PatzcuaroLake Patzcuaro area of the Mexican state of Michoacan.
A lovely mountain town, Patzcuaro is colonial Mexico at its most enchanting. It is the most important town of the lake region of Michoacán. An especially charming zócalo marks the center of town; hotels, restaurants and shops line the square, housed in buildings dating from the fourteenth century. Patzcuaro is not for nightlife lovers - ample sightseeing will wear out the average visitor during daylight hours, anyway.
More Europeans and Gringos are moving to the Lake Patzcuaro area as prices in other gringo havens have gone up considerably.
Elevation: 2,200m/7,200 feet
By busSeveral first-class bus lines have infrequent service to Patzcuaro. The Purhepecha bus line (a subsidiary of Flecha Amarilla) runs very frequent buses between Patzcuaro and the larger cities of Morelia and Uruapan. From Morelia, a Purhepecha bus leaves for Patzcuaro about every 20 minutes between 6AM and 8PM for a fare of M$30 (August 2009 price). Tip: If your plan is to go directly to Janitzio, get off the bus at the Pemex station when you first come into town there will often be several people getting down there. The boat dock is a few short blocks walk.
By carPatzcuaro is an easy drive from the Pacific coast towns of Ixtapa, a resort community, and former fishing village Zihuatenejo, which has a large airport. Visitors may take a modern toll road (about $8 in tolls for a four hour drive) or the essentially parallel "libre" road, which winds through beautiful country; turn north northwest of Ixtapa and follow road signs to Morelia. Don't forget that in Mexico, a left hand signal from the car in front of you means it is safe to pass.
You can also arrive from Guadalajara via the Guadalajara-Morelia-México toll Highway: exit at Coeneo Huaniqueo (Coeneo direction), after Coeneo, head to Quiroga, then to Tzinzunzan and finally to Pátzcuaro. Highway signs are sometimes scarce and not very well placed. People are usually helpful if you are lost, but you have to know some basic Spanish.
A Michoacán PDF highway map is available from the Communications and Transport Secretariat website (maps for the other states can be found at the same site here: ).
Casa de los Once PatiosLarge collection of small artesania shops, most selling authentic crafts from the Lake Patzcuaro region, set in an historic downtown landmark.
- Plaza Grande and Plaza Chica - Life in Patzcuaro revolves around its two central downtown plazas, with manicured landscaping, local monuments, boutique shops, quaint inns, and casual sidewalk cafes.
Basilica de la Nuestra Señora de SaludPatzcuaro's most important church, and the resting place for the remains of Bishop Don Vasco Quiroga, a local hero much loved by the Tarascan people.
Biblioteca Gertrudis BocanegraBeautiful public library which also houses a famous mural by modern artists Juan O'Gorman.
El SagrarioStunningly beautiful smaller church that looks ancient beyond its years.
- Celebrate Day of the Dead (El Dia de los Muertos):
Janitzio, an island in Lake Patzcuaro, is a tourist magnet for the occasion. The highlight is the cultural festival with folk dance, music and song. Find out the schedule for the festival beforehand to gain a good place and enjoy the free show. Transport to the island is by boat, expect long queues for a 30 to M$40 roundtrip ticket on the main Pátzcuaro dock. If you are parking at the municipal parking lot during this period, keep in mind that you may/will most likey be blocked into your parking space with no chance of moving your car until the next day.
During the Day of the Dead festivities, if you dislike unordered Mecca-size crowds, spare the visit to Janitzio and plan to travel to nearby Tzinzunzan instead, for a more authentic and a bit less crowded experience.
Consider that the highways in the area get crowded as well, so to be safe, arrive at either destination before noon, and book a hotel reservation several weeks in advance (there are several hostels and hotels in Pátzcuaro). You can also pack your camping tent and sleeping bag and pay around 50 pesos per night/person in a trailer-camping park near Pátzcuaro.
- Sidetrips to local villages
If you wish to escape the tourists in Patzcuaro head 17 kilometers around the lake to Erongarícuaro a lively pleasant town.
Cuanajo is another town worth seeing for the hand-made furniture there. The turn-off to Cuanajo is on Highway 14 between Patzcuaro and Morelia.
- Day of the Dead Souvenirs
- Charalitos: small lake fish, fried in large flat pans and served as a snack with salt, chili, and lime.
- Pescado blanco: white fish from Lake Patzcuaro, prepared to order
- Sopa Tarasca: bean and tortilla based soup, often spiced with piquant chilis and topped with a swirl of slightly acidic crema mexicana.
- Corundas: similar to tamales (corn based).
- Nieve de pasta: milk-based ice cream.
Best Western Posada De Don Vasco, Patzcuaroaddress: Calzada de Las Americas 450Dining room with Sunday Buffet. Very good food.
Fonda Mama Lupeaddress: Dr. Benito Mendoza StreetFor under US$5, you'll get a small salad, choice of soups, choice of main dishes, postre, and agua de fruta. A small sandwich-board sign identifies the entrance; seating is in a covered patio. Best for breakfasts.
La Surtidorareferred to by gringo expats as 'The Office' - where the above street enters the Plaza Grande. This is the place in Patzcuaro to buy fresh coffee.
Mariscos La GüeraExtensive menu of well-prepared seafood dishes; excellent service, moderate prices. Any dish with shrimp in it is a specialty.
Mercado de AntojitosLots of cheap, tasty foods. Recommended: tamales, corundas and birria.
El SotanoYoung crowd. Beer and pool tables. Occasional live music.
El Campaneroaddress: Plaza Grande
phone: +52 434-121-5913address: Michoacán #43Michoacán #43. Small quiet hotel offering the cheapest prices for international backpackers. Small rooms downstairs are even cheaper. Camping available. Reservations not normally needed.
Hotel Casa de la Real Aduanaphone: +52 434 342 0265Ponce de Leon 16, Centro, An intimate five-room Boutique Hotel of charm and beauty in the heart of Colonial Patzcuaro.(web page:www.realaduana.com).
Hotel Mansion IturbePortal Morelos # 59, Col. Centro. Small boutique hotel with two restaurants and plenty of art and history. Hotel Mansion Iturbe is in Vasco de Quiroga Square, heart of Patzcuaro, one hour from Morelia International Airport.
Best Western Posada De Don Vasco, Patzcuarophone: +52 1434 342-0227, +52 434 342-2704Calzada de Las Americas 450. US$48 per night and up. Dining room w/Sunday Buffet.
phone: +52 434 342 67 17address: Dr. Coss 17. Centro HistóricoHoused in a traditional colonial building.
La Casa Encantadaphone: +52 434 342 3492MXaddress: Dr Coss #15A beautifully restored 18th century mansion located in the historic center. Beautiful colonial rooms furnished with folk art. Generous breakfast and bi-lingual staff.