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The first sight of Taxco's (tahss-ko) white buildings scattered across the steep valley as you approach it is enough to take your breath away. Surrounded by dramatic mountains and cliffs, its perfectly preserved colonial architecture and the twin belfries of its baroque masterpiece, Templo de Santa Prisca, make for one of the most beguiling views anywhere in the central highlands.

Taxco, 160km southwest of Mexico City, has ridden waves of boom and bust associated with wealthy silver deposits discovered here in the 16th century and then repeatedly until the early 20th century. With its silver now almost depleted, Taxco thrives on tourism. As such, it’s a rare example of preservation-centric development in Mexico. Unlike many colonial-era towns, Taxco has not been engulfed by industrial suburbs, and new buildings must conform to the old in scale, style and materials. This preserves Taxco as a striking small city and one of the best weekend trips from the capital.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Taxco.