With a consistent colonial-style throughout, Morelia is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. It is not really on the well-trodden path of the leisure tourists and so you can walk around in comfort without fear of the bermuda shorts crowds. Morelia is the capital of the state of Michoacan in Mexico and it is a registered UNESCO World Heritage site. There are at least two "information" booths in the area of the square. They are staffed with multilingual students who are very helpful
Morelia is the capital city of Michoacan. It serves government and many students attending school there. The central business district is very clean with plenty of places to eat and shop. Tourists are not as common here as some other areas of Mexico. You may want to load up on pesos before ordering food or trying to make a purchase, as foreign currency is not widely accepted. There are money changer stalls on the side streets off of the square.
It has a decent climate, nice parks to relax in, lots of places to get stuff, and very nice place over all. If you stay downtown, most of the attractions like the Cathedral, the square, museums, and shopping, are all pretty much within walking distance. Due to Morelia's location, being a college town and center of State Government, tourist are not as common as some other areas of Mexico. The People are very friendly. In the central business district, drivers use their horns 24 hours a day to excess, prodding other drivers and to give notice at the numerous blind intersections. You will get used to it, but request a room away from the street.
Morelia is more than just the Downtown. Its outlying areas feature modern housing developments, shopping centers and parks. Tres Marias and Altozano are ultra-modern newest residential areas.
Deluxe buses serve Morelia from all parts of the Republic, and Morelia's state-of-the-art bus station, located in the northern part of the city. The bus station consists of separate terminals for first-class and second-class buses. It is easy to reach Morelia from either Mexico City or Guadalajara. The bus trip from Guadalajara is about 4 1/2 hours and from Mexico City is 4 hours, depending on the company. You can also reach Morelia from the United States by way of Greyhound.
Morelia is accessible by a modern toll road, and is located equidistant from Guadalajara and Mexico City, is about 3 1/2 hours driving. There are plenty of gas stations along the way with restrooms and food. Be prepared with change/pesos to pay tolls the cost may vary depending of the route you take, from Mexico City is about 500 pesos one way. It is a very scenic trip, to say the least.
Morelia has a relatively new, modern airport at the edge of town. Going to the city center takes about a half hour. Book the taxi within the terminal and take the ticket to the taxi area.
There are daily International flights from LAX, IAH and ORD and scheduled flights from SFO, SJC, SFM, which lead to MLM, Morelia's international airport, as do commuter flights from GDL, MEX, BJX and TIJ.
Buses, combis and taxis form Morelia’s public transport.
Combis are a good way to see the smaller roads and backstreets of the city. Various destinations are usually indicated on the windshield of these mini-vans. As of November 2011 a ride within the city costs 6 pesos. Get in, grab a handle and sit down before the driver speeds off, and then give your money directly to the driver, or to someone else to pass to the driver for you (you can ask the person “Si no le molesta, por favor”, basically, “thanks, if you don’t mind”). Above your head you will find a buzzer to get out at the next corner, or you can simply ask “en la próxima ezquina, por favor” (next corner please). It is very common for people to greet other passengers when boarding, according to the time of day (“Buenos días”, “buenas tardes” or “buenas noches”).
Taxis are also plentiful and inexpensive, operating on zone fares. As elsewhere in Mexico, make sure to determine the price before getting into the taxi.
Driving in the City is not easy, but with patience you can. Drivers use their horns to excess, to prod others and at the numerous blind intersections. The Centro Histórico is plagued by lack of parking. Driving in and around Morelia differs little from driving in any urban area. However, there is an “uno y uno” protocol in place. Drivers are actually quite respectful and obey this “one and one” rule, where — in stark contrast to Mexico City — at an intersection, you do not simply charge into any space larger than 5 cm, but fall into line, with one vehicle at a time from each direction driving through the intersection.
There are a lot of interesting and beautiful colonial buildings to see in Morelia, most of them are open to the public for at least part of the day. Highlights of a Morelia city tour will include:
- Cathedral: One of the downtown highlights is the baroque cathedral with its surrounding gardens and parks. The cathedral is enormous, covering more than 2 city blocks in area. Architectural details like the flying buttresses and tiled cupolas give it a distinctive look. The Cathedral is the site for the local “Day of the Dead” celebration in early November. It is more of an experience than can be described here. Most of the activities take place after dark, make sure you have a good seat around the square at dark for the outside performance of the choir and the fireworks each night.
- Casa Natal de Morelos and Casa de Morelos: Hero of the Mexican War for Independence, native son Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon, was born, raised, and lived his life in Morelia. There are two Morelos homes in the city, and both are historical museums that chronicle Morelos and his role in shaping Mexico.
- Aqueduct: Running down the center of Avenida Acueducto is an enormous aqueduct built in the 17th century to bring water into the budding young city.
