26 places to visit in Oaxaca City: the most notable attractions not to miss

From important landmarks to historical sites, these are the best places to visit in Oaxaca City with location, how to get there, and golden tips for each attraction.

Oaxaca is really special for its rich cultural tapestry, deeply rooted in indigenous traditions and Spanish colonial history, making it a unique blend of the past and present.

This region is celebrated for its culinary delights, including mole, mezcal, and chocolate, which reflect the diversity and richness of its gastronomy.

Oaxaca’s vibrant arts scene, from intricate textiles and pottery to the colorful and fantastical alebrijes, showcases the creativity and craftsmanship of its people.

Additionally, Oaxaca is a hub of festivals and celebrations, most notably the Day of the Dead, which draws visitors from around the globe to witness its profound and beautiful traditions.

This city is big and most of the places to visit in Oaxaca that you see online are mandatory tourist circuits. Browse the list and be creative with your Oaxaca itinerary.

On top of that, you can visit most of these attractions for FREE!

Plan your trip to Mexico with us! Get expert travel advice and customized trip-planning itinerary from our local experts on the ground.

Here are some of the m,ost important landmarks and attractions in Oaxaca that you have to visit:

1. Historic Center: best of the best places to visit in Oaxaca City

oaxaca travel guide

The Oaxaca Historic Center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the heart of Oaxaca City, featuring a blend of indigenous and colonial architecture.

It dates back to the 16th century when the Spanish established the city layout, preserving many ancient structures.

Exploring the historic center is essential for anyone interested in the rich cultural tapestry of places to visit in Oaxaca City. The area is a living museum, where every street and building tells a story of the city’s past and present

Stroll through the cobblestone streets, admire the colorful buildings, and visit the many museums and galleries scattered throughout the area.

2. Jalatlaco: the most colorful neighborhood of Oaxaca

Jalatlaco is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Oaxaca City, known for its narrow, cobblestone streets and brightly colored houses.

This area has retained much of its original charm and character, reflecting the city’s indigenous and colonial history.

Jalatlaco stands out among places to visit in Oaxaca City for its bohemian atmosphere and vibrant street art. It’s a picturesque neighborhood that offers a glimpse into the everyday life of its residents, away from the more tourist-centric areas.

Take a leisurely walk to admire the mural-covered walls, visit local artisan shops, and enjoy a coffee at one of the quaint cafes.

Evening brings lively bars and restaurants to life, offering a chance to mingle with locals and visitors alike. Photography enthusiasts will find endless subjects in Jalatlaco’s charming streets.

3. Xochimilco

Photo: Kirk K

Xochimilco, Oaxaca, not to be confused with its namesake in Mexico City, is a picturesque neighborhood in Oaxaca City.

It’s known for its beautiful aqueduct and lush, tree-lined streets, reflecting the area’s history as a vital water source for the city.

Xochimilco offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city center, making it a favorite among places to visit in Oaxaca City.

The neighborhood’s green spaces and historic architecture provide a perfect backdrop for a leisurely exploration of Oaxaca’s quieter side.

Walking along the ancient aqueduct is a must, as is visiting the local market for a taste of regional produce. The area is also home to several art studios and workshops, where you can learn about traditional crafts and techniques.

4. Metropolitan Cathedral of Oaxaca

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Oaxaca, located in the heart of the city, is an architectural marvel dating back to the 16th century.

It has undergone several reconstructions due to earthquake damage, resulting in a blend of architectural styles that add to its grandeur.

The cathedral is a cornerstone among places to visit in Oaxaca City, not only for its architectural significance but also as a cultural and spiritual hub.

Here, you can admire the cathedral’s intricate facade, explore the richly decorated interior, and attend a mass to experience the vibrant community spirit.

The plaza in front of the cathedral is a lively gathering place, offering a chance to observe local life and enjoy street performances.

5. Andador Turistico: the most colorful street of Oaxaca

The Andador Turistico, also known as Macedonio Alcalá, is a pedestrian-only street that runs through the heart of Oaxaca City. It’s lined with historic buildings, shops, restaurants, and galleries, reflecting the city’s cultural and commercial vibrancy.

This lively street is a focal point for tourists and locals alike, offering a safe and engaging environment to explore the best of what Oaxaca has to offer. It’s one of the most dynamic places to visit in Oaxaca City, where the spirit and flavors of Oaxaca come to life.

Enjoy the street performers and artisans displaying their crafts, sample Oaxacan delicacies at the numerous eateries, or simply soak in the ambiance of this bustling thoroughfare.

Visiting the galleries and shops along the Andador Turistico is also a great way to discover local art and crafts.

6. Oaxaca City Zocalo

The Oaxaca Zocalo, or main square, is the vibrant heart of Oaxaca City, surrounded by historic buildings and lively cafes.

