milta ancient ruins in mexico, one of the best day trips from oaxaca city mexico

17 Amazing Day Trips From Oaxaca Mexico in 2022


Wondering where to go in oaxaca on a day trip?

You’ve come to the right place because the best day trips from Oaxaca City are all featured here.

From unusual things to do in Oaxaca, like seeing the widest tree trunk in the world, to the beautiful pools at Hierve el Agua, there’s a perfect Oaxaca day trip for everyone.

For history and culture buffs, don’t miss all the ancient ruins near Oaxaca. Located just outside Oaxaca City, the Monte Alban Ruins make for a popular day trip from Oaxaca, but there are other Oaxaca archeological sites to see as well.

The best way to maximize the number of sites you see in a single day is by renting a car in Oaxaca to drive to the day trip(s) of your choice.

If you don’t want to drive, there are great tours in Oaxaca as well, as you’re about to see on this list of the best day trips from Oaxaca.

Best Day Trips from Oaxaca Map

For your convenience, all the best Oaxaca City day trips mentioned in this article have been pinned to the map above. I hope it makes planning your trip to Oaxaca Mexico a little easier, so all you have to do is enjoy!

Best Day Trips From Oaxaca City

Renting a Car in Oaxaca City

Renting a car in Oaxaca gives you the freedom to venture off the beaten path and go on day trips from Oaxaca at your own pace.

With many tours, you only have a limited amount of time to explore, but with your own rental car, you set the schedule.

If you’re ready to get your Oaxaca car rental, I recommend and personally use, Discover Cars. They search both international and local companies so you get the best rates. I also always get their full coverage insurance — which is about $10USD per day.

Find Your Rental Car
Best Day Trips from Oaxaca City

1. Hierve el Agua

woman at the pools in hierve el agua in oaxaca mexico
The mineral springs and pools at Hierve el Agua are among of the most Instagram worthy Mexico destinations. (Photo: Sebastian Huber via Unsplash, Oaxaca day tours)

💧 Is Hierve el Agua open? Yes — Hierve el Agua reopened to the public in October 2021 after being closed for about 1.5 years. Head to Hierve el Agua Oaxaca Mexico: Ultimate Visitor’s Guide for more info.

Located about 45 miles from Oaxaca City, is perhaps Oaxaca’s most famous natural wonder — Hierve el Agua, which means boiling water.

While the natural mineral pools are the most photographed places here, you should also check out the amazing “cascadas” (waterfalls).

“Cascadas” is in quotes because there are two cliff faces at Hierve el Agua that look like waterfalls.

They are covered in calcified mineral deposits, which just so happen to look like falling water. You can see this from afar at the pools, or you can hike down for a closer look.

best HIERVE EL AGUA TOURS in Oaxaca

The easiest way to experience Hierve el Agua? On a tour of Hierve el Agua (or even this private tour of Hierve el Agua).

Check out the great, and varied, tours of Hierve el Agua below, ranging from half- and full-day trips to one of the best Oaxaca places to visit.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

2. Monte Alban Ruins

monte alban ruins in oaxaca mexico
This one day Monte Alban tour is the perfect way to see pre-hispanic ruins in Oaxaca.

Located about 30 minutes outside of the Oaxaca City Center, Monte Albán archaeological site is the most-visited of all ancient ruins in Oaxaca Mexico.

It is among the best pyramids and ruins in Mexico, and a Oaxaca must see for all visitors.

You can visit on your own, but tours of Monte Alban means having a tour guide explain all the ways this site is so important — and there are many.

If you’re visiting on your own, arrive early to beat the crowds and the midday sun; Monte Albán opens at 8am.

When visiting, remember to wear a hat, eco-friendly sunscreen, sunglasses and comfortable shoes.

Don’t forget to bring your Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your water so you don’t get sick in Mexico, and keeps you hydrated ▶︎ Use code SOLO15 for 15% OFF your order.

Best Monte alban tours in Oaxaca

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

3. Mitla Oaxaca Pueblo Magico

stone building in mitla oaxaca mexico
The San Pablo Villa de Mitla pueblo magico (magic town) is worth a visit to see the ancient ruins, shop from street vendors and enjoy the local culture.

