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5 Best Things to Do in Oaxaca City

on February 1, 2019

a group of people in front of a church

Oaxaca de Juarez, or simply Oaxaca, is the capital and largest city in the state of Oaxaca. The climate, culture and culinary offerings are abundant and make Oaxaca a great place to visit whether for a couple of days or weeks. Take a look at a few things to do in Oaxaca City that will leave you planning your return visit pronto!

people walking on a city street

Head to a Festival or Event

There is no better way to immerse yourself in local culture than to head to a community festival or event. OaxacaEvents and Qué Pasa Oaxaca are two online event guides that we find invaluable. OaxacaEvents has both an annual and daily calendar including holiday celebrations, local community events, workshops, group excursions and activities, and more. Qué Pasa Oaxaca features an events guide as well as more in-depth articles, places to stay and Spanish schools. They also publish a free, monthly, bi-lingual magazine of the same name. Back issues can be found on the website.

a plate of food

Oaxaca Eats Food Tour

Oaxaca is known for being a foodie destination and rightly so with its distinct flavors and mouth-watering dishes and drinks like mole and Mezcal. Oaxacan cuisine goes beyond the Mexican favorites found in your home country, to authentic, traditional recipes that have been passed down through the generations. From street food vendors to gourmet restaurants, mezcal masters, coffee experts, and everything in between.

The Oaxaca Eats Food Tour is an excellent introduction to traditional and contemporary Oaxacan cuisine like mole, pozole, tetelas and memelas. In 4-hours, visit 5 locally-owned restaurants where you’ll sit down to enjoy over 20 food tastings. Sip Mezcal and fruit waters (agua frescas) and learn about the culture, history and architecture from a local guide. We recommend booking a tour early in your trip to have time to return to favorite restaurants.

a large room

Visit the Top Tourist Attractions

Even if you prefer to take the path less traveled when you vacation there are always a few museums, art and cultural centers, historic sites, and tourist attractions that are worth a visit. When we travel we rely on the ratings of TripAdvisor for narrowing down where to visit by our individual interests. Some of our personal favorites are below, but feel free to wander on your own starting things off at the zócalo, the town historic center.

a large green field with a mountain in the background

Visit The Archeological Ruins In Monte Albán

Archeological ruins are one of the great wonders of the world, and a must when traveling in Mexico. You are in luck because the region’s principal archeological ruin is just a 20-minute journey from the city center. Monte Albán is also a UNESCO World Heritage site which has been around since 500 B.C. The site is located at the top of a mountain providing you with breathtaking views. Stroll the grounds, take photos, visit the site museum, and have lunch at the on-site restaurant. It costs about $15 round trip from downtown via taxi, and the entrance fee is less than $5 per person.

Other interesting ruins easily reachable by taxi or collectivo include Dainzu, Lambityeco, Yagul, and Mitla.

a large clock tower in front of Oaxaca

Churches, Cathedrals, And Convents

It doesn’t matter where you go in Mexico, churches and cathedrals are some of the oldest buildings in town. Many of our churches date back to the 16th and 17th century, displaying ornate Spanish colonial architecture. From the Gothic spires to Renaissance columns, and ornate ceilings and domes. Santo Domingo de Guzmán Church, Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude, and Oaxaca Cathedral are the top 3 churches in town. The full list can be found here. And you don’t have to be Catholic to visit, just be sure to wait until mass is over before heading inside to tour and take photos.

There is, of course, many more things to do in Oaxaca City, but this list is an excellent starting point!