Morelia Aqueduct is one of the most popular landmarks in Morelia Mexico located near some of the top landmarks in the city.

15 Amazing Things to Do in Michoacán

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Michoacan is one of the best-hidden gems of Mexico in the west-central part of the country. The culture of Michoacan dates back centuries, and the landscapes here range from mountains and volcanoes to incredible pristine beaches along the Pacific Coast where you can partake in water sports and enjoy a slow pace of life. 

Yet, Michoacan flies quietly under the radar.

The state sees few international visitors, while its top destinations like Morelia and Patzcuaro are popular mostly with domestic tourists. Michoacan is a perfect destination if you want to get off the beaten track and explore the side of Mexico that most tourists don’t get to see. 

Where is Michoacan?

Michoacan is located in the west-central part of Mexico halfway between Mexico City and Guadalajara. 

What is Michoacan known for?

Michoacan is famous for its avocado production, colonial cities, and great gastronomy. It’s also home to some of the most pristine, untouched beaches in Mexico

Best things to do in Michoacan: a complete overview

Is Michoacan safe? Michoacan is a state in west central Mexico that is becoming more popular with travelers, but visiting it requires following some safety precautions.

1. Explore Morelia 

Where to stay in Morelia: Hotel Don Carlos 

Morelia is the capital of Michoacan and the largest city in the state. Visiting Morelia is one of the best things to do in Michoacan, if you are visiting the state for the first time, and want to get an introduction to its culture. 

Morelia is a stunning colonial city and is the capital of Michoacan. Founded in 1541, Morelia is one of the most budget-friendly cities in Mexico with ornate architecture that boasts palaces, gorgeous colonial buildings, and the majestic Morelia Cathedral. 

Best guided tours of Morelia

The city has a mix of baroque and neoclassical buildings centered around the Plaza De Armas (also known as the Zocalo) – a great starting point for your walking tour of Morelia

How to get to Morelia?

The easiest way to get to Morelia is by taking a bus from Mexico City. Buses to Morelia depart daily from the Terminal de Autobus Poniente, and you can get a ticket from the ticket office or online through

If you want to drive from Mexico City to Morelia, limit your driving to daytime, and stay on federal highways with tolls. 


Flights to Morelia Mexico

Morelia Airport, General Francisco Mujica International Airport (code MLM) is the largest airport in Michoacan. It has domestic flights from Cancun, Mexico City, and Tijuana, and international flights from Los Angeles, Oakland, Fresno, Dallas, and Chicago.

Trying Mexican paletas is one of the best things to do in Michoacan

2. Stop in La Michoacana to try a classic Mexican paleta 

If you travel around Mexico, you will likely come across La Michoacana, an ice cream parlor, and a paleteria. 

La Michoacana is a chain of Mexican ice cream shops, with about 15,000 locations around the country. You can find La Michocana’s stores in many destinations including Mexico City, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and Valle De Bravo

It’s a perfect place to try Mexican paletas, traditional Mexican ice cream that looks like a popsicle and comes in many flavors from strawberry and mango to exotic ones like dragon fruit and guanabana. 

La Michoacana also sells traditional ice cream and sorbet, which is perfect if you are a vegan, and still want to enjoy the delicious taste of this ice cream. 

The company was founded in 1930 in Tocumbo, Michoacan, and has since become one of the most well-known chains in the country. 

What’s interesting is that since the business didn’t have a formal structure, there are currently several brands in Mexico that claim ownership of the brand – La Nueva Michoacana, Helados La Michoacana, and Paleterías La Michoacana

While their products are somewhat similar, their pricing might differ depending on location. 

You might come across one of these shops, but they essentially offer the same or very similar products under a different name.

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

3. Learn about the Purepecha culture in Patzcuaro

Where to stay: Hotel Boutique Posada La Basilica 

Visiting Patzcuaro is one of the best things to do in Michoacan for history buffs. A designated pueblo magico, this small town is home to the indigenous Purepecha culture that existed here in the Pre-Hispanic times. 

The Purepechas have nearly gone extinct, but a sizeable community remains in Michoacan, and they even have their language and culture. 

Best tours of Patzcuaro from Morelia

Besides its rich history, Patzcuaro delivers scenic landscapes with green hills and Lake Patzcuaro in the background.  

