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San Juan Bautista monastery

Morelos is a state in Central Mexico. Morelos is a perfect place to learn about Mexico's history and culture, visit the Xochicalco archaeological site, and the 16th-century monasteries on the slopes of Popocatepetl, which have been declared World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO.


  • 1 Cuernavaca — the state capital has a comfortable year-round climate, beautiful parks and gardens, and is home to many foreign people who come to learn Spanish
  • 2 Cuautla — a tourist-friendly place with abundant hot springs and health spas/resorts, many archeological sites such as Chalcatzingo, and indigenous communities
  • 3 Jojutla — Wet and wild weekends start in Jojutla, close to the large, deep Lake Tequesquitengo just in case all the area waterparks don't get your wet enough
  • 4 Oaxtepec — a great little town which thrives on the tourism brought by its waterpark
  • 5 Tepoztlán – Charming small Pueblo Mágico with historical spots and site of El Tepozteco National Park
  • 6 Tlaltizapán — Small historic town rich in colonial and revolution history with mineral springs and baths
  • 7 Tlayacapan — This Pueblo Mágico is filled with historic museums and ruinas.
  • 8 Zacualpan de Amilpas — A tiny village with a handful of 16th century buildings.

Other destinations

  • 1 XochicalcoWorld heritage listed pre-columbian ruins
  • 2 El Tepozteco National Park — rugged park with an Aztec temple and 16 mountains
  • 3 Lagunas de Zempoala National Park — highland forests with seven natural lakes
  • 4 Sierra de Huatla Biosphere Reserve - mountainous dry forest wilderness of 59,000 hectares. The Amacuzac River runs through the reserve and there is a small archaeological site call Chimalcatlan here. This is a UNESCO biosphere reserve.



Morelos was part of the state of Mexico until 1869, when it was split off as a separate state. The state is geographically distinct from most of Mexico State and has developed its own distinct identity and traditions.

The area has a very long history, with evidence of human settlements as early as 8000 BC. Bishop Francisco Plancarte y Navarrete wrote that he believed Mesoamerican agriculture began in Morelos around 1500 BC in a place he called Tamoanchan. The first hard evidence of Mesoamerican civilizations in the state of Morelos were artifacts from Olmec sites dating from 200 BC. The next oldest settlement would be the Toltec establishment of Mazatepec in 603 AD. Aztec incursions into the area began as early as 1398 with dominion over the region being total by about 1420. There are several smaller, lesser known archaeological sites in Morelos, but no big sites that attract large numbers of tourists.

History fans will find abundant sites and memorials in Morelos. The state is named in honor of Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon, who led the charge for freedom in Mexico's War of Independence from Spain after Father Miguel Hidalgo was executed by royalist forces in 1811. Morelos and his men made a heroic stand in the town of Cuautla in 1812, holding the besieged town for 58 days until reinforcements could arrive. Morelos was also a hotbed of revolution during the Mexican Revolution when Emiliano Zapata would lead his forces to a hard-won victory in yet another significant battle in the town of Cuautla. Cuernavaca saw intense fighting in 1915-1916. Zapata was assassinated in the small Morelos village of Chinameca in 1919.

Get in


There are some bus lines such as ADO, Pullman de Morelos and TER that leave the Taxqueña bus station in Mexico City to the different cities of the state of Morelos. If you arrive at the Mexico City International Airport, you can take buses that leave for Cuernavaca.

Get around


Bus service throughout the state of Morelos is a mixed bag. There are frequent buses that can get you almost anywhere you want to go, but bus service is generally more chaotic than any other state in Mexico. Even larger cities rarely have a single Central de Autobuses, instead relying on a mish-mash of local company-owned waiting rooms and often nothing but a stop at a gas station or roadside. Service is also pretty poor with few ticket offices, unreserved seats (even on nicer, newer buses), and oversold capacity.

Pullman de Morelos is the largest provider of bus services in Morelos. They serve dozens of cities and towns throughout the state with frequent service on major routes. The service may be miserable, but at least there's lots of it!



The state has several places to visit. In the city of Cuernavaca is the Palacio de Cortes which is a 16th-century New Spain palace that was the residence of Hernán Cortes and his family. It includes the Cuauhnahuac Regional Museum where objects from the region are exhibited. The Borda Garden is a beautiful house built by the Taxco miner Juan de la Borda, although later it was also inhabited by Maximiliano I of Mexico. There you can see the flora and fauna of the City of Cuernavaca. It also has the Cathedral of Cuernavaca which was the fifth church to be built in New Spain. It was built as a convent, but it was elevated to a Cathedral in the 18th century. The Robert Brady Museum on one side of the Cathedral is a Franciscan temple is where the collector Robert Brady placed his entire art collection.

You can also visit Tlayacapan, a town of pre-Hispanic origin found on the slopes of Tepozteco. It has many small museums that explore the culture of the Chinelos.


  • Ruta de los Conventos del Popocatépetl — A challenging week long bicycle tour visiting the earliest 16th-century monasteries on the slopes of Popocatépetl. Along the way you‘ll cross two national parks, an active volcano, and more historical sites than any reasonable person would ever want to visit.



Morelos gets more rain than most of Mexico and has a lot of natural springs, rivers, and streams. It is known for its variety of waterparks and spas, particularly in Oaxtepec and Jojutla.



Although each town has different dishes to offer, some of the culinary experiences that are representative of Morelos are Tacos acorazados, cecina from Yecapixtla, Morelos-style green pipián, and artisan ice cream from Tepoztlán.



Travelers who enjoy tequila and mezcal may want to seek out a spirit called avila that is made in the small town of Jonacatepec. The marketers behind the "concept" seem to have missed the fact that mezcal isn't dependent on the type of agave, so the so-called "new type of spirit" is actually just another mezcal, albeit made with only blue agave. Still worth giving it a try if you see it around, but compare it to mezcals from Oaxaca and see whether you find the premium price charged for avila is actually justified by what you taste.

Stay safe


Morelos has historically been one of the safest states in Mexico, but an increase in gang activity from 2019 onward have made headlines and increased violent crime rates in Cuernavaca and in a number of smaller towns and rural areas. Most tourist areas remain safe though and travelers are not the targets of gangs. Petty theft and muggings can be an issue and it is wise to not travel with valuables and leave your passport and credit cards locked in your hotel safe. There is safety in numbers so avoid walking alone in unfamiliar areas, particularly at night. Overall, Morelos can be an enjoyable destination for the careful traveler.

Go next

This region travel guide to Morelos is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.