Morelia is a hidden gem of Mexico. Located in the west-central part of the country, this city is overlooked by travelers, and yet, it has much to offer: from the colonial charm to incredible gastronomy and unbeatable prices, there are plenty of reasons why Morelia should be on your list.
I loved Morelia, and I felt like I finally found a place in Mexico that’s off the radar. In this guide, I share some of the best things to do in Morelia and practical tips on safety, transportation, and the best restaurants in Morelia.
18 best things to do in Morelia
1. Explore the UNESCO-listed historic center of Morelia
Founded in 1541, Morelia is one of the oldest cities in Mexico.
The city has a mix of baroque and neoclassical buildings centered around the Plaza De Armas (also known as the Zocalo) – a perfect starting point for your walking tour of Morelia.
2. Marvel at Morelia Cathedral
Morelia Cathedral (La Catedral de Morelia) is the dominant feature of Morelia’s Colonial City.
Built in the Baroque style this pinkish cathedral features azulejo domes and many ornate details, so it’s no surprise that it’s often called one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Mexico.
You can enjoy the light show at Morelia Cathedral every Saturday at 8:45 p.m. Many locals and tourists come to see the show, so if you want a good spot, arrive early.
✅ Check: Best things to do in Valle De Bravo
3. Check out Morelia Government Palace
Located across from Morelia Cathedral, the Government Palace (Palacio del Gobierno) is another prominent landmark. Just like the Morelia Cathedral, the Government Palace is built in the Baroque style and is a popular tourist attraction in Old Town Morelia.
✅ Take a walking tour of Morelia with a local guide to learn the highlights of Morelia and its history
Best guided tours of Morelia Michocan
Many visitors visit the Government Palace of Morelia to see the murals by a renowned Mexican muralist Alfredo Zalce that show some of the most important moments from the history of Mexico like the independence from Spain and the Mexican revolution.
➡️ The entrance is free. Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
4. Visit Clavijero Palace
Clavijero Palace is a popular landmark in Morelia that was home to the Jesuit College of San Francisco. Today this 17th-century palace is a multidisciplinary center and art museum where you can find modern art.
The museum features rotating exhibits and a permanent exhibit that has artworks by Diego Rivera, one of the most famous Mexican muralists.
➡️ The entrance is free. Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
5. Walk along Morelia Aqueduct
Formed by 253 arches, Morelia Aqueduct (El Aqueducto) is about one mile from Morelia Cathedral. Built in the 18th century, the aqueduct transported water for the fountains and churches in Morelia.
If you walk along the pedestrian walkway along the aqueduct, you will pass Plaza Morelos named after Jose Morelos, the leader of the independence movement in Mexico, and one of the most important figures in the history of the country, who gave the name to this city.
✅ Check my Mexico travel tips to stay safe on the road and have a better experience in the country
Morelia has several other landmarks dedicated to Morelos, including Casa Natal de Morelos, a historic building where Morelos was born that now houses a museum dedicated to his life; and another one is Museo Morelos, where you can see Morelos’ weapons, uniforms, and historic documents.
6. Grab some candies at Morelia Candy Market
If you have a sweet tooth, visiting the local candy market is one of the best things to do in Morelia. Also known as El Mercado De Dulces, this indoor market is where local vendors selling anything from fruits and vegetables to traditional Mexican sugary treats.
While you won’t find Western candies here, you can sample sugar-glazed tropical fruits and try guava paste and Rompope, a Mexican version of eggnog.
➡️ Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
7. Sample traditional Michoacan cuisine
Michoacan is one of the most culturally rich states in Mexico, and the food scene here is equally impressive. Besides Avocados rellenos de verduras (Avocados stuffed with vegetables), a traditional staple from this state, Michoacan boasts many dishes that you will not find anywhere else in Mexico.
What are the traditional dishes from Michoacan?
Some of the traditional Michoacan dishes are Huevos migas, a dish made from eggs and vegetables; Churipo, a stew that originated in the Purepecha culture; and Corunda, a dish similar to tamale and a specialty of Michoacan also dating back to the Purpecha empire.
Don’t miss out on traditional Morelian gazpacho – a blend of fruits in a plastic cup with various toppings. You can buy gazpacho in many small cafes around Morelia for about 20-30 Pesos a cup.
8. Grab a paleta – a Mexican popsicle
You will find paletas in many parts of Mexico, but did you know that they originated in Michoacan?
