How to Spend 5 Days in Oaxaca

Posted: 6/23/23 | June 23rd, 2023 Oaxaca is one of my favorite cities. From the moment I first visited, I knew this was a place I would return to again and again and again. I’ve been half a dozen times now, even leading tours around the city. Located in southwestern Mexico in a valley surrounded by craggy mountains, Oaxaca has been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous Zapotec and Mixtec peoples. Today, it’s a center for food, mezcal production, and artisan textiles and pottery, and features a rich history, owing to places like Monte Albán and Mitla. Take all that history, food, and drink, and package it in a place brimming with colorful buildings, scenic rooftop restaurants and bars, unique street art, and picturesque parks, and it’s no surprise so many people — myself included — love Oaxaca. Since I’ve visited this city a lot, to help you plan your trip, I put together this five-day Oaxaca itinerary. It covers all the highlights, my favorite things to see and do, and some off-the-beaten-path activities too! Table of Contents Oaxaca Itinerary: Day 1 Take a free walking tourOne of the first things I do when I visit a new place is take a free walking tour. They’re the best way to see the main sights, get introduced to the culture, and meet a local who can answer all your questions and give you tips. My favorite company here is Oaxaca Free Walking Tour. They offer free daily tours that show you the hidden gems and what life is like for residents. I can’t recommend them enough if it’s your first time here. Just make sure to tip your guide at the end! See the Templo de Santo Domingo de GuzmánWhile in downtown Oaxaca, don’t miss stopping in this complex, which features a 17th-century Baroque Roman Catholic church, a cultural museum, and a botanical garden. Originally used as a Dominican church and monastery, this photogenic site was later used as a barracks and military building during Mexico’s revolution (1910–1920) all the way into the 1990s. While here, see the Museo de las Culturas, which is home to all kinds of religious and pre-Columbian artifacts. The “Treasures of Monte Albán” exhibition showcases over 400 relics from a Mixtec tomb that is one of the most important burial sites in Mesoamerica, including a skull covered in turquoise, carved bone objects, weaving tools, and jewelry made of gold and jade. It is by far one of the best things to do in town. Expect to spend a couple of hours in the entire complex. C. Macedonio Alcalá S/N. The Museo de las Culturas is open Tuesday-Friday 10am-3pm. Admission to the church is free, while the museum is 85 MXN. Wander the city and admire the street artOaxaca has a wealth of street art, ranging from political pieces commenting on social issues to murals focused on indigenous culture and history. The areas of Xochilmilco and Jalatlaco are two of the best for murals. You can also join a street art bike tour offered by Coyote Aventuras (850 MXN) for an even more in-depth look. Try a street-stall hamburguesaAfter a busy day of exploring, feast on an hamburguesa for dinner. It’s a burger topped with a hot dog, sliced cheese, Oaxaca cheese, ham, pineapple, lettuce, tomato, and jalapeño. I know it’s weird to include this but trust me, you’ll want one. And it’s not made for Gringos and tourists either. Locals devour these. It started here. You’ll see stalls all over town but Cangreburguer near Santo Domingo sells one of the best. Oaxaca Itinerary: Day 2 Explore Mercado 20 de NoviembreThis 19th-century covered market has many kinds of delicious street foods and fresh, local produce. It’s also my favorite in town. Named after the start date of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, this huge market has everything and is really good for grilled meats. Also nearby is the Mercado Benito Juárez. It has a bunch of food stalls and shops worth browsing if you have more time. 20 de Noviembre 512. Open daily 7am-9pm. Admission is free. Stroll through the Botanical GardenLocated in the former convent in the aforementioned Santo Domingo de Guzmán complex, the Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca was founded in 1994 and opened to the public in 1999. Spanning six acres, it features plants from across the state (many of which have been transplanted here, since the garden is so young). In addition to the flowers, trees, and cacti that dot the garden, there are also sculptures and works of art. Admission is by guided tour only and there is only one English tour per day (offered at 11am), which has only 25 spots and fills up quickly so be sure to arrive early to grab your spot. Reforma Sur, Ruta Independencia. Open Monday-Saturday 10am-3:30pm. Admission is by guided tour only. Admission (including the tour) is 50 MXN for Spanish tours and 100 MXN for English ones. Learn about mezcalI love mezcal (which is one of the reasons why I love Oaxaca). This is the birthplace of mezcal, a spirit distilled from agave. Unlike tequila, which is also made from agave, when making mez

How to Spend 5 Days in Oaxaca