The sloping town of Taxco de Alarcón is completely painted white, splashed only with the color of red-tiled rooves and bougainvillea-filled plazas. You’ll fall for its old village charm as quick as you could roll down its slanting streets.
Taxco at a Glance:
|About Taxco||List of Taxco’s Attractions||Where to Stay in Taxco|
|Where to Eat in Taxco||How to Get to Taxco||Is Taxco Safe?|
Top 5 picks for Taxco:
|Visit Taxco’s iconic Church of Santa Prisca, built with rose stone and gold-leaf altars.||Get the best panoramic views of Taxco’s town centre: el Christo, Teleferico, or Guadalupe church.||Visit the nearby cave system, Cachuamilpa, the largest in Latin America.||Learn about the silver making process in an abandoned mine, and then shop for silver jewelry.||Try the local speciality–pink mole– on a rooftop terrace.|
|Try ‘Mole Rosa’, a pink sauce.||Taxco silver is the local speciality.||Main festivals: Santa Prisca and San Sebastian (January); Easter; Jornadas Alarconianas; Silver Fair (November/December).|
|2.5–3 hours from Mexico City; 180km.||The closest airport is Cuernavaca.||Moderate year-round (15–30°C). Best months to travel: October to February; hottest months are April to June, up to 95°F (35.1°C); rainy season is from May to November.|
The first glimpse of Taxco’s white stuccoed village feels like a time warp. Diving into its labyrinth of cobbled streets only confirms it: locals mingle around the plazas in unhurried conversations; colonial architecture sits on every corner; and all the streets are cobbled. Taxco was reportedly founded by Hernan Cortes himself in 1529, developing around the abundant silver mines in the surrounding mountains.
Rooftop terraces give the best, tranquil views across this mountain-clad town, where the huddled rooftops conceal the narrow streets below. But the antique church spires refuse to hide, standing proud against the sea of white.
Step down from the terraces and into Taxco’s streets, and you’ll land in the middle of a bustling town of around 110,000 people. Cars and pedestrians jostle for space in the narrow, windy roads – which get especially busy on weekends with day-trippers from Mexico City – but it’s just as easy to escape down a side street for a cup of coffee and silence. The town’s social vibe is the heart of its charm, and you’ll feel right at home among the locals chatting, laughing and strolling around the town’s main plazas.
There’s plenty of shopping for its proudest product and the main industry of the town: Taxco silver. Known beyond Mexico’s borders, Taxco silver is sold is every shape, size and form of jewelry in almost every shop you see, although the surrounding mines are mostly exhausted now. It doesn’t ensure quality or low prices, though, so smart shopping is still required.
The restaurant scene is slowly improving, now complete with a ‘contemporary’ Mexican experience at Punto 925. The town touts itself as the source of ‘Rosa Mole’ – pink mole – which is a nutty salsa turned pink with beetroot, pomegranate and smoky chipotle, spiced with mezcal and 20 other ingredients.
When you tire of eating, shopping or admiring the colonial wooden-beamed buildings, there are museums and churches to explore. The main church is undergoing renovation and promises to unleash all its spectacular history when its done. If you want to reach the outer attractions–most of which give you a birds-eye view of the town–the white Volvo taxis double as tour guides.
Most people join a day trip to Taxco with a tour to the nearby cave system, Cacahuamilpa, one of the biggest caves in Latin America. If you really settle in for a couple of days, you can also make it to the Estrella Cave system, or the local waterfalls Las Granadas and Mil Cascadas. When your legs start to hurt from all of Taxco’s hilly walking, the nearby Blue Pozas (swimming holes) give you every reason to relax in the crystal clear, illuminated blue water.
Many people say that Taxco isn’t worth more than a day trip, but there’s plenty of charm to soak up if you do stay a night. No matter how long you go for, Taxco is worthy of its place on your list of must-see places in Mexico.
Tip: You’ll need good walking shoes; the cobbled stones and uphill terrain are especially precarious and slippery in the rainy season.
