large colonial church in oaxaca mexico | best time to visit oaxaca mexico

Best Time to Visit Oaxaca: Month by Month Guide for 2022

Planning to Travel to Oaxaca Mexico?

Then you’re going to need to know the best time to visit Oaxaca — and you’re going to learn just that in this article.

Oaxaca is the fifth largest state in Mexico, and divided into eight different geographic regions. For this reason, the best time to travel to Oaxaca depends on where you’re going.

The best places to visit in Oaxaca include Oaxaca de Juarez (AKA Oaxaca City), the state’s capital. Located about 160 miles away (257 km), there’s the beaches of Oaxaca, like Puerto Escondido and Huatulco.

In this article, you’ll get answers to the question, When is the best time to visit Oaxaca? No matter where you’re headed in Oaxaca state, there’s an ideal time to go so let’s dive in.

What is the best time to visit Oaxaca Mexico?

Oaxaca has a subtropical climate, with both a dry season and a wet season. This isn’t a place with four distinct seasons, or extremely low or high temperatures, so you can comfortably visit all year.

Given Oaxaca’s proximity to the mountains and its altitude at 5,100-feet above sea level (1,555 m), you’ll get moderate temperatures, low humidity — and more than 300 days of sunshine per year!

However, even though Oaxaca can be seen as a year-round destination, every traveler’s idea of “best time to visit Oaxaca Mexico” will differ. In this article, we’ll look at Oaxaca month by month, so you know your best time!t

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca Weather and Climate 

Central Mexico has what’s called the Eternal Spring climate, with sunny days and balmy temperatures for much of the year. (Photo: Weather Atlas)

Oaxaca’s subtropical climate, which is warm and temperate, can be enjoyed year-round. However, Oaxaca is the fifth largest Mexico state and home to numerous ecosystems.

This means it has various microclimates located across the state — including mountains, forests, beaches and the Oaxaca valley areas.

Central Oaxaca & Sierra Mountains: The highest elevation parts of Oaxaca state have colder, sub-humid weather, and wet summers. Oaxaca City and the Pueblos Mancomunados fall in this particular category.

Oaxacan Coast & Beaches: The Oaxaca Pacific Coast has a hot, sub-humid climate, with heavy summer rains and sometimes hurricanes. It’s much hotter and rainier on the coast compared to Oaxaca City in Central Oaxaca.

Northern Oaxaca & Mixteca Region: The Northern part of the state has some of the highest rainfall rates nationwide. This includes the Oaxaca Mixteca towns of Santiago Apoala Oaxaca and Tamazulapam del Progreso.

Eastern Lowlands & Isthmus: The Oaxaca Eastern Lowlands experience semi-hot, sub-humid weather with rainy summers. This includes the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

With all this diversity, the average temperature in Oaxaca can fluctuate a bit — from 45° to 85°F (7° to 29°C), depending on the season. Let’s take a closer look at more Oaxaca weather info so you know the best time to go.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Average Temperatures in Oaxaca

Travelers will enjoy pleasant temperatures in Oaxaca for much of the year. (Photo: Weather Atlas)

Due ​​to its proximity to the Equator, Oaxaca has warm temperatures year round. They can range from 64°F (18°C) to 113°F (45°C), depending on the region and the season.

🥵 What is the Hottest Month in Oaxaca?

The single hottest month in Oaxaca Mexico is May — and even Oaxaca locals dread this month.

However, the hottest months in Oaxaca, April to June, aren’t much cooler. With only a few degrees of temperature fluctuation, April, May and June are all quite hot.

In Oaxaca City, these months have average temperatures of 85°F (29°C) during the day, and 55°F (12°C) at night.

On the Oaxaca beaches, you can expect temperatures in the 90s°F (32-37°C), both day and night.

🥶 What is the Coldest Month in Oaxaca?

The coldest month of the year tends to be January, but colder temperatures really span all winter.

Since each year will be a bit different, it’s safer to say the coldest months of the year in Oaxaca are December to February.

In these months, except an average low of 48°F (9°C), and an average high of 78°F (25°C). In late February or early March, things usually start to warm up.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Average Precipitation in Oaxaca

Yearly average Oaxaca weather forecast (Photo: Weather Atlas)

Wondering, Does it rain a lot in Oaxaca? The answer is that it depends on the season.

