Although Zacatecas (whose altitude "peaks," as it were, at 8,649 feet above sea level) was once the world's largest silver-producing city, it's relatively undiscovered by foreign tourists. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, this extraordinary town is often labeled the "pink city," since most of its 17th- and 18th-century buildings were built of local pink limestone.

As a state capital with a population of just 135,000, Zacatecas toes the line between city and town. There are some good restaurants and museums, and nightlife includes partying in an old silver mine deep underground. Each year during the Festival Cultural de Zacatecas, the city comes alive with dance, theater, music, and art.

Most town-center attractions are accessible on foot, although you may want a taxi to visit farther-flung sights like the Cerro de la Bufa, a dramatic limestone outcropping visible from most strategic points in town. There's an efficient and inexpensive bus system with clearly marked buses and MX$5 rides. The city's principal avenues, such as López Velarde and González Ortega, often change names as they proceed through the town, and the traffic is divided by islands decorated with carved limestone vases and lampposts, occasional statues, and ornate fountains.

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