We’ve rounded up our recommended places to visit in Oaxaca City which are divided into different attractions and points of interest: arts, culture, churches, plazas, gardens, mezcal farms, and more!
Oaxaca City is one of the cities in Mexico that is rich in culture, art, and traditional regional cuisine. Today, this is still the cheapest Mexican destination as it is not flocked by many tourists yet.
This city is big and most of the places to visit in Oaxaca that you see online are mandatory tourist circuits. In this post, we’ve suggested 41 Oaxaca attractions that not all travelers know about yet.
Browse the list and be creative with your Oaxaca itinerary. On top of that, you can visit most of these attractions for FREE!
You might also like:
- Mexico Insider’s Oaxaca guides and articles
- The best time to visit Oaxaca
- How to get to Oaxaca (all possible ways)
- 10 days Oaxaca road trip route
- 10 Oaxaca City hostels that we love
🗺️ Best places to visit in Oaxaca Map
Keep this places to visit in Oaxaca map handy for your visit! You can go to this link to see the map in its entirety. We will keep updating this map as we add more places to this list.
📍 Oaxaca attractions: the best places to visit in Oaxaca City
#1: Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden
What is it: The Ethnobotanical Garden of Oaxaca was built in 1998 by Francisco Toledo. It is where you will get to know the plants and different flora of the state of Oaxaca.
Why go here: Not everyone knows this place and this can only be visited with a guide. There is no sign outside of the garden (located at the back of Santo Domingo Church) so it’s not that popular yet to tourists!
#2: Hierve el Agua
What is it: The natural springs of Hierve El Agua Oaxaca have calcified and its waters were pushed to the edge of the cliff through karstic limestone creating the petrified waterfall. It is similar to Pamukkale in Turkey and Sichuan in China.
Why go here: This is one of the places to visit in Oaxaca that you shouldn’t skip. Swim in the natural pools, go on an outdoor hike and explore nature for 6 hours. This spot is also Instagram famous!
#3: Mezcal farms of Santa Catarina de Minas
What is it: Santa Catarina de Minas is about an hour’s drive from Oaxaca City where you will find all the wild agave fields native to Oaxaca.
Why go here: This is where you will learn about mezcal production from small families of Oaxaca. You will get the chance to plant your own mezcal, tour the wild agave fields, and have a sumptuous lunch with a local family.
#4: Teotitlán del Valle for textiles
What is it: Teotitlan is about an hour’s drive from Oaxaca and is the home of the Oaxacan textiles (woven by loom). In Teotitlan, there is a local community/coop that makes all the textiles sold all over the country.
Why go here: Learn how to make bags, carpets, or even yoga mats using the traditional Oaxacan loom process. If you love to shop authentic Mexican pieces, it is way cheaper to shop here as they are the ones who distribute products all over Mexico.
#5: La Pozontlería
What is it: La Pozontleria is the most authentic drinks stand in La Cosecha Market which sells pozontle, a traditional ceremonial drink of Oaxaca state from the town of Villa Hidalgo Yalalag.
Why go here: You can find pozontle in many street food stalls all over Oaxaca City but La Pozontleria is one of the most authentic. If you try pozontle here, you will also get the chance to see the La Cosecha Market.
#6: Metropolitan Cathedral of Oaxaca
What is it: Built in 1535, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Oaxaca is a church dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption (Virgen de la Asuncion) and is the Roman Catholic Archdiocese seat of Antequera, Oaxaca.
Why go here: Get to know the Baroque-style architecture of the church while admiring the architecture, columns, arches, and fringes of the church.
#7: Panteon General: the Oaxaca cemetery
What is it: Established in 1829, this is literally Oaxaca’s cemetery that is showcased differently through creative funeral architecture. It is one of the strong icons of Mexico’s day of the dead.
Why go here: The Panteon is popular during the day of the dead when festivals, events, and music happen. Here, you will see how the Mexicans honor their death including their lack of fear of death. Mexicans believe that death should be celebrated by life.
#8: Post Mortem Chapel
What is it: Located within the grounds of the Panteon General, the Post Mortem Chapel is a hidden gem of Oaxaca where you will see beautiful ruins of an abandoned church.
Why go here: Commissioned in 1935, the chapel was unfinished because of political conflicts. Today, the chapel remains a ruin and is one of the lesser-known places to visit in Oaxaca City.
