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Top Activities in Oaxaca

See all 95 things to do in Oaxaca

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Oaxaca Attractions

Since Hernan Cortes' conquistadors came in search of Aztec gold, Oaxaca has been a favorite destination for travelers in search of natural beauty and pre-Hispanic heritage. A collection of great sights and lively attractions is waiting for you between the mountains of the Sierra Madre and the banks of the Atoyac River, from the ruins of ancient Zapotec pyramids to Neoclassical cathedrals and little country villages where some old traditions never died. Whether you're looking for fine dining and colorful festivals, ancient temples and historic monuments, pr a beautiful landscape of misty woods, the things to do in Oaxaca give you the chance to experience some of the best of southern Mexico for yourself.

Areas & Neighborhoods in Oaxaca

Centro Historico

Framed by elegant mansions that date back to the 16 th century, the core of Oaxaca makes a perfect hub for city life. The central plaza of the Zocalo is reserved for pedestrians to browse the sidewalk cafes or mingle under the laurel trees, and you can wander between the restaurants, monuments, and upscale hotels as you navigate the crowds of Oaxacans and tourists alike.

Barrio de Jalatlaco

The place to go for a more relaxed experience close to the center of town, this neighborhood captures the atmosphere of a charming, peaceful corner of Mexico. Rows of colonial-era houses line the narrow cobblestone streets, and the restaurants dotting the barrio feature your choice of authentic local fare.

Universidad

The ring of neighborhoods around Oaxaca's biggest university give a college-town feel to the southern edge of the city. Department stores, movie theaters, and plenty of pizza places fill the triangle around Avenida Universidad, which takes you past the modern campus buildings of the university itself.

What to See in Oaxaca

You don't have to look far to see the blend of cultures that defined the city since the Spanish conquest. The Baroque design of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption towers over the Zocalo, and the nearby Museo de los Pintores Oaxaqueños shows off the work of local artists in an elegant 17 th -century facade. You can try navigating the maze of stalls in the Mercado de Abastos, or get a 360-degree view of the city from the hilltop viewpoint on Cerro del Fortín. If you're in the mood to venture a bit farther afield, get a car and head north to explore the cloud forest around Ixtlan de Juarez, or visit the monument to Benito Juarez in the little town where he was born.

Sightseeing in Oaxaca

Oaxaca has plenty of spectacle waiting for you, along with a team of hosts ready to help you find it. You can get the lay of the land with an insider's perspective on a guided tour of the city, or head out to visit the striking pre-Columbian ruins of Monte Alban on a mountain standing over the town.

There's no clearer symbol of Oaxaca's heritage than the Guelaguetza festival, held every year in the latter half of July, and you can get a sense of its colorful mix of costume, song, and traditional cuisine with a dinner show at any time of the year. If you're up for a ride into the country, you can meet the people who keep the region's traditional craftsmanship alive and get a look at the grand Zapotec ruins at Mitla for another perspective on just how much this land has to show you.

Things to Do in Oaxaca with Kids

There are loads of fun activities to do with the kids in and around Oaxaca. Keep the crew entertained with our family friendly experiences.

Free Things to Do in Oaxaca

Some say the best things in life are free. Make sure you explore the following around Oaxaca:

Manuel Alvarez Bravo Photography Center (CFMAB) - Young or old, this place will pique your imagination and educate your mind.

Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca - If you're into modern-day architecture and design, add this attraction to your must-see list.

Exconvento de San Pablo - If you're interested in history and heritage, this is one stop you really shouldn't miss.

Zocalo Square - Mingle with some locals and seek out the hidden character and energy of this unique place.

Montosa Island - Take a deep breath — nothing beats being near the water for some peace and relaxation.

Food and Flea Market - If you're eager to check out a few of the more important or unique places in the community, this is a good place to start.

Oaxaca Cathedral - No matter your religious leanings, this site will invoke a sense of reverence.

Chachacual - Toss a ball around with the kids or simply kick back and enjoy the sun at this coastal spot.

Panuelito Garden - If you're into pottering around the garden, this place will delight your green thumb.

Explore The Neighborhoods of Oaxaca

Centro

Churches, museums, and art galleries highlight some of the noteworthy features of Centro. Make a stop by Oaxaca Cathedral or Zocalo Square while you're exploring the neighborhood.

CathedralsChurchesMuseums

Ruta Independencia

If you're spending some time in Ruta Independencia, Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden and Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman are top sights worth seeing.

Reforma

While Reforma might not have many sights to explore, venturing just a little farther will lead you to top things to see and do like Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden and Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman.

Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán

Visitors to Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán like its archaeological sites and cafés, and Monte Alban is a sight worth a stop.

RuinsArchaeologyHistorical Buildings

Del Ex-marquezado

Though Del Ex-marquezado might not have many top sights, you can venture to the surrounding area to see attractions like Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman and Oaxaca Cathedral.

San Sebastián Tutla

While San Sebastián Tutla isn't home to many top sights, Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden and Zocalo Square are some notable places to visit nearby.

Learn More About Oaxaca | Blog


Frequently Asked Questions

What to do in Oaxaca on a sunny day?

Put on some sun cream and some shades and sign up for outdoor experiences like a 2-Day Oaxaca Tour or an Overnight 2-Day Experience in Beautiful Oaxaca.

What can you do in Oaxaca for free?

You'll barely have time to pull your wallet out of your pocket with so many great free things to do:

  • Zocalo Square
  • Oaxaca Cathedral
  • Benito Juarez Market
  • Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman