BEST (& Worst) Things to Do in Oaxaca for Food, Culture & History Lovers

by | Apr 2, 2024 | Mexico, Travel

Want to fall in love with Oaxaca as much as I did?

This travel guide will help you do just that! In this post, you’ll find 35 of the best things to do in Oaxaca City. It’s perfect for those who want to experience this magical city’s history, culture, food, art, and natural beauty.

The guide also has information on day trips to the towns, ruins, distilleries, waterfalls, and mountains around Oaxaca, which I visited during my three trips there.

I’ve also included detailed instructions on getting to these attractions by public transportation for those on a budget.


Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate and a Bookshop.org Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  Please see this website’s Disclosure for more info.

street lined with colorful colonial buildings and colorful flags hanging across

Top 35 Things to Do in Oaxaca

small courtyard surrounded by colorful buildings

There are so many things to do in Oaxaca that you’ll need to stay a week to see them all. In this guide, we’ll start with all the things you can do in the historic center and then make our way through things to do for foodies, history buffs, art lovers, and archaeology nerds. Finally, I’ll share with you all the ways you can experience the natural beauty around Oaxaca City.

1. Wander around the Zocalo

street at dusk with people, vendors, and buildings

Any trip to a city in Mexico should begin in the Zocalo (Oaxaca’s main square). This is the heart and soul of every Mexican city. Oaxaca is no exception.

Around the Zocalo, you’ll always find the oldest and grandest buildings including the main church of the city. There will be plenty of benches to sit and watch the city go by, street vendors to buy food and souvenirs from, places to get your shoes shined, and expensive and touristy restaurants to grab an overpriced meal from. Someone will always be protesting something or asking you to donate to some cause. Locals, tourists, migrants, protestors, young couples, families, and friends all seem to congregate in the Zocalo.

The main square in Oaxaca has all of those things and more.

Here are just a few of my favorite things to do in Oaxaca’s Zocalo:

Grab a cup of hot chocolate

The best place to people-watch in Oaxaca is at the reasonably priced Restaurante Mayordomo, a chain restaurant found all over the city.

However, don’t eat a meal here. Instead, just order a traditional Oaxacan hot chocolate drink and a pastry called pan de muerta (yolk bread). You’ll be asked whether you want the drink with milk or water. The traditional way is with water. But milk is also very delicious.

Listen to Music in the Zocalo

Every evening I was in Oaxaca there was a musical performance in the Zocalo: an orchestra playing Western classical music, a band playing salsa music (and people dancing salsa), or a small group playing traditional Mexican music. They start at around 4:30 pm.

There was also another performance taking place next to the Cathedral. I think it was a comedy performance. My Spanish wasn’t good enough to fully understand what they were saying but there was plenty of laughter from the crowd.

See Political Protests and Rallies

The Zocalo is also the center of political protests in Oaxaca. One day, there was a massive teacher protest. On one Saturday, a massive group of people was protesting against violence against women (this is an important issue in Mexico as 10 women a day are murdered in Mexico for being female – in the United States it’s 5 women a day). I heard there were clashes between the protestors and police. I didn’t see it, but I saw the aftermath the next day: the Cathedral was covered in graffiti and the remnants of posters littered the Zocalo.

Visit the Cathedral of Oaxaca

Oaxaca Cathedral at dusk

Next to the Zocalo is the Cathedral of Oaxaca. Construction began in 1535 and finished in 1640. Due to earthquakes, it has been reconstructed many times over the years.

The façade is made of green cantera stone, a material particular to Oaxaca and found on most colonial buildings. It was built in the Neoclassical style, a unique style for Mexico, as most churches in Mexico are baroque.

The Cathedral is often open to the public, so you can easily have a look inside.

2. Check out the beautiful colonial buildings

Andador de Macedonio Aclala

One of my favorite things to do in Oaxaca is to aimlessly wander around the historic center, taking in all the beautiful colonial buildings that line the cobblestone streets.

One of my favorite streets for architecture is Andador de Macedonio Alcala. This pedestrian-only street connects the Zocalo with Santo Domingo Church. It’s lined with galleries, cafes, and shops housed in pink, blue, green, and yellow colonial buildings.

Break up your wanderings with a stop at a café for coffee or hot chocolate or at a rooftop bar for a beer or cocktail. I highly recommend the rooftop terrace at Praga Coffee Bar. The cocktails are fun but pricey, and the views are fabulous.

I also like the coffee shops, Cafebre and Cafe Brujula.

3. Stop by Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzman

  • OPEN: Around 4:00 or 5:00 pm
  • COST: free
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
Santo Domingo church in Oaxaca

One of Oaxaca’s most beautiful buildings is Santo Domingo Church and Monastery. Built between 1575 and 1608, the church was named in honor of Santo Domingo de Guzman, a Spanish monk who founded the Dominicans. This religious order was known for protecting the indigenous population against the greed of the colonists.

The interior is just as spectacular. The ceilings are covered in detailed carvings and gold leaf.

The Cultural Centre of Oaxaca is attached to the church. It’s worth a visit as it holds the contents of Tomb 7 from the Zapotec site of Monte Alban.

Culture Tip: In Mexico and Central America, many religious structures are referred to as convents. In English, a convent is solely a place for nuns. But the word is also used in Latin America to describe a monastery. Santo Domingo is referred to as a church and “convent”, but it was originally ONLY for monks and NOT nuns.

4. Tour the Oaxaca Botanical Gardens

  • GUIDED TOURS: 11:00 am (M-Sa) in English; 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 (M-Sa) in Spanish; 10:00 am (Sa) in French
  • COST: MXN$100 for the English tour and MXN$50 for the Spanish tour
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
2 rows of Cactus
Cactus

One of the hardest places to get into in Oaxaca is the Botanical Gardens (Jardin Etnobotanico de Oaxaca). But it is so worth it even if you’re not into plants and flowers. I’m not in general. But I adored this place, probably because the gardens are full of cactus varieties, and something about these plants fascinates me.

 

Why is it so hard to get into?

You have to join a one-hour tour. Unfortunately, tours in English take place once a day at 11:00 a.m. They used to limit the tours to 15 people, and you had to line up 2 to 3 hours ahead of time. I heard the limit has been raised and arriving 30 minutes prior is good enough.

There is a famous Instagram photo of a row of cacti reflected in a pool of water. When I visited, the pool was empty to prevent mosquitoes from proliferating and causing a dengue fever outbreak.

5. Visit the Solidad Basilica

Solidad Basilica in Oaxaca

Just a few blocks from the Zocalo is another not-to-miss architectural wonder in Oaxaca: Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Solidad.

Mexicans love baroque architecture, and Solidad takes this style to a whole new level. Built in 1682 and 1690, the church’s facade is full of the most beautiful and symbolic sculptures and geometric designs. Check out the carved relief on the outside of the church of the Virgin Mary weeping over the body of Christ (the skull, cross, and branches with leaves represent life after death). The city over her other shoulder in the background is Jerusalem.

3D relief of Virgin Mary on exterior of Solidad Basilica in Oaxaca

Another reason to add this church to your Oaxaca itinerary is the view from the church, which shows the neighborhoods clinging to the hills in the distance.

