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Posted on Last updated: May 24, Culture. By: Author Janice and George. Also double-check what's open before your trip. And families ride bikes, stroll, pull children in wagons and roller-blade along the wide street fronting the cathedral. Cool hotels and restaurants? Morelia has them. Great colonial attractions? You bet. Interesting tours? How about a Monarch butterfly tour in the nearby Sierre Madre Mountains?
In a world where so many popular tourist destinations are crowded hello Venice! Recommend reading : The first-class Mexico bus service is like flying business class. Built between and , the Baroque-style Morelia Cathedral is stunning. Made from pink stone, it sprouts twin pink spires that soar feet into the sky. Inside, it features a monumental organ, imported from Germany. With 4, flutes or pipes, it was the largest organ in the Western Hemisphere when installed in A bright TV-like display of images has been projected onto the cathedral for at least 30 minutes now.
The street in front has been closed to traffic, and both the street and plaza are packed with people. Everyone in town, it seems, is here — families with small children licking ice-creams, kissing couples, groups of laughing young people, students — all awaiting the show. We had thought the show might involve a depiction of Mexican or Morelian history, with dialogue and images, something like the sound and light shows we enjoyed at the Pyramids and Karnak Temple in Egypt.
But when it starts, it turns out to be an extraordinary spectacle of fireworks, accompanied by loud stirring music. Some fireworks shoot straight up in front of the cathedral. Some whoosh out from pipes installed on the outside of the cathedral walls and burst into dazzling stars high above our he. And we return to our pizza and wine — wishing we could see a repeat performance — as the crowd slowly dissipates.
A tea shop playing classical music makes us pause to listen. We also admire the statue of Independence leader Jose Morelos on horseback and peek into the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe, where the interior is covered inside with gold leaf. Do you love sweets? Housed in a former Jesuit college, the market consists of a long alley stuffed with stalls, displaying an extraordinary variety of concoctions guaranteed to give you a major sugar high.
Packaged chocolate bars or Western-style candies? Think instead balls of sugary tamarind, guava paste, haystack-shaped toasted coconut made with condensed milk and crystallized fruits. Bonus: Many other stalls on side-alleys sell crafts, such as beautiful leather belts, sandals, guitars, copper pots and chess boards with carved wood indigenous figures. Lu Cochina is one of the best restaurants in Morelia see reviews on TripAdvisor. How about a hand-crafted blue corn beer? Lunch and dinner: Sunday to Thursday from to pm Friday and Saturday, open until pm.
Housed in what was a Jesuit monastery and college in the 17th and 18th centuries , the Centro Cultural Clavijero is a cultural center and art museum showcasing contemporary art and photography. The pink stone arches in the central courtyard of the two-storey building are impressive to see — as are the eight exhibition halls. Interested in the Mexican muralists? Then you must do a day trip to the neighboring Sierra Madre mountains to witness the amazing sight of thousands of Monarch butterflies wintering in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.
The story of the migration of the Monarch butterflies is truly remarkable. We visit the Sierra Chincua Sanctuary, one of four sanctuaries open to visitors in the world-famous Monarch butterfly reserve. After riding caballitos small horses up to the fir trees where the butterflies have gathered, we see them.
The butterflies are everywhere — swirling about our faces, alighting on bushes, quivering in the sunshine on nectar-laden lupines. When clouds scuttle overhead, we even hear the sussuring of the butterfly wings, like soft rain falling, as the Monarchs flutter to the trees to huddle in clumps. When to visit: The best months to visit the Monarch butterfly sanctuaries are December through March. Week-long butterfly tours: The company also offers 7-day, small group tours focusing on the Monarch butterfly winter sanctuaries in Michoacan.
Inside, the museum displays hand-crafted historical furniture, enormous vases, colonial art and relics, pottery and so on. One of the best hotels in Morelia, Cantera Diez is an architectural wonder. The building is over years old, but the inside has been totally renovated in contemporary style. It also has perhaps the best location in Morelia — smack dab in front of the Morelia Cathedral. Our junior suite has polished dark wood floors, a soaring wood-beamed ceiling, golden onyx lamps, king-size bed and a beaten silver bathtub on a raised upper level.
