Ptazcuaro is a pueblo mágico and one of the best places to visit in Michoacan

10 Best Things To Do In Patzcuaro, Michoacan (2023)

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Located amid the green rolling hills and deep lakes, Patzcuaro, Michoacan is not to be missed if you want to explore the history and culture of Mexico.

Pronounced (Pahtz-kwah-ro), this place is one of the most charming small towns in Mexico that managed to preserve its indigenous heritage and colonial history, offering visitors a glimpse into its past.

In this guide, I will look at some of the best things to do in Patzcuaro, and help you plan your trip to this charming town.

Where’s Patzcuaro?

Patzcuaro is located in Michoacan, a west-central state of Mexico. It’s about 58 km from Morelia, the capital of Michoacan, 58 away from Uruapan, and 364 km from Mexico City.

Best things to do in Patzcuaro Michoacan:

Patzcuaro Michoacan is one of the most beautiful Pueblos Magicos in Mexico famous for its history and architecture.

1. Wander the streets 

Walking the streets of this town is like taking a step back in history. Whereas Morelia is all about colonial charm, Patzcuaro offers a blend of pre-Hispanic roots and modern history. The center of this town features uniformed architecture with red and white buildings and stylish fonts used for street signs.

Patzcuaro is a perfect getaway from Mexico City if you want to immerse yourself into culture and enjoy a slower pace of life.

Some of the highlights of the historic center include Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Salud, the main cathedral of Patzcuaro that was built on top of the indigenous ceremonial site; Plaza Grande, the main square and Plaza Chica (Gertrudis Bocanegra Square) where you can visit the local market. 

2. Explore Plaza Vasco de Quiroga (or Plaza Grande)

The main plaza is home to many stores, cafes, and restaurants and is a great starting point for your visit to this town. Here you can buy snacks, drinks, and souvenirs from local vendors, – just make sure to have cash, because credit cards are not accepted. 

The history of the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga 

The plaza is named after Bishop Vasco de Quiroga, one of the most prominent figures in the history of Michoacan. Quiroga was a judge assigned to the area by the Catholic Church to preside over a trial of Nuño de Guzman who committed acts of cruelty against the indigenous communities. 

Quiroga promoted education among the indigenous people and was helping them to develop skills and become self-sufficient.

Patzcuaro Michoacan is a pueblo mágico famous for its old town and the puepecha culture

3. Visit Casa de los Once Patios (House of Eleven Courtyards)

The House of Eleven Courtyards is a collection of small artisan shops where you can buy locally made arts and crafts. Most tourists stop here, as it’s a perfect spot to learn about the things produced in the area and witness the production process, as many artisans create their products on the spot. 

Address: Madrigal de Las A. Torres, Centro, 61600 Pátzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico

Spend 2-3 days in Patzcuaro to be able to enjoy some of the best things to do in town and take day trips to Lake Zirahuen and Janitzio

4. Learn about the Purepecha culture in the Museum of Arts and Crafts 

One of the best things to do in Patzcuaro for culture buffs is to visit the Museum of Arts and Culture, which features artifacts from the Purepecha culture as well as rotating exhibits from Mexican and international artists. 

The building was constructed by Don Vasco de Quiroga in 1540 and housed a seminary and school for the indigenous people.

Address: Alcantarilla s/n, Centro, 61600 Pátzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico

5. Check out a mural at Biblioteca Gertrudis (Gertrudis Library)

This historic library in the corner of La Plaza Chica is home to an impressive mural by Juan O’Gorman on the back wall. It also has a good collection of books in English, and you can easily spend a couple of hours here if you like reading. 

Address: Padre Lloreda 34A, Centro, 61600 Pátzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico

Janitzio is a small island in the middle of the Lake Patzcuaro where you can enjoy a colorful Day of the Dead Celebration.

6. Take a boat to Janitzio 

Janitzio is an island on Lake Patzcuaro. The town of Janitzio sits on top of the island and is considered one of the best places in Mexico to see the Day of the Dead festivities.

Janitzio can be reached by a quick boat ride from the outskirts of town, and makes for a perfect mini trip.

Janitzio is a small island on Lake Patzcuaro that's known for its colorful Day of the Dead celebrations.

How to get to Janitzio from Patzcuaro?

To get to Janitzio, take a boat from the main pier, just outside of town. A two-way ticket costs 60 Pesos and needs to be paid in cash.