Oaxaca does not have four seasons; it’s more like two. There’s essentially only the Oaxaca rainy season (May to September) and the Oaxaca dry season (October to April).

Oaxaca rainfall amounts will of course vary year by year.

For the most part, the accumulated rainfall throughout the state of Oaxaca is less than 30 inches of rain (76 cm) for the year, as many parts of Oaxaca state have a desert climate.

It can range from only a little rain at about 0.2 inches (5 mm) per month in the dry season, to 5.5 inches (14 cm) in the rainy season.

Keep in mind that even in the rainy season, it likely won’t rain every day, so you’ll still have a good time in the wet season.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca Humidity and Wind

Yearly average Oaxaca weather forecast (Photo: Weather Atlas)

💨 What’s the Oaxaca Wind like?

Want to know, Is it windy in Oaxaca? Overall, it’s not a very windy place. The windiest month in Oaxaca is November, while the least windy month in Oaxaca is May.

🥵 What’s the Oaxaca Humidity like?

Wondering, It is humid in Oaxaca? The answer is that it depends on the month. September is usually the most humid month in Oaxaca, while March is the least humid month in Oaxaca.

​​Humidity in Oaxaca largely depends on the region and the season.

In Oaxaca City, humidity ranges from 15-40% from October to May during the dry season. At the peak of the rainy season, Oaxaca humidity can reach 80%.

On the coast of Oaxaca at the beaches, the humidity hovers around 80% throughout most of the year. In the summer during the rainy season, it can go up to 90-100% — just one reason to visit the beaches in the dry season.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca Rainy Season (May to September)

colorful buildings in centro historico, downtown oaxaca city
Downtown Oaxaca City Center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Oaxaca City, the most popular tourist destination in Oaxaca.

☔️ How much does it rain in Oaxaca Mexico?

Oaxaca receives most of its rainfall from June to late-September, though it sometimes rains into mid-October. As a general rule, the Oaxaca rain season is over by mid-October.

During this time, there’s also the possibility of intense storms with lightning, thunder and high winds. Although possible, thunderstorms and hurricanes in Oaxaca are infrequent.

Keep in mind that the rainy season is still a great time to visit Oaxaca state. Even during this season, it doesn’t rain everyday. On days it does, it usually only rains for a few hours per day.

The rain in Oaxaca usually comes during the afternoon. Most days start with clear sunny skies and warm weather, perfect for sightseeing. The clouds tend to start rolling in after lunch when afternoon downpours are expected.

🌡 Oaxaca Rainy Season Temperatures

Temperatures during the rainy season in Oaxaca average a high of 82°F (28°C), with an evening low of about 60°F (16°C).

Note: Temperatures can drop rapidly when the rain begins, so many carry a jacket with them all day.

🦟 Are there mosquitoes in Oaxaca city?

Yes — You’ll encounter mosquitoes in Oaxaca City and even more-so on the Oaxacan coast in the rainy season.

When packing for Oaxaca, don’t forget this eco-friendly bug spray or these anti-mosquito bracelets. This sunscreen/mosquito repellent combo from Badger is particularly useful on the beaches.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca Dry Season (October to April)

beach town of mazunte oaxaca mexico pueblos magicos
The best time to visit the Mazunte pueblo magico (magic town), and all the Oaxaca beaches, is in the dry season.

The dry season runs from October to early-May. October and November tend to have warm weather during the day, however, the temperatures start to drop once the sun goes down.

The dry season from October to April is the best time to visit Oaxaca (and most places). This includes all Oaxaca travel destinations, from the best beaches in Oaxaca, to Oaxaca City and the surrounding mountains.

If you want perfect weather in Oaxaca, this is the time to go. Though prices are a bit higher because this is also the busy season, most travelers find that a worthwhile sacrifice.

When is the Best Time to Visit Oaxaca?

monte alban ruins in oaxaca mexico
The Monte Alban Ruins are the most important ancient ruins in Oaxaca Mexico. (Photo: Canva, Oaxaca archaeological site)

With all this information in hand, let’s now address the question — When is the best time to visit Oaxaca Mexico?

For Best Weather

The best time to travel to Oaxaca Mexico is during the dry season from October to April. Now, the temperate weather in Oaxaca City means you can visit year-round, though October to April are the nicest months, weather-wise.

