Visit Oaxaca: Top 31 Things To Do and Must-See Attractions


Things to do in Oaxaca city: The 31 Best Places to Visit in 2024

Oaxaca de Juarez is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the capital of Oaxaca state, a region rich in cuisine, art, history, and archaeological sites.

If you want to enjoy your stay in Oaxaca to the fullest, you’ve come to the right place. In this ultimate guide to Oaxaca, I’ll show you the best things to see and do in the city and its surroundings.

You’ll find my tips and advice, the 31 must-see attractions and activities in Oaxaca, and my recommended itineraries for 1, 2, or 3 days. I’ll also tell you where to eat and where to stay for any budget.

And if you’re looking for ways to save money on your trip to Oaxaca, I’ve got you covered too!

So, are you ready to discover Oaxaca?

Let’s go!


1. The Ethnobotanical Garden

The ethnobotanical garden is one of the highlights of Oaxaca. It is a botanical garden in the historic center, on the site of the former Santo Domingo convent.

The tour (guided only – lasts 1 hour) lets you explore 2 hectares of plants native to Oaxaca, including some amazing cacti, and learn about their significance and their traditional use by the local people.

  • Tours at 10 am, 11 am and 12 pm.
  • Groups are limited to 15 people (there were 2 groups when I went at 10 am: one with a Spanish guide and one with an English guide)
  • Admission fee 50 pesos.
  • No reservations: come early.
  • There is no shade while you wait outside, and not much in the garden either, so bring water.
jardín etnobotánico oaxaca
jardín etnobotánico oaxaca

2. Temple of Santo Domingo de Guzman

The Temple of Santo Domingo de Guzman is a place you can’t miss in Oaxaca.

This Dominican convent has had quite a complex history: built from 1551, it also served as a university, but then was occupied for a long time by the military, under different regimes.

It was officially returned to the Church by President Porfirio Diaz in 1902.

With the return of the Dominicans to Oaxaca in 1938, important restoration works began on this magnificent example of the novo-Hispanic baroque.

Today it is a true symbol of the city, widely photographed with its agaves surrounding the building, but you have to go inside to appreciate its architectural and artistic richness.

  • Church open from 9 am to 10 am and from 5 pm to 6 pm
  • The church is located on the pedestrian street Andador Turístico (Macedonio Alcalá street), which is the most touristic street of the city.
santo domingo de guzmán oaxaca
santo domingo de guzmán oaxaca
interior de la iglesia de santo domingo oaxaca
interior de la iglesia de santo domingo oaxaca

3. The Museum of the Cultures

The Museum of Cultures in Oaxaca, located in the beautiful monastery buildings next to the Santo Domingo church, is a great place to learn about Oaxaca’s history and culture.

It has more than 14,000 objects, including the famous treasure from Tomb 7 at Monte Albán, with gold, silver, jade, and other beautiful artefacts. The museum also has rooms about the colonial period, the independence era, and the modern culture of Oaxaca.

One of the best things about the museum is the amazing view of the Jardín Etnobotánico, so even if you don’t have time to visit it or don’t want to wait in line, you can still enjoy a glimpse of its beauty and diversity from the museum’s windows. 😉

It took me three trips to Oaxaca to finally see this museum, and I’m so glad I did! It’s the best museum in Oaxaca, hands down.

  • Entrance 90 pesos
The Museum of the Cultures of Oaxaca
The Museum of the Cultures of Oaxaca
culture museum oaxaca
The Museum of the Cultures of Oaxaca
ethnobotanical garden oaxaca
View on the ethnobotanical garden from the museum, Oaxaca

4. Discover the colorful streets of the city

Oaxaca is a city with many charming streets to wander.

Besides its colorful facades and the beautiful papel picado that you can see floating in many places, it is also a major destination for street art in Mexico.

Explore the city and you will find small plazas and narrow streets.

calles de oaxaca
streets of oaxaca
oaxaca colores
oaxaca colors
arte calle oaxaca
oaxaca street art
street art oaxaca
street art oaxaca

5. The artistic neighborhood Jalatlaco

Nothing beats Jalatlaco in Oaxaca for me!

It is amazing to see the colorful street art that tells the stories of its people. You can admire the works of local and international artists, such as Lapiztola, Yescka, and Curiot, who use their creativity to transform the walls into canvases.

This neighborhood is a paradise for Instagram lovers, as you can find the most stunning and original murals in Oaxaca, and maybe even in Mexico.

However I like to wander around this neighborhood early in the morning, when I have it all to myself, even if the light does not do justice to the colorful street art, but I don’t care. 😊

Jalatlaco also has a cozy atmosphere, with cobbled streets, quaint cafes, bakeries, and traditional restaurants.

Moreover, a visit to Jalatlaco is not complete without stopping by Once in Oaxaca, a cozy and artistic café-boutique that offers beautiful illustrations on Oaxaca. And their coffee is awesome!

I bought some of these postcards as gifts and everyone loved them. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the traditional crafts of Oaxaca, but it’s nice to have a different kind of souvenir too!

My Advice
 To fully appreciate the beauty and significance of the murals in Oaxaca, nothing beats having a guide who can share their stories and secrets with you.

That’s why I suggest you book this bike tour that will take you to the most amazing murals, introduce you to their creators, and show you some of their workshops. You can book it right here:

jalatlaco oaxaca
Jalatlaco, Oaxaca
once in oaxaca jalatlaco
Once in Oaxaca, Jalatlaco

6. Xochimilco

If you want to experience the history and culture of Oaxaca, you should visit Xochimilco, one of the oldest and most charming neighborhoods in the city.

