From Frida Kahlo’s famed Casa Azul to the vibrant Coyoacan Market to some of the city’s best churros and paletas, the best things to do in Coyoacan include historic sights, cultural activities, and lots of great food.
Coyoacan is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Mexico City. Originally a quaint village, it got swallowed up by Mexico City’s expansion in the 1920s and became part of the city.
The cool thing about Coyoacan is that it has retained its old-time village feel. It’s completely different from the hustle and bustle of the rest of Mexico City. There are no skyscrapers here, no fancy hotels.
With its cobbled streets and colorful houses, Coyoacan feels like old-time Mexico. And it’s right inside Mexico City!
Coyoacan (officially spelled as Coyoacán with an accent, and pronounced coy-oh-CON) is an awesome place to spend a half day or a full day.
The main reason tourists visit this neighborhood is to see the Frida Kahlo Museum and the Coyoacan Market, but there are numerous other reasons to explore this area.
During my numerous trips to Mexico City, I’ve spent several weeks living and hanging out in Coyoacan, and I always recommend that visitors to the city spend some time in this awesome neighborhood.
Check out this list of the coolest things to do in Coyoacan, and feel free to leave a comment if you have more ideas!
RECOMMENDED COYOACAN TOURS:
The Best Things To Do in Coyoacan
Frida Kahlo Museum
Let’s start with the most popular tourist destination in the area. The Frida Kahlo Museum, or La Casa Azul (Blue House), is the structure where the famed artist and her husband Diego Rivera lived for many years while they created some iconic pieces.
To set proper expectations: Some visitors come here expecting to see dozens of Frida’s paintings, but this museum actually only has a small amount of her artwork.
The main attraction here is being able to walk through all the rooms of her house and see how she lived.
In the past, it was possible to walk up and get a ticket, but as of this writing, advance ticket purchase via the museum’s website is required for admission.
Leon Trotsky Museum
My second-favorite Coyoacan museum is the often-overlooked Leon Trotsky Museum (Museo Casa de Leon Trotsky.) The exiled Russian revolutionary lived in Coyoacan in 1940 until he lost his life at home at the hands of a Stalin supporter.
Trotsky’s study remains exactly as it was on that day when he was attacked. Even the books and papers on his desk are in their exact positions. Trotsky’s tomb is located in the courtyard.
Trotsky’s museum is just a short walk from the Frida Kahlo Museum, so you can easily do both in one morning.
Mercado de Coyoacan
The Coyoacan Market is a must-visit. This massive complex occupies an entire block and includes gift shops, fruit stands, and small restaurants.
If you want souvenirs or Mexico-themed trinkets, spend some time walking through the various shops. Although many tourists visit, most customers here are locals, who come for the affordable food and supplies.
I highly recommend eating lunch here. You can find sit-down restaurants with tables offering super-cheap meals (a three-course meal can cost as little as 65 pesos, or $3 USD.)
Or stop at one of the many small food stalls here that essentially offer street food. You’ll be eating shoulder to shoulder with locals as you grab tacos, tostadas, or any other Mexican food your heart desires.
Everyone knows about churros, the fried dough confections dusted with cinnamon and sugar. In Mexico City, they stuff their churros with a creamy filling of your choice.
Most churro places in the city offer chocolate, fresa (strawberry), and cajeta (caramel) as filling options, but the churro stands in Coyoacan go crazy, with literally dozens of fillings, ranging from nutella to tequila-infused cream!
Find churro stands on Ignacio Allende and Aguayo streets between the Coyoacan Market and Plaza Jardin Hidalgo.
Eat a Paleta!
Anyone else out there obsessed with ice cream? If so, get yourself a paleta in Coyoacan. Paletas are frozen desserts on a stick.
There are two types: Water-based, which are essentially fruity popsicles; and milk-based, which are creamier and offer richer flavors. The latter type is slightly more expensive, and with good reason – they’re delicious!