After Monte Alban, Oaxaca’s second most important archeological site is in Mitla.

It is a Oaxaca Mexico UNESCO World Heritage site, along with the Prehistoric Caves of Yagul. As Mitla is easy to access, and the caves are not, most tours and visitors will only go to Mitla, Oaxaca.

Unlike most Mexico ruins sites, there aren’t large pyramids and temples at Mitla.

Rather, this holy Zapotec site has smaller buildings with intricately-carved geometric patterns and designs. For this reason, it’s one of the most visually unique archeological sites in Oaxaca.

Oaxaca UNESCO World Heritage Sites

There are not one, but three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Oaxaca — Historic Downtown Oaxaca City, Monte Alban Ruins, and the Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla — and all three belong on your What to do in Oaxaca City list.

Best Mitla Oaxaca tours

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

4. El Tule Tree (World’s Widest Tree Trunk)

el tule tree in oaxaca mexico, the widest tree trunk
The Tree of Tule is located in Santa Maria del Tule, one of the best small towns near Oaxaca City.

A must see Oaxaca vacation site!

El Arbol de Tule (The tree of enlightenment) is a giant Montezuma cypress tree on the grounds of the gorgeous Templo Santa María de la Asunción church in the pueblo (small town) of Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca Mexico.

It has the world’s biggest tree trunk at 46-feet (14 m), which takes at least 30 people with clasped hands to wrap around.

Scientists date this tree at about 2,000-years-old. However, the Zapotec people of Oaxaca say the Wind God Ehécatl planted it about 1,400 years ago.

The Tule Tree is located just minutes from Downtown Oaxaca de Juarez (Oaxaca City). It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Oaxaca City because it’s such an easy day trip.

You can go via taxi or one of the Oaxaca to Tule bike rides.

el tule Oaxaca tours

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

5. Teotitlán Del Valle Zapotec Village

colorful oaxaca rugs from Teotitlán del Valle, Mexico
The wool and cotton carpets of Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca Mexico, made with natural dyes and materials.

Teotitlan del Valle Oaxaca is a quiet, picturesque pueblo (small town), located about 18 miles (30 km) from Downtown Oaxaca in the Sierra Norte Mountains.

The town is known for its history, culture, tradition, and the colorful rugs made here by local weavers.

Besides a great place to buy Oaxaca carpets (the prices are often cheapest here because it’s not very touristy), there’s other things to do in Teotitlan del Valle.

Don’t miss the beautiful hike to Cerro Picacho Mountain and the Iglesia Preciosa Sangre de Cristo church and ruins.

El Rey de Matatlan: Oaxaca Mezcal Tour

Located in Teotitlán Del Valle Oaxaca, El Rey de Matatlan, has distillery tours, a sampling station and store on-site.

Admittedly, El Rey de Matatlan is a bit touristy, but you can visit some of the more off the beaten path Oaxaca mezcal distilleries and farms on these tours ⤵

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

6. Visit Oaxaca Mezcal Country

mezcal making process in oaxaca city
Learn the entire process of how mezcal is made on a mezcal tour at the best distilleries in Oaxaca.

Mezcal Distilleries in Santiago Matatlán

Santiago Matatlan Oaxaca has about 140 mezcal distilleries. It is by far the most famous of all Oaxaca mezcal towns, and it produces the most mezcal in the state of Oaxaca.

There is an overwhelming amount of distilleries to choose from, but here are two standouts ⤵

🥃 Want to see the mezcal-making process without leaving Oaxaca City? Head to Los Amantes Hotel, which has a small distillery and mezcal tasting room.

Palenque Gracias a Dios

Gracias a Dios is a very hip Oaxacan mezcal distillery, with cool art everywhere and unique mezcals to try (like their mango mezcal).

It is run by Óscar Hernández Santiago, a fourth generation mezcal maestro, so they definitely have traditional mezcal offerings as well.

el Sabino (Mezcal Macurichos)

There are about 20 different types of agave growing at El Sabino, the distillery behind Mezcal Macurichos.

It has been around for about 60 years, and they use two different distillation processes for their mezcals, the ancestral process and artisanal process.

