Oaxaca. My favorite state in all of Mexico.
If you have time to check out the beaches I highly recommend it but keep in mind the nearest beach is about a four hour drive. You can follow links below for more information on a Oaxaca coast roadtrip. Below you will find information exclusively for a trip to the city.
Where to stay >>
-Scout some AirBnB homes for the real Oaxaca experience. Prices range from $50-200 a night
–Hotel Quinta Real, the hotel used to be an old convent from late back when and it is absolutely genuine and beautiful.
Where to eat >>
–Casa Oaxaca – Traditional Oaxacan food from renowned chef Alejandro Ruiz. Recommended to try everything! Appetizers, desserts, everything on the menu was delish! I was there three times during my stay, you can’t go wrong with anything. $$$
–Los Danzantes – The restaurant fuses traditional dishes with new and creative ideas like ravioli al huitlacoche (corn fungus) one one sauce of squash flosser and green chili cream. It is on the more expensive side so expect to find more a of a tourist crowd. $$$
–La Catedral – The restaurant itself is a treat, taking over the entire first floor of a colonial hourse. Make sure to try the mushroom soup, the chicken with salsa de flor de Calabaza and if you are into it, the restaurant’s famous lechon (pig). Also highly recommended for breakfast. $$
-Zandunga – a shabby-chic “corner café”. A place where the locals wait in line to sample great dishes from the southeastern part of the state. Try the estofado (beef stew) and a platter of the regional snacks including some Oaxacan mole. $
–La Biznaga – great little courtyard café with traditional Oaxaca food with an eclectic kick. Make sure you try some mezcal and absolutely must try the mezcal ice cream. $$
–Asador Vasco – if you don’t feel like authentic Oaxacan food head out to this Spanish restaurant for great Basque dishes and well cooked meats. $$
What to do >>
Walk around town and make sure to check out the Cathedral, if you are here for a weekend you might get to experience a local wedding where bride&groom walk around the cobblestone streets with their guests, dancers and musicians while drinking some local mezcal.
-Mercado 20 de noviembre – a local market, a Mexican version of a farmer’s market basically. Great place to just walk around and see how the locals go by their day by day. There’s also a ton of food vendors selling freshly squeezed juice, traditional tamales and hot Oaxacan cocoa as well as exotic fruits and veggies. If you are on the more adventurous side, make sure to try some dried crickets, a common snack for locals.
-Mercado Lazaro Cardenas is right next door to Mercado 20 de noviembre and here comes the fun part! This is where you can buy Oaxacan souvenirs directly from the artisans and the great part of this is that you get to see them working their magic. You will be able to experience Oaxacan mena dn women weaving palm baskets or the traiditonal wool rugs.
–The Botanical Gardens – the former monastery of Santo Domingo, designed by Alejandro de Avila, who created a conceptual garden structure with native plants of the region organized to shape a kind of history, beginning with plants grown form the “oldest cultivated seeds known”. Tours in English and Spanish.
-Visit Centro de las Artes de San Agustin – an early-20th-century textile mill has been superbly restored as the Centro de las Artes de San Agustín, a spectacular arts center with two long, large halls. The lower hall is used as a gallery for often wonderful craft or art exhibitions; the upper one is a setting for concerts, conferences and other events.
-Walk around town or get into a taxi and drive around to check out some of the cathedrals, churches and chapels around the city.
-Tour to Arbol del Tule – one of the oldest trees in the world. About twenty minutes from the city and included in several tour packages if you are heading out to other destinations outside of the city.
-Tour to Monte Alban – an archeological site, ruins and pyramids mostly, from the original inhabitants of the region, the Zapotecs. There is a feeling of magic and energy when you visit. It is a main energy vortex in Mexico and a great site to understand how the region evolved into the city we see today. There are tours all over town, private or groups, and you can book a driver if you prefer, directly with your hotel. Prices for private tours or a driver range from $75-100 USD plus the entrance fee to the site which is about $5 USD.
-Tour to Hierve el Agua – One of a kind petrified waterfalls, very few in the entire world, and a couple of hot springs that you are welcome to try. Located about 2-3 hours from Oaxaca city. Tours leave the city on a daily basis as well and you can book private or groups directly with your hotel or with tour agencies around town.
-Tour to a textile factory in Mitla – If you are headed to hierve el agua you can stop on the way back or you can just head out to Mitla to either get a textile dying and weaving class or just sit in for a half hour tutorial of how wool rugs are dyed and fabricated. And you also have the opportunity to purchase any if you want. You can also book directly with your hotel or if you are heading out to hierve el agua, tours/drivers will give you a price for both destinations. Both can be visited on the same day.
-Visit some Mezcalerias – Oaxaca is well known for their mezcal so make sure you check out some mezcal factories for tours and tastings.