Things to Do in Taxco
1. Take a tour of Grutas de Cachuamilpa
Walk through 2km of this “live” giant cavern–meaning the formations are still growing–and use your imagination to find shapes and objects etched out in the enormous stalagmites and stalactites. When it takes hundreds of years to grow a few centimeters of mineral deposit, you get a new appreciation of the meters-high mountains inside the cave. The cave peaks at an impressive 80m high and goes on for some 8km, although it is mostly inaccessible to tourists – but not to the thousands of bats that leave and re-enter the cave at dawn and dusk (the cave is closed at these times, but you can camp in the park). Music events to an international caliber are hosted inside the caves – imagine Paul McCartney belting out his lungs here. Concerts are usually around the Alarconian Days (May) and the Silver Fair (November). The adventurous traveler will also get a kick out of the zipline, rappelling, rock climbing, and kayaking, plus two underground rivers to explore (one can be reached via a seven hour hike), and the Gruta de Carlos Pacheco, around 400m south of Cachuamilpa.
You can only see the cave on guided tours, which leave on the hour from 10am to 5pm, and get pretty packed as the day goes on. If you’re with your own small group, it is worth the 400 pesos to pay a private tour guide, which allows you to enter at any time and avoid the mass tourism.
2. Parroquia de Santa Prisca
Taxco’s icon is undoubtedly the 18th-century Santa Prisca Church, with 95m-high Churrigueresque twin towers, a talavera cupola, and one of the most complete examples of Baroque architecture in Mexico. Inside you can find nine wooden altarpieces covered with gold leaf, while the church’s outer pink stone takes on sunset hues in the afternoon. It is uncharacteristically narrow because of the lack of flat space in the town around the main Plaza Borda. The construction was thanks to a prosperous mine owner, Jose de la Borda, although the church’s opulence almost bankrupted him. The hidden agenda was that his son, Manuel de la Borda, would serve as the parish priest. From 1758 to 1806, it was even the tallest building in Mexico. In one of the paintings by Miguel Cabrera, see if you can spot a hidden devil.
If you’re in the mood for more colonial-era churches, you might also like the capillas of Santa Veracruz, Santisima Trinidad, and San Miguel Arcangel, or the Ex-Convent of San Bernadino de Siena.
3. Shop for Taxco Jewellery and Silver
Silver (plata) is famous in this small town of Guerrero, and the hardest decision is deciding where to shop – yes, there are hundreds of silver shops (platerias). There’ll also be scouts and taxi drivers trying to get you into particular stores, where your price will be inevitably bumped up to include their commission. On top of it all, there are makeshift stalls on the streets and ‘tianguis’ (markets), where the quality can be dubious and sometimes even the .925 stamp is faked. If you’re not sure about quality, stick to established stores only (some have set prices), and check if a product is stamped pure silver or a silver bath. You can also carry a small magnet to test the silver: if it’s real, it won’t be magnetic, like all precious metals.
If you want specialist jewelry, head to the designer shops without a second thought. Otherwise, you can get run-of-the-mill jewelry at the ‘Centro Taxco Jeweler’ (Centro Joyero Taxco), down from the Main Square, or at the Silver Tianguis (market) on Saturday mornings near the bus terminal. There’s also a cooperative outside of town called Real de Minas Plateria, where you can get cheaper prices than around the main plaza. You can also find several silver shops clustered in the Patio de las Artesanias, also known as the Museum of Silverware (Museo de Platería), where you can take a tour to learn how silver it made. When you enter the shops, just ask for the museum and they’ll take you to a mine below. Some say it’s a touristic gimmick and you’ll be pestered for tips, but others love the experience. Just remember that there’s no pressure to shop or eat at their establishments.
4. Visit El Cristo Monumental de Taxco
Trace your eyesight up the hill of Taxco, and you’ll see a statue of Christ watching over its inhabitants from Cerro de Atachi. The statue itself might not get you excited, but it serves up Taxco from a different angle and shows the town’s precarious position in a mountainous valley. It can be reached by walking or a taxi for about 50 pesos (you should agree on a price before you hop in). You can also get a combi (shared mini-bus) from outside the Parque Vicente Guerrero for around 10 pesos; look for a sign ‘Casahuates’ in the windshield, and make sure you tell the driver you’re going to ‘el Mirador del Cristo’, or they might not stop. It’s especially pretty at sunset when the town transitions into a twinkling haven of lights. If you can’t find a taxi to get back down, ask another taxi to call a friend, and they’ll happily arrange it.