The most beautiful weather is between late-January and early-March. During this time, the weather has started to warm up, but isn’t too hot yet. The humidity is also at its lowest.

For Lower Prices

While you can find Oaxaca travel deals year-round, June tends to have the lowest prices in Oaxaca. June is at the height of the rainy season, but if you don’t mind some rain, you’ll save money traveling to Oaxaca in June.

The June to September rainy season is also the off-season or slow season in Oaxaca. During this time, most Oaxaca hotels and direct flights are cheaper (except for in mid- to late-July during the Guelaguetza Festival).

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

For Smaller Crowds

woman at the pools in hierve el agua in oaxaca mexico
No list of the Best Things to Do in Oaxaca is complete without Hierve el Agua, the petrified waterfalls and hot spring pools. (Photo: Sebastian Huber via Unsplash)

If you want to avoid the crowds, make sure to visit Oaxaca outside of the busy or high season. The Oaxaca high season starts in late-October with the Day of the Dead celebrations, and it runs through to March.

This means the best time to visit Oaxaca to avoid the crowds is 1) between the months of April to June, and 2) from August to mid-October.

If you want to avoid very large crowds — don’t go during Day of the Dead in Oaxaca. This holiday is the busiest time in Oaxaca, and usually sees large crowds from the end of October to the first week of November.

Also, skip Oaxaca in mid- to late-July. On the last two Mondays in July, Oaxaca City has the annual Guelagetza Festival, one of the largest and best Oaxaca festivals.

Best Time to Visit Oaxaca by Month

So just what is the best time of year to visit Oaxaca? Let’s break it down month by month to better outline what is happening here throughout the year. 

Oaxaca in January

colorful oaxaca sign in downtown oaxaca city mexico
The free walking tour is a great tour to get to know Oaxaca City, as it’s led by a local guide.

​​January is the coldest month in Oaxaca. The temperatures range from the low 70s during the day, and mid-40s during the night. Humidity is also relatively high during this month.

January can be seen as moderately chilly and arid, coupled with some gentle breezes. If you do visit during this time, make sure to pack a couple of warm sweaters.

🪅 FESTIVALS in Oaxaca in January

On January 6, Mexicans celebrate Dia de Los Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day), where children exchange gifts. At diner, you eat Rosca de Reyes, a sweet bread with candied fruit baked into it, similar to an Italian panettone.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca in February

man preparing street food in oaxaca mexico
Don’t miss this best Oaxaca food tour, a great way to try all the delicious food from street vendors and all the best restaurants in Oaxaca.

February is the last month of winter. It has warmer temperatures during the day, and low levels of humidity. Temperatures range from the high-70°Fs during the day (about 25°C) and the high-40°Fs (about 8°Cs) at night.

As it’s still winter, you’ll want to bring a sweater or two when packing for Oaxaca.

🪅 FESTIVALS in Oaxaca in February

Celebrated in February, Día de las Candelaria (Candlemas) marks the end of the Mexico Christmas Season, and the beginning of the planting season. Tamales are a favorite food to eat during the Candlemas holiday.

February is also known for its colorful and fun-filled Carnival celebrations, which means lots of crowds. Akin to Mardi Gras in the U.S., but on a smaller scale, Carnival has parades, street parties and more.

Note: Oaxaca Carnival is not a large celebration in Oaxaca City. If you want to attend a large-scale Mexico Carnaval celebration, head to Veracruz, Mazatlán in Northern Mexico or Mérida in the Yucatan Peninsula.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca in March

el tule tree in oaxaca mexico, the widest tree trunk
El Arbol del Tule, the Tule Tree, is the widest tree in the world. It is one of the best day trips from Oaxaca City, located in the small town of Santa Maria del Tule.

March signals the start of spring, with warmer and dry weather. The temperatures typically range between the low-80°Fs (about 28°C) during the day, and the low-50°Fs (about 11°C) at night.

With the weather becoming warmer, the days get longer. However, the chance of rain also slightly increases. Humidity in Oaxaca also drops during this month.

🪅 FESTIVALS in Oaxaca in March

Former Mexican President Benito Juárez was born March 21, though the country celebrates Benito Juarez Day on the third Monday in March. Juárez was an Oaxacan-born politician who became Mexico’s first indigenous president.