Established after the Spanish conquest, it has been the city’s central gathering place for centuries, hosting everything from market days to political protests.

The Zócalo is a microcosm of Oaxacan life, making it one of the fascinating places to visit in Oaxaca City. It offers a unique blend of historical significance and contemporary energy, with musicians, vendors, and artists contributing to its lively atmosphere.

Relax at one of the many outdoor cafes to people-watch, enjoy live music, or participate in spontaneous dance gatherings. The Zócalo is also a great starting point for a walking tour of the city’s historic sites, including nearby churches and museums.

7. Santo Domingo Church

places to visit in oaxaca city

The Church and former monastery of Santo Domingo de Guzmán is an exquisite example of Spanish Baroque architecture, completed in the late 17th century.

It’s one of Oaxaca’s most iconic landmarks, renowned for its opulent interior and detailed facade.

Santo Domingo Church is among the most majestic places to visit in Oaxaca City, offering visitors a glimpse into the artistic and religious heritage of the region.

Admire the church’s stunning architecture and explore the attached museum, which houses treasures from Oaxaca’s pre-Hispanic and colonial past.

The church’s tranquil gardens are perfect for a peaceful stroll, offering a quiet retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Access to Santo Domingo Church is free of charge. You can explore the church and attend mass at no cost. However, donations are welcomed to support the maintenance of this historic site.

🥃 You might also like: 24 best mezcal bars in Oaxaca City

8. Government Palace

The Government Palace of Oaxaca, located on the south side of the Zócalo, is an imposing building with a history that dates back to the 16th century.

It has served various administrative functions over the centuries and is adorned with murals depicting Oaxaca’s history.

This site is among the essential places to visit in Oaxaca City for its architectural beauty and the vivid murals that line its interior walls, offering a visual journey through the region’s past.

Explore the interior to admire the detailed murals, attend any public events or exhibitions often held in its halls, and learn about Oaxaca’s rich history and culture. The palace’s balcony also offers a unique view of the Zócalo, perfect for photography.

Entry to the Government Palace is generally free, allowing visitors to view the murals and architecture without a fee. Special exhibitions or events held within may have separate charges.

9. Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden

ethnobotanical garden oaxaca

The Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden is a unique botanical garden located in the heart of Oaxaca City, showcasing the rich plant diversity of Oaxaca state. Established in the late 1990s, it occupies the grounds of a 16th-century Santo Domingo monastery.

For those looking for tranquil and enlightening places to visit in Oaxaca City, the Ethnobotanical Garden offers a serene escape amidst the city’s bustling streets.

The meticulously curated plant collections tell the story of the region’s biodiversity and the deep connection between the local communities and their natural environment.

The garden also hosts various workshops and exhibitions on environmental conservation and sustainable living, providing a hands-on learning experience about the importance of plant conservation.

Entrance to the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden requires a guided tour, which costs around 100 pesos ($6 USD) for adults. You can only visit the garden on a guided tour.

10. Casa Juarez Museum

Casa Juarez Museum, also known as the Museo Casa de Juárez, is located in the house where Benito Juárez, one of Mexico’s most revered presidents, lived during part of his youth.

The museum is dedicated to his life and contributions to Mexico’s history. As one of the insightful places to visit in Oaxaca City, Casa Juarez Museum offers a deep dive into the life of Benito Juárez and the period he lived in.

The museum showcases personal belongings, documents, and exhibits on his reforms that shaped modern Mexico, providing a fascinating perspective on the country’s history.

Tour the museum to learn about Juárez’s early life, his rise to prominence, and his lasting impact on Mexico. The exhibits offer an intimate look at his personal and political legacy, making it a meaningful visit for history buffs.

Admission to Casa Juarez Museum is around 50 pesos ($2.95 USD). This small fee supports the preservation of the museum and its collection related to the life and times of Benito Juárez.

11. Casa de La Ciudad (City House)

Casa de La Ciudad, or City House, is a cultural center focused on urban development, architecture, and the preservation of Oaxaca’s cultural heritage.

It hosts exhibitions, workshops, and events aimed at fostering a sustainable and vibrant urban future for Oaxaca.

For those interested in urbanism and cultural preservation, Casa de La Ciudad is an engaging place to visit in Oaxaca City. It offers a unique perspective on the city’s development, highlighting the importance of community involvement in shaping urban environments.

The center’s commitment to sustainability and cultural heritage makes it a thought-provoking destination. The center also hosts talks and discussions on various topics related to urbanism, providing a platform for learning and exchange.

Casa de La Ciudad offers free entry to its exhibitions and some events. It is a public space aimed at promoting urban culture and sustainability, welcoming visitors free of charge.