Mezcal Distilleries in Santa Catarina Minas

stone mill for making oaxaca mezcal
Traditional mezcal farms use the Egyptian stone mill process, where a huge stone passes over a platform to break the roasted agave hearts apart.

Santa Catarina Minas Oaxaca is in the Ocotlán District, about one hour from Santiago Matatlan.

It is home to Solo Uno, a union of 15 master mezcaleros (mezcal producers) who are keeping the traditional mezcal-making process alive at places like Lalocura and Los Amantes.

Rambha Mezcal

Opened in 2021, Rambhá is one of the newest mezcal distilleries in Santa Catarina Minas.

It is female-owned and run by Rosario Ángeles, a master mezcalera (mezcal maker). She takes guests through the distillation process, even letting you try macerating the agave plant.

Real Minero

The Real Minero distillery and tasting room is one of the more posh mezcal farms in Oaxaca.

It is a bright, modern facility with a vast array of wild agaves growing. They use the ancient clay-pot distillation process, which is unique to the Santa Catarina Minas area.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

7. Yagul Ruins (UNESCO Site)

yagul ruins in oaxaca mexico | best places to visit in oaxaca
Yagul is an important archaeological site in Oaxaca Mexico, and a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Yagul Archeological Site is a must see if you’re someone fascinated by the ancient ruins in Mexico.

While not as famous as some other sites, like Chichen Itza or Teotihuacan Ruins, Yagul is worth checking out, and it’s only about 10 minutes by car from Mitla Ruins.

Yagul Ruins are known locally as the pueblo viejo, meaning old town. What you’ll see at these ruins are a series of buildings that look like an ancient home. They were built from about AD 750 to AD 950 by the Zapotec of Oaxaca.

Things to see at Yagul Archeological Site

If you want to see Zapotec Ruins without the crowds (like you’ll definitely have at Monte Alban), then head to Yagul.

When you arrive, don’t miss the main buildings and structures: Patio 4, the Underground Tombs, and the Palacio de los Seis Patios (Palace of the Six Patios).

There’s also the Juego de Pelota (Ball Court), which is the second largest ball court ever discovered in Mesoamerica; the largest is at Chichén Itzá Mayan Ruins in Yucatan.

For the best views of the Yagul site, climb up to the top of the Fortaleza (Fortress).

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

8. Tlacolula Sunday Market

colorful purses for sale in oaxaca market
If you’re looking for a shopping and market day, the Sunday Market in Tlacolula makes for a great day trip as it’s one of the best Oaxaca markets.

There are quite a few Oaxaca mercados (markets) within the city, like Benito Juarez Market and November 20 Market.

However, the largest market in the area is the Sunday Market in  Tlacolula de Matamoros, located about 45 minutes from Oaxaca City, near Yagul Ruins.

🗺 Wondering how to get to Tlacolula Market from Oaxaca? You can use this map for driving directions if you’re renting a car in Oaxaca. If not, the easiest way is by taxi cab.

Tlacolula Market is the oldest continuous local market in Oaxaca and all Latin America — as it has been around for several centuries.

Nowadays, you can buy everything from fresh produce to delicious food that’s already prepared, and locally-made mezcal to handicrafts.

Every Sunday, thousands of vendors, tourists and locals from neighboring cities and villages head to the Tianguis de Domingo Tlacolula (Sunday Tlacolula Flea Market).

It can be chaotic, but in the best way, as you’re enveloped in the colors and sounds of local life in Oaxaca.

What to eat at Tlacolula Sunday Market

Besides shopping for Oaxaca rugs, pottery, textiles, clothes, dolls and more, don’t pass up the chance to eat in the market as well.

In cities throughout Mexico, many enjoy barbacoa (barbecue) on weekends, and there’s an entire aisle in the market for barbacoa.

If you don’t eat meat, go for the tamales oaxaqueños (Oaxacan tamales), pan de cazuela (bread made in a casserole dish) and nieves (sorbet).

There’s also tejate (pronounced tay-ha-tay), a pre-hispanic chocolate and corn drink that’s popular in Oaxaca.