His birthday is celebrated across Mexico, particularly his birth city, San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca. Benito Juarez Day is a national holiday, as he’s a hero to indigenous people and all Mexicans.

Semana Santa is another festival that might take place in late-March. The dates will fluctuate each year, but it’s either late-March or early-April. (Keep reading for more info on Semana Santa in Oaxaca Mexico.)

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca in April

pieces of fabric blowing in the wind at Oaxaca Textile Museum in Oaxaca City
Looking for more amazing things to do in Oaxaca City? Don’t miss all the art galleries and museums, like the Oaxaca Textile Museum.

The temperatures keep rising in April, and there’s an increased chance of rain. Temperatures typically range from the high 80°Fs (about 30°C) by day, and drop into the mid-50°Fs (about 13°C) at night.

The days are getting longer, but the chance of precipitation is also increasing. Nevertheless, humidity is at its lowest during this period. 

🪅 FESTIVALS in Oaxaca in April

Mexicans celebrate Semana Santa (AKA Holy Week or Easter Week) in late-March or early-April. The dates will fluctuate each year, but the holiday always takes place the week leading up to Pascua, which means Easter in Spanish.

There are elaborate processions, ceremonies and rituals, as Semana Santa is one of the most significant celebrations in Oaxaca. If you plan to visit during Semana Santa, book early as most hotels in Oaxaca City do sell out.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca in May

No visit to Oaxaca is complete without a mezcal tasting and a Oaxaca mezcal tour.

May is the hottest month of the year in Oaxaca. Temperatures typically range from the high 80°Fs during the day (about 30°C) to the low 60°Fs (about 17°C) at night.

Although it is the hottest month of the year, it doesn’t get uncomfortably hot in Oaxaca City. The Central Oaxaca region, including Oaxaca City, is still quite pleasant to visit during this time of year, but the beaches are hot!

For Oaxaca budget travel, May is one of Oaxaca shoulder season months. The shoulder season comes between the high and low season, and is known for lower prices and smaller crowds.

Oaxaca in June

June is the start of the low season, and also the start of the rainy season. In June, you can expect sunny days and afternoon showers.

The temperatures range between the high-70°Fs (about 25°C) and the high-50°Fs (about 14°C) at night. If you’re visiting Oaxaca in June, you’ll want to pack this highly-rated travel umbrella or a raincoat.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca in July

playa carrizalillo beach in puerto escondido mexico
The beach town of Puerto Escondido is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Oaxaca.

July is also a wet rainy month. During this month, temperatures typically range between the low 70s during the day and the high-50s during the night. Again if you plan on coming this month, bring appropriate rainy clothes. 

🪅 FESTIVALS in Oaxaca in July

During this month, three notable festivals take place — the Guelaguetza, the Feria del Mezcal (Oaxaca mezcal Festival) and the Festival de los Moles de Oaxaca (Oaxaca Mole Festival, or Festival of the Seven Moles).

The Guelaguetza, also called Los Lunes del Cerro (Mondays on the Hill), is an annual indigenous cultural event in Oaxaca City. It is one of the biggest festivals in Oaxaca, so expect crowds if you visit Oaxaca in July.

Oaxaca is known for a variety of things, namely its culinary heritage. This includes Oaxaca mezcal and traditional Oaxaca food; both of which happen to have festivals dedicated to them in July.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca in August

carved stone figures at monte alban ruins in oaxaca mexico
Los Danzantes, the famous carved stones at Monte Albán archeological site.

August is still the rainy season. Temperatures range from the mid-70s°F during the day (about 23°C), to the mid-50°Fs (about 13°C) at night.

August is also the Mexican vacation period, so expect crowds and a higher-occupancy rate for accommodations, especially on the coast. 

Oaxaca in September

September is the low season in Oaxaca; temperatures range between the low-70s°F (about 22°C) during the day and the mid-50s°F (about 11°C) during the night.

September is also one of the rainiest months in Oaxaca, and has the highest relative humidity of the year. 

🪅 FESTIVALS in Oaxaca in September

Mexican Independence Day takes place September 16. If you visit Oaxaca Mexico during this holiday, expect fireworks, street parties, and a lot of fun-filled, patriotic activities.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca in October

decorated cemetery in San Agustin Etla for Day of the Dead Oaxaca
Located near Oaxaca City, the small town of San Agustin Etla is one of the best places to celebrate Dia de los Muertos in Mexico.

