Oaxaca is among my favorite cities. Since the first time I visited, I knew it was a city I’d stay again and repeatedly. I’ve been there a few times since then, even leading tours throughout this city.

It is located in southwest Mexico amid craggy mountain ranges; Oaxaca was inhabited for many thousands of decades by native Zapotec and Mixtec people. It is now a hub for mezcal production, food, artisan pottery, and textiles. It also is rich in history due to the locations of Monte Alban and Mitla.

All the history, food, and drinks, and pack it up in a city that is brimming with vibrant structures, stunning rooftop bars and restaurants and unique street art, and stunning parks. It’s no wonder that to find that a lot of people, including myself, are in love with Oaxaca.

Because I’ve been to the city numerous times to assist you in planning your trip, I’ve created an all-inclusive five-day Oaxaca itinerary. It includes all the top attractions of my favorite things to do and places to visit and some off-the-beaten-path excursions!

Oaxaca Itinerary

Enjoy a no-cost walkOne one of my first actions whenever I travel to a new area is to take a walking tour. They’re the most effective way to explore the main attractions, learn about the culture and meet someone from the local community who can answer your questions and offer suggestions.

My personal favorite here is Oaxaca, The Free Walking Tour. They provide daily tours which show you the best-hidden treasures of the city as well as the everyday life of residents. I cannot recommend them highly enough for those new to visiting the area. Make sure you give your guide a tip at the end!

See the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzman

If you’re in the city of Oaxaca, be sure to take a look at this complex, which includes a 17th-century Baroque Roman Catholic church, a cultural museum, and an extensive plant garden. It was originally a Dominican monastery and church and a photogenic location; it was later converted into an army barracks and military structure during Mexico’s revolutionary period (1910-1920) throughout the 1920s and the late 1990s.

While in the area, visit the Museo de las Culturas, where you can find many ancient and religious artifacts. Its “Treasures of Monte Alban” exhibition displays more than 400 relics found in an ancient Mixtec tomb, which is one of the most significant burial places in Mesoamerica, which includes skulls covered with turquoise, carved bone items, weaving tools, as well as jewelry made from jade and gold. It’s one of the most enjoyable activities to visit in the city. You can expect to spend about two hours at the complex.

C. Macedonio Alcala S/N. The Museo de las Culturas is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 am-3 pm. Church admission is free, whereas admission to the museum costs 85 MXN.

Explore the city and take in the artwork on the streets

Oaxaca is full of street art. It ranges from political works addressing current social concerns to wall art focusing on indigenous culture and history. The zones in Xochilmilco, along with Jalatlaco, are among the most popular murals. An art-based bike tour is also provided through the Coyote Aventuras (850 MXN) to get a more detailed view.

Try an open-air stall in Hamburguesa.

After a day of exploring, dine on a Hamburguesa to eat dinner. It’s a burger with hot dogs with cheese slices, Oaxaca cheese, ham and pineapple, lettuce, jalapeno, and tomato. It’s not exactly a normal thing to add this but believe me, you’ll need one. This isn’t just to be used by Gringos or foreigners also. Locals love these. It all started in this area. There are many stalls in town, but Cangreburguer, close to Santo Domingo, sells one of the most popular.

Oaxaca Itinerary

Explore Mercado 20 de Noviembre

The market covered in the 19th century is home to numerous varieties of delicious street food and fresh local produce. It’s my absolute favorite local market. It’s named after the beginning of the Mexican Revolution in 1910; this massive market offers everything and is excellent for grilling meats. There is also an area called the Mercado Benito Juarez. It is home to a variety of food stalls as well as shops that are worth a visit in case you have time.

Stroll around The Botanical Garden

In the former convent within the Santo Domingo de Guzman complex located in the Santo Domingo de Guzman complex, the Jardin Etnobotanico de Oaxaca was created in 1994 and was opened for public viewing. The garden covers six acres and has plants from all over the country (many of which were moved here since the garden is still young). Apart from the plants, flowers, and cacti that line the garden’s landscape, there are sculptures and artworks.

Admission is guided only, and there’s just one English tour each day (offered at 11 am) with only 25 seats. It fills up quickly, so be there early to secure your seat.

Reforma Sur, Ruta Independencia. Open Monday-Saturday, 10 am-3:30 pm. Admission is guided only. Entry (including tours) is 50 Mexican dollars for Spanish tours and 100 MXN for English tours.

I am a huge fan of mezcal (which is one of the reasons I am a fan of Oaxaca). It is where I learned about mezcal, a spirit made from the agave plant. As opposed to tequila, also made from agave when you make mezcal, the central part of the plant gets prepared in a pit in the ground before crushing. After that, water is added, and the mezcal is allowed to ferment. Because the plant has been cooked, mezcal has a more smokey flavor than tequila.

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