This relatively large area in the southwest of Mexico City has always been a counterculture hotbed. This is where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived, a few blocks away from Leon Trotsky (their houses are now the Frida Kahlo Museum and the Leon Trotsky Museum, respectively), and the tranquil residential area, with parks, squares, and cobblestone streets, is now a favourite spot for the bohemia set.
Coyoacán (from Nahuatl: place of coyotes) has been populated since pre-Hispanic times, when it was a settlement on the southern shore of Lake Texcoco. During and after the conquest it was Spain's headquarters for several years; some of the oldest Spanish buildings still standing in Mexico are located here. The city was independent until well into the mid-20th century, when it was subsumed into Mexico City. Even today the district has retained its colonial charm, and when strolling in the old town center it is easy to forget that one is immersed in the megalopolis of greater Mexico City.
Coyoacán is also the seat of UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico), the oldest university in North America and the largest in Latin America, which has itself been declared a UNESCO site. The active student body contributes to the bohemian and liberal atmosphere of the district.
Metro stations are not conveniently located to the Coyoacán center – don't let the existence of a Coyoacán station (Line 3) fool you. Be prepared for at least a twenty minute walk from any of the nearest stations: Coyoacán, Viveros, and Miguel Ángel de Quevedo (all on Line 3). The neighborhood is safe, so you shouldn't have a problem if you decide to walk from the metro. You may also approach from General Anaya station (Line 2); take the Calle 20 de Agosto exit for a picturesque twenty minute walk to the Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky museums.
If you don't fancy a 20 minute walk from Metro Coyoacan to the main square Plaza Hidalgo, you can take a microbus also known as a pesero. These are the small green and grey buses that can be seen breaking road rules all over the city. As you leave either exit of Metro Coyoacan, cross the to the other side of the large road directly outside the metro (Avenida Universidad). Peseros will stop outside all metro stations, and all display their destinations in the front windscreen. Look for a sign saying Plaza Hidalgo, or ask the driver.
In the general center of Coyoacán there is a pair of large squares, Plaza Hidalgo and Jardín Centenario, which together are the center for a lot of the activity in the area. On Saturdays and Sundays, there's an open-air market in the squares, mostly focusing on arts and crafts, clothes (a lot of tie-dye and t-shirts), piercings and tattoos. With a bit of selectivity, and some haggling, you can pick up a lot of interesting things here, and none of them are horribly touristy or tacky. There are also impromptu African dance performances, Aztec dancers, fortune tellers, and lots more to see. The market square is surrounded by cafes and restaurants, as well as a small 16th century church and a small public library. In the smaller streets nearby are even more cafes and restaurants, as well as stores selling antiques, clothes, crafts, and so on.
The small neighborhood around the Anahuacalli Museum has several nice cafes and a quiet charm; it is popular with university students and creative bohemian types.
- Capilla de la Purísima Concepción (La Conchita), Plaza de la Conchita. Built in 1521 under Cortés, this is believed to be the earliest Christian building in Mexico City. As of August 2014 the chapel is undergoing restoration and is not open to the public.
- Casa de la Malinche, Higuera 55. Cortés had this house built for his Nahua mistress/interpreter, and many historians believe that he had his Spanish wife murdered here. Despite the house's historic and aesthetic significance, it is not marked by any plaques as many Mexicans today consider la Malinche a traitor. The building is not open to the public, but can be appreciated from outside.
- Rectoría de la UNAM (Rectory building of UNAM). The main campus of UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico), known as Ciudad Universitaria, was declared a UNESCO site in 2007. For David Alfaro Siqueiros fans, the rectory building is of interest because of its large three-dimensional mosaic mural El pueblo a la Universidad, la Universidad al pueblo (The People to the University, the University to the People), created by the Mexican master from 1952-1956.
- Museo Frida Kahlo, Londres 247, Col. Del Carmen, ☎ +52 55 5554 5999, +52 55 5658 5778. Tu 10:00-17:45, W 11:00-17:45, Th-Su 10:00-17:45. Also known as La Casa Azul, this walled hacienda painted brilliant indigo blue, is where the much-revered Mexican artist spent the last years of her life. Admission includes access to the courtyard, a small series of galleries with ever-changing displays, and the historical portion of the house, which has been preserved from the days when Kahlo was alive. A small snack bar and museum shop are also on the premises, and lectures are given periodically. An iPod tour can be taken for an extra fee. Midweek: $80 MXN (adults), $70 MXN (Mexican nationals/residents), $40 MXN (students/teachers), $15 MXN (children/seniors); weekends: $100 MXN (adults), $90 MXN (Mexican nationals/residents), $40 MXN (students/teachers), $15 MXN (children/seniors); one ticket good at both here and Museo Diego Rivera-Anahuacalli.