🛍 Want to visit all the best markets in Oaxaca? Check out the Etla Market every Wednesday in the Villa de Etla, the Zaachila Market every Thursday in the Villa de Zaachila, and Ocotlan Market every Friday in Ocotlán de Morelos, Oaxaca.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

9. San Martin Tilcajete: Oaxaca Alebrije Town

colorful alebrije mexican folk art
Oaxacan alebrijes are fictional hybrid animals that serve as spirit guides, like Dante in the movie Coco.

Alebrijes (pronounced al-lay-bree-hays) are iconic and colorful Mexican folk art creations, made from paper maché or carved from wood.

On first glance, they look like animal figures — but when you look closer, you’ll see each one combines a few animals into one figure.

👩‍🎨 For a unique Oaxaca experience, join the Learn to Paint Your Own Alebrije class.

First made with paper mache by artist Pedro Linares in Mexico City, Manuel Jiménez Ramírez is the artist credited with making the wooden Oaxacan alebrijes that are so popular today.

Nowadays, many visitors head to the pueblo (small town) of San Martín Tilcajete, Oaxaca, Mexico to buy their own unique alebrije figure. As these are handmade, no two alebrijes are alike.

San Antonio Arrazola: Oaxaca Alebrije Town

As one of the most famous types of traditional Oaxaca art, there is a second town you can visit that is known for their alebrijes.

The small pueblo of San Antonio Arrazola is located about 30 minutes south of Oaxaca City; just a bit further south than Monte Alban Rains.

For those who will be renting a car in Oaxaca City and driving to Monte Alban, you can head to San Antonio Arrazola after.

It makes a nice place to both shop for alebrijes and see artisans making the alebrijes in their shops. You can also eat some delicious Oaxaca food here.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

10. San Bartolo Coyotepec: Black Pottery Town

black pottery from oaxaca mexico
You’ll see local artisans making the famous black pottery of Oaxaca on the Black Pottery, Alebrijes, Textiles Villages Tour. (Photo: Airbnb, Oaxaca things to do)

In the Oaxacan black pottery town of San Bartolo Coyotepec you get to see where the famous barro negro (black clay) comes from, and the artisans who make it.

This pottery was first made by Doña Rosa hundreds of years ago, and is still the town’s main source of income today.

Santa Maria Atzompa

There are eight regions of Oaxaca, each different from the other. One of the main distinguishing features is the art that comes from each area.

While San Bartolo Coyotepec has black pottery, you will find the Oaxaca green pottery in the small town of Santa Maria Atzompa Oaxaca.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

11. Santo Tomás Jalieza: Oaxaca Rug Town

man making a rug on a loom in oaxaca mexico
Watch Oaxacan artisan handcraft rugs and textiles on the Black Pottery, Alebrijes, Textiles Villages Tour.

In Santo Tomás Jalieza Oaxaca, you’ll see the entire textile-making process — from hand-dying the yarn with natural materials, to how the famous Oaxacan rugs are made on a loom.

There’s a large selection of rugs for sale, with shipping available.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

12. Sierra Norte Cloud Forest (La Cumbre Ixtepeji)

cloud forest in La Cumbre Ixtepeji nature preserve in oaxaca mexico
It’s safer to visit La Cumbre Ixtepeji EcoPark on a guided tour (like this tour) so you don’t get lost.

Join Luis Fernando, a Oaxaca local and naturalist guide, on this Hike in the Oaxacan Cloud Forest.

Wondering, What is a cloud forest? It’s a forest that’s generally quite foggy, so it looks like there’s big fluffy clouds at your eye level as you walk around.

The cloud forest is located in La Cumbre Ixtepeji EcoPark, in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca mountains.

This is a rugged area, with a medium difficulty hike that’s about 9.5-miles-long (15 km), so you don’t want to attempt it on your own; book this tour instead.

Once you reach the top of the mountain, you’ll be at one of the highest elevation points in Oaxaca — about 10,500 feet above sea level (3200 m).

You’ll get some time to relax up here and take in the views before heading back to enjoy a traditional Oaxaca food meal.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

14. Oaxaca Pueblos Mancomunados

The Pueblos Mancomunados, located in the Sierra Norte Mountains, are the best places to learn about indigenous culture in Oaxaca, as well as Mexican culture. (Photo: Flashpack Journal)

The Pueblos Mancomunados of the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca are eight self-governing, indigenous Zapotec villages. They are located a few hours from Oaxaca City, and provide immersive Mexico ecotourism experiences.

