Traveler's Guide to Morelia, Michoacan

Church viewed through an arch, Templo De Las Rosas, Morelia, Michoacan State, Mexico

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Morelia, which is the state capital of Michoacan in ​Mexico, has a population of almost 600,000 and its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city has more than 200 historical buildings, many built of characteristic pink quarry stone. With many lovely plazas, gardens and atriums and a well-earned reputation as a regional cultural center, Morelia is a destination for those who enjoy colonial architecture and local culture.


Morelia was founded in 1541 by Antonio de Mendoza. Its original name was Valladolid, but that name was changed after Mexico's War of Independence in honor of one of its heroes, José María Morelos, who was born in the city in 1765. Of Morelia's many beautiful historical monuments, the cathedral and the aqueduct are the most impressive.

What to Do

  • Stroll around Morelia's Historical Center
  • Visit the Museo del Dulce to learn about local traditional sweets
  • Buy crafts at the Casa de las Artesanías de Michoacán
  • Have a swim in the mineral waters at Balneario Cointzio (about six miles away)
  • Go horseback riding
  • Learn Spanish at one of the city's numerous Spanish schools

Day Trips

There are several possibilities for day trips in the area. You can visit the lovely colonial city of Pátzcuaro and Santa Clara del Cobre where you can see local artisans making copper tools, dishes, and decorative items.

Butterfly Sanctuary

If you're in Michoacan between December and February, you may want to make the trip to see the migratory monarch butterflies at the Monarch butterfly reserves. It would make for a very long day trip, so if possible, do this as an overnight trip.

Where to Eat

Morelia is a great place to sample traditional Mexican food. When the UNESCO was considering naming Mexican cuisine as part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity, it looked at the food of the state of Michoacan as an ideal example. Some of the dishes to try in Morelia include carnitas, enchiladas placeras, uchepos, corundas, churipo, and ate. Here are a few recommended restaurants:


Getting There

Morelia has an international airport, the General Francisco Mujica International Airport, with flights from San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as well as Mexico City. By bus or car, the trip from Mexico City takes about 3.5 hours.