2 Days in Oaxaca: The Perfect Itinerary (First Time Visit)


How to spend 2 Days in Oaxaca: The Best Itinerary + Where to Stay

You’re going 2 days in Oaxaca (Mexico) and you’re looking for the best itinerary?

You’re at the right place!

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared for you the perfect 2-day itinerary in Oaxaca.

This adventure-packed guide will lead you through the city’s most iconic sights, from the majestic Ex-Temple of Santo Domingo to the vibrant markets  full of local crafts and flavors.

In addition to the best places to visit and things to do for each stage of your itinerary, I will also give you all my best tips and accommodation suggestions depending on your budget.

So, what are the best things to do in Oaxaca in 2 days? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!

Day 1 – Oaxaca’s Cultural Heartbeat: From Santo Domingo to Vibrant Nightlife

A. Morning at the Santo Domingo Complex

Experience Oaxaca in 2 days, starting your adventure at Santo Domingo.

First, visit the Temple of Santo Domingo de Guzman that showcases stunning novo-Hispanic baroque architecture and represents over three centuries of history, embodying the region’s cultural and architectural heritage.

Right next to the temple, the Museum of Cultures is a treasure trove. Its exhibition halls offer a fascinating archaeological, historical, and ethnographic panorama of Oaxacan cultures, painting a vivid picture of the region’s rich heritage and diversity.

And don’t forget to wander through the Ethnobotanical Garden, where over 2 acres of native Oaxacan plants await, offering a tranquil escape and a glimpse into the region’s natural heritage.

culture museum oaxaca
The Museum of the Cultures of Oaxaca
ethnobotanical garden oaxaca
View on the ethnobotanical garden from the museum, Oaxaca

B. Exploring Local Markets

After visiting Santo Domingo, dive into the vibrant local scene at Mercado 20 de Noviembre and Mercado Benito Juárez.

Make sure to stop by the Pasillo de Humo! This spot is famous all over Mexico for its grilled meats.

Try the ‘holy trinity’ there: tasajo (beef), cecina (pork), and chorizo (sausage). These dishes, especially when accompanied by grilled onions, chile, salsa, and tortillas, truly capture the essence of Oaxacan cuisine and are a must-try for any food lover exploring the area.

pasillo de humo mercado 20 de noviembre
pasillo de humo mercado 20 de noviembre

C. Afternoon at the Zócalo and Jalatlaco

After lunch, make your way to the Zócalo, the vibrant heart of Oaxaca. This lively square, with its historic cathedral, is the perfect place for a relaxing stroll.

Following your visit to the Zócalo, head to the Jalatlaco neighborhood. Here, discover a photographer’s paradise with vibrant houses, charming streets, and cozy cafes, offering a visual treat at every turn.

jalatlaco neighborhood
The Jalatlaco Neighborhood

Day 2 – Oaxaca’s Rich Heritage: Ancient Ruins and Artisan Villages

The second day in Oaxaca is packed with activities, but remember: it’s just a suggestion. You don’t have to do it all.

You could easily spend a fulfilling day visiting just Monte Alban in the morning and then the artisan villages, or Monte Alban paired with a mezcal experience.

Another great option is to explore the villages and enjoy mezcal tasting.

Whichever combination you choose, rest assured your day will be rich and enjoyable without trying to fit in every single stop. 😉

A. Morning at Monte Alban

Start your Oaxaca itinerary with a visit to Monte Alban, a must-see destination that’s central to the region’s rich historical legacy.

This ancient city, established around 500 BC, was a major center for the Zapotec civilization until around 800 AD, playing a crucial role in the region’s history and cultural development.

While Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan might be more well-known, Monte Alban stands as one of Mexico’s most significant archaeological sites!

Get an early start and head to Monte Alban. You should arrive at opening time to enjoy this majestic site in relative peace.

Trust me, the early wake-up call is worth it when you stand atop these ancient ruins with breathtaking views. It’s like stepping into a postcard – I loved every moment up there!

Monte Alban Guided Tour
During my visits to Monte Alban, I always opted for a guided tour and can confidently say it’s well worth it.

I strongly recommend a guided tour of Monte Alban to fully capture its rich history and fascinating details. If exploring on your own, you might miss these nuances.

For your convenience, here are my top two tours at Monte Alban:

The archaeological site of Monte Alban

B. Artisan Villages Tour

Oaxaca is known all over Mexico for its rich culture, and this really shines through in its artisanal work.

There are loads of villages, each famous for a different craft, but it’s just impossible to see them all in  a two-day trip to Oaxaca.