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

 Patzcuaro is popular among domestic travelers who come here for weekends and holidays, but it’s quickly becoming popular with foreign visitors. 

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. 

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

4. Take a boat to Janitzio 

Janitzio is an island on Lake Patzcuaro that can be reached by a quick boat ride from Patzcuaro. The town of Janitzio sits on top of the island and is one of the best places in Mexico to see the Day of the Dead festivities. 


Even if you don’t visit Janitzio on the Day of the Dead, you will still have a great time here as various celebrations and events are held throughout the year. Besides its annual festivities, Janitzio is a fun place to visit, as you can wander around the winding streets and get to the main overlook at the top.

5. Santa Clara Del Cobre 

Santa Clara del Cobre is one of the most popular pueblos magicos in Michoacan known mostly 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 made from the tortilla.

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

You can visit Patzcuaro, Santa Clara Del Cobre, and the mysterious ruins of Tzintzuntzan on a same-day trip by taking a guided tour. 

Taking one of the guided tours is the best way to explore the best pueblos magicos in Michoacan, and learn the history from the local expert. 

6. Climb the ruins of Tzintzuntzan 

Visiting Tzintzuntzan ruins is one of the best things to do in Michoacan if you want to get slightly off the beaten path. Translated as “the place of hummingbirds,” this area boasts the ruins of the Tarascan State.

In the center of town, you will find the Monastery of San Fransisco and a small artisan market, where you can get a couple of souvenirs.

To get from Tzintzuntzan from Ptazcuaro, you can take a combi from the center of Patzcuaro. Another option is to rent a car in Morelia if you want to explore the area more without guided tours or public buses. 

You can rent a car in Morelia, Mexico City, or any other major destination in the country. Check DiscoverCars to find dozens of vehicles for your trip to Michoacan. 

7. Quiroga

I didn’t visit Quiroga but was told that it’s one of the best things to do in Michoacan if you want to sample local dishes like carnitas, pozole, and tacos at super affordable rates. Quiroga appears to be somewhat off the beaten track, and I never heard about this place before I talked to a few locals in Morelia. 

Interestingly, Quiroga was also featured in the Netflix series “Taco Chronicles.”

PRO TIP: Quiroga is only 15 minutes away from Tzintzuntzan, so you can combine these two destinations in one trip. The best way to visit these two towns is by renting a car in Morelia. 

8. Cuitzeo 

Cuitzeo is a small pueblo perfect to enjoy the local flair, as tourism is scarce. Located along Cuitzeo Lake, this hamlet is surrounded by nature and stunning landscapes and makes for a great stop if you want to explore the plaza and watch locals go about their day. 

9. Capula

Capula is a small town famous for its pottery, which you can buy at the local market. It’s also known for its Catrinas, a skeleton figurine of a dressed-up woman that’s used in the Day of the Dead decorations. A Catrina makes for a perfect souvenir for your friends back home since it’s one of the staples of Mexican culture. 

PRO TIP: If you plan on visiting markets in small Mexican towns, always carry cash. Local vendors almost always run their operations on cash, and credit cards are not accepted. 

Some of the best hotels in Morelia are located in the historic city center.

10. Celebrate the Day of the Dead in Michoacan

I celebrated my first Day of the Dead in Morelia and had a lot of fun! Morelia is not as popular for the Day of the Dead celebrations as destinations like Oaxaca, San Miguel De Allende, or even Mexico City, which is great if you are looking for a place off the beaten track.

Prices are also more affordable on hotels, food, and tours, in Michoacan. I felt like the entire celebration has less of a commercial feel, unlike popular places where the Day of the Dead has become a way to generate extra income.

Morelia is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico located in the state of Michoacan.

What to know about Celebrating the Day of The Dead in Mexico

The Day of the Dead is one of the main celebrations in Mexico when people across the country pay respects to their loved ones who are no longer alive. Many people create special altars decorated with flowers and ornaments where they put food and drinks. 

The holiday has a cheerful rather than sad feel, as people celebrate the continuation of the life of their loved ones.

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 and organize parties and family events.

When I arrived in Morelia in late October the celebrations were mostly over, with the final days still ahead. Still, most of the stores were sold out of traditional Day of the Dead decorations, ornaments and costumes.