You can sometimes find paletas in Mexican grocery stores in the U.S. But those usually only come in a handful of basic flavors. Here in Coyoacan, the shops have dozens of flavor options, including cheesecake, pistachio, lemon pie, and mint chocolate chip!
The best paleta place is Helados y Paletas Gloria, which has been serving up frozen treats since 1950. You can find a few other paleta shops near the central plazas if you want to try out the competition.
Viveros de Coyoacan
Viveros de Coyoacan is a national park that sits on the western end of Coyoacan. It’s popular for its tree nursery, which brings more than 2000 people per day to the park. It’s a great place to go running or walking.
Many of Coyoacan’s green spaces disappeared when the village was annexed by Mexico City, so this is one of the few places in the neighborhood where you can still find lots of trees.
Plaza Jardin Hidalgo
Coyoacan has two large plazas just a block apart. After getting your churros or paleta, stroll over to Plaza Jardin Hidalgo. Grab a seat on one of the benches and people watch.
There’s always something interesting to view, whether it’s the tourists wandering around, kids running and playing, harmonipan players making music with their old-fashioned machines, or live dance and music performances.
The other big plaza in Coyoacan is Jardin Centenario. This garden celebrates Mexican independence and is best-known for its Fuente de Los Coyotes, or coyote fountain. The name Coyoacan, in fact, means “place of coyotes.”
Coyoacan Giant Letters Welcome Sign
In recent years, Coyoacan has gotten its own giant welcome sign. These are becoming popular in tourists areas around the world, and here is no exception.
As of my most recent visit, the giant Coyoacan letters were located right in the middle of Plaza Jardin Hidalgo.
San Juan Bautista Church
Just next to Plaza Jardin Hidalgo, you’ll spot San Juan Bautista Church. The large 16th-century church is impossible to miss as it towers over the nearby plaza.
You can step inside and see the impressive architecture for free, just be respectful of the local residents who come to worship.
Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli
The fingerprints of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are all over the history of Coyoacan. The Anahuacalli Museum was created by Rivera.
The imposing volcanic stone structure contains exhibits and items from numerous indigenous Mexican cultures, as well as several of Rivera’s own murals.
Check Out the Colorful Houses
Make sure to get off the main streets a bit to explore the residential streets. Coyoacan has some of the most interesting architecture in Mexico City.
There’s a good amount of street art, and lots of brightly-colored houses, including orange, pink, and yellow, which make for awesome photos.
Normally, seeing a movie on vacation would be silly and pointless. But that is not the case here. For nearly 50 years, Cineteca Nacional has been one of the best places in Mexico to catch a movie.
The venue has an eye-catching appearance, and it shows some of the coolest indie films around. Don’t expect to come here and see big-studio blockbusters; this is a spot for watching acclaimed underground films.
Films from various countries are presented, with Spanish subtitles. If you don’t speak Spanish, there are plenty of American-made movies shown here as well, which are shown in their original English version, with Spanish subtitles.
Get Coffee at El Jarocho
Coyoacan has a Starbucks, but why go there when you can instead visit the legendary Coyoacan coffee shop El Jarocho?
Established in 1953, El Jarocho now has a few locations. The coffee is delicious and affordable. If you’re not a coffee person, try the snacks or sandwiches and enjoy the sidewalk seating.
Centro Coyoacan Shopping Mall
I strongly recommend doing your shopping at the small artisan markets throughout Coyoacan, rather than the shopping mall.
But if you come to the neighborhood via the subway, you’ll get off the train right at the Centro Coyoacan shopping mall. So it can be worthwhile to stop in to the mall for a few minutes and check out the place.
Really, you’ll find that it’s not much different from most American malls. I generally came here when I was in need of something that could only be found at larger department stores, like new shoes or a fancy button-down shirt.
Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares
The National Museum of Popular Cultures is a fun place even though it’s on the smaller side. The facility holds artwork and artifacts from the various ethnicities and cultures that have historically made up Mexico.
They also hold lots of festivals and events here. When I visited, they were having a tamale festival outside the museum. Tamales! I had my first pineapple tamale, and it was glorious.
