Zacatecas (city)

Travel Guide North America Mexico Zacatecas Zacatecas



Zacatecas is a beautiful colonial city tucked into a very narrow valley. The city streets twist and turn in every direction, leading to small plazas here and there fronted by grand, intricate cathedrals. A cable car atop the ridges of the hills spans the valley below and a ride guarantees a dizzying view of the rooftops and narrow streets of Zacatecas.

This prosperous city can easily be compared to it's more famous counterpart, Guanajuato. Both cities made their fortune below ground - large veins of lucrative silver ready to be exploited. Today, the silver trade has been replaced by the tourist trade and Zacatecas certainly offers intrepid travellers a pleasant alternative to Guanajuato, lacking the crowds but offering enough charm to hold it's own. Independent travellers are increasingly making their way to this gem of a city.



Sights and Activities

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.

  • Main Cathedral - This pink sandstone structure took 25 years to build. Located on the south side of Plaza de Armas, this Mexican baroque structure overwhelms with intricate detail both inside and out. The facade is lit up each night, giving the cathedral a wonderful sense of being and brilliance. This is a focal point of and for Zacatecas, and for good reason.
  • Church of Santo Domingo - Almost in front of the cathedral, on one of the corners of the Plaza de Armas, the Veyna alley lies, leading to the church of Santo Domingo that was built by the jesuits between 1746 and 1749 and has a beautiful Baroque facade. Splendid gold wood-carved altarpieces, all of them churrigueresque, and Francisco Antonio Vallejo paintings (18th century) that represent scenes of The Passion can be found inside.
  • Cerro de la Bufa simply looms over the city of Zacatecas; not only is this the best place to enjoy lofty views of the city, this is also a great place to surround yourself in Mexican history. In 1914 a decisive battle was fought on the slopes of Cerro de la Bufa against the forces of President Victoriano Huerta's forces and those of Pancho Villas famous revolutionary Division del Norte. Pancho Villas's forces won the day and this victory gave them control of Zacatecas and provided a clear path to Mexico City to the south.
  • Manuel Felguérez Museum contains a large collection of abstract art by the namesake and other artists covering three generations. One exhibition is the "Murals of Osaka" created in 1969 when Fernando Gamboa was commissioned to archive Mexico's pavilion at the World's Fair in Osaka in 1970. Since the event, the murals remained stored for decades until this permanent exhibition was installed. Artists represented include Lilia Carrillo, Francisco Corzas, Roger Van Gunten and Francisco Icasa. It includes permanent workshop space for etching, an auditorium and exhibition halls. Its building dates from the 18th century, which was the site of the Seminario Conciliar, and later a barracks and penitentiary.
  • Museo Rafael Coronel is named after the brother of Pedro Coronel, is housed in eight halls of the monastery complex which was part of the Church of San Francisco. This museum is dedicated to historic relics with the main collection being 5,000 masks made of wood. leather and clay coming from many of Mexico's regional cultures, past and present. Many represent historic and supernatural figures. It also contains drawings and sketches by Diego Rivera. In the halls dedicated to the colonial period, there is a set of terracotta figures from the 17th and 18th centuries and in the Rosete Aranda Hall there is a collection of puppets from Burma, Indonesia and China. There is also a collection of masks and puppets which belonged to one of the most important theatrical companies in 20th-century Mexico. This museum was begun when Rafael donated 10,764 pieces from his own collection to the city of Zacatecas.
  • Teleférico - This cable car spans the valley that contains the city of Zacatecas. This is the easiest (and best) way to get to Cerro de la Bufa and the views of the city below simply cannot be beat. The Teleférico leaves every 15 minutes (in good weather) and the entire journey lasts about 8 minutes. Most people make this a one-way journey to get to Cerro de la Bufa and choose to walk back into Zacatecas from there.
  • Zacatecano Museum is on Doctor Hierro Street and houses a collection of Huichol art, folk retablos (ex-votos) (folk paintings giving thanks for a miracle) and wrought ironwork. This building used to be the Casa de Moneda (coin mint) between 1802 and 1905.
  • El Edén Mine began operations in 1586 and principally produced gold and silver. According to legend the devil is supposed to be found in this parts due to the sound made when the wind whistles around the rocks. While operations began in the 16th century, its peak was reached in the 17th and 18th centuries. Despite the fact that there is still a significant amount of minerals left to extract, mining operations ceased in 1960, because the entrance is located in the middle of the city making this too hazardous. In 1975, the mine was converted into a tourist attraction. Today, visitors can take a small train which leads into the mountain for about a half a kilometer, then walk with a guide along some of the narrow passages. One of the things to see is an altar to the Santo Niño de Atocha. At night, the former rock crushing room of the mine has been converted into a nightclub.



