Cue groans over that awful title pun about my day trip from Mexico City to Taxco Guerrero. What can I say? I can’t shake off that incessant need to make every blog post title punny af like I did in my student blogging days. (Shout out to the readers who remember when Northern Lauren was all about Miley Cyrus wearing nude underwear and that time when our internet provider blocked illegal streaming sites. You the real MVPs.)
Anyway, moving on. After being flaky as hell on all our in-city plans (classic Lauren, I’m the worst), me and Welile (from the eponymous travel blog Welile) finally got together the other day to head down to Taxco, Mexico, which is one of the best day trips from Mexico City fyi, having done little-to-no research and preparation for the big event. All we knew is that it was one of the top places to visit near Mexico City for travellers wanting to buy Mexican jewelry. And that’s what we did. Here’s how our day played out.
After a literally bumpy start – we left from Mexico City’s Tasqueña bus station (a first for me, I don’t usually head south for side trips from Mexico City) – we totally lucked out and managed to get two double seats to ourselves and take a nap.
Except, my body had other ideas and I developed a searing headache about twenty minutes in to what I thought was a four-hour long journey (seriously, Taxco is actually only two and a half hours outside Mexico City on the bus, I’ve been living a lie). For those of you who don’t know me personally, my neuroses know no bounds and I’m a horrible hypochondriac, so, naturally, I thought that my death was imminent on a bus to Taxco, accompanied only by a girl I’d met an hour before. Awesome.
Happily, my plans to find a Dr Simi with a pharmacy attached or go to an optician upon arrival, so they could tell me I was at death’s door, were all for nothing, as the pain subsided after about an hour and I settled in to enjoy the last leg of our coach ride.
Around about 9.30am, we arrived to Taxco, a colonial Guerrero town known for white buildings, winding streets and bargain Mexican silver in abundance. And everything was closed. Yep, thinking that the journey would take four hours, we’d booked the first coach of the day (6.45am, ugh) and got done over by the fact that things don’t seem to open ‘til 10am as a rule. Hungry, chilly and disorientated, we headed to the centre anyway and found a mediocre café in which to have breakfast. Word to the wise, sometimes the early birds don’t catch the worm, especially not in the silver capital of Mexico.
Even so, we powered on through overwhelming drowsiness (did I mention we took a bus at 6.45am?), and wandered around the central square, browsing for cheap silver and hunting for the perfect spots to get those flawless not-candid candid shots, all while being harshly judged by the locals who thought we were absolute weirdos. And then we got accosted by a perfectly lovely man (who was clearly working on some sort of commission), who marched us into a silver workshop (actually pretty interesting) and then to some horridly overpriced silver stores (less interesting). It goes without saying that we didn’t buy anything from those places. We bought a shitload of stuff elsewhere, but I’ll get to that later.
RELATED READING: Socially-Conscious Street Art in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Anyway, as the dark clouds started rolling in over the surrounding mountains, we thought that would be the perfect time to get a crystal-clear view from the town’s viewpoint (which is, fyi, like a poor man’s Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro). Little did we know that our ridiculous plan to go even higher during a rainstorm actually paid off, as we avoided the worst of the downpour by being in the combi and then got a fairly decent view when we arrived, accompanied only by two Mexican teenagers and a couple of stray dogs. Honestly, we were some of the only tourists I remember seeing that day, and most of Mexico’s magic towns (pueblos mágicos) are overrun with travellers, especially those that make perfect Mexico City day trips. Oh, and I may or may not have been so desperate for the loo, that I did a nature wee at the mirador. Sorry.
After we’d spent, like, ten minutes at the mirador and were itching to get back to the centre, Cristo provided us with a literal miracle, in the form of a roaming taxi driver who appeared at the practically deserted site and offered us a ride. And then gave us a tip for where to buy silver at a cheaper price, just outside the centre. Which we did. (See below for more details on that!)
So, silver bought, bird’s eye view seen, the only thing that remained was an hour of picture taking, ten minutes of eating street food at the local market, and a quick beer at La Bambina with a great view of the cathedral. A pretty successful day trip from Mexico City, if you ask me.
- Mirador del Cristo | Mirador del Cristo, Barrio del Chorrillo, Taxco
Taxis take you there for MXN$40-50 a pop, or you can get a combi from outside the Parque Vicente Guerrero (ask around, or see map below). They should be ‘Ruta 80’ or say Casahuates on the windshield, and, at the time of writing, cost MXN$6.50 per person. Ask the driver or other passengers to let you know where and when to get off, or you run the risk of the driver just speeding along up the hill and missing out on one of the best things to do in Taxco.
Spoiler alert: we didn’t do this but a round trip will cost you 95 pesos and the view is meant to be nice.
- Shop for silver
We 100% did do this. See below for my tips on how to avoid a silver scam and where to buy silver in Taxco.
