Rivera collected folk art and prehispanic art and much of that is on display here. This is one of the most visited museums in all of Mexico City, so it’s a good idea to book tickets in advance through the museum website: you’ll set a time for your visit and then can skip the long wait to get in.
Stroll Around the Plazas
The festive center of Coyoacan is made up of two adjacent plazas: Plaza Hidalgo and Jardin Centenario. Plaza Hidalgo has a statue of the “Father of Mexican Independence” Miguel Hidalgo and a lovely 19th Century bandstand which is said to have been gifted by President Porfirio Diaz. You’ll find street performers and vendors galore here, especially on weekends. Jardin Centenario is quieter and has more greenery and shade. In its center, you’ll find the iconic fountain with two coyotes frolicking, a nod to the name Coyoacan which means “place of coyotes.” Take a moment to rest on one of the benches before continuing your sightseeing adventure.
Wonder at San Juan Bautista Church
The 16th-century San Juan Bautista church is a testament to Coyoacan's long history. Construction began in 1527 on the ruins of a former Calmecac (a school for the children of Aztec nobles) some of which are preserved under one of the convent’s cloisters. The four-story bell tower was added in the 18th century, The austere facade of the church is in the Herrerian style (named after Spanish architect and mathematician Juan de Herrera and characterized by clean geometric lines and scant ornamentation). An inscription in Latin above the door translates to, “There is nothing else here but the house of God and the gate of heaven.” The baroque interior was modified in the early 20th century and has altars carved in red cedar and covered in gold leaf. Be sure to appreciate the vault with paintings by Juan de Fabregat representing the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia Sedova were given political asylum in Mexico in 1937. They initially lived in Frida Kahlo’s family home for two years. After a falling out with the painters, Trotsky acquired a house, just a few blocks away, where they resided until his death in 1940. The high walls, bars covering the windows, four towers, and bulletproof doors show the security that surrounded the Trotsky home, which was unfortunately not sufficient to protect him. The Leon Trotsky Museum preserves his belongings, exhibits photographs of his family and his life as a revolutionary. Stroll through the corridors where he walked, and learn how he lived. Trotsky’s ashes are interred under a large monolith engraved with a hammer and sickle in the garden.
Browse the a Traditional Market
This colorful market is the perfect place to begin your explorations, or stop for a snack during your sightseeing itinerary. It’s full of interesting sights, flavors, and smells. Besides the typical stalls of fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish, you'll also find costumes and craft stalls. It’s also very popular for its food stalls, where you can sample tostadas, quesadillas, seafood, and traditional sweets.
Enjoy Nature at Viveros de Coyoacan
Viveros de Coyoacan is a park and tree nursery—encompassing nearly 100 acres—that provides seedlings for parks and reforestation projects around Mexico City. You’ll find pine, oak, cedar, sweetgum, jacaranda, privet, grevillea as well as fruit trees such as apple, quince, pear, and hawthorn. Local residents and visitors enjoy the green space and practice many activities here including strolling, running, practicing martial arts, doing yoga, or meditation. The park also sometimes hosts cultural events.
Take a Trolley Tour
If you want to get your bearings and an overview of the neighborhood, a great way to sightsee in Coyoacán is to take a trolley tour. These depart from near the central square several times a day. The tour takes about 40 minutes and you’ll get a drive-by view of the main attractions and the chance to learn about local history and legends.
Appreciate Popular Culture
The Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares is a small museum with exhibit halls that are lovingly curated to showcase the diversity and richness of cultural expression in Mexico. This is a great place to learn about Mexican indigenous cultures and popular traditions. There are workshops and cultural events as well as exhibits. Don’t miss a visit to the museum shop where you can find unique handmade items.
A 17th-century former Dominican convent now houses the National Museum of Interventions. The building was used as a base for the Mexican military when facing off against U.S. forces in 1847 during the Mexican-American War. Today it serves as a museum with exhibits giving information about various military conflicts that have taken place on Mexican territory. The museum is located in the Churubusco neighborhood of Coyoacan, about a 20-minute walk from the San Juan Bautista church.
Enjoy a Delicious Meal
If you’re hungry, Coyoacan has plenty of options for you, from street food to fine dining. A gordita or tostada at the market is a good idea for a little snack while sightseeing, but if you’re looking for a sit-down meal, consider Corazon de Maguey or the more upscale Los Danzantes under the same ownership, on opposite sides of the plaza. They both offer excellent mezcals and cocktails. For something a little more casual, but no less delicious, check out Amatista Tostadas for the best tostadas you’ve ever tasted, there are meat, seafood, and vegetarian toppings. Or you can take your pick of pozole, enchiladas, or a fixed price lunch at the classic Mexican Fonda, La Talavera.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
You’ll find plenty of churros sold at street stands around Coyoacán, but the best way to enjoy these fried dough pastries is by sitting down and having a coffee or hot chocolate to go along with it. At the Churreria General de la Republica you can find classic churros or try the churros rellenos filled with caramel, chocolate, or cream cheese, and sauce for dipping. If you’re in the mood for something more refreshing, try some ice cream, a popsicle, or traditional “nieve” at Tepoznieves, right next door, or head to Helados Siberia where they offer interesting ice cream flavors such as avocado, mamey, and zapote.