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Zacatecas, the capital of the state of the same name, is a city of 138,000 people (2020) in the Bajío region of Mexico. The town offers a rich travel experience with its historical downtown centro full of colonial architecture, 17th century churches, innovative restaurants and lively night clubs. Zacatecas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Cathedral of Zacatecas

Located in north-central Mexico, Zacatecas had its start as a Spanish mining camp in the mid-16th century, although Native Americans had already known about the area's rich deposits of silver and other minerals the rich deposits of silver and lead were discovered by the Spanish in the 1540s. Due to the wealth that the mines provided, Zacatecas quickly became one of the most important mining cities in New Spain. The area saw battles during the turbulent 19th century, and the city was held by the colonists during the Mexican War of Independence. It was also the site of a major battle known as the Battle of Zacatecas during the Mexican Revolution when Pancho Villa captured the town, an event still celebrated every anniversary. Today, the colonial part of the city is well preserved with a number of historic buildings. It is a World Heritage Site, due to the baroque churches and other structures built during its mining days. Mining remains an important industry.

The name Zacatecas is derived from the Zacateco people and has its roots in Nahuatl. The name means "people of the grasslands". In the pre-Colombian era, the area was inhabited several groups who were known collectively as the Chichimeca. These groups included Caxcans, Guachichils, Guamares, Huichols, and Zacatecos.

The climate is semi-arid with desert conditions in the nearby mountainous areas.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • 1 Zacatecas International Airport (ZCL  IATA General Leobardo C. Ruiz International Airport) (near Victor Rosales). Flights from Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Durango, Morelia, and Tijuana. There are also direct flights from the U.S. cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, and Houston. Once at the airport take a 20-min taxi ride to downtown. General Leobardo C. Ruiz International Airport (Q1927552) on Wikidata Zacatecas International Airport on Wikipedia

By car[edit]

You can check for shared rides on Blablacar, especially when coming from San Luis Potosi, León, Guadalajara or Aguascalientes. As of 2024, due to cartel violence in the region, you should avoid traveling to Zacatecas from Guadalajara/Jalisco and Durango by private vehicle (busses are fine).

By bus[edit]

  • 2 Central de Autobuses. Most major cities offer direct buses to Zacatecas, especially those cities located in Northern Mexico. If you are traveling by bus from Southern Mexico you may have to make a connection in Mexico City.

Get around[edit]

Walking is probably the best way to get around the Centro Historico (Historic Downtown) which is relatively small. It will allow you to see the city at your own pace. The Centro is about 8000 feet (2400 meters) while surrounding portions of the city are much higher. Be sure that you are acclimated to the altitude.

If you get tired, take a taxi cab. They are moderately priced and available all over the city. Just make sure you ask in advance to the taxi driver how much he will charge you (Cuanto cuesta ir a 'Insert place'?). As most prices in Mexico, taxi fares are open to negotiation and asking in advance should give you a better negotiating position. The ride-hailing services Uber and Didi are also readily available.

There is also the Maxibus, which will drive you around the city to show you the interesting sites. It costs M$100 (pesos) for adults and M$80 for minors (as of 2023), lasts about 45 minutes and leaves from the Plaza de Armas.


Centro Historico[edit]

Antigua Plaza de Toros San Pedro
Templo de Fatima

Nearly all of the city center buildings are nineteenth century or older; the topography and irregular street pattern (most streets are too steep and narrow for vehicles; many have steps in them) almost make one think of a medieval city like Toledo, Spain. The city, built on the site where silver was discovered in the 1530s, is crammed into a narrow canyon, with houses and churches perched on its nearly vertical walls.

The whole town is a museum; there are three seventeenth or eighteenth century ex-monasteries near the center, several other churches from the colonial era scattered here and there, and at least half a dozen other museums, nearly all worth visiting. Houses and streets, all of which built in colonial times are worth seeing on their own.

