Santa Clara del Cobre Michoacán México

Santa Clara del Cobre Michoacan is a charming town renowned for its centuries-old tradition of copper craftsmanship.

As you wander through its cobblestone streets, you’ll encounter copper artisan workshops where you can watch craftsmen shape and polish copper into stunning works of art.

It’s easy to visit Santa Clara del Cobre pueblo magico on a day trip from Morelia or Patzcuaro. I’ve included everything you need to know, including a fun food to try that you can only find here.

Whether you’re a copper enthusiast or simply a curious traveler, Santa Clara del Cobre Mexico is a memorable destination to visit.

Exterior view of the copper museum in Santa Clara, Mexico.

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History of Santa Clara del Cobre Copper Artisans

In Mesoamerica, the Purépechas were considered top metalworkers at the time. And they were one of the only two groups who knew how to work with copper.

They developed a technique called smelting which extracts metal from its ore. It requires a lot of work and a lot of wood, for which the Purepechas had plenty in the nearby forests.

Huge copper stills in Santa Clara del Cobre.

They used copper to create decorative items as well as tools and weapons. The latter is believed to be the main reason they were one of the only groups not conquered by the Aztecs.

Today the copper artisans of Santa Clara del Cobre continue this tradition of copper making. While the craft was perfected with tools and techniques brought by the Spanish, one technique that remains is the process of smelting.

Street art painted on a walls of an artisan holding a copper pot but painted horizontally, in Santa Clara del Cobre.

7 Fun Things to do in Santa Clara del Cobre Michoacán

Most travelers visit Santa Clara del Cobre because of the copper artisans, but I’ve highlighted a few other places to check out while you’re exploring this pueblo magico.

A handful of these things to do in Santa Clara del Cobre feature copper because well that’s what the town was founded on. And a few revolve around discovering the food of Michoacan because yum!

1. Santa Clara del Cobre Copper Artisans

It’s in the name and it’s probably why you’re here – to visit the Santa Clara del Cobre copper artisan workshops. 

A man hammering a copper at a copper workshop in Santa Clara del Cobre

At the workshops you’ll be able to see the process as you watch the metalsmiths creating new pieces. I was even offered an opportunity to try my hand at hammering the copper (yes it’s harder than it looks!)

Here are several copper artisans worth a visit

  • Cobre y Mezcal los Hernández (map)
  • Mexicana Galeria (map)
  • Taller y Tienda Don Vasco (map)
  • Taller Parra (map

Tip: A friend who had visited Santa Clara del Cobre said I didn’t need to contact the copper artisans ahead of time for a visit. But we were in Patzcuaro for Day of the Dead and many workshops were closed. To be on the safe side, I highly recommend reaching out before your visit.

Different crockery painted black and with the top in copper on an open rack in Santa Clara, Mexico.

2. Visit the Copper Museum

I also highly recommend visiting the Copper Museum in Santa Clara del Cobre. The museum features gorgeous copper pieces that range from early examples of Purépecha copper work to modern pieces that have won national awards.

Different antiques made from copper at copper museum in Santa Clara one of Mexico's Pueblo Magicos.

It takes about 30-60 minutes to walk through the museum depending on your level of interest. If the copper workshop is operating (normally on the weekends), you may end up spending more time at the museum.

Tip: If you want to discover more copper artisans in Santa Clara del Cobre, plan your visit during the Copper Festival in mid-August.

Bright blue wall with a photograph of a man's hands creating the bottom of a basket in copper.

3. Relax in the Main Square of Santa Clara del Cobre

The main square in the small towns of Mexico are one of my favorite places to relax and people watch. They are the beating pulse of these communities, often providing a social outlet for all ages.

In Santa Clara del Cobre, the main square is adorned with copper of course. The most subtle piece is the kiosko (gazebo) with a copper roof that shimmers in the sun.

A signage of Santa Clara del Cobre in Michoacan on the square with many orange flowers hanging in the square.

But I have to give it to the Santa Clara del Cobre sign. While I’m not usually a huge fan of these signs in Mexico, the copper decoration certainly caught my eye for a photo opportunity.  

4. Eat a Torta de Tostada

While you’re in the main square, keep your eye out for this food stand which prepares tortas de tostada using a copper oven.

This sandwich with a crunch is a food you’ll only find in the pueblo magico of Santa Clara del Cobre.