The phrase pueblos mancomunados means “commonwealth of villages,” as these operate autonomously of the Mexican government.

The eight Pueblos Mancomunados are: Amatlán, Benito Juárez, Cuajimoloyas, La Nevería, Lachatao, Latuvi, Llano Grande and Yavesía. 

The nature trails on their land are a network of rural footpaths, country roads and mountain bike trails that span more than 62 miles (100 km).

It is a virtually-untouched natural area, so if you want to see the best Oaxaca nature sites, head to the Pueblos Mancomunados.

How to visit the Pueblos Mancomunados

Since it’s very easy to get lost, you’ll need to visit with a local guide who knows the trails.

You can book this Guided Hiking in Pueblos Mancomunados of the Sierra Norte, and your guide will safely show you around these Oaxaca pueblos.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

15. Ex Convento de Cuilapam de Guerrero

ancient convent in oaxaca mexico (Ex Convento de Cuilapam)
The Convento de Cuilápam is a beautiful place that’s full of interesting history in the small town of Cuilápam de Guerrero, Oaxaca.

Located just outside Oaxaca City, Cuilápam Convent is a 16th century church and temple space.

Photographers will love the aesthetics at this ancient site, and the temple itself is unique as it blends the pre-hispanic religions of indigenous people with Catholicism.

Note: You will see this city spelled as Cuilápan de Guerrero (with an “n”) or Cuilápam de Guerrero (with an “m”); both refer to the same place in Oaxaca. This temple is sometimes called the Ex-Monastery of Santiago Apóstol.

Unless you have a rental car, you’ll want to visit on a tour. Many tours, like the Oaxaca Antigua Full-Day Tour, make a stop at Cuilápam Convent, along with other must see Oaxaca sites like the Monte Alban archeological zone.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

16. Santiago Apoala Waterfall

antiago Apoala Waterfall, on of the best places to visit in Oaxaca Mexico
Santiago Apoala is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Oaxaca Mexico.

Though Hierve el Agua is known as the famous Oaxaca waterfall, it’s not really a waterfall at all (well, it’s technically a petrified waterfall, but there’s no water falling from it).

If you want to see a real waterfall in Oaxaca, head to the small town of Santiago Apoala, Oaxaca.

Located about 2.5 hours north of Oaxaca City by car, the Cascadas de Santiago Apoala (Santiago Apoala Waterfalls) will really wow you.

This off the beaten path natural area is perfect for hiking, relaxing, and swimming in the waterfall pools.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

16. Tlalixtac Oaxaca Natural Reserve

ancient convent in oaxaca mexico (Ex Convento de Cuilapam)
The native plants you’ll see in the Tlalixtac Oaxaca Natural Reserve will wow you! (Photo: Airbnb tour Oaxaca)

If the Santiago Apoala Waterfalls are too far, you can see some smaller waterfalls and natural pools in the Tlalixtac Oaxaca Natural Reserve. This natural area is only about 20-30 minutes from the Oaxaca City town center.

The hike to the waterfalls is about five miles (8 km) each way, and of moderate difficulty. However, for those who are up for it, you’ll pass by lakes and sweeping vistas, and see lots of native flora and fauna along the way.

Note: This one day tour includes a traditional lunch at the end, so your physical efforts will be rewarded! In all seriousness, this Oaxaca tour is best for those who of a moderate fitness level, as the hike can get challenging.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

17. Dominican Route: Oaxaca Churches and Convents

elaborate church in oaxaca mexico
The Dominican Route churches are located in the surrounding areas outside of Oaxaca City. They are the furthest Oaxaca day trip on the list.

Though there are some beautiful churches in Oaxaca City (like Templo de Santo Domingo), you can also check out the ones on the Dominican Route.

These 16th Century churches were in the baroque aesthetic, the most popular Oaxaca architecture style at the time.

A must see for architecture and design lovers, there are three churches on the route, and you’ll need a rental car to visit them because it’s really not possible via public transportation.

