The historic church in Oaxaca, Mexico with plants in the foreground and the sun bright in the background
Posted: 6/23/23 | June twenty third, 2023

Oaxaca is one among my favourite cities. From the second I first visited, I knew this was a spot I’d return to repeatedly and once more. I’ve been half a dozen occasions now, even leading tours around the city.

Positioned in southwestern Mexico in a valley surrounded by craggy mountains, Oaxaca has been inhabited for 1000’s of years by indigenous Zapotec and Mixtec peoples. At present, it’s a middle for meals, mezcal manufacturing, and artisan textiles and pottery, and contains a wealthy historical past, owing to locations like Monte Albán and Mitla.

Take all that historical past, meals, and drink, and bundle it in a spot brimming with colourful buildings, scenic rooftop eating places and bars, distinctive road artwork, and picturesque parks, and it’s no shock so many individuals — myself included — love Oaxaca.

Since I’ve visited this metropolis rather a lot, that will help you plan your journey, I put collectively this five-day Oaxaca itinerary. It covers all of the highlights, my favourite issues to see and do, and a few off-the-beaten-path actions too!

A small banner image for a TNN tour to Oaxaca

Oaxaca Itinerary: Day 1

A quiet, empty street painted bright colors in beautiful Oaxaca, Mexico
Take a free strolling tour
One of many first issues I do after I go to a brand new place is take a free strolling tour. They’re one of the best ways to see the primary sights, get launched to the tradition, and meet an area who can reply all of your questions and provide you with suggestions.

My favourite firm right here is Oaxaca Free Walking Tour. They provide free day by day excursions that present you the hidden gems and what life is like for residents. I can’t advocate them sufficient if it’s your first time right here. Simply be certain to tip your information on the finish!

See the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán
Whereas in downtown Oaxaca, don’t miss stopping on this advanced, which contains a Seventeenth-century Baroque Roman Catholic church, a cultural museum, and a botanical backyard. Initially used as a Dominican church and monastery, this photogenic web site was later used as a barracks and army constructing throughout Mexico’s revolution (1910–1920) all the best way into the Nineteen Nineties.

Whereas right here, see the Museo de las Culturas, which is dwelling to every kind of non secular and pre-Columbian artifacts. The “Treasures of Monte Albán” exhibition showcases over 400 relics from a Mixtec tomb that is without doubt one of the most essential burial websites in Mesoamerica, together with a cranium lined in turquoise, carved bone objects, weaving instruments, and jewellery made from gold and jade. It’s by far among the finest issues to do on the town. Anticipate to spend a few hours in all the advanced.

C. Macedonio Alcalá S/N. The Museo de las Culturas is open Tuesday-Friday 10am-3pm. Admission to the church is free, whereas the museum is 85 MXN.

Wander town and admire the road artwork
Oaxaca has a wealth of road artwork, starting from political items commenting on social points to murals targeted on indigenous tradition and historical past. The areas of Xochilmilco and Jalatlaco are two of the most effective for murals. You may also be a part of a road artwork bike tour supplied by Coyote Aventuras (850 MXN) for an much more in-depth look.

Attempt a street-stall hamburguesa
After a busy day of exploring, feast on an hamburguesa for dinner. It’s a burger topped with a sizzling canine, sliced cheese, Oaxaca cheese, ham, pineapple, lettuce, tomato, and jalapeño. I do know it’s bizarre to incorporate this however belief me, you’ll need one. And it’s not made for Gringos and vacationers both. Locals devour these. It began right here. You’ll see stalls throughout city however Cangreburguer close to Santo Domingo sells among the finest.

Oaxaca Itinerary: Day 2

A farm growing agave for mezcal in Oaxaca, Mexico
Discover Mercado 20 de Noviembre
This Nineteenth-century lined market has many sorts of scrumptious road meals and contemporary, native produce. It’s additionally my favourite on the town. Named after the beginning date of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, this big market has all the things and is de facto good for grilled meats. Additionally close by is the Mercado Benito Juárez. It has a bunch of meals stalls and outlets value shopping when you have extra time.

