cup of mezcal, and orange wedges

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca: 25 Must Try Brands in 2022


Wondering, What are the best mezcal brands to buy?

You’ve come to the right place to find out, as all the best mezcal from Oaxaca is featured here.

Oaxaca is considered the birthplace of Mezcal, so it’s only fitting you want to try Oaxaca mezcal — though Mexican mezcal can come from other states.

Mezcal can only be legally produced in nine Mexican states, and must be certified by the Consejo Regulador del Mezcal (CRM). All of the mezcals listed in this article meet that criteria.

Below, you’ll discover the best mezcal brands and 25 best Oaxaca mezcals, so you’ll know exactly what mezcal to buy. Before we get to those, let’s quickly clear up some common mezcal questions, like What is mezcal?

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

What is mezcal?

mezcal bottle, copitas (mezcal cups) and range wedges
In Mexico, mezcal is traditionally served in a copita (mezcal cup), with orange wedges and sal de gusano (worm salt) on the side.

Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage that is made from the agave family, often the maguey plant. Mezcal has been around for more than 400 years, and is the first known distilled spirit in Latin America and on the Americas Continent.

Para todo mal mezcal y para todo bien, también. (For everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, mezcal.)

see more Mexican quotes and IG Captions
Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

What is mezcal made of?

man harvesting agave plants to make mezcal in oaxaca mexico

Mezcal can be made from more than 30 varieties of agave. They all have different tastes and flavor profiles; there’s sweet agave, vegetal agave, and more. Some, like espadín, are more commonly used than others, like madre cuishe.

When choosing a mezcal, be on the lookout for the different types of agave listed below. You’ll find one of these words, espadin, robala, tepextate or ensamble, on the label of all the most popular mezcal available today.

  • Espadin: Often described as the “workhorse” variety, the majority of mezcal in Oaxaca is made from the espadín agave plant.
  • Tobala: Tobala is a type of maguey plant known for its light and floral notes. 
  • Tepextate: Tepextate agave is less commonly used to make mezcal due to its long harvesting time — it takes up to 25 years before it can be harvested!
  • Ensamble: An ensamble mezcal means it contains at least two different agave plant species.

What are the types of mezcal?

There are also different types of mezcal based on how long the particular variety of mezcal is aged. You will always see either mezcal joven, mezcal reposado or mezcal añejo printed on your bottle of mezcal, and here’s what they mean:

  • Joven mezcal: Aged for less than two months. 
  • Reposado mezcal: Aged between two months to one year.
  • Anejo mezcal: Aged mezcals, which must sit for one year or longer.

With the basics about mezcal out of the way, let’s get to this list of the 25 best Oaxaca mezcal brands and the best mezcal from Oaxaca, Mexico. If you want to learn more about mezcal, check out the Mezcal FAQ at the end of the article.

Best Mezcal from Oaxaca Mexico

1. Ilegal Mezcal Añejo

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ci-fidencio-mezcal-c5f6ca3361b1b475.jpeg

This añejo is made by Ilegal Mezcal from espadin agave. It’s aged for 13 months in American and French oak barrels. It’s the perfect choice for those who aren’t mezcal enthusiasts as its flavor is compared to scotch.

Ilegal mezcal was founded by John Rexer who initially smuggled the mezcal to his bar in Antigua, Guatemala. Today, it’s one of the best brands of Oaxacan mezcal you can buy, with joven, reposado and añejo offerings.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

2. Casamigos Joven

Casamigos is a popular tequila brand co-founded by George Clooney. They recently released their first mezcal, made from 100% espadin agave grown in Oaxaca. Casamigos Joven has an herbal, fruity aroma, with black pepper and smoky notes.

Their espadin agave is harvested using traditional methods, by fourth-generation mezcaleros (mezcal makers). Each bottle of Casamigos Mezcal is handcrafted using a unique process that ensures no two mezcal bottles will ever be the same.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

3. Bozal Mezcal Ensamble

Mezcal Bozal is an artisanal mezcal brand handmade in Oaxaca by several master mezcaleros (artisan mezcal makers). They make their mezcal using clay pots and ancient production methods that have been passed down through generations.