Paletas are an equivalent of a popsicle, a frozen treat that comes in many flavors. There are many paleterias (gourmet shops selling paletas) around Miorelia, and you can also buy them from one of the street vendors who sell homemade versions.
From mango to pineapple and strawberry to exotic flavors, palettes come in all sorts of flavors, and they are very inexpensive. You can get a paleta for around 20 Pesos ($1 USD)
9. Celebrate the Day of the Dead in Morelia
I celebrated the Day of the Dead in Morelia, and had a blast! Morelia isn’t as popular as Oaxaca, Mexico City, or San Miguel De Allende for the Day of the Dead celebrations, among travelers, but the festivities here are just as much fun.
The Day of the Dead in Mexico is on November 1-2, but many festivities take place throughout October, as people dress up in costumes to take photos, organize parties and family events.
10. Check out Museo Regional Michoacan
You can’t miss Michoacan’s Regional Museum (Museo Regional De Michoacan), one of the oldest museums in Mexico, located inside the 18th-century mansion. The museum has an impressive collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts and some items from the colonial period.
It’s also home to several murals painted by Alfredo Zilce, one of the most renowned Mexican artists, and Grace Greenwood.
✅ The entrance fee is 50 Pesos. The museum is open 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Mondays.
11. Learn Michoacan history at the State Museum (Museo del Estado)
Visiting the state museum of Michoacan is one of the best things to do if you want to learn more about the history of the city and the state. This museum has artifacts from the colonial period like paintings, furniture, and other household items, and items dating back to pre-Columbian times.
One of the most notable artworks showcased in the museum is the murals by Alfredo Zalce.
12. Visit the Church of Santa Rosa De Lima
Tucked into a quiet Rosas Garden, the Church of Santa Rosa De Lima (or Templo de Santa Rosa de Lima) is a perfect place to take a break. This pretty church built in the Renaissance age dates back to the 16th century and features some elements from the Baroque style.
13. Go for a Sunday Bike Ride in Morelia: Ciclovia Dominical
Every Sunday when the city closes a two-kilometer stretch of roadway in the historic center. While vehicular traffic is not allowed, cyclists can enjoy a bike ride on the streets of Morelia.
It’s also an opportunity to go for a run, as you won’t have to worry about cars, go skateboarding, or rollerblading. It’s a perfect way to end your week and enjoy a social activity that brings out so many locals and tourists on the streets of Morelia.
You can come with your bike or rent one for just 10 Pesos (0.50 cents) which will get you a ride for 45 minutes. Bring your passport and cash, because credit cards are not accepted. The rental station is near the roundabout of the Fuente de Tarascas.
✅ Hours 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
14. Grab a book at Public Library of the Michoacan University
When visiting Morelia, don’t pass up La Biblioteca Pública de la Universidad Michoacana, the Public Library of the Michoacan University located in the historic building that dates back to the 15th century. The third largest library of its kind in Mexico, it boasts many ancient books.
15. Take a day trip to Patzcuaro
One of the best day trips from Morelia, Patzcuaro is a pueblo magico with historic white-and-red buildings and tiled roofs. Patzcuaro is popular among domestic travelers who come here for weekends and holidays.
This small town boasts dramatic scenery with green hills and Lake Patzcuaro in the background.
✅ Check my guide to the best things to do in Patzcuaro
Patzcuaro is a perfect place to spend a couple of days, because of its location near other popular destinations like Janitzio, Santa Clara Del Cobre, and Tzintzuntzan, all of which are within one hour of driving.
Best guided tours of Patzcuaro from Morelia
16. Observe Monarch butterflies
If you are visiting Michoacan from December through March, one of the best things to do in Morelia is take a day trip to the surrounding mountains to observe the gorgeous Monarch butterflies.
Every year, millions of Monarch butterflies migrate from Canada to Michoacán, attracted to the temperate climate. Mexico has five reserves where you can spot Monarch butterflies, including Valle de Bravo in Mexico State and a few in Michoacan.
You can visit them by taking a guided tour from Morelia or driving if you have a rental car.
Best tours of Monarch butterfly sanctuary from Morelia
17. Relax on Lake Zirahuen
Lake Zirahuen is one of the most beautiful and tranquil spots in Michoacan for kayaking and spending time in nature. You can reach Lake Zirahuen by car from Patzcuaro and spend the night in one of the cozy cabins around the lake.
Lake Zirahuen is less crowded and a lot less polluted than Lake Patzcuaro, and when I was kayaking here in November, I saw few people.
You can also take a boat tour of Zirahuen from the main pier, El Muelle General de Zirahuen.