#9: University Central Building
What is it: The University Central Building housed the conciliar seminary in the state. It was then converted to the Science and Arts Institute of Oaxaca in 1827. This is where Benito Juarez completed his studies.
Why go here: This building is popular for its unique architecture and is one of the most prominent colonial structures in Oaxaca. You will learn a lot of history when you visit this building and admission is free!
What is it: A restaurant in the Reforma neighborhood that depicts and preserves the history of corn in Mexico. Itanoni means “corn flower” and the Mexican couple who owns it aims to showcase the native varieties of corn that you probably never heard of.
Why go here: Discover the different types of corn through a gastronomic experience. I mean, who doesn’t like food? This is a must-visit when you go to Oaxaca and not many tourists know about this place!
#11: Casa Juarez Museum
What is it: A typical Oaxacan home in the 17th century, Casa Juarez was owned by Don Antonio Salanueva, a book-binder and lay brother. The house was converted to a museum in 1933 showcasing archives of the history of Juarez.
Why go here: Here, you will find historical objects and documents from the independence of Mexico, the French Revolution, and many other historical showrooms. This museum has films and over 200 digitized documents from the past.
#12: Casa de La Ciudad (City House)
What is it: Casa De La Ciudad or the City House is a cultural space for encouraging the locals of Oaxaca to participate in the society, particularly in preserving the architectures of Oaxaca City.
Why go here: Discover the history of architecture of Oaxaca City and the evolution of human development through structures. There are also regular events here like film viewing, workshops, and art exhibits.
#13: Rufino Tamayo Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art
What is it: The Rufino Tamayo Museum houses a broad collection of pre-hispanic art and ancient archaeological artifacts collected by the famous Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo.
Why go here: See Tamayo’s myriad collections of artifacts, and participate in workshops and artistic activities within the museum.
🪅 Update: Rufino Tamayo Museum is permanently closed. We will update this post when it re-opens again!
#14: Carmen Alto Parrish
What is it: The Parroquia de Carmen Alto (Carmen Alto Parrish) was an ex-convent during the Spanish conquest. It is one of the first sites that were established for worship.
Why go here: This was a church exclusive for the rich Spaniards so you will see many unique architectural structures within its grounds. Plus, admission is FREE!
#15: Margarita Maza de Juarez Central Public Library
What is it: A 19th-century public library that was made as an elementary school for girls lead by Irish nun Doña Patricia Cox. Today, this is the center of education, culture, and welfare in Oaxaca.
Why go here: Looking to escape the bustling Oaxaca City for a few hours without driving far? Get a coffee in the coffee shop next door, sit here, and wander in thousands of free books!
#16: The Stamp Museum
What is it: A stamp museum that houses over 200,000 pieces of stamps from all over the world! This is one of the best places to visit in Oaxaca that you shouldn’t miss – this place is truly magical!
Why go here: Wander around the museum and find stamps that you’ve never seen before. You will even find fluorescent stamps here and some collections from Penny Black.
#17: Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude
What is it: Also known as the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad in Spanish, this sanctuary is dedicated to the patroness of Oaxaca (1909). It is visited by devout Oaxacans and believers in Latin America.
Why go here: Admire the fire carvings and works of art of the Basilica. There are also many sculptures in the basilica and liturgical items to see in this basilica.
What is it: The liveliest and smallest neighborhood in Oaxaca with colorful streets, quirky cafes, and murals all over the area.
Why go here: Walk around the neighborhood and discover colorful streets. Eat in the cafes and go people-watching. There are also many luxury boutique hotels here and this is a great area to stay if you want to stay away from the center of Oaxaca City.
#19: San Bartolo Coyotepec
What is it: San Bartolo de Coyotopec is the capital of black pottery in Oaxaca. Many travelers from all over the world know this place for pottery production using an underground oven.
Why go here: Learn how to do black pottery in a different kind of way. You will also see the village where the black clay is being extreacted. This is a great activity for artists and pottery enthusiasts!
#20: Monte Alban
What is it: Monte Alban is the most important ceremonial center of the Zapotec culture. Located on a hill, these temples and structures show us the history and the timeline of when the Zapotecs were living in it.
Why go here: Learn about the Zapotec culture within the Monte Alban grounds with places of interest like El Palacio (building with 13 rooms), Building P (astronomical observations), and tombs.
#21: Monte Alban Museum
What is it: The Monte Alban Museum has been open since 1985. The museum houses important ceramics, relics, objects, and sculptures from the Zapotec culture. There are 3 mummified bodies in Monte Alban which will also tell you the story of the importance of the ceremonial burial practices of the Zapotecs.
