Oaxaca (city)

Spanish Colonial Oaxaca

Oaxaca (Oaxaca de Juárez) is a city in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico.


Get in

By plane

From the airport, you will need to find transportation into the city. The ubiquitous yellow taxis in the city do not seem to take arrivals from the airport to the city. There is a booth as you leave the airport where you can purchase a ticket on a colectivo, a small van that will leave when full and which will drop you off right at your desired address. To get to the airport via colectivo, get your ticket the day before at the office near the Zocalo at the Alameda de Leon. Take your airline ticket and they will book you a seat on the colectivo that will get you to the airport in time for your flight.

By bus

The more adventurous traveler can fly directly from the United States to Mexico City, Huatulco or Puerto Escondido and then take a bus to Oaxaca (6.5 hrs from Mexico City or 8 hrs from Huatulco or Puerto Escondido). The services are excellent and usually run on time.

Another possibility, in order to skip the chaotic TAPO bus station in Mexico city, is taking the frequent Estrella Roja bus directly from Airport Terminal 1 to Puebla and then transferring to Oaxaca.

By shuttle van

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) 27.6 29.5 31.9 33.3 32.5 29.5 28.5 28.5 27.8 27.9 27.7 27.1
Nightly lows (°C) 9.0 10.3 12.7 14.8 15.9 16.1 15.2 15.1 15.3 13.7 11.1 9.6
Precipitation (mm) 3.6 5.4 13.1 39.7 85.4 171.0 116.3 114.5 138.1 51.4 9.0 3.2


If you are arriving from Puerto Escondido, two shuttle van companies do multiple daily runs between Puerto Escondido and Oaxaca (City) and are a faster alternative to the bus. The very scenic route winds directly through the mountains with hairpin curves and takes about 6-7 hours depending on road conditions. Passengers who are inclined to get car sick should definitely take motion sickness tablets. There is a toilet and snack break about midway.

Get around

The central, tourist-oriented part of town is well signposted and easily walk-able by foot, although taxis are somewhat plentiful and buses numerous and cheap ($6 MXN). You can pick up a free city map from one of several information booths, including one right outside the cathedral. No one local seems to know the bus routes or where the collectivos (buses to the pueblos) stop but you can get a good bus map for $40 MXN at the Oaxacan Lending Library.

Buses stop running around 21:00.

Bear in mind that, as with other Mexican cities, there may be more than one road with the same name (Mexicans often use the nearest corner to navigate) and a road's name may change from one end to the other. This is particularly true for the city's downtown, which is divided into north and south by Independencia Avenue. All streets crossing it change its name except for two other main streets running along with Independencia: Morelos Avenue and Hidalgo Avenue. From east to west street names change when crossing Macedonio Alcalá (north of Independencia) and Bustamante Street (south).


Oaxaca's streets have a very tranquil and organic feel to them. Much of the joy of a Oaxaca trip comes from simply strolling the downtown streets, sitting in a sidewalk cafe on the Zócalo, and soaking up the atmosphere. On your strolls, try to see a few of the outstanding local landmarks.

Downtown landmarks

Templo de Santo Domingo interior
Catedral Metropolitana
Jardín Etnobotánico

Museums and galleries

One of the treasures from Tomb 7 of Monte Albán, at the Santo Domingo Cultural Center





Spanish lessons

Cooking Lessons

Black mole ingredients



Alebrijes, whimsical wooden figures carved from copal wood, for sale at the Mercado Pochote
Mercado Benito Juarez
Dried chilies for sale at Mercado de la Merced

Grocery stores


Oaxacan food is justifiably famous, and the city's many restaurants offer both traditional and creative dishes to suit many tastes and budgets.


Enchiladas divorciadas, half with mole coloradito and half with salsa verde, served at the 20 de Noviembre Market


Pasillo chile stuffed with beans and topped with fried queso panela, at Café La Olla


Shrimp in tamarind mole sauce at La Biznaga


Oaxaca is famous for at least two drinks: Mezcal and hot chocolate. The state also has a thriving coffee industry. With a few exceptions, most of the cafes are closed on Sunday.




The eastern end of Mina Street (2 blocks south of Zócalo) are several chocolate shops where you can taste samples. Some of these also have cafes in the back where you can drink several types of hot chocolates. Some have free Wifi.


In recent times, a significant amount of accommodation has been made available through the on-line booking agency Air BnB. It is likely that this practice has resulted in somewhat higher prices than previously, but if you have not been to Oaxaca before and have no recommendations from friends, it's a good place to start. Once you get to know the city better you might decide that some areas are more desirable to you than others and you can search in those neighbourhoods for places to stay. Some areas are more busy and have more noise and some involve a bit of a walk to the city center where you might be spending some of your time.

Note that rates can go up significantly during the high season and rooms are difficult to reserve during that time. National holidays and religious holidays are also very busy. Budget hostels can be found for around MXN70/USD5.25 per night.





Free Wi-Fi

Places to access WiFi are now far too numerous to list individually. Most restaurants, even the smaller ones, will have WiFi, the Oaxaca Lending library has WiFi, most hotels and hostels and B&Bs will have WiFi as well. If you need it, you will be able to find it.




Biblioteca Pública


The currencies of other countries can be exchanged into Mexican dollars (pesos) at banks or various currency exchange booths, both of which are quite common in the central part of the city. It might pay to look around for the best rates of exchange. You may find that the banks offer a better rate but they might be slightly less convenient to deal with. For example, the banks might require a photocopy of your main passport page, which you will have to get at a copying shop for a peso or so, and they might have longer lineups. Their better exchange rate might make that worthwhile, especially if you are exchanging larger amounts.

Note that people working in these businesses are quite likely NOT to speak English. This shouldn't be a problem once you figure out what the process is. So, make sure you have your passport with you and realize that you may need a photocopy of your passport that they will keep.

Go next

Xoxocotlán International Airport

Further afield

Beautiful Monte Albán
Mezcal factory at Teotitlan del Valle
Weaving exhibition at Teotitlan del Valle

Along Macedonio Alcala street are many tour operators with a range of destinations. Prices are from $150 and offer full day trips to a selection of places such as Wool Rug makers, Mezcal producers, Mitla, Monte Alban and Hierve el Agua. The tour cost doesn't include entrance fees or the often pricey restaurant lunch, so you may want to take your own food.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, November 18, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.