Oaxaca Travel Guide
Everything you need to know about planning a trip to Oaxaca City, Mexico
Oaxaca City is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico with over 200K travelers who visit every year. Oaxaca City is the capital of the state of Oaxaca and the economic driver of the state.
Apart from the beautiful walkable streets, Oaxaca City is well-known for its cuisine. Many travelers come to Oaxaca just to eat and believe it or not, you can stay a full week and won’t even get to try all the best restaurants and street food carts in Oaxaca.
We visit Oaxaca City every year during day of the dead and in this Oaxaca travel guide, we will give you all the information you need for your trip.
✈️ Oaxaca Travel Guide: Quick Info
🇲🇽 State: Oaxaca
⏰ Timezone: Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5)
✈️ Airport: Oaxaca International Airport
💲 Currency: The currency in Mexico is called Mexican pesos (MXN). Mexico also uses the $ sign so don’t be confused if you see this all over town – it’s not in USD so don’t be fooled!
🔌 Power plug: Mexico uses a type A socket (US, Canada). For more information about power plugs in Mexico, see this link (with photos)
📱 Mexico sim card: The best provider that works in Oaxaca is Telcel. See our complete Mexico sim card guide for more information.
🛃 Visa: In November 2021, Mexico stopped granting visitors a 180-day visa. It really depends on the immigration officer how many days he/she will give you but just show proof of accommodations (with dates) and it should be fine.
🤟 Language: Young people in Oaxaca City can speak English very well, especially those who are in the travel industry. Oaxaca is still a very Mexican state so some locals are still not able to speak English.
🪅 Culture: Oaxaca City has a young and hip culture. There are many bars and cafes everywhere. Expats enjoy living here because of the many Oaxacan festivals that happen every year. Make sure to come here for day of the dead!
Where is Oaxaca City?
Oaxaca City is located in southwest Mexico, about a 6-hour drive from Mexico City. It is the capital of the state of Oaxaca.
Where do you fly into for Oaxaca?
The airport that serves Oaxaca is Xoxocotlán International Airport (Oaxaca International Airport). At the time of the writing of this Oaxaca travel guide, there are no direct flights from the USA, Canada, the UK, Europe, and Australia. All flights to Oaxaca stop in Mexico City for at least 3 hours.
How long does it take to get through Oaxaca airport?
It is quite fast to get through Oaxaca airport as it is a small airport. Expect to get through customs and immigration within 30 minutes.
What airports are near Oaxaca?
The state of Oaxaca has airports in Oaxaca City, Huatulco, and Puerto Escondido. These three destinations are usually included in the Oaxaca road trip route passing by small towns like Mazunte, Zipolite, and Puerto Angel. To get to Oaxaca City from these coastal airports, it will take about 6 hours.
Is Oaxaca City a good place to visit?
ABSOLUTELY! Oaxaca is a city full of culture and not many tourists go here yet. When you visit Oaxaca, you will get to experience a different kind of Mexico. Oaxaca is rich in culture, arts, and food, so this is a good destination for those art and history travelers.
Is Oaxaca worth visiting?
ABSOLUTELY! Oaxaca City is a lesser-known destination in Mexico and is still quite cheaper than other destinations in the country. Oaxaca has been awarded as one of the best cities in the world by Conde Nast Traveler.
Is Oaxaca touristy?
Oaxaca is becoming popular but it is not as touristy as other destinations in Mexico. It is more touristy during big events like Guelaguetza and Dia de Los Muertos. However, in regular days, tourism in Oaxaca is not as busy yet.
Is Oaxaca better than Mexico City?
Oaxaca and Mexico City are both unique cities. The only difference is that Mexico City is way bigger than Oaxaca City. When it comes to choosing between the two, it will depend on your city size preference – if you want to chill, choose Oaxaca. If you want a bustling city, then go to Mexico City!
Is Oaxaca close to Cancun?
No, Oaxaca is not close to Cancun. You need to fly through Mexico City to get to Cancun from Oaxaca. If you want to do a road trip, the drive is about 20 hours.
Do you need a car in Oaxaca City?
No, you do not need a car in Oaxaca City. This is a walkable city and driving a car might be difficult because of parking. The streets are narrow so you will always have to park far – it’s better to walk!
Is there a train between Mexico City and Oaxaca?
No, there isn’t any train between Mexico City and Oaxaca. The only passenger train in Mexico is in Chihuahua. Other than that, all of Mexico is accessed by car, plane, or bus.
Is driving from Mexico City to Oaxaca safe?
ABSOLUTELY! You can rent a car in Mexico City to get to Oaxaca. The road is pretty safe but the drive is long. If you are confident in driving in another country, this is the best way to see both these cities.
How long is the bus trip from Mexico City to Oaxaca?
The bus trip from Mexico City to Oaxaca can last up to 7 hours. During day of the dead or major festivals, expect the bus trip to last up to 9 hours. Busses from Mexico City to Oaxaca are comfortable but if you’d like to avail the super VIP luxurious bus, it only travels this route every evening.