  • 1 Cathedral Basilica of Zacatecas (Catedral Basílica de la Asunción de María de Zacatecas), Av. Hidalgo 617. M-Sa 06:30-20:00 Su 06:30-21:45. One of the most beautiful examples of Churrigueresque arquitecture in Mexico. It is an elaborately carved red-stone (cantera) structure that was built between 1730 and 1760. It is flanked by two towers with an exuberant ornamentation and has a notable facade that was richly sculpted but its once decorated interior was looted during the civil wars of the 19th and 20th centuries. Its coupula was reconstructed in 1836 and imitates that one of the church of Nuestra Señora de Loreto in Mexico City. Zacatecas Cathedral (Q2942252) on Wikidata Cathedral Basilica of Zacatecas on Wikipedia
  • 2 Plaza de Armas. The square beside the Cathedral, interesting murals inside the government buildings, such as the Palacio de Gobierno.
  • 3 Church of Santo Domingo (Parroquia de Santo Domingo), Genaro Codina 722 (take the Veyna alley northwest from the Cathedral/Plaza de Armas). 09:00-17:00 daily. Built by the jesuits between 1746 and 1749, this church has a beautiful Baroque facade. Splendid gold wood-carved altarpieces, all of them churrigueresque, as well as 18th-century Francisco Antonio Vallejo paintings that represent scenes of The Passion, can be found inside.
  • 4 Ex Templo de San Agustín (Exconvento de San Augustín), Plazuela Miguel Auza. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. A former monastery from the 17th century. The main church is now used for conferences and cultural events; the monastery still houses the bishop's offices.
  • 5 Zacatecas Aqueduct (Acueducto Del Cubo). Constructed more than 250 years ago, the aqueduct runs through the heart of the city. (Q5657069) on Wikidata
  • 6 Antigua Plaza de Toros San Pedro (Quinta Real Zacatecas), Segunda de Palomares (adjacent to the aqueduct). This former bull ring has been converted into a luxury hotel. Enjoy a walk around the ring, and if you feel like splurging a bit enjoy lunch or dinner at the Hotel's restaurant, which has a commanding view of the ring.
  • 7 State Congress building (Congreso del Estado) (beside the Ex Templo de San Agustín). A church that now houses the Zacatecas state legislature.
  • 8 Teatro Calderón, Av. Hidalgo 501 (beside the Mercado González Ortega). Impressive facade. Teatro Fernando Calderón (Q15139996) on Wikidata
  • 9 Jardín Juárez (beside the University Museum). Beautiful small park beside a lovely square.
  • 10 Alameda Trinidad García de la Cadena. A garden walk in the central city. During the month of April musicians play live music beginning in the early morning.
  • 11 Sierra de Alica Park (Parque General Enrique Estrada). Beautiful park beside the aqueduct and the Templo de Fátima. Contains a beautiful fountain, a band stand and a number of places to sit and relax or have an enjoyable stroll.
  • 12 Templo de Fátima (Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Fátima), De Fátima 110. Impressive neo-gothic temple located on a hill above the Sierra de Alica Park. Our Lady of Fatima Church, Zacatecas city, Zacatecas state, Mexico (Q16638473) on Wikidata
  • 13 Fuente de los Faroles (Fountain of Lanterns), Tacuba, Centro. The centerpiece of a traffic roundabout is a beautifully ornate fountain with wrought iron lamp fixtures. Cobblestone streets lined with quaint shops, restaurants, and colonial hotels attract tourists and locals alike. At night, the streets are softly lit, giving it the feeling of the late 19th century.