Hotels and Places to Stay in Coyoacan
Many of the best places to stay in Coyoacan are private Airbnbs. Mexico City is quite affordable when it comes to lodging, and Coyoacan is even cheaper.
If you’re willing to stay in a private room in someone’s house, you can stay for less than $20 per night USD.
As for non-Airbnb options, you won’t find any big hotels in Coyoacan. Instead, look for small, family-owned guesthouses with lots of good reviews. These three all fit the bill:
Casa Jacinta Guest House: Casa Jacinta will get you very close to the heart of Coyoacan. Coming with a group of friends? Book one of the double rooms with 2 neds for up to 4 people, which can sometimes go for as little as $70/night.
Villa Alfonsina: Looking for a hotel near the Frida Kahlo Museum? You can’t get much closer than Villa Alfonisina. It’s a 1-minute walk to the museum! The units here include kitchen and dining areas, so this is a comfortable place to stay for a multi-day Coyoacan visit.
Ayenda Suites Cuija: If you’re seeking a decent hotel in Coyoacan at a very affordable price, try Ayenda Suites Cuija. The rooms are a bit smaller, but the money you save will be worth it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Coyoacan
How do you get to Coyoacan?
This neighborhood is a bit further south than most of the places that tourists hang out in. If you’re comfortable using public transportation, you can take the subway, but you’ll have a 15-minute walk from the Coyoacan subway stop down to the historic center.
Alternately, just take Uber. Uber is safe and very cheap in Mexico City. Even though it may be a long drive from the heart of Mexico City to Coyoacan (30-45 minutes when traffic is bad), it usually costs around $10 USD or less.
Is Coyoacan safe?
Yes, Coyoacan is a fairly safe neighborhood. As with any big city, you should be aware of your surroundings. But Coyoacan is not considered a dangerous area by any means.
You can walk around the central plaza and side streets during the day or night. Your main safety concern in this area, like with most of Mexico City, would be pickpockets.
How much time do I need to visit Coyoacan?
You can see all the highlights in a few hours, but I recommend spending a full day to give yourself enough time to relax and slowly take in the vibe of the area.
That said, if you’re in Mexico City on an extended vacation, book a full week here, because it’s one of the very best Mexico City neighborhoods to explore, and there are so many fun things to do in Coyoacan.
Other Activities Near Coyoacan
Looking for some things to do near Coyoacan in the surrounding area? Here are a few more ideas.
The Xochimilco Canals
Xochimilco is another bucket list activity for Mexico City visitors! Ride through the canal waterways while your captain guides the trajinera boat.
Bring food and spend a couple hours chilling on the water. It’s best to come with a large group to split the cost, or try joining a Xochimilco tour with Viator.
Zoológico Los Coyotes
You won’t find actual coyotes in Coyoacan anymore, unless you count Zoológico Los Coyotes. It’s a small zoo that with coyote and wolf enclosures. It’s located inside a larger park and it’s totally free to visit!
San Angel Saturday Market
San Angel is another interesting Mexico City neighborhood. Go on Saturday to experience the Bazaar Sabado.
The market features food, paintings, crafts, and souvenirs of all types, and it’s less crowded than markets in the touristy areas.
UNAM is the National Autonomous University of Mexico. When my local friend invited me to see it, I wasn’t sure if it was worth the visit, but I’m so glad I went!
The campus is cool to see, and the Museum of Contemporary Art is especially fascinating, so be sure to stop by when the museum is open.
Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo
If you can’t get enough Frida history, head to San Angel to find Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, the actual work studio for Frida and Diego.
You can go inside and tour the multi-house complex, which has a small amount of their art on display.
Located two subway stops north of Coyoacan, Parque Pilares (Google calls it Parque de Las Arboledas) is where I played pickup volleyball games every Sunday.
They also have basketball and soccer games going on. It’s a nice place to walk around and explore the green space.
And here are some quick tips on how to spend a Mexico City overnight layover.
What are your suggestions for the best things to do in Coyoacan? Leave a comment with your Coyoacan activity suggestions!