Over the last few years, I've received more than a few emails asking me how to best get from the Mexico City Airport by bus to Pátzcuaro. While I recognize that there are several ways to accomplish this, with the help of our friend, Big Tex, I have distilled the vital information down to to give the simplest, most hassle free way possible. This applies to travel in the daytime and early nighttime hours. We try not to take buses at night; it's just our personal preference, unrelated to any other issues.
This is a Public Service Announcement, brought to you by Don Cuevas, so don't give me any static. Like, you've heard that the Metro is cheap and fast. So? Go to some other website if you want to get fxxxed up in the Metro, not here.
At the Mexico City Airport, after passing Aduana and Migracíon, be sure to buy your taxi ticket at the official taquilla, or sales window, for example, Sitio 300, not from some tout. This is very important! The fares are calculated by zones. There are regular taxis, which are fine for most people's needs, and they are much cheaper than the large expensive Suburbans. Pay attention to which service you are buying. Once you pay for your taxi ticket at the window, you do not pay the taxi driver anything more, except for a very optional tip, if you had a lot of luggage, or his conversation was especial cool, whatever.
Once at Terminal Poniente, also called Terminal Observatorio, go to the AutoVias ticket counter. There are at least 3 desks, close by each other. It may take a moment to figure out which is the one needed. read the "Salidas" or Departures board. Credit cards are accepted for payment. If paying with cash, check your change. Get a bus direct (Sin Escalas) to Patzcuaro. While it does stop 15 minutes in Morelia, you stay on and do not change buses. Escalas are changes from one bus to anoher. No need, if you follow the easy directions here.
(Certainly, it's easier than taking ETN to Morelia, changing to a Patzcuaro bus once at Morelia for which a change of building is probably necessary as well.) It has to be faster to get an AutoVias bus, with more frequent departures, than the ETN. Though the AutoVias buses are one level down in luxury than ETN, they are quite comfortable. AutoVias has a separate waiting room, with free restrooms and free coffee. They will also check in your larger luggage while you are still at or near the ticket counter. The buses are equipped with passable restrooms. The movies are generally awful.
You get a crappy "ham" and cheese sandwich and a soft drink when boarding. I recommend Boing! a natural fruit drink. You can also buy decent baguette, croissant, or torta sandwiches or pan dulce at Terminal Poniente's restaurant or snack bar, inside. I avoid the outside stands and the inside carnitas places. The main restaurant does a decent breakfast. There's an internet place or two, which are sometimes open and sometimes functioning.
One drawback of AutoVias is that you can't yet book on line.
WAIT! You can now book on line, as long as your trip isn't very far in the future. Go to Grupo HP-Occidente , and fill out the forms and press the digital buttons, as requested. But it should be no problem getting a seat during normal, daytime non-holiday conditions, walking up to the counter and paying for the next available departure.
By the way, anyone who willingly books a seat at the rear of the bus, near the toilets, deserves the experience.
The trip takes 5 hours, more or less. If you follow my directions, hard-earned through personal experience, you will be all right. Once arrived at the Central de Autobuses de Pátzcuaro, you can get a cab, take a combi van if you know what you're doing, or even walk to Centro, if your luggage is light and it's still daylight. But I don't want to explain the last one. My work here is done.