Museo Francisco Goitia
  • 14 Museo Rafael Coronel (Ex Convento de San Francisco), S. Francisco S/N, +52 492 922 8116. Set in a partially restored convent dating back to the 16th-17th centuries, this museum houses a large and diverse collection of masks drawn from several regions of Mexico and from other cultures around the world. Masks from different regions and eras are grouped together by themes and uses, including masks used in Carnival and in religious pageants, such as those commemorating the Reconquista. Particularly interesting is the alternate incorporation and subversion of pre-Hispanic symbols. The Diablo room is not to be missed. The museum is extensive and although most famous for its masks, it houses more than 16,000 other pieces of folk art (obviously not all on display). Portions of the convent grounds that could not be restored have been converted into a garden, with crumbling walls, standing arches and greenery. The museum was established by surrealist artist Rafael Coronel and does include some of the artist's works. M$30.
  • 15 Museo Pedro Coronel. Located next to the "Santo Domingo" church, it houses a colonial-era library and a large eclectic collection of European, African, American, and Mexican art.
  • 16 Museum of Modern Art Manuel Felguerez (Museo de Arte Abstracto Manuel Felguerez), +52 492 924 3705. W-M 10:00-17:00. One of the best museums in Zacatecas. The large building, which once housed a Seminar and later a prison, now houses a large collection of Abstract paintings and Sculptures. The museum was restored in a minimalistic aesthetic, complementing the more than 100 works by Felguérez as well as works by more than 110 other artists from around the world. The room housing the murals that Felguérez made for the Mexican Pavilion at the Osaka World's Exhibition of 1970 is breathtaking and one of the highlights of the Museum's collection.
  • 17 Museo Francisco Goitia, Enrique Estrada 102, +52 492 922 0211. Tu-Su 10:00-16:45. Showcases artworks of contemporary artists from the Zacatecas region. M$30.
  • 18 Museo Zacatecano (Casa de Moneda), Dr. Hierro No. 301, +52 492 922 6580. W-M 10:00-17:00. A museum located across the street from San Augustín with exhibitions all about Zacatecas, notable residents and its long history. Of note is a large section of exhibits, crafts, and other artifacts belonging to the Huichol culture, whose members still maintain a pre-Columbian lifestyle in the mountains between Zacatecas and Nayarit. M$30.

La Bufa[edit]

Pancho Villa statue

The Cerro de la Bufa, a mountain with a very distinctive shape, is in the center of the city and, along with the cathedral, is the city's most recognizable landmark. The best way to get to the top is using the Teleferico (Cable Car) which takes you from the Cerro del Grillo (Cricket’s Hill) to the top of La Bufa. Once at the top of la Bufa, you can enjoy some of the best views the city has to offer, and don’t forget to visit:

  • 19 Museo de la Toma de Zacatecas, +52 492 922 8066. Houses weapons, documents, photos, and other artifacts relating to this decisive battle of the Mexican Revolution. The Battle of Zacatecas took place on June 23, 1914 when the Division del Norte under the command of Pancho Villa won a decisive victory over the federal army led by General Luis Medina Barrón. The battle led to the resignation of President Huerta. Adults M$12, children free.
  • 20 Statues of Pancho Villa and his Lieutenants.
  • 21 Shrine of Our Lady of Patronage (Santuario de Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio). M-Sa 09:00-17:00 Su 07:00-18:00. Built in 1728.
  • 22 View from the summit of la Bufa. You can hike to the summit of la Bufa, which is indicated by the very large cross. It is not too hard to get to, and the route is fairly obvious. It becomes a bit of a scramble towards the top, and be careful coming down. The view is amazing. Bufa (Q2481092) on Wikidata Bufa Hill on Wikipedia
  • 23 Mausoleo de las Personas Ilustres de Zacatecas (Mausoleum of the Illustrious Persons of Zacatecas). Nothing very exciting about this structure unless you are extremely interested in researching the history of the city, but since you are up there why not spend a few minutes here?


La Quemada
  • 24 Museum of Guadalupe (Museo de Guadalupe) (8 km (5 mi) away, in Guadalupe, Zacatecas), . Tu-Su 10:00-16:00. Occupies the Franciscan monastery from which missionaries were sent out to christianize the inhabitants of Texas, New Mexico, and California – it was the mother of the Spanish missions in the United States. Much of the old monastery is a museum of colonial religious art, paintings by Indians trained in the European tradition. The paintings are amazing, and the architecture of the cloisters, the church and the Capilla de Napoli is unforgettable. M$65.
  • 25 Museo Comunitario de Zóquite (Museo Ecoturistico), Santa Cruz 46, Zóquite, Guadalupe, Zacatecas (13 km (8 mi) east of Zacatecas), . Showcases Pleistocene megafauna fossils from the region.
  • 26 Ex-Hacienda de Trancoso, Hidalgo 34, Trancoso, Zacatecas (29 km (12 mi) east of Zacatecas). An impressive former hacienda that was charged with supplying the city of Zacatecas with meat and grain during the 18th century. Note that as of 2024 it is closed to the public and only visible from the outside.
  • 27 La Quemada (53 km (34 mi) south of Zacatecas). 09:00-17:00 daily. Archeological ruins of mysterious origin. There is an on-site museum that provides a panoramic view of the ruins. M$70. La Quemada (Q2112520) on Wikidata La Quemada on Wikipedia