The Oaxaca Dominican Route churches and religious centers are:

  • Iglesia de San Pedro Apóstol (Saint Peter the Apostle Church) in the Village of Etla, Oaxaca 
  • Ex Convento de Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán (Ex-Convent of Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán)
  • Ex Convento y Templo de San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula (Ex-Convent and Temple of San Pedro and San Pablo Teposcolula)
  • Iglesia Santa María de la Asunción (Church of Our Lady of the Assumption) in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca
  • Ex Convento de San Juan Bautista (Ex-Convent of San Juan Bautista) in Coixtlahuaca, Oaxaca

Bonus: Best Tours in Oaxaca

Free Walking Tour of Oaxaca City

colorful oaxaca sign in downtown oaxaca city mexico
Join local guides on a free walking tour of Oaxaca City, the best way to get your bearings when you arrive.

Looking for free things to do in Oaxaca City? The Oaxaca Free Walking Tour is among the top things to do in Oaxaca City, and makes a great first item on your Oaxaca itinerary. 🤑

Note: Though free, it is customary to tip your guide at least $100 pesos ($5 USD) per person.

The tour is led by local guides, and a great way to see the city’s highlights, off the beaten tracks sites and best Oaxaca neighborhoods. You’ll also learn some history and fun facts about Oaxaca along the way.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

Oaxaca Cooking Class

man preparing food at a cooking class in oaxaca city
Learn how to make guacamole the real way, in a Mexican molcajete.

If there’s one thing Oaxaca is known for — it’s food!

However, Oaxacan cuisine isn’t what most people know as traditional Mexican food, because things like tacos, burritos and nachos aren’t the traditional foods of Oaxaca.

👩‍🍳 Don’t miss this Traditional Oaxacan Cooking Class with Sonia Silvia; it’s one of the highest rated tours in Oaxaca City.

Instead, you’ll find tlayudas, mole, memelas, tamales oaxaqueños, tetelas, chapulines, enmoladas, tejate and cafe de olla.

Have no idea what any of that is?! You can learn about it, cook it, and of course, eat it, in these best cooking classes in Oaxaca City ⤵

Best Oaxaca Cooking Classes

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

Oaxaca Taco Tours

man cutting meat from a trompo (spit) for tacos al pastor in oaxaca mexico
Enjoy the best tacos in town on this Oaxaca food tour.

If you go to Mexico and don’t eat way too many tacos, did you even go to Mexico?!

As the undisputed king of Mexican food, you’ll likely want to eat all the best tacos in Oaxaca City — but how do you know which ones to choose? You ask an expert.

Join Gerardo, a Oaxaca local, on the Tacos and Secret Bars of the City.

On it, he will take you to three taco spots in Oaxaca where only locals go. You’ll also visit one of the coolest and best bars in Oaxaca to try some local beer.

Oaxaca Chocolate Tour

Not everyone knows this, but the first cacao plants were cultivated by the Mayan people of southern Mexico (near Oaxaca).

This crop has been part of traditional Oaxaca food and drink for thousands of years, so there’s a lot more to learn about this tasty treat.

Join Oaxaca locals, Juan and Martín, from the Etnofood Oaxaca Food Lab on the Oaxacan Chocolate Class & Tasting experience.

During the class, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the scarred cacao tree, and taste some locally-made Oaxaca chocolate.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA CITY

Oaxaca Temazcal Experience

man sitting outside a temazcal in oaxaca mexico (similar to a sweat lodge)
Oaxacan temazcal ceremonies are a big part of the local culture.

For some self care, you’ll want to put a temazcal ceremony on your list of things to do in Oaxaca City.

Temazcal is a pre-hispanic cleansing and purification ritual, similar to a Native American sweat lodge — so expect to sweat a lot.

The Ceviarem Temazcal Oaxaca is just outside the Oaxaca city centre, but for a more authentic experience, head about 45 minutes out of the city to Ex Hacienda San Antonio Hotel & Spa.

Their RenaSiendo en Oaxaca Temazcal Ceremony is an authentic temazcal ceremony.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA Mexico

Oaxaca Travel Guide and FAQ

colorful buildings in oaxaca city
Colorful downtown in the city of Oaxaca Mexico.

How do you pronounce Oaxaca?