- Museo Diego Rivera-Anahuacalli, Museo 150 (Colonia San Pablo Tepetlapa), ☎ +52 55 5617 4310, +52 55 5617 3797. Tu-Su 11:00-17:00 (last tour on Friday at 16:15). Artist and muralist Diego Rivera built this structure to serve both as his studio and a museum to hold his collection of pre-Columbian art. The imposing neo-Aztec building sits in a parklike environment that is one of the few wildlife refuges in Mexico City. Guided tours of the main structure (in Spanish only) are given every hour or so. There is also a small gallery where art, music, and dance lessons, lectures, and concerts are held; check the placard at the entrance for details on what is being offered for the month. Secondary school groups make frequent outings. $60 MXN (adults); $15 MXN (concessions); one ticket good at both here and Museo Frida Kahlo.
- Museo Leon Trotsky, Viena 45, Col. Del Carmen, ☎ +52 55 5554 0687, e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Marxist theorist Leon Trotsky was granted asylum in Mexico after being expelled from the Soviet Union, where he settled in Coyoacán in 1936. He continued to be vocally critical of Stalin's policies, however, and four years later he was assassinated in his home. The museum preserves the house in much the condition as it was in Trotsky's last days. $40 MXN (adults), $10 (concessions).
- Museo Nacional de las Culturas Populares, Av Hidalgo 289 (Colonia Del Carmen), ☎ +52 55 4155 0920, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Th 10:00-18:00, F-M 10:00-20:00. This museum offers homage to the many different indigenous cultures of Mexico, celebrating folk art, music, gastronomy, and more. They also have an impressive bookshop with art for sale from skilled artisans from all over the country. $12 MXN (adults), free (concessions), free admission on Sundays.
- Museo Nacional de Acuarela Alfredo Guati Rojo (Alfredo Guati Rojo National Watercolor Museum), Calle Salvador Novo 88, ☎ +52 55 5554 1801, fax: +52 55 5554 1784, e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 10:00-18:00. Housed in the former residence of Mexican artist Alfredo Guati Rojo, the museum is dedicated to preserving and exhibiting watercolor painting, by Mexican and international artists. Pieces in its permanent collection span from pre-Hispanic to modern times, and the building is a venue for temporary exhibits. Free.
- Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (University Museum of Contemporary Art), Insurgentes 3000, ☎ +52 55 5622 6972, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. W F Su 10:00-18:00, Th Sa 10:00-20:00. Located on the UNAM campus, this museum hosts temporary exhibits of contemporary Mexican and international artists, as well as rotating displays from its permanent art collection. $40 MXN (general admission Th-Sa), $20 MXN (general admission W and Su), 50% discount for students, free (children under 12).
- Wander the old churches around the neighborhood
- Inspect the interesting crafts, souvenirs, and trinkets for sale in the central squares and surrounding markets, and watch children play with various entertaining toys, balloons, balls, etc.
- Watch a music or dance performance
- Cineteca Nacional, México Coyoacán 389, ☎ +52 55 4155 1200. Daily 11:00-21:00 (ticket office). Designed by Mexican architect Manuel Rocha Díaz and completed in 1984, the Cineteca is dedicated to the preservation and showing of films in Mexico. This is a venue for current releases as well as classic films, and hosts a number of film festivals throughout the year. $40 MXN (general admission), $25 MXN (students/teachers/INAPAM members).
- Viveros de Coyoacán. A large expanse of greenery and trails that used to be divided into privately owned gardens and farm plots, but is now a public park popular with people joggers and amblers alike.
- Mercado de Coyoacán, Ignacio Allende s/n. Daily 07:00-17:00. A traditional Mexican market with a large selection of produce and food items as well as other goods; Frida Kahlo used to shop herself. There are also a number of food stalls here, making this a good place to stop for lunch.
- Bazar Artesanal Mexicano, Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Daily. An arts and crafts market with good quality items.