12. The House of Crafts of Oaxaca

The House of Crafts of Oaxaca (Casa de las Artesanías de Oaxaca) is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Oaxacan handicrafts.

It showcases the rich diversity of crafts produced in the region, from textiles to pottery, representing centuries of indigenous and mestizo artistry.

For those seeking authentic Oaxacan crafts and a deeper understanding of the region’s artisanal traditions, this is one of the premier places to visit in Oaxaca City.

Browse the extensive collection of handicrafts, participate in a workshop to learn about traditional crafting techniques, or watch live demonstrations by skilled artisans.

The House of Crafts of Oaxaca has free admission, encouraging visitors to explore Oaxaca’s rich artisanal heritage. You can purchase handicrafts directly from artisans, supporting the local economy.

13. Guelaguetza Auditorium

The Guelaguetza Auditorium, situated on the Fortín Hill, is a modern structure designed specifically to host the annual Guelaguetza festival, Oaxaca’s most important cultural event.

The festival celebrates the diverse cultures and traditions of Oaxaca’s eight regions. The auditorium offers spectacular views of the city and a unique amphitheater setting for performances.

This venue is a focal point for experiencing Oaxaca’s vibrant cultural life, especially during the Guelaguetza festival when it becomes one of the most exciting places to visit in Oaxaca City.

Attend the Guelaguetza festival (July) to see traditional dances and music performances, explore the surrounding area for beautiful city views, or visit during other cultural events that the auditorium hosts throughout the year.

Access to the Guelaguetza Auditorium is free when there are no events. However, tickets for the Guelaguetza festival or other performances vary greatly in price, depending on the event and seating.

14. Rufino Tamayo Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art

The Rufino Tamayo Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art, founded by the renowned Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, showcases an impressive collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts that Tamayo personally collected, representing Mexico’s rich indigenous history and cultures.

This museum is a must-visit for art lovers and history enthusiasts exploring places to visit in Oaxaca City. The collection spans various cultures and time periods, offering a broad view of Mexico’s artistic heritage.

Explore the museum’s extensive collection of pre-Hispanic art, learn about the historical context of the artifacts, and gain insight into Rufino Tamayo’s vision and contributions to Mexican art. The museum also offers guided tours for a more in-depth experience.

Entry to the Rufino Tamayo Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art is approximately 65 pesos ($4 USD). This fee grants access to a significant collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts curated by the artist Rufino Tamayo.

15. Benito Juarez Market

Benito Juarez Market, located in the heart of Oaxaca City, has been a bustling center of trade and culture since the late 19th century. Named after Mexico’s beloved president, Benito Juárez, the market offers a vibrant snapshot of Oaxacan life and traditions.

As one of the most colorful and lively places to visit in Oaxaca City, Benito Juarez Market is a feast for the senses.

With its array of local produce, crafts, and culinary delights, the market provides an authentic glimpse into Oaxaca’s rich cultural heritage and is a paradise for foodies and shoppers alike.

Sample exotic fruits, indulge in traditional Oaxacan dishes like tlayudas and mole, shop for local handicrafts such as textiles and pottery, and immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of Oaxacan commerce.

Don’t miss the chance to try chapulines (fried grasshoppers) for a truly local experience.

Entrance to Benito Juarez Market is free. Visitors can explore the vast array of local produce, crafts, and food stalls without an entrance fee, making it an accessible experience for everyone.

16. 20 de Noviembre Market

Adjacent to the Benito Juarez Market, the 20 de Noviembre Market is renowned for its focus on food, especially Oaxacan specialties.

This market has served the local community for decades, offering a space for vendors to sell a wide variety of Oaxacan cuisine.

For culinary enthusiasts, the 20 de Noviembre Market is an essential destination among places to visit in Oaxaca City. Its famous “Pasillo de Humo” (Smoke Hall) is where you can find mouthwatering barbecued meats, making it a paradise for meat lovers.

Enjoy freshly made tamales, quesadillas, and other street food staples. Venture into the Smoke Hall to select your meats and have them cooked to perfection in front of you.

Explore the aisles for artisanal chocolate, cheeses, and mezcal to take a piece of Oaxaca home with you.

Access to the 20 de Noviembre Market is also free, allowing visitors to enjoy the culinary delights and atmosphere of Oaxaca’s famous food market without any cost.

17. Margarita Maza de Juarez Central Public Library

places to visit in oaxaca city

Named after the wife of President Benito Juárez, the Margarita Maza de Juarez Central Public Library is housed in a historic building that dates back to the 18th century.

It serves as a cultural beacon, offering a vast collection of books and resources on Oaxaca’s history and culture.

The library is a tranquil oasis and one of the intellectual places to visit in Oaxaca City for those looking to delve deeper into the state’s rich history and cultural heritage.

