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30 Best Things to Do in Morelia

For those planning a trip to the capital of Michoacan, here is our complete guide and detailed list of things to do in Morelia.

Morelia, the state capital of Michoacán, completely took me by surprise. It’s one of the most beautiful and dynamic cities I’ve been in Mexico, and yet it’s completely gone under the tourist radar. There’s so much to explore in this stunning colonial city, from the plethora of museums and cultural institutions to the nearby hot springs and lakes.

Situated in the region of the ancient Purépecha civilization, Morelia held significant religious importance during the colonial era. For that reason, a legion of churches and temples were built here and still stand today. In fact, the historic center is so well preserved that it was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1991. 

Because of the surrounding attractions, Morelia makes for a great starting point for a Michoacán road trip. The colonial city is just a hop away from the famous Lake Pátzcuaro and Janitzio Island, renowned for their lakeside landscapes and vibrant Day of the Dead celebrations. For those who want to take a deep dive of Michoacán, here’s our super detailed guide on things to do in Morelia.

Best Things to Do in Morelia

Table of Contents

Things To Do in Morelia

1. Start at the Historical Center

Morelia is known as “the city of the pink quarry” and its historic center splendidly exemplifies the reasons behind this name.

Over 200 historical buildings are constructed from the pink-toned rock sourced from the quarries in the Michoacán region.

Interestingly, Morelia’s historic center is the only one among all Mexican colonial cities that lacks a main square or zócalo. The historic center of Morelia was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.

Historical Center - Best Things to Do in Morelia

2. Visit the Cathedral

Morelia’s main temple is a majestic baroque building crafted from pink quarry stone, dating back to the 18th century. Its two towers, standing at a height of 67 meters (220 ft), dominate the historic center.

Inside, the Cathedral houses artistic and religious treasures, including the country’s largest organ, fitted with 4,600 pipes. The Cathedral itself is majestic, with two towers so tall they can be seen from nearly every corner of the Morelia Valley. 

One of my favorite things to do in Morelia is watching the world-class light and sound show at the Cathedral. It takes place every Saturday at 8:45 pm. Arrive early to secure an excellent spot to relish in this display of lights and sound prepared by the same company that illuminates the Eiffel Tower. 

Cathedral in Morelia - Best Things to Do in Morelia

3. Visit the Old Aqueduct

This impressive aqueduct, erected in the 18th century to supply water to Morelia, stands as one of the city’s most significant and well-preserved civil engineering feats.

It was constructed to replace the rudimentary canal built as a water supply system in the 16th century, comprising 253 semicircular arches, some reaching heights exceeding 9 meters. The 1,700-meter-long (5577 ft) aqueduct remained in service until 1910.

Tourist trams traverse the streets on both sides. They leave hourly from Plaza de Armas. Alternatively, this is a great spot for a stroll, especially at night when its lights cast shadows on the surrounding buildings. 

Old Aqueduct visit - Best Things to Do in Morelia

4. Admire the Fuente de las Tarascas

Morelia’s most famous fountain is the Tarascas Fountain, a bronze sculpture installed in 1984. It features three bare-chested Purépecha women carrying a large bowl full of fruits, honoring indigenous princesses Eréndira, Tzetzangari, and Atzimba. 

The current Tarascas Fountain is the work of sculptor José Luis Padilla Retana. In the early 20th century, the site housed a clock, later relocated to the end of the Aqueduct.

Tarascas Fountain - Best Things to Do in Morelia

5. Visit the Santuario de Guadalupe

While the cathedral of Morelia is undeniably beautiful, it doesn’t hold the title of the city’s most beautiful.

That honor would go to the Santuario de Guadalupe, also known as the Templo de San Diego. A seemingly ordinary church on the outside conceals the true interior attraction: the astonishing inside of the church.

A dazzling combination of pink paint and golden embellishments. Taking a visit to the church to take it all in is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Morelia.

Interior of the Santuario de Guadalupe - Best Things to Do in Morelia

6. Tour the Government Palace

Morelia boasts beautiful palaces that have witnessed notable events in Mexican history. The 18th-century baroque-style Michoacán Government Palace, once the seat of the Tridentine Seminary, hosted figures like Agustín de Iturbide and José María Morelos. Iturbide became the first Mexican emperor after the independence from Spain, and Morelos was an insurgent hero. 

This palace has a beautiful baroque-style facade. On the inside, you’ll find a set of amazing murals portraying different scenes from the history of Mexico and Michoacán state, made by a famous Mexican painter in 1962.