You might be interested in these Mexico travel guides:

6. Check out the Aqueduct of Oaxaca

aqueduct in things to do in Oaxaca

Another historic and architectural attraction you must visit in Oaxaca is the aqueduct. Built between 1727 and 1751, the aqueduct brought water down from Cerro de San Felipe to the citizens of Oaxaca City. It was replaced with a more modern system in 1940. However, you can still find 300 meters of the aqueduct from 2a de Rufino Tamayo (south of 190) to Calle Jose Lopez Alavez (north of 190) in Xochimilco Barrio.

7. Go on a Walking Tour of Oaxaca

  • OPEN: 10:00 AM or 4:00 pm daily
  • COST: tip – MXN$100 – $200 (US$5 – $10)
  • MEETING LOCATION: Teatro Macedonia Alcala
  • CONTACT INFORMATION: Facebook or Free Walk Oaxaca Website
a person using a machine to weave rugs

I highly recommend doing a FREE walking tour on your first or second day in Oaxaca. I’ve done this tour twice.

A guide generally takes you on a tour on foot of the historic center, tells you the history of the city, and brings you to places that you probably wouldn’t find on your own. Without the tour, I never would have known about the organic food court, some cool restaurants and cafes, and the Xochimilco neighborhood.

The length of the tour varies by tour guide and the enthusiasm of the guests. The first time I took the tour, I went with Raul, and it lasted over three hours! The second time, I went with Oscar, and it lasted two hours, but afterward, we all went out to eat together.

At the end, you should give a tip depending on how good the tour was, how long it was, how many people were on it, and how much you can afford. I recommend tipping between MXN$100 and $200.

Reserve your spot on the Free Tour’s website. In February 2024, they had tours in English at 11:00 am.

More Walking Tour Ideas for Oaxaca

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8. Wander Around Xochimilco Neighborhood

a purple volkswagen batle on a street in Oaxaca

One of the coolest neighborhoods in Oaxaca is Xochimilco. It’s a place with old colorful buildings, narrow alleyways and courtyards, small shops, galleries, cafes, hip restaurants, and loads of street art.  The neighborhood is split in half by Calle 190/Highway 190 (it’s easy to cross). Check out both sides of the street.

You can find Xochi’s best street art on the north side of 190. Walk along Calle Jose Lopez Alavez has my favorite art.

I also recommend getting a coffee or brunch in either the garden at Rupestre Pan y Café or the rooftop terrace at Filemon.

Wander around some of the small side streets that go up the hills.

Finally, keep on walking north to the part of the aqueduct where the river flows under the aqueduct.

Pro Tips: Wear insect repellent to protect against mosquitoes when in Oaxaca. Dengue Fever is real here and you don’t want to get it. Mosquitoes that are infected with Dengue usually reside in urban areas during the day, especially at dusk and dawn.

9. Get Lost in the Jalatlaco Neighborhood

street art of a family of skeletons painted on a building

Another charming and historic neighborhood to wander around in is Jalatlaco. Just like Xochimilco Barrio, the streets here are also covered with cobblestones and lined with colorful cafes, restaurants, hotels, and street art.

map of Jalatlaco Barrio

I first visited Jalatlaco in 2021; the neighborhood was quiet and subdued. Then, I went back in 2024, and it felt transformed. It had become a hip neighborhood with charming cafes, bakeries, bookstores, and shops. The street art had expanded, surpassing Xochimilcol.

If you have to choose between spending an afternoon in Xochimilcol or Jalatlaco, I’d choose the latter.

Is Oaxaca safe? I was in Oaxaca for 3 weeks in 2021 and over 2 months in 2024. I felt safe walking around during the day and in the early evening alone. However, according to ex-pats on a Oaxaca Facebook group I joined, there have been cases of people getting mugged late at night in the southeastern part of hte historic center. There was one story of 2 guys leaving a bar late at night, being hustled into separate taxis, and then robbed, beaten, and abandoned somewhere in the countryside.

10. Watch a Calenda Procession

2 giant puppets dressed as a bide and groom and 5 women dancing with long skirts and holding a basket on their head are dancing and people are taking photos of them.

One of the highlights of my trip to Oaxaca was seeing a calenda. Calendas take place after a wedding, christening, or even a graduation ceremony. They usually happen on Friday evenings, Saturday mornings and afternoons, and occasionally on Sundays. and sometimes on Friday evenings.  

After the wedding ceremony, the bride, groom, and guests come out of the church and participate in a procession down the streets of Oaxaca. There’s always a band (trumpets and drums), a large twirling balloon, female dancers with baskets and turkeys on their heads, two giant paper maché bride and groom puppets, and two people dressed up in a costume with flowing strips of colored material. Strangers are encouraged to join in the procession. It’s a lot of fun!

How do you know a calenda is going to take place?

I hung out in front of Templo de Santo Domingo on a Saturday morning, came back in the afternoon, and waited for a christening or a wedding party to exit. I knew a wedding was taking place inside the church because the front door was closed and there was a sign on it saying you can’t go in. A calenda band was also hanging out in front of the church. In the morning, there was a christening and a graduation and in the afternoon a wedding.

11. Join a Food Tour

  • OPEN: 9:30 AM – 3:00 pm
  • COST: MXN$1,500 (US$89)
a woman standing in front of bottles of mezcal

The three food tours I did were the highlight of both of my trips to Oaxaca (and perhaps all of Mexico).

I’ve been on food tours in Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Ecuador, and Guatemala; the first two were some of the best ones I’ve ever done!

By going on a food tour, you get to try foods that you would normally never eat on your own and learn about the history of Oaxacan cuisine.

Oaxaca Street Food Tour with Betsy

The Oaxaca Street Food Tour included a visit to La Cosecha Organic Market, 20 de Noviembre Market, and the Benito Juarez Market. We tried squash blossom tlayuda, huitlacoche (fungus that grows on corn), several moles, barbecue, hot chocolate, chapulines (fried grasshoppers), and loads more.

an aisle lined with fresh meat at 20 de Noviembre Market in Oaxaca
Smoke Alley at 20 de Noviembre Market

The best part was eating grilled Oaxacan meat and veggies at the famous Pasillo de Humo (Smoke Alley).

Betsy knew how to pace things so that by the end of the tour I didn’t feel like I had eaten too much.

Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour with Betsaida

My favorite food tour was Me Encanta Oaxaca. At the start of the tour, Betsaida told us that we’d be tasting 24 different foods and drinks. It actually ended up being around 40 (I lost count)!

We ate at two popular street food stalls in the historic center before we headed to a small local market, Mercado Sanchez Pascuas, and tried some fantastic tamales, mezcal, coffee, honey, and local fruits!

Our last major stops were Mercado Benito Juárez, where we tried grasshoppers and tejate, and more mezcal, and Mercado 20 de Noviembre, where we stopped at Smoke Alley for some grilled meat.

Check out my detailed review of Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour.

12. Learn How to Cook Oaxacan Cuisine

    a bowl of ceviche with a slice of avocado

    Another thing food lovers should do during their stay in the culinary capital of Mexico is to learn how to cook Oaxacan cuisine by taking a cooking class.

    I did two cooking classes:

    In both classes, each person prepared different parts of the meal. For example, one person chopped the onions while another blended the ingredients. If you are a serious cook, you might leave the class dissatisfied because you don’t get to cook your own dish. However, for those unserious cooks, it’s an interesting experience.