20 de Noviembre 512. Open day by day 7am-9pm. Admission is free.

Stroll by means of the Botanical Backyard
Positioned within the former convent within the aforementioned Santo Domingo de Guzmán advanced, the Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca was based in 1994 and opened to the general public in 1999. Spanning six acres, it options crops from throughout the state (lots of which have been transplanted right here, for the reason that backyard is so younger). Along with the flowers, timber, and cacti that dot the backyard, there are additionally sculptures and artistic endeavors.

Admission is by guided tour solely and there is just one English tour per day (supplied at 11am), which has solely 25 spots and fills up shortly so make sure to arrive early to seize your spot.

Reforma Sur, Ruta Independencia. Open Monday-Saturday 10am-3:30pm. Admission is by guided tour solely. Admission (together with the tour) is 50 MXN for Spanish excursions and 100 MXN for English ones.

Study mezcal
I like mezcal (which is without doubt one of the the explanation why I like Oaxaca). That is the birthplace of mezcal, a spirit distilled from agave. Not like tequila, which can be produced from agave, when making mezcal, the center of the plant is cooked in a pit within the floor earlier than it’s crushed. Then water is added, and it’s allowed to ferment. Because the plant is cooked, mezcal has a a lot smokier taste than tequila.

If you wish to be taught extra about this standard (and scrumptious) spirit, Rambling Spirits runs the most effective mezcal excursions in Oaxaca. Go together with them if you wish to be taught extra. Their guides have unimaginable information and might take you to locations the larger excursions can’t. I discovered a ton on this tour and extremely advocate it! Most excursions depart after lunch so it’s an ideal solution to spend the rest of your day.

Moreover, you possibly can pop into one of many many mezcalerías on the town to style and be taught extra in regards to the area’s favourite spirit. My private favorites are Los Amantes Mezcalería, Mezcalogia, Tres Hermanas, Mezcalería In Situ, and Comere.

Oaxaca Itinerary: Day 3

The ancient historic site of Monte Alban near Oaxaca, Mexico
See Monte Albán
This web site is a pre-Columbian UNESCO World Heritage Website situated simply quarter-hour exterior city (with common shuttles to and from downtown). Based within the sixth century BCE, Monte Albán was one of many earliest Mesoamerican cities and an essential sociopolitical and financial heart for nearly a thousand years.

Begin your go to by stopping in on the museum, because it’ll provide you with context, particularly if you happen to’re not on a guided tour. Then, wander the sprawling web site at your leisure, climbing historic Zapotec pyramids and admiring the tombs, terraces, and canals that span a number of miles. The location takes about 2-3 hours to go to, relying in your tempo. Deliver a hat and sunscreen, as there isn’t a lot shade.

Ignacio Bernal S/N, San Pedro Ixtlahuaca. Open day by day 10am-4pm. Admission is 90 MXN.

Take a meals tour
Upon returning to town, discover the culinary scene with a guided meals tour. Oaxaca is taken into account one of the essential hubs for gastronomy in Mexico. My favourite tour firm is Oaxaca Eats, which runs a number of excursions, most of which final round 4 hours. You’ll get to pattern over 20 dishes and be taught a ton in regards to the meals and its historical past. It’s one of many oldest meals tour corporations on the town and run by a beautiful native girl with a ardour for meals.

Tour costs fluctuate however anticipate to spend 2,000 MXN.

Oaxaca Itinerary: Day 4

The cool waters and beautiful views of Hierve el Agua, a swimming area near Oaxaca, Mexico
Swim at Hierve el Agua
Hierve el Agua is one among Mexico’s most stunning pure websites and a sacred place for the indigenous Zapotec individuals. These petrified waterfalls appear frozen in time — and so they virtually are, as they’ve been within the making for 1000’s of years. As water from pure springs flows over the aspect of the cliffs, the minerals from the water create rock formations, a lot in the identical manner that stalactites type in caves. Deliver your swimsuit, as you possibly can bathe within the pure and artifical swimming pools on the prime!

Along with admiring the calcified cliffs, there are additionally hikes within the space, which is an efficient solution to get away from the crowds.