- Santuario de Guadalupe: One of the most serenely beautiful churches in Mexico, adorned in soft pink and white with gold trim, the church is a work of art in itself. It also houses a series of 17th century oil paintings that ideologically depict the Spanish missionaries’ conquest over the “barbaric” religious traditions of the Aztecs.
- Benito Juarez Zoological Park is a 620-acre urban oasis that is home to a 75-acre lake and a large and diverse collection of animals, including everything from polar bears to monkeys. Kids love it! Admission costs 12 pesos for adults and 6 for kids. Open 7 days a week.
- Take some time to stroll around, particularly near the Cathedral.
- Listen to a concert by the Morelia Boys Choir at the spectacular Conservatory of the Roses. The group is modeled on the Vienna Boys Choir, and their director is a former maestro from Vienna.
- Find out about local festivals. Morelia frequently hosts outstanding events, like a regional foods festival in late fall, and music or cultural festivals at other times of the year. You can often find out about these through Morelia's tourist bureau web site.
- Visit the Santuario de Guadalupe (also known as the Templo San Diego) between the last week of November and December 12. For two weeks, Mexico celebrates the Virgin of Guadalupe, and Morelia's celebration is a classic!
Casa de Artesanias is located on Plaza San Francisco. Reserve your shopping until you visit there, this is where the local artists display their wares.
The Mercado de Dulces was created about thirty years ago, and it features candy as well as inexpensive souvenirs. The Museo de Dulces, located on Av. Madero between the Cathedral and the Tarascan Fountain is definitely worth a stop. More than just a museum, it contains a coffee shop and offers the widest variety of candies as well as demonstrations of candy-making.
Morelia is one of the most exciting places in Mexico for innovative yet traditionally based cuisine. Avoid chain restaurants in Morelia because the wealth of outstanding restaurants not only offer unique regional flavors found nowhere else in Mexico, they are shockingly affordable for the quality they deliver.
Regional dishes unique to Morelia and surrounding Michoacan include:
- Sopa Tarasca: Smoothly pureed bean soup base spiced with piquant dried chiles and swirled with a touch of slightly soured creme mexicana, it’s a bean soup that will change the way you think of bean soup. Similar to Sopa Azteca.
- Enchiladas Morelianas: Enchiladas in Morelia are nothing like enchiladas in any other part of Mexico. In Morelia, they’re based on chicken and potatoes, but they explode with rich flavor from a slow, deep-seated chile spiciness and deep red color that comes from the careful use of guajilla chile.
Some chains like Subway and Burger King are present on the square and throughout the city, for those who prefer to avoid culinary adventure. The dining room on the 3rd floor above the department store on the square is interesting to visit and has very good food. In the tourist and historic centre, many restaurants may have an English menu available. Be prepared to pay in pesos.
As usual, to get the best authentic Mexican food at authentic prices, you will need to leave the core centre. Here are a few good taquerías that are well known to locals (and for good reason!).
- Taquería del Infierno offers fantastic food with very rapid service. Many plates come with a roasted onion (cebolla asada), but if yours doesn’t, make sure to ask for an “orden de cebollitas”. Tacos and quesadillas starting at 7 pesos. Av. Lázaro Cárdenas No. 2630, Chapultepec Sur.
- Taquería Los Camineros is another fave amongst locals and totally lives up to its slogan, “El placer del buen taco” (the pleasure of a good taco). A great vegg option is the quesadillas con rajas (peppers) into which you can stuff pieces of your side order of cebollitas. Their meat “volcanoes” rock as well. Just off the main drag at Teniente Isidro Aleman 570, in Chapultepec Sur.
- Tacopolis La Huerta is in the south end of the city, on La Huerta (the road leading to Patzcuaro), shortly before you get to the mall area (Walmart, Office Depot, Home Depot, Cinépolis). They offer a great range of salsas to accompany your quesadillas, tacos, alambra (massive meat overdose for the hardcore travellers only!). Their chipotle and avocado salsas are awesome. The hard-to-find vegetarian alambra is a nice vegg option when you are tired of quesadillas, but theirs, made with mushrooms, peppers, pineapple and optional cheese, is fairly bland. Here they serve flour, not corn, tortillas. Wireless available.
- Los Carboncitos offers “¡¡Un Taco bien Carbón!!” with hand-made flour or corn tortillas. Their red salsa, made with roasted red peppers, is a fantastic addition to their quesadillas con adobera, a firm cheese that is fried on the grill. Ask for a side of fried onions that come with the meat dishes to add to your quesadillas. Tacos starting at 6 pesos, quesadillas starting at 7 pesos. In the southwest of the city about 1 km east of La Huerta on Universidad, on the side street Valle de Guayangareo No. 31-A in Colonia Valle Quieto. Closed Sundays.
Outdoor patio dining under the city’s historic portals is casual, fun and affordable. The dining room of the Best Western is good and a bit cheaper than the more sophisticated fare outside the Hotel Virrey de Mendoza.