Founded in the 15th century by the Aztec emperor Ahuítzotl, this area is full of colorful murals, quaint cafes, and traditional eateries.

You can admire the stunning street art, visit the 18th century aqueduct San Felipe, and taste the authentic Oaxacan cuisine at Ancestral Cocina Tradicional.

If you are looking for a coffee break, check out the hidden Antique Café or enjoy a good breakfast in a cute terrace at Rupestre or Chepiche Café.

xochimilco oaxaca
Xochimilco, Oaxaca
street art oaxaca xochimilco
Street Art in Xochimilco, Oaxaca
street art xochimilco oaxaca
Street Art in Xochimilco, Oaxaca

7. Celebrate the Day of the Dead

Oaxaca is one of the best places to celebrate the Day of the Dead, a festival that honors the deceased with altars, flowers, and food.

From October 31 to November 2, you can witness the rich traditions and culture of Oaxaca, as locals welcome back their loved ones’ spirits.

My Advice
To discover all the Day of the Dead festivities in Oaxaca, check out My full article on the Day of the Dead! 
  • Join a local guide on a tour of the most beautiful altars and flowered streets, from the Santo Domingo church and the Panteon Municipal cemetery, to the festive Xochimilco neighborhood. The tour will end with a dinner on the Ancestral restaurant terrace, with a candlelit city view. Book it here:

dia de muertos oaxaca
dia de muertos oaxaca

8. The textile Museum of Oaxaca

The Textile Museum of Oaxaca is a wonderful place to discover the rich and diverse textile traditions of Oaxaca and Mexico.

It is located in a beautiful colonial building that was restored in 2007. You can admire the variety and beauty of the textiles, from ancient to contemporary, and learn about the techniques and processes involved in their creation.

Next to the museum, you can also visit the Centro Cultural San Pablo, a cultural and academic space located in a historic site that was once the first Dominican convent in Oaxaca.

It celebrates the pluricultural heritage of Oaxaca, especially its indigenous cultures.

museo textil Oaxaca
textile museum Oaxaca
centro cultural san pablo oaxaca
centro cultural san pablo oaxaca

9. Stamp Museum: A Hidden Treasure in Oaxaca

A friend of mine suggested me to go there and I had a wonderful time! It is not the usual tourist attraction of Oaxaca, but it’s worth a visit.

The Philatelic Museum of Oaxaca (MUFI), is a unique and fascinating place for anyone who loves stamps, art, or culture.

This museum has a collection of more than 200,000 pieces from all over the world, including the Penny Black, the first stamp ever issued, and letters written by the famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

I had a blast opening all the drawers and discovering new treasures. But I must confess, as a huge fan of comics and cartoons, nothing could beat the Tintin and Disney collections for me.

The museum is housed in a beautiful colonial building with a patio, where you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

Don’t miss the Volkswagen Beetle covered in stamps, a sight to behold! And don’t forget to check out the boutique, where you can find some nice souvenirs (stamps, postcards, magnets, enveloppe seal sets, etc)

The best part is that admission is free, so you can explore this hidden treasure without spending a peso!

Museo de la Filatelia de Oaxaca
Museo de la Filatelia de Oaxaca
stamp museum oaxaca
Philatelic Museum of Oaxaca
volkswagen stamp oaxaca
The Volkswagen covered in stamps, MUFI, Oaxaca

10. Museum of Oaxacan Painters (MUPO)

Housed in a beautiful colonial building, the Museum of Painters of Oaxaca displays the diversity and richness of Oaxacan art, from traditional to contemporary styles.

You can see paintings, sculptures, murals, and more, by local and international artists.

  • The admission is technically free, but donations are encouraged. Make sure you have some change with you!
Museum of Oaxacan Painters
Museum of Oaxacan Painters

11. Taste the traditional drinks

Incredible but true: there are more than 70 traditional drinks in the Oaxaca region!

Among them, you can try tejate, a drink of pre-Hispanic origin prepared with roasted corn, cocoa, mamey bone and Cacahuaxóchil flower, a tree found in the town of San Andrés Huayapam.

Tejate comes from a Nahuatl word that means “floury water”. And it does have a unique texture that reminds me of cocoa butter. It is smooth and creamy.

There is a lady who sells her tejate at the entrance of Casa Mayordomo on Macedonio Alcalá street. You can get a cup for 70 pesos.

My advice
If you are interested in this great topic, discover Bebidas de Oaxaca, a project by Salvador Cueva that presents these drinks, their ingredients and the communities that prepare them.
tejate oaxaca
tejate oaxaca

12. The Zocalo

The Zócalo in Oaxaca is a must-visit area, known for its lively vibe.

It’s full of terraces, great for eating or enjoying a coffee while people-watching, often accompanied by live music.

The square, also known for the stunning cathedral nearby, is a central spot where both locals and tourists gather. It’s a perfect place to feel the city’s pulse and immerse yourself in the local culture.

While exploring Oaxaca, you’ll likely pass through the Zócalo, especially if you’re headed to popular spots like the Benito Juarez or 20 de Noviembre markets. It’s a central hub that connects many of the city’s key attractions.

oaxaca zocalo mexico
The Zocalo, Oaxaca
zocalo oaxaca
Oaxaca Zocalo

13. Having a good hot chocolate

You have to try chocolate in Oaxaca!

I sat on the terrace of La Chocolatería Mayordomo in the Zócalo, with a view of the Oaxaca Cathedral and some music.