    Flavors of Oaxaca Cooking Class

    After a local market tour, we prepared the meal together. At the end of the class, we (except for the teacher) all sat down to eat what we had made. 

    I liked that the teacher, Oscar Carrizosa, asked us what we wanted to cook and followed our requests. We made many dishes, such as a mole, several different salsas, tamales, a dessert, a ceviche, and soup. The food we made turned out to be the best meal I had during my time in Mexico.

    However, I found the teacher to be cold, unfriendly, and impatient.

    The Casa Crespo cooking class was average.

    Cooking with Minerva

    In Cooking with Minerva, we first toured the famous Abastos Market to pick up ingredients. Then we traveled by car to Minerva’s house in Santa Maria Atzompa, where we had some hot chocolate and pan de yema and cooked Estofado Mole together. At the end of the course, we (except for the teacher) ate what we cooked. The food was good.

    Minerva was kind of cold and distant.

    I would say that Cooking with Minerva was also just average. I’ve had better classes in Singapore and Vietnam.

    13. Stroll Through 20 de Noviembre Market

    stores selling bread in 20 de Noviembre Market in Oaxaca

    The 20 de Noviembre Market has got all the things you want in a market: cheap, delicious, and authentic food. A bonus is that the vendors are pretty welcoming and patient to people who don’t speak Spanish very well.

    The indoor market is just two blocks from the Zocalo. It’s a giant building with entrances on every side, and it’s filled with (I think) only vendors selling food and drinks. They’ve got pretty much everything you want here: mole, tlayuda, grilled meats, Oaxacan sweets, hot chocolate, bread, and on and on.

    Shop around! You’ll notice one stall charges MXN$120 for a tlayuda while another just a few doors down only MXN$90.

    One section called Pasillo de Humo is devoted to vendors selling grilled meats. The food looks delicious but ordering it seems overly complicated and intimidating. However, if you join either Me Encanta Oaxaca Street Food Tour or Oaxaca Street Food Tour, which I mentioned earlier in this post, the guides will take you to this market and show you how to order.

    I ate here over and over again during my three months in Oaxaca.

    The other market, Mercado Benito Juarez, has less food than Mercado 20 de Noviembre. If you take the food tour with Betsy, she’ll take you to both.

    14. Eat at La Cosecha Organic Market

    • OPEN: 9:00 am – 4:45 pm (W – Su)
    La Cosecha Market in Oaxaca

    Another market to check out is La Cosecha Organic market. I loved the small and quiet market’s relaxed vibe.

    The vendors were always kind and welcoming, and because it was never crowded, it was also never overwhelming or stressful like sometimes at the other bigger markets. Therefore, I think it’s the perfect market to visit when you first arrive in Oaxaca or if you’re intimidated by ordering food in another language. Plus, the food and drinks were always delicious and reasonably priced.

    You can buy all kinds of different foods–mole, seafood soup, craft beer, coffee, fruit juices, and the best tlayuda (with squash blossoms) I’ve ever had.

    15. Visit the Sunday Market in Tlacolula

    peopl selling grilled meat at Tlacolula Market

    The Sunday market in Tlacolula is another great food experience in Oaxaca. This market goes on for what seems like an endless number of blocks. People from all over the area come and sell everything under the sun from backpacks to cowboy hats to computer parts.

    The star of the show is the food, though. The market is a great place to buy fruit far cheaper than in the historic center of Oaxaca.

    You can also find people selling food that they made themselves. If you come across a woman and her husband selling cornbread, don’t hesitate to buy some.

    There’s a huge indoor market with sections devoted to specific kinds of food. One huge hall is all about bread, another is about grilled meats, and another is just about vegetables.

    I highly recommend buying chapulines (grasshoppers) from vendors walking around. They can be lime or chili-flavored. I bought a bag for MXn$5.

    Make sure to stop in at the church, Templo de Santa Maria de la Asuncion Tlacolula. Inside the church is a stunning chapel called the Capilla del Senor de Tlacolula that should not be missed.

    I visited twice and found the morning less crowded than the afternoon.

    You can either go to Tlacolula on your own with public transportation or join a tour that combines the market with a visit to the fabulous Yagul ruins.

    How to get to the Tlacolula market:

    Tlacolula is a small city about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Oaxaca City. Here’s how I got there by public transportation:

    1. I went to the baseball stadium and stood on the corner of 190 and Calle De Los Derechos Humanos (Human Rights Street) (Google Maps), which was in front of a BMW dealership (Google Maps), and waited for a bus or shared taxi that says “Tlocalula” or “Mitla” on it. Either the bus or taxi works.
    2. A blue and white ATSA bus came by first, so I got on that. It cost MXN$20. A shared taxi from the same place cost MXN$30 (US$1.50).
    3. The bus stopped in Tlacolula on the corner of 190 and Juarez (Google Maps). Juarez is on the same street as the Sunday market.

    The first time I went to Tlacolula, it took 1 hour to get there by bus as the bus kept on dropping off and picking up passengers along the way.

    The second time, there was a blockade on the highway. Some people from a town near Oaxaca were protesting that the government had done nothing to help them after a flood destroyed their homes. My friends and I had to get off the bus and walk through the blockade to catch another bus. There were also tuk-tuks there to pick people up.

    How to get back to Oaxaca from Tlacolula:

    1. I crossed Highway 190, stood in front of a pharmacy on the corner of Juarez and 190, and waited for an ATSA bus or a shared taxi to pass.
    2. This time a shared taxi pulled up first and that’s what I took to get back to Oaxaca. It cost me MXN$30 (US$1.50).
    3. Shared taxis will take you to the Second-Class Bus Station, but you can be dropped off anywhere along the way.

    16. Do a Mezcal Tasting Tour

    a row of agave plants

    Oaxaca is the mezcal center of Mexico, so make sure to try this popular drink at least once while here.

    Mezcal is an alcoholic beverage made from the agave plant. Tequila is also made from the agave plant, but it can only be made from blue agave, while mezcal can be produced from any agave.

    Although locals have been drinking mezcal for centuries (it was even illegal at one point), it has only become popular outside of Oaxaca in the past four or five years. Now, people from all over the world come to the state just to try its mezcal. Although it is made in other states in Mexico, Oaxaca’s mezcal is the best due to its altitude and climate.

    If you want to visit a mezcal distillery on your own with public transportation, check out Mezcal El Rey de Matatlan. I visited this distillery on a tour to Hierve de Agua, and I enjoyed the tour and the explanation of how the mezcal is made. It’s rather touristy but it was still interesting and we got to try some good mezcal. I recommend this place if you’re not that into mezcal and you don’t want to spend so much time or money drinking alcohol.

    The same tour company does another shorter tour to the distillery and Hierve de Agua.

    For info on how to get to Mezcal El Rey by public transportation, see the section on getting to Tlacolula.

    17. Explore the Ruins of Monte Alban

    stones with carvings of men dancing at Monte Alban

    Just 30 minutes by bus from Oaxaca, Monte Alban rivals even the best Maya ruins in other parts of Mexico. If you love history and archaeology, this is one attraction that you shouldn’t miss.

    First settled in 500 BCE and abandoned in 800 CE, Monte Alban was the Zapotec people’s political and economic center.