It’s starting to rain less and less as the rainy season is coming to a close. During October, the temperatures start to dip slightly, especially at night.

Temperatures range between the low-70s°F (about 22°C) during the day and the low-50s°F (about 11°C) at night. Visitors should not only plan to pack some rain-appropriate clothing, but also a sweater or two. 

🪅 FESTIVALS in Oaxaca in October

The end of October marks the beginning of the high season in Oaxaca. Late-October is also the busiest time for travel to Oaxaca because of the famous Day of the Dead celebrations.

Day of the Dead takes place on November 1 and 2, but in Oaxaca preparations begin in late-October.

Oaxaca City has one of the largest and best Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico, and many visitors head there on October 29th or 30th. It’s nice to arrive early and see the whole town festively-decorated.

Oaxaca in November

The rainy season is finally over, and the cities and towns have transformed for the Day of the Dead celebrations. The crowds are thick, but the festivities are plentiful.

The temperatures typically range between the low-70s°F (about 22°C) during the day and the low-50s°F (about 11°C) at night. November has sweater weather in Oaxaca, so pack some warm clothes.

🪅 FESTIVALS in Oaxaca in November

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), is in full swing at the beginning of the month. However, things quiet down significantly after the first week in November.

With such a large festival, many want to know Is November a good time to go to Oaxaca?

If you want to avoid the crowds, no. However, if you want to party, November is the best time to visit Oaxaca — and Day of the Dead in Oaxaca Mexico is a truly unforgettable experience.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca in December

Oaxaca City is a beautiful place year-round, but the Historic Center and downtown areas are especially festive during Christmas in Mexico.

The temperatures drop a little more, but the weather in Oaxaca is still quite pleasant. Average temperatures range between the low-70s°F (about 22°C) and the high-40s°F (about 9°C) during the evening. 

🪅 FESTIVALS in Oaxaca in December

December is all about Christmas celebrations. There’s everything from Las Posadas (large Christmas parties) and Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) celebrations, to the Oaxaca Christmas Calendas.

Oaxacans also celebrate the Fiesta de la Soledad on December 18, in honor of Virgen de la Soledad, the patron saint of Oaxaca. The Night of the Radishes on December 23, is the famous Oaxaca radish carving festival.

Best Time to Visit Oaxaca by Season

In Oaxaca Mexico, there are two main seasons travelers need to know about — the busy season in Oaxaca and the slow season in Oaxaca.

Both have pros and cons, depending on what things to do in Oaxaca and places to see you have on your travel itinerary. Below are our recommendations on the best time to visit Oaxaca by season. 

Oaxaca Busy Season (October to April)

The local markets in Oaxaca are a great place to escape the rain during the wet season, shop for Oaxaca souvenirs, and sample the local cuisine.

Oaxaca’s busy season is marked by the beginning of the famous Day of the Dead celebrations that happen at the end of October and the beginning of November.

The busy season also coincides with the dry season, which ends in October.

🌵 Oaxaca Travel Tip: Although this is the peak season, there are some tourism lulls that you can take advantage of, specifically in late-November, early-December and February. 

Weather-wise, this time of year has some of the coolest and driest months. For that reason, this is the ideal time to enjoy outdoor activities and explore the cities to take advantage of the cooler temperatures.

The months of February to early-March offer visitors some of the most beautiful warm weather, that’s not too cool and not too hot. There are also plenty of celebrations to take part in during the busy season.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca Slow Season (May to September)

cacti and plants in oaxaca botanical garden | best things to do in oaxaca city mexico
The Oaxaca Botanical Gardens, located next to the Templo de Santo Domingo, is a must on any Oaxaca itinerary.

This is the best time to visit Oaxaca for budget travelers. May is the hottest month of the year; however, the temperature is not as hot as in many other cities and regions in Mexico due to the region’s altitude.

One of the main things you need to consider if you plan a trip to Oaxaca during the summer months — is rainfall in Oaxaca Mexico.

June has the highest rainfall, followed by July, August and September. Although most of the precipitation happens during the afternoon, these months are also known for heavy cloud cover in Oaxaca.

