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Mexico: Colonial and silver towns

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Northwest of Mexico City lie ranges of gnarled, humpy but starkly beautiful hills. Here, and in the bountiful valleys of the Bajío, Spanish colonists built fortunes from the mining of precious metals, especially silver. Prosperous towns sprang up which share a heritage of baroque churches, leafy squares and pastel-washed houses. Each has its own character: the university town Guanajuato, 2,000m, built in a narrow gorge, is a centre for music, theatre and dance, while the homely yet international little town of San Miguel de Allende, 1,900m, is a magnet for artists. Morelia, 1,920m, shows off some of the grandest monumental colonial architecture, and Querétaro, 1,820m, is renowned for its impressive colonial aqueduct.

Just an hour's drive south of Mexico City is Puebla, 2,135m, a large city with an imposing colonial core reflecting its importance as a trading post during the era of the Spanish Empire. It's a great base for visits to the indigenous towns of Cholula and Tlaxcala.    

Our holidays to Colonial and silver towns

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Mexico colonial towns road

Self-drive Mexico: Colonial cities to Pacific coast

Private journey

12 days from £2,772pp

Colourful mexican food

Mexican street food

Private journey

10 days from £1,751pp

Things to do in Colonial and silver towns

Taxco

Visit Taxco, silver town

Guanajuato

Walking Tour of Guanajuato


Visit Taxco and Cuernavaca

Visit Taxco and Cuernavaca silver towns

Skulls

Visit Patzcuaro and Lake Janitzio

Our insider tips for Colonial and silver towns

Rafe Stone

Rafe Stone

Driving through the tunnels linking the various quarters of Guanajauto is like playing 3-dimensional chess. These tunnels were the ancient silver mines.  Signing up for a Spanish, cookery or art course in San Miguel de Allende - there are plenty of culturally interesting things to do set up by its large expatriate community.
Ben Line

Ben Line

Wandering the streets of Querétaro at night, when the pretty plazas and baroque architectural masterpieces are illuminated.

Alex Walker

Alexandra Walker

Heading a bit further afield to visit Pátzcuaro, where the central plaza has been voted the prettiest in Mexico, and its eponymous lake, where fishermen use their famous butterfly-shaped nets.

Chris

Chris Rendell-Dunn

If silver fascinates you, head to hillside Taxco, 170km southwest of Mexico City, a delightful, unspoilt little colonial town with locally crafted handmade silver jewellery on sale. 

What our experts say

It's easy to visit the string of gorgeous Spanish colonial towns in the Mexican highlands but I was impressed by how different they are from one another. The grandiose architecture of Morelia, the University and theatre vibe of Guanajuato, the arty expat community of San Miguel de Allende: all well worth a visit, and from there a Pacific coast beach wind down is the obvious next step!  

Hannah

Hannah Donaldson

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