Temple of Santo Domingo de Guzman

Another of my Favorite Mexican Cities

I would consider spending a year in Oaxaca because it has every kind of lifestyle you could choose from. It’s well-developed, clean, and walkable. Historically, Oaxaca was a magnet for surrounding villages to congregate with their culture and it still is. There are lots of colorful festivities and events all year round to see.

Handmade salsa

Oaxaca has a reputation for its food scene

Oaxaca offers tantalizing moles, mezcal tastings, and the joy of sharing food in lively markets. However, that kind of dining is usually on the higher end. It’s still doable on a budget.

The colorful homes in the streets of Oaxaca

A Colorful Colonial Cityscape

A captivating cultural destination, Oaxaca enchants visitors with its rich heritage and vibrant traditions. The city’s colorful markets overflow with handicrafts, while ancient ruins and colonial architecture narrate a fascinating history. Oaxaca is lined with mural art, making every street you walk a visual adventure.

Monte Alban Ancient ruins

A City at the base of an Archaeological Wonder

Monte Albán in Oaxaca is an ancient archaeological site that was once the capital of the Zapotec civilization, showcasing impressive ruins and panoramic views of the surrounding valley. I took this tour on Viator.com com and had a great time.

Celebration in the square

I recommend visiting Oaxaca if you like…

  • History
  • Culture
  • Food
  • Cheese or Mole
  • Mezcal
  • Colorful architecture
  • Festivals
  • Shopping
  • Art

Dining and Cuisine

Oaxaca is known as the food capital of Mexico where many creative hot new chefs are making names for themselves. But I found that most of those types of places were on the pricy side. Even so, there are plenty of down-to-earth restaurants to try as well.

Take a food walking tour immediately!

I am a true believer in taking a tour immediately to get acquainted with a city. A food walking tour is a great way to get your bearings and you have the full attention of a local expert for great suggestions and answers.

Here are some foodie walking tours I recommend based on ratings and my own research.

Regional Dishes

Oaxaca is famous for…

  • Mole Oaxaqueño: A complex and rich sauce made from chilies, spices, and chocolate, served over chicken or turkey and accompanied by rice and tortillas.
  • Tlayudas: Large, thin tortillas topped with refried beans, Oaxacan cheese, cabbage, avocado, and a choice of meats, folded in half and grilled until crispy.

Popular Local Tacos

  • Tacos de Chapulines: Unique to Oaxaca, these tacos feature seasoned grasshoppers, often accompanied by guacamole, cheese, and salsa.
  • Tacos de Mole: Tortillas filled with shredded chicken or pork and smothered in Oaxacan mole sauce, a rich and flavorful blend of spices and chocolate.
  • Tacos de Carnitas: Slow-cooked and seasoned pork, served in soft corn tortillas with toppings like salsa, guacamole, and fresh herbs.

Unique Foodie Experiences I Recommend

Flavors of Oaxaca: Cooking Class with No Set Menu and Local Market Tour through Viator

The Best Things to Do in Oaxaca

Many things you can do on your own but there are some activities, I suggest a tour. I haven’t been on a bad tour yet. And they really know how to do it here in Mexico. They take all the stress of planning out of it so you can focus right on what you want to see.

Day trip to Hierve del Aqua

Hierve de Agua in Oaxaca is a stunning natural wonder, featuring petrified waterfalls and mineral-rich rock formations that create a breathtaking and unique landscape. It’s a big park and many vantage points to see. These are natural springs that fill the many pools and then trickle down the side of the mountain causing centuries of petrified minerals frozen like stalagtites. I did this on my own but it took a lot of planning. I would recommend getting there at the opening before the crowds.

See this tour on GetyourGuide.com.

Take a cooking class

A fun and educational experience where you can get hands-on cooking lessons in a group setting. I took this class and it was great

Tour one of the many Mezcalerias

Visit a working hacienda and learn about how Mezcal is made.

The Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca. Botanical gardens in Oaxaca

Tour the Jardin Etnobotanico de Oaxaca

The Ethnobotanical Garden of Oaxaca exhibits hundreds of live plant species, all native to Oaxaca. Planting began in 1998 with plants coming from different regions in the state of Oaxaca; such as arid, humid, low tropical and high mountainous temperate zones. The garden represents the broad diversity of geological formations, types of vegetation and climates that characterize Oaxaca. Official website

Textile Hacienda

Visit a nearby Textile Production Hacienda where they spin and naturally color the wool. And then make beautiful rugs and tapestries.

Hierve el Agua, Tule Tree, Mitla and Mezcal Distillery Tour

Join a group tour that covers some of the surrounding interesting sites. Do all three in one day on this Viator tour

Walk through “Smoke Alley”. It’s an aisle in the downtown market where all the vendors are BBQing meats. You can order a basket of mixed meats cooked on demand
Parque Ciudad de las Canteras – A reservoir that was abandoned for years has been revamped into a modern public space. Its size is quite extensive and very beautiful. It’s lake after lake.. and seems to never stop. More information on this park

Where to Stay – Accommodations

Our Airbnb

There are all kinds of options and price points available. I am more budget-minded and I wanted to be immersed in Oaxaca, so I chose a homestay. I found a cute little Airbnb for under $40 a night, and when you book a month, I have gotten my rate down to $30/night.
Click here to see my stay on Airbnb.

Want to know how I find an apartment in a safe neighborhood? Click here

But you can find any price point you want from dorm rooms to luxury.
Click on these links below to go directly to Oaxaca.

If you’re on foot like me, you want to be as close to the center as possible. I recommend staying in the pink zone shown on the map.

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