They have different kinds of chocolate, hot or cold, with milk or water, starting from 35 pesos.

I ordered a hot chocolate with 100% cocoa milk and no sugar (the waiter gave me a doubtful look and warned me that it was very bitter 😂) and I loved it!

They also have several traditional Tlacolula breads and the pan de cazuela (18 pesos) was perfect to go with it.

chocolate oaxaca mayordomo
Mayordomo, Oaxaca
pan de cazuela tlacolula
pan de cazuela tlacolula

14. Exploring the markets of Oaxaca

From the main square, take 20 de Noviembre street: you will arrive at Mercado Benito Juárez and Mercado 20 de Noviembre, which are located next to each other.

Those are two must-see places to visit in Oaxaca with all kinds of local products: good food, clothes, souvenirs, flowers, etc.

I went back several times to Mercado 20 de Noviembre for lunch:

  • At the famous Pasillo de Humo (which I will talk about in the next point).
  • The typical Oaxacan combination of “chocote con agua y pan de yema” (30 pesos) at the Comedor Bety.
  • At the Comedor Típico La Abuelita: Oaxacan tamale with black mole and chicken (40 pesos, huge portion) and the delicious tlayuda (85 pesos).

Just a block away is the Mercado de Artesanías, another great market, this one dedicated to local crafts. And a 5 minute walk away is the Mercado de Abastos which is the largest market in Oaxaca.

The Mercado Orgánico La Cosecha deserves a visit. It is a space with many local and organic products and dishes. Open from 8am to 6pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays).

tlayuda oaxaca
tlayuda oaxaca

15. Pasillo de Humo (Smoke Alley)

One of the best places to see in Oaxaca is the Pasillo de Humo in the Mercado 20 de Noviembre. It is so famous that there is even a restaurant named after it in the Colonia Condesa in Mexico City.

I had been wanting to go there for a long time and I was blown away by the place. As the name suggests, it is a hallway filled with smoke (and a mouthwatering smell), where they grill meats.

First you pick the meat, then you sit down, and order the extras (tortillas, grilled vegetables) and drinks separately.

  • We ordered 1/4 tasajo, 1/4 chorizo and 1/4 cecina at Lety’s for only 150 pesos. It was really delicious and more than enough for 2 people (we couldn’t even finish it all! 😅)
pasillo de humo mercado 20 de noviembre
pasillo de humo mercado 20 de noviembre
Chorizo, cecina and tasajo at Pasillo de Humo, Oaxaca

16. Take a cooking class

Mexican cuisine is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage and Oaxaca is a true pillar of Mexico’s gastronomic identity. It is the best place to discover its traditional dishes!

I recommend you this amazing tour that includes pick up at your hotel, visit to a local market, making tortillas and typical drinks (with or without alcohol).

Book the food tour here:

Are you a vegetarian? 🌿 No problem! You can book this vegetarian food tour of Oaxaca, which includes a visit to the market and cooking class:

  • You can also explore Oaxaca’s cuisine on your own. It has many specialties: mole (with chicken or tamale and chicken), tasajo, tlayudas and of course, mezcal.
tamales oaxaca
tamales oaxaca

17. Visiting a mezcal palenque

Mezcal is a traditional Mexican drink produced by fermenting and distilling the agave plant, also known as maguey, and Oaxaca is the largest producer in the country (about 80%).

Obviously, tasting mezcal is one of the best things to do in Oaxaca, and even better if you visit a palenque to see the whole process of making it.

My advice
If you have no car, a mezcal tour with hotel pick-up is your best bet!

You will see an agave plantation and two mezcal distilleries, where you can discover the secrets of mezcal production and taste the different varieties.

Book the mezcal tour here:


There are many palenques in Oaxaca, but I chose to visit Lalocura owned by Eduardo “Lalo” Ángeles, who is a living mezcal legend.

When you arrive, they will ask you if you prefer to do just the tasting or also the guided tour. I chose the second option, which I recommend, since that’s the purpose of coming to a producer’s place.

First they take you through the agave fields and then you go to see the whole process of making mezcal.

mezcal lalocura oaxaca
mezcal lalocura oaxaca

The agave hearts (called piñas) are cut and then cooked in an oven.

corazon agave piña
corazon agave piña
horno agave
horno agave

They are then crushed using human strength…It looked easy, but they´re heavy! 😅

  • If you get the chance, try a piece of cooked agave, it reminded me of sugar cane.
visit mezcal oaxaca
I’m working hard crushing the agave pieces!

The paste obtained from the crushed agave is fermented in wooden vats for 3 to 7 days and this fermented juice, called bagasse, is distilled in clay pots.

fermentación agave oaxaca lalocura
Fermentation of agave

Finally, we ended the visit with a tasting of 16 mezcals produced right there, with different varieties of maguey (cuishe, madrecuishe, espadín, tobasiche, tobalá, etc.).

And, of course, you can buy a few bottles of mezcals before you go!

I can say without hesitation that they are some of the best products I have ever bought, and at a very good price!

Visit Lalocura:

  • In Santa Catarina Minas, 50 minutes from downtown Oaxaca.
  • Tasting 200 pesos, tasting and guided tour 300 pesos per person.
  • Lalocura’s Instagram
degustación mezcal lalocura oaxaca
mezcal tasting lalocura oaxaca

18. Discover the best mezcal in the city

Nothing beats visiting a palenque, a small family-owned distillery outside of Oaxaca, to experience mezcal at its source. But even without a car or much time, you can still savor the amazing mezcal culture in the city by going to a mezcaleria.