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Government Palace - Best Things to Do in Morelia

7. Admire the House of Patriotic Hero Morelos

The Mexican patriot José María Morelos lends his name to the city of Morelia, where he was born on September 30, 1765.

The hero’s birthplace, a single-story house with two interior courtyards, is now a museum dedicated to Morelos, showing the various episodes of his career.

If you want to learn about this Mexican hero and visit this beautiful house/museum, it’s open all week (except for Saturdays) from 9 am to 7 pm.

Visiting House of Patriotic Hero Morelos - Best Things to Do in Morelia

8. Visit the Ancient Hospital San Juan de Dios

In the 17th century, the bishop of Michoacán commissioned the construction of this beautiful building with baroque and neoclassical lines to serve as the Episcopal House.

Little did he imagine that its magnificence would derail his plans. The community began to question such Christian luxury in a city with deficient health services, leading to the palace being handed over to the Juaninos monks, who transformed it into a hospital.

Interestingly, a year after the birth of Michoacán’s first medical school in 1866, the palace was converted into a hotel, named “Los Juaninos” in honor of the monks.

Ancient Hospital San Juan de Dios - Best Things to Do in Morelia

9. Snap Photos at the Callejón del Romance

If you’re seeking romance in Morelia, head on down to the Callejón del Romance (Romance Alley). Wander around the stone walls and bubbling fountains to soak up the undeniably romantic ambiance.

Make sure your phone or camera is fully charged because you’ll capture Instagram-worthy photos in Romance Alley. It’s renowned as one of the best spots in Morelia for photography.

Walking around Callejón del Romance - Best Things to Do in Morelia

10. Visit the Centro Cultural Clavijero

Morelos wasn’t the only hero of the Mexican War of Independence with strong ties to Morelia.

Miguel Hidalgo, also known as the father of the independence movement, was educated in the building that now houses the Clavijero Cultural Center. This baroque-style building with murals and spacious courtyards served as a Jesuit convent for over half a century.

Today, the impressive structure is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a venue for concerts, festivals, workshops, and rotating exhibitions.

Ceiling Centro Cultural Clavijero - Best Things to Do in Morelia

11. Visit the Museo Regional Michoacano

Dating back to 1886, this museum is one of the country’s oldest museums. Since 1916, it has been housed in a beautiful 18th-century baroque mansion, formerly the residence of notable families, including that of Ana Huarte, the wife of Emperor Agustín de Iturbide.

The museum is dedicated to the history of Michoacán, and among its most valuable works is the monumental painting “El Traslado de Las Monjas Dominicas a Su Nuevo Convento de Valladolid” a superb testament to the colonial period in the city.

Museo Regional Michoacano - Best Things to Do in Morelia

12. Go to Teatro Ocampo

One of the most beautiful landmarks of Morelia is the Teatro Ocampo, that was built in 1830. On June 3, 1861, during a performance, news arrived about the execution of liberal leader Melchor Ocampo, prompting the attendees to rename the theater.

The neo-baroque construction has undergone several modifications, the latest in the year 2000, aimed at enhancing the acoustics of its majestic 403-seat hall.

Teatro Ocampo - Best Things to Do in Morelia

13. Stroll around the Jardín de las Rosas

Take a break from the historical crash course to stroll around this peaceful and picturesque rose garden, with its many fountains and sculptures.

Situated between the Santa Rosa de Lima Temple and the Conservatorio de las Rosas, the garden features several restaurants and cafes. 

walking around Jardín de las Rosas - Best Things to Do in Morelia

14. Visit the Conservatorio de las Rosas

This musical institution opened its doors in 1743, making it the first conservatory in the Americas.

The building in the historic center where the conservatory currently operates, with its stately simplicity, dates back to 1595 and has served successively as the Dominican Convent of Santa Catalina de Siena, the College of Santa Rosa, the Higher School of Sacred Music, and finally, the Conservatorio de Las Rosas.

It is currently the headquarters of the Children’s Choir of Morelia and the City Chamber Orchestra.

Conservatorio de las Rosas - Best Things to Do in Morelia

15. Enjoy the Candy Museum

Morelia is one of the biggest producers of candy in Mexico. Those traveling with kids should definitely check out La Dulcería de la Calle Real, a candy museum offering a variety of over 300 Michoacan and Mexican candies.

They run a fun and engaging guided tour every day, and it’s included in the entrance fee. The museum spans five rooms, showcasing the history of traditional Mexican sweets, from their original artisanal crafting in convents and monasteries to the industrialization of production.

Candy Museum - Best Things to Do in Morelia

16. Shop at the Mercado de Dulces

If you’ve got a sweet tooth like me, you can’t leave Morelia without visiting the Mercado de Dulces. This sprawling market sells all kinds of traditional Mexican desserts and sweets, from alfeñique to churros.