Bozal sells 17 different mezcals, but a fantastic option is the Ensamble Mezcal. It’s made from espadin, barril, and mexicano agave. Ensamble blends both wild and cultivated agave to create an herby, smoky flavor, with hints of citrus and floral.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

4. Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal

Del Maguey handcrafts mezcal throughout villages in Oaxaca, where they work to support the indigenous families producing local mezcal. Each mezcal is named after the town it’s from, and you’ll want to start with the Chichicapa Mezcal.

Handmade in the Oaxaca pueblo of San Baltazar Chichicapa, this mezcal is made from espadin agave, and naturally fermented. You’ll taste notes of toasted corn, sweet almond, and dried fruit, with a finish of mint chocolate.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

5. Montelobos Tobala

Montelobos Mezcal was founded by Ivan Saldana, who partnered with mezcal producing families in Oaxaca state and Puebla state. Montelobos focuses on sustainable mezcal production, made exclusively from wild agave. 

The Montelobos Mezcal Tobala is made in small batches from cultivated tobala maguey. It has a citrus flavor, with hints of tropical fruits, basil, macadamia nuts and even truffle.

♻️ Sustainably Produced: Sadly, the tobala maguey plant is often exploited in the mezcal industry. For this reason, Saldana partnered with a mezcalero in Puebla who has been harvesting wild Tobala sustainably for more than 15 years.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

6. Dos Hombres Mezcal Joven

Dos Hombres is a multi-generational, family-run mezcal company in San Luis del Rio. It was brought to the mainstream by Breaking Bad actors, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, after they tasted “the best mezcal ever” from a third-generation mezcalero.

Bought for the Breaking Bad fandom; bought again because this mezcal is fantastic.

—Gregory (Read more dos hombres mezcal reviews)

They produce Dos Hombres Joven and Dos Hombres Tobala; the joven is a great way to get to know this brand. It is made from a unique blend of the finest espadin agave, which is hand-selected from the hillsides in San Luis del Rio, Oaxaca.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

7. Mezcal Rey Campero Tepextate

Rey Campero, meaning “King of the Countryside,” is a mezcal brand from Candelaria Yegolé, a small pueblo in the Southern Highlands of Oaxaca. It was founded by master mezcalero (mezcal expert), Romulo Sanchez Parado.

This family-run brand produces 12 different types of mezcal, but a great one to start with is their Rey Campero Tepextate. It’s made from wild wild tepextate agave (Agave marmorata), and aged 15-18 years.

♻️ Sustainably Produced: Rey Campero has a strong commitment to local sustainability. For each plant they harvest for mezcal, they replace it with several others. This is particularly important for tepextate, which takes 25 years to mature.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

8. Del Maguey Vida

Del Maguey Vida is unique because it’s a certified organic mezcal. Founded by Ron Cooper, he worked with the local Zapotec people of Oaxaca to bring traditionally made, organic mezcal to a larger market.

Del Maguey Vida is widely used and beloved by bartenders, and it’s considered the best mezcal for cocktails. Thanks to its versatile flavor, Del Maguey Vida is typically used in mezcal cocktails like the Paloma, but you can sip it as well.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

9. Ojo De Tigre Mezcal Artesanal

Ojo de Tigre is one of the best artisanal mezcals from Mexico. Founded by Luis Gerardo Mendez, Ojo De Tigre Mezcal Artesanal combines Oaxacan espadin agave and tobala agave from Puebla. The result is a sweet, herbal, complex flavor.

Ojo de Tigres mezcal is known to be sweet at the start, with notes of citrus at the finish. They recommend sipping it with fresh pineapple to really bring out all the fruity notes. It also pairs well with most cheeses.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

10. Sombra Joven Mezcal Artesanal

Produced in Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca, Sombra Joven is made of espadin agave that’s hand-harvested. This mountainous area in the Oaxacan Sierra has about 140 mezcal distilleries, and produces the most mezcal in the state of Oaxaca.

Sombra Reposé

For a real treat, be on the lookout for Sombra Repose, an espadin mezcal made from Sombra Joven Mezcal. After the Joven mezcal is ready, it is placed in Bordeaux wine barrels to age for six months.