Wondering about the Oaxaca pronunciation? It’s a common question, so if you are, you’re not alone! The word Oaxaca is pronounced waa-haa-kah.

Where is Oaxaca located?

Oaxaca is a state in southern Mexico, surrounded by other Mexican states like Chiapas and Puebla.

The southern edge of the state sits on the Pacific Ocean. Oaxaca City is the state’s capital city, and located about six hours south of Mexico City, you can book direct flights.

Oaxaca Map

What’s the best way to get to Oaxaca?

Flights to Oaxaca

Wondering, Is there an airport in Oaxaca City?

Yes, there’s Oaxaca International Airport (code: OAX), located about 20-30 minutes from downtown. You might see this airport called Xoxocotlán International Airport, but it’s still OAX. ▶︎ Book your Oaxaca flights here!

Best Oaxaca Airport transportation

Mexico City to Oaxaca

If you’re flying to Oaxaca, you’ll likely have to get a connecting flight in Mexico City, as there are very few international direct flights to Oaxaca Airport.

However, you also have other options when traveling to Oaxaca from Mexico City.

  • Driving to Oaxaca: The Mexico City to Oaxaca drive takes about six hours in normal traffic. You can easily rent a car in Mexico City with the tips in this Mexico Car Rental Guide.
  • Bus to Oaxaca: There’s also the ADO bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca. ADO is Mexico’s largest bus company, with a fleet of luxury class buses. The bus ride takes about eight hours, and there are overnight buses available.
BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA Mexico

What is the best time to visit Oaxaca Mexico?

The best time to travel to Oaxaca is during the dry season, October to May. However, the temperate weather in Oaxaca City means it can be a year-round destination.

While it will rain during the Oaxaca rainy season, you’ll also get lower prices — as this is the slow season.

If you want to avoid the crowds, the Oaxaca busy season runs from about late-October for Day of the Dead, through mid-January.

Many also visit Oaxaca de Juárez (Oaxaca City) for the Guelaguetza in July, the second biggest Oaxaca festival.

Oaxaca weather

oaxaca weather chart

Oaxaca City has a desert climate, so hot days and cool nights. The temperature in Oaxaca fluctuates a lot, so be mindful and bring layers when packing for Oaxaca. If you hate the heat, avoid the hottest months of April to May.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA Mexico

Is Oaxaca safe to travel to?

woman walking in oaxaca city mexico
Doing some Oaxaca solo travel? Check out this first-hand account from Poonam about her solo trip to Oaxaca.

For the vast majority of travelers, Oaxaca is safe to visit. In fact, Oaxaca is one of the safest states in Mexico. Oaxaca City is the country’s 67th largest city, with a population of about 275,000, but retains a humble, pueblo vibe.

⚠️ For a deep dive into this topic and a Oaxaca safety guide, check out Is Oaxaca Safe to Travel to Right Now?

That’s not to say bad things don’t happen in Oaxaca City; they do.

However, if you take the same general travel precautions you would anywhere else — ie. stay aware of yourself, your belongings and your surroundings — you should be safe traveling to Oaxaca City.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA Mexico

What are the best places to stay in Oaxaca?

City Centro Hotel Oaxaca, the pink hotel in Oaxaca City
💝 The pretty, pink Oaxaca hotel, City Centro Hotel Oaxaca, in the Jalatlaco neighborhood. (Photo: City Centro Hotel Oaxaca Mexico)

Not sure where to stay in Oaxaca Mexico? That’s understandable because there really are a lot of great options at all price points.

Have a look at the options below, and if you need even more suggestions, check out these 17 Best Places to Stay in Oaxaca City.

Best neighborhoods in Oaxaca City

For first time visitors, you’ll find staying in Oaxaca Centro (Downtown) near the Zocalo very convenient, as it’s super walkable.

There’s also the colorful and artsy Jalatlaco neighborhood, and Xochimilco, the most historic neighborhood in Oaxaca — all three are great options.

Best HotelS in Oaxaca

Best HostelS in Oaxaca

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA Mexico

Is there Uber in Oaxaca City?

passenger calling uber in oaxaca from their cell phone

No — There is no Oaxaca Uber service, and no Lyft in Oaxaca either. They do have DiDi Taxi through the DiDi Rider app, which lets you call a Oaxaca taxi via the app. It’s basically like using Uber or Lyft, but you will get a regular cab.