Open day by day 7am-6:30pm. Admission is 50 MXN.

Discover Mitla
One other historic web site that I feel is a must-see, this pre-Columbian UNESCO World Heritage Website was one of many most important spiritual and religious hubs for the indigenous Zapotec and Mixtec individuals. Used as a sacred burial floor and believed to be a gateway between the realms of the dwelling and the lifeless, Mitla was in-built 850 CE however was principally destroyed by the Spanish within the mid-Sixteenth century. Nonetheless, some buildings had been left intact (a few of which date way back to 400 CE), which you’ll be able to discover in your go to to the archaeological web site, which stands out from different Mesoamerican ruins because of the mosaics protecting the tombs and partitions. It’s one other web site I at all times take individuals to see after I information them across the metropolis.

Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday 10am-2pm. Admission is 90 MXN whereas skip-the-line tickets are 160 MXN.

Oaxaca Itinerary: Day 5

A bright sign for the town of Coyotepec, a small town near Oaxaca, Mexico
In your final day, choose and select from a handful of actions, relying in your funds and journey model:

Go to Oaxaca’s artisan cities
Scattered all through the state of Oaxaca are small folk-art villages, the place you possibly can meet artisans, see how conventional items are made, and produce again a memento of your travels if you happen to select. Every village focuses on a distinct craft: Teotitlán del Valle is thought for its textiles, San Bartolo Coyotepec for black pottery, and San Martín Tilcajete and San Antonio Arrazola for (brightly coloured fantastical animal sculptures), to call only a few.

Expertise a temazcal
In your final night in Oaxaca, wind down at a temazcal (that means “home of warmth”), a conventional Zapotec sweat lodge. You’ll sit in a small domed hut that turns into more and more hotter. You’ll rub all the things from clay to contemporary fruit juices and peels in your pores and skin as you warmth up, cooling down by dunking your self in chilly water. It’s a really meditative, religious expertise with quite a few well being advantages.

Visits often final an hour and value round 600 MXN.

Wander the Sunday market
When you’re on the town on a Sunday, make sure to go to Mercado Tlacolula, one of the standard markets within the area. It’s been in operation for hundreds of years and is an efficient place to purchase native crafts, produce, meals, and all the things in between. It’s situated 45 minutes exterior of city, so that you’ll must drive there or take the bus, however it’s completely well worth the journey. Hundreds of individuals come right here, and there’s tons of wonderful meals to strive. Don’t skip the barbacoa (stewed meat) and chicharrón (fried pork rinds)!

Admire the world’s widest tree
Simply 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the middle of Oaxaca, within the humble city of Santa María del Tule, is the world’s widest tree. Estimated to be 1,500-3,000 years outdated, this Montezuma cypress (Mexico’s nationwide tree) has a diameter of about 14 meters (46 ft) and is a powerful sight to behold.


Oaxaca shortly turns into a favourite of everybody who visits and lots of people ending up coming again time and again. There’s rather a lot to see and do right here. This itinerary is jus ta common define as there are tons of little museums, church buildings, experiences, and markets you will discover by yourself.

Use this itinerary to see the highlights and fill in the remainder of your time with some wandering!

Ebook Your Journey to Mexico: Logistical Ideas and Methods

Ebook Your Flight
Discover a low cost flight through the use of Skyscanner. It’s my favourite search engine as a result of it searches web sites and airways across the globe, so that you at all times know no stone is left unturned!

Ebook Your Lodging
You’ll be able to e-book your hostel with Hostelworld because it has the biggest stock. If you wish to keep elsewhere, use, because it persistently returns the most affordable charges for guesthouses and motels. Three of my favourite locations to remain are:

Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you in opposition to sickness, damage, theft, and cancelations. It’s complete safety in case something goes incorrect. I by no means go on a visit with out it, as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions up to now. My favourite corporations that supply the most effective service and worth are:

Searching for the most effective corporations to save cash with?
Try my resource page for the most effective corporations to make use of whenever you journey! I checklist all those I take advantage of!

Need Extra Data on Mexico?
Make sure to go to our robust destination guide on Mexico for much more planning suggestions!

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