Sombra Repose is a smooth, smoky mezcal with notes of vanilla, orange peel and blackberries. The agave is harvested in two different villages in the Oaxacan Sierra. It is difficult to find online, though the Sombra Joven is readily available.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

11. Fidencio Único Mezcal Joven

Fidencio Mezcal offers nine different types of small batch mezcal, all made by fourth generation mezcalero, Fidencio Jimenez. The business, equipment, and land in Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca, were passed down through his family.

Among their most popular types, there’s Fidencio Único Mezcal Joven. They also make the Fidencio Unico Sin Humo; sin humo means “without smoke,” and this is one of the best non-smoky mezcals available today.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

12. Madre Mezcal Ensamble

Madre Mezcal is handmade from espadin and cuishe agave in the Oaxacan Sierra. It’s produced by three different families who started distilling mezcal not only for celebration, but to use as a plant medicine.

For many in Oaxaca, mezcal is what one could call a spiritual spirit. It has been used in traditional medicine for generations.

Madre Mezcal became an official, international brand after two friends from the United States met one of the mezcaleros in Oaxaca. Madre offers two different varieties of mezcal, and a unique line of sparkling, botanical mezcal beverages.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

13. Alipus San Luis del Rio

Alipus San Luis del Rio is an artisanal mezcal made from espadin agave by Don Baltazar Cruz. He is a master mezcalero (mezcal maker) who produces several different mezcals for various brands.

Alipus San Luis del Rio has a rich, fruity flavor. This comes from the sandy, rocky, terrain, and hot climate the agave comes from in San Luis del Rio, Oaxaca.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

14. El Jolgorio Madrecuishe

Mezcal is an integral part of any celebration in Mexican culture, and El Jolgorio captures that fun essence. From the festive bottles, to their unique, small-production, artisan mezcals — this is a brand beloved by all true mezcal connoisseurs.

El Jolgorio is a collective mezcal brand, named after the festivals in the small villages of the Oaxacan mountains. El Jolgorio mezcal is produced by more than 16 families throughout Oaxaca, to create unique varieties of mezcal. 

El Jolgorio Madrecuishe is one of those unique options, handmade from madrecuishe maguey. This lesser-used agave produces a unique, mineral and floral flavor in mezcal, different from their more popular El Jolgorio Tobala.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

15. Nuestra Soledad Santa Maria Zoquitlán

Nuestra Soledad Mezcal is produced in the small pueblo of Santa Maria Zoquitlán, located about 1.5 hours south of Santiago Matatlán. This town is considered the epicenter of Oaxacan mezcal production, as so much of it comes from here.

Nuestra Soledad Santa Maria Zoquitlan is made by master mezcalero, Ignacio Parada. He is known locally as Don Chucho, and considered the best distiller in this region. Don Chucho is part of the famous Casa Cortés Collective.

Nuestra Soledad Santa Maria Zoquitlan Mezcal is handcrafted from 100% espadin agave, using ancient methods of production. This particular mezcal has a strong finish, with notes of lemon zest, tropical fruit and red pepper.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

16. Los Amantes Mezcal Joven

Los Amantes produces four types of mezcal, joven, reposado, añejo, and silvestres — made from one-of-a-kind batches of wild agave. Each super-premium mezcal is made in Tlacolula de Matamoros, a town in Oaxaca’s Central Valley near Oaxaca City.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

17. Derrumbes San Luis Potosí

Derrumbes San Luis Potosi is a very unique mezcal made from salmiana, a wild agave in San Luis Potosí state. It has a pronounced, yet different, taste than most mezcals, and only a very subtle smoke flavor.

Note: Derrumbes San Luis Potosi is not produced in Oaxaca, but was added to the list because it is so unique. If you’re looking for a truly special Mexico mezcal artesanal (artisanal mezcal), you will love trying this one.

Made by master mezcalero Manuel Perez, he has to forage for four times the normal amount of agave to produce the mezcal from salmiana. Derrumbes Mezcal is a great brand if you want to try one of the most unique mezcals from Mexico.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

18. Mezcales de Leyendas

This is a great choice if you’re looking for a sustainable mezcal. Not only was Mezcal de Leyendas the first company to produce mezcal using solar energy, they make other efforts to produce sustainably as well.

