Patzcuaro – Pueblo Magico

Patzcuaro is a pueblo South of Morelia on the shores of Lago Patzcuaro. The area has many interesting smaller pueblos, artisan products and much to see. I looped around one side of the lake one time with a friend from San Miguel and enjoyed seeing parts of it, but I’ve always wanted to spend more time exploring Patzcuaro. A couple of weeks ago, when the opportunity came to ride along with a friend who was dropping off books for a book sale in Patzcuaro on Saturday, I said, “Sure!”  Since I don’t have a car, my transportation modes generally alternate between buses, combis, taxis, feet and friends—but I do just fine because México offers a lot of ways to get around.

This was only a brief day trip and once again it left me with the feeling I have to go back to see more. There are local buses every 30 minutes from Morelia, so it isn’t difficult to get there and combis run most of the day between the smaller towns around the lake. Many people come for the Noche de Muertos in November, but you can avoid the crowds and still enjoy the Patzcuaro mix of indigenous and local culture any time of the year.

A September Morning in the central plaza in Patzcuaro

Hotels and shops surround the plaza with restaurants spilling out under the arches of the portales.

The colonial atmosphere of the jardin in the old center of the town is relaxing and quite attractive. There are many small shops with beautiful things nearby, restaurants that spill out onto the wide portales around the jardin and a feeling that time has come to a rest. It is especially attractive during the summer months when the rains bring the hills and valleys around alive with wildflowers.

Decorations from the September Independence celebrations still line the streets

San Mateo on the side of the Cathedral.

San Mateo on the side of the Cathedral.

Another friend joined us and we drove down to the docks where you can take a boat to the island of Jantizio. There has been a lot of work done recently to make the dock area more attractive. Like many places with history and interest to travelers, it has the usual tourist stalls and small restaurants featuring “local cuisine,” but it retains an honest local character.

The passenger ferries waiting at the docks in Patzcuaro. Janitzio is in the distance.

Lots of ferries (almost no) waiting! Well, we do want the opportunity to sell you a few things...

From there we continued on the road to Eronga through many smaller pueblos. The roads in this area are narrow and a bit rough in spots, so you have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the countryside and glimpses of the lake. We sat on under the portales there and enjoyed a very authentic pizza as we chatted.  Yes, good pizza is appreciated in México! You can find some very authentic versions—and worthy Mexican variations too—in almost any town.

In comparison to the well-known tourist enclaves along the Mexican coasts and the high-flying artist colonies like San Miguel de Allende, the Patzcuaro area is much more laid-back. Tourists are welcome, but it isn’t for someone who wants a lot of “programmed activities.” Patzcuaro is for people who want to wind down, take in the local culture casually and the adventure of being immersed in México.

There is a lot to be said for that…

1 Response

  1. Michael says:

    Spent a few days here a couple of years ago. Really liked the area. Nice post.