Oaxaca has many mezcalerias, bars that specialize in serving mezcal, where you can taste different varieties and learn about their production and history from knowledgeable bartenders.

If you are short on time, I recommend you visit two of my favorite mezcalerias: Sabina Sabe and Mezcalogia.

Sabina Sabe is a casual and welcoming mezcaleria that has won many international awards in recent years.

I have been there many times, even though I usually like to try new places, because: they have a huge variety of mezcals from different local producers, as well as staff who are passionate about their products and happy to share their knowledge with you. I totally understand why their awards keep coming year after year!

Mezcalogia is a colorful and cozy mezcaleria that has a different style from Sabina Sabe. When I went there, there was live music and the bartender was very talkative. He introduced me to great mezcals from small-batch producers, and other spirits from Mexico, such as rum, gin, vodka and whisky.

Another great thing about Mezcalogia, is their tasting formula, which lets you try different mezcals and learn about their producers and flavors. But Sabina Sabe is great for food, especially their lechon tacos!

sabina sabe cocktail oaxaca
Cocktail at Sabina Sabe, Oaxaca
mezcalogia oaxaca
mezcalogia oaxaca

My advice
To buy a few bottles of mezcal, go to Candiza DeliMezcales in the Benito Juarez market (Instagram / Facebook).

A mezcal enthusiast recommended this place to me and they have a great selection of high quality products at a fair price.

19. Tasting Experience for Mezcal Lovers

You can find many places to taste mezcal in Oaxaca, but if you really want to dive deeper into the history, production methods and ancestral knowledge of this fascinating spirit, the best way is to join this mezcal tasting experience (click here to book!).

You’ll sample 3 different types of wild mezcal, each with its own unique taste and smell. You’ll also learn how the agave plants are grown and transformed into mezcal, and how each step affects the final product.

By joining this experience, you’ll also support the local producers who make mezcal with passion and respect for nature!

mezcal tasting oaxaca
Mezcal Tasting in Oaxaca

20. Prehispanic Museum of Oaxaca

The Prehispanic Museum Rufino Tamayo showcases the amazing collection of pre-Columbian art donated by Rufino Tamayo, one of Mexico’s most famous modern artists, who also has a museum in Mexico City dedicated to his own contemporary art works.

You will be amazed by the diversity and beauty of the ancient sculptures, ceramics, and jewelry from different Mesoamerican civilizations, such as the Maya, Aztec, Olmec, Zapotec, and Mixtec.

The museum also reflects the artistic vision of Tamayo, who chose the colors and layout of each gallery to highlight the artistic value of the pre-Hispanic works.

The Prehispanic Museum Rufino Tamayo is a tribute to Oaxaca, the birthplace of Tamayo, and a celebration of the rich and ancient roots of Mexican artistic expression.

After being closed for three years due to renovations, this great museum finally reopened in 2023!

  • Mon-sat 10am to 2pm and 4pm to 7pm, sun 10am-3pm
  • 90 pesos

21. Art galleries

Oaxaca is known for its great artistic wealth, both traditional and modern, reflecting the political and social realities.

That’s why, walking around the city, you will find a vibrant art scene, with many exhibition spaces, workshops, street art.

Something for all art and design lovers.

There are many interesting spaces to visit (and free), for example:

Espacio Zapata: a workshop featuring silkscreen prints and engravings. A space created by the Assembly of Revolutionary Artists of Oaxaca, a collective of artists very committed to social causes. – Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Gabinete Gráfico engraving workshop: young artists who have a small workshop and exhibition space. Different engraving techniques and formats.

Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca: a beautiful place in a small colonial house, with a green patio, a library and exhibitions. From 9:30 am to 8 pm, closed on Tuesdays.

mural oaxaca
mural oaxaca

22. Buying local handicrafts

Oaxaca is a true paradise of traditional Mexican handicrafts.

Of course, you can find all prices and qualities, either in the market or in the small shops in town (although I think it’s best to visit the artisan villages directly, which I will talk about in the next point).

These are some of the shops I recommend:

Andares del arte popular: this shop is really the perfect place as an introduction to Oaxacan handicrafts, as you can find very nice pieces (ceramics, clothes, rugs, etc.) coming from different communities in the region. Mind you, it’s a bit pricey, but looking is free. 🤓

Casa del Artesano Colectivo Familiar: although from the outside it doesn’t look like it, inside it keeps many pieces (clothes, etc.) of a collective of artisans from Oaxaca, of very good quality and at good prices. The lady knows very well all her products and the communities that make them.

Casa Martínez: without a doubt, this is the place to find beautiful handmade rugs from Teotitlán del Valle, of good quality and at a very reasonable price. Prices are around 1300 pesos for a medium size rug. Next door is Marías Arte & Diseño, a modern local design store that is also worth a look.

andares del arte oaxaca
andares del arte oaxaca
artesanía oaxaca casa Martínez
artesanía oaxaca casa Martínez

Around Oaxaca

If you have half a day or a free day, I recommend you visit the artisan villages of Oaxaca.

I was very impressed by the quality of the work, but also by their diversity since several communities have their specialty.

Actually there are many small towns to see in Oaxaca, but these are the ones I had time to visit:

23.  San Martin Tilcajete

The town is the birthplace of alebrijes, colorful figures that represent fantastic creatures and are an important part of Mexican folk art.