This is a real paradise for candy lovers and kids! Even if you’re not a big fan of sweets, there’s something here that you’ll surely want to try out of curiosity. The prices here are much better than at the Candy Museum, so save your shopping for here.

Mercado de Dulces food - Best Things to Do in Morelia

17. Gaze at the Stars in the Planetarium

Looking for unique things to to do in Morelia at night? Head over to Morelia’s planetarium, Lic. Felipe Rivera.

The planetarium boasts the only functioning Karl Zeiss MARK IV projector in the country, and its spectacular sky allows the observation of more than 8,000 stars in the night sky.


18. Go on a Legends Tour

One thing that I love about the colonial cities of Mexico is their legends, and Morelia is no exception.

There’s a legends tour that brings you around the Historic Center of Morelia every night, and delves into the history and architecture of old temples, mansions, and palaces. You’ll be led by a guide who’s dressed as a Franciscan friar.

This nocturnal tour allows you to experience the mysterious side of this beautiful city and its ghosts. The tour costs 450 MXN (US$260) and includes pickup from your hotel.

Legends Tour - Best Things to Do in Morelia

19. Buy Some Local Artesanías

Morelia is well known throughout Mexico for their production of crafts, and the Casa de las Artesanías is a perfect place to learn about their artisanal work and buy some of them to bring home. The museum is housed in a Franciscan convent that dates back to 1531.

In the Casa de las Artesanías, you will find all kinds of Michoacan art work such as water jugs, platters, carved masks, maque work, and embroidery. There are also green ceramics from Patamban, lacquered chests from Uruapan, copper vases from Santa Clara, and musical instruments from Paracho.

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Walking around Morelia at night - Best Things to Do in Morelia

20. Get a Taste of Michoacan Cuisinie

Traditional Michoacan cuisine bears a strong influence from the pre-Columbian culinary customs of the Purépecha people, blended with the European culinary art introduced by Spanish conquistadors.

Among the most representative dishes of the regional cuisine are:

  • cornudas (tamales filled with cheese and cream)
  • sopa tarasca (soup made with ground beans, pasilla chili, and tomato puree)
  • and enchiladas morelianas

Other Mexican antojitos worth trying here include Michoacán-style carnitas (chopped up meat). 

Michoacan cuisine - Best Things to Do in Morelia

21. Have Fun at the Zoo

Those traveling with kids would be thrilled to know that one of Morelia’s attractions is the Benito Juárez Zoo, which stands as one of the largest in Latin America, boasting a diverse range of species.

This zoo witnessed the remarkable birth of a caracal in January 2016, believed to be the first feline to be born in captivity in Mexico. In December 2015, rare winter births occurred, including a scimitar-horned oryx, a Lechwe antelope, and a llama. 

Zoo visit in Morelia - Best Things to Do in Morelia

22. Check out Morelia’s International Film Festival 

This significant event occurs in October and is Mexico’s most renowned film festival. It brings filmmakers from all over the world to present their work at this festival.

The movies featured in the festival can be seen in Cinepolis all across Mexico, but there’s nothing like being in Morelia and taking part in the festival.


23. Experience the Procession of Silence 

On Good Friday, a solemn procession takes place in the historic center of Morelia. For 43 years, Michoacán’s devoted Catholics have maintained a silent vigil on Madero Avenue, commemorating Jesus Christ’s death. Illuminated by candles, the penitents, dressed in symbolic attire, march slowly, offering heartfelt prayers for Christ’s crucifixion. 

The Silent Procession in Morelia, second only to the one in San Luis Potosí, holds immense significance. This year, 24 brotherhoods in Morelia carried 14 religious images, some crafted with the ancient cornstalk paste technique, reinforcing Holy Week traditions.

Procession of Silence - Best Things to Do in Morelia

24. Dance at the JAZZtival 

In March, Morelia transforms into a city of jazz, featuring performances by Mexican, European, and alternative artists. The JAZZtival Michoacán is a jazz extravaganza featuring concerts, master classes, workshops, kids’ activities, and the National Jazz Student Ensemble Competition. 

Founder Juan Alzate, an acclaimed saxophonist, highlighted the festival’s unique support for emerging groups. The symphonic concert, starting the Jazztival, promises a 100% jazz repertoire.

Don’t miss this traditional yet innovative program with high-quality performances. For details, visit jazztivalmichoacan.org.

JAZZtival  - Best Things to Do in Morelia

Things to Do Near Morelia

25. Experience the Monarch Butterflies

One of the best things to do in Morelia is to take a trip to the surrounding mountains to witness the annual migration of monarch butterflies.

