The small-town charm that has captured people’s attention for so long is in fact due to the fact that Coyoacán was once a small pueblo removed from the noisy city center. Founded by the Colhuas people and then established by Hernán Cortés himself as the capital of the New Spain territory right after the conquest of Tenochtitlán; the beautiful vegetation, fresh running water from the streams, and multi-colored flowers lured Cortés and his entourage. Even into the 1930s Coyoacán was still a picturesque pueblo made up of haciendas and ranchos. Coyoacán’s cultural profile began in the XX century when intellectuals, artists, writers, and scientists started to convene here, and some moved in permanently.
This “magic barrio” is still relatively calm and cool compared to the rest of the city, there’s the central plaza with the beautiful church of San Juan Bautista sitting in the middle, a few steps away is the kiosk that’s typical of every small pueblo in Mexico. Around this area, there is a bevy of restaurants, cantinas, mercados (“markets”), bookstores, and handcraft stores; the laid-back bohemian vibe of Coyoacan is a distinction that sets it apart from other shopping centers in the city. The crowds on Sunday are numerous, as Coyoacan is probably the no. 1 goto location with locals for a lazy Sunday breakfast and/or brunch; there you can see a mixture of whole families, youths, couples, bohemians, and tourists wandering the cobblestone streets.
There are some museums to enjoy in the area and most popular of all is probably the Casa Azul (“Blue House”) the former residence of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and their tumultuous relationship, it now houses some of her works, and preserves some of the rooms as they were arranged originally during her lifetime, as well as as many of her personal belongings, including back and leg braces she used for her debilitating body conditions, but that she appropriated for her art. Make sure to buy your tickets in advance and preferably during the week, as weekdays can get packed, tickets are $270 pesos for international tourists ($130 for locals). Plus there’s a $40 pesos fee to be able to take pictures freely inside the museum, make sure you get that too.
Nightlife is also popular in Coyoacan, there are historic cantinas to visit like La Guadalupana (established 1932) and Puerta del Sol (1918), and for quality restaurants, the best typical food and mezcal can be had at Los Danzantes, right next to the “Coyote” fountain. Coyoacán, it must be said, means “Place of those who have coyotes”. The easiest way to get to this “place of those who have coyotes”, by the way, is probably to hail a cab or get an Uber, as the “Coyoacán” Metro station is a 20-minute walk away from the center of the action.
There’s so much to do and enjoy a Coyoacán that it could fill a book, there are so many bucket-list attractions in the city that you feel are a “must”, but for a little taste of small pueblo Mexico, wander the streets of Coyoacán for a while.