- Casa de Luna, Ortega 23 (corner of Carrillo Puerto), ☎ 56597325. 11:00-20:00. Fair trade store that offers a beautiful selection of traditional Mexican folk art and an eclectic assortment of jewelry, textiles, Mexican-kitsch, nichos, day of the dead images, market bags, masks, milagros, etc. – varied but carefully curated. The upstairs gallery displays Mexican contemporary artwork.
- Bazar Casa del Coleccionista, Francisco Sosa 1 (Corner with Tres Cruces Street). Daily. This place sells lots of vintage items, including china ware, toys, paintings, and ornaments.
- Café Ruta de la Seda, Aurora 1 (cross street Pino, across from Parque Santa Catarina), ☎ +52 3869 4888, e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 08:00-22:00. Look for a small, green stucco building, without even a sign over the door, with the only indication that it's a cafe in this residential neighborhood are the tables and chairs out on the sidewalk. True to its hippie, progressive environment, this tiny cafe serves organic pastries and coffee, and has some Indian food on the menu (samosas, mango lassi). Try the green tea cake with ice cream, also made of green tea. $20-$50 MXN.
- Café El Jarocho, Calle Cuauhtémoc 134 (corner of Caballocalco/Allende and Cuauhtémoc), ☎ +52 55 5554 5418. Su-Th 06:30-01:00, F Sa 06:30-02:00. This is a very old, family-owned coffee roaster's shop, and there are now at least three locations in Coyoacán. They have really good and cheap coffee, bad and cheap tortas (sandwiches in French bread), and reasonably standard American-style donuts. There are benches on the sidewalk just outside the Jarocho shops where you can sit to drink your coffee, or you can do like everyone else in Coyoacán and just stroll around the park with your Jarocho foam cup in your hand. On weekends, expect to wait in line to order your coffee. A long wait in line for coffee, a bag of fresh churros, and a conversation in Coyoacán's plaza is a quintessential Mexico City date. $10-20 MXN.
- Bizarro Café, Cuauhtemoc 168a (between Centenario and Aguayo), ☎ +52 55 5659 8453, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-W 09:00-24:00, Th-Sa 09:00-02:00, Su 03:00-24:00. A comfortable goth hangout. There is a really good bakery next door. $30-100 MXN.
- Café de la Selva, Jardín del Centenario 4 (next to the church atrium, at the back of the archway), ☎ +52 55 5554 4070. Open daily. A perennial student hangout, also serving baguettes and cakes. $50-100 MXN.
- El Morral, Caballocalco (20m N of Plaza Hidalgo). Daily. Very good Mexican food. Don't miss the chiles en nogada, large chiles stuffed with ground beef, raisins, and nuts, and covered with a nut cream sauce. Their hand-made tortillas are fantastic. Service can be a bit slow though. $100-300 MXN.
- El Jardin del Pulpo, Mercado Coyoacan, Malintzin 89 L24-25 (catty-corner from La Casa Azul). Daily 10:00-18:00. The "Octopus's Garden" is a casual marisqueria, or seafood place, featuring ceviche, seafood paella, whole roast fish, and even fish and chips. Dining is cafeteria-style at long tables under an awning. If you want fresh juices, agua frescas, or ice cream, those are available from two shops next door. $50-300 MXN.
- Los Danzantes, Plaza Jardin Centenario 12 (on the corner of the main market square), ☎ +52 55 5554 1213, e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 13:30-24:00, Sa Su 09:00-02:00. Somewhat pricey modern international cuisine with twists on traditional Mexican dishes. They also bottle and sell their own brand of mezcál. Try the seafood-chipotle chili soup, the goat cheese-filled chicken breast with chipotle chili sauce, and, if you can afford the $200 price tag, the escamoles (ant eggs) sol azteca as a starter (small, but can be shared between two people). $250-500 MXN.
- Cantina La Guadalupana, Higuera 14 (60m W of Plaza Hidalgo), ☎ +52 55 5554 6253. M-Sa 13:00-24:00. Very good Mexican food and good drinking with the locals; Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera used to spend time here. Don't miss the "Mole," "Michele's favorite" or carne tartara. Their hand-made tortillas are fantastic. Service is good, make friends with the Meseros; they are cool. $100-300 MXN.
- La Bipolar (La Bipo), Malintzin 155, ☎ +52 55 5484 8230. Su-Tu 13:00-23:00, W 13:00-24:00, Th-Sa 13:00-02:00. A tacky-fun restaurant/cantina owned by Mexican actor Diego Luna. Good place to go for drinks and a light meal. Try the shrimp burrito. $50-100 for main course.