- Las Fonda de las Mercedes is one of the most elegant and sophisticated dining rooms in the city. It is dramatic and romantic with an atmosphere of 16th century colonial grace punctuated by 21st century touches. The cuisine is nouveau Mexican, blending traditional elements harkening back to the pre-Colombian era with international influences to create a fusion that is nothing short of culinary orgasm. You can experience master culinary craftsmanship in this 5-star restaurant for no more money than buying a steak at an Outback. Who would ever eat in chain restaurants in Morelia??
- Las Trojes is an elegant steakhouse in the upscale neighborhood of Camelinas. The restaurant uses only certified Angus beef, cooked to perfection. The service is attentive yet friendly, and no detail is overlooked. Even the bread is spectacular at Las Trojes — delicately crispy baguettes accompanied by a spicy bean and herb spread.
There are several bars in the city center that come to life starting around 11PM
- Ego Near the Sky. Is the most popular disco in Morelia. Blvd. Jefferson 600
- Beatles House offers live rock bands with a retro 60s and 70s sound. Av. Madero, across from the Hotel Virrey de Mendoza.
- Zitio has a casual disco atmosphere and is known for its theme evenings. Av. Enrique Ramirez Miguel 110.
- Amsterdam, one of the best gay café/bars in the entire town, is located in the centre, in Humboldt Street. It’s a great place to go with all your LGBT friends and to meet new ones. The café organizes several activities, such as the Gay Pride march on May 17. Amsterdam Café/Bar has delicious beverages, such as “Orgasm”, “White Russian” and offers a large coffee menu. It has a great ambience, all the place is decorated with colorful paintings, for example, a copy of Karina Kun’s La Majo Desnuda and a big fresco by Belgian painter Peter Nyu. The barmen are also very nice and friendly. The two owners, a beautiful happy couple in love, Mario and Gabriel, will be happy to welcome you and any of your LGBT friends and/or family.
Nude table dance bars cluster on the outskirts of the city along the Perinorte.
- Hostel Allende, ☎ +52 443 312-2246. Allende 843. Popular hostel with a convenient downtown location. Dorm-style bunks from US$10, private rooms from $15.
- Hotel Alameda, ☎ +52 443 312-2023. Av. Madero 113. Modern hotel in the heart of colonial downtown Morelia. Clean, safe hotel with an outstanding central location and room rates starting around US$40.
- Hotel De La Soledad, Ignacio Zaragoza # 90 Col. Centro. Morelia, Michoacan C.P 58000., ☎ +52 443 312-1888, fax: (443)312-2111. Located in the Historical Downtown (World Heritage Site by the UNESCO) one block away from the Cathedral - ideally placed for visits to both. Opened in 1752 as a diligence hostel, now a hotel. If you use valet parking, give at least two hours notice to have car returned. No elevator to 2nd floor rooms (built in 1752). Rooms at back of courtyard have less street noise. Sanborns Dept. store adjacent, with 3rd floor dining room.
- Hotel Virrey de Mendoza, ☎ +52 443 312-4940. Av. Madero Pte. 310. Historical hotel with elegance and old-world charm. Some rooms may be loud or small owing to its historical authenticity. Rooms are comfortably furnished and service is always outstanding. Live piano music in the lounge, outdoor dining in one of Morelia's colonial portals.
- Los Juaninos, ☎ +52 443 312-0036. Morelos Sur 39. Upscale boutique hotel with graceful furnishings, unbeatable centro location and exquisite rooftop dining room.
- Villa Montanas, ☎ +52 443 314-0231. Patzimba 201. Elegantly rustic mountain lodge featuring rough hewn wood beams and fireplaces in the rooms.not to mention outstanding nighttime views of the city from its perch on a mountain overlooking the city below.
Buy a Telemex Ladatel prepaid calling card. They are available in many places, including convenience stores and bus station kiosks, and can be used in pay phones throughout Mexico. Using the cards can result in substantial savings, and is a sure way to prevent overcharging that can occur with collect or credit card calls. Ladatel cards are available many places on the square.
Morelia is an excellent gateway city for cultural and outdoor adventures throughout the state of Michoacan.
- Monarch Butterfly Reserves: Millions of monarch butterflies descend on the forests of Michoacan each November and leave for their northward migration around March. There are at least 10 designated butterfly reserves within a 4-hour drive of Morelia. Tours can be arranged through hotel concierges. Hiring a private guide with a late-model sedan for an individual trip will cost about 2,000 pesos for a very full day for up to 3 people.
As of October 29th 2011, the lady at my hostel told me that the reserves doesn't open until November 15
- Patzcuaro: The quaint, tranquil, artistic town of Patzcuaro is an easy 1-hour bus ride from Morelia. It is worth spending quite a bit of time getting to know. It is the center of Mexico's "Day of the Dead" tradition, and is one of the great centers for finding authentic popular arts pieces.
|Routes through Morelia|
|Zamora de Hidalgo ← Zacapu ←||W E||→ Ciudad Hidalgo → Toluca|