Discovering the state of Michoacan, Mexico: Including Morelia & La Isla de Janitzio
Updated: Sep 4, 2020
Before it all came to a stop, I was invited to attend the Morelia Film Festival and while everything was planned really last minute - I'm so grateful that I pushed myself to attend. It was such a wild and electric experience that I am already planning to go back next year (if Ms. Rona is kind enough to allow us, lol). The best part about the trip was that I got to discover and explore the charming city of Morelia which I had never been to.
Growing up Mexican in the United States, you are constantly fed this notions that certain Mexican states are very unsafe to wander - especially if you are traveling by yourself. However, as I've grown older, I've decided to face them fears head on and learn by experience. Doing so has allowed me to discover so many gems, where you meet some of the loveliest people and Morelia was no exception. With that said, there is some precautions you can take such as always taking Ubers everywhere you go + staying as close as possible to the downtown historic center. Accommodations in the the area are extremely affordable and you can get something incredibly chic for a low price. Personally, I opted for an AirBnb as my stay was planned very last minute and hotel availability was limited.
If you are more of a hotel type, I did get the chance to visit Hotel Los Juanitos for lunch and dolls, it's truly FABULOUS. The "La Azotea" restaurant sits on the rooftop of the hotel which is located right in the center of the city's downtown square. It literally has the best view in town and the food is top-notch.
As someone who is plant-based I was a little worried that my options would be extremely limited, however the staff was very accommodating and offered me a plethora of options. The restaurant was especially busy with the hotel hosting many of the festival guests. Definitely a great place for drinks and networking!
Morelia is often called "the most Spanish city in Mexico" as it known for its stunning colonial architecture and I must say that I totally felt I was walking through the streets of Spain at points. Yet it's still Mexico and that is what makes it so great. The food? OUT OF THIS WORLD! The people? Some of the nicest! The Mezcal options? UNLIMITED.
One of the great things about Morelia, is it's proximity to some incredible sights such as the mystical town of Patzcuaro. Just under an hour away from the city, you'll find this town which is one of the 83 "Pueblos Magicos" (Magical Towns) designated by Mexico's Tourism department. Once you get there, it's not hard to see why it's received that status!
Transportation to this beautiful town was one of the things that worried me the most when planning my trip but ultimately it ended being easier than expected. Ubers in Mexico are incredibly cheap and once you find someone you like, you can offer them a day rate to drive you on a tour. The price usually ranges from $30 to $40 USD for all day.
While Patzucaro offers an array of fabulous hotels to stay at, I couldn't stay overnight due to obligations in the city. Nonetheless, if you are looking for a fabulous retreat away from city noise - this might be the place for you. It's so charming and away from all chaos!
Just a few minutes away from Patzcuaro, you'll find the TRUE HIGHLIGHT of the state of Michoacan - the Island of Janitzio. The island is marvelous, raw, and full of charm!
The only way to reach the island is by boat, which you can get at the Patzcuaro Pier. IT IS SO WORTH IT!
I went just a few days before Day of Dead which is the busiest season! Usually people come from all over the world to celebrate here. As part of the celebrations, candle-lit boat processions make their way to the island and then to Janitzio's Church and graveyard. It's there that people remain for most of the night with a large festive vigil in place. If you are a fan of Disney's movie Coco, you might be familiar with some of the sights as they are featured on the film.