We spent almost an entire month in Oaxaca city and we have to say it is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico.
The state of Oaxaca is located in Southern Mexico, its mountains and its beautiful beaches make it absolutely stunning. The territory is culturally very rich, the region still counts more than 16 indigenous groups and its cuisine is exquisite.
The city of Oaxaca is right in the center of the state, the perfect location for exploring the whole area.
We spent our time living in a small town next to the city center called Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán10 min by taxi collectivo (10 pesos) from the Zocalo. Our Workaway host was Miguel, a chef from Quinta brava. We lived in an oasis close by the city center. By the way, we strongly recommend it for special events or romantic dinner.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN OAXACA CITY THAT YOU CAN’T MISS OUT
Oaxaca city is a UNESCO World Heritage site, its colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and colorful buildings make the city unforgettable. Oaxaca is cultural very active, is the designer’s mecca, it offers amazing food and the atmosphere is very vibrant.
If you are one of our followers you know we always try to suggest original places to visit, local experiences and genuine food. Of course, Oaxaca is not excluded.
OBVIOUSLY SANTO DOMINGO CHURCH
We know, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to suggest you go to Santo Domingo church after our introduction but, seriously go in there.
The church of Santo Domingo is definitely one of the main attraction of Oaxaca city and it makes a lot of sense. The interior is stunning. The church is a clear example of the 16th-century Baroque-style all the walls are ornate, impressive and positively drenched in gold. Don’t miss it.
LEARN ABOUT THE INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES AT THE INSTITUTO DE ARTES GRAFICA DE OAXACA
The Graphic Arts Institute of Oaxaca is a museum/library created by Francisco Toledo, part one of the most influent people in Oaxaca City. Francisco Toledo is not only a famous artist but he is an activist for social rights, a philanthropist, an environmentalist… He was leading the protest against the construction of a Mc Donald in the historical center of Oaxaca. Among all the things he has done, building the Instituto de Artes Grafica de Oaxaca is one of these.
The institute is in a beautiful house from the XVIII century right infant of the Santo Domingo church. It has 5 rooms dedicated to an art show, 3 rooms for the library, a central patio, and a cafe. One of the reasons why we liked this place is because they are doing intense work in preserving the 16 native languages present in the region. A not long time ago they published the first Zapotec dictionary. The IAGO has free entrance.
LUNCH BREAK AT ORGANIC MARKET LA COSECHA
Another project from Francisco Toledo is La Cosecha market. It is a nice organic market that also offers beautiful artisanal products. We went there in the morning and we definitely recommend to do the same. In La Cosecha you can find a great variety of food, especially for breakfast. The quality of the ingredients makes a difference. If you are not hungry grab a fresh juice and enjoy the live music in the beautiful patio. A piece of paradise in the city center.
HIDDEN TEXTILE WORKSHOP IN CALLE BOLANOS
Walking by the old town of Oaxaca we stumble upon a traditional textile workshop. The name of the place is Don Chepe, to doesn’t really help because there is no sign but it is located Dr. Gilberto Bolaños Cacho 206. If you put your head around the door you can see an old man preparing the threads and one of his son weaving using the traditional pedal loom. Probably they are used to receive tourists so feel free to ask for a demonstration. They also have a small shop in the back where they sell their own products. We wish we had more space in our backpacks.
LIVE MUSIC AND NICE COFFE
Do you need a place to sit down and relax after walking around the amazing Oaxaca city all day long? We have the answer for you. Take a coffee, a cake, guacamole of whatever you feel like at Cafe Cafe in Tinoco y Palacios 604, Oaxaca. The cafe is not the best you can find in Oaxaca city but the location and the atmosphere are beautiful. A small semi-private square with a fountain in the middle, few tables around, Mexican decorations and live music is all you need after a day exploring the city.
CALLE PORFIRIO DIAZ, WHEN ART AND POLITICS MERGE TOGETHER
Siquieros Gallery, Espacio Zapata Urarte Oaxaca are just a few of the art galleries and workshops where you can admire the technique of Xylography. All these spaces create strong politically related pieces of art. Most of them are not just very beautiful but also full of messages, history, and rage. A visit to one of this studio will give you a better understanding of Mexican history and its controversial politics.
Together with other 10 places, these galleries are part of the Passaporte grafico project, a map of independent graphic galleries in Oaxaca. If you are planning to go, ask for your stamp in your passport.
MARKET MARKET MARKET
You have probably seen our post about Zaachila, the most authentic market in Oaxaca City, if not check it immediately out 🙂
Anyway Oaxaca City, as well as all the towns in Mexico, has its market. In this case, we will suggest you go to three different markets, plus of course the Zaachila one.
- Benito Juárez
The Benito Juárez market is a traditional artisanal market. Here you can find all the souvenirs you want, we bought plenty of them and the price is very reasonable. Get lost in this maze of vendors and be amazed by the colors.
- Mercado 20 de Noviembre
Right next to Benito Juárez market there is the Mercado 20 de Noviembre. If you enter from the main entrance located in Calle 20 de Noviembre you will be overwhelmed by an intense smoke, lot of noise and a delicious smell of roasted meat. In this market you mostly find food but our suggestion is to have a quick launch there. Get a table from the guys in the middle of the corridor, choose your vendor, the meat you want, take your number and sit down waiting for your meal. During your waiting time order some side dishes like roasted vegetables, guacamole and of course tortillas. Enjoy!
- Central de Abastos
Last but not least Mercado la Central de Abastos is probably the biggest and variegated market in Oaxaca city. Here you can find anything you want and the artisanal area is really big. Prices are a lot cheaper than the other markets but we suggest to visit it with a local or avoid to show up your phone o valuable objects. Definitely an experience.
BIKE OAXACA BY NIGHT
Mundo Ceiba is a bar but it is also a free do-it-yourself bike repair place. Every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday from 9 pm to 10:30 pm they organize a free bike tour in Oaxaca city. You don’t have your own bike? No problem, with a small donation you can borrow one from them. Biking by night in a city is magical and it is an alternative way to get to know the beauty Oaxaca has to offer.
OLD OAXACA AND TRADITIONAL CANTINA
Now is time for a fresh, big chela (Mexican word for beer). We had the chance to get ours in one traditional cantina. The pace is called Pollos Bar and the address is 68040, José López Alavez 1321, Barrio de Xochimilco, Oaxaca. Once in you will probably have all eyes on you since most of the people here are local. Once you break the ice ordering a Corona Familiar you may end up chatting with the people next to you. Entering in Pollos bar is like going back to the past. Note: in the way to the bar you will pass in front of the most romantic bench we have ever seen.
Oaxaca is one of our favorite city in Mexico and this list of top things to do in Oaxaca are just a few examples of the amazing activities and places you can experience in town.