🪅 Oaxaca Guelaguetza Festival

Although this is the slow season, one of the most significant events happened in Oaxaca during July. La Guelaguetza Festival is an annual indigenous cultural event that showcases Oaxacan food, music, dress and folkloric dances.

This festival is one of the most significant events on the Oaxacan cultural calendar so if you plan on traveling to the region during this time, expect higher prices and more crowds.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca Shoulder Season

stone building in mitla oaxaca mexico
Mitla pueblo magico (Mexico magic town) is among the top archeological sites in the state and one of the Oaxaca UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

🤔 What is the shoulder season?

The shoulder season is a magical time between seasons, when the weather’s still nice, the crowds are small, and the prices low. In short: The shoulder season is the best time to visit Oaxaca.

📆 When is the shoulder season in Oaxaca?

There are a actually three shoulder seasons in Oaxaca:

  1. Late-September to early-October
  2. January to February
  3. April to May — Though May is the hottest month in Oaxaca, so you might want to skip that month.

✈️ Shoulder Season 1: Late-September to early-October

September marks the end of the Mexican vacation season, and Oaxaca experiences a lull before ramping up for the Day of the Dead celebrations. These start happening at the end of October.

From September to early-October, you’ll usually find cheaper airfare and Oaxaca hotel deals. The weather is still quite warm, but these months are within the rainy season, so be prepared for some rain in Oaxaca.

✈️ Shoulder Season 2: late-January to February

Another tourism lull happens between Oaxaca Christmas celebrations and Semana Santa, specifically from late-January to February. The weather during this time is comfortable, and the days are filled with sunshine and no rainfall.

Late-January to February is the perfect mini-shoulder season to enjoy the sun, small crowds and lower prices. Though not a major Oaxaca festival, Oaxaca Carnaval in February can mean larger crowds and higher prices.

✈️ Shoulder Season 3: April to May

Last but not least, the period between April to May is a great time to visit as the temperatures are perfect and there’s little to no rainfall.

Though the prices aren’t always as low as the other two shoulder seasons, April and May are still great options. If you want to beat the crowds and still enjoy some of that high season magic, this is the perfect time to visit.

best time visit Oaxaca Mexico

Fall and Winter in Oaxaca

empty beach in huatulco mexico
The beaches of Oaxaca (and all Mexico beaches, from Puerto Vallarta to Playa del Carmen) are perfect for a long weekend getaway in winter.

The winter months of December to February in Oaxaca are generally mild.  Nevertheless, the temperature can drop to the low-40s (about 6°C) at night and in the early mornings. However, the days are still generally warm.

Spring and Summer in Oaxaca

Spring usually has the hottest weather of the year — with average highs in the mid-80s°F to low-90s°F (about 29°-33°C). The spring months tend to be hot and dry, while the summer months are hot and rainy.

Hurricane Season in Oaxaca

Wondering, When is hurricane season? It runs from June 1 to November 30, and with hundreds of miles of land on the Pacific Coast, the beaches of Oaxaca are susceptible to hurricanes.

Oaxaca City, located about 160 miles (257 km) miles from the coast, likely won’t get a hurricane. However, it can rain a lot in the rainy season, especially the months of June to September.

Best Festivals in Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca Day of the Dead (November 1-2)

day of the dead skull in oaxaca mexico
Oaxaca Day of the Dead is one of the most fun times to visit Oaxaca City, Oaxaca Mexico.

You can’t talk about Oaxaca festivals and not first and foremost discuss Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It’s not only one of the best festivals in Oaxaca, but one of the biggest, most lively, fun and best holidays in Mexico.

🌼💀🌼 For a complete guide to attending the celebration, head to Day of the Dead in Oaxaca: Everything You Need to Know.

🤔 What is Day of the Dead?

The comparsas (parades) are one of the best Day of the Dead traditions.

Wondering, What is Dia de Muertos? The first thing you need to know about Day of the Dead — it is not Mexican Halloween.

Day of the Dead is, however, one of the most important holiday celebrations in Oaxaca, and one of the best Mexican holidays. It is similar to the Hanal Pixan holiday, sometimes called Mayan Day of the Dead.

Unlike many present-day rituals around death, Day of the Dead is not a somber funerary event.

Rather, Oaxaca Dia de Muertos is a celebration, one so grand even the deceased return to attend the party held in their honor.⁠

📆 When is Day of the Dead in Oaxaca?