Events and Festivals

Needing no date or special reason for celebration are the "callejoneadas" or alleyway parties. These are considered to be a traditional form of nightlife in which one can dance, sing and drink mezcal or beer-based punch called "heribertas" for free. According to tradition, these parties were begun by a college student named Heriberto, whose last name has been lost. They are most commonly held at the end of the school year, but no reason is needed to hold one. Most callejoneadas form in front of the Palacio de Gobierno, where a "tambora" band or other type of band, a group of revelers and a donkey carrying jugs of "heribertas" gather.The donkey is often painted or otherwise decorated. The party then winds its way around the narrow streets and alleys of the city, with people drinking the heribertos from little jars called jarritos. Most of the revelers are students but all are welcome to join.

Local Festivals and Events

  • Festival Cultural de Zacatecas is held each year in the city during Holy Week, which unites artists of different genres from classic to rock and offers visitors more than 130 attractions. Some of the artists have included La Barranca, Real de Catorce, blues singer Betsy Pecannins and singer Vicky Carr. There are also theatrical events and events for children. About 90% of the events are free. The event is organized by the state of Zacatecas with support from the Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas.
  • Feria Nacional de Zacatecas s held during the month of September at the foot of the Cerro de la Bufa. It includes concerts, bullfighting, events at the Foro Infantil, crafts expositions as well as exhibitions of livestock, autos and culture. The annual event began in 1940 and received more than two million visitors each year since 2002. The main concert hall for the event has a capacity of 5,000 and has hosted names such as Vicente Fernández, Alejandra Guzmán, Rocío Dúrcal, Rio Roma, and Ha-Ash. It has exhibition and sales of crafts, livestock and food. Other events include charreadas and bullfighting. The evening has folkloric dance and fireworks.
  • Virgin of Zacatecas and the feast of the Virgin del Patrocinio. Activities associated with these events include parades with floats, musical concerts, bullfighting, processions and other religious events. The Virgin of Zacatecas is housed in a chapel built in 1728 and regularly receives visitors from the city and other areas. The Virgin of Patrocinio, whose day is September 14, celebrates one of the most celebrated images in the Zacatecas area. This event lasts for ten days with traditional dances, processions and more. This feast coincides with the Feria Nacional de Zacatecas and Mexico's Independence Day. On Good Friday, a large procession called the "Procession of Silence" is held.
  • Morismas de Bracho. This is held during the last 3 days of August. This event involves approximately 5,000 people in costume who commemorate the decapitation of John the Baptist and the struggle of Christians against the Moors, with the principal players representing Charlemagne, Mohamed and John the Baptist. The staging occurs at El Bracho Park, behind the Cerro de la Bufa and ends with the decapitation of Mohamed.

Day of the Dead

Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries other than Mexico (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexico where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.

Other Events and Festivals

Grito de la Independencia - September 15th is Mexican Independence Day! A massive celebration involving plenty of singing, dancing and fireworks takes place in the Zócalo. Everyone here awaits an appearance from Mexico's president who rings a bell from a central balcony of the Palacio Nacional overlooking the Zócalo. The president then shouts out the Grito de Dolores, or the Cry of Dolores which was Father Hidalgo's famous call to arms against Spanish rule in 1810.