    The best structures are around a football-sized plaza that reminded me of the National Mall in Washington D.C. On the two long sides of the plaza are palaces and pyramids and at the north and south ends are two acropolises.

    My favorite thing to see is the Dansaka–a row of stone carvings of dancing toothless and disemboweled old men. You can see the blood gushing out of some of them as they’ve had their guts cut out or male body parts cut off.

    The archaeological park is huge, so give yourself 2.5 to 3 hours to see it all. Don’t skip the museum because the stelae and artwork outside in the park are fakes. The real ones are in the museum.

    How to get to Monte Alban and back to Oaxaca:

    If you know nothing about the archaeological site, a tour with a guide is a good idea. There are very few explanations in the park. I went to the park on my own without a guide.

    Visiting Monte Alban with a Tour Guide:
    • Oaxaca by Locals has a guided tour of just Monte Alban for a great price of US$30. I used this company for my Hierve de Agua tour and really liked them.
    • You can also do this Monte Alban Tour which includes visits to 3 art towns near Oaxaca: (1) town of San Antonio Arrazola to visit some alebrije workshops (wooden sculptures) (2) the town of Santo Tomás Jalieza to see how textiles are made using a backstrap loom (3) the town of San Bartolo Coyotepec to see how the famous black clay pottery is made.  

    Getting to Monte Alban on Your Own

    There are two tourist buses that take you to Monte Alban and take you back to Oaxaca for a decent price:

    • Lescas Tours Oaxaca – I used them on my second visit to Monte Alban (MXN$120 round-trip)
    • Autobuses Turisticos on Francisco Javier Milna – I used them on my first visit to Monte Alban (MXN$90 round-trip)

    Lescas Tours Oaxaca

    Book your seats at least the day before. My friend and I showed up right before the first shuttle and got on but we took the last spaces on the shuttle.

    The office is across from the Cathedral in the Zocalo. Don’t follow Google Maps’ opening and closing times. They’re wrong.

    It should have taken 30 minutes to get to Monte Alban, but this company took 45 minutes because the driver stopped three times for personal reasons.

    This is their schedule as of February 2024:

    • 8:30 am
    • 9:30 am
    • 10:30 am
    • 11:30 am
    • 12:30 am
    • 1:30 pm
    • 2:30 pm
    • 3:30 pm

    This is their schedule going back to Monte Alban (they will write your return time on your ticket. If you don’t want that return time, you have to contact them via Whatsapp.

    • 12:00 pm
    • 1:00 pm
    • 2:00 pm
    • 3:00 pm
    • 4:00 pm
    • 5:00 pm

    This travel agency is okay for transport to Monte Alban, but I recommend not using them for guided tours. My friend went on one to Hierve de Agua, and the guide mumbled and wasn’t enthusiastic at all. Then, he disappeared halfway through the tour. Then they dropped her off in the middle of nowhere. She’s 70 years old, doesn’t speak Spanish, can’t use Google Maps, and can’t walk very well. It was late at night and she got completely lost.

    Autobuses Turisticos on Francisco Javier Milna Street

    They’re cheaper at MXN$90, but their bus isn’t as comfortable. It should have taken 30 minutes to get to Monte Alban, but this company took 1 hour because they kept on driving around the block looking for more passengers.

    Here are their times for Monte Alban:

    • 8:00 am
    • 9:00 am
    • 10:00 am
    • 11:00 am
    • 12:00 pm (noon)
    • 1:00 pm
    • 2:00 pm

    Here are their return times. You also don’t get a choice of when you return:

    • 9:30 am
    • 10:30 am
    • 11:30 am
    • 12:30 pm
    • 1:30 pm
    • 2:30 pm
    • 3:30 pm
    • 4:00 pm

    18. Explore the Ruins of Mitla

    • OPEN: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm (Tu – Sa) – only allow 200 persons per day to enter
    • COST: MXN$95
    • LOCATION: Google Maps
    cactus in front of Mitla ruins

    If you’re thinking about skipping Mitla because you’ve heard it’s small and hard to get to, don’t. It’s worth every blood, sweat, tear, and penny you need to visit. I loved it–one of my favorite places in Oaxaca.

    Mitla is a completely different experience from Monte Alban. While the ladder wows you with its size and grandness, Mitla sucks you in with its details and design.

    Mitla and Monte Alban had different purposes. While Monte Alban was a political center, Mitla was a religious center.

    There are three structures open to visitors. The first two are the best ones.

    (1) Right next to the ticket office, the first set of ruins consists of a maze of courtyards and rooms. It was probably the home of a high priest. Besides the stunning geometric carvings on the top part of the walls, look out for the original red paint and the paintings of a jaguar, bird, and snake above one of the doorways.

    (2) The second structure not to miss is the stunning Group of Columns. It reminded me of the Palace of Knossos in Crete.  

    How to get to Mitla from Oaxaca:

    1. I got to Mitla by taking a shared taxi from the corner of Highway 90 and De Los Derechos Hermanos (Human Rights Street), right near the baseball stadium (Google Maps). If you stand on the corner in front of the BMW dealership/repair shop, the red and white shared taxis and buses will come by one after another. I got a taxi that said “Mitla” on a sign in its window. It cost me MXN$40 (US$2), while a bus cost MXN$20 (US$1). I was told that taxis wait around to fill up before leaving. Mine did not. It left with just me in the car, and I was the only passenger most of the way.
    2. Taxis are quicker (45 minutes) than buses (over 1 hour), but my taxi driver drove way too fast and took too many risks passing cars on Highway 190 compared to the bus.
    3. The taxi driver dropped me off in the center of town.
    4. I then walked for about 15 minutes to the ruins. It was a bit hard finding the entrance to Mitla because what street the entrance is on is not indicated on Google Maps. Just look for signs pointing to the Arsenal Mercado. The entrance is across from a parking lot that is next to the market.

    How to get back to Oaxaca from Mitla:

    1. The bus station (Google Maps) in Mitla is a 15-minute walk from the ruins.
    2. I had to wait for 20 minutes for the bus. The ride cost me MXN$20 (US$1).
    3. The bus stops to pick up and drop off passengers whenever someone needs to get on and off. It also stops at the bus station in Tlacolula, so if you want to combine a visit to Mitla and the Sunday market in Tlacolula or combine Mitla and Yagul, you can.

    19. Get Off-the-Beaten Path at the Yagul Ruins

    ruins of Yagul

    The ruins of Yagul are the hardest ones to get to, but they are still worth your time and energy. Part of what makes these ruins so special is the landscape. Yagul is on a hill overlooking the valley of Oaxaca. You get one grand view of fields, towns, and a range of mountains topped with puffy white clouds in the distance.  

    The other reason Yagul is so special is the ruins themselves. You get a series of mazelike rooms and courtyards that you don’t generally see in other sites in Mexico.

    Plus, you’ll most likely get the whole place to yourself.

    There are restrooms at the ruins but no gift shops or food or beverages for sale.

    You could probably do Yagul and Mitla on the same day or combine it with a visit to the Sunday market in Tlacolula.

    If you don’t want to visit Yagul on your own, you can join a tour with a visit to Tlacolula.