There are simple alebrijes and others that are very complex, which cost more but are worth it for the quality of the work.

There are several workshops and shops in town, some of them very famous like the Taller de Jacobo and Maria Angeles.

I just walked around the streets and stopped at every shop, since the downtown is very small and easy to navigate.

  • There is another town known for its alebrijes: San Antonio Arrazola, much closer to Oaxaca and Monte Alban.

How to get to San Martin Tilcajete from Oaxaca de Juarez:

  • By car: 45 minutes on Highway 175.
  • By public transportation: go to the Central de Abastos and take a bus in the direction of Ocotlán de Morelos and get off at the entrance of the village of San Martín Tilcajete.
  • With a tour: for a deeper experience of the world of alebrijes, here is an interesting activity that includes pick-up in Oaxaca, learning the process of making alebrijes with a family of artisans and painting your own piece to take home.

Book the tour here:

San martin tilcajete oaxaca
San martin tilcajete oaxaca

24. Santo Tomás Jalieza

It is a community of farmers and artisans who mainly make belts with leather and weaving. There were some shops and studios, but we went straight to the craft market.

It was small, like the village, but we saw some beautiful items at great prices (not just belts, but also bags, scarves, cases, etc.) and met some friendly people.

Actually, this was where we bought the most things. The ladies were also very sweet and happy to see visitors despite the pandemic. 😊

How to get to Santo Tomás Jalieza from Oaxaca de Juárez:

  • By car: 50 minutes on Highway 175
  • With a tour: it includes visits to the traditional communities of Ocotlán de Morelos, Santo Tomás Jalieza and San Martín Tilcajete to see their unique crafts.

Reserve your Tour here:

santo tomas jalieza oaxaca
santo tomas jalieza oaxaca

25. San Bartolo Coyotepec

This town is famous for its black clay pottery with a metallic shine (although some pieces also have a matte finish, which I prefer).

About 600 families make it here!

Besides visiting different shops and studios, you can also check out the folk art museum with 2 rooms, one for black clay, and the other for pieces from other regions of Oaxaca (10am-6pm, closed Monday, entry 20 pesos).

How to get to San Bartolo Coyotepec from Oaxaca de Juárez:

  • By car: 30 minutes on Highway 175.
  • By public transportation: from the Central de Abastos 30 minutes by bus (or taxi)
  • With a tour: If you want to enjoy a hassle-free and comfortable tour, you can choose this option that includes hotel pick-up, the archaeological site of Monte Alban, the village of San Antonio Arrazola, the monastery of Cuilapam de Guerrero and the demonstration of black clay making in San Bartolo Coyotepec:

26. Teotitlán del Valle

This town is known for its gorgeous rugs, and this is definitely the best place to buy them. They come in all sizes and qualities.

I bought a rug that I LOVE with very nice colors for 1300 pesos. I didn’t want to haggle with the artisan who spent so much time making it. It is a very hard work, involving a lot of time and patience.

I also suggest that you visit the Balaa Xtee Guech Gulal museum, run by the local community.

It is a good way to support them (15 pesos entry fee), and also a chance to see artifacts found in the area, learn about spinning techniques, traditional customs, etc.

I also had a lovely encounter with two gentlemen at the museum who spoke zapotec. They were curious about what language we spoke and we had a nice exchange. It was a charming moment of cultural appreciation.❤️

How to get to Teotitlán del Valle from Oaxaca de Juárez:

  • By car: 40 minutes on Highway 190
  • By bus: direct bus (or taxi) from the Central de Abastos
  • With an organized tour: so you don’t have to worry about transportation, I recommend this tour with pick up at your hotel, visit to Mitla, free time at Hierve el Agua, visit to a mezcal distillery with tasting and stop in Teotitlán del Valle.

You can book the tour here:

teotitlan del valle
Teotitlan del Valle
museo teotitlan del valle
museo teotitlan del valle
museo comunitario teotitlan del valle
museo comunitario teotitlan del valle

27. Tlacolula Market

One of the most amazing and diverse markets in Oaxaca is the Tlacolula de Matamoros market, which takes place every Sunday.

This market has a long history, dating back to pre-Hispanic times, when women from nearby villages would come here to sell their products. You can find everything from flowers, spices, fruits and vegetables, to handicrafts, animals, and more.

You can also hear the rich variety of local languages spoken here, such as Zapotec, Mixe, Chinantec, and others.

The market is a feast for the senses, with vibrant colors and delicious smells. You can taste all kinds of local delicacies: hot chocolate with pan de cazuela (a type of sweet bread), tlayudas (large tortillas with toppings), cheese, enfrijoladas (tortillas dipped in bean sauce), tacos, and more.

My advice is to go there with an empty stomach so you can enjoy the market😉 to the fullest.

How to get to Tlacolula de Matamoros from Oaxaca:

Click here to make your reservation: 

Tlacolula Market

28. Monte Alban

Monte Alban is a remarkable site: it was founded around 500 BC and became the capital of the Zapotec civilization, one of the first and most influential cities in Mesoamerica.

It is now a World Heritage Site and the most impressive archaeological site in Oaxaca.

Check out my guide:

You can explore the tombs, plazas, stelae, the Palace and the Great Plaza, as well as the museum that has fascinating exhibits.

I highly recommend getting a guide because there is so much to see, and ours was amazing. He was very passionate and helped us appreciate the significance of this ancient city.

