A visit to Oaxaca City is a must when in Mexico. In this city you will experience Mexican culture at its best. Oaxaca – which you pronounce as waa-haa-ka – is not a tiny city, it is actually the capital of the eponymous state of Oaxaca. But if you walk through the colorful streets you would not think that about 300,000 people live there. Oaxaca actually feels like a small town and was unbelievably one of the most authentic cities we visited in Mexico. We spent 5 days in Oaxaca during our tour through Mexico. You can read our tips for Oaxaca from Things To Do In Oaxaca to which sights you should not miss in this article!
The Best Things To Do In Oaxaca City In Mexico
Walk through the colorful neighborhood of Jalatlaco
This quaint colored neighborhood is one of the hidden gems in Oaxaca. It is a 10-minute walk from the old town centre. Together with Xochimilco, Jalatlaco is the oldest neighborhood in Oaxaca and wall drawings and many flags brighten up the streets. Few people know where to find this district and it will therefore not surprise you that it is very quiet here. Only go here for a walk because there is nothing else to do.
Visit the botanical garden Jardin Etnobotanico | Best Things To Do In Oaxaca
In the middle of the city next to the Templo Sant Domingo is Jardin Etnobotanico. A botanical garden where you will find everything that grows in the state of Oaxaca. It is wonderful to walk through the garden and spend a quiet morning there. One of the highlights is the section where there is a beautiful row of cacti that reflect beautifully in the water. Unfortunately, it is not possible to explore the botanical garden on your own. You can therefore follow a Spanish or English tour. A two-hour tour in English is offered at 11:00 AM Monday through Saturday for 100 pesos. The Spanish tours are given at 10am, 11am and 12pm for 50 pesos and last one hour. Make sure you are present fifteen minutes in advance.
Drink cocktails during the sunset on a rooftop terrace
When you walk through the streets of Oaxaca and you look up, you will see that you regularly come across a roof terrace. From those roof terraces with hanging lights and which are brightened up with numerous cacti and green plants. The skyline of Oaxaca is beautiful and during the sunset it gives a magical feeling. Drinking a cocktail during the sunset is therefore really something you have to do in Oaxaca. What nice roof terraces are in Oaxaca? Gozobi and Mezzaluna are our favorite. You can also enjoy a delicious dinner here.
Explore the historic center of Oaxaca
During the day or evening, there is always a lot of life on the street. The main square Zocalo is a good start for a walk and from there walk towards the large Santo Domingo de Guzman church. Stroll through the many streets, sit on a park bench and enjoy all the scents and colors around you. There are many nice boutiques to browse and cafes for a good cup of coffee.
Visit the Santo Domingo de Guzman Church
Another Best Things To Do In Oaxaca is a visit to the large Santo Domingo de Guzman church. Where you might normally walk past a church, it is definitely worth a visit here. It is quite impressive to see the golden inside of this church. A visit is free but a voluntary donation is appreciated.
Tip for Oaxaca: stroll through the many markets
Something fun to do in Oaxaca is to visit the market. There are many markets in Oaxaca, but the best are Mercado Benito Juarez, November 20th market and the Mercado central de Abastos. The latter is the largest market, but it is a bit further from the colonial center. Watch the documentary series Streetfood on Netflix in advance to see that you eat the tastiest memelas at Doña Vale. In the markets you will find a mix of local products, bottles of mezcal and different moles.
A day trip to Hierve el Agua | Best Things To Do In Oaxaca
Hierve el Agua is located in the middle of the mountains and is perhaps one of the most special natural phenomena we have seen. The falls resemble a dripping candle and are located in the middle of nowhere. It is one of the very beautiful sights in Oaxaca to see and the perfect place to alternate the city with nature. Take a dip in the water, hike to the petrified waterfall and admire the beautiful view. Visiting Hierve el Agua from Oaxaca is a real must do!
Plan a stopover at Árbol del Tule
This is a tip for Oaxaca of ‘if you’re in the area, we’d better stop there.’ The 2000 year old tree ‘El Tule’ is the widest tree in the world! The old cypress has a circumference of more than 36 meters and is fascinating to see because it is really very wide. The tree is next to a cute church which makes it a nice picture to look at. On the other hand, it’s just a tree, so don’t expect more than that. Combine a visit to this tree on the way back when you drive back to Oaxaca from Hierve el Agua.
Visit the ruins of Monte Alban just outside Oaxaca
An impressive sight just 8 km from Oaxaca is Monte Alban. Between about 500 BC and 800 AD, Oaxaca was the center of the Zapotec. This place is a real must see in the Oaxaca area and has not yet been discovered by mass tourism. Monte Alban is located just outside the city and is very easy to visit with a colectivo or with a rental car. Please note that only 400 people are allowed to visit Monte Alban per day. Therefore do not visit Monte Alban at the end of the day like us because then you have the chance that you will not be allowed in.
Do a mezcal tasting | Best Things To Do In Oaxaca
Oaxaca is known for the production of mezcal and this is the perfect opportunity to do a tasting while visiting Oaxaca. When you drive out of the center you will soon see dozens of agave plantations. The mezcal is made from the agave and is a kind of tequila. The difference in taste is that mezcal has a smoky taste. You can do a tasting at one of the mezcalerias in town such as La Casa de Mezcal. But you could also visit a mezcal factory just outside the city.
Taste the traditional mole
You should not leave Oaxaca without tasting the traditional spice sauce mole. Simply put, moles are sauces. In Oaxaca they have seven different moles that all have their own color. The moles come from Oaxaca and this is the best place to taste them yourself. It’s incredible because the moles often consist of more than 20 different ingredients such as onions, tomatoes, almonds, spices and even chocolate. A tasting is best done at La Casa de Abuela or at restaurant Coronita.
Tips for restaurants in Oaxaca
In many places in Oaxaca you will find nice restaurants to eat. We have listed our favorites for you and share our tips for Oaxaca to eat:
you can’t make a wrong choice here because literally everything that comes out of the kitchen looks good and tastes good. We have even been here a number of times and for breakfast, lunch and dinner you have come to the right place. It is a popular sport so be prepared to wait for a spot.
A nice place to relax when you are strolling through the city. Here they have affordable food and tasty smoothies and juices.
You can have an extensive breakfast here, but you can also bring something sweet as take away. The display case is full of delicious sweets. The almond croissant is super crispy and has cream on the inside, heavenly! And for sure you wil find this one of the Best Things To Do In Oaxaca.
Mercadito Gastron Jean Marc
A food hall with several restaurants such as sushi, falafel and even grasshoppers.
A cozy restaurant with healthy salads and sandwiches.
If you didn’t know that they had delicious pancakes here, you probably would have walked past this place. In addition to pancakes, they have more goodies that are also affordable.
Tips for hotels in Oaxaca
One of the most special places to stay in Oaxaca is Hotel con Corazón. This hotel is not only very nice to sleep in, but also has an important mission. Here they believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to develop. Poverty is so great in Latin America that 50% of students cannot even finish their studies. 75% of all income is invested in local school projects, and hundreds of students have already completed their education. Continue at Hotel con Corazon you also take a nap. Apart from the mission, Hotel con Corazón is also just a very nice place to sleep. The whole hotel is fantastically laid out with lots of open spaces to sit and every effort is made to reduce the carbon footprint as well.
We hope you liked our blog of Best Things To Do In Oaxaca, don’t forget to check other interesting blogs and travel guides as well!