7. Spend a day on Lake Zirahuen 

Lake Zirahuen is one of the most beautiful and tranquil spots in Michoacan, perfect for kayaking and spending time in nature. You can reach Lake Zirahuen by car 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, the temperatures were perfect and there were no crowds.

You can also take a boat tour of Zirahuen from the main pier, El Muelle General de Zirahuen

How to get from Patzcuaro to Lake Zirahuen?

To get to Lake Zirahuen, you can catch a combi (a small shared van) from Patzcuaro to Santa Clara del Cobre, and ask to stop in Lake Zirahuen.

Trying freshly baked pastries is one of the best things to do in Patzcuaro, Michoacan

8. Grab delicious pastries

Plaza Vasco de Quiroga, the main plaza, is lined with restaurants and small cafes where you can buy baked goodies. Local street vendors also sell pastries on the streets, and you can buy a yummy treat for 30-40 Pesos in cash.

Some of the most popular bakeries in town are Chocolate Don Jenaro where you can buy churros and hot chocolate, Panaderia Juan de Dios where you can choose from a variety of fresh breads and pastries and Panaderia Rivera – a perfect place to grab a hot of freshly brewed coffee and a baked treat.

9. Visit Santa Clara del Cobre

Santa Clara del Cobre is another pueblo magico in Michocan known for its copper production. Many travelers combine a trip to Patzcuaro with a quick stop at Santa Clara del Cobre since it’s only 18 km away.

Santa Clara del Cobre is a small town with a sprawling plaza where you can buy copper products from local artisans, visit Copper Museum and try Torta de Tostada, a regional specialty that’s made from tortilla.

How to get to Santa Clara del Cobre from Patzcuaro: To get to Santa Clara del Cobre, you can take a combi (a small shared van) from the center.

10. Visit Tzintzuntzan ruins

Translated as “the place of hummingbirds,” Tzintzuntzan is a popular stop on the Michoacan itinerary. It boasts the ruins of the Tarascan State that exited in the area long before the Spanish arrived; the Monastery of San Fransisco in the center of town and a small artisan market.

To get to Tzintzuntzan, you can can take a combi from the center of Patzcuaro.

Best tours of Tzintzuntzan and Patzcuaro

Celebrating the Day of the Dead is one of the best things to do in Morelia, Michoacan.

Best hotels in Patzcuaro Michoacan

Patzcuaro is a pretty small town, but it has a dozen or so hotels. Here are some of the best places to stay in town: 

  • Budget: Hotel Boutique Posada La Basilica – A perfect inexpensive stay, this small colonial hotel offers perfect local within walking distance to most landmarks and great amenities including free parking, bicycle and car rental, and free Wi-Fi. 
  • Mid-budget: Hotel Casa Encantada – Located in the historic center, this colonial hotel has a beautiful garden, a terrace, and a bar. Guests enjoy free Wi-Fi, and daily breakfast à la carte, with vegetarian or vegan options. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge.
  • Luxury: Hacienda Ucazanaztacua – One of the best hotels in town, this gorgeous hacienda along Lake Patzcuaro makes for a super tranquil stay. The hotel has a spa, a big outdoor swimming pool, and an on-site restaurant where local chefs prepare dishes from the local cuisine. You can arrange an airport shuttle for an additional price. 
Patzcuaro is one of the best places to visit in Michoacan, thanks to its proximity to Morelia and plenty of things to do

Pueblos Magicos in Mexico 

Mexico has over 130 Pueblos Magicos that have received a special status from the Mexican government, because of their historical and cultural contribution to the country. 

In 2001, the government of the country created the first group of pueblos magicos, Huasca de Ocampo in Hidalgo, Tepoztlan in Morelos, and Real de Catorce in San Luis Potosi, to diversity the country’s tourism and bring more visitors to rural areas of Mexico. 

Is Michoacan safe? Michoacan is a great place to visit as long as you follow safety precautions and vstay in popular tourist destinations like Morelia, Patzcuaro and Janitzio

How to get to Patzcuaro?

You can get here by bus, car, and airplane. There is no airport in Patazcuaro, so you will need to fly to Morelia, the largest city in Michoacan, and make a connection from there.

By car 

The fastest and most convenient way to get to Patzcuaro is by renting a car. You can rent a car in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Morelia, or any other major city in the country. 

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 websites for renting cars and you can choose from dozens of available vehicles. You can also buy a Mexican car insurance from them which is mandatory for renting a car in the country.

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 and show all available options. 


By the time you arrive at the office, all you need is your documents and a couple of signatures before you can embark on your road trip.

