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Top Things To Do In Oaxaca

Visit The Botanical Gardens

OAXACA CITY, MEXICO (2022) | 10 Best Things To Do In & Around Oaxaca City

If you love seeing and learning about the local flora and fauna when you travel, youll want to be sure to hit the botanical gardens. Here youll be able to see many different plants that are native to the state of Oaxaca.

A visit to the botanical gardens is easily combined with the cathedral and the culture museum, as theyre all located on the same grounds. There are English tours on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 11AM for about $5. for directions.

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Visit The Town And Ancient Ruins Of Mitla

Monte albán might be the most famous but Mitla is my favorite of both ancient ruins. Mitla is also said to be the most important site for the Zapotec culture. It is located 40 km away from the city center.

An interpretation of the past says that Mitla was a place for rest or, a place for the dead. Mitla comes from the word Mictlan and one of its meanings is the underworld.

Mitla is a pre-Columbian archeological site that expresses the Mesoamerican belief that death was the most consequential part of life after birth. It was built as a gateway between the world of the living and the world of the dead.

We will be talking about Mitla and the rest of the day trips in more detail soon, but, I want to mention a fun fact that our guide told us.

One of the interpretations made by historians and archeologists is that Mitla remains so apparently untouched because when the Spanish arrived intending to destroy the ancient site, they got stuck in awe for its beauty and decided to spare it and instead build their churches and other colonial buildings around.

So, Mitla becomes a really good place to observe and imagine the past events in which 2 cultures collided.

Exciting Things To Do In Oaxaca City Mexico

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If youve ever heard someone say I could never get bored in Oaxaca, they werent kidding. This Mexican city is rich in culture and things to do. From exploring ancient ruins to indulging in delicious food, there are so many great things to do here.

Oaxaca City has many activities at your disposal. You can go on guided day tours from Oaxaca to ancient ruins or archeological sites, or simply just wander through the vibrant streets and explore the city on your own. There are many museums and historical buildings in the city as well, for history buffs visiting Oaxaca is a must!

If you are an admirer of nature, Oaxaca city has many Mexican natural wonders to offer! For the foodies out there, Oaxaca will not disappoint. Not only is the city home to some of the best mole poblano in Mexico, but you can also find many other delicious traditional dishes. Oaxaca is also known for its mezcal, so be sure to try a few different varieties during your stay!

Oaxaca is a city full of things to do, no matter what your interests are. The best part about the city is its size it is not a big and bustling city, yet it still has plenty to offer to keep you occupied during your stay.

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Get Stuck On The Stamp Museum

A stamp museum might sound like a snoozefest! But I had seen pictures before my visit and was determined to see the minimal architecture of this museum. The museum features stamps from Mexico and around the world, as well as artwork based on stamps. During Day of the Dead, they also decorate the museum courtyard with marigolds and other seasonal decor. Its a peaceful little spot in the city just half a block from the Ethnobotanical Garden. Free admission.

Museo de la Filatelia Oaxaca: map location

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A city in Mexico, Oaxaca is known for many things and offers diverse activities that will surely be enjoyed by everyone. But, what it really is famous for is its colonial structures which date back many years ago, such as Palacio de Gobierno, Catedral de Oaxaca, and Templo de Santo Domingo. Some of the buildings are even made of green volcanic stones. Apart from the architecture, it also has numerous museums, natural wonders, vibrant night spot, delicious local food scene, and a lot more. In case you still dont have an itinerary, check out our compilation of the best things to do in Oaxaca, Mexico, for your guidance.

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A modest-looking museum that showcases varieties of traditional textiles, Museo Textil has three rooms, one upstairs and two on the ground floor, which have different exhibits. The museum promotes its local textile craft through presentations, films, workshop, exhibits, and more. It also has a gift shop where you can buy souvenir items. If youre wondering where youll find the Musei Textil, it is in an 18th-century restored mansion in the historic center in Oaxaca. This is a fantastic activity for those who love to learn about traditions and its imapct on culture.

Museo Textil

Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 10am – 8pm Sun: 10am – 6pm

Price: 6.10 USD

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Traditional Pottery Route: San Bartolo Coyotepec + San Marcos Tlapazola

If you are a pottery enthusiast, there are many day trips to visit traditional artisan workshops around the valley. Oaxaca is famous for its pottery and there are many different styles.

  • San Bartolo Coyotepec is famous for its black pottery. This pottery is made from a specific black clay and is fired at a low heat and has a matte finish. This pottery is mostly decorative because of its fragile nature. You can find many shops to visit in the towns central square.
  • San Marcos Tlapazola is famous for its red or brown clay. Stop at Mujeres de Barro Rojo, a womens collective that sells everything from dishes, to large comals , cups, and decorative items.
  • Santa Maria Atzompa is famous for their traditional green glazed pottery. You will also find many modern interpretations here including mezcal glasses and flower pots with cute faces, and sleek minimalist dishes. Stop for a visit at Coatlicue taller.