How do I get from Oaxaca to Tulum?
In order to get from Oaxaca to Tulum, you need to go on a domestic flight. Flights from Oaxaca to Tulum are not direct so you always have to stop in Mexico City.
How do I get from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido?
To get from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido, you can go on a 12-seater plane (30 minutes ride). This is the easiest and fastest way but if you want to travel by land, you can drive to Puerto Escondido from Oaxaca City (6-8 hours). Car rentals in Oaxaca City start at US$25 per day. If you do not want to drive, there is a bus that travels this route multiple times a day.
🧳 Oaxaca travel planning tools
How many days do I need in Oaxaca?
You can easily spend 5 days in Oaxaca but 7 days is the more ideal and more relaxed. You can also combine this trip with Mexico City for 10 days. Read our Oaxaca itinerary for more information on how many days you should spend in Oaxaca.
Can you do a day trip to Oaxaca from Mexico City?
The drive to Oaxaca City from Mexico City is already 6-7 hours so it is not possible to do a day trip.
Is there Uber in Oaxaca?
No, Uber is not available in Oaxaca. They use the app called Didi. If you are to hail a taxi on the street, always choose yellow taxis as they are safer.
🏄♀️ Things to do in Oaxaca
We only included the highlights here but you can see our article on things to do in Oaxaca City if you need more activities. Those activities are categorized depending on what kind of traveler you are such as families with kids, solo travelers, couples, etc. We promise you’ll love that list!
Meanwhile, here are some of the things you shouldn’t miss:
Are there beaches in Oaxaca?
Oaxaca City does not have a beach but the state of Oaxaca has over 40 beaches. The areas where the beaches of Oaxaca are located are Puerto Escondido, Zipolite, and Mazunte. It is about an 8-hour drive from Oaxaca City.
🌮 Oaxaca restaurants
Cash, ATMs, etc
💵 US dollars: Oaxaca is still a cash country and USD are not accepted in Oaxaca. You can get better rates by exchanging USD to Mexican peso upon arrival at Oaxaca International Airport. For those who are arriving via Mexico City, you might get good rates there, too.
🏧 ATMs: Oaxaca has modern infrastructure and there are many major Mexican banks in the center. These ATM machines are safe and secure and will dispense Mexican peso.
To guarantee safe withdrawal, its best to go to major banks like Santander, BBVA Bancomer, or Banorte.
Suggested ATM takeout is 10,000 pesos (US$500).
💳 Credit/debit cards: Credit cards are widely accepted in major establishments in Oaxaca but not everyone accepts Amex. Visa and Mastercard are the most accepted credit cards.
Street food joints and local places only accept cash so make sure to have enough Mexican pesos with you.
💸 Tipping: f you didn’t like the service, 10% will do but if you liked the service, you can tip up to 20%. Tipping is recommended especially in restaurants as Mexico’s daily minimum wage is very low.
The tipping culture in Mexico and the US is the same so you can also tip as you would do it back home in the US.
🇲🇽 Oaxaca Travel Resources
- ✈️ Flights to Oaxaca: the airport that serves Oaxaca is Oaxaca International Airport (OAX). Use the code MXINSIDER to get flight discounts upon checkout on WayAway.
- 🏥 Mexico Travel insurance: do not travel to Mexico without insurance. Check which plans work for you for as low as US$40 for full travel coverage. We use SafetyWing and we highly recommend it!
- 🚕 Oaxaca Airport transfers: book our local drivers or luxury car services from Oaxaca Airport to downtown Oaxaca (from US$150).
- 🚗 Oaxaca car rentals: go on a road trip around the Oaxaca state – rent a car from US$25 per day! Search for the best deals on Rental Cars Oaxaca.
- 🚌 Oaxaca bus transportation: book bus tickets online to and from Oaxaca. Search BusBud Oaxaca for instant booking confirmation.
- 🏄♂️ Oaxaca Activities: find over 50+ things to do in Oaxaca on Viator Oaxaca. They have the best deals that start for as low as US$20 per person
- 🧭 Oaxaca Tours: support our work with the local community of Oaxaca. Use the code MXINISDER10 upon checkout on our tour page.
- 🏨 Oaxaca Hotels: There are affordable boutique hotels in Oaxaca from US$35. Check out Booking.com Oaxaca for great deals.
- 🛏️ Oaxaca Hostels: backpackers and young travelers, you can stay in a dorm bed in Oaxaca for as low as US$21! Check Hostelworld Oaxaca for the best rates.
- ✅ Oaxaca Trip Planner: we have local staff on the ground in Oaxaca. We can help you plan your trip. No hidden fees, just simple charges. Get in touch now!
- 📧 Oaxaca Updates: subscribe to our newsletter and get honest and transparent updates about Oaxaca. You will love our monthly news in your inbox! NO SPAM. NEVER.
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