During our time in Mexico, we hit most of the usual suspects as far as popular tourist spots are concerned – Tulum, Mexico City, Playa Del Carmen to name a few – but we struck true gold when we went a bit further afield by spending a few weeks in Patzcuaro. Located 5 hours west of Mexico City in the beautiful state of Michoacan, Patzcuaro, Mexico has everything you could possibly want in a cozy and quiet colonial escape. Here are a handful of the best reasons for visiting Patzcuaro and not being a crazy person.
Haunting Lake Patzcuaro
While Patzcuaro proper is a shiny gem, its enchanting namesake lake vies for a swath of the spotlight. The silty brown body of water and her islands are steeped in indigenous spirituality, as ancient peoples believed the barrier between this world and the next to be very thin here. Ferry rides to the islands are available, with the most popular being Isla Janitzio, home to a small population of people but hundreds of winding steps that lead up to a massive statue of Mexican revolutionary leader José María Morelos. If you’re lucky, on your way to the island, you’ll get treated to a display of fishermen using old school butterfly nets to catch fish – and your tips – in a traditional way.
The Grand Plaza Grande
The beating heart of Patzcuaro, Plaza Grande is lined by historic maroon-red and ivory-white buildings and an arched arcade. In our three months in the country, we never saw another square quite like this one color-wise, and like most Mexican town plazas, it becomes a beehive of fun in the evening. Whether you walk hand-in-hand around the fountain or choose to sit at one of the numerous cafes lining the plaza enjoying a slice of cake, you are in for a good time. Be sure to end your night on a sweet note with a scoop or two of homemade ice cream from the vendors lining the plaza.
Legendary Day of the Dead
Patzcuaro is famous throughout Mexico for the reputation of its Dia de los Muertos celebrations, and if you happen to find yourself there in early November, you are in for a true treat. As all the towns around Lake Patzcuaro celebrate Dia de los Muertos passionately – remember what I said about the Lake being a portal between this world and the next – Patzcuaro becomes the capital of festivities and is home to a frenzy of food, drink, and craft-making. This holiday is a quintessential Mexican experience, and Patzcuaro’s spiritual roots make it extra special.
While not quite as aesthetically pleasing as the town’s Basilica, the Temple Sagrario’s faded stone walls and ancient arches made it my favorite sight in Patzcuaro. The playful mixing of architectural styles and location on a cobblestoned side street make it an ideal picture-taking place and a great spot for spontaneous for “I can’t believe I’m in Mexico” moments.
From the moment we turned up in Patzcuaro, we were told in no uncertain terms that we absolutely had to try the tamales being sold just outside the town’s bustling market. Not being the type to argue about when directed to eat street food, we tracked down these tamales and they were more than worth it. Being sold at an understated stall facing Plaza Chica – the town’s second largest plaza – these bad boys were topped with fresh sour cream, salsa verde, and packed a flavorful punch before just melting in your mouth.
This post originally appeared on TravelPulse