So, I’ve got a new favorite place in Mexico: Patzcuaro, in the state of Michoacan. It’s about a 4 to 5 hour drive west of Mexico City, located just south of Morelia, the capital of Michoacan (which is supposed to be lovely, too, but we didn’t have time to visit).
Normally, I’m a beach girl and most of my favorite Mexican places involve the ocean and the creatures that inhabit within. But Patzcuaro takes the cake for:
1. Best little Mexican town, for architecture
I’ve been to a lot of “colonial era” cities in Mexico, meaning they were built soon after the conquest and still have a lot of traditional and very old Spanish architecture. They’re adorable, by and large, but after you’ve visited a few, they do start to look all the same (what’s that? Another Italian Coffee Company in a historic hacienda building? Great). Not with Patzcuaro, with its supremely maintained architecture. It’s also relatively flat, so it’s not a killer city to walk around, like equally cute but incredibly steep Taxco. We stayed at squee-worthy La Casa Encantada, which, btw, has half-off their room rates through July, so get it while it’s cheap.
2. Best little Mexican town, for arts and crafts
Patzcuaro and its nearby small towns operate under a unique system set up by a Spanish priest hundreds of years ago. He taught the local indigenous communities to individually specialize in specific trades, a practice that exists today. Many of these crafts are for sale in the stores that line Patzcuaro’s main plaza, but it’s also fun to get out and explore the actual towns where the products are made.
In Santa Clara del Cobre, as just one example, you can find copper galore:
3. Best climate, ever?
Simply driving around the countryside is gorgeous. It’s hilly, green, and because of the elevation, not too hot, and not too cold. I’ve heard Michoacan contains many areas considered “most hospitable to human life” and you really feel it when you’re there, because you don’t want to leave.
4. Fantastic bodies of water nearby!
Rare for Mexico, this is a lake-filled region. The most popular is Lago de Patzcuaro, which contains several islands, all swarmed by visitors come Day of the Dead, especially Isla Janitzio. Instead of visting it, we took an off-the-beaten-path tour of two other islands, Pacanda and Yunuen, where the indigenous Purepecha people live.
(If you’re interested in a very unique lodging experience on Pacanda, contact Gregorio Campos who operates tours of the island and has new cabanas on the island, too, at 43-4104-2511. He’s already booked for Day of the Dead but the rest of the year he’s less busy.)
Besides Patzcuaro, there are several other lakes that are supposed to be better for swimming — deeper, cleaner, etc.
All this, gleaned in just TWO DAYS I spent there! Suffice it to say, I’ll be back.