Wondering, What day is Day of the Dead in Mexico? Though it’s called “Day” of the Dead, the holiday takes place over two days, November 1-2.

With such an elaborate affair, the Oaxaca City Day of the Dead preparations begin at least a week prior. While the holiday starts in early November, many head to town a few days prior.

Beginning in late October, you’ll start to see the city getting decorated with marigold flowers and you can watch the ofrendas (altars) being constructed. It’s also fun to go and visit the cemeteries during the day.

Best Time to Visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca Guelaguetza Festival (July)

Woman in traditional Mexican dress doing a dance
A dancer at the Guelaguetza Festival, Oaxaca, a large folk festival held in mid- and late-July each year.

The Guelaguetza (pronounced geh-la-get-zah) is Oaxaca’s famous folk festival. It has even been called the largest folkloric festival on the Americas Continent.

This annual event takes place on two Mondays in July; dates vary each year.

The Guelaguetza Festival brings together people from all regions of Oaxaca to share their food, art and culture through dances and gift exchanges.

The word Guelaguetza actually comes from the Zapotec word, guendalezaa, meaning “a gift.”

🤔 When is Guelaguetza Oaxaca?

The Guelaguetza Festival in Oaxaca is also called Los Lunes del Cerro, meaning the Mondays on the Hill.

The festival takes place on two Mondays in July, at the Oaxaca Guelaguetza Amphitheater, located on a hill overlooking the city of Oaxaca.

The dates change each year, but since 1969, the festival has been celebrated the first two Mondays that follow July 16th.

When a Monday falls on July 18, the day former Mexican President Benito Juarez died, the festival dates change. He is one of the most famous people from Oaxaca, and among the most revered national heroes.

Best Time to Visit Oaxaca Mexico

Night of the Radishes (December 23)

carved radishes for night of the radishes in oaxaca mexico
The Noche de Rábanos (Oaxaca Night of the Radishes) is one of the most fun festivals in Oaxaca City.

Looking for unusual things to do in Oaxaca City? Look no further than the annual Night of the Radishes.

On December 23 each year, Oaxaca City hosts the world’s largest radish carving festival. Yes, the Oaxaca Radish Festival is a real thing!

This is actually a pretty big deal in Oaxaca, and there’s a lot of planning and prep that goes into this short event.

The artists and families carve radishes the morning of the festival, but the event lasts just a few hours as the radishes turn brown quickly once they’re carved.

🥗 History of the Oaxaca Radish Festival

The festival began in 1897 when the Oaxaca mayor at the time, Francisco Vasconcelos, made it part of the Oaxaca Christmas market.

Since radishes are an integral part of Oaxaca Christmas cuisine, a radish contest offered a fun way to highlight and promote local agriculture. They are also sturdy enough to carve.

When traveling to Oaxaca in late-December, head to the festival to see the radishes carved into nacimientos (Nativity scenes), the Baby Jesus and other designs.

While they can be carved into anything, many pick religious imagery because the festival is so close to Christmas.

Best Time to Visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca Mezcal Festival (July-August)

bartender pouring mezcal into a small cup
The Feria del Mezcal, or Oaxaca Mezcal Fair, is the premier mezcal event in Oaxaca Mexico.

The annual Oaxaca Mezcal Fair takes place in late-July and early-August at Oaxaca Cultural and Convention Center.

It takes place around the same time as the Guelaguetza Festival, so you get two Oaxaca festivals for the price of one.

If you love Oaxacan mezcal, don’t miss this popular event which sees upwards of 30,000 attendees.

Here, you’ll learn about the different species of agave plants, the mezcal distillation processes, and taste locally-made mezcals from small producers.

Best Time to Visit Oaxaca Mexico

Semana Santa (Holy Week, March or April)

float in a religous parade during semana santa, or holy week in oaxaca

💒 When is Semana Santa?

Semana Santa (also called Holy Week or Easter Week) is a weeklong holiday that takes place the week leading up to Easter. It will always be in late-March or early-April, but the dates fluctuate each year.

In a country where 80% of the population identifies as Catholic, Semana Santa is a big deal in Mexico.