  • Open from 10:00 to 16:00 (last entry at 15:30)
  • Entrance fee 80 pesos

How to get to Monte Alban from Oaxaca:

  • By car: 20 minutes on the highway to Monte Alban
  • By bus: take the bus in front of Hotel Rivera del Angel, it goes directly to Monte Alban (departures every 30 min, from 8 to 15:30)
  • With a guided tour: you can join a guided tour that includes pick up from your hotel. For example, you can check out this guided tour of Monte Alban or this more comprehensive tour that visits Monte Alban, and the villages of San Antonio Arrazola and San Bartolo Coyotepec.
The archaeological site of Monte Albán

29. Ex-convent of Cuilápam de Guerrero

Cuilápam de Guerrero is a town known for its former Dominican convent of Santiago Apóstol de Cuilápam.

Its construction started in the 16th century, but it was never completed.

It is still one of the most impressive examples of Oaxaca’s colonial architecture.

One of the things you will notice is its open chapel: it has no roof! It was built this way to make it easier to convert the indigenous people, who were used to open religious spaces.

  • It is only 30 minutes away from Monte Albán and Oaxaca de Juárez
  • To get to Cuilápam de Guerrero from Oaxaca by public transportation: take the bus from Bustamante Street.
convento Cuilápam de Guerrero
convento Cuilápam de Guerrero

30. The archaeological site of Mitla

Mitla is the second most important archaeological site in Oaxaca, after Monte Alban.

It became the political and religious center of the Zapotecs after Monte Alban collapsed, and it flourished from the 9th century until 1521, when the Spaniards arrived.

The city consists of 5 architectural groups: the Group of the Columns (the most important), the Group of the Church, the Group of the Adobes, the Group of the Stream and the Group of the South.

  • Open from 10 to 4pm, except sunday 10h to 2pm
  • Entrance fee 90 pesos.

How to get to Mitla from Oaxaca:

  • By car: 1 hour on Highway 190.
  • By bus: take the bus in front of the baseball stadium Eduardo Vasconcelos (1h) that takes you to the entrance of the town of San Pablo Villa de Mitla.
  • With an organized tour: you can book this tour (by clicking directly on the link) with pick up at your hotel, visit of Mitla, free visit of Hierve el Agua, visit of a mezcal distillery and stop in Teotitlán del Valle.
  • If you prefer to explore Mitla on your own and have more flexibility in your itinerary, you can get your skip-the-line tickets (click here!) and save yourself from the rush of a tour schedule

31. Hierve el Agua

Hierve el Agua is a must-see place in Oaxaca, with its 200-meter high waterfalls and clear pools overlooking the valley.

These waterfalls and pools were formed millions of years ago by mineral deposits. They are an amazing natural wonder and a great spot for taking photos.

You can bring your bathing suit and swim in the pools, and also hike the trails for different views.

  • Entrance fee 50 pesos.
  • Open from 7 am to 6 pm every day.
  • It is best to go first thing in the morning or after 4pm to avoid the crowds.

How to get to Hierve el Agua from Oaxaca:

  • By car: 1 hour on Highway 179, then 30 minutes on Emiliano Zapata and Reforma to Hierve el Agua
  • By public transport: there is no direct bus from Oaxaca to Hierve el Agua. You have to take a bus to Mitla (from Eduardo Vasconcelos stadium) 50 min, 18 pesos each way. Ask the driver to drop you off at the bus stop for the combis going to Hierve el Agua. From Mitla to Hierve el Agua is 45 min – 75 pesos each way.
  • With a tour: this is the easiest option if you don’t want to worry about transportation. This tour to Hierve el Agua includes pick up at your hotel in Oaxaca, guided visit of Mitla, free time in Hierve el Agua, visit to a mezcal distillery (with tasting) and a stop in Teotitlán del Valle.

Book the tour here:

Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca

32. Exploring the coast of Oaxaca

The Pacific coast of Oaxaca is a great destination for a road trip in Mexico.

You can drive about 6h30 from Oaxaca de Juarez and discover some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, with a different vibe than the Caribbean beaches.

With its small towns and surf spots, you can spend several days exploring the region: Playa Zicatela, Zipolite, Playa Salchi, Playa Carrizalillo, Puerto Angelito, Mazunte and Punta Cometa, the beaches of Bahías de Huatulco, etc.

How to get to the coast of Oaxaca:

  • By car: 6h30 on Highway 131 to Puerto Escondido or 6.15 hours on Highway 175 to Mazunte from Oaxaca de Juarez. Be careful, there are many curves.
  • By plane: You can fly to Puerto Escondido International Airport or Huatulco International Airport, which have direct flights from Mexico City, Oaxaca and other destinations.
carrizalillo puerto escondido oaxaca
La Playa de Carrizalillo in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Where to Stay in Oaxaca – The Best Hotels 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

Where to eat in Oaxaca?

For breakfast

Pan:Am is the ideal place for breakfast, and especially the Abasolo branch with its pretty patio. What to try: vegetarian eggs benedict (160 pesos) and the cinnamon and cardamom roll (28 pesos).

desayuno oaxaca
desayuno oaxaca

A good croissant

Boulenc is the best bakery in Oaxaca, and it gets busy quickly!

You can either take away or dine in.

I was very hungry after the long trip from Mexico City, so I wanted something more filling than a croissant, and I was very happy with my choice!

The pizza was good, but the 3 cheese sandwich was incredibly delicious, to pair with a glass of a good Mexican wine from Baja California 😉

Pan con Madre
Pan con Madre was supposed to be a good alternative to Boulenc, but I was not impressed. The bread was mediocre, and the service was worse.