My advice? Check out a map first, pick the villages that catch your eye, and plan your route from there. This way, you’ll get a real taste of Oaxaca’s unique crafts without rushing through.

For a first visit to Oaxaca, these are the villages I recommend for a truly authentic and memorable experience.

  • San Martin Tilcajete: Known for its vibrant alebrijes, these fantastical creatures are a staple of Mexican folk art. You’ll find a range of these from simple to complex, with the more intricate ones being pricier but worth it for their craftsmanship. The town, small and easy to navigate, is filled with workshops and shops like the famous Taller de Jacobo and Maria Angeles.

  • San Antonio Arrazola: Another village famed for alebrijes and closer to Oaxaca and Monte Alban. It’s a great spot to explore the variety of these colorful, imaginative sculptures.
  • Santo Tomás Jalieza: This community is known for its artisanal weaving and leatherwork. The local craft market, small like the village itself, offers a variety of beautiful items like belts, bags, and scarves at great prices. The welcoming locals here made this one of the most memorable stops for shopping.
  • San Bartolo Coyotepec: Famous for its unique black clay pottery with a metallic sheen (and some matte options, which I personally prefer). Home to about 600 families who craft these pieces, the town also hosts a folk art museum showcasing black clay and other regional Oaxacan art.
  • Teotitlán del Valle: This town is a haven for rug enthusiasts, offering the finest selection. I found a beautifully colored rug for 1300 pesos and chose not to haggle, respecting the artisan’s time and effort. Don’t miss the Balaa Xtee Guech Gulal museum run by the local community. It’s a great way to support them and learn about local crafts, customs, and even meet friendly locals.

Take a tour to the villages
If you don’t have a car, reaching and moving between these villages will be very challenging, but don’t worry – you can take a tour from Oaxaca.

Here are my recommendations for tours that make exploring these artisan villages hassle-free:

santo tomas jalieza oaxaca
santo tomas jalieza oaxaca
San martin tilcajete oaxaca
San martin tilcajete oaxaca

C. Authentic Mezcal Tasting with Local Producers

In your 2 Days in Oaxaca itinerary, make sure to include a visit to a local mezcal producer.

Oaxaca is the heartland of mezcal production in Mexico, and it’s filled with ‘palenques’ – traditional distilleries where this unique spirit is crafted.

Visiting a palenque offers a deep dive into the process of making mezcal, from seeing the agave fields to understanding the distillation process, and of course, the highlight – tasting.

Areas like Santa Catarina Minas, Santiago Matatlán and San Dionisio Ocotepec are rich with these producers.

Personally, I headed to Lalocura, a palenque well-known among mezcal connoisseurs.

They offered a tasting of 15 different mezcals, and even with just a small sip of each, I could really feel the alcohol’s kick. 😅

The highlight was getting involved in the mezcal-making process – let me tell you, crushing the agave pieces is way harder than it looks, but it was a lot of fun!

Such visits are not just enjoyable but also support local producers directly, letting you buy top-quality mezcal at fair prices.

Mezcal Tour
 If you’re without a car, opting for a mezcal tour with hotel pick-up is the ideal choice!

This tour takes you through an agave plantation and two mezcal distilleries. You’ll get an insider’s look at the production process and have the chance to taste various types of mezcal.

Book the mezcal tour right here:


degustación mezcal lalocura oaxaca
degustación mezcal lalocura oaxaca
visit mezcal oaxaca
I’m working hard crushing the agave pieces!

D. A Relaxing Evening

After a day brimming with culture and exploration, it’s time to relax!

I highly recommend unwinding at quaint cafes and rooftop bars in Oaxaca’s city center. My personal favorites are Viajero Oaxaca Rooftop Bar and Amá Terraza.

Whether you’re sipping a local coffee or enjoying a mezcal cocktail at these spots, you’ll truly soak in the essence of Oaxaca. It might even inspire you to start planning your next trip to Oaxaca before you’ve even departed!

If you’re ever in need of more inspiration or feel a bit lost about what to do next, remember that my complete guide on The 31 Best Things to Do in Oaxaca is always available with just a click.

My Advice
If you are looking for more ideas on where to unwind, be sure to check out my articles on the ‘7 Best Cafés in Oaxaca‘ and the 5 Best Bars in Oaxaca‘ for a comprehensive guide to the city’s best spots.

Amá Terraza oaxaca
Amá Terraza, Oaxaca. Photo Karla Acosta

Visit Oaxaca in Two Days: The Ultimate Itinerary Map

Here’s the map featuring all the best places to visit during your 2 days in Oaxaca.