The Oaxaca Semana Santa festival has parades and church processions going through downtown. Some can be graphic and depict the crucifixion of Jesus, while others, like the Procession of Silence, are silent, contemplative walks.

Best Time to Visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca Calenda Navidad (December 24)

oaxaca festival

In most of Mexico, Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena. However, in Oaxaca, they have the Calenda Navidad, or Christmas Calenda.

It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, and parades begin at midnight on December 25, and go on for hours.

🪅 What are Oaxaca Calendas?

A calenda is a lively parade with singing, dancing, marching bands and traditional dress that’s unique to Oaxaca.

Calendas bring the community together to celebrate holidays, weddings, births, and more, and are an integral part of Oaxaca culture.

Best Time to Visit Oaxaca Mexico

Blessing of the Animals Festival (August 31)

chihuahua dog in mexican hat and poncho cosume

Every year on Día de San Ramón Nonato, Oaxacans take their pets to church to get blessed by a priest.

Head to the Oaxaca Cathedral on August 31 to see everything from dogs and cats to turtles and rabbits in costumes, waiting for their blessing.

Oaxaca Carnaval (February)

Carnaval is a multi-day event, culminating on Martes de Carnaval, known as Mardi Gras in the United States. Akin to Mardi Gras, there are parades, festive floats, dancing, elaborate costumes and street parties in Oaxaca.

One of the most unique Oaxaca Carnaval celebrations is in San Martín Tilcajete, a small pueblo about 20 miles (32 km) from Oaxaca City. Here, locals don elaborate masks and paint their entire bodies for the parades.

Oaxaca Carnaval usually takes place in late-February, but the dates fluctuate. Carnival Season is just before Lent, and the most popular events typically occur in late-February or early-March, during Shrovetide (Pre-Lent).

Best Time to Visit Oaxaca Mexico

Mexican Independence Day (September 16)

three patriotic people during Mexican Independence Day in oaxaca

Though many would tell you Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day — this holiday actually takes place on September 16. It is one of the most important Mexican holidays all year, with the large-scale celebrations.

It officially kicks off at midnight on September 16 with El Grito de Dolores (The Cry of Dolores).

However, for much of the day of September 15th, there will be cultural celebrations, dancing, music and food in the Oaxaca Zocalo (Main Square).

Cinco de Mayo (May 5)

Though a popular holiday in the U.S., most Mexicans don’t celebrate 5 de Mayo. In fact, it’s really only celebrated in one city — Puebla City, Mexico. This is in Puebla state, located just north of Oaxaca state.

Oaxaca Travel Guide and FAQ

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, Puebla and Guerrero. The southern edge of the state sits on the Pacific Ocean, wherever you’ll find the best Oaxaca beaches.

📍 Oaxaca Map

Oaxaca City is the state’s capital city, and located about six hours south of Mexico City. It is the top tourism destination in Oaxaca, with the beach towns of Puerto Escondido and Huatulco following.

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 basic travel precautions — ie. stay aware of yourself, your belongings and your surroundings — you should be safe traveling to Oaxaca Mexico.

Is there Uber in Oaxaca City?

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
With no Oaxaca Uber service, many prefer to get a Oaxaca rental car as public transportation can be inefficient.

🚕 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 City?

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

For those who want to explore the sites and villages outside town, like Hierve el Agua, San Agustín Etla, Teotitlán Del Valle and San Pablo Villa de Mitla, plan for 5-6 full days.

colorful buildings in downtown oaxaca city
The colorful colonial buildings in downtown Oaxaca City, Mexico.

🏝 OAXACA Beaches

There are a lot of beach towns in Oaxaca, so this is a hard question. If you stick to one area (ie. Puerto Escondido, Huatulco, or Mazunte and Zipolite), 2-3 full days may suffice.

If you want to explore the whole Oaxaca coast, 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.

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

In fact, Oaxaca is called the Foodie Capital of Mexico, so try the street food in Oaxaca and the restaurants.

Is Oaxaca City 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.

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 Time to Visit Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca can be considered a year-round destination thanks to its warm to temperate climate. However, there’s definitely a best time to visit Oaxaca — and that’s during the dry season from October to April.

Whether you’re visiting the capital city, Oaxaca de Juarez, the beaches of Oaxaca, or the small towns in the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains, plan your trip for the dry season, and you’ll have perfect weather on your Oaxaca trip.

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.