The Best Things to See and Do in Oaxaca City (Mexico)

10:44 19/07/2022

For travelers interested in living authentic Mexican life, you should start in the city of Oaxaca. It has everything that you are looking for in a tourist hotspot. 

One thing that you will love about Oaxaca is that this small city has much to offer in terms of fun activities to do. Everything is accessible on foot. This means that you will be able to immerse yourself well to experience the Mexican way of life. Let’s take a look at the top things that you can do in Oaxaca de Juárez.

Explore Oaxaca’s Cultural Center and the Zocalo 

Plaza de Constitución

The first thing to do on your first day here is to go to Oaxaca’s main square called Plaza de Constitución. Built during colonial times, the square, or zocalo, has become the center of all activities in the city. There are street performers and vendors selling their wares.

In fact, one of the main tourist attractions here is the Catedral de Oaxaca. This is one of the colonial buildings that is best known for its green-tinged facade.

A great way to see the best sights here is to among the places that you will visit are the Templo de Santo Domingo and the zocalo.

Visit the Santo Domingo Church 

Once you step inside this church, you will be amazed at its beauty. There are more than 60,000 sheets of gold used to cover the inside of the church. Also, the intricate carvings, as well as statues, add more to the grandeur of this structure. Afterward, go next door to the museum where you can see artifacts that tell more of the culture here.

Go On a Day Trip to Hierve el Agua 

One of the best places that you can visit in Oaxaca is the Hierve el Agua. From a distance, you will think that this is a vast waterfall that rushes down from the cliff. However, once you reach the top. You will see that it is just an illusion. Instead, you will get to see a petrified waterfall that is quite stunning.

Aside from that, you will find several natural pools on top of the cliffs. Two of them are bubbling because of the current from the underground making its way to the surface. These natural springs are worth swimming in because of their high mineral content.

Try Mezcal 

You have probably noticed that Mexicans are quite passionate about their food and drinks. Aside from sampling their rich local cuisine, you should also try their alcoholic beverages. Tequila aside, you should also try another drink which is mezcal.

The locals use the heart of the agave plants to create this drink. Just like with tequila. Its distinct taste and strong smoky flavor are among the reasons why tourists head to Oaxaca. You can visit one of the Mezcal bars in the city center and ask for a mezcal tasting.

Explore the Markets in Oaxaca

Just like other cities that you will find in Latin America, there are plenty of local markets to visit in Oaxaca. These colorful markets are full of sounds, delicious smells, and a wide array of products.

You can start at the covered market of Mercado 20 de Noviembre. Vendors here mostly sell fresh produce and food.

Visit the Tlacolula de Matamoros Market 

Tlacolula de Matamoros is 18 miles east of Oaxaca. This sleepy town transforms into a vibrant marketplace on Sundays which is why you should come and visit.

You will feel that you are back in time as the local people are dressed in traditional clothing. Aside from that, the items sold here are impressive so you can bring an authentic piece back home.

If you want, you can join a tour that will take you to the Yagul ruins. Afterward, you will visit the town of San Jeronimo before stopping at the Matamoros Sunday Market.

Experience a Temazcal Ceremony

One of the fun things that you can do here is to visit a traditional “sweat lodge”. The Temazcal is a traditional healing ceremony by the Zapotec. Taking part in it is a way to honor the rich history of these indigenous people.

In the sweat lodge, you will need to wear your bathing suit. There are stools inside the temazcal that you will sit on. Once they close the doors, the heat will begin. You will need to squeeze the sliced oranges on your skin then rub clay all over your body. Afterward, you will dump cold buckets of water on your head. Each person will sit in their own bathtubs while they pour chocolate and mole all over you.

This is a unique ceremony in itself where you can learn to meditate. Aside from that, those who run the Temazcal make sure that you are comfortable in the sweat lodge.

Explore Santa Maria 

Santa Maria is the town of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Thanks to its location on the Pacific coast, expect to find beaches here that you can visit. Aside from that, there are plenty of water activities that you can do such as boating, fishing, snorkeling, and swimming. Also, do check the waterfalls in the area as they are breathtaking.

Witness Dia de Los Muertos (Dia de of the Dead)

Oaxaca comes alive during festivals and one of their most popular celebrations is the Day of the Dead. If this is your first time visiting the city, make sure that you time your travel here during this festival. This is one of the highlights of Oaxaca that you should experience in your lifetime.

What makes this festival worth seeing is that the locals fill the streets with altars for the dead. This is their way of paying respects to the dead while transforming their town into a colorful city.

You can join in the festivities by having your face painted with a skeleton. This is part of their tradition. It is easy to find locals willing to paint your face, or you can head to a hairdresser for more elaborate makeup.

Walk Around the Oaxaca Botanical Gardens 

Meanwhile, the Ethnobotanical Garden in Oaxaca is another option to add to your Oaxaca itinerary. What makes this a great place to visit is the fact that you will see a wide selection of plants in the country. In fact, most of them are found in arid regions to the sierras or mountains as well as in humid areas too.

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