18. Climb up Volcano Paricutin
Volcan Paricutin is the world’s youngest volcano near Morelia. It erupted in 1943, it’s now extinct, and you can even hike it – and a guide will help you navigate the route.
When the volcano erupted, it destroyed the two nearby villages, and all that remains today is the San Juan Parangaricutiro church, which makes a perfect picture backdrop amid the surrounding mountains.
Best guided tours of Paricutin Volcano from Morelia
While it might be a bit of a stretch to reach it by public transportation from Morelia, you can visit this volcano by joining one of the local guided tours that will pick you up from your hotel and provide transportation to the iconic site.
Best restaurants in Morelia
Morelia boasts some of the best regional food in Mexico along with the states like Puebla, Oaxaca, and Yucatan.
- Don Lechuga – The best vegan restaurant in Morelia that serves traditional Mexican food made vegan and some western staples like burgers with a Mexican twist
- Chango Restaurante – One of the most popular restaurants in Morelia, Chango has delicious food, friendly staff, and a wonderful atmosphere – all you need for a fun night out in Morelia.
- Restaurante LU Cocina Michoacana – A perfect place to try regional food from Michoacan, this place has a rotating menu with many specialties from the local cuisine.
Where is Morelia?
Morelia is the capital of Michoacan. It’s located in west-central Mexico halfway between Mexico City and Guadalajara, the two largest cities in the country. Morelia is a popular starting point for trips around Michoacan, as it’s located near popular destinations like Patzcuaro and Lake Zirahuen.
How to get to Morelia?
Morelia is a well-connected city in the eastern part of Michoacan. You can get to Morelia by bus, car rental, and plane.
The fastest and easiest way to get to Morelia is by renting a car. You can rent a car in Mexico City, Guadalajara, or any other major city in Mexico.
I recommend (and use) DiscoverCars, one of the most popular platforms for renting cars online, where you can find dozens of vehicles at competitive rates.
Why rent a car with DiscoverCars
DiscoverCars is one of the best platforms for renting cars, and you can choose from dozens of available vehicles.
All you need to do is type in your travel dates, specify the type of vehicle that you are looking for, and the platform will do all the work for you showing you all the available options.
One of the best things about booking your vehicle with DiscoverCars is that you can also buy your Mexican car insurance with them which is required to drive a car in the country.
What road do I take from Mexico City to Morelia?
The best way to get from Mexico City to Morelia is by taking a toll road. While it’s more expensive than a secondary road, it’s safer, and you will also travel much faster.
Flights to Morelia Mexico
Morelia Airport, General Francisco Mujica International Airport (code MLM) has domestic flights from Cancun, Tijuana, and Mexico City, and international flights from Chicago, Los Angeles, Fresno, Oakland, and Dallas.
How far is the airport from Morelia?
The Morelia Airport is about 15 miles (24 km) from Morelia. It’s the latest airport in the state that serves Morelia and surrounding areas including Patzcuaro and Ciudad Hidalgo.
By public transportation
You can catch a public bus from Mexico City to Morelia for about $30 USD from Central del Norte. Bus companies Futura and Primera Plus serve this route, and you can buy tickets online or at the ticket office.
Is there an Uber in Morelia?
Yes, there is an Uber in Morelia. You can take an Uber to get around the city and visit surrounding areas like Patzcuaro. Travelers report that Uber prices in Morelia are lower than a taxi, and unlike taxis, you don’t have to pay for Uber in Morelia with cash.
By Bla Bla Car
Another option to get to Patzcuaro is Bla Bla Car, a privately operated carpool that you can book from one destination to another. Booking Bla Bla Car is available only via BlaBlaCar.com, where drivers advertise specific routes at their prices.
How does Bla Bla Car in Mexico work?
Drivers registered with BlaBlaCar, who plan a trip, can publish their itinerary on the platform and specify the number of seats they have available and the prices they charge. Passengers can book available seats via a platform, but the payment is typically done in cash before the trip.
How do I book Bla Bla Car in Mexico?
Bla Bla Car typically works for longer trips, so if you are traveling from Mexico City to Morelia or from Guadalajara to Morelia, you can look for Bla Bla Car for your trip.
To book Bla Bla Car to Morelia, type in the city’s name in a search bar, specify your travel dates and choose whatever carpool fits you best. There could be multiple carpools on the same date at different times, while sometimes there could just be a few or one.
Once you select your preferred Bla Bla Car, you will either have an instant confirmation or will have to wait for approval from a driver.