As you’ll notice, Day 2 covers quite a vast area, which is why, as mentioned earlier, it’s crucial to pinpoint on the map the specific villages or attractions you’re interested in.

This pre-planning will be invaluable for efficiently organizing your day before you hit the road!

My Tips for a perfect 2-Day Journey in Oaxaca

For a perfect 2-day trip in Oaxaca, here are some useful tips:

  1. Prioritize Key Attractions: With only two days, choose a few top attractions and spend quality time there
  2. Explore Local Cuisine: Oaxaca is famous for its culinary delights. Make sure to try local specialties like mole and tlayudas. Plan for at least one special meal at a well-reviewed restaurant.
  3. Consider Guided Tours: To get the most out of places like Monte Alban or the artisan villages, a guided tour can offer deeper insights and save time.
  4. Stay Centrally Located: Choose accommodation in the city center to minimize travel time and maximize exploration.
  5. Transport Planning: If you’re not renting a car, consider booking tours that include transportation.
  6. Pack Appropriately: Be prepared for a range of activities – comfortable walking shoes for exploring, a hat and sunscreen for outdoor adventures, and a camera to capture memories.
  7. Learn Basic Spanish Phrases: Familiarizing yourself with some basic Spanish phrases not only enhances your interactions with locals but also shows them you’re making an effort to engage with their culture. Remember, not everyone in Oaxaca speaks English 😉

Final Thoughts on a 2-Day Oaxaca Trip: is it enough?

While two days in Oaxaca is certainly better than just a single day, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve visited Oaxaca four times and each trip brings new discoveries – from quaint cafes and charming art galleries to hidden free museums. The city never ceases to amaze me with its endless offerings!

And the Oaxaca Valley itself is vast, filled with numerous villages, archaeological sites, and unique attractions.

Take a look at my other Oaxaca itineraries:

Perfect Hotels for a Two-Day Stay in Oaxaca

  • Andaina Youth Hostel: Located in the heart of Oaxaca, only 300 meters from Santo Domingo Church and 800 meters from the Zocalo. Cozy and colorful dormitory or private room with shared bathroom, from 16 $usd per night, breakfast included. Strong points: the friendly atmosphere, the rooftop terrace, the free activities and tours. This is my choice for a budget-friendly hotel in Oaxaca!
  • Casa Barroco Oaxaca: Elegant room with balcony, just a few steps from the main square in a listed colonial house, with two beautiful patios, from 89 $usd per night. Strong points: the beautiful colonial-style building, the charming garden, the helpful staff.
  • Casa de Sierra Azul: Located in the historic center of Oaxaca, 200 meters from Santo Domingo Church and 600 meters from the Zocalo. Classic and cozy room with private bathroom, from 140$ usd per night. Strong points: the central location, the bicycles available for guests, the free parking, the delicious breakfast.
  • Quinta Real Oaxaca: Located in a former convent from the 16th century, 500 meters from Santo Domingo Church and 700 meters from the Zocalo. Elegant room and romantic atmosphere, from 260 $usd per night. Strong points: the stunning architecture, the outdoor pool, the gourmet restaurant. This is my choice for a luxury stay in Oaxaca!
quinta real oaxaca
Quinta Real Oaxaca

Rent a car in Mexico

Renting a car is for sure the best way to explore Oaxaca and make the most of your stay!

To rent a car, personally, I always use Booking.com Cars, for a few reasons:

  • You can easily compare the rental cars prices between all the agencies: for sure the easiest way to find the best rate!
  • Cancellation is often offered free of charge: no need to worry if you change your mind
  • Booking Cars offers full insurance coverage at a lower price than the rental companies, so it’s an instant saving with no effort

Simply click on the green button to find your rental car at the best price:

How to find a cheap flight to Oaxaca

The Xoxocotlán International Airport in Oaxaca receives flights from a variety of locations, encompassing both domestic destinations like Mexico City, Tijuana, and Guadalajara, and international cities including Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Cancun, Merida, Guatemala City, among others.

For a cheap flight to Oaxaca, try our Skyscanner partnership flight comparison tool – it’s great for snagging the best deals!

My tip
Once you arrive in Oaxaca, you can rent a car, take a cab, or book an airport transfer to your hotel 
Book your trip now and save money!

You’re traveling in Mexico? These articles will help you!

Discover all my articles about Mexico: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Mexico are listed there.

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best places to visit in Oaxaca in 2 days


I have created this blog to give you all my best tips to plan your next trip to Mexico, regardless of your budget. I share detailed itineraries, advice about places to visit as well as recommendations for transportation, hotels and restaurants. I hope I will also help you to discover amazing off the beaten path destinations in Mexico!

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