  • Dia de la Candelaria. Candlemas is held February 2nd and commemorates Jesus being introduced into the temple 40 days after his birth. This nationwide celebration sees many different ways of celebrating and many towns hold processions, bullfights and dances. Of course, plenty of delicious, traditional foods are served during Dia de la Candelaria as well.
  • Carnaval is held in late February or early March throughout all of Mexico. This big party is meant to celebrate the 40 day penance of Lent. Carnaval always takes place during the week or so prior to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Sunday. Mexicans celebrate this holiday with fireworks, food, dancing, parades, dancing and drinking.
  • Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a huge celebration which starts on Palm Sunday. This is a very popular time for Mexicans to take a short break; as a result, it seems most of the country is on the move, with buses and hotels often booked out. As for the celebration of Semana Santa, expect colorful processions and many masses at churches everywhere.
  • Día de Nuestra Seňora de Guadalupe, or Day of our Lady of Guadalupe, is held December 12th. There is a week-long build up to this religious celebration in honour of the Virgin who appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego in the year 1531. Since then, the Lady of Guadalupe has been Mexico's religious patron and her veneration is very significant. It is traditional for young boys to be dressed as a Juan Diego and for young girls to be dressed in indigenous garb and brought to a special mass, held at many churches throughout the country.
  • New Year's Eve. Mexicans celebrate New Year's Eve or locally known as Año Nuevo, by downing a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. Mexican families decorate homes and parties, during New Year's, with colors such as red, to encourage an overall improvement of lifestyle and love, yellow to encourage blessings of improved employment conditions, green to improve financial circumstances and white to improved health. Mexican sweet bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden in the dough. When the bread is served, the recipient whose slice contains the coin or charm is believed to be blessed with good luck in the new year. One can expect a lot of firecrackers, fireworks and sparklers being fired. At midnight there is a lot of noise and everyone shouts: "Feliz año nuevo!" People embrace, make noise, set off firecrackers, and sing Auld Lang Syne.
  • Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. The victory of the smaller Mexican force against a larger French force was a boost to morale for the Mexicans. A year after the battle, a larger French force defeated Zaragoza at the Second Battle of Puebla, and Mexico City soon fell to the invaders.




The climate of Zacatecas is cool semi-arid (BSk, according to the Köppen climate classification), with an average annual temperature of 15.7 °C (60 °F). Freezing temperatures are not uncommon, especially in January and February. During the winter of 2017 - 2018, Zacatecas municipality reached temperatures that haven´t been reached in several years as 10 °F or -12 °C with a wind chill of 3 °F or -16 °C, although the coldest temperature occurred in Fresnillo which its another city close to Zacatecas city, where the mercury dropped to 3 °F or -15 °C with a wind chill of -2 °F or -20 °C. Most rain falls between June and October, and there is a defined winter.[1] Principal wild vegetation is that adapted to dry areas such as nopals, mesquite, maguey and grasses, with pines and holm oaks in the higher elevations. Wildlife includes coyotes, grey foxes, bobcats, opossums, rabbits, raccoons, other small mammals was well as variety of small birds and reptiles.



Getting There

By Plane

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

By Train

There is a rail line called the "Ferrocarril Central" that still connects the city with other parts such as Ciudad Juárez and Mexico City.

By Car

By highway, Zacatecas is connected to Aguascalientes via Fed 45, to San Luis Potosí via Federal Highway 49, Federal Highway 23 to Guadalajara and Torreón and Federal Highway 54 to Guadalajara and Saltillo.

By Bus

For an overview of schedules and connections, check Also check out



Getting Around

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 2,400 metres 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. As most prices in Mexico, taxi fares are open to negotiation and asking in advance should give you a better negotiating position. There is also the Maxibus and Tren Zacatecano which will drive you around the city to show you the interesting sites. Both cost M$40 (pesos) for adults and M$30 for reductions, last about 45 minutes and leave from the Plaza de Armas.




  • Mercado el Laberinto, located at Plazuela Genaro Codina, is the place to go for a big bowl of the local specialty - pozole. This stew is made from either red or green chile peppers, assorted spices, shredded pork and large corn kernels, or hominy. The cheapest and best place to get a steaming bowl of pozole is at the no nonsense comedors that are set up in the markets. These basic eateries sell wholesome meals cheap.
  • Panificadora Santa Cruz, Tacuba 216. Telephone: 925-48-00. This bakery is full of wonderful sweet treats like palmiers, concha rolls, biscuits, cakes and great coffee to go with it. Grab a tray, fill it with the pastries you want and queue up to pay. This popular spot is located behind the Cathedral.
  • 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.
  • Café Neveria Acrópolis, Hidalgo s/n (Across the way from Rinconada de Catedral in the Centro Historico)), ☎ +52 492 922 1284. A good bet for tourists who want a conventional breakfast, if you can find a seat. 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. The Italian-style coffee is quite nice, and the huevos rancheros come recommended.
  • Mi Pueblito is a nice traditional Mexican restaurant near the Cathedral and recommended by locals. It is located inside of a shopping plaza just to the northeast of a Mercado building.
  • El Barretero is away from the center (on the other side of the railroad), but has excellent food and usually live music (strings, piano, Mexican popular music, not mariachi). Try the cabrito (baby goat).
  • Hacienda Del Cobre (House of the Coopper Kettle) Traditional Mexican fare. Serves fantastic molcajete, a type of stew made of a variety of ingredients such as chilis, chicken, pork, steak, avocados, cheese. Served in a hot from the fire molcajete bowl (mortar).
  • Las Costillas de Sancho (The Ribs of Sancho) Serves beef bibs and great steaks. Relaxing atmosphere with well stocked central bar. English menus are available by request.
  • Vips - Mexican version of Denny's. Owned by the Walmart company. Serves American-style breakfast and Tex-Mex versions of traditional Mexican dishes. English menus are available by request.
  • Quinta Real 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.
  • La Traviata - Good Italian fare in the shopping district.
  • La Mayora, Plaza Goitya 104, ☎ +52 4929225571. A rock and roll bar.
  • 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.




