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
Patzcuaro is most easily reached by bus or car.
Several 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.
Patzcuaro 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 [generally] 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.
The central downtown area is easily explored on foot. Taxis are readily available when you need to get to the bus station or boat docks, and are an excellent option for exploring the villages that surround Lake Patzcuaro.
- Casa de los Once Patios. Large 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 Salud. Patzcuaro’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 Bocanegra. Beautiful public library which also houses a famous mural by modern artists Juan O’Gorman.
- El Sagrario. Stunningly beautiful smaller church that looks ancient beyond its years.