Sunday Market In Tlacolula

If you happen to be in Oaxaca on a Sunday and want to have an authentically off the beaten path experience, follow these instructions: Head to the baseball stadium and look for a collective with the name Tlacolula on the windshield.

If you dont see any, ask around: ¿Donde esta el collectivo a Tlacolula?Where is the collectivo to Tlacolula?

This trip will be about 45 minutes depending on traffic, and will bring you to the nearby village of Tlacolula where they hold the largest indigenous market in Latin America on Sundays.

Covering over 1.5 miles, this market is a great place to people watch, try some street food and buy fresh produce.

Just make sure you actually get to the covered market itself . Youll see people wearing the traditional clothes of their villages and youll see families spending the day together.

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Enjoy Local Food At Mercado 20 De Noviembre

Are you looking for a place where you can have local food at a cheap price? If so, you need to drop by Mercado 20 de Noviembre. It is a street food market with innumerable stalls of food. You will find here a large selection of local goods that you wont find anywhere in the world. But, the most loved area here is the east side, where youll find the Pasillo de Carnes Asadas. Here, you can select which slab of meat you want and let the vendors do the cooking.

Mercado 20 de Noviembre

Address: 20 de Noviembre 512, OAXREBENITO JUAREZ, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico

Opening hours: 7am – 9pm

Other Places & Things To Do In Oaxaca State

Top 10 Things To Do In Oaxaca Mexico | Mexico Travel

Staying longer in Oaxaca state? Consider visiting some of the other interesting destinations and best things to do in Oaxaca state below:

  • Puerto Escondido: This surfing town has grown into a popular beach destination. Visit beautiful cove beaches, try your hand at surfing, release baby turtles, eat delicious seafood, and visit the nearby bioluminescent lagoon.
  • Chacahua: Visit a national park filled with mangroves and a remote beach reached only by boat.
  • Mazunte/San Agustinilllo/Zipolite: These tiny beach towns will allow you to disconnect and enjoy nature. Hike Punta Cometa peninsula for sunset, take yoga classes, arrange a boat tour to see dolphins, sea turtles, and whales, or simply relax and enjoy the peaceful location.
  • Huatulco: This national park includes nine distinct bays full of picture-perfect turquoise ocean. This is a good option if you prefer a resort-like vacation, but the nature is also stunning and there are many remote beaches to explore.
  • Pluma Hidalgo: The most famous coffee growing region in Oaxaca state, this small picturesque town is located just 45 minutes drive from Huatulco, but perched high in the mountains. This is a great day or side trip from the coast to learn about coffee growing in the region.
  • The Isthmus: For a completely different perspective on Oaxaca, you can visit the Isthmus region, the narrow land between the rest of Oaxaca and the state of Chiapas. This low-land region is tropical and has its own distinct culture, food, and traditions.

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Visit The Jalatlaco & Xochimilco Neighborhoods

Oaxaca Centro is full of colorful beautiful buildings, but there are two neighborhoods that have the highest concentration of murals and colorful corners, Jalatlaco and Xochimilco. Jalatlaco is located on the eastern side of the city center and is full of narrow winding cobblestone streets and impressive murals featuring cultural scenes.

Xochimilco is named after the aqueducts built in the 18th century to bring fresh drinking water to the center. The neighborhood of Xochimilco also has cobblestone streets and lots of murals by local artists, as well as cafes and restaurants. Its a beautiful place to take photos.

Visit The Botanical Garden

One of the best things to do in Oaxaca if you love green spaces is to visit the beautiful and peaceful botanical gardens .

This public garden is not just a bunch of plants put together but has the objective to tell the regions history through its flora and explore the link between the Oaxacan people and plants, which are divided by cultural and ecological groups.

The Botanical Gardens are quite big, sitting on 2.5 acres of former monastic grounds and they are located right next to the Templo de Santo Domingo, so theyre super easy to reach.

NOTE: theyre open from Monday to Saturday and can only be visited with guided tours, which are offered in English every day at 11 am. Check out the website for more info!

PRICE: 100 MDX

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Day : Go On A Mezcal Tour In Oaxaca

If last night gave you a taste for mezcal, today youre going to learn even more about the drink.

But first, breakfast. Head to PAN:AM for the delicious chilaquiles and fresh juices. Dont forget to pick something out of the bread basket that comes around everything is freshly made in-house.

There are plenty of mezcal tours around town but we chose and recommend Las Bugambilias. I found them through the blog Brooklyn Tropicali, written by an expat living in Oaxaca, and loved that they take their guests to small, family-run palenques .

The tour is an all-day affair, with stops at three different producers in Santiago de Matatlán. Eighty-five percent of mezcal is produced in Oaxaca state, and most of that is made in Santiago de Matatlán.

