Among its mountains and beaches, the state of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, is a treasure trove of beautiful landscapes and outdoor activities. But thanks to its capital and some lesser known towns, it is also a destination for art and gastronomy.
The state of Oaxaca deeply immersed in the traditions derived from its 16 indigenous cultures, as well as its Spanish colonial past. It is these traditions that make it an attraction for the nearly 650,000 tourists who visit the state each year, according to Adair César of the state tourism office.
For those who wish to explore a Mexico that offers the best of many worlds and that is not the typical tourist destination, Oaxaca has a bit for everyone.
This is our guide to the best things to do in the State of Oaxaca
CITY OF OAXACA
It begins in the capital, UNESCO World Heritage and cultural center. The colonial architecture of the city, the colorful buildings, and the cobbled streets offer picturesque views that make it unforgettable.
Art lovers will want to visit the Oaxaca Textile Museum, where a small but impressive collection of carpets, clothing and other textiles showcases the art of craftsmanship, as well as the Álvarez Bravo Photographic Center.
Then, you can spend a whole day in the beautiful Temple of Santo Domingo, a baroque church of the sixteenth century and ancient monastery, where the guides share the Spanish colonial past of the city and the church. Right next door is the 2.3-hectare Ethnobotanical Garden, where you can learn about the native plants of the region.
Two popular events here are the Day of the Dead (the city throws the house out the window, with events, music, and altars everywhere from the end of October to the beginning of November) and the Guelaguetza, an annual festival every July that shows the cultures and indigenous dances of the state.
To anyone interested in food, we recommend two of the markets in Oaxaca, the Mercado de la Merced for its empanadas and the Mercado 20 de Noviembre for its roasted meat.
Among the many excellent restaurants, La Teca offers traditional Oaxacan cuisine, while La Biznaga focuses on traditional food with a modern twist. Do not forget the mole, try the seven while you’re here, it’s a specialty in the state.
Happy hour at the Cocina Bar Agavero offers you delicious cocktails and La Popular is great for beer and wine. The Mezcaloteca is ideal to taste the mezcal, although it requires a reservation, it is worth it.
For a good bed and breakfast, you have to stay at the colonial house El Diablo y La Sandía, but those who plan to stay for several weeks or months can find apartments at Al Sol Studios and Apartments.
From the city of Oaxaca, go to Teotitlán del Valle, a quiet village at the foot of the mountains of the Sierra Norte with a vibrant textile market and dozens of shops. The nearby city of Tlacolula also has a mandatory Sunday market with dozens of food stalls, handmade products, and even live animals.
If nature is your thing, go to the nearby Hierve el Agua, a system of mineral waterfalls where you can enjoy swimming and breathtaking views. Another option is Yagul, an archaeological site and ancient city of the Zapotec civilization.
In Oaxaca City:
Textile Museum of Oaxaca, Miguel Hidalgo 917
Álvarez Bravo Photographic Center, Manuel Bravo Street 116
Santo Domingo Temple, Macedonio Alcalá Street
Ethnobotanical Garden of Oaxaca, Reforma
Al Sol Studios and Apartments Street , La Carbonera # 701 Centro, Oaxaca, +52 951 51 69073
El Diablo and La Sandía Calle de los Libres 205, Centro, Oaxaca +52 951 514 4095
La Teca, Violetas 200
Mezcaloteca, Reforma No. 506
La Biznaga, Gral. Manuel García Vigil 512
La Popular, Calle de Manuel García Vigil 519
Mercado de la Merced, 207 Nicolás del Puerto
Market November 20, November 20 512
Agavero Bar Kitchen, Calle Manuel Garcia Vigil 409 / A
The forested mountains of the Sierra Norte are an hour and a half from the city of Oaxaca.
The region is home to dozens of small towns, many of which operate ecotourism sites located between canyons, waterfalls and panoramic viewpoints. Visitors can stay in cabins and campsites.
The Ecoturixtlan site is particularly welcoming, with a fireplace and a cafeteria with local foods. In Cuajimoloyas, try the one-kilometer zip line that crosses the small mountain town.
In addition, there are about 100 kilometers of trails to walk and explore by mountain bike. In Benito Juárez, visitors can also participate in culinary workshops with local residents.
The coast is known as a beautiful paradise, of a relatively low profile. Puerto Escondido, the largest city on the coast of Oaxaca, has several beaches and a lively nightlife.
In November, surf festivals attract many visitors. Hotel Santa Fe and Sunset Point Resort are popular lodging options.
Playa Zicatela is one of the best places to surf in Puerto Escondido, and Sabor a Mar offers essential seafood there. La Langosta Loca Bar is also a local favorite.
If you feel adventurous, visit Zipolite, one of the few nudist beaches in Mexico, where all you have to do is have a relaxed attitude. You can spend the night in the Hotel Nude or camp in a palapa or hammock in the Lo Cósmico.
For those who prefer to enjoy nature and biodiversity, they can explore the protected coral reefs in the Huatulco National Park. At the Mexican Turtle Center, you can witness the release of sea turtles in the ocean from March to November.
Puerto Angel and San Agustinillo are also quiet villages that are excellent to live with the locals and enjoy the panoramic views.
Places in the Coast of Oaxaca:
Sunset Point Resort, Vista del Sol Street, Puerto Escondido +52 954 100 5283
Santa Fe Hotel, Calle del Morro, Puerto Escondido +52 800 712 7057
Sabor a Mar, Avenida del Morro, Puerto Escondido
La Langosta Loca Bar, Av. Marina Nacional
Hotel Nude, Av. Roca Blanca, Zipolite +52 958 584 3062
The Cosmic Way to Shambhala, Zipolite
Mexican Turtle Center, Puerto Angel Road- San Antonio Kilometer 10, +52 55 5449 7000
Huatulco National Park, Huatulco Bays, +52 1 958 587 0849