Why go here: The museum is right at the entrance of the archaeological site. Tourists often skip the museum but we recommend you spend a little time here before the tour so you can learn historical information and milestones before the tour.
#22: San Agustin Arts Center
What is it: Abbreviated as CASA, the Centro de Las Artes de San Agustin (San Agustin Arts Center) is the first center of ecological arts in all of Latin America.
Why go here: You can participate in activities such as performing arts, textile dyeing, textile design, literature, engraving, and photography. It is the center of all arts not just in Oaxaca City but the whole state. There are also regular art exhibits here.
#23: Oaxaca Historic Center
What is it: The historic center of Oaxaca is the most popular image of Oaxaca on the Internet. Here, you will see colorful buildings, markets, and all things Oaxacan.
Why go here: Walk around the historic center and see the untouched culture of Mexico. This city is still less touristy and you will still find local Mexican life here. UNESCO designated Oaxaca City as the Cultural Heritage of Humanity as a 16th-century Spanish colonial city.
#24: Andador Turistico
What is it: The Andador Turistico (Calle Macedonio Alcala) is one of the must places to visit in Oaxaca. Andador Turistico means “tourist walk/trail” and is a famous landmark/street in the city.
Why go here: This could be a great point meeting point if you’re traveling with a big group. Aside from that, you will see all the best rooftop restaurants in Oaxaca on this street, and bars are open til late. Simply walking along this street is already a great activity while in Oaxaca.
#25: Santo Domingo Church
What is it: Constructed from 1575-1731, the Santo Domingo Church was established in the 17th century by the Dominicans and is the Instagram-famous church you see on the Internet.
Why go here: This is in the tourist corridor so you won’t miss it. It is one of the most beautiful churches in Mexico and is an icon to the Oaxacans.
#26: Plaza de la Constitución (Oaxaca Zocalo)
What is it: The Zocalo or Plaza de la Constitucion (Oaxaca Zocalo) is the main square of Oaxaca where you will see local life, colonial structures, a garden, post office, and many more! Oaxaca’s Zocalo is a World Cultural Heritage Site protected by UNESCO.
Why go here: Like Andador Turistico, this is a popular rendezvous and meeting point for tours and groups. There are many restaurants and cafes around this area but the most local thing to do is get an ice cream (or a beer) from a local store, sit in the main plaza and people watch!
#27: Meat Tunnel (Carne Asada Hall)
What is it: The Meat Tunnel aka the Carne Asada Hall is an indoor bbq hotspot in Oaxaca’s 20 de Noviembre Market. It is quite hidden so in case you don’t find the door to this hall, just ask the local vendors and they will lead you to the right way!
Why go here: This is the best market to eat meat in Oaxaca where the Mexican carne asada stars in most of the dishes. Pick your meat and they will cook it for you. The portions are big so make sure to come with a group!
#28: The Tule Tree
What is it: A notable tree in the state of Oaxaca that is 14.36 meters (47 feet) trunk diameter that is 2,000 years old. This is one of the impressive natural wonders of Mexico and is considered one of the biggest trees in the world.
Why go here: Travelers usually visit to take pictures of the tree but this is often combined with the Mitla and Hierve El Agua tours.
What is it: Mitla is about 46 km (29 miles) from Oaxaca City and is another important site for the Zapotecs and the Mixtec. Here, you will find pre-Hispanic structures, archaeological sites, temples, local life, and culture.
Why go here: If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Oaxaca, spend a day in Mitla. Wander around the artisan markets (which is considered the cheapest in the country) and visit the Archaeological Site of Mitla.
#30: San Antonio Arrazola (Alebrijes)
What is it: Arrazola is located in the central valleys of Oaxaca and is considered the home manufacturer of Mexico’s alebrije.
Why go here: If you are interested in Mexican folk art and cultures, sign up for an alebrije workshop and learn from the true makers and manufacturers of alebrije in Mexico.
#31: Alameda de Leon
What is it: Alameda de Leon is dedicated to the former governor of the state of Oaxaca, Don Antonio de Leon. He was a military officer and contributed greatly to the Mexican Independence war.
Why go here: This is a park and is the heart of the capital for cultural, local, and artistic events. While you are here, you can also swing by the Post Office and the Plaza de Armas to see more local life in Oaxaca.