The Teleférico
  • 1 Teleférico (cable car). 10:00-18:00 daily. Passing high above the city center, it travels 650 m from the lower part of Cerro del Grillo to the northern end of Cerro de La Bufa. Single/return ticket: adult M$100/160, child M$50/80.
  • 2 Mina El Edén, Antonio Dovali Jaime S/N, +52 492 922 3002, . 10:00-18:00 daily. This old silver mine in downtown Zacatecas closed in 1960 and was re-opened as a historical site and museum in the mid-1970s. The tourist facilities were extensively updated in the mid 2000s and today El Eden is Mexico's largest and most popular mine tour. You can go into some of the mine shafts where there are depictions of mining activities and an underground mining train. Theres an on-site nightclub that's open on weekends and a big rocks and minerals museum featuring a collection donated by Juan Manuel Navarro. If there's ever a cave-in, don't count on Superman to come save you — the museum has a kryptonite display! M$150 adults, M$80 under 11 years old, M$120 students, M$80 seniors.
  • 3 Callejoneada. A walking party around downtown's distinctive "callejones" (narrow streets or alleys) complete with live music and a donkey loaded with free Mezcal. Usually everybody is welcomed to join and most likely you won't be the only tourist joining the entourage. Callejoneadas typically begin from the Plaza de Armas.


Zacatecas is a city that loves to celebrate and you'll find a number of cultural festivals taking over the city streets throughout the year.

  • Festival Cultural de Zacatecas happens every year during the week before Easter Sunday (known as Semana Santa). This is a huge event with more than 100 attractions including popular music concerts every night. Some concerts may be regional Mexican music while others may include rock, pop, rap, and reggaeton. There are cultural shows and kid-friendly events as well as carnival rides, midway games, and plenty of food and drink.
  • Feria Nacional de Zacatecas happens throughout the month of September with events taking place at the foot of Cerro de la Bufa. Events include livestock exhibitions, bullfighting, charreadas, concerts, a craft fair and an auto show. This is a huge event that attracts about 2 million visitors to the city each September. The main concert hall is an intimate venue seating just 5,000 fans despite hosting some of the biggest stars in latin music.
  • Festival Zacatecas del Folclor Internacional celebrates historical and indigenous cultural traditions. It happens the first week of August.
  • Morismas de Bracho is a re-enactment of the decapitation of John the Baptist and the Christian battles against the Moors. About 5,000 costumed players take part in the event, which focuses on the roles of Charlemagne, Mohamed and John the Baptist. The re-enactment takes place in El Bracho Park.


Mercado González Ortega

Sitting atop one of the foremost silver-producing regions in the word, Zacatecas is obviously a great place to buy silver. For traditional crafts, seek out pitiado, in which leather artifacts are beautifully hand-embroidered in complicated designs using pita thread.

  • 1 Mercado González Ortega. M 09:00-21:00 Tu-Su 09:00-20:30. Mainly a collection of your typical tourist shops, but there is one shop that sells native Huichol artifacts, some of which can be relatively hard to find elsewhere.
  • 2 Centro Platero de Zacatecas (inside the Ex-Hacienda de Bernardez community in the neighboring city of Guadalupe), +52 492 899 4503, . M-Sa 09:00-18:00. A collection of silver shops within the former silver-processing hacienda, where mercury-based enrichment (developed in Zacatecas and adopted throughout the world) was used for more than a century to get metallic silver from ore. The State of Zacatecas today still mines about half the world's silver, though the mines under the city are abandoned because of the danger of using explosives in an urban area.


