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Oaxaca City Travel Guide

Everything you need to know about planning a trip to Oaxaca City, Mexico


Quick Info | Planning Your Trip | Things To Do | Where To Stay | Restaurants | Nightlife | Budget | Resources

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 an entire 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 City travel guide, we will give you all the information you need for your trip.

🙋 Questions about Oaxaca City? Talk to a travel expert.

✈️ Oaxaca Travel Guide: Quick Info

  • 🇲🇽 State: Oaxaca
  • ⏰ Timezone: Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5)
  • ✈️ Airport: Xoxocotlán International Airport (OAX)
  • 🚑 Travel Insurance: SafetyWing
  • 💲 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!

🗺️ Oaxaca City Map

☀️ Best time to visit Oaxaca City

The best time to visit Oaxaca City is during the dry season, which runs from October to April. The weather is mild and pleasant during these months, with an average temperature of 25°C (77°F).

If you’re looking for a deep cultural experience, consider visiting in late October during Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. The city comes alive with colorful decorations and traditional rituals paying homage to loved ones who have passed away. November and December are also great times to visit as they offer cooler temperatures without the high tourist traffic.

On the other hand, if you’re a fan of warm weather and outdoor activities such as hiking or swimming, plan your visit between May and September.

🚦 Oaxaca City Transportation Guide

  • ✈️ Oaxaca Airport Transfer: The airport transfer from Oaxaca International Airport to the city center starts at $65 USD per ride (private to your party, minimum of 2). Readers of Mexico Insider get discounts on Oaxaca Airport transfers so feel free to contact us!
  • 🚕 Taxi: Oaxaca City does not use Uber but uses Didi. Make sure to download this app before your trip! If you are visiting during the busy season and can’t find available drivers on Didi, you can always hail a taxi on the street but make sure to hail yellow taxis as they are safer. On average, a short ride within the city should cost no more than $2.65 USD, while longer trips may range between $5 – $10 USD.
  • 🚌 Bus: The bus system in Oaxaca City is easy to navigate, with multiple routes available throughout the city. You can purchase tickets from vendors at bus stops or directly from the driver when boarding. The fares are incredibly reasonable – ranging from 6 pesos for short distances up to 20 pesos for longer journeys. One of the most popular tourist routes is heading to Monte Alban, an ancient Zapotec site outside Oaxaca City. Buses frequently run throughout the day, costing less than $1 USD each way.
  • 🚗 Rental cars: Car rental prices in Oaxaca City vary depending on the time of year and the length of your rental. However, be prepared to spend around $25-$30 per day for a standard vehicle. If you’re looking for something more luxurious or spacious, expect to pay upwards of $50 per day. Having all the necessary documentation and insurance is essential when renting a car in Oaxaca City. You must present a valid driver’s license from your home country and any required international driving permits.

💲 Oaxaca Travel Budget

If you are backpacking, you can spend $25 USD per day given that you’ll cook in your hostel or stay in a bed in a hostel dorm. Mid-range travelers can spend $75 USD per day (per person) which includes a stay in a boutique hotel. There aren’t all-inclusive resorts in Oaxaca City but more of 5-star and luxury hotels with pools and amenities like a resort. The resorts are about 5 hours away from Oaxaca City, in the beach towns of Puerto Escondido and Huatulco.

Food Prices

To start off with lighter fare, tacos are typically the cheapest option available in most eateries. You can get a delicious taco for just $2-$3 USD – perfect for those on a budget! For something heartier and more filling, try some burritos or enchiladas – both usually cost around $4-5 USD per plate.

🏄‍♀️ Things to do in Oaxaca City

oaxaca mezcal tour

Go on a local mezcal tour

The tour starts with a visit to an authentic mezcal distillery, where you’ll learn about this iconic Mexican spirit’s history and production process. You’ll have the chance to sample different types of mezcal and see how it’s made from start to finish. This is our very own local tour so readers of our blog get special discount codes.

Visit the artisans of Oaxaca

This ancient craft has been passed down from generation to generation, and it’s still alive and thriving in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico. From embroidered blouses to woven rugs and blankets, the artistry of Oaxacan textiles is truly impressive. This is a cultural activity not to miss when in Oaxaca!

oaxaca alebrije workshop

Monte Alban archaeological site

Monte Alban boasts stunning views of the surrounding valley and mountains. You can witness breathtaking sunsets from atop the pyramids or take in panoramic vistas while strolling through the ruins. It’s an ideal spot for photography enthusiasts! Plus, hiking up to Monte Alban adds some physical activity to your vacation.

oaxaca alebrije workshop

Alebrije workshop

Alebrijes are whimsical figures made from paper-mâché or wood and painted with vibrant colors and intricate patterns, making them the perfect souvenir or gift. Not only is the workshop a fun activity that lets you tap into your creativity, but it’s also a chance to learn about Mexican culture and tradition. This activity is recommended for families with kids.

Black pottery in Oaxaca

Black pottery is an ancient art form that has been passed down through generations in the indigenous communities of Oaxaca. By participating in a workshop, you’ll learn about the techniques and history behind this craft and the opportunity to support local artisans outside of Oaxaca City.


We live here and have traveled the state of Oaxaca. Contact us for a quote: no hidden costs, just simple prices.


Use the code MXINSIDER10 upon checkout on our website to get a discount on all our Oaxaca tours!

Oaxaca Nightlife

The nightlife in Oaxaca is vibrant, loud, and fun, not to mention that going out to party is extremely cheaper than in Mexico City. Below are our recommended bars in Oaxaca:

oaxaca travel guide

Los Amantes Mezcaleria

oaxaca travel guide

Selva Oaxaca Cocktail Bar

oaxaca travel guide


oaxaca travel guide

La Mezcalerita

La Mezcaloteca

Sabina Sabe

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 City FAQ

Oaxaca City is located in southwest Mexico, about a 6-hour drive from Mexico City. It is the capital of the state of 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The drive to Oaxaca City from Mexico City is already 6-7 hours so it is not possible to do a day trip.

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.

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.

Still have questions about traveling to Oaxaca City?

If you cannot find an answer to your question in our FAQ, you can always contact us
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