Oaxaca City, Mexico: Top things to do
Southeast of Mexico City you’ll find beautiful little Oaxaca City. It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of the streets where you’ll find breath-taking architecture and plenty of street art. From stunning panoramic views across the hills to the many mezcals brewed in the region, Oaxaca has something for every traveler.
Oaxaca food and drink
Oaxaca is known for, among other things, its fantastic mezcal. Brewed from agave but with a strikingly different flavour to tequila, there are a plethora of mezcalerias around the city. Why not sit down in In Situ and let the bartender help you choose the best mezcal to suit your fancy? It’s a fabulous spot to relax in with a cosy atmosphere. It won’t break your bank and you’ll get to taste a variety of flavours – I recommend San Luis del Río!
For something more adventurous, why not try a mezcal cocktail with mango, pineapple and chapulines (grasshoppers) to decorate? It is absolutely amazing!
When you get hungry, try the classic Oaxaca dish tlayudas, a tortilla wrap covered in beans, lettuce, cheese and a meat of your choice. You’ll find great tlayudas at Mercado de 20 Noviembre. Or, for a lighter snack, check out mole (pronounced moe-lay). Mole is a sauce covering a meat and rice dish and is fantastic; it will certainly leave you wanting more! As always, don’t be afraid to ask for more salsa too!
Markets in Oaxaca
Aside from great tlayudas and mole, Mercado de 20 Noviembre has many other places to eat as well as other food stalls. While it’s smaller than other markets in the city it has much more of a “local” vibe. Why not take a stroll down the smoky “BBQ Alley” where you can get an array of meats or sit down for a meal. As always in Oaxaca, chapulines are never too far away either!
Just around the corner is Mercado Benito Juarez where you can get chapulines, meats, leather, vegetables, clothes and anything else you can imagine. For a bigger market where you’re bound to get lost among the alleys of stalls, head to Mercado de Abastos which has a much larger selection of goods for sale. There is lots to see such as huge, heaving bags of dried chillies (they get VERY hot), or you can taste some delicious Oaxaca chocolate. Ask for the chocolate with chili, it’s great!
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Renowned Oaxaca coffee
When you visit Oaxaca, you have to try its quality coffee. In the city centre, there are many places to check out. Head to Templo de Santo Domingo for some sightseeing then nip into Café Brujula, grab an iced coffee and lounge about near the church. Or, take a picture with the famous Oaxaca sign!
Not too far away you’ll find a beautiful atmosphere in Neuvo Mundo. Sit inside, chill out and enjoy the café’s amazing baked goods. For a caffeine kick get an espresso or if the day is hot, you have to try a fabulous Macadamia Nut Frappé con Café!
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, Café el Volador is in a quieter part of the city. They have amazing coffee with a strong flavour and it is a wonderful little café to spend a couple of hours in (it sits about 10 people). Or on a fine day relax outside in the square with a delicious hot chocolate.
Street art in Oaxaca
The street art in Oaxaca is absolutely beautiful and the whole city is covered in art. Walking the quiet streets brings wonderful surprises, from eccentric, colourful installations to more minimal black and white pieces. Close to Templo de Santo Domingo, walk up Calle Porfirio Diaz to a small side street, Hidalgo, which features a lengthy wall covered in graffiti and street art.
Walking north from here to Benito Juarez St (not Mercado!) close, you’ll find many streets covered in wonderful graffiti, just keep your eyes open. The whole block from Benito Juarez to José López Alavez features amazing art ranging from tags to more extensive installations such as pictured above. Walking around this part of Oaxaca is definitely recommended for anyone with a taste for urban art. From Benito Juarez, head back towards the city and pop into Café el Volador!
Other sights in Oaxaca
The hill where Auditorio Guelaguetza sits is a steep climb but it’s time to get the walking shoes on because the view of the city from here is stunning. You also have a cosy view of the countryside that can’t be missed! There are many ways to ascend; just remember to keep looking out for the auditorium and heading towards it. Climb the cobbled streets to the summit and walk along Highway 190 at the top for the spectacular views. Highly recommended for a morning walk!
Oaxaca is a fabulous city for all adventurers and travelers. The street food is amazing, the local specialities are amazing, the mezcal is amazing and the people are super friendly! Hostels start at about $6 a night for a bed in a dorm. It’s a small city so you can easily walk everywhere.
There are regular buses from Mexico City to Oaxaca. The journey takes about 7 hours and clickbus.com will help you out. For a list of events and gigs around Oaxaca, quepasaoaxaca.com has a comprehensive guide.
Thinking of heading out on the road? Check out my Quotes to inspire your wanderlust for some inspiration!