Ok, so this is a compilation of tips if you are planning to travel to this beautiful city. As with most things in my life, I have learned the lessons by messing up everything else at first.
Things to see (inside the city)
- Santo Domingo Church
- Zocalo- City Plaza
- Mercado Benito Juarez (one of the best markets I have seen)- located a block from Zocalo (city plaza)
- You can eat at cheap tacos, tlayudas (a must) or quesadilla stands and you will be amazed at the food…
- An endless supply of Mescal stands. Artisanal, and commercial mescals.
- Mole, cheese, fresh cacao to make hot chocolate and of course the world famous grasshoppers that you can’t say you went to Oaxaca without eating one of these crunchy creatures; if you can get over the crunchy legs, it will taste like lemon, butter and salt. Deliciousness!!!
- Here you will find the famous Catrinas and Alebrijes which are completely part of the Oaxaca culture. You can always haggle on price as I do know, there is always different prices for different folks.
- Endless supply of tourist crap
- Rufino Tamayo Museum
- The famous Oaxacan painter was an avid collector of Pre-Hispanic art. Definitely worth seeing if you like this type of art.
- Textile Museum
- Nice, but it doesn’t beat going outside of the city to see how the different co-op’s work and give you a demonstration on how they have mastered the art of hand weaving.
- Museo de las Culturas
- Awesome museum located in an old Dominic Convent. Full of beautiful Pre-Hispanic art pieces in the forms of precious stones in tombs. Beautiful pieces but the building itself is stunning.
Outside the city
- Hierve el Agua- Hot Springs and petrified waterfall
- You can always choose a tour for this. I personally like to do things on my own and with my own time but sometimes this is more costly and more difficult of course. If traveling alone I would suggest a tour. There are many to choose from and you will see them posted everywhere around downtown Oaxaca. Most of the time they do both Hierve el Agua and Monte Alban archaeological site. There are also personal tours that are a little more costly but if you are with a larger group you might find this more economical; however, beware of the hourly rate as they might have a tour guide explaining everything and he might take his sweet time as the more he talks, the more he earns. I went with about 5 others and the easiest thing was to grab a taxi from the street, tell him you will pay him $150 pesos (roughly $10 dlls) per hour if they transport you there and wait until you are done seeing the sites. We each paid about $10 dlls each and we had a ride there and back to downtown Oaxaca. My favourite choice if you are with others.
- Rent a car. Driving in Oaxaca is fairly easy and you can find this option more economical if you are with 3-5 more people. The only hassle is that most companies are located in the airport so you theres always the picking up and dropping off of the vehicle that can always be a hassle. Signs to these places are very easy to follow once you are outside the city.
- Monte Alban Archeological Site
- The same applies to Monte Alban. Take a tour, taxi, or rent a car.
- The Tree of Tule (Arbol del Tule)
- How often do you get to see a living thing that is more than 1,600 years old?
- A beautiful tree that is considered to have the thickest trunk in the world with a circumference of 42.0 m (137.8 ft),
- Located in Santa Maria de Tule just a few kilometres outside the City of Oaxaca. If you are in a tour for Monte Alban and/or Hierve el Agua, ask if it includes transportation to this site. Many do. If you are renting a car, I suggest going to Hierve el Agua, Monte Alban and then stopping by Santa Maria de Tule. Still the best choice is Taxi.
- Seeing this beautiful creature is incredibly humbling….
- Mescal Distiliries
- A must!!
- There are many tours to many distilleries. Artisan distilleries were my choice.
- The one that we were taken to was “El Rey de Matatlan”, located in the town of Matatlan
- They will give you a thorough explanation of how the different forms of Mescal are produced. Tours are in Spanish and English, (sometimes Italian and French as well).
- Can’t say no to the free tastings of course
5. Taking the time to see how the amazing weavers do their art! Oaxaca is known for its amazing weaving and its just beautiful to appreciate how this amazing art is mastered.
- There are many tours that take you to these co-ops, but the one we visited was in Teotitlan del Valle, just a few minutes from the Mescal distillery, “El Rey De Matatlan”.
Wine and Dine- now to the important stuff….
Not in a budget… (very affordable if you compare prices to U.S. and Europe restaurants)
- Casa Oaxaca
- located to the side of Santo Domingo church
- Sit in the terrace and enjoy countless Mezcalini’s 😉
- Los Danzantes
- Located on the city Andador about a block away from church of Santo Domingo
- Ask for the black mole chicken which is delicious
- La Pitiona
- wonderful food and presentation
- Coastal Ismenan food
- Wonderful seafood!
- Any food stand around the zocalo and church of Santo Domingo
- DONT BE AFRAID TO TRY THIS AMAZING FOOD!!
- Your whole meal will cost no more than $5 dlls
- Benito Juarez Market stands
- Oaxaca is known for its delicious coffee, so just sit in any outside cafe around the Zocalo and throughout the city and you will be savouring a great cup of Joe!!
- By far the best coffee I had was at “Cafe El Volador”. Say hi to Alvaro, the owner, who harvests his own coffee beans from Veracruz.
- Located in a cute walkway on Xolotl street
- Have a coffee ice-cream in the wonderful Ice-Cream shops around the city
- Oaxaca has some of the best Mexican Cantina’s and Pubs. Its just up to you to walk and discover them. They are everywhere and believe me, when you travel alone you get to meet more people than if accompanied. When the Kyloma crew left, I made many friends when I went out to discover the city.
- My favourites are:
- La Sabina
- Cafe Central
- Gourmand- Great beers that they brew themselves
WARNING!! Mescal is an amazing drink that you have to treat with respect. After visiting the artisanal distilleries I came to appreciate it more than ever! However, it might be a very treasonous drink. I have found myself having an amazing time with drinks and new friends and next thing I know I am waking up in my hotel bed not knowing how I got there because my abuse of Mescal, (please be careful, throughout my travels alone I have been very lucky that nothing serious has happened to me, despite my insistence in putting myself in stupid situations)