They also partner with different mezcaleros to create mezcal that’s made from less-commonly used varieties of agave plants. They offer 12 different types of mezcal, including the popular Maguey Espadín from Oaxaca.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

19. Pensador Mezcal

Pensador Mezcal creates three different types of mezcal: espadin, ensamble and tepextate. Their mezcal is made in Miahuatlan, Oaxaca, by a father and son duo. Each artisanal, small-batch mezcal is rich in minerals, with an earthy and aromatic flavor.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

20. Santo Mezquila

Santo Spirits is a tequila brand founded by Sammy Hagar and Guy Fieri. Recently, Santo released Mezquila, the first of its kind. As the name implies, this is a mix of mezcal and tequila.

Mezquila blend of 100% Blue Weber agave tequila that’s distilled in the state of Jalisco, and mezcal that’s made from 100% espadin agave from Oaxaca. Taste-wise, Mezquila has a smooth, earthy, herbal, and a light smoke flavor.

Best Espadin from Oaxaca Mexico

espadin agave plant
The espadin mezcal agave (Agave angustifolia), AKA smallsword. (Photo: Conrado via WikiMedia Commons)

If you’re buying a bottle of mezcal, there’s a very good chance it was made with espadin agave. But just what is espadin? — Let’s clear that up quickly, and then highlight five of the best Oaxaca espadin mezcals.

What is Espadin mezcal?

Espadin (Agave angustifolia) is a type of agave plant most commonly used to produce mezcal. In short, espadin is to mezcal what the blue agave plant is to tequila, as 90% of all mezcal produced in Mexico is made with the espadin type of agave.

Where is Espadin from?

About 75% of all espadin harvested in Mexico comes from the state of Oaxaca. With its warm desert climate, mountainous terrain and high altitude, Oaxaca State is the perfect place for the espadin agave plant to grow.

How long does Espadin take to grow?

The espadin plant is easily cultivated, thanks to its high sugar content. It grows relatively fast, and usually reaches full maturity in 8-10 years.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

21. Mezcal el Silencio Espadín

El Silencio’s Espadin is a “mixing mezcal,” designed for mezcal cocktails and mixed drinks made with this spirit. It has an earthy, slightly spicy flavor, and comes from their eco-distillery in Oaxaca.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

22. Montelobos Espadín Mezcal Joven

Montelobos Mezcal Joven showcases the balance between the four flavor profiles of mezcal. Made from 100% sustainably grown and organic espadin agave, it is a complex spirit that perfectly blends smoky and Earthy flavors with mineral notes.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

23. Gracias A Dios Mezcal Espadín

Gracias A Dios is one of the best mezcal distilleries in Santiago Matatlan. Their espadin blanco mezcal is cultivated in this small pueblo in Oaxaca, considered the most important place for mezcal. It has a smoky, spicy, fruity, and dry flavor profile.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

24. Cruz de Fuego Mezcal Espadín

Cruz de Fuego, produced by a mother and son duo in Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca, is a certified artisanal mezcal brand. Their signature Mezcal Espadín is a sweet and smooth mezcal, made from 100% espadin agave.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

25. The Lost Explorer Mezcal Espadín

The Lost Explorer makes their espadin in San Pablo Huixtepec, Oaxaca. It has a unique taste with hints of red apple and herbs, and a smoky finish.

BONUS: A Few More of the Best Oaxaca Mezcals

Need even more suggestions for some of the best mezcals from Oaxaca, Mexico? No worries, here are 15 more Oaxacan mezcals you’ll enjoy trying.

Best Mezcalerias in Oaxaca: Where to Drink Mezcal

bartender pouring mezcal into a small cup
Looking for things to do in Oaxaca City at night? To try all the good mezcal in town, head to the mezcalerias (Oaxaca City mezcal bars).

La Mezcalerita

La Mezcalerita Oaxaca has a casual atmosphere, with three rooms downstairs and a big rooftop patio. There are a lot of rooftops in Oaxaca to choose from, so make sure you visit this one (or any of them) to enjoy the beautiful Oaxaca sunset and live music one evening.

Along with their extensive list of Oaxaca mezcals, they also have a huge list of artisanal beers from Mexico. La Mezcalerita is also a brewery so this is both a great Oaxaca mezcaleria and one of the best Oaxaca beer bars.

