Taxco: Top 10 Things to Do in Mexico’s Silver City

View of Taxco Mexico

Boasting a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, striking city views and postcard-worthy colonial architecture draped in vibrant bougainvillea, Taxco is perhaps one of Mexico’s most charming towns. Situated a short two and half hour bus ride from Mexico City, it’s an easy weekend trip from the capital city. Whether you’re looking to try new foods, delve into Mexican culture or shop for silver, this pueblo mágico’s got it all. Read on for the top 10 things to do in Taxco.

Wander the streets of the Zocalo

This small plaza is the heart and soul of Taxco, and the perfect spot to take in the sights and sounds of the city. Make a point to get lost on the many steep cobblestone streets and callejones (stairways) that lead off from this square; quaint shops, silverware stalls, cafes and restaurants abound along these alleyways.

Or, if you need to rest your legs from all the walking (and hills), grab an ice cream at Tepoznieves and situate yourself in the park, where you will no doubt enjoy the people watching. (Though expect to be approached by people selling all kinds of hats, bags and other trinkets.)

Pro tip: Wear comfortable footwear while staying in Taxco. The streets here are STEEP and you will regret not coming prepared!

Stand in awe of the Santa Prisca de Taxco

Also known as the Santa Prisca Church, this Taxco landmark is said to be one of the most beautiful churches in all of Mexico. Located on the eastern edge of the Zocalo, the cathedral boasts a unique architectural style known as Churrigueresque, a Spanish Baroque style of elaborate sculptural architectural ornament.

When it was constructed between 1751 and 1758 by Jose de la Borda – a wealthy silver mining mogul – in the same location as a working silver mine, the Templo de Santa Prisca was the tallest building in the country.

Highlights include the Churrigueresque twin towers, a chapel decorated with Spanish Talavera tiles, the colorful cupola and the depiction of the Assumption of Mary on the cathedral portal. Also noteworthy is its nine floor-to-ceiling altarpieces decorated with gold, particularly those that pay tribute to the town’s patron saints, San Sebastian and Santa Prisca.

At the time of publication of this article, the church is currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, but you can still take in its stunning exterior from the Zocalo or a nearby rooftop terrace.

View of Taxco Cathedral

Savor local specialties in Taxco

There are so many restaurants and cafes to try in Taxco, it can be overwhelming when choosing where to dine – not to mention what to eat!

I tried a few really delicious local specialties during my stay in Taxco, and recommend you do the same! First, you’ve got to try mole rosa, a type of mole that is traditionally cooked with pink-colored pine nuts which give the sauce its rose-like hue. Sometimes beetroot is added to further accentuate the color.

I noticed quite a few of the restaurants offered this dish, but I tried the Mole Rosa Enchiladas at Restaurante La Parroquia. I quite enjoyed it (though I think Rosa Mexicano does a better version of it) and the views from the rooftop terrace were absolutely phenomenal. A great spot for a unique perspective of the Santa Prisca Church.

Another highlight for me was a stunning seasonal dish of crepes, roasted poblano peppers and mushrooms at Rosa Mexicano Restaurant and I can say with certainty that it’s been one of the best things I’ve eaten in Mexico. Everything about this place was amazing: the food, the ambiance, the views of illuminated Taxco and the drinks (think local mezcal, craft beer and some killer cocktails).

Of course, I had to try the Bertha, a cocktail created by Doña Bertha – one of the original creators of the margarita and founder of Taxco’s nearly century-old Bar Bertha. A nod to the popularity of silver in Taxco, the drink is based on silver tequila; a splash of honey is added for sweetness, fresh lime juice and an egg white for creaminess. So, so, so good – a sweet finish to a glorious meal.

As of February 2021, restaurants and bars are technically supposed to close at 9pm (last order at 8pm) because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Visit the Christ the Redeemer statue

Standing tall and watchful over the city of Taxco atop the Cerro del Atache hill, the Christ the Redeemer Statue is one of Taxco’s most iconic monuments. Similar to the statue of the same name in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, (though smaller in scale) this massive structure offers some of the best views of the city.

You can climb to the El Cristo Panoramico (the Christ Viewpoint), but expect a bit of a workout. From the Zocalo, the statue doesn’t seem very high, but it is! Should you need a ride back down, there are plenty of cabs available atop the hill, as well as a small store where you can purchase snacks and drinks. Expect to pay around 50 pesos for a trip to the statue from the center of town.

El Cristo Panoramico in Taxco

Take the teleférico for stunning views

For even more impressive views, head to Taxco’s teleférico, a Swiss-built cable car. Sure, the 10-minute voyage may be rather unnerving to those with a fear of heights (like yours truly), but the panoramic views are well worth the anxiety. A round trip adult ticket will set you back about 100 pesos.

Once at the top, stop by the outdoor bar/restaurant of the Montetaxco Hotel & Resort for a margarita or michelada (beer with lime juice and salt). The terrace offers outstanding views of the city and the lush mountains that surround it – not to mention the inviting pool of the hotel.

Pro Tip: Time your visit to coincide with sunset. As the sun goes down, the city transforms into a dazzling spectacle of lights. Note that the cable car stops running around 7pm, so you’ll want to make your way back down by then. (Taxis are available, should you decide to stay later.)