Zacatecas is blessed with some outstanding restaurants serving a wide range of traditional Mexican dishes, including regional variations that an epicurious traveler will seek out since they are rarely cooked in other regions, let alone outside Mexico. The most famous local dish is asado de boda, a type of mole with an orange flavor. Asado de boda can be served over various types of meat, but chicken is most common. The state of Jalisco is most famous for birria, a delicious stew that's typically made with lamb, though in Zacatecas, it's made with goat and is called birria de chivo. Birrieria Don Polo serves some of the city's best birria de chivo.


  • 1 Birrieria Don Polo, Mercado Arroyo de la Plata. Small food vendor in the town market, known for over 50 years for their distinctive birria de chivo (goat stew). Grab a bowl of birria, served with tortillas, or you can get it drained of liquid and served as a taco. M$150.
  • 2 Rincon Vegetariano Om Burger, Calle Elías Amador 207, +52 492 134-7451. Haré Krishna vegetarian restaurant one block from Alameda. Mixture of Mexican, Chinese and Indian fares. Closed Sunday.
  • 3 Minas Papas, Guerrero 105. French fries. M$45-85 depending on toppings.
  • 4 Villasunción, Allende 114.
  • 5 La Fonda De Los Deseos, Guerrero 123.
  • 6 Lxs De Abajo Restaurant-Bar, Av. Juárez 415.
  • 7 Rincon Tipico, Crucero del Moral 103 Esquina de Rayon y, De Quiano.
  • 8 La Toska, Av. Hidalgo 702.
  • 9 Tacos Envenenados "El Minero", Justo Sierra 210. Very simple, very crispy tacos.


Zacatecan enchiladas from Acropolis Café
  • 10 Los Dorados de Villa, Plazuela de García 1314, +52 492 922 5722. One of the best spots for enjoying a traditional dinner. Expect a little wait as the place is popular and small.
  • 11 Acropolis Café Y Restaurante, Hidalgo s/n (Across the way from Rinconada de Catedral in the Centro Historico)), +52 492 922 1284. 08:00-22:00 daily. A good bet for tourists who want a conventional breakfast, if you can find a seat. Founded as a small cafe in 1938. Back in the days it used to be a hotspot for dignitaries, celebrities and artists visiting the city, evidence of whose passage line the walls, although these days it has more of a charmless chain-restaurant feel. That said, the Italian-style coffee is quite nice, and the huevos rancheros come recommended.
  • 12 El Barretero, Nueva Celaya 102 (away from the center (on the other side of the railroad)). has excellent food and usually live music (strings, piano, Mexican popular music, not mariachi). Try the cabrito (baby goat).
  • 13 La Traviata, De Cuevas 109. Good Italian fare in the shopping district.
  • 14 La Leyenda (on the way to the Rafael Coronel museum coming from the Cathedral), +52 492 922 3853, . Tu-Su 09:30-21:30. This restaurant could more aptly be described as an art museum and gallery where you can share a meal and drinks. It's a place of culture, dreams, and nightmares. There's some beautiful pieces of Huichol art, devil masks, paper maché demons and dragons to name but a few of the kinds of works found here. It is an experience, with nearly every surface is a piece of art. The owner and collector is there most evenings and is very approachable. And he welcomes people to come and view the massive collection. M$100-300.


View from the Quinta Real Restaurant
  • 15 Garufa, Jdn. Juárez 135, +52 492 924 2910. Argentinian restaurant with beautiful view of the Jardín Juárez. M$200-400.
  • 16 Quinta Real Restaurant, Segunda de Palomares. Restaurant is inside the Quinta Real hotel which is the old bullring of San Pedro. The restaurant is on the balcony of the rotation of the bullring, which has been turned into a beautiful colonial patio. Stone pavement and adorned style with abundant flowers combine with the meal to make this a unique restaurant. English menus are available by request.