La Casa del Mezcal

Founded in 1935, this is one of the oldest mezcal bars in Oaxaca. It is located in Centro Historico, AKA Downtown Oaxaca City, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

They offer many different varieties of mezcal, and have a charming old timey aesthetic. When you walk through the doors at La Casa del Mezcal Oaxaca, it feels like you’ve traveled back in time.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

La Mezcaloteca

three small glasses off mezcal at a bar in oaxaca city mexico
Located in the Oaxaca de Juarez City Centre (Downtown), make sure to visit La Mezcaloteca Oaxaca mezcal bar.

La Mezcaloteca Oaxaca is part mezcal school, part mezcal tasting room. After your time here, you can take your knowledge of mezcal to all other mezcalerias in Oaxaca you visit. 🥃 Note: There’s free admission, but reservations are required.

Sabina Sabe

One of the best mezcalerías in Oaxaca is Sabina Sabe. This is a local and visitor favorite as the perfect place to try mezcal. Here, you can enjoy traditional Oaxacan food while tasting endless varieties of Oaxacan mezcal.

If sipping mezcal straight isn’t your thing, try one of their creative mezcal cocktail recipes. The bartenders at Sabina Sabe Oaxaca are very knowledgeable, and can mix the perfect drink to wow even the staunchest of mezcal aficionados.

Los Danzantes

Los Danzantes is one of the best restaurants in Oaxaca City, and they also have a location in Mexico City’s Coyoacan neighborhood. They make their own brand, Los Danzantes Mezcal, which you can sample while eating at the restaurant.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca: FAQ

Mezcal vs Tequila: What’s the difference?

Mezcal and tequila are both made from the agave plant. Tequila is considered a type of mezcal, but it’s only made from the Blue Weber agave plant.

Mezcal can be made from any type of agave, but it’s always 100% agave, while tequila is 50% agave.

different colored bottles of tequila
Wondering, Is mezcal tequila? No, they are two separate spirits, though they share similarities.

Tequila can only be legally called tequila if it’s produced in Tequila, Mexico (and some surrounding areas). This is similar to how champagne can only come from the Champagne Valley in France, otherwise it must be labeled “sparkling wine.”

To further clarify, there’s a common saying: All tequilas are mezcals, but not all mezcals are tequila. This is the same principle that applies to whiskeys, as all bourbons are whiskeys, but not all whiskeys are bourbons.

Mezcal doesn’t come from a specific region, but it can only be legally produced in nine Mexican states. The Consejo Regulador del Mezcal must certify it, otherwise it has to be labeled “distilled agave spirits” or “agave distillate,” but not mezcal.

Mezcal vs Tequila: How they’re made

mezcal making process in oaxaca city
Mezcal gets its characteristic smoky flavor because it’s cooked in fire, unlike tequila which is steamed.

When it comes to how they’re made, mezcal and tequila differ again. Both involve growing agave for several years, but the traditional mezcal production process is where they differ.

The blue agave piña (agave hearts) for tequila goes through a steaming process in an industrial oven, whereas the piña for mezcal is roasted in a fire pit in the ground. This time in the underground pit is why mezcal often has a smoky taste.

They then go through a different extraction process, with tequila being largely mass-produced, whereas mezcal is handcrafted. Each batch of mezcal will be different, even when it’s made by the same producer, whereas tequila has a more uniform taste.

Is mezcal stronger than tequila?

Yes — Mezcal is usually quite a bit stronger than tequila, though this isn’t always the case so always check the label. In general, most mezcal alcohol by volume, or ABV, is between 48%-55%, while tequila is usually 40% ABV.

best mezcal from oaxaca
Unsure about the mezcal pronunciation? Mezcal is pronounced mez-kahl.

🥃 Looking for a mezcal with low ABV? Opt for Mezcal Monte Alban Mezcal con Gusano, which is 40% ABV alcohol content. This is one of the most popular mezcals in the United States, and it’s readily available.

Is there a mezcal worm?

No — While you’ll find the infamous tequila worm in most bottles, mezcal does not contain a worm in the bottle. That same worm is what’s used to make sal de gusano (worm salt), which is traditionally served with mezcal in Mexico.

Does mezcal give you a hangover?