Every year, from December to April, millions of butterflies travel from Canada to the forests of Michoacán. It is one of the largest animal migrations in the world, and one of the most spectacular natural wonders of Mexico.

There are eight monarch butterfly reserves in Mexico, with five open to tourism. All are remote, which means that unless you have a rental car, the best option is to take a guided tour from Morelia. Book your private tour here.

Read my guide on how to see monarch butterflies in Mexico.

Monarch Butterflies - Best Things to Do in Morelia

26. Escape to the Mountains of Cerro Hueco

You don’t have to go far from Morelia to immerse in nature. Just a two-hour drive away is Cerro Hueco, an ancient volcano standing at 2,700 meters above sea level. ​​

It’s known as the place to practice extreme sports such as rappelling. Many locals go hiking, mountain biking and camping here.  Ideal for family or friends, the Cerro Hueco Ecological Park boasts pine-covered landscapes and views of La Alberca’s volcanic crater.

Ecoturismo Morelia Tours organizes rappelling day trips here, including transport from Morelia.

walking around Mountains of Cerro Hueco - Best Things to Do in Morelia

27. Visit the Magical Town of Pátzcuaro 

Just an hour’s drive away from Morelia lies the legendary Lake Pátzcuaro and the eponymous town. Pátzcuaro itself is a beautiful pueblo mágico (magic town) incredibly rich in culture, traditions and architecture that has surprisingly remained unknown among foreign tourists.

Mexicans however flock here in droves during Dia de los Muertos, one of the biggest Mexican holidays of the year. Pátzcuaro has a big Purépacha population, who have kept many of their Day of the Dead traditions and continuesto celebrate this festival with centuries-old rituals.

Some must-sees in Pátzcuaro include the Old College of San Nicolás (now home to the Museo de Artes y Industrias Populares), Casa de los 11 Patios  (perfect for buying crafts), and the expansive Vasco de Quiroga Square. If you’re interested in visiting with a guide, book a tour here.

Town of Pátzcuaro celebration - Best Things to Do in Morelia

28. Celebrate Dia de los Muertos on Janitzio Island

A trip to Pátzcuaro is incomplete until you visit Janitzio Island. A few minutes from downtown Pátzcuaro is the pier where you can catch a boat to explore Lake Pátzcuaro. There are seven islands dotted around the lake – but the most famous is Janitzio Island. The journey takes approximately half an hour and costs 50 MXN (US$2) per person. 

On the way there, you’ll be able to see fishermen at work, hauling in tiny anchovies with their nets. Once the boat docks, make your way up the hundreds of steps that weave their way around the island. Janitzio’s main attraction is its cemetery, renowned throughout Mexico as one of the best places to experience the Day of the Dead celebration. Every year on 1st and 2nd November, locals fill the cemetery with flowers, candles, and music. This experience is one of the best things to see in Morelia and all of Mexico.

Continue climbing up to the monument of José María Morelos, that dominates over the island. This iconic statue features the Morelia-borned national hero, who despite not having a military background became a successful insurgency leader.

Janitzio Island - Best Things to Do in Morelia

29. Navigate Zirahuén Lake

This beautiful and serene lake is located approximately an hour’s drive southwest of Morelia. Upon arrival, you’ll immediately enjoy a sense of peace, which you may want to balance with the activities available at the lake’s adventure park. Perfect time to disconnect from the daily hustle, even allowing time for a refreshing dip in Lake Zirahuén.

If you plan to spend a significant part of the day or even a whole weekend there, you also have the option to engage in activities like mountain biking, horseback riding, ATV rides, and even zip-lining, among other things.

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Zirahuén Lake - Best Things to Do in Morelia

30. Explore Michoacán’s Second Most Important City

Uruapan, the second-largest city in Michoacán, stands out as one of the finest places to visit near Morelia. Just over 1.5-hour drive from Morelia, Uruapan is another beautiful historic city that few have heard about. Its main attractions include the beautiful Barranca del Cupatitzio National Park – showcasing numerous native plant and animal species amidst abundant water – and the “La Tzaráracua” waterfall, offering opportunities for rappelling. Book a day tour here.

Barranca del Cupatitzio National Park - Best Things to Do in Morelia

Morelia Travel Guide

How to Get to Morelia

Morelia International Airport (MLM) is small but it serves quite a few destinations including Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Jose and Oakland. You can also fly there direct from Mexico City, Tijuana, Cancun and Monterrey. Search for flights here.

