Oaxaca Mexico Travel Guide will provide you with info and advise to select this colonial city as a destination in your next Mexico vacation.
Oaxaca is a beautiful historic city capital of the state of the same name. Oaxaca is famous for its magnificent architecture, indigenous ruins, unique crafts and authentic food.
* Oaxaca black pottery
In the city you can admire the buildings architecture in the Historic Center declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Walking around the City Center you will also find market places with a variety of crafts from all over the state including the famous black pottery, wool garments, and "alebriges" (colorful wooden figures).
Oaxaca's food has a millenary tradition with sophisticated recipes that make it distinctive. Don't forget to try (our favorite dishes) Oaxaca's version of "tamales" rolled in banana leafs, or Oaxaca's mole with literally dozens of different chilies and spices.
* Oaxaca street
There are many things to do in Oaxaca. Below we have gathered the top activities and places to visit:
Visiting the Historic Center is a must do. Here is the list of the most important colonial buildings:
The Cathedral (La Catedral)
The Temple and Ex-Convent of Santo Domingo de Guzman (El Templo y Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzman)
The Basilica of Solitude (La Basilica de la Soledad)
The Macedonio Alcala Theater (El Teatro Macedonio Alcala)
Very near Oaxaca you will find important archeological sites
Monte Alban, capital of the ancient Zapotec empire, also declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its artistic and cultural value, and
Mitla, capital of the Mixtec empire.
Other Zapotec empire archeological sites near the city of Oaxaca are:
Zaachila, the last capital of the Zapotecs
Dainzu with stone sculptures of five gods and a ball game.
Yagul near the towns of Teotitlan del Valle and Santa Ana del Valle with the second largest ball game field in Mesoamerica.
Another recommended sight is the Tule Tree ("Arbol de Tule") in the town of Santa Maria de Tule. This tree is more than 2000 years old, measures 50m (165 feet) in diameter, and is 40m (130 feet) tall.
If you want to buy wool garments and textiles, the best place is Teotitlan del Valle about 25km from Oaxaca City.
If you are visiting Oaxaca during the month of July, don't miss seeing the Guelagetza Festival. This is one of the biggest and most popular folklore festivals in Mexico. Each of the seven regions of Oaxaca come to the capital and shares their customs with typical music and dance. They commemorate the struggle of the Mexican indigenous people against the Spanish conquistador. During this time, you will find night shows commemorating the founding of the city of Oaxaca among other things going on in town.
Huatulco is Oaxaca's closest and most famous beach destination. Is only 145 km (90 miles), with beautiful bays and world class resorts. If you want to have a sun and culture experience, Oaxaca and Huatulco are the perfect combination.
Another great destination for the traveler that likes authentic and traditional Mexico is Puerto Escondido. This beach town is popular among surfers thanks to its perfect waves.
Oaxaca is really not known for a wild nightlife, but there will be really nice restaurants and bars where to spend the evening, or maybe you can choose to have a walk in the Historic Center.
You will find great places where to eat in Oaxaca Mexico. The food is one of the main attractions for visitors.
If you want to be intrepid don't leave without going to the market and trying "clayudas" which is made out of a thin crispy tortilla, different meats, cilantro, onion, and cheese and made with pork fat. Or try "chapulines colorados" which are basically grasshoppers. For the more conservative person try Oaxacan mole with chicken (there are different types from mild to hot).
Lastly, the most famous drink in Oaxaca is Mezcal which is made out of the same cactus that tequila is made of, except that is not distilled, and also Tequila can only be produced in its origin denominated region in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.
Oaxaca receives regularly schedule flights from major cities in Mexico, and from Houston, TX (Continental Airlines).
Another option is to fly to Huatulco. Since it's a beach destination, it will have more scheduled flights and competition which drives prices down.
To move around in the city and nearby places we recommend to take taxis, public transportation or tours. Transportation and tours will be relatively cheaper than in other places in Mexico due to the fact that the economy of the state is one of the less developed in the country. Renting a car is possible but you may struggle since signaling is confusing in general.
View Oaxaca Map in a larger map
In Oaxaca you will find anything from five star hotels to budget accommodation, but it will not have the huge beach type resorts. The choice is yours depending on your budget and travel preferences.
Oaxaca Mexico is a culture rich destination in Mexico thanks to its architecture, ancient ruins and millenary food.