Zacatecano and Huitzila are some traditional local Mezcal brands. Avoid anything that doesn't say 100% agave (that includes Cuervo Gold).




  • Hostal Villa Colonial, Calle Primero de mayo No. 201, ☎ +52 492 925 0749. The family-run Hostel Villa Colonial located on Calle 1 de mayo behind the Cathedral is the best value in town. It is in a beautiful colonial building and the large rooftop terrace has a breathtaking view of the cathedral. Although a hostel, it also has private rooms some of which also have a beautiful view. The owners provide excellent advice and really know the town. Kitchen use. Internet free but a wee bit unreliable. Dorms from M$100. It's a basic place but don't be put off by the rather sleazy looking 'reception' area.
  • Hostal Las Margaritas - Recommended by Seth Kugel from the Frugal Traveler column of the New York Times ", this family-run hostel is a great value at US$14 a night. Calle 2da de Las Margaritas #105.
  • Hostal Don David, ☎ +52 9200 9224859. Just around the corner of Hostel Villa Colonial, Calle del Obrador 204, Rigoberto o Violeta, is a bit less comfortable. Dorms from M$90. Internet M$7/h.
  • Hotel La Central - Right beside the central bus station, handy if you don't want to go further for a room. Internet available. Rooms are M$380.
  • Juvenil Villa Deportiva (1 & 2) Zacatecas has two institutional-style youth hostels. Each has about 100 beds and caters to youth groups, although anyone is welcome to stay. Cost is US$2/night.
  • Hotel Maria Benita, Av. Lopez Velarde #319-21. 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.
  • Quinta Real Zacatecas, Av. Ignacio Rayón 434. For something a little more upscale, try the Quinta Real, which was the town's plaza de toros before it was turned into a luxury inn.



Keep Connected


Internet cafe's are widely available and you generally can find one in the direct vicinity. Sometimes photocopy stores or photo processing stores will double as an internet cafe with a couple of computers. Look for signs reading "Acceso a Internet" or "Cibernautica" or "Cibercafe". Charges range from approx. US$1 an hour to US$3 an hour, depending on the location.


See also International Telephone Calls

Phone cards can be purchased anywhere and are needed for the majority of public phones. To call any number outside your region you have to dial 01 then followed by the area code. If calling a cellphone from a normal phone start with with 044. If calling cellphone to cellphone just dial the 10-digit number. To make an international call dial 00 followed by the country code then the local number. To call to Mexico, also dial 00 (most of the times) followed by the national code 52.


The Mexican postal service is operated by Correos de México. The post service in Mexico is pretty good although not very cheap. It is reliable regarding the sending of postcards, but it takes at least a week to send it to other countries (US/Canada), more so if you send it to Europe or Australia. For packages it is better to use international services like FedEx or UPS. If you are sending a package internationally with the Mexican postal service, take the package OPEN to the post office, they may want to inspect it. Seal it up at the post office. Post offices typically open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 1:00pm Saturday. You will find post offices (Oficina de Correos) is almost any town or city in Mexico. To buy stamps it is best to go to the post office, although you can also get them at stamp machines, located outside the post offices, at bus stations, airports and some commercial establishments.


Zacatecas (city) Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Zacatecas (city)

This is version 13. Last edited at 2:42 on May 22, 19 by road to roam. 5 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License