#32: Oaxaca Museum of Contemporary Art (MACO)
What is it: The Oaxaca Museum of Contemporary Art (MACO) was built by Francisco Toledo. Artist Rufino Tamayo wanted a museum like this in Oaxaca and Toledo fulfilled this wish when Tamayo died.
Why go here: This is one of the most magnificent buildings in Oaxaca and has high-quality collections of sculptures, paintings, photographs, and more. There are also many exhibitions here by season.
🪅 Update: The Oaxaca Museum of Contemporary Art is temporarily closed. We will update this post once MACO re-opens again. For now, enjoy taking pictures at the facade!
#33: Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca
What is it: The Museum of Cultures of Oaxaca specializes in preserving the Oaxacan Cultures. It is part of the Santo Domingo Cultural Center with highlights such as the Botanical Garden and the Fray Francisco de Burgoa Library.
Why go here: This is one of the best museums in Oaxaca with 13 thematic rooms that tackles archaeology, the Spaniard conquest, pre-Hispanic art, the Mexican Independence, and everything you need to know about the rich culture of the state.
#34: Cuilapam de Guerrero Former Convent
What is it: Also known as the Convento de Santiago Apostol, the Cuilapam de Guerrero former convent used to be the capital of Catholicism.
Why go here: The Culiapam de Guerrero boasts impressive architecture and is one of the greatest monuments during the Spanish conquest. It is one of the most note-worthy architecture that represents the state of Oaxaca.
#35: Tlacolula de Matamoros
What is it: A small village in the central valle of Oaxaca (close to Mitla). Tlacolula is a nauhatl word that translates to “between the thich brush” which demonstrates the rich artisanal and regional food cultures of Oaxaca.
Why go here: Sure, there are many great markets within Oaxaca City but Tlacolula de Matamoros has the most colorful market in the state! The best day to come here is every Sunday. Not only that you’ll get to shop but there’s a big strip of regional Oaxacan food joints in this market!
#36: Museo de los Pintores Oaxaqueños
What is it: The Museum of Oaxacan Painters is a space where of celebratory art for the great artists of Oaxaca such as Francisco Toledo and Rufino Tamayo – both of which are movers and shakers of Oaxacan culture and art.
Why go here: Get to know the famous Oaxacan painters (old and new) through a wide collection of art works, exhibits, vinyls, and many more! This is an interactive museum and you can spend a few hours wandering around this museum!
#37: Mercury Bowling Club
What is it: It’s a bowling club and Oaxaca is one of the few cities in Mexico has it! It’s just a different experience and is out of the mandatory tourist circuit in Oaxaca.
Why go here: We usually start our day of the dead week here by playing (and drinking) with local friends in Oaxaca. Make sure to bring all your friends as this is a local activity!
#38: Teatro Macedonio Alcala
What is it: The Macedonio Alcala Theatre was built in August 1909 and was named after Mexico’s popular composer-musician and pianist, Macedonio Alcala.
Why go here: You won’t miss this renaissance building as it is in the tourist corridor of Oaxaca. Even if there isn’t a show, you can go on a personal tour and the admission is FREE!
#39: Nuestra Señora de Las Nieves
What is it: A 17th-centurey chirch dedicated to Santa Maria de Las Nieves. It has 2 chapels inside that houses Baroque altar pieces.
Why go here: This is one of the oldest churches in Oaxaca where you can see all the history of the Spanish conquest and Catholism in pre-colonial Oaxaca.
#40: El Llano Park
What is it: El Llano Park is one of the main parks of Oaxaca where locals gather to eat, chat, drink, and spend the afternoon wiith their kids, families, and friends.
Why go here: Not many tourists know about this park. Sit here, get an ice cream, a beer, a snack, and people-watch. On certain seasons (day of the dead/Christmas), there are many activities and festivals in this park.
#41: Plaza de Danza
What is it: Plaza de Danza means “dance plaza” located in the large quarry of Cerro del Fortin. Here, there are steps that serve as sitting areas and is frequented by locals.
Why go here: If you are coming to Oaxaca City for the Guelagetza Festival, this is where all the cultural dances are held. If you are going on a normal day, Plaza de Danza hosts other events and festivals.
✈️ Ready for your trip to Oaxaca? If you need more information about the best places to visit in Oaxaca City, we’d be happy to update this post – just leave your questions in the comment box below or join our communities where we answer questions for FREE.
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