    How to get to Yagul from Oaxaca:

    1. You’ll need to head to the baseball stadium and catch a bus or a shared taxi from the corner of Highway 190 and Avenida De Los Derechos Hermanos (The Avenue of Human Rights).
    2. Stand on the corner in front of the BMW repair shop.
    3. A taxi cost me MXN$30 (US$1.50). The bus was MXN$20 (US$1).
    4. After about 30 minutes, the taxi dropped me off on the side of the highway across from a sign for the ruins.
    5. Crossing the highway was easy as there weren’t many cars.  
    6. Then I walked for about 30 minutes along a road that ended at the Yagul ruins.

    How to get back to Oaxaca from Yagul:

    1. You’ll need to walk back to the highway to get a shared taxi or bus. A guy who worked at the site actually gave me a ride to the highway.
    2. At first, I had some trouble getting a taxi to stop because I didn’t know where to stand and the taxis were driving way too fast for them to see me and stop in time. I think 5 taxis passed by before one finally stopped. It cost MXN$30 (US$1.50).
    3. Finally, a taxi stopped and dropped me off near the baseball stadium.

    20. Visit the Voces de Copal Art Gallery

    alebrije turtle
    alebrije owl

    By far, the best handicraft in Mexico is alebrijes. They are colorful wooden sculptures of fantastical creatures, and Oaxaca is the best place to buy them.

    These colorful paper mache sculptures originated in Mexico City. They can be seen at the Regional Art Museum in Cholula, just outside Puebla.

    The people of Oaxaca then made their own style of alebrije using wood.

    Now, the best place in Mexico to buy them is in Oaxaca City and the surrounding villages of Arrazole and San Martin.

    If you’re short on time and don’t want to visit the two villages, stop by the Voces de Copal Art Gallery (Google Maps) in Centro Historico. This gallery features works of art by Jacobo and Maria Angeles. They are the best alebrije that money can buy. Even if you can’t afford one, it’s fun to just look around.

    21. Tour the Alebrije Workshops of Arrazole

    The town of Arrazole is one of the two best places to buy alebrije in Mexico. In the center of the town are two blocks of just alebrije workshops and galleries. You can spend an afternoon walking from one gallery to another.

    Raul, my guide on the “free” walking tour, lives in Arrazole. On Saturday afternoon, he took me and two other foreign tourists to check out the workshops and galleries there. But you can easily do it on your own.

    You can also do a tour that combines a visit to Arrazole with Monte Alban and some other towns in the area.

    How to get to Arrazole from Oaxaca:

    1. I got a shared taxi on Periferico Street in front of Mercado de Abastos (Google Maps). Look for taxis that say they are going to Arrazole (there usually is a sign in the taxi’s front window or painted on the side of the taxi).
    2. It cost MXN$12 per person.
    3. The ride took 30 minutes to get to Arrazole on a Sunday afternoon.
    4. I was dropped off near the alebrije workshops

    22. Tour the Alebrije Workshops of San Martin

    The other town full of alebrije workshops and galleries is San Martin.

    Two of the most famous artists, Jacobo and Maria Angeles, have their workshops here. They give free tours in English and show how the wooden sculptures are made. It’s worth it!

    You can also sign up for a workshop and learn how to make your own alebrije.

    How to get to San Martin from Oaxaca:

    1. Go to Automorsa, also called Auto Transportes Morales and get on a van going to Ocotlan. It’s on 622 Bustamante Street.
    2. I paid MXN$30 ($US1.50) for a ride to San Martin (30 minutes).
    3. The van or bus will drop you off at the intersection of Highway 175 and Avenida Ote, which is the road leading into San Martin.
    4. Across the street from where the van or bus drops you off is Azucena Zapoteca, a wonderful restaurant that serves some of the best food in Oaxaca and at a reasonable price. Have brunch or lunch there.
    5. Then walk or take a tuk-tuk into San Martin for MXN$8-12.

    How to get back to Oaxaca from San Martin:

    1. Just wait on the side of Highway 175 and a bus or shared taxi will pass by.

    23. View the Street Art of Oaxaca

    street art of a skeleton surrounded by red flowers

    Oaxaca is full of really cool street art: edgy, political, and whimsical. The best places for street art are in the neighborhoods of Xochimilco and Jalatlaco.

    You can go on a street art tour by bike or just walk around yourself. I chose the latter. However, I wish I had done the street art bike tour as I would have learned more about the history and culture of Oaxaca and Mexico. It’s four hours long and you get to visit three neighborhoods: Xochimilco, Jalatlaco, and downtown Oaxaca. You can sign up for a tour with Coyote Aventuras.

    24. Visit the Textile Workshops and Galleries in Teotitlan del Valle

      machine making colorful rugs

      The rugs in Oaxaca are the most beautiful I’ve seen in Mexico. In the town of Teotitlan del Valle, several family-owned workshops are making Zapotec rugs by hand.

      The families do everything by hand–from dyeing the wool using natural ingredients to weaving the rugs.

      Lots of tour agencies run tours that combine a visit to Teotitlan with other nearby attractions like Hierve de Agua. I’ve visited the town on three different tours:

      • Coyote Aventura—Their unique tour included a mezcal tasting, a hike, and a visit to a weaving workshop in Teotitlan. It was expensive and the guide wasn’t so good.
      • Oaxaca by Locals – This jam-packed and fun tour stopped at El Tule, Mitla, a mezcal tasting, Hierve de Agua and a weaving workshop at Teotitlan. The price and guide were excellent!
      • En Via Foundation Microfinance Tour – You can read here about this fabulous En Via Tour on my blog.

      25. Shop for the Black Clay Pottery of San Bartolo Coyotepec

      black clay pottery

      It seems like the art of Oaxaca is endless. One other ancient craft that the local people have been doing for centuries is making black clay pottery (barro negro).

      The center of this handicraft is in San Bartolo Coyotepec, where you’ll find a museum dedicated to the art form and a handicraft market around the main square.

      Black clay pottery is a tradition that dates back 2,500 years. Today, people use the technique and pottery to make black skulls, which are popular during the Day of the Dead celebrations.

      To get a pottery demonstration, you’ll need to join a tour:

      • Enjoy OaxacaThis tour takes you to Monte Alban, Arrazole for the alebrijes, and San Bartolo for the black pottery.

      How to get to San Bartolo Coyotepec:

      1. Go to Automorsa, also called Auto Transportes Morales, for vans to San Bartolo. It’s on 622 Bustamante Street.
      2. I paid MXN$30 ($US1.50) for a ride to San Martin (30 minutes).
      3. Get dropped off in front of the San Bartolo sign in the main plaza, which is across from the main church (Google Maps).

      How to get back to Oaxaca from San Bartolo Coyotepec:

      1. You can get a shared taxi or bus from in front of the San Bartholomew Church on Highway 175 (Google Maps).
      2. Expect to pay MXN$40 (US$2) per person for a shared taxi or MXN$30 ($US1.50) for a bus.

      • OPEN: 11:00 am – 7:00 pm (M – Sa)
      • COST: free
      • LOCATION: Google Maps
      a drawing of a girl crying

      Oaxaca has loads of art galleries. For me, the most interesting one was the Espacio Zapata Gallery. Founded by the art collective, ASARO (Asamblea de Artistas Revolucionarios de Oaxaca), the gallery contains art with a political edge–commentary on important historical events and people of Mexico.

      The gallery has two works of art that you shouldn’t miss.