One wall is exposed pink stone. Complimentary tea, coffee and cookies are available in the dramatic atrium lounge in the mornings. Check rates and availability here. Having said that, the hottest months are May to June highs often reach the 90s F in May.
The weather is humid too, and you can expect more rain in summer. The state of Michoacan has a reputation for drug violence. Most of the attacks are between drug cartels, or between criminal groups and the police or government officials. Morelia, however, has not been hit by this violence. While the Canadian government safety advisory for Mexico warns against travel to Michoacan, it excludes the city of Morelia from its warning. Americans tend to be more cautious traveling to Mexico than Canadians. And this is reflected in the U. But it goes on to advise that U.
During our Morelia visit, we notice a light military police presence — jeeps with armed personnel occasionally drive down the streets. But it gives us no cause for alarm. We find the people warm, friendly and helpful and they patiently bear with us as we struggle to speak limited Spanish. Our Travel Resources Guide Get airline booking tips! Discover great travel, tour and car rental companies!
Read useful trip planning info! Vrbo Get your own apartment or villa, instead of a hotel. If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you. Like this Morelia post? Find destination guides , global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews , articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews and information , insanely useful travel tips and more! Your explanation of Morelia has caught my attention.
It's great to have such a well-known place with several tourists in it while it's not a tourist place at all. Can you please explain how they've managed to keep it that way? Usually, places frequently visited by tourists become very much spoiled. I'm sure there must be a reason for that. Mexican tourists will visit Morelia.
So the city just doesn't feel very "touristy," compared to say, San Miguel de Allende, another of Mexico's colonial cities, which we've also written about. I'd heard of Morelia and its aqueduct and, after reading Barbara Kingsolver's book, "Flight Behavior," I would love to visit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve which sounds magical. I never heard of Morelia before - thanks for telling me about it! I'm going to be in Mexico next July for a wedding and may see if I can somehow work Morelia into the itinerary.
Thanks for the scoop! Next time, we'd like to visit Zacatecas and Oaxaca. I have yet to go to Mexico! I confess that I don't know much about it, other than the hot destinations that everyone knows Now that I am back in the States on a more permanent basis I'll have to start exploring places a bit closer to home! San Miguel de Allende looked so charming, and I do always love seeing places a bit off the beaten tourist track.
Vendors hawk colorful balloons and cotton candy. Strolling musicians sing enthusiastically. Church bells peal loudly. Morelia is a delightful city to visit in Mexico. And this Mexican city is a riot of cheerful noise and color. Sunday morning? Time to play in the street. Under the tourist radar, Morelia is one of the best cities in Mexico to visit in our view. Morelia feels authentic and real. You feel that your experiences are original. And, sorry if this post ends up taking away some of the surprise!
And you can take a luxury bus to Morelia, so you get there in comfort — really! It took 84 years to build the magnificent Morelia Cathedral. Visiting the cathedral is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Morelia. The excitement is palpable as the crowd waits for the show to start.
Morelia Cathedral information Hours: Daily from 6 am to pm. Built between and , the aqueduct with its arches is one of the top attractions in Morelia. Statue of Mexican Independence leader Jose Morelos on horseback. Not just candy at the market; you can buy souvenirs and crafts too. Maybe an artisanal cocktail made with mezcal? Credit: Lu Cochina. Monarch butterflies are easily recognized by their distinctive orange and black markings.
You can hike up to the Sierra Chincua butterfly sanctuary — or ride a horse more fun! How wonderful! Monarch butterflies, Mexico: Tours When to visit: The best months to visit the Monarch butterfly sanctuaries are December through March. Day trip: We booked a private day tour from Morelia. Boutique vibe? Yes, at Cantera Diez Hotel, Morelia. Cantera 10 Boutique Hotel, Morelia Check rates and availability here. We found the weather in Morelia perfect in January.
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Top 10 Best Things to Do In Morelia Mexico