11. Sample Michoacan cuisine 

Sampling regional cuisine is one of the best things to do in Michoacan for foodies, and not only because the state boasts one of the best regional cuisines in Mexico.

Besides Avocados rellenos de verduras (Avocados stuffed with vegetables), a traditional staple from this state, Michoacan offers 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, 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. 

12. Stay in cabana on Lake Zirahuen 

Lake Zirahuen is one of the most beautiful and tranquil spots in Michoacan that’s perfect 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. 

Book your stay at Zirahuen Forest and Resort

Lake Zirahuen is less crowded and less polluted than Lake Patzcuaro, and when I was kayaking here in November, I was the only person. 

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

13. Hike Paricutin Volcano 

Volcan Paricutin is one of the best day trips from 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. 

Although Paricutin is relatively small and not as impressive as some of the volcanoes in Central America, it’s a great day trip from Morelia if you want to get some exercise and enjoy nature. The hike to the top of the volcano is not difficult and is suitable for all levels of hiking.

If you decide to visit this place, wear comfortable hiking shoes. 

Best guided tours of Paricutin Volcano from Morelia

Taking Monarch Butterfly tour is one of the best things to do in Valle De Bravo.

14. Watch gorgeous Monarch butterflies 

If you are visiting Michoacan from December through March, 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 the State of Mexico and a few in Michoacan. 

You can visit them by taking a guided tour from Morelia or driving if you have a rental car.

When is the best time to see monarch butterflies in Mexico?

The best time to observe Monarch butterflies is on a sunny day, as they are more active when there’s sunlight. The migration season for monarch butterflies is from November through March. 

Best tours of Monarch butterfly sanctuary from Morelia

15. Visit Barranca del Cupatitzio National Park In Uruapan

Barranca del Cupatitzio National Park (also known as Uruapan National Park) is a hidden gem of Michoacan. Located near the Cupatitzio River, this urban park boasts gorgeous waterfalls and is a perfect place for taking a break.

The entrance cost is 12 Mexican Pesos and has to be paid in cash, Open times are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.

How to get from Morelia to Uruapan:

You can get to Uruapan from Morelia by taking a guided tour, renting a car, or catching the public bus. The bus is the slowest option which will take you 2-3 hours but will be the cheapest, which is great if you are traveling on a budget. 

Make sure to have cash on you, as local buses in Mexico don’t accept credit cards. Buses from Morelia to Uruapan stop in Patzcuaro, which is convenient if you want to visit both towns in one trip.

16. Enjoy Michoacan beaches 

Michoacan is home to some of the best beaches in Mexico. The state boasts 217 km (135 miles) of the Pacific coastline, dotted by small villages where you can surf and enjoy a slow pace of life. 

Additionally, Michoacan beaches attract leatherback and olive ridley turtles who come during the nesting season from June through November. Ixtapilla is one of the top places along the coast of Michocana for watching the nesting turtles.

How to visit Michoacan beaches?

You will need a car to visit Michoacan beaches, as public transportation is scarce in the region. The downside is that Michoacan beaches are remote, and getting there requires time and effort. 

The closest beach to Morelia is “Playa Maruata,” which requires a 7-hour drive. With no major airports nearby, you can be sure the area sees very little tourism. 

Most accommodations in the area are super local, and if you plan to spend time in the area, always have enough cash on you. 

Are Michoacan beaches safe for swimming?

Not all Michoacan beaches are safe for swimming, because of strong rip currents and undertows. Most beaches in Michoacan have no lifeguards on duty, so it’s essential to check whether it’s safe to swim in a given location before getting into the water. 

The largest municipalities in the region are Lázaro CárdenasCoahuayana, and Aquila.