- Wander around
Sounds dull, but Taxco is a beautiful, cobbled-street filled old colonial village that feels super removed from the generic Mexican grid system layout. The old buildings, colourful walls and white Beetles everywhere make for great photo-taking backdrops too.
We didn’t do this either, but there are apparently two waterfalls in the village (Las Pozas Azules and Cacalotenango), which you can sometimes see from the centre if you know what to look for. From the photos I’ve seen, they look super beautiful and you can even get in the water, but it was super ~chilly~ when we went to Taxco, so we didn’t bother making the trip.
- Visit the Mina de Taxco | Mina de Taxco, Cerro de la Misión 32, Taxco
Apparently, the ground beneath Taxco is entirely hollow, with nine levels of silver mine tunnels piled right upon one another under your feet. If that doesn’t make you uneasy in an earthquake prone country I don’t know what will. Some of these old mines are open to the public, so if you want to know more about the mining history of Taxco, pay a visit to the Mina de Taxco.
- Museo de la Platería | Museo de la Platería, Plaza Borda (Zócalo), Taxco
If you’d rather stay on terra firma, go to the museum instead. I’m not a fan of museums, so we didn’t bother with this, but history buffs will surely find it of interest.
A typical Mexican dish, it’s famed in the state of Guerrero, so you may as well try a bowl (or four) while you’re there. Even though our day trip consisted of some pretty average eats, the most consistently recommended place to grab pozole in Taxco is at Pozolería Tía Calla.
Not in Taxco, per se, these highly recommended grutas are a half hour bus ride from Taxco and worth a visit if you haven’t been to any caves in Mexico yet and are dying to do so.
We honest to god spent the whole day just browsing silver and wondering how to prevent ourselves from being ripped off, because there’s really no way of telling if something is real sterling silver from Taxco or not. Even the pros claim not to be able to. Along with that, there are apparently over 800 stores in Taxco which sell sterling silver from Mexico, along with god knows how many indoor tianguis, street vendors and other unlicensed sellers. So, yeah, even though buying silver in Taxco is one of the best things to do near Mexico City, it caaaan be a bit of a faff.
However, the general advice we seemed to get from everyone (tour guides trying to con us into buying at expensive stores so they could get commission, taxi drivers that miraculously appeared at the top of the Mirador de Cristo just as we were wanting to leave, store holders and random people on the street), was that you need to buy in a store to be sure you’re getting genuine Mexican sterling silver (a.k.a. 925 silver).
Those selling in tianguis are likely to have added far more than the 7.5 grams of copper to the silver, making it less valuable and likely to turn your ear/wrist/ finger/neck green at some point. Alternatively, they might have made a convincing silver decoy and stamped it with the 925 symbol. Long story short, browse but don’t buy at the tianguis in Taxco.
For what it’s worth, we bought our jewellery from a cooperative outside the town centre called Real de Minas Platería (Cuernavaca-Taxco 124, Taxco). It was far cheaper than the stores clustered around the central church and plaza, so even if we were super scammed, at least we didn’t spend a ton of money for the pleasure.
Taxco, the Mexican silver city, is situated on the upper extremities of the state of Guerrero, very close to the border with Mexico State and Morelos, so getting there is actually super easy and super recommended for people staying in the capital who are looking for a quick and inexpensive day trip from Mexico City. And in case you’re wondering ‘is Taxco safe?’ Yes, although the state of Guerrero can be a bit tumultuous, Taxco is safe.
Anyway, we took the Estrella de Oro bus from Mexico City to Taxco, paid MXN$202 each way and left at 6.45am (the first bus of the day). We came back from Taxco to Mexico City on the last bus of the day at 5.05pm. For what it’s worth, some people will recommend ‘doing’ Taxco as more than a day trip. Those people are wrong. We spent around seven hours there, and it was just the perfect amount of time, especially for those who have a tight Mexico City itinerary.
RELATED READING: A Complete Guide To Public Transport in Mexico City / Surviving Overnight Bus Travel in Mexico / Secrets of the Mexico City Metro (ALL COMING SOON)
From wherever you are in the city (unless you’re super far south, that is), the best way to get to the Central del Sur/ Tasqueña (Avenida Miguel Ángel de Quevedo, Coyoacán) bus station (the place where Estrella de Oro buses bound for Taxco leave) is by hopping on the Blue Line of the metro and going right down to the end station – Tasqueña.
Alternatively, an Uber isn’t too expensive if you’re staying closer to the south of the city and cba with the metro at 6am (a.k.a. me).
As for coming back, you’ll need to head to where the bus dropped you off, which is on a non-descript cobbled street outside Hotel De La Misión (De La Misión 32, Barrio de la Catarina, Taxco). There are combis that can take you there for 6 pesos. They should say zócalo on the windshield, and can be found on the street just left of the cathedral. Check with your driver that that’s where they’re heading first, though.