Oaxaca de Juarez is one of the most beautiful destinations to visit in Mexico! Colorful markets, charming architecture and cobblestone streets are part of the attraction.
Located in the southwest Isthmus of Tehuantepec, this city’s origins date back to the Zapotec people who lived on Monte Alban. Many families continue the indigenous traditions which have contributed to the flourishing of this town.
In the 15th century, Spanish explorers arrived to search for gold and many of the colonial buildings were built with green limestone.
Today the tree shaded parks and squares attract locals and visitors where they enjoy the easygoing pace of daily life. Artists and chefs are inspired by the creative atmosphere that surrounds them here.
With only a couple days, I ventured out to explore this culturally rich region and here’s my growing list of Top 10 Things to Do!
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO
1. Walking Tour with Enjoy Oaxaca: An excellent way to be introduced to Oaxaca is a tour with Enjoy Oaxaca. They offer several tours – city walking tours, a tour of Mont Alban, Mitla Ruins, Hierve el Agua bubbling springs & the petrified waterfall, as well as many festival tours including Day of the Dead.
2. Santo Domingo de Guzmán: Visit this famous church and monastery from the 15th century. Look up at the intricate ceiling decor and ornamental altars.
3. Museum of Oaxacan Cultures: There are many museums in Oaxaca, but this museum is a must visit. Don’t Miss! See the section that showcases the treasures found on Mont Alban – the skull covered in turquoise, carved jaguar bones, gold jewelry and ornaments.
4. Art Galleries: Several artists live in Oaxaca and many are represented in galleries throughout the city. Spend a few hours gallery hopping.
5. Zocalo, Plaza Central Oaxaquena: Spend a few hours at this main square and enjoy watching the singers, mariachis, buy a souvenir from a street vendor, or relax and people watch at a nearby cafe.
6. Mercados: Visit the handicraft market Benito Juarez where you’ll find embroidered goods and straw made baskets and containers, along with many other crafts. Also, visit the food market 20 de Noviembre where you’ll find piles of fried grasshoppers (chapulines), and Oaxaca cheeses, tamales, meat-filled tortillas, tlayudas, chocolates, coffees and seven types of Mole.
7. Walk the Main Street: There are several shops and restaurants, cafes along The Macedonio Alcala.
8. Mezcal Tastings: Distilled from the Maguey cactus, mezcal has become part of Oaxaca’s identity. There are tours to visit mezcalerias where you can taste the flavors. Stop by Mezcaloteca for a tasting.
9. Take a Cooking Class! I ran out of time during my visit, but a good friend highly recommends these two classes:
Seasons of My Heart with Susan Trilling
10. Take a Daytrip…enjoy the scenic views of the Sierra Mountains and valleys when visiting villages and towns nearby.
- Mont Alban Pyramids: These ruins are located on the top of Mont Alban and if you’re lucky enough to see them when you fly into Oaxaca, you’ll understand how impressive they are. Sign up with Enjoy Oaxaca!
- Mitla Ruins: Visit these ancient ruins with geometric designs and ornamentation – a visual delight!
- Hierve el Agua: A couple hours drive from Oaxaca, and you can hike to the petrified waterfall – quite a sight! Afterwards, take a dip in the bubbling pools overlooking the surrounding vistas.
- Hotel Azul (modern luxury hotel – this is where I stayed)
- Casa Oaxaca Hotel (heard this is very nice)
- Hotel Parador San Miguel on Independecia: Family owned and operated and located right in city center near the Zocolo. My friend’s favorite place to stay.
- Quinta Real: Heard their guacamole is delicious! I stopped by and the setting is lovely with beautiful frescos. Brides love to celebrate their wedding here.
Here is a growing list of favorite places to dine…be sure to make a reservation, especially when a festival is taking place!
Enjoy Oaxaca: For first-timers, contact Oaxaca Tours to join a group to tour the city as well as daytrips outside of Oaxaca. Very friendly and professional team!
Luis Ramirez Tours cell 951 118 45 34
Referred by a friend who shared that Luis is a wonderful guide, very kind and speaks English well. Call Luis for a more intimate and unique tours.
Global Adventuress thanks Enjoy Oaxaca for hosting me on my tours!