The tour with Las Bugambilias isnt like other tours where its all about the drinking, instead youll learn in great detail about the process of making mezcal, and see where it all happens. Staff at each palenque leads the group through a tasting of their best mezcals and you can purchase bottles in each location. Lunch is at a family-owned restaurant.

Guided option: An alternative tour is this full-day tour which provides an in-depth look at mezcal production. If you want to get hands-on, on this tour youll be helping out the production team at one of the local palenques.

Go To Plaza De La Danza And Eat Ice Cream

15 Best Things to Do in Oaxaca (Mexico)

So far we have mentioned 2 very important temples of Oaxaca City, the Cathedral and the Santo Domingo Temple, but we have not yet mentioned the one that is most dear to the local people.

I am talking about la Basílica de nuestra señora de la Soledad Cathedral of our lady of the assumption).

La señora de la Soledad is the patron saint of the city of Oaxaca and is therefore most revered by its people. It is known that many locals hold their weddings, baptisms, quinceañeras, and other ceremonies there.

So, it is very important to make a stop there to make a deeper connection with the Oaxacans culture.

But, you dont only stop there to learn or sightsee, you go to that area for this very important reason too: Ice Cream!

Outside the basilica is a huge open area called Plaza de la Danza. A big chunk of the open space has been taken over by a great number of local craft ice cream stalls where you can find very interesting and creative flavors such as chapulin, mezcal, beso oaxaqueño, tuna, and more.

Make sure you go try them all!

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Where To Eat: Restaurants In Oaxaca

There is no shortage of restaurants to choose from in Oaxaca. And part of the fun is just wandering around with your nose as your guide.

But if you want some tips for some of the best places to eat in Oaxaca, keep reading Were sharing some great vegetarian options too!

Calabacitas Tiernas: If youre craving a good meal, veggie or not, this cute restaurant has an open air courtyard and serves large portions with a specialty in Mexican fusion.

PAN:AM:Brunch please! This has been one of the best breakfast spots we found throughout our time in Mexico. Everything that came out of the kitchen looked delicious, so you really can go wrong.

La Gran Torta: Small mom and pop shop known for serving Pozoles, yummy traditional Mexican stew. They serve large portions at cheap prices.

Eat at a market: You wont be able to beat the prices or the freshness anywhere in the city.

General Oaxaca Travel Tips

Visiting Oaxaca is a highlight on any Mexico itinerary

Oaxaca Mexico is a must for travelers looking to seek an authentic side of Mexico. While Spanish is the dominant langue, over 16 Indigenous languages are spoken within the state. The Indigenous people still practice ancient traditions and their connection to the past and land is a highlight to observe on any Oaxaca itinerary.

Oaxaca is one of the 32 states found in Mexico and Oaxaca State is divided into 8 very diverse regions. Oaxaca de Juárez is the largest city within the state and is located in the Valles Centrales region. Be mindful, Oaxaca City sits at an elevation of 5,102 ft.

The diversity of Oaxaca State photo taken at Cafebre Cafe

The other seven regions include the Sierra Norte , Sierra Sur , and the incredible Costa region along the Pacific Ocean. To the north of Chiapas State is the unique Istmo region. La Mixteca region boasts incredible hiking, untouched nature, and was the birthplace of the Mixtec culture. The regions of Cañada and Papaloapan, share a border with neighboring State to the north, Veracruz.

Mexico uses the pesos as a currency.

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Apartment Rentals And Airbnbs In Oaxaca

There are some great Airbnb apartment rentals throughout Oaxaca. We find Airbnbs to be ideal for longer stays to give a more homey-environment to settle down into a local Oaxaca neighborhood. Yet were further incentivized to use Airbnb for longer stays since hosts often offer discounts for weekly and monthly bookings. So thats what we tend to choose when staying in Oaxaca and spending time to research the city.

If youve never used Airbnb before and want to give it a try, you can use our referal link to get $40 off your first stay.

Take A Mole And Mezcal Pairing Class

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One of my absolute favorite things to do in Oaxaca was a mezcal and mole pairing. Mole and mezcal are two specialties from Oaxaca, but you have no idea how complex they are until you try them one at a time, savoring them, noting all the differences! Its a great place to try several moles at once.

This experience is given by Daniel, a sommelier with a really interesting background. In fact, we enjoyed his tour so much that we hung out with him later on and he showed us around the cool parts of the Xochimilco neighborhood.

Think mezcal is tequilas smokier sister? Get ready to have your mind blown high quality mezcal isnt supposed to be smoky at all, Daniel told us! Its like wine. Its subtle and vibrant, and once you attune your mind to its flavors, youll be amazed. This mezcal tasting might have the side effect of ruining you for mezcal!

You can book it here. Rates from $52. Very highly recommended.

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