You can get there on comfortable buses from nearby cities like Mexico City, Queretaro and Puebla. Mexican inter-city buses are usually well-priced, punctual and comfortable with bathrooms and even Wifi included. Search for buses here.

Morelia transport - Best Things to Do in Morelia

Getting Around Morelia

By foot

If you’re staying in the historic center, it’s easy to explore the city on foot as the historic center is compact. Wander through the well-aligned streets, uncovering historical gems, art shops, and majestic mansions at your own pace. 

By car

You won’t need a car when you’re within the historic center, but if you’re planning to do a road trip around Michoacan, I definitely recommend renting a car. I always book my car rental from Discover Cars as they offer the best prices and excellent customer service. An economy rental car in Morelia costs around $200 for a whole week, which is less than $28 a day. The current price for gas is 23.50 MXN (around $1) per liter.

Going on a tours - Best Things to Do in Morelia

How Many Days to Visit Morelia?

A three-day visit to Morelia is enough to enjoy all of the amazing things you can do there. One day is enough to explore the historic center and all the museums located in the center of the city. On your second day, you can explore other attractions like the zoo and the planetarium. A third day can be dedicated to visiting the surrounding magical towns and lakes or natural landscapes.

Visit Morelia - Best Things to Do in Morelia

Best Time to Visit Morelia

In the heart of Morelia, temperatures follow a consistent rhythm, creating a climate that remains stable year-round. The peak performance occurs in May and June, with temperatures soaring to around 90°F in May. Embracing a humid ambiance, especially in the summer, Morelia invites occasional rain showers to join the symphony.

For those desiring a cooler encore, the prime time to take the spotlight in Morelia is from December to February. During this period, the climate adopts a refreshing chill, providing not only a visually captivating experience but also a pleasantly temperate one. It allows visitors to savor the city without the sweltering notes of summer.

Best time to visit Morelia - Best Things to Do in Morelia

Is Morelia Safe?

Morelia is generally considered a safe city for visitors, with a welcoming atmosphere and a strong focus on tourism. Like any urban area, it’s advisable to exercise common-sense precautions, such as being aware of your surroundings and safeguarding personal belongings. 

The historic center, where many attractions are located, is well-patrolled and often bustling with tourists. While incidents can occur, violent crime rates are comparatively lower than in some other Mexican cities. Overall, we felt very safe throughout our time in Morelia.

Morelia is safe - Best Things to Do in Morelia

Where to Stay in Morelia

After a challenging yet thoroughly enjoyable day, it’s time to unwind, a task not taken lightly. Here are some hotel recommendations in Morelia:

Casa Embrujo Morelia

Nestled in the hills of Morelia, this charming hotel is perfect for those seeking tranquility and excellent service. Magnificent views of Morelia can be enjoyed from the luxurious suites, and the staff goes above and beyond to provide top-notch hospitality. Check rates here.

Casa en el Campo Hotel & Spa Morelia

Dedicated to nature enthusiasts, this exclusive hotel boasts a Mexican minimalist style, surrounded by extensive gardens and fountains amid the countryside, making it one of the finest hotels in Morelia. Check rates here.

Hotel de la Soledad

Worthy of its 4-star status, this gorgeous historical hotel has been immaculately restored to house charming rooms with lavish stone walls and marble bathrooms —all at affordable prices. Check rates here.

staying in Morelia - Best things to do in Morelia

Where to Eat in Morelia

Restaurante San Miguelito

A unique gallery and dining spot renowned for the “Rincón de las Solteronas” altar with over 800 Saint Anthonys. The culinary experience is equally impressive, with must-try dishes like the “plato mezcalero” and smoked trout “solteronas.” Read reviews here.

Restaurante La Mandarina

Found in Hotel Holiday Inn Morelia, La Mandarina surprises with traditional Morelian dishes. Indulge in Morelian enchiladas, arrachera dishes, corundas, uchepos, and tempting desserts. Read reviews here.

Cenaduría La Inmaculada

A hidden gem and locals’ guide, this spot operates kermesse-style. Purchase tickets at the entrance and trade them for a variety of local delights, from pozole to enchiladas, uchepos, corundas, pambazos, quesadillas, enchiladas morelianas, and buñuelos. Read reviews here.

Best restaurants to visit - Best Things to Do in Morelia

What Are Your Favorite Things to Do in Morelia?

Thank you for reading this far! I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of things to do and places to visit in Morelia Michoacan!

Have you tried any of these things to do in Morelia, and which ones have you already experienced? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments field below. I’ll be more than happy to answer them!

For those who are planning to travel more of Mexico, check out other articles I’ve written on Mexico:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!


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