5 Visit an authentic Taxco Mine
During some renovation work at the Hotel Posada de la Mision in 2014, they made an amazing discovery: a 500-year-old mine shaft. Reportedly, it was closed over to build the hotel back in the 1940s, but no-one passed on the message and it was forgotten. Today you can walk through this mine, and learn about Taxco’s silver mining history. Reportedly, the mine was used in pre-Hispanic times – hence the name Mina Prehispanica de Taxco – and hardly explored, meaning many of the minerals remain under the soil, although it is now a protected site.
6. Museo de Arte Virreinal de Taxco
This small museum (Tues to Sun, 10am–6pm) has only a handful of relics, but it’s listed in guidebooks for its patterned facade with Moorish influences, a unique design for this town and the house’s otherwise 18th-century Baroque architecture. Wandering through its 14 rooms, you can learn about the town’s history and mining growth, see relics from the Parroquia–including a colonial funeral altar–and browse a collection of religious art. It’s also known as Casa Humboldt, named after the German scientist, Alexander Von Humboldt, who slept there during a visit to the mines.
The museum may not blow you away, but for 25 pesos you can wander the rooms and servants quarters, and they sometimes host some modern artworks in the main lobby. The best secret is the back terrace, which gives you a great view across the city, if you haven’t yet had your fill of rooftop views.
7. Museum of William Spratling
The city’s main industry, Taxco silver, was revitalized by New Yorker William Spratling, who saw the potential of the local craftspeople and created a modern market for it. He moved to Taxco around the 1930s, where he started silversmith workshops, alongside his other passions as a cartoonist, aviator, writer and horticulturist. In the 1950s, he was named an honorary citizen, and today you can also find a street named after him.
The Museo de William Spratling (Tues–Sat, 9am–5pm, Sun 9am–3pm) was named in his honor, and takes you on a tour of the town’s history. Spurred on by Diego Rivera, Spratling started collecting pre-Hispanic items, which he later partly donated to UNAM and the National Museum of Anthropology. Another 300 of his pieces went into forming this museum. There is also an area dedicated to his silverwork and art designs.
8. Casa Borda Centro Cultural
If you want to see the home of Santa Prisca’s benefactor, take a quick peek at Jose de la Borda’s 18th-century mansion on the western side of Plaza Borda. Today it serves as the town’s cultural center, featuring art exhibitions from artists from the state of Guerrero.
9. Taxco Teleferico
Get close and personal with Taxco’s uphill terrain with a ride on Taxco’s cablecar. You’ll be whisked away from white houses into green hills, where the ‘teleferico’ ends at the Montetaxco Hotel. From there, you can eat or drink with a view at the hotel, or the adventurous can hike to el Cristo (around an hour; you get a taxi back if you can’t make the return trip). The cost of the teleferico is around USD 5 return (around 100 pesos return). It’s not the most adventurous cable car ride, but an easy and relaxing way to get up one of the town’s many hills. The Teleferico is a little bit out of town, and many people feel satisfied enough with the panoramic views from el Christo, which is easier and closer to get to.
10. La Parroquia de Guadalupe
This church sits on a mountain top and, while it may be small and simple, its terrace offers incredible views across the city, with less tourists blocking your photo. It gets especially busy during Semana Santa (Easter) and on the 12 December, the holiday that honors the Virgin Guadalupe around Mexico.
11. Swim in the Pozas Azules de Atzala
These natural swimming pools can get chilly and crowded, but the illuminated blue color is a stunning sight. These crystalline water pools are wedged in between green hills and rocky walls, giving you an idyllic disconnection from the city. There are three main pools, but you can escape to several more with a short walk. Once you find your own blissful corner, you can relax to the background noise of small running waterfalls, or jump from the platforms for a touch of excitement. There are food stalls around selling snacks, drinks (beer included) and cheap meals. They are only about 5 miles from Taxco, but the trip takes 30 minutes because of the windy mountain roads.
12. Cascada de Cacalotenango
Another nature escape is the 80m waterfall of Cacalotenango, just 13km west from Taxco. You can visit the lookout, hike in among a conifer forest, go horse riding or ride on a zipline.
13. Taxco’s downhill bike race
If you find climbing the steep streets of Taxco challenging, imagine 40 cyclists racing down them with the added obstacles of jumping ramps and routes cut through houses. At the end of the downhill race, the cyclists are judged for performing the best trick. Today this international event attracts competitors from around 15 countries.
14. Taxco El Viejo
South of Taxco, around five minutes’ drive, you can find Taxco’s Old Town (Taxco El Viejo). You can capture more of Taxco’s scenic views, plus there are a couple of attractions to explore.