Best beaches in Michoacan: 

  • Playa Maruata – one of the most popular beaches in Michoacan famous for its quirky rock formations 
  • Playa Tortuga – Playa Tortuga is a great place if you are on a budget and want to enjoy a hidden paradise. The beach doesn’t have any accommodations, so you will need to find a place for the night elsewhere. 
  • Playa Azul – A popular Michoacan beach that offers top-notch scenery, accommodations, and restaurants. 
  • Playa Ixtapilla – a golden sand beach that’s mostly known for nesting turtles and eco-tourism 
  • La Ticla – is one of the most popular surfing beaches in Michoacan. 
  • Nexpa – Although Playa Nexpa boasts stunning mountain scenery and pristine beaches, it’s not a popular swimming place but a great spot for spring and camping 
  • Playa Las Brisas – A popular Michoacan beach with gorgeous odeon sand, calm waters, and spectacular sunsets. Although there’s not much to do here besides enjoying the beach, it’s a perfect spot for relaxation and enjoying nature. 
  • Playa El Faro De Bucerias (Playa El Faro) – a popular Michoacan beach with a photogenic coastline and swim in the designated area. 


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

Is Michoacan safe?

Michoacan is safe as long as you stick to major tourist spots like Michoacan, Patzcuaro, and Janitzeo. If you are traveling by yourself, avoid remote, rural areas of the state, and consider joining a guided tour. Limited your driving to daytime and always keep someone back home posted about your travel plans. 

Read my complete guide to safety in Michoacan

Is Michoacan expensive?

Michoacan is one of the cheapest places to visit in Mexico. It’s a perfect destination for a budget traveler because it has affordable prices on food, accommodations, and tours. 

How much time do you need in Michoacan?

If you want to enjoy some of the best things to do in Michoacan like untouched beaches, beautiful pueblos magicos, and enjoy the colonial city of Morelia, plan between 7-10 days in Michoacan, as this is a big state with long distances between many destinations. 

Learning about the pre-hispanic Purepecha culture is one of the best things to do in Morelia, Michoacan

How to get around Michoacan?

The best way to get around Michoacan is by renting a car. Morelia is the largest city in the state and offers the best options for car rentals, and to find car rentals in the city use DiscoverCars, the best platform for booking car rentals in Mexico and other countries. 

DiscoverCars work with major car rental companies in Mexico and offer some of the best prices on many types of vehicles. You can also add full Mexican insurance for your car rental for less than $10 per day when booking your car with DiscoverCars.

What documents do I need for renting a car in Mexico?

Renting a car in Michoacan is no different than renting a car in any other destination in Mexico. You will need a valid driver’s license, a passport, a credit or debit card, and Mexican car insurance.

A passport 

When renting a car in Morelia, you will need your passport. A representative of the car rental company will make copies of your passport before giving it back to you.

A driver’s license 

A valid driver’s license is required to rent a car in Mexico. If you are traveling to Mexico from countries that don’t use the Roman language alphabet, you will need an international driver’s license.

Can I drive in Mexico with a US license?

Yes, you can drive in Mexico with a valid US driver’s license as well as driver’s licenses from Canada, the EU, and the UK. If your driver’s license is not in English, you might need to buy an International Driving Permit.

A credit or debit card 

You can use a debit or credit card to rent a car in Morelia. A car rental company will put a hold on your credit card ranging between a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars. If you return your car rental with no damages, the hold on your credit card will go away. 

A Mexican car insurance

To rent a car in Morelia, you will need Mexican car insurance. Note that car rental companies in Mexico will not accept US car insurance. When you book your car with DiscoverCars, you can buy your car through their platform, so when you arrive at the car rental office, you will only need to show your reservation.

Best things to do in Michoacan: FAQs

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

Why visit Michoacan?

Michoacan boasts gorgeous scenery, rich culture and history, incredible food, and none of the crowds! This state is one of the hidden gems in Mexico and is perfect if you want to get off the beaten track and enjoy authentic Mexico. 

What is Michoacán famous for?

Michoacán is known for its pristine beaches, unspoiled landscapes, colonial towns, and the indigenous Purepecha culture. 

What is the most popular city in Michoacán?

The most popular city in Michoacan is Morelia, a colonial capital that offers a great base for your trips to Pueblos Magicos and boasts some of the best architecture and museums in Mexico. 

What is the magical town in Michoacán?

Famous for its Puerepecha culture, Patzcuaro is the most popular pueblo magico in Michoacan. 

Best things to do in Michoacan: the final word

Michoacan is one of my favorite places in Mexico. Unlike other destinations which have become popular with foreign visitors, Michoacan is more authentic and offers a more authentic taste of Mexico. It’s a great place to enjoy the culture, and food and explore the spectacular natural landscapes.