      (1) One is a famous drawing of a young girl crying and the numbers 68, 43, and 3. The number 68 represents 1968, the year the government opened fire on protesting students, 43 is for the 43 students who disappeared as they made their way to Mexico City, and 3 is for 3 additional people who disappeared. You can find reproductions of this drawing all over Mexico.

      (2) The other work of art is the Last Supper of Mexico. Notice who takes the place of Jesus and see how many powerful Mexicans you can identify in the painting.

      27. Museum of the Cultures of Oaxaca

      • OPEN: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (Tu – Su)
      • COST: MXN$95 (US$5.65)

      If you’re going to see just ONE museum in Oaxaca, make sure it’s the Museum of Oaxacan Culture. Without a doubt, this is the BEST museum in Oaxaca. And if you’re a history nerd like me you’re going to love it even more!

      Attached to the Templo de Santo Domingo, the Museo de las Cultura de Oaxaca focuses mainly on the pre-Hispanic history and culture of the area, specifically the Zapotec and Mixtec people.

      The highlight is the Mixtec artifacts from Tomb 7 at Monte Alban. After the Zapotecs abandoned Monte Alban, the Mixtecs came in and used one of the abandoned temples as a tomb to bury one of their kings, his servants, and his treasures of silver, turquoise, jade, and gold.

      28. Palacio de Gobierno

      • OPEN: Closed to the public
      • COST: free
      • LOCATION: Google Maps

      Palacio de Gobierno is another place I sadly wasn’t able to visit. It wasn’t closed due to the pandemic but because the protesting souvenir vendors had set up camp in front of the building. If you have a chance to get in you’ll supposedly be treated to a beautiful mural by Arturo Garcia Bustos showing famous figures from Oaxacan history and culture.

      29. Rufino Tamayo Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art of Mexico

      • OPEN: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm; 4:00 – 7:00 pm (M – Sa)
      • COST: MXN$90 (US$4.50)
      • LOCATION: Google Maps
      • WEBSITE

      The Rufino Tamayo Museum is another museum in Oaxaca for those interested in Mexico’s ancient history. It includes a collection of over 1,000 artifacts from the pre-Hispanic cultures across Mexico. There are five rooms, each of which is painted a different color that matches the color in the artifacts.

      30. Museum of Contemporary Art of Oaxaca

      • OPEN: 10:30 am – 8:00 pm (W – M; closed on Tu)
      • COST: MXN$20; Sundays are FREE
      • LOCATION: Google Maps
      • WEBSITE

      Located in a renovated seventeenth-century mansion called the House of Hernan Cortes (the conqueror never stepped foot in Oaxaca), the Museum of Contemporary Art of Oaxaca is where you can see both contemporary and traditional works of art of some of Oaxaca’s most famous artists.

      31. Museo Casa de Juarez

      • OPEN: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm (Tu – Su)
      • COST: MXN$75 (US$4.46)
      • LOCATION: Google Maps

      This small museum is dedicated to the early life of Mexico’s first and only indigenous president, Benito Juarez. He lived here from 1818 to 1828. When he was 12 years old, he came to this house looking for his sister. The owner of the house, Antonio Salanueva adopted him and gave him an education.

      Honestly, you can easily skip this museum. There is so little information on Benito Juarez here that you’re better off saving your money and reading Wikipedia. Actually, there’s a little plaque right before the ticket booth (you don’t even have to pay) that is pretty much all you will learn about the famous historical figure.

      Most of the exhibits are replicas of rooms (a kitchen, dining room, and office) found in a typical nineteenth century Oaxacan upper class home. The furniture and objects are not the ones that were originally here.

      32. Museum of Oaxacan Textiles

      The Museum of Oaxacan Textiles is another museum you can easily skip. I’ve visited twice and I’ve been disappointed both times. It’s a very small museum with a few rooms and very little information or displays on Oaxacan textiles.

      The first time I visited, one room with a handful of displays of Oaxacan textiles and no explanations and a giftshop were open.

      The second time I visited there were a few more rooms open. But they mostly had displays of Japanese kimonos. If I want to see Japanese kimonos, I’ll go to Japan.

      It’s too bad that you can only see a small portion of the museum’s collection of 5,000 textile pieces.

      33. Hierve el Agua

      • COST: MXN$15 and MXN$50 entrance fee
      • LOCATION: Google Maps
      Hierve el Agua
      Hierve el Agua, thermal spring in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico

      One of the most popular Oaxaca attractions is the petrified waterfalls and natural springs of Hierve el Agua. Located 70 kilometers from Oaxaca City, Hierve el Agua means “boiled water” in Spanish. The water is not boiling, however. It’s in fact cool and refreshing, perfect after a long day of sightseeing in the Oaxacan sun.

      Hierve el agua can be hard to get to (a bus to Mitla and then a truck to the waterfall). That’s why I visited with this tour through Get Your Guide and had a great time. The tour also goes to El Tule (the famous tree), Mitla, a bakery, and Valle de Teotitlan. The guide, Andrea, was passionate and enthusiastic. Sadly, we only spent 2 hours at Hierve de Agua. We needed 30 more minutes at the waterfall and pools.

      Hierve el Agua waterfalls

      Going during the wet season (fall) will provide you with better views and more water but more people. If you go from January to June, there will be fewer people but less water in the pools. Avoid the weekends when it gets even more crowded with locals.

      When I visited, I first went on a steep hike down to the bottom of the waterfalls. Bring at least a full bottle of water on this hike! I met people along the way that were having a hard time with the hike and didn’t look like they were going to make it. Then back at the top of the waterfalls, I went for a swim in one of the two pools.

      How to get to Hierve el Agua:

      1. Take a bus or shared taxi to Mitla from the 2nd Class Bus Station (Google Maps) or the corner of the Baseball Stadium (Google Maps).
      2. Then right where the bus drops you off, take a pickup truck from Mitla to Hierve el Agua. The truck leaves when it gets at least ten passengers.

      34. Hike the Forests and Mountains of Oaxaca

      crosses on a mountain

      One tour company that does lots of hikes and gets good reviews is Coyote Aventuras. I went on one of their hiking tours. The things we did on the tour were fantastic. We went to a mezcal distillery, a weaving workshop, and a hike up a mountain with stunning views.

      However, the guide was unfriendly and irresponsible. We went on a hike AFTER drinking a lot of mezcal. Then we had to hike down in the dark while it was raining. At the end, she said that she was afraid we were going to die if it had rained harder!

      I don’t see that particular tour on their website any longer. However, they have other unique tours in which they combine a hike with a cultural activity like mezcal, weaving, or visiting a local’s home. Check out a list of their current hikes here.

      35. Explore Cerro del Fortin

      • OPEN: 24/7 – but may not be so safe in the evening
      • COST: free
      • LOCATION: Google Maps

      I never made it to Cerro del Fortin. At the time, there were posts on the Oaxaca Expat Facebook group about muggings taking place on the trails during the day. It was too bad because the hill supposedly has nice panoramic views of the city.

      Cerro del Fortin also has a famous concert venue called Auditorio Gualaguetza (Google Maps), the location of the Oaxacan annual folk dance festival that takes place in July.

      You’ll also find a planetarium, an observatory, a statue of Benito Juarez, and a Christian cross.