Created in 1965, the torta de tostada is layered with carne apache (beef), beans, and of course a crispy tostada.

Visiting Michoacan? You may want to plan a visit to Lake Camécuaro National Park which features gorgeous trees around a lake.

5. Visit the Churches in Santa Clara del Cobre Michoacan

Among the colonial buildings featuring thick stone walls, there are a couple of historic churches in Santa Clara del Cobre that are worth checking out.

Exterior view of church in Santa Clara del Cobre painted in white.

Capilla de “La Huatápera” (map) is the oldest church in the town. It was also the site of a 16th century hospital, which Vasco de Quiroga developed in several of the towns in Michoacan.

The other church, Templo de Nuestra Señora del Sagrario, is just around the corner (map). If you’re lucky enough to find it open you should definitely go inside. The curved copper ceiling is gorgeous.

6. Eat Gorditas for Breakfast

A famous restaurant that sells 'gorditas' in Santa Clara del Cobre in Michoacan.

Another place to eat in Santa Clara del Cobre that got my attention is Gorditas Doña Luisa (map), located on the edge of town.

I first discovered gorditas are delicious stuffed corn pockets (not deep fried) after hiking up Peña de Bernal in Queretaro. And if you can find a place that makes them with blue corn like this restaurant, you’re in for a treat.

A thick corn tortillas, fried and then stuffed with anything delicious, also known as 'Gorditas' in Santa Clara del Cobre.

Gorditas Doña Luisa serves gorditas, tacos y quesadillas with your choice of guisado (stew) stuffed inside the handmade blue corn tortillas. Guisado options included beans, chicharrón, mole, tinga, chorizo, and others.

I recommend ordering cafe de olla to sip on while they make your order on the comal over a wood fire.

They are only open for breakfast and lunch, so I recommend going there first. In fact, we enjoyed a lovely walk through town to get there, passing residents on their way to school and work.

7. Spend the Afternoon at Lake Zirahuen

I know, this isn’t exactly a thing to do in Santa Clara del Cobre. But I do think it is the perfect end to spending the better part of a half day in this pueblo magico.

When my friend asked the friendly man at the Copper Museum in Santa Clara what he liked to do in the area, he responded with “spend the afternoon enjoying drinks around Lake Zirahuen.”

And with the thought of margaritas and cold cervezas in our heads, off we went. We rode in a colectivo for about 30 min to this lakeside town. It was a quiet afternoon as we strolled the few blocks from the center to a restaurant on the lake. Keep in mind, Lake Zirahuen gets busier on the weekends, so we were just happy to find a restaurant that was open.

We spent a couple hours chatting on the restaurant deck over the lake, enjoying drinks and peaceful views of the lake.

How to Get to Santa Clara del Cobre Michoacan

Most travelers will take a day trip to Santa Clara del Cobre from Morelia or the pueblo magico of Patzcuaro. 

Both are a great option since it takes about 1 hour to get to Santa Clara del Cobre from Morelia and about 30 minutes from Patzcuaro.

A sunny day in Santa Clara del Cobre Michoacan with people wandering on the streets.

How to Get to Santa Clara del Cobre from Morelia

There is one caveat for taking a Morelia day trip to Santa Clara del Cobre. If you want to travel by bus, you have to first go to Patzcuaro and take a second bus to Santa Clara.

If you decide to rent a car in Morelia you can arrive in just over an hour. Another option is to hire a ride share service such as Uber, although to get back to Morelia you will likely need to take a bus to Patzcuaro first.

Another option is to book this highly rated private tour to Santa Clara del Cobre from Morelia which includes round trip transportation. Your guide Rodrigo will show you not one but three pueblos magicos – Patzcuaro, Tzintzuntzan, and Santa Clara del Cobre.  

Pátzcuaro to Santa Clara del Cobre

The easiest way is to travel to Santa Clara del Cobre from Patzcuaro since it’s just a 30 minute drive south. My friend and I took a bus from here, which is located just a few blocks from the bus station in Patzcuaro (convenient if you’re coming from Morelia).

Buses leave about every 30 minutes, or when full. There’s no need to buy a ticket ahead of time. Just arrive and purchase on the spot.

When you’re ready to go back, it’s generally the same process. It’s always a good idea to ask what time the last bus leaves to return.