Morelia Travel Guide
The "Most Spanish City In Mexico"
Morelia... a magical city in the heart of Mexico.
It's a spot few have heard of but ALL should visit.
Between the enchanting spanish architecture, towering cathedrals, and the insanely fresh food, you'll be completely smitten with this city.
Not only is it an authentic slice of true Mexico (without ignoring it's colonial history) but it's a truly pristine place. Few McDonald's or Holiday Inns have made it to this city. And even fewer American tourists...
When you visit Morelia, you're entering the REAL Mexico.
And believe me when I say you're going to fall as madly in love with it as I have.
If you've seen Pixar's Coco, you've seen a little taste of this magical city: producer's spent years researching for the film and held the world premiere there last November. It's a such a beautiful setting for a movie! Morelia is also the cultural birthplace of Mexico's famous 'Day Of The Dead' celebrations too. You'll see skeleton statues (called 'Catrinas') everywhere.
It's a place of authentic culture, unbelievable Spanish architecture, and some of the freshest avocadoes you'll ever taste in your life!
What To Do & See
Morelia is a bustling city full of life and adventure! Not to mention culture and COLOR.
Everywhere you turn there's something tantalizing to catch the eye. And there is so much to do beyond the typical tourist traps you'll find in busier cities in Mexico.
Two of my best tips when you're exploring Morelia: (1) bring your camera (you'll be needing it) and (2) bring a translator (either a cell plan that'll allow you to translate requests for your servers, etc. or hire an english-speaking guide to help you). As with most cities, be sure to stay alert but despite walking around with extensive camera gear (even in the early morning hours when few people were out), I never once felt unsafe in this beautiful, friendly city.
It's truly a city designed to be explored...
Take A Bike Tour Of The City
Visit the Morelia Cathedral
Take A Cooking Class Or Shop For Catrinas At México Mágico
Visit The Aqueduct
Attend Day Of The Dead Celebrations
One of the most incredible stops on our trip to Morelia was to the village of Capula, roughly 30 minutes outside of Morelia. Here is where local ceramic artisans invented and popularized the catrina (skeleton lady) statues. Watching these artisans work is just incredible! Their passion and expertise alone will give you an appreciation for these terrifying-yet-beautiful statues that play such a vital role in the Day of the Dead celebrations every November.
And if you don't have time to make it out to Capula on your visit, you can at least shop authentic catrinas at México Mágico, right near the city center.
Where To Eat
Above all else, Morelia is a city of AMAZING food.
SERIOUSLY. I'm not kidding! The freshness and flavor of the local produce will literally blow your mind (it at least blew mine!).
The silkiest avoadoes you'll ever eat.
The crumbliest cotija cheese (which reminds me of a Mexican parmigiano-reggiano).
The juiciest fruit.
EVERYTHING I ate had me drooling for more. And I don't say that lightly.
More so than any other city I've yet visited in Mexico, Morelia is an authentic foodie paradise with so many tastes and smells that really have to be experienced to be understood. The food really is THAT powerful.
Self-defined as "an eclectic vintage restaurant that mixes a bit of Mexican art with art nouveau", Chango isn't the sort of space I expected to find in Morelia. It's innovative, modern (especially with it's cuisine), and authentic. In Spanish, chango means 'monkey' and that playful, lively attitude radiates through every single dish produced in this brilliant kitchen.
It's hard to describe how much I love Chango. Head chef Daniel Aguilar (a local celebrity) is one of the warmest, most personable chefs I've ever met! And he's talent in the kitchen is truly unparalleled.
Tata, Morelia's chicest mezcaleria, deserves a spot on this list for a lot of reasons. But my #1?
They have the best fish tacos I've ever tasted in my entire life!
No exaggeration whatsoever.
Everything about Tata will woo you from the moment you walk in the door -- the hip bar made of vintage suitcases, the open-air patio with twinkling lights, and the incredibly charming head chef Fermín Ambas.
Order the tacos and the tuna tostada and don't forget a late night cocktail (with mezcal, of course!).
Head chef Cynthia Martínez is one of the most innovative chefs in all of Mexico (in my humble opinion, at least). And her delicious, Parisian-looking bistro right off the center square in Morelia should be your very first stop after landing.
Not only is Ms. Martínez's command of traditional Michoacán cuisine enchanting, she has a power of her own that'll have you immediately falling in love with so many of the unique dishes you can only get in this state of Mexico. Believe me when I say, her dishes are pure MAGIC!
(Be sure to order the salmon filet if available -- it's one of the best salmon dishes I've ever had.)
Located on the first floor of the unassuming Hotel Casino, you'll find Lu. Head chef Lucero Soto is one of the most passionate chefs I've met in all of Mexico. Not only is she committed to sourcing local ingredients from smaller farms ethically but she's also one of the biggest advocates for Michoacán cuisine in Morelia.
Expect unique dishes with ridiculously fresh ingredients and beautiful presentations. Don't shy away from trying something new at this delicious spot, everything Chef Soto makes is truly drool-worthy.
A fusion of Oaxacan and Michoacán cuisines, you'll find a lot of delicious surprises at Cuish. We sampled everything from stone soup (a delicious soup heated with hot river stones tableside) to crickets (YES! And they were tangy and limey... though I did only brave eating one), to enchiladas in mole.
Everything was absolutely delicious and made even more so by the stunningly colorful, beautiful space. I could easily have shot this restaurant for half a day straight.
(Then I could have stayed for lunch AND dinner, right?)
Where To Stay
Morelia has a great selection of charming, boutique hotels to choose from but accommodations can be found at every price range.
Personally I love the more authentic hotels near the city center because their locations can't be beat. If you can, stay near the Morelia Cathedral -- you'll be able to walk to most of the best tourist sites in the city and you'll be close to all the best restaurants too.
This is easily one of the loveliest hotels I've stayed at in Mexico. Not only are the rooms incredibly spacious (the ceilings alone are almost two-stories!) but the stunning details everywhere make this such a special spot.
My bathroom even had an overhead window above the whirlpool tub! And the kind staff were so attentive to every one of our needs. I cannot recommend this spot enough -- be sure to shoot on the rooftop overlooking the Morelia Cathedral too!
This beautiful hotel is set-up very similarly to another one of my favorite Mexican hotels, Mansión Mérida. The lush gardens in the center are absolutely beautiful to walk through in the mornings (or to just enjoy a plate of chilaquiles next to...).
The bathrooms here are very lovely too and the location, right off the city square, is only beat by Cantera Diez!
10 Of My Favorite Things To Do in Morelia
Drink Avocado Water (it's life-changing & can only be enjoyed with really fresh avocadoes)
Attend the Morelia En Boca Food Festival
Try Old-Fashioned Candy At Museo Del Dulce
Sip On Local Mezcals
Sample Mamey (a tropical pink fruit that's like a cross between an avocado and a papaya)
Visit The Library At The Knowledge Temple (hosting the largest collection of books of any university library in Mexico)
Wander The Downtown Streets On Sundays When Traffic Roads Are Closed Down
Try Gaspacho (a Morelia favorite made of fruit, not tomatoes like in Spain!)
Attend the Catrina Fair in Capula in November
Stop At A Food Cart For Corundas, Tamales, or Uchepos
"Mexico is a safe, as well as a beautiful and warmly gracious, place to visit."
-- Margaret Chan
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Disclosure: I received a complimentary visit to Morelia through the Mexican Board of Tourism for Morelia En Boca to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are ALWAYS my own.