15. San Juan Bautista Ex-Hacienda
This ex-hacienda was named after Saint John the Baptist, and today it is home to a museum, plus the School of Earth Sciences (under the Guerrero State University). Nearby you can, just south of the ex-hacienda, you can find ‘Rancho Spratling’, an operating silver workshop that carries on William Spratling’s silver traditions. You can watch silver arisans at work, plus shop for silver jewelry.
Taxco’s History of Willian Spratling
William Spratling, an American artist and silver designer, is renown for his influence on Mexican silver design in the 20th century. Although Taxco was a traditional silver mine area, it had no local silversmith industry. When Spratling came along , he began working with local goldsmiths to produce his designs, with strong influences from pre-Columbian and Mesoamerican motifs, mixed with art deco modernism and high quality materials and techniques. He is sometimes called the “Father of Contemporary Mexican Silver”, known for pushing a new cultural identity onto Mexican art and design with the help of the local experts, who also put input their visions into the designs. He pushed luxury silver exports to the US, employing some 500 artisans in his workshop Taller de las Delicias. In his book, Little Mexico, he defines his encounter with the local life of Taxco.
Today, you can find many replicas of his designs around the world, with his original works being distinguished by a circular mark with his initials WS, although many fakes exist as well, so be aware if you’re looking to buy his work.
Mexico City to Taxco: Day trip
If you don’t mind the driving, it’s easy to get to Taxco from Mexico City in a day. If you leave early from Mexico City–around 7am, avoiding traffic so you exit the city quicker–you can arrive in Taxco in two and a half to three hours. The distance is not far, around 180km, and direct buses also take the same time.
If you plan to combine a day trip to Taxco with another trip – whether the Cacahuamilpa caves, Cuernavaca, or the Pozas – then you should leave early. The caves open around 10am, and most things in Taxco don’t open till around 10am, so time your trip depending on whether you plan to stop for a long breakfast or not.
How to get to Taxco from Mexico City
The road from Mexico City to Taxco is in good condition and driving is a great option. Otherwise, the bus station that serves Taxco is ‘Mexico Central Sur’ in Taxqueña, and tickets are around 250–300 pesos.
If you’re planning to only go to Taxco (no side trips), you might not want to arrive too early because most shops don’t open till 10am. At the same time, the last bus is usually around 6–8pm, so make sure you get at least five to seven hours to explore.
- Estrella de Oro (managed by Ado): Trips start at around 6:45am.
- Costa Line: On Saturdays you can leave at 6am, while other days the first bus is at 7am. This means you’ll arrive in Taxco by around 9–10am.
Is Taxco Safe?
The state of Guerro has seen some bad press in recent years, but Taxco is generally excluded from it. Taxco is located in the very upper part of Guerrero state, close to the border with Mexico State, and makes for an easy and inexpensive day trip from Mexico City. Still, if you venture off the main highway from Mexico City to Taxco, you should take caution.
Where to Eat and Drink in Taxco
Taxco is known for its mineral water (Agua Mineral Taxco) and claims to be the origin of ‘Mole Rosa’. Pozole – a corn soup – is another typical Mexican dish that is famed in the state of Guerro, so it’s also worth trying while in Taxco.
Some of the best restaurants in Taxco for traditional Mexican food are located in hotels–and the first three have terrace views–including:
- Rosa Mexicano
- Del Angel Inn Restaurante
- Flor de la Vida
- Sotavento Restaurant Bar
- Pozoleria Tia Calla
A newer contender is the contemporary kitchen of Punto 925 by young Mexican chef Arturo Díaz, set in the hotel De Cantera y Plata.
For drinks, try:
- Terraza 360 – great views to enjoy a cocktai or coffee.
- Yolotl Tap Room – taste craft beers brewed right there in Taxco and the state of Guerrero.
Where to Stay: Taxco Hotels
Taxco isn’t a big village, but you’ll want to orientate yourself around the main Plaza Borda – otherwise, you’ll end up with long uphill and downhill walks. However, if you don’t mind the walk or getting a taxi into town, there are a few luxury hotels located on the outskirts of Taxco, where you can escape to green hilly landscapes.
- Hotel Posada de la Mision
- Hotel Los Arcos
- Hotel Agua Escondida
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