Pátzcuaro & Janitzio, Michoacán: The Best Things to Do
Pátzcuaro is the name of a lake and town in Michoacán. Janitzio is an island located on the lake. Both spots are well worth a visit if you’re ever in Michoacán. My husband, in-laws and I went to Pátzcuaro and Janitzio Michoacán as a day trip from Morelia during a long weekend trip and we had the best time. Here are the best things to do in Pátzcuaro and Janitzio on your next trip.
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MEXICO TRAVEL BASICS
Getting There: FLIGHTS & BUSES
Getting There: AIRPORT TRANSFERS
Accommodation: HOTELS & HOSTELS
Things to Do: TOURS & ACTIVITIES
Getting Around: RENTAL CARS
Safety & Health: TRAVEL INSURANCE
Table of Contents
How to Get to Pátzcuaro
Pátzcuaro makes for a lovely day trip or multi-day trip from Morelia. You can rent a car to drive there or take a bus. It’s about an hour-long drive from Morelia. If you’re coming from Mexico City it’s about a 4.5-5 hour drive.
Pátzcuaro Town & Lake
Pátzcuaro is the name of a town located right by a large and beautiful lake. Pátzcuaro is also the name of the lake.
Things to do in Pátzcuaro
Wander through the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga
We stopped at the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga on our way back to Morelia from Pátzcuaro and it was such a lovely part of town. It’s the largest of two main downtown plazas in Pátzcuaro filled with gardens and a large fountain.
Visit the Museum of Artes y Industrias Populares
Located in the Centro Historico of Pátzcuaro, the Museum of Art and Popular Industries is a great place to learn more about the history of Pátzcuaro and the rest of Michoacán. There are ten rooms in the museum to browse through. You can learn about the history of hunting, fishing, agriculture, clothing, and pottery in the region.
Visit the Archaeological Site of Ihuatzio
Located just a 26 minute drive north of the town of Pátzcuaro is the Archaeological Site of Ihuatzio. The site contains pre-Purépecha ruins dating back to AD 900. Ihuatzio is best known for the Plaza de Armas which contains two 15m high pyramids and used to contain a ball court too.
Hike the Stirrup Volcano
The Stirrup Volcano or ‘El Volcan del Estribo Grande’ is situated just outside of town and provides hikers with gorgeous sweeping views of the town of Pátzcuaro as well as the lake and Island of Janitzio. It’s a fairly small volcano so it doesn’t take too long to reach the top, just an hour or so, and there are multiple viewpoints on the way up.
Ride a Boat to Janitzio Island
The boat we rode was crowded but the views were breathtaking. We were able to see many islands and other colorful boats on the lake.
When we were almost at the island of Janitzio we saw several fishermen on the lake with giant fishing nets. Everyone on the boat got lots of pictures of them and then the fishermen came beside the boat to collect tips from the travelers.
It’s safe to say that the fishermen make money from the fish they sell as well as from the tips they get from travelers photographing them.
Isla de Janitzio, Michoacán
Janitzio is a small but very beautiful island. It’s home to a giant statue of Morelos, one of Mexico’s heroes of Independence, on the top of the island. You can eat tamales and trout, drink pulque and enjoy stunning lake and mountain views from the island.
Things to do on Janitzio Island
Search for street art
The island is quite small but there are lots of little alleyways, some of which are decorated with colorful murals. The ones we saw on our trip were at the bottom of the hilly island, near where we got off our boat.
Hike up to the Morelos statue
The hike up to the statue of Morelos is very steep and we definitely needed to take breaks throughout our walk. There are many vendors selling artisan goods, food, and drinks along the hike up to the statue.
Once we reached the top of the island, we paid a small entrance fee to see the statue of Morelos up close. The statue is located in a large courtyard. The views from the courtyard were incredible. We were able to see the rest of the island and a stunning vista of the lake as well. You can also go inside the statue of Morelos but we chose not to do that because the lineup was quite long.
Watch the Baile de los Viejitos
Another thing I really enjoyed seeing was the Baile de Los Viejitos or ‘The Dance of the Little Old Men’. Children and adults who do the dance, wear masks to make them look older along with wigs of long white braids. They wear wooden sandals that make a click-clacking sound when they dance too. The Baile de Los Viejitos is a famous dance from the state of Michoacán and you can see it performed all over the state, not just on Janitzio.
Celebrate Day of the Dead
Janitzio is one of the most popular places to celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico. Just remember that because it is a small island and a huge tourist attraction around the festival, it can get quite crowded. It’s still well worth it if you want to celebrate on an island overflowing with decorations and festivities though.
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