Once the driver confirms the ride, he or she will tell you what your departure point is. Most Bla Bla Car drivers pick up their passengers near bus stations, landmarks, or markets.
Tips for using Bla Bla Car in Mexico
Download WhatsApp to communicate with your driver before your travel if you need to ask any questions.
PRO TIP: if you want to use Bla Bla Car in Mexico, learn Spanish. Not every driver will speak or understand English, and you need to be able to communicate when you are on the road, in case you need to ask anything or answer any questions.
Is Bla Bla Car in Mexico safe?
Bla Bla Car in Mexico is safe, as most drivers are vetted by the platform, and you also ride with other passengers, so it’s not common to be one-on-one with your driver in a car.
Bla Bla Car drivers have ratings and as a customer, you can leave your review after your trip. You can also choose your Bla Bla Car based on customers’ reviews if there are several carpools listed for your travel date.
Best time to visit Morelia
The best time to visit Morelia is during the shoulder season which is November and April. Morelia has a temperate climate, and while it doesn’t get cold here, winters have slightly chilly weather, with an average of mid 50’s low 60s, while June and July are the hottest months.
Morelia Mexico: FAQ
What to do in Morelia Mexico?
If you are wondering about what to do in Morelia during your visit, worry not! This colonial city will blow you away with its unique architectural style, green parks, and world-class museums, many of which are free!
What is Morelia Michoacán known for?
Morelia is known for its Old Town that’s a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is home to ornate colonial architecture, tree-lined parks, and great museums where you can learn the history of the city.
Is Morelia Mexico worth visiting?
Morelia is a must-stop on your Mexico itinerary. It boasts a rich culture, spectacular colonial architecture, and wonderful regional cuisine. Unlike more popular destinations in Mexico, it’s very affordable.
Is Morelia a nice city?
Morelia is one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets. It boasts beautiful architecture, offers a blend of indigenous and colonial history, and has incredible gastronomy with many regional dishes and sweet treats and
What is the safest city in Michoacan?
Morelia is one of the safest places to visit in Michoacan. The city’s Old Town is a popular place for tourists, and you will be safe exploring major parts of the city on foot.
Why is Morelia important?
Built in the 16th century, Morelia is an outstanding example of urban planning which combines the ideas of the Spanish Renaissance with the Mesoamerican experience. Well-adapted to the slopes of the hill site, its streets still follow the original layout.
What is an interesting fact about Morelia?
Morelia’s Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 and the city has over 200 colonial buildings.
Is it safe to travel to Morelia?
Morelia is one of the safest places to visit in Michoacan. Its historic part is a major hot spot for tourists and as long as you stay in the areas frequented by other visitors, you should avoid any trouble.
Many people have questions about safety when it comes to visiting Morelia because the U.S. State Department advises against visiting Michoacan due to crime and kidnapping. When I visited Morelia, I never felt unsafe even when I was walking around the city at night. The locals in Morelia are friendly and welcoming to visitors and are happy to tell you about their culture.
✅ Check my complete guide to safety in Michoacan
Is Morelia Mexico worth visiting?
Yes, Morelia is worth a visit, if you like culture, history, and rich gastronomy. It’s also a great city for budget travelers, as prices here are much lower than in many popular destinations in Mexico.
Why is Michoacán Mexico so famous?
Michoacan is famous for its avocado production, diverse landscapes comprised of mountains, beaches, and volcanoes, and the indigenous Purepecha culture, native to the northwestern part of the state.
Best Hotels in Morelia:
- Budget: Hotel Don Carlos – One of the best budget hotels in Morelia, Don Carlos boasts a central location, great continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and a terrace.
- Mid-budget: Hotel Boutique Rayón 50 – One of the best boutique hotels in Morelia, this property boasts a central location, a nice rooftop terrace, and free parking. Guests love the friendly staff and neat minimalistic designs of this place.
- Luxury: Casa Grande Hotel Boutique – Located in the Historic Center of Morelia, this hotel is in the carefully restored 17th-century mansion boasting Morelia Cathedral and Plaza de Armas square from its roof terrace. Guests enjoy the onsite Aldaba restaurant, free parking, and free Wi-Fi.
Located well off the beaten path, Morelia is one of the best places to visit in Michoacan. It has great regional cuisine, and colonial charm and offers quick access to many natural landmarks in the area like Lake Zirahuen where you can spend a day kayaking and relaxing. I hope this guide provided you with some helpful information about the best things to do in Morelia, so you can have the best time enjoying this hidden gem.