Shop for the city’s famous silver

Once a booming silver mining town, Taxco is renowned for its silver. In fact, it’s been dubbed the silver capital of Mexico, despite the fact that its resources have mostly dwindled. People travel from all over to shop the silver markets all over town. And believe me – these shops are EVERYWHERE in Taxco.

There’s also something for everyone – from mass-produced pieces to more artisanal, handcrafted works. I’ve never seen more unique jewelry designs in my life than I did at the silver tianguis (markets) here.

I was told by the owner of my hotel that most of the silver shops here are reputable, and that the items are priced by weight, depending on the quality of the silver. Make sure that you’re paying for the real deal by checking that the silver is marked with a .925 stamp, which proves that it’s indeed sterling.

Should you want additional confirmation that the piece you’re buying is in fact authentic, you can ask them to perform a test or, in the more upscale shops, ask for certification. The Tianguis de la Plata (Silver Street Market) is worth a visit for affordable silverware and trinkets, and if you’re looking for something special, head to the Spratling workshop in Taxco Viejo.

Explore a prehispanic silver mine

If you’d rather learn about silver than shop for it, don’t miss out on visiting the Pre-Hispanic Mine of Taxco. Dating back some five centuries, this mine was only recently discovered in 2013, when the bar of the Hotel Posada de la Misión was being remodeled. During the course of the otherwise routine work, a deep hole in the ground opened, revealing a long-forgotten mine.

Today, tours are offered to the public, providing a unique look at the marvels of Earth’s mysterious underground world, and insights into what the life of a miner was like hundreds of years ago. As you’re led deep underground, the guides point out the veins of silver and gold that still streak the cavern space. Many of the tunnels here have yet to be explored, but those that have been fitted for touristic purposes are quite spacious; you can even rappel down some of them if you choose to do so.

Admission is about 100 pesos per person, and includes a drink at the hotel bar. After your tour, enjoy your complimentary juice, mezcal or beer at the pool. Here, you can see a mural of Emperor Cuauhtémoc that Juan O’Gorman (the same man who created the murals at the Central Library of the National Autonomous University of Mexico) designed for the hotel. The interior dining room also offers gorgeous views of the city. You really can’t go wrong here.

Want to learn more about Taxco’s silver history?  Visit the Museo de la Plateria (the Silver Museum), a silver factory where you can watch the silversmiths go about their expert ancient craft.

Take a taxi. (Punchbug!)

Hailing a cab doesn’t sound like it’d be something that would make a top 10 to-do list. But in Taxco, it is! This is because the majority of the taxis in this quaint town are white Volkswagen beetles, which match the white-washed facades of the town’s buildings. The front seat of the cabs has been removed, so it’s easy to get in and out, though the capacity is only two passengers.

I really enjoyed seeing the city from the taxis and was quite amazed at how they were able to zip through the narrow, steep streets! Also, all of the taxi drivers I encountered were soooo friendly and hospitable. One even offered to take photos for me at the various landmarks.

Check out a museum

Unfortunately, most of the museums were closed due to COVID-19 during my visit to Taxco. But, when I get the chance to go back, I’ll definitely be visiting:

The Museo Guillermo Spratling, an anthropological museum that features an extraordinary collection of pre-Hispanic jewelry, artwork, pottery, silverware, and other archaeological artifacts from Mesoamerica.

Casa Borda, a cultural center in an 18th-century colonial building that features 14 exhibition rooms of paintings, contemporary sculptures and historic photographs.

Take in the Semana Santa festivities

Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is an important religious festival that takes place for about a week over the Easter holidays throughout Mexico. While most of the events associated with the holiday have mellowed over the years, Taxco continues to celebrate the original traditions, which include some rather brutal reenactments of the crucifixion of Jesus.

Throughout the week, wooden crosses and sculptures from the churches of Taxco and surrounding villages are carried through the city by men in black robes as part of the Procession of the Souls of Purgatory. The Procession of the Virgins includes hundreds of Virgin Mary sculptures paraded through the streets by young, veiled women in white and children dressed as angels. The locals all hold palm weavings and burn incense. Folk dance performances are often held in the evenings.

If you can time your visit to Taxco during this week, I’m sure it’s quite spectacular to watch. (I haven’t seen the processions in Mexico but I did see similar Semana Santa celebrations in Seville, Spain a few years ago.) Even if you’re not around Taxco during this week, you’ll likely still see statues and crafts associated with the traditions, so keep an eye out!

How to get to Taxco

By Bus – You can travel to Taxco on a luxury bus from Mexico City (southern bus terminal, known as Taxqueña) or from Cuernavaca. The trip takes around just under 3 hours from Mexico City or less than two hours from Cuernavaca. The buses leave fairly frequently with services every day of the week. (When I went, there were only 2 buses departing Mexico City for the day, so check the schedule and availability of seats ahead of time.)

By Car – Driving to Taxco is fast and efficient using the toll-road from Mexico City south of Highway 95D. It will take you around 2 to 3 hours to get to Taxco from the capital.

Enjoy your Taxco travels!