Oaxaca, Mexico is a very popular location and is known for many things including its amazing food and culture. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site meaning it has been deemed of great value and is being preserved by the United Nations. Because of this, there are strict rules for the buildings in the historical center such as building materials and colors the buildings can be painted. This keeps the historical center very colorful and bright. Oaxaca is a city you can let yourself get lost in. You will discover amazing art, food, and people.
1. Stop by the Childhood Home of Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez was the first president of Mexico of indigenous origin. He was born into the Zapotec tribe and moved to this home at the age of 3 when his parents passed. He was incredibly influential in Mexico and is referenced often all over Mexico.
2. Gaze at the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán
This former monastery is absolutely gorgeous inside and out! The structure is made from Cantera, a volcanic stone found in the region. This stone can be seen all throughout the historic district of Oaxaca.
3. Gulp Down Some Pulque in Oaxaca, Mexico
This alcoholic beverage is so delicious I could not stop drinking it. It is made from the sap of the agave plant, which is rather abundant in the Oaxacan region. It has sort of a sour and sweet taste that reminds me of sparkling juice.
4. Gorge on the Street food
Oaxaca, Mexico is a foodie’s dream. There are tons of specialties and, of course, tried them all! I recommend trying oaxaca cheese, 7 kinds of Mole, Tlayudas, Huitlacoche (corn fungus), Memelas, Cecina, Quesadilla, and Tasajo.
5. Experience an Earthquake in Oaxaca, Mexico
Yes, you read that right. Oaxaca, Mexico has earthquakes almost daily. Oaxaca is situated near the Tehuantepec Fracture Zone, meaning lots of tremors can be felt in Oaxaca. 25% of all the earthquakes in Mexico occur in Oaxaca, but not to worry. These tremors are usually subtle. When I was there, I did not even feel the tremors. To learn more about the earthquakes in Oaxaca click here!
6. Dine at Tlayudas El Negro
Every Friday night, Tlayudas El Negro hosts dancers performing traditional dances. Be sure to get there early because the tables will fill up quickly. This is a fun place for entertainment and to try Oaxaca’s famous Tlayudas.
7. Join the Free Walking Tour of Oaxaca, Mexico
Oaxaca has a free walking tour by a local Oaxacan. I loved learning about this wonderful, culturally rich city. Our guide was very informed, which isn’t always the case. He was eager to answer all of our quests and share personal stories with us.
8. Stroll through the Neighborhood Dedicated to Dia De Los Muertos
Visit the neighborhood dedicated to Dia De Los Muertos called Jalatlaco. Walk down Calz de la República in Centro Oaxaca and view the houses and businesses covered in murals depicting different celebrations of the holiday. This is one of my favorite holidays so of course, I enjoyed this neighborhood in particular.
Dia de Los Muertos, also known as All Saints Day, is celebrated on November 1. These murals show how Dia de Los Muertos embraces death and celebrates the lives of the ones that have already passed on. Based on these murals it looks like they are having a good time!
See more Mexican street art here.
Where’s Your Next Adventure?
9. Get Mezcal Straight From the Source
There are tons of types of Mezcal at the markets in Oaxaca, but if you want to get a super authentic experience, drive a little outside of town to the Agave farms. I stopped by a small farm with a sign selling Mezcal. I loved getting something straight from the source and getting to support a local business.
10. View the Old Aqueducts
This was one of the stops on the Free Walking Tour, so if you get a chance, I highly recommend it. There are two really cool things about this particular spot. First, it is home to an aqueduct, called Xochimilco Aqueducts. It took almost 25 years to construct and was finally finished in 1751. They were used until 1940. Now houses have been built using the arches of the aqueducts as entryways. Second, it was one of the filming locations of Nacho Libre. A little-known fact is that the movie Nacho Libre was shot entirely in Oaxaca.
Oaxaca is a gorgeous city with so much to offer. I found rich culture, beautiful architecture, and lovely people. I encourage you to walk around the city, try the local cuisine, and shop at the markets. If you have extra time, check out the beaches of Puerto Escondido!