They ignored the customers completely (not only me). It was pretty disappointing for a place with high ratings on google maps.

boulenc oaxaca
boulenc oaxaca

Typical Oaxacan cuisine

Of course, Mercado 20 de noviembre or Mercado Benito Juárez, which I mentioned earlier in the article, are great places to eat (for example a tlayuda!), but there are also several good restaurants in Oaxaca that are worth a visit:

Las Quince Letras for example, has a lot of charm and offers a good trio of mole

Did You Know?
 Mole is a sauce with a pre-Hispanic origin that was offered to the gods. It is a complex sauce made with chiles, spices and nuts, and it usually comes with a small piece of meat.

There are about 50 varieties of moles in Mexico, so there are many possible combinations, and some moles have dozens of ingredients! 

mole oaxaca
mole oaxaca
restaurante oaxaca las quince letras
restaurante oaxaca las quince letras

Maguey y Maíz is a restaurant with a lovely indoor terrace, very close to the Santo Domingo church:

Their esferas de queso istmeño, small balls of cheese from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec are delicious.

I would like to try their breakfast next time!

restaurante oaxaca maguey y maiz
restaurant oaxaca maguey y maiz

Have a good coffee in Oaxaca

Coffee is a serious matter here. Oaxaca is one of the main coffee producing regions in Mexico: coffee grows in 7 of the 8 regions that make up the state!

Café Brujula, which has a few branches in Oaxaca, is often mentioned in articles, but the 2 premises I visited were a bit “soulless” and gave me the impression of a small local Starbucks with customers working on their laptops.

muss cafe oaxaca
muss cafe oaxaca

When to Visit Oaxaca?

The best time to visit Oaxaca depends on your preferences:

  • Dry Season (October to April): Enjoy pleasant weather, ideal for outdoor activities. Late October is special due to the Day of the Dead celebrations!

My Advice
To discover all the Day of the Dead festivities in Oaxaca, check out My full article on the Day of the Dead! 
  • Shoulder Season (July and August): Experience the vibrant Guelaguetza Festival and summer weather (although it’s rainier). The Guelaguetza showcases traditional dance and music, highlighting the region’s rich cultural heritage.
  • Low Season (May to June and September to October): Budget-friendly options with fewer tourists.
dia de muertos oaxaca
dia de muertos oaxaca

How to travel cheap to Oaxaca

If you’re thinking about traveling on a budget to Oaxaca it’s going to be pretty easy because it’s generally a pretty affordable city!

Cheap hotels in Oaxaca

There are several good options for cheap hotels in Oaxaca, with access to the kitchen (perfect for saving money!):

Cheap food in Oaxaca

Oaxaca has many options for cheap and tasty food.

Many restaurants offer daily set menus (starter+main dish+drink and sometimes dessert) for 50-80 pesos, and they are quite filling!

Another option is to go to the Mercado 20 de Noviembre or Mercado Benito Juárez that I mentioned before. You can find many affordable dishes there.

At night, like in the rest of Mexico, the best way to eat cheap is to try street food. One of my favorite snacks is elote: corn with mayonnaise, cheese, lime and a bit of spice.

elotes street food oaxaca
elotes street food oaxaca

My tips to save money in Oaxaca

  • Choose your travel dates carefully, as prices vary a lot, especially at the end of July, when the Guelaguetza festival happens. It is a huge celebration that brings together people from all over Oaxaca and visitors from all over the country.
  • There are many free things to do in Oaxaca: explore the street art, the Zocalo and the cathedral, the Santo Domingo de Guzman temple, the markets, the Oaxaca textile museum, the philatelic museum, and the Oaxaca painters museum.
  • Join a Free Walking Tour: with Estación México or Destino México (but remember to tip!)

Essential Tips for Your Oaxaca Adventure

  • Get an Early Start: Begin your days at dawn, particularly when heading to well-known spots like Monte Alban or Mitla. An early start helps you dodge the crowds and the intense heat around noon. Plus, it frees up your afternoons for more exploration or some well-deserved relaxation.
  • Learn Basic Spanish Phrases: While many people in tourist areas speak English, knowing basic Spanish phrases can enhance your experience. Simple words like “Hola” (hello), “Gracias” (thank you), and “¿Cuánto cuesta?” (how much does it cost?) can go a long way in interacting with locals.
  • Opt for Organized Tours if Car-Less: In case you decide against renting a car, a practical way to discover Oaxaca’s surrounding areas is through organized tours. Oaxaca boasts an array of superb tours encompassing major sites, from archaeological wonders to artisan communities. These tours are not only convenient for transportation but also enrich your visit with expert knowledge and insights.
  • Be Respectful: Show respect for local customs and practices. This includes being mindful when taking photos, especially of people or religious sites, and asking for permission when appropriate.
  • Try Local Street Food: Beyond restaurants, Oaxaca’s street food is a culinary adventure. From tamales to tacos, these foods offer authentic tastes of the region. Just be sure to choose stalls that are busy with locals – a sign of good quality and freshness.
  • Bring Cash for Small Buys: In Oaxaca, many small vendors, markets, and local food places don’t accept credit cards. It’s a good idea to have some Mexican pesos with you for these purchases, so you can buy local items and street food easily.
  • Stay Hydrated and Prepared for the Weather: Oaxaca can be warm, especially around midday. Always carry water with you to stay hydrated and wear sun protection like hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly – layers are often a good idea as temperatures can vary.
  • Keep an Open Itinerary for Unexpected Discoveries: While it’s great to have a plan, sometimes the best experiences come from spontaneous decisions. Leave some open slots in your itinerary for unplanned explorations or recommendations you might receive from locals or fellow travelers.

