Oaxaca City Guide

Oaxaca possesses an otherworldly magic that is both intangible and all consuming at once. It fills your lungs like a cloud of smoke and lingers long after you’ve inhaled. All my senses were ignited there. The brightly colored colonial houses lining the streets of Oaxaca City are strikingly contrasted by the exceptional urban-chic designs lining their insides. The local art greets you at every turn while the bells of Santo Domingo chime to the Chinas Oaxaqueñas dancing in the streets. Have I convinced you to book your ticket yet? Read below for more.

What to Pack:

  • Oaxaca is traditionally warmer than Mexico City so save your little summer wrap dresses and sandals for your trip down south. However, much like Mexico City, it tends to cool off in the evenings so a light sweater or jacket are appropriate. Otherwise I say pack your most vibrant, print-driven outfits and have a blast photographing in the colorful streets.

Where to Stay:

  • El Callejon – this hotel is a hidden oasis and quite possibly my most favorite hotel I’ve ever stayed at…which says a lot. I could have disappeared here for days. Tucked behind an unassuming rustic orange door is an open air pathway that leads to a palm tree covered lobby. We stayed in the master suites which boasted their own private garden/terrace, living room and kitchen, master bathroom and tv room. Take me back!

What to See:

  • Teatro Macedonio de Alcala – stunning theatre from 1909 lined in gold
  • Oaxaca City Walk – give yourself at least a day to wak and explore the city
  • San Agustin Temple and the Zocalo – best experienced on a Saturday
  • Catedral de Santo Domingo – most famous church in Oaxaca City
  • Jardin Etno Botanico – bottanical gardens next to Santo Domingo
  • Chinas Oaxaqueñas – the breathtaking dancers outside Santo Domingo

Where to Eat:

  • 20 de Noviembre Market – for a real taste of Mexican cuisine
  • Pitiona – great view of Santo Domingo and very modern mexican dishes
  • Criollo – the brain child of Enrique Olvera; this restaurant has a new menu everyday and very sultry interior
  • Pa’l Dolor – stunning rooftop terrace, cool contemporary design and amazing food and drinks. My favorite in Oaxaca
  • Tierra Antigua – this is both a restaurant and traditional Zapotec wool rug gallery best suited to visit on your way to or from Hierve el Agua

Where to Shop:

  • Mercado Benito Suarez – bustling market selling spices, chocolate etc
  • Mercado de Artesanias – market selling Oaxacan folk art and clothing
  • Huizache Arte Vivo de Oaxaca – sells all the traditional Oaxacan handcrafts and then some! I bought all of my Alebrijes from this place and built a shrine once I got home, ha!

Where to Play:

  • Mezcaloteca – just down the street from the Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman, Mezcaloteca offers an amazing mezcal sampling. I was completely uninformed on the making of Mezcal prior to this trip. It definitely opened my eyes to this very traditional labor of love.

What to See Outside the City:

  • Hierve el Agua – no trip to Oaxaca is complete without a visit to Hierve el Agua. It’s about a 1.5 hrs drive from Oaxaca City and provides a great glimpse into life on the outside. The spectacular aqua blue terraces will take your breath away. Just remember, don’t look down!

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