While it’s rare for drinkers to feel side effects the day after, you probably don’t want to test your limits with mezcal because it’s pretty strong. In short, yes, mezcal can give you a hangover, but only after seriously overindulging.

One of the reasons mezcal is so popular is because this spirit miraculously leaves few with a hangover after imbibing, especially when you’re sipping it straight! Since mezcal is a pure spirit, it doesn’t have additives as most liquors do.

What’s the best way to enjoy mezcal?

Mezcal is meant to be drunk at room temperature, sipped from a mezcal copita (meaning “little cup”) — not taken as a shot. You’ll hear people describe sipping mezcal as kissing the glass, which is the best way to enjoy the unique flavors.

Mezcal and orange wedges that have been sprinkled with sal de gusano (worm salt).

In Mexico, mezcal is typically served with oranges and sal de gusano on the site. This is a salt mixture with chiles and dried larvae from the chinicuil worm. Alternatively, you can also enjoy mezcal in cocktails.

How does mezcal taste?

Wondering, Is all mezcal smoky? It’s actually not! While mezcal is known for its smoky flavor, that’s only the case for certain types of mezcal from Mexico. One of the most popular and best mezcals in Mexico, 400 Conejos, is only slightly smoky.

Mezcal can also be fruity, floral, citrusy, and even a little spicy. Some mezcals are quite neutral and mild in flavor; it just depends on what type of mezcal you’re drinking and how it’s processed.

What are the best mezcal cocktails?

When it comes to mezcal cocktails, you have a lot to choose from. One of the best simple mezcal cocktails is the Paloma, made with mezcal and grapefruit soda.

pink paloma cocktal in short glasses
Paloma may be lesser-known, but many say it’s prettier and more delicious than Margaritas.

🍹 Wondering, What’s the best mezcals for cocktails? Ilegal Mezcal Joven Cruz de Fuego Espadín, Agave de Cortés Mezcal Joven and Pelotón Mezcal are all high quality options that work nicely.

You can substitute mezcal for tequila in many drinks, so if you love margaritas with tequila, next time try Mezcal Margaritas. For a bit more kick, there’s also Spicy Mezcal Margaritas made with jalapeño or a Mexican hot sauce, like Tapatio.

Thanks to mezcal’s versatile flavor, it’s actually easy to substitute for the liquor in most cocktails. Some popular options include the Mezcal Negroni, Mezcal Manhattan and Mezcal Mule, a Moscow mule with mezcal instead of vodka.

Best Mezcal From Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca Travel Guide

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 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.

Is Oaxaca safe to travel to?

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.

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 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; 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.

Is there Uber in Oaxaca?

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.

passenger calling uber in oaxaca from their cell phone

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 many days do you need in Oaxaca?

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

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

OAXACA CITY

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, plan for 5-6 full days.

OAXACA State

To visit the entire state, including Oaxaca City (Oaxaca de Juárez), the Oaxaca beach towns and the Oaxaca mountain towns, you’d want at least three weeks. Oaxaca state spans 36,275 square miles (93,952 km²), so there’s a lot to see.

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.

Is Oaxaca worth visiting?

Yes — 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 Oaxacan mezcal, beautiful nature, colonial architecture, indigenous artisan communities, and of course, the Oaxacan food.

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 still be wondering if traveling to Oaxaca is worth it.

I hope this guide to Oaxaca made it clear that FU+K YES IT IS!

Final Thoughts: Best Mezcal From Oaxaca

When most think about Mexico drinks, it’s usually tequila, not mezcal. However, when you’re visiting Mexico, you’ll quickly see that the locals don’t drink tequila, they sip mezcal. It’s even considered the national spirit of Mexico.

In recent years, mezcal has become increasingly popular outside of Mexico. However, there’s still no better place to try it or learn about it than in Oaxaca state, Mexico, known as “The Birthplace of Mezcal.”

It’s the best region to visit small-production mezcal distilleries, taste different versions of this versatile spirit, and learn about its history. When doing a mezcal tour, you’ll see the whole process — from agave harvest, to fermentation process, to final product.

If you’re traveling to Oaxaca City, don’t pass up the chance to do one of the best mezcal tours Oaxaca has. You can also visit the amazing restaurants in Oaxaca, like El Destilado for unique food and mezcal pairings.

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.