      Oaxaca Travel Guide & FAQs

      Where to Stay in Oaxaca

      Make sure you stay in the Central Historic District or the neighborhoods of Xochimilco or Jalatlaco. These are the safest and most convenient places in the city. I particularly liked the area near Jardin Conzatti (Google Maps)–safe, quiet, and beautiful.

      I used booking.com to book my hotels in Oaxaca.

      Budget Hotels and Hostels in Oaxaca

      As a full-time solo traveler, I usually stay in budget hotels and guesthouses. I stayed in these two hotels during my three trips to Oaxaca:

      Posada de Los Angeles – (Booking.com | Agoda) I stayed in this hotel twice. In 2021, I stayed for almost 3 weeks, paying between US$17 – $21/night. It was simple but comfortable. The WiFi was good, and I loved the location,  within walking distance of the ADO Bus Station, major attractions, restaurants, and cafes.

      The second time I stayed at Posada de los Angeles in 2024, the price increased to US$40 – $50. However, nothing physically about the hotel had changed, but this actually was bad. It seemed like they were using the same towels and bedding that they used in 2021. The towels were so stiff, stained, and scratchy that for the first time in my travels, I used my own towel. The bedding was the same as in 2021. The pillow case was stained and the pillow was so lumpy and gross that I didn’t dare sleep on it. You could tell that they hadn’t even bothered to improve the place since I first visited in 2021. The staff (same people as in 2021) were unfriendly and unsmiling. I was so disappointed because I had recommended Posada de Los Angeles to so many people.

      Casa los Arcos Oaxaca – (Booking.com | Agoda) Luckily, I found this small wonderful guesthouse in an even better part of Oaxaca (near the aqueduct). I paid US$35 (cheaper for longer term stays).

      They have just 3 rooms. My room was clean, quiet, and comfortable! No stained or scratchy towels. Some rooms have private bathroom, but some have a shared bathroom.

      There’s a wonderful rooftop terrace with chairs, tables, and a hammock. You can also use their fully stocked kitchen: large fridge and freezer, stove, oven, microwave, coffee maker, and blender. The WiFi worked fabulously for me. There’s no air conditioner, but even during the hottest month of April, it wasn’t too bad.

      The owner, Azael, is friendly and very kind. He doesn’t speak English but his wife does.

      I stayed here in February and March 2024 and again for the month of April 2024.

      If you’re looking for a place that’s more social like a hostel, I’d stay at Hostal Central Oaxaca.

      Mid-Range Hotels in Oaxaca

      If you want something fancier than a simple budget guesthouse, a friend stayed at NaNa Vida Hotel Oaxaca – (Booking.com | Agoda) and she loved it. It’s in a great location and has a 9.5 rating on Booking.com with over 900 reviews.

      Luxury Hotels in Oaxaca

      Casa Antonieta – (Booking.com | Agoda) This hotel has a 9.5 rating with over 200 reviews. Elegant, stylish, and just 2 blocks from the Zocalo.

      Where to Eat in Oaxaca

      Besides the 20 de Noviembre Market, Benito Juarez Market, and La Cosecha Market, which I mentioned earlier in this post, here are some more restaurants that I love in Oaxaca.

      Good coffee and/or pastries:

      • Cafebre (Google Maps) – Good coffee and good atmosphere!
      • Boulenc (Google Maps) – Excellent pastries and coffee; there’s pizza and burgers as well; very popular
      • Pan con Madre (Google Maps) – OMG! The pastries here are just divine! The coffee is second rate – so hot that you can’t taste it! They also serve pizze, but i haven’t had it yet. (MXN$40 – $50/pastry)
      • Panaderia La Bamby (Google Maps) – CHEAP pastries (MXN$5 – $7); the donuts are great but the rest of the pastries aren’t the best but I still often went here because it was soooooo CHEAP!

      For those on a budget (Under MXN$100)

      • Comedor La Villa Alta (Google Maps) If you’re on a budget, go here! They have set lunch and breakfast menus for MXN$50
      • Dona Ceci – (Google Maps) For inexpensive delicious quesadillas, memelas and tlayudas, head to Dona Ceci. Lots of vegetarian options. (MXN$40 – $60)
      • Tacos de Cazuela del Carmen Alto (Google Maps) – This food stand is only open in the morning; they have great memelas.
      • Tacos del Carmen (Google Maps) – This popular food stand run by a group of older women is a great place to go in the morning and in the evening. I love their mushroom quesadillas (Oaxaca is famous for their mushrooms). In the morning it’s called Empanadas del Carmen. (MXN$40- $60)

      Tasty food at a reasonable price (MXN$100 – $200)

      • La Popular (Google Maps) – This place is AMAZING! The food is sooooo good! But a warning: the service sucks. Order the pazole verde, the cochinita pibil tacos, and the vegetarian tlayuda. (MXN$80 – $110 – without drinks).
      • Mundo Ceiba A.C.  – (Google Maps) During my first time in Oaxaca, I used to eat here all the time after I finished teaching. I ALWAYS ordered the shrimp tacos
      • La Olla – (Google Maps) You can’t miss this restaurant as the exterior is bright pink; I had some very good mole roja here at a reasonable price
      • Don Juanita – (Google Maps) You MUST go to Don Juanita’s and get the tacos el vapor! They are divine.
      • Okasa Lovely Food – (Google Maps) I went here several times for breakfast; your meal comes with fruit, juice, and unlimited coffee refills for MXN$100! It was always full of locals

      Stop here when in Xochimilco

      • Filemon – (Google Maps) Great breakfast; delicious coffee; and a rooftop terrace with terrific views
      • Rupestre Pan y Café – (Google Maps) Lovely courtyard area with really good food

      For a special occasion

      • Casa Oaxaca el Restaurante – (Google Maps) This is THE place to eat in Oaxaca. A bit expensive and at times hard to get into, if you have the money it’s well worth it.
      • Criollo – (Google Maps) A bit out of the way for most people (it’s not in the historic center) but another popular place to visit; get the testing menu or go for breakfast

      How to Get to Oaxaca City

      You can get to Oaxaca City by bus or plane. I’ve taken the bus many times and I’ve had a friend I traveled with in Oaxaca fly into its airport.

      By Plane to Oaxaca City

      Oaxaca has an international airport with flights to and from Mexico City as well as to the United States. The airport is about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the center of Oaxaca. You can read this AMAZING guide on how to get from Oaxaca Airport to Oaxaca City.

      By Bus to Oaxaca City

      Most long-distance buses in Oaxaca leave from and arrive at the safe and clean ADO Bus Station (Google Maps). ADO is the largest bus company in Mexico–they cover routes south of Mexico City and in the Yucatan area of Mexico. Another bus company that goes to Oaxaca is

      You can buy your ticket at the bus station or you can buy them online. I have had a lot of trouble over the years buying tickets on the ADO website on a laptop. It used to only work for me in Incognito Mode. However, in 2024, that doesn’t even work. Luckily, for my last trip from Mexico City to Oaxaca, I found out that ADO has an App for your phone and I was able to easily book my ticket through the phone app. You can pay for the ticket with a credit card or through PayPal.

      Make sure you are arriving at the ADO Bus Station and not the

      I’ve used Reservamos to buy tickets but they don’t let you choose your seat, they don’t accept credit cards from the U.S., and they charge a large service fee.