How long does it take to visit Oaxaca?

In my opinion, one day in Oaxaca is not enough. Ideally, you should spend at least two or three days in Oaxaca, as there is so much to see in and around the city.

Here are my suggested itineraries to see as much as possible in 1, 2 or 3 days in Oaxaca:

What to do in Oaxaca in 1 day

If you only have one day in Oaxaca:

  • Spend the morning at the Ex-Temple of Santo Domingo complex: Santo Domingo Temple, Ethnobotanical Garden.
  • Stroll through the Mercado 20 de Noviembre, Mercado Benito Juárez and the Mercado de Artesanías.
  • For lunch, go to the Pasillo de Humo of the 20 de noviembre Market.
  • Head to the Zócalo where the cathedral is located. You can have a hot chocolate for dessert at El Mayordomo.
  • Stroll through the Jalatlaco neighborhood to see its colorful streets.
  • At night you can have a drink in one of the many bars, such as Mezcalogia, Sabina Sabe or La Selva.

My Advice
If you want to know everything for a great day, look at My perfect 24-Hour itinerary for a first time in Oaxaca!

2 days in Oaxaca

If you have two days in Oaxaca, the first day, follow the itinerary above. Then, the second day:

  • Start with a visit to Monte Alban (it is best to arrive at the opening).
  • Then visit the artisan villages: San Antonio Arrazola, San Bartolo Coyotepec, San Martin Tilcajete, Santo Tomas Jalieza.
  • If you still have time, you can continue along the same road and you will arrive at Mezcal Lalocura.
  • If you wish, you can also take a day tour from Oaxaca to visit the archaeological site of Monte Alban, San Antonio Arrazola, the monastery of Cuilapam de Guerrero and San Bartolo Coyotepec.

My Advice
For an adventure covering all the essential highlights, dive into My comprehensive 2-day itinerary in Oaxaca!

3 days in Oaxaca: What to Do?

If you have three days in Oaxaca, day 1 and 2 follow the same program, and then day 3:

  • In the morning, start with the archaeological site of Mitla
  • Continue with Hierve el Agua
  • On your way back to Oaxaca, make a stop in Teotitlán del Valle
  • If you prefer not to worry about the organization of the day, you can also book this tour which includes hotel pick-up, Mitla, Hierve el Agua and Teotitlán del Valle.
My Advice
If you want to experience all the highlights, check out My complete 3-day itinerary for Oaxaca!  

Is Oaxaca safe?

Oaxaca is a safe city to visit.

Of course, you should always be careful:

  • Always keep an eye on your belongings (don’t leave them unattended).
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers.
  • Use bank ATMs for withdrawals.
  • Avoid carrying valuables.
  • Never go to a remote area without checking the situation of the place.

All the places mentioned in this article are tourist destinations in Oaxaca and are not very dangerous.

How to get to Oaxaca de Juarez?

By car

It takes about 6 hours to drive from Mexico City to the city of Oaxaca de Juarez, and about 4 hours from Puebla.

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 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:

My tips for driving from Mexico City to Oaxaca:

  • Important: leave early to avoid as much traffic as possible!
  • The toll from Mexico City to Oaxaca costs 511 pesos. For details of the tolls, it is best to check Traza tu Ruta
  • Do not drive at night.
  • To make it easier to go through the tolls (without stopping and without bringing change), it is best to get the TAG (electronic toll). You can recharge it easily through the app (AndroidIphone) or at one of these locations.
  • Enjoy the view! I have traveled by road between Mexico City and Oaxaca, and I can confirm that some of the scenery is beautiful, especially near the Tehuacan Reserve with areas full of cactus.
  • If you want to take a break on your way, you could stop in the charming city of Puebla (2h15 drive from Mexico City). You can read this article: The 25 Best Things To Do In Puebla!

By plane

Xoxocotlán International Airport receives flights from Mexico City, Cancun, Guadalajara, Tijuana and other national and international destinations, mainly with Aeromexico and Volaris.

To find your cheap flight to Oaxaca or your international flight to Mexico, use our flight comparator in collaboration with Skyscanner. It will help you find the best price!

How to get from Oaxaca airport to downtown:

  • Rent a car at the airport through Booking Cars (click on the link to compare cars)
  • Take a cab from the airport (about 400 pesos each way) or walk here for a cheaper cab (about 150 pesos). As far as I know, there is no Uber type app at the moment.
  • By public transport: taking the bus to downtown Oaxaca from the airport is the cheapest option (10 pesos each way). You have to walk 1km to the center and then wait for a bus from the “Halcón company” that will drop you off at the corner of Francisco Javier Mina and Bustamante. But ask before boarding to make sure it is going in the right direction.
  • Shared transportation: another very good and affordable option. This is a van that can take up to 8 people and will drop you off at your hotel.

Book the round trip service from the airport to your hotel in Oaxaca here:

By bus

From Mexico City, it is 7h.

Buses to Oaxaca leave from TAPO (Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente) in Mexico City.

There are day and night departures with several companies, but I recommend ADO (or AU, which is the same company) –  See prices and schedules on ADO’s website

Tourist map of Oaxaca

Here are all the best things to see and do in Oaxaca that I mentioned in the article:

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.

You’re using Pinterest? Here is the picture to pin!

visit Oaxaca Mexico
visit Oaxaca Mexico

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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