Explore the library’s collections, including rare books and historical documents. Attend one of the cultural events or workshops that are frequently held here.

The Margarita Maza de Juarez Central Public Library is open to the public free of charge. Visitors can access its collections, use its reading spaces, and participate in its events without any entrance fee, fostering an inclusive environment for learning and exploration.

18. The Stamp Museum (Museo de Filatelia)

The Stamp Museum (Museo de Filatelia de Oaxaca, MUFI) is a unique institution in Mexico, dedicated to the preservation and display of stamps and postal artifacts.

Housed in a beautifully restored 19th-century building, it offers insights into the world of philately and the history of communication.

MUFI stands out among places to visit in Oaxaca City for its niche collection that appeals to both philatelists and general visitors.

The museum’s interactive exhibits and beautifully designed garden offer a fascinating journey through the history of postal communication, making it an intriguing spot for all ages.

Browse the extensive collection of stamps from around the world, learn about the evolution of postal services, and participate in interactive workshops. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and cultural events in its serene courtyard, adding to its appeal.

Admission to the Stamp Museum (Museo de Filatelia) is free. This policy ensures that all visitors can explore the fascinating world of philately and postal history, making it an accessible cultural resource in Oaxaca City.

19. Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude

The Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude, built between the 16th and 17th centuries, is dedicated to the patron saint of Oaxaca, the Virgin of Solitude.

This baroque-style church is one of Oaxaca’s most important religious sites, housing a revered image of the Virgin Mary.

As one of the most spiritually significant places to visit in Oaxaca City, the Basilica offers visitors a glimpse into the religious devotion and architectural beauty of Oaxaca.

Admire the basilica’s architectural details, visit the image of the Virgin of Solitude, and explore the surrounding plaza where local vendors sell crafts and food. The church is also a beautiful spot for photography, capturing the essence of Oaxacan religious tradition.

Entry to the Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude is free, allowing visitors and worshippers alike to admire its architecture and religious artifacts without any cost.

20. San Agustin Arts Center

The San Agustin Arts Center, located in the ex-convent of San Agustin, is a cultural space in Oaxaca City dedicated to the arts and education.

It was revitalized by famous Oaxacan artist Francisco Toledo to promote art and culture within the community.

This center is among the most inspiring places to visit in Oaxaca City for art lovers. It combines historic architecture with contemporary art, offering a unique space for exhibitions, workshops, and cultural events.

Attend art exhibitions, participate in workshops and lectures, and explore the lush gardens of the center. The library, specializing in art and literature, is a quiet spot for reading.

Entry to the San Agustin Arts Center is free, making it accessible to everyone interested in Oaxacan culture and the arts.

21. Pasillo de Humo (Carne Asada Hall)

things to do in oaxaca

Pasillo de Humo, located within the 20 de Noviembre Market, is famous for its carne asada (grilled meat) stalls.

This hall is where locals and visitors alike come to enjoy Oaxaca’s traditional grilled meats, cooked over charcoal and served with local sides.

For food enthusiasts, Pasillo de Humo is a culinary highlight among places to visit in Oaxaca City. It offers an authentic taste of Oaxacan cuisine in a lively and aromatic setting.

Choose from a variety of meats, including beef, pork, and chorizo, and watch as they are grilled. Enjoy your meal with traditional accompaniments like tortillas, salsas, and grilled vegetables.

There is no entrance fee to Pasillo de Humo or the 20 de Noviembre Market, allowing visitors to enjoy the culinary offerings at the cost of their meal.

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Puerto Escondido

A laid-back coastal town in Oaxaca known for its beautiful beaches, excellent surfing spots, vibrant nightlife, and charming local markets.

22. Alameda de Leon

oaxaca attractions

Alameda de Leon is a central square in Oaxaca City, named after the Oaxacan-born President Benito Juárez (born Benito Juárez León).

This leafy plaza is a popular gathering spot for locals and visitors alike, offering a peaceful respite amidst the city’s hustle and bustle.

Alameda de Leon is one of the serene places to visit in Oaxaca City, perfect for those looking to enjoy the outdoors while staying in the city center.

Sit and enjoy the shade under the trees, watch street performers and local artists, or indulge in a snack from nearby vendors. The plaza is also a great starting point for a walking tour of the city’s historic sites and museums.

Access to Alameda de Leon is free, making it an easily accessible spot for everyone visiting Oaxaca City. It’s located right in the heart of the city, adjacent to the Zócalo.

23. Oaxaca Museum of Cultures

Housed in the beautiful Santo Domingo de Guzmán convent, the Oaxaca Museum of Cultures chronicles the state’s rich history from pre-Hispanic times to the present.

Its