What road do I take from Morelia to Patzcuaro?

If you decide to drive, take Highway 15, a well-traveled highway along the way to Capula, a small village famous for its pottery, where you can explore the local market and get a few handmade souvenirs.

By plane 

The closest airport to Patzcuaro is Morelia Airport (General Francisco Mujica International Airport), code MLM. about 1,5 away. Morelia Airport 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 largest airport in the state that serves Morelia and surrounding areas. 

By bus

There’s no direct bus from Mexico City to Patzcuaro, so you will need to arrive in Morelia first, and make a change there.

Buses from Morelia leave about every 5-10 minutes and cost 30 Pesos. Check the exact bus schedule on the spot, as it can change. 

By taxi 

A taxi from Morelia will cost 200-250 Pesos one way and has to be paid in cash. You can catch a taxi in the center of Morelia, but before you get in, always verify if the taxi is licensed. 

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. Uber prices in Morelia are lower than a taxi, and unlike a taxi, you don’t have to pay for Uber in Morelia with cash, and can use your credit card instead.

By guided tour 

If you don’t want to organize your logistics, you can book a guided tour from Morelia. 

You will get picked up from your hotel and transported to Patzcuaro where you will learn everything about the history and traditions of this charming town.

The tour also includes stops at several landmarks including the Tzintzuntzan archaeological site, an ancient convent, and the picturesque Janitzo Island in the middle of the lake.


By Bla Bla Car 

Another option 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, 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 through BlaBlaCar, but the payment is often done in cash before the trip.

How do I book Bla Bla Car in Mexico? 

To book BlaBlaCar in Mexico, type in your departure and destination 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. 

After you book your preferred Bla Bla Car, you will receive a quick confirmation about your trip or will have to wait for approval from a driver. 

Once the driver confirms the ride, he or she will tell you where you will meet. Most Bla Bla Car drivers pick up their passengers near bus stations, landmarks, or markets. 

Bla Bla Car typically works for longer destinations, so if you are traveling from Mexico City, you can look for Bla Bla Car for your trip. You are not likely to find a Bla Bla Car from Morelia to Patzcuaro, as it’s a short ride, and most locals either take a public bus or drive a car to get there.

Download WhatsApp to communicate with your driver before your travel, in case you need to ask any questions.

PRO TIP: If you plan to use Bla Bla Car in Mexico, it’s a great idea to pick up some 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. 

Patzcuaro, Michoacan: FAQ

Is Patzcuaro, Michoacan safe? Patzcuaro is one of the safest destinations in Michoacan popular with domestic travelers who come here for weekends and holidays.

Is Pátzcuaro safe?

Patzcuaro is one of the safest places in Michoacan. Unlike other areas of the state, this town doesn’t have violent crimes or gang problems. You don’t have town about your safety when visiting, as the town is one of the major tourist destinations in Michoacan. 

What is Pátzcuaro Michoacán known for?

Patzcuaro is known for its colorful Day of the Deal celebration and the pre-Hispanic Purepecha culture. The town was founded in the early 1300 and was a center of the Purepecha empire before the colonization began.

How many days do I need in Patzcuaro? 

You can see the highlights in a day, but for the best experience, plan about 3 days in town. It’s a perfect amount of time to enjoy some of the best things to do in town, and take day trips to Janitzio, Lake Zirahuen, and other small towns. 

Can you swim in Lake Patzcuaro?

Lake Patzcuaro is perfect for kayaking, cycling, and hiking, but it’s not recommended for swimming due to pollution. 

What’s the weather like in Patzcuaro?

Patzcuaro has a mild, temperate climate. The wet season in this part of Mexico is from January through October when the weather is any and overcast, and the dry season is from November through April when the skies are mostly clear with plenty of suns. Due to its high elevation, the temperatures in Patzcuaro fluctuate from the high 30’s degrees Fahrenheit to the mid-80s. 

What is the best time to visit Patzcuaro?

The best time to visit this town is from December through April when the weather is comfortable for spending time and exploring the area. January is the coldest month, and early November is busy because of the Day of the Dead celebrations. 

Patzcuaro is a popular destination in west-central state Michoacan.

Patzcuaro Michoacan: final word 

Renowned for its gorgeous red and white architecture with tiled roofs, Patzcuaro is a colonial gem off the beaten path. Whether you want to explore the surrounding countryside, shop the colorful artisan markets or learn about the indigenous heritage, this town is a must-visit!