Mezcal (tequila is a variety of mezcal): Zacatecano and Huitzila are some traditional local brands. Avoid anything that doesn't say 100% agave (that includes Cuervo Gold).


  • 1 Meowka-Café (Cat Café), Av. Rayon 206. Tu-Su 12:00-21:00. A cat cafe! Sit with your coffee and play with friendly cats.


There are many bars along the streets near the Jardín Juárez, including outdoor seating at various watering holes lining the Plazuela Miguel Auza.

  • 2 Cantina Las Quince Letras, Mártires de Chicago 309. M 14:00-00:00 Tu 14:00-00:30 W 13:00-00:30 Th-Sa 14:00-00:30. Locally famous, one of the oldest cantinas in the city, founded in 1900. Great place to soak up local ambience while admiring the cantina's impressive art collection.
  • 3 Juan Monedas Karaoke Bar, Av. Hidalgo 114. M-Sa 18:00-01:30. A typical Mexican karaoke bar with respectable drink prices.
  • 4 La Casa del Artista, De García Rojas 102-A (north of the Parroquia de Santo Domingo). Bar with a great view of the city and loud jukebox music.


  • 5 La Mina Club. Sa 21:00-2:00 (nightclub) Th-F 16:00-23:00 (bar only). A nightclub located inside the silver mine. Although not many locals frequent the spot, it is fun to go once just to experience the world's only nightclub inside a mine.



  • 1 Cielito De María Hostal, Aguascalientes 213. Probably the best you're going to get in terms of hostels in Zacatecas as of 2024, although it's nothing particularly special. Excellent location right beside the cathedral. Only the 8-bed dormitory has exterior windows; all other rooms are interior facing. Dorm beds are M$240/night, private rooms from $M580/night.
  • 2 Hostal Rada, De Nolasco 204. A rather unclean hostel, although the prices are good. M$350/night for a private room.
  • 3 Hotel Maria Benita, Av. Lopez Velarde #319-21, +1 492 922 4858, toll-free: +1 800 714 4144, . Comfortable but not expensive, located midway between downtown and the university campus. If you get a street-side room you may see parades, protests, and other local activities from your window. M$600/night.
  • 4 Hotel Terraza Castro, Aguascalientes 229, +52 492 154 7920. Very basic hotel but in an excellent location near the cathedral and with a rooftop terrace with a gorgeous view. M$600/night.
  • 5 Hotel La Central, +52 492 922 0032, . Right beside the central bus station, handy if you don't want to go further for a room. A bit too basic for the price, however. M$690/night.


  • 6 Hotel Misión Argento Zacatecas, Av. Hidalgo 407, +52 492 925 1718. Located in the heart of the centro historico. Rooms start around M$1000/night, cheaper if you book online.
  • 7 Hotel La Finca del Minero, C. Segunda de Matamoros 212, +52 492 925 0310. Located at the north of the centro historico. Older building that borders on charming/dilapidated. Parking available, though limited space. From M$920/night.
  • 8 Hotel Mesón de la Merced, Av. Juárez 114, +52 492 922 6370. Central location with parking and an indoor pool. From M$900/night.


  • 9 Quinta Real Zacatecas, Av. Ignacio Rayón 434. For something more upscale, try the Quinta Real, a truly unique property which was the town's plaza de toros before it was turned into a luxury inn. Rooms start at M$2600/night.

Stay safe[edit]

As of 2024, despite blanket warnings about Zacatecas State from the U.S. and Canadian governments, Zacatecas city is safe for tourists. Some other towns and villages in the state of Zacatecas are not, however. Driving in a private vehicle between Zacatecas city and the states of Jalisco or Durango should generally be avoided – tourists have been murdered on rural Zacatecan highways. This does not apply to busses – traveling by bus in any direction across the state is safe.


Telcel provides 4G coverage throughout the city. As of 2024, 5G has not yet reached Zacatecas.

Due to the age and construction of most of the buildings in the city, wifi coverage can be spotty in hotels unless the proprietor has put significant effort into boosting the signal.

Go next[edit]

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