lake in Mexico
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North America > Mexico > Pacific Coast (Mexico) > Michoacan > Lake Patzcuaro

Lake Pátzcuaro is a popular vacation region in the municipality of Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico. The closest large cities are Morelia, Michoacan and Uruapan, Michoacan. The lake has a number of endemic fish and amphibian species living in it and the area is designated as a Ramsar wetland. Nature lovers will also find more than 200 bird species around the lake, including both native and migratory birds.

Lake Patzcuaro viewed from Jantzio Island


Islands of Lake Patzcuaro
  • 1 Janitzio — The most famous and well established, take a boat over from the muelle at the base of Patzcuaro. Local shops, panoramic vistas, and the region's most famous Day of the Dead celebration.
  • 2 Uranden — Small island. Possible camping?
  • 3 Pacanda — The largest and flattest island. The small lake on the island is the navel of the world. Cabanas for rent.
  • 4 Yunuen — Small island with traditional trojes for cabana lodging and a restaurant.
  • 5 Tecuena — An island with few people on it.

Major towns

Towns of the Lake Patzcuaro region
  • 1 Patzcuaro — Situated on the southeastern shore of Lake Patzcuaro. Tourists crowd in for Semana Santa, Day of the Dead.
  • 2 Erongarícuaro — Historic Purepecha site and now relaxed artists' town.
  • 3 Quiroga   — Thriving market town with crafts of varying qualities and busloads of Mexican tourists to buy them. Famous carnitas!
  • 4 Jaracuaro — Former island which now has a road out to it as the level of the lake has gone down over several hundred years. Hat making industry from local plants. Narrow streets if you drive!
  • 5 Tzintzuntzán — Market town. Archaeological site of the ruins of the former Purepecha capital.
  • 6 Santa Clara De Cobre — Historic Purepecha town famous for the production of copper

Minor towns

  • Tocuaro — woodworking and maskmaking
  • Opongio — Mezcal distillery and restaurants.
  • Puacuaro —
  • Arocutin —
  • Ihuatzio — Ancient temple ruins called Yacatas.
  • Cucuchuchu — Take a side trip to an old forest and spot for a picnic. Also list the hotel.
  • Uricho —
  • Napizaro
  • Santa Fe La Laguna - Famous for ceramics. Many of the artisans' homes are being upgraded to include a workshop and sales display area along with the home.
  • Las Cuevas —

Other destinations

  • Zirahuen — A beautiful Blue Lake.
  • Cuanajo — Cheap pine furniture.



A few of the towns around the lake, notably Patzcuaro and Erongarícuaro, have attracted ex-patriates from the United States, South America and Europe. Texans in particular are drawn to the area in the summer to escape the heat.

The natives believe that the lake is the place where the barrier between life and death is the thinnest.

Get in


By plane


Fly to Morelia airport, about an hours bus to Patzcuaro.

By car


Driving around the lake in a circular path along the shore is popular and an excellent way to visit villages.

By bus or shuttle


Purhepecha buses depart from Morelia at least hourly for Patzcuaro. From Patzcuaro, it is easy to find a colectivo or a taxi.

Collectivos carry people between most all villages with regularity and economy during daylight hours.

Get around


Traffic in this area during the Day of the Dead period would be considered very heavy. There is a Municipal dock in Patzcuaro with boats to Janitzio. If parking in the Municipal parking lot during this period, expect your car to be blocked in 24 hours or more. Parking is almost non-existent. Tour buses may be a better way in and out during this period. Still, worth the visit.

  • Hiking Hike to el estribo on the edge of Patzcuaro for a fine view of the lake.
  • Boat trips to the islands. Three docks in lower Patzcuaro.
Boats from Municipal dock to Janitzo

Patzcuaro, Quiroga Art in Eronga?

Street food is generally safe. Quiroga is especially known for its carnitas.

Vegetarians can do well in the markets.

Avocados/aquacates and tangerines/manderinas are about M$10 for a kilo; papaya is just 8!



Several restaurants have full bars; there is limited nightlife in this region.

In many small towns men drink on the plaza or spend time at home with family. Weddings and family social events comprise most nightlife.

Stay safe


Although Morelia and Patzcuaro are generally considered safe for tourism, there have been incidents of narcotraffic violence in Michoacan in the past. Travellers should check the security situation and assess their risk before visiting.

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