      Bus Bud is another website that sells bus tickets for Mexico. They don’t list all of the available buses and they charge a fee, unfortunately.

      From San Cristobal to Oaxaca: ADO and OCC have night buses for MXN$1068 to $1240 (US$64 – $74). It takes 12 to 13 hours. I took this overnight route and it wasn’t too bad at all. We left at 8:00 pm and arrived at around 9:00 am.

      From Puebla to Oaxaca: It takes ADO and ACC buses 4.5 to 5 hours to get from Puebla to Oaxaca and costs between MXN$500 and $736 (US$30 – $44). This is a safe and comfortable route. You can read more about getting to and from Puebla in this useful guide.

      From Mexico City to Oaxaca:  There are buses leaving hourly throughout the day from Mexico City (TAPO Station – Oriente Bus Station) to Oaxaca de Juarez. It takes 6.5 hours and tickets usually range between MXN$876 and $1,068 (US$53 – $64), but there a promotions for as low as MXN$576 (US$35).

      Getting from the ADO bus station to your hotel: When you exit the ADO Bus Station in Oaxaca, you’ll see a line up of yellow taxis waiting to rip you off. The last time I tried to take a taxi from the bus station (April 1, 2024), I thought the taxi driver was playing an April Fool’s Joke on me. He wanted MXN$150 for a ride that usually costs half that amount. Instead, I ordered a taxi using the DiDi App on my phone. It took about 10 minutes for the taxi to arrive (it was rush hour) at the station. But it only cost me MXN$76.

      Popular Destinations on the Coast of Oaxaca

      From Oaxaca to Mazunte and Zipolite: I got a minibus to Mazunte (also goes to Zipolite) at Eclipse 70 (Google Maps) for MXN$300.  Bus left at 7:15 am. You can also get tickets at Lineas Unidas (Google Maps)

      From Oaxaca to San Jose del Pacifico: The buses that go to Mazunte and Zipolite also stop in San Jose del Pacifico. You can get tickets at either Eclipse 70 (Google Maps) or Lineas Unidas (Google Maps).

      From Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido: You can get minibuses to Puerto Escondido at Terminal de Service Express (Google Maps) or Villa del Pacifico (Google Maps).

      How to Get around Oaxaca

      I walked nearly everywhere in Oaxaca. Most of the best places in Oaxaca are located in the historic center. The two barrios are also right next door to the central market.

      If you need a mode of transportation quicker than your two feet, then you can use taxis. Unfortunately, Oaxaca has banned Uber from the city. However, there’s another ride-share app called DiDi that works well. It’s a Chinese company that works just like Uber but uses yellow taxis. Download the App on your phone and you can order a taxi to pick you up wherever you are and take you to your destination. You can pay by cash (I always did) or by credit card.

      One problem with DiDi is that the license plate of the taxi on the DiDi App doesn’t match the license plate of the taxi that shows up. It’s frustrating! I always verified that it was my taxi by asking the driver’s name and my destination and having him verify my name.

      Also, the final amount for the ride doesn’t always match what the App says. And when I searched for my guesthouse on the App, I could never find it, so I always had to choose a nearby hotel to be dropped off at.

      Where to Get Your Laundry Done in Oaxaca

      If you want to get your clothes washed, the best thing to do is to take them to a lavanderia, sort of a like a laundromat where someone washes your clothes for you. Self-service laundromats are rare in Mexico.

      I’ve gotten my laundry done at two places in Oaxaca. One place was EXCELLENT and another place was AWFUL! I’ll tell you about both, so you don’t make the mistake I did.

      • Burbumatic – They charged me MXN$130 for 3 kilograms of laundry. I dropped my clothes off in the morning at 9:00 am and they were not ready until 4:00 pm the next day. Actually, when I arrived at 5:00 pm, they still weren’t ready and had to wait for the person to take them out of the drier. The clothes were not clean. The stain on one of my shirts was still there, and they didn’t smell clean–as if the person didn’t use much laundry detergent to clean them.
      • Mr. Klyn – They charged me MXN$105 for 3 kilograms of laundry. I dropped my clothes off in the morning at 10:00a m and picked them up at 8:00 am the next day. The clothes were clean (the stain on my shirt was gone) and they smelled like they had been washed! Go HERE!

      Final Thoughts on BEST things to Do in Oaxaca

      If you don’t have time for all 32 places on this list, here are my top 6 things to do in Oaxaca:

      1. Go on a food tour
      2. Visit Monte Alban
      3. Wander around the historic center and the neighborhoods of Xochimilco and Jalatlaco
      4. Visit Hierve el Agua
      5. Check out the alebrije in Arrazole or San Martin
      6. Explore the street art on your own or with a tour

      If you’ve been to Oaxaca and you’ve done any of these things on my list, let me know about your experience. If you’re planning on visiting Oaxaca and have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. Thank you!

      Where to Go Next in Mexico

      Best Resources for Planning Your Trip to Mexico

      Book Your Flight to Mexico

      Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Mexico. They will turn up results for all airlines including major ones and local airlines. You’re going to find EVERYTHING that’s available and thus get the cheapest price.

      Book Your Accommodations for Mexico:

      The best hotel booking sites for Japan are Booking.com. They have the biggest selection, and they consistently churn out hotels and hostels at the lowest prices of any other booking site. Another website for backpackers and budget travelers is Hostel World.

      Book Your Tours for Mexico:

      The three best tour booking sites for Mexico are Viator and Get Your Guide. Viator has the biggest selection. Get Your Guide has terrific customer service. They will help you if you have trouble with your tour, especially if the tour company cancels on you or doesn’t show up.

      Stay Connected When in Mexico:

      To have access to the internet and not spend a lot of money while you’re out and about in Mexico, get a physical SIM card or an eSIM. I used Airalo eSIM in Mexico. While setting up can seem overwhelming at first, the SIM card has worked well for me in Mexico.

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      Hey! How about saving one of these pins to Pinterest to read for later?

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      things to do in Oaxaca - Monte Alban and Santo Domingo

      6 Comments

      1. Wow! We were hoping to get to this part of the world for only three days before the pandemic ruined our plans. But maybe this was a good thing, we would have missed out on many places and things to do.
        When we do get to Oaxaca, it will be for much longer, and I will be armed with your excellent guide – Thank You.

        Reply
        • Thank you! I really hope you have a chance to visit. Three days is not enough. Five at least.

          Reply
      2. Having not visited Oaxaca, I would not have known where to start my list of things to see and do. So your blog post was a great start. I am glad you included instructions for getting to spots by public transport. Often when we travel we rely on local options if they are safe and reliable. I can see why 3 weeks was still not enough time to enjoy it all.

        Reply
        • Thanks. I hope you have a chance to visit. It’s a great city.

          Reply
      3. Oaxaca looks like excellent place to visit with so many things to see and do. I have never been to Mexico, so it’s something to consider for my future travels.

        Reply
        • I hope you get a chance to travel to Oaxaca. It’s a fascinating and beautiful destination.

          Reply

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      About the Bamboo Traveler

      The Bamboo Traveler

      Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel blog dedicated to helping those travelers who want to dig deeply into the history, heritage, and culture of a place. Whether it’s through the pages of your passport or the pages of a book, I’ll help you travel the world and uncover the history, culture, food, architecture, and natural beauty of some of the world’s most fascinating places.

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