Irámuco is a pueblo (“town” or “village”) in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. It sits on the north side of Mexico’s second largest freshwater lake, Lago de Cuitzeo (Lake Cuitzeo), about a 4 hours drive northwest from Mexico city. While Irámuco, Guanajuato is a larger pueblo in the Municipality of Acámbaro, it is quite a small town filled with delicious food, generous people, and amazing views (“¡Que vista!” is something I said quite often in Irámuco).
Fun Fact: Irámuco was originally called Imurac, from the Purépecha language, meaning: “Hill that goes in to the lake.” The ruler of this village was guatimurac (“prince of the hill that goes in to the lake”).
Visiting my fiancées family in Irámuco was my first trip to Mexico. Because of Irámuco’s rural charm, happy people, and beautiful weather, I wouldn’t have spent those 7 days anywhere else. While I hope to one day see the beautiful beaches of Mexico’s tourist favorites, I hope to spend many more days surrounded by the mountains of Guanajuato.
In Irámuco, I met small business owners, families raising livestock, fishermen and women, and construction workers. The town is built around the centrally located church, tucked into a small mountain range, with ice cream shops, candy stores, family-run restaurants, and farms.
Irámuco, Guanajuato had some of the best views I’d ever seen. I was constantly awestruck by the lake and mountains that the pueblo is nestled against. The beauty of the town inspired the first of my original poems about Mexico.
A Word for Travelers: Visiting Irámuco, Guanajuato
Irámuco is not a tourist town. In fact, we visited during one of the busiest times of year (Holy Week, before Easter) and I’m quite certain I was the only person of non-Mexican heritage in town. This is not an area where many people speak English. During our stay, I met ~10 people that spoke English, and it was during a holiday & large carnival.
If you’re passing through Irámuco and plan to stop and take in some views (which I highly recommend), have some basic Spanish down. The people of the town were friendly and generous, and there are some amazing things to see (and food to eat!).
All the usual travel precautions about Mexico apply while visiting Guanajuato, especially rural areas like Irámuco. Drive carefully; there are plenty of rough roads, speedbumps, and loose pups. Wear pants and sneakers to fit in with the locals a bit better. Sunscreen is a must for people like me that burn easily. Keep your wits about you and be polite!
I never felt uncomfortable during my stay. If you have friends or family in the area, let them show you around. If not, find a local place to sleep or eat and ask questions. You might make a friend!
Things You Must Do in Irámuco
Whether you’re just driving through Irámuco or you’re staying for a bit (we stayed with my fiancées family for one week), there are some things you shouldn’t miss. Here were my favorite things to do in and around the pueblo…
Hiking up to La Cruz
La Cruz is a huge shrine overlooking the pueblo. The view from the top is one of the best in the area and shows the entire town, the lake, and mountains in the distance.
We parked here, at a little store with waters and snacks for the steep climb. You’ll definitely need water! This area is not for fragile vehicles 🙂. This climb rewards you with a stunning view of Irámuco.
You can see La Cruz from many streets in the town, and its amazing to reach the top and look over the enture landscape.
Taking in a sunset at La Palapa de San Pedro
La Palapa, a local restaurant, apparently doubles as a hotel, but we didn’t eat or stay, so I can’t recommend the food or accommodations. Maybe next time! That being said, our familial tour guide took us to this point overlooking the lake our first evening. A short hike up the back side of the restaurant takes you to an exposed cliff, dotted with cactus and shrubs. We saw an AMAZING sunset from here, and incredible views of the lake and mountains.
The incredible sunset from my first night in Irámuco, Guanajuato, Mexico. The first picture is from lake-level in front of the lovely restaurant. The second picture was taken after walking through the outdoor area of the restaurant, up some stairs, and then up a short hike.
Visiting Parroquia de San Jerónimo (Saint Jerome Parish)
Saint Jerome is the patron saint of Irámuco, and the beautiful church central to the town’s culture is dedicated to this Catholic saint. The church’s architecture feels very southwest, Spanish colonial era.
In front of the church is a walled square, large enough for everyone to gather to memorialize the historical events of Holy Week, and the spiritual happenings in Catholicism. There are shady places to sit and rest, or reflect. Inside the church will take your breath away. Beautiful paintings, vaulted ceilings, stained glass, and elegant décor reveal the massive role faith plays in the lives of Mexicans. I was awestruck by Irámuco’s church.
The cathedral in Acámbaro, Guanajuato was even larger and more extravagant, though I can’t say it was more beautiful than Irámuco’s.
Visit El Campo (“the field”)
Irámuco’s sport’s park is a small area consisting of two soccer fields, a playground, and a basketball court. It’s right on the lake with nice views. Chances are it’s soccer season when you pass through Irámuco (I think it’s always soccer season there). Head to the local park and see if anything is going on, or just relax in the shade on the swings.
Each time we went to el campo there were small horses tied up around the park. There’s also a large environmental mural that reads “take care of the lagoon and you will save the planet.” It’s a pretty little park.
(Left) “Take care of the lagoon and you will save the planet.” (Right) “For you, for us, and for all those who will come…recycle!”
Take in the art and architecture of Irámuco, Guanajuato
Even though Irámuco is a lowkey, slow-moving place, just walking the quiet, warm streets is fun and interesting. There are so many murals and depictions of Our Lady of Guadalupe (and every home seems to have one inside, too), many colorful homes and storefronts, and pretty views of the mountains and lake.
Go for a walk and check out the town!
Lots of pretty art on the streets of Irámuco, Guanajuato.
Visit other nearby cities and towns
While staying in Irámuco, we visited some other great towns (small and large) nearby. Here’s some of my favorites…
- Santa Ana Maya, Michoacán: the main highway into Irámuco, Guanajuato runs through this little town in Michoacán. On the main road through Santa Ana Maya is a beautiful church (Parroquia de Santa Ana) and a small market square with delicious treats. This was where I had my first taste of Mexican food after landing at the airport. Grab some strawberry empanadas and fresh fruit if you’re passing through Santa Ana Maya.
- Acámbaro, Guanajuato: Acámbaro is a municipality (of which Irámuco is the largest pueblo) and a city. I’m talking about the city, here. It’s name is derived from a Purépechan term meaning place of magueyes (agave). Acámbaro is much more bustling than Irámuco and tourists will enjoy shopping for souvenirs in tons of shops and with local artisans. There is a beautiful town square surrounded by street food vendors across from a magnificent cathedral (Templo De San Francisco). We visited Acámbaro twice in the week we stayed in Irámuco and visited a lovely potter’s studio our second time–a highlight of my trip!
“Acámbaro | its red and gold temple | you can’t wait to go in | but you can’t wait to come out | to see Acámbaro” from my collection of poems about Mexico.
Getting to Irámuco and Where to Stay
Keep in mind, Irámuco is not your typical tourist destination. The closest international airport to Irámuco is Morelia International Airport, about an hour away by toll roads in the neighboring state of Michoacán. This is the easiest way to reach Irámuco.
Chances are (unless you’re visiting family in the area) you’re just passing through Irámuco. If you want to stop here for a day and explore the town, why not stay the night and head out the next day?
Either way, you’re sure to have great views in a lowkey setting. The food will be authentic, local, and amazing, no matter where you stay.