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Best Things to do in Patzcuaro Michoacan: Lake and Magical Town

  • Joel CZ 
  • 8 min read
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The beautiful Magical Town of Patzcuaro Michoacan was founded around the year 1280 by the Purépechas (a native Indian group).

It has great natural attractions and architectural beauties worthy of admiration.

Patzcuaro is widely recognized for its festivities and traditions, located in the center of the state of Michoacan de Ocampo.

It is bordered on the north by Tzintzuntzan, on the east by the cities of Huiramba and Morelia, on the west by the municipalities of Tingambato and Erongarícuaro, and on the south by Salvador Escalante.

You can rent a car or take a bus at the Morelia bus terminal.

To get to Patzcuaro, you can fly to Morelia, where the nearest airport is only 59 km from the Magical Town.

Once in the capital of Michoacan, take the Morelia-Pátzcuaro highway, and you will arrive at your destination in less than an hour.

What is the history of Patzcuaro Michoacan?

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Source: ingridagrants / shutterstock.com

The mestizo town of indigenous people and Spaniards was founded around the third decade of the 16th century.

After the arrival of the Spaniards to Mexico in 1533, Vasco de Quiroga was sent to the area as a visitor and called Tata Vasco by the Purepecha Indians. He became the first Bishop of Michoacan.

In 1824, after the Independence, Patzcuaro became the head of the XII District of the Western Department, to later be elevated to the category of a municipality on December 10, 1831.

After the Mexican Revolution, the magical town was somewhat battered, and in 1920 a reconstruction process began, preserving its attractive colonial buildings and rich cultural heritage.

Currently, the basis of its economy is agriculture, fishing, handicrafts, especially pottery, and tourism, supported by Patzcuaro’s incorporation into the Mexican Magical Towns system.

Climate

This Magical Town is located at an altitude of 2,200 meters in the mountainous region of Michoacan, so it has an enjoyable climate.

The climate in Patzcuaro falls into the sub-humid temperate category, with an average annual temperature of 17° C.

In the coldest months, between December and February, temperatures drop to 4° C, so in winter, it is necessary to dress warmly, while in summer, the temperature rises to 21° C.

Rainfall is mainly between June and September, accounting for about 80 percent of the 1,040 mm annual fall.

Patzcuaro Michoacan main attractions

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Lake Patzcuaro – Source: LinXiaoFu / Shutterstock.com

Patzcuaro has a mixture of architectural attractions with natural spaces that captivate tourists from Mexico and around the world for its beauty and diversity.

Lake Patzcuaro has seven islands, with Janitzio and Yunuen standing out among the city’s main attractions.

The Main Square is of colonial style, and from the viceroyalty era also comes the Church of San Francisco, the Basilica of Our Lady of Health, the church and former convent of the Hospitaller Order of San Juan de Dios, and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, built in the early nineteenth century.

The Magical Town offers the Gertrudis Bocanegra Municipal Library and the Museum of Popular Arts and Industries for tourists searching for culture.

as you can see, there are attractions in Patzcuaro for all tastes.

Lake Patzcuaro

This lake is one of the most visited attractions by Mexican and international tourists.

It houses archeological sites rich in pre-Hispanic culture; its coastline is 54 km long and contains seven islands, the most important of which are Janitzio and Yunuen.

On the latter, a high-level resort was developed, with cabins surrounded by trees and gardens, game rooms, and dining rooms carefully tended by the island’s residents.

The lake has a great variety of aquatic flora and nine species of native fish.

Tourist transportation is provided by several dozen motorboats driven by locals, who are happy to show you the lake’s most beautiful and emblematic corners.

Visit the Main Square

patzcuaro michoacan
Source: FVinas / shutterstock.com

The Main Square, also known as Plaza Vasco de Quiroga, is considered one of the most beautiful in the country.

This majestic square is surrounded by buildings and mansions from the colonial era.

It differs from many other squares in that it lacks religious temples and is used as an open-air art gallery for Sunday exhibitions of regional painters.

Around the plaza are the Patzcuaro City Hall, the Casa del Gigante, the Huitzimengari Palace, the Casa del Portal Chaparro, and many other architectural and cultural interest sites, which added to the hotels, restaurants, and handicraft stores, make this space a unique and entertaining place.

Religious temples

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Source: miguelgomezcuriel / shutterstock.com

The access door to the abbey is a beautiful Renaissance work beginning with the Temple of San Francisco.

Its interior is preserved in two pieces of relevance, an oil painting of the Pope and St. Francis of Assisi and a Christ made of corn cane paste dating from the sixteenth century.

The Sanctuary of Guadalupe is a 19th-century temple of neoclassical lines, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Health is considered the most important church in town.

It was erected by Vasco de Quiroga in 1540 and houses an image of the Virgin of Health, also made of cane paste with orchid honey.

Some chapels worth mentioning are El Calvario and the Chapel of Christ.

Gastronomy in Patzcuaro Michoacan

Michoacan cuisine has pre-Hispanic-based dishes such as tamales de ceniza and Tarascos.

In Patzcuaro, tamales are also prepared with white fish from the lake and blackberry tamales accompanied by corn dough atole.

Read more about Michoacan style tamales: Corundas and Uchepos

Other dishes worth mentioning are the churipo, a red chili broth with beef and vegetables, and the Olla Podrida, a typical Spanish meal based on beans, meat, ribs, and seasonings that give it a characteristic flavor.

Among the sweets, I can mention the nieve de pasta, made with milk, or the guava rolls, which are a must on any Michoacan table.

Lodging

  • The Casa Leal Boutique Hotel is one of the most comfortable and elegant in Patzcuaro; with a neoclassical style located in the Main Square; it has first-class service and all the amenities that will provide you with an unforgettable stay
  • Casitas Patzcuaro Apartments are furnished, and decorated accommodations located one block from the historic center
  • The Eco Hotel Ixhi, further away from downtown, is full of beauty and warmth, as well as Mexican handicrafts, providing cultural learning of the town through its folk art

Among the best restaurants, I can name La Surtidora, where you will enjoy typical Michoacan food, and El Patio, located in the middle of Vasco de Quiroga square.

For children, Mandala has the best homemade pizzas in town.

What are the main festivities?

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Dance of the Elderly Source: oscar garces / Shutterstock.com

The carnival is very lively in Patzcuaro, especially for the parades of folkloric characters accompanied by the music of chirimias and stringed instruments.

The joy of carnival turns into fervor and recollection during Holy Week when there are representations of the main biblical passages of the Passion and processions of images.

One of these is the Procession of the Christs, which gathers almost all the Christs venerated in the churches of the lake region.

Our Lady of Health is December 8 and her feast day attracts many people since she is one of the most revered images of the lake area.

This festivity has a rich religious, cultural and musical program, with bullfights, jaripeos, dances, mojigangas, and musical bands.

Ready to go and enjoy the beautiful attractions of Patzcuaro? I wish you all the best on your next trip to the Magical Town of Michoacan.

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