Are taxis safe in Oaxaca Mexico?

For the majority of travelers, yes, taxis are perfectly safe to use in Oaxaca. I personally prefer to call taxis via the DiDi Rider app, so I have a record of my trip and the price is already set for me, but you can also just hail a cab on the street.

How do you get around Oaxaca City?

Oaxaca City is very walkable, so if you’re just staying in the city itself, you can walk and use taxis and public transportation as needed.

For Oaxaca day trips, a rental car or small group tour is your best bet, and I recommend booking Oaxaca tours via Viator and Airbnb Experiences.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA Mexico

How many days do you need in Oaxaca City?

colorful buildings in downtown oaxaca city
Colorful downtown in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Within Oaxaca City itself, you can see the highlights in 2-3 full days.

For those who want to explore the villages outside town, like Hierve el Agua in San Lorenzo Albarradas, San Agustín Etla, Teotitlán Del Valle and San Pablo Villa de Mitla, you’ll want at least 5-6 full days.

What is Oaxaca known for?

Wondering, Why is Oaxaca so popular?

There are five things Oaxaca is known for — art, culture, the Oaxaca Day of the Dead celebration, mezcal and food. In fact, Oaxaca is called the Foodie Capital of Mexico, so try the street food in Oaxaca and the restaurants.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM OAXACA Mexico

Is Oaxaca worth visiting?

handicrafts for sale at a oaxaca market
You’re going to fall in love with the art, food, beauty and friendly people of Oaxaca.

As you’ll usually need to take at least two flights to Oaxaca, Mexico, or even a flight and a bus, you might be wondering if traveling to Oaxaca is worth it. I hope this guide to Oaxaca made it clear that FU+K YES IT IS!

Oaxaca is magical; it’s the Mexico people imagine Mexico to be.

There’s everything from rich history, colorful festivals, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, locally-made Oaxaca mezcal, beautiful nature, colonial architecture, indigenous artisan communities, and of course, the Oaxacan food.

Final Thoughts: Best Day Trips from Oaxaca Mexico

While there might seem to be an endless number of Oaxaca City things to do, there’s even more to see just outside of town.

Many of the best day trips from Oaxaca City Mexico are located about an hour away, so they’re easy to access on your own or with a group tour.

The best way to go on Oaxaca day trips is via rental car. While the tours are convenient, you have to follow their schedule, which isn’t always the schedule you want.

Still, no matter which way you choose, don’t miss out on all the amazing day trips from Oaxaca City.

Oaxaca Travel Planning Guide

🚑 Should I buy Mexico travel insurance for Oaxaca?

100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from World Nomads, the biggest name in travel insurance. (Read more)

💧Can you drink the water in Oaxaca?

No — You’ll want to buy a Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Mexico, and helps keep you hydrated while traveling to Oaxaca. (Read more)

🚙💨 Is it safe to rent a car in Oaxaca?

Yes — Renting a car in Oaxaca is one of the best ways to see the state. I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Oaxacan companies, so you get the best rates. (Read more)

📲 Will my phone work in Oaxaca?

Maybe — It depends on your company, so check with your provider. If you don’t have free Mexico service, buy a Telcel SIM Card. As Mexico’s largest carrier, Telcel has the best coverage of any Mexico SIM Cards. (Read more)

🏩 What’s the best way to book places to stay in Oaxaca?

For Oaxaca hotels, Booking is the best site. If you’re considering a Oaxaca Airbnb, also check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb. For the best Oaxaca hostels, use HostelWorld.

🧳 What do I pack for Oaxaca? Head to the Ultimate Mexico Packing List + FREE Checklist Download to get all the info you need on packing for Mexico.

✈️ What’s the best site to buy Oaxaca flights? For finding cheap Oaxaca flights, I recommend Skyscanner.

🎫 Do I need a visa for Oaxaca?

Likely Not — U.S., Canadian and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Mexico; but check here to see if you do need a Mexico travel visa. The majority of travelers will receive a 180-Day FMM Tourist Visa upon arrival.

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