- Taro, Av Universidad 1861 (a block and a half from Miguel Ángel de Quevedo, going towards the UNAM campus, across the street from the Novo bookstore and the Pasteur pharmacy), ☎ +52 55 5661 4083. M-Th 13:00-22:30, F Sa 13:00-23:00, Su 13:00-21:00. Probably the best Japanese food in Mexico City, owned by Japanese. Many Japanese people come here for lunch and dinner, so they attest to the authenticity of the meals – you won't find maki rolls with cream cheese here. Don't miss their spicy octopus entrée and the ice-cream tempura for dessert. $150-300 MXN.
- Taquería Aguayo 1, Aguayo, approx. No. 14 (about 100m north of Plaza Hidalgo). Just off of the Plaza Hidalgo, this little hole in the wall has some of the best traditional food in Mexico City. Their flautas are especially delicious, both the cheese (queso) and steak (barbacoa) variety. A tight squeeze (they don't seat very many), but well worth it, and very clean. An order of flautas (brings 4) is $28 MXN ($7 apiece – best deal anywhere for something this good); quesadillas and tostadas are $7 each, and tacos $10; they also offer tortas and other traditional dishes. Very fast, efficient service. Located on Aguayo, north of the Plaza Hidalgo. If you are in the Jardín Hidalgo, with your back to the garden/kiosk and facing the colonial Casa Municipal, head left in front of the Casa Municipal and make a right on Aguayo (round the corner where the Banamex is). Stay on the right sidewalk; the taquería will be past the Restaurant El Tizoncito and Rosticería Molinos, and across the street from a BANORTE. A red awning hangs in front; the name is found only on the menu board inside. $5-12.
- Las Nieves de Coyoacán, Carrillo Puerto (across the street from Plaza Hidalgo, 30 meters from Jardín Centenario). Daily. One of the best sorbets in the city. Try the ones made from exotic fruits: guanábana, zapote, maracuya, tuna (cactus fruit). The coconut-flavored paletas (popsicles) are also a treat. $20-50.
- Nieves el Tepozteco. A few steps away from Las Nieves de Coyoacán, features excellent flavors such as Beso de Angel (angel kiss), Mil Floes (thousand flowers) and spicy sorbets!
- Churreria de Coyoacán, Ignacio Allende (near cross-street Cuauhtémoc). Churros are not too popular in Mexico City, but there are a number of places in Coyoacán (including street stands) that have them. The Churreria is a good place with excellent churros and you can fill it with a number of ingredients, like chocolate, fresa (strawberry), durazno (peach), lechera (milk), zarzamora (blackberry) and more. $7-$10.
- Street food. The main plaza, at different times of the year, might have street food vendors that sell extremely good flautas (long, deep fried tacos), as well as buñuelos (deep fried sugar-coated bread), esquites, and elotes (corn with chile, mayonnaise, lime, and cheese).
- El Chupacabras, Close to Metro Coyoacán (Under the highway at the intersection of Churubusco and Universidad). Open 24 hours. These are some of the most famous street tacos in Mexico City. Their speciality is the chupacabra taco, a combination of pork, beef and a 'secret ingredient'.
- El Hijo del Cuervo, Jardin Centenario 17, ☎ +52 55 5658 7824, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-W 16:00-23:30, Th 13:00-24:00, F Sa 13:00-02:00, Su 13:00-24:00. Locals pack El Hijo del Cuervo which plays a mixture of rock and protest music. $7 MXN (cover charge).
- Teatro Bar El Vicio, Madrid 13, ☎ +52 55 5659 1139, +52 55 6553 4932, e-mail: email@example.com. Cabaret venue that showcases music, theatre and cabaret shows. Shows are in Spanish.
There are not many hotels and hostels in Coyoacan, but do try the following:
- Coyote Flaco Backpackers, Av México 112 (Col Del Carmen), ☎ +52 55 5554 2203. Hostel that has 40 rooms all with private bathrooms. Great place to meet fellow travelers, and the staff and helpful and friendly.
- Suites Coyoacan, Av Coyoacan 1909 (Colonia del Valle), ☎ +52 55 5534 8353. Standard hotel that offers comfortable sized rooms at an affordable price. The location is the big drawcard though, less than a block from the Coyoacan subway station, which is about a half hour from downtown. It is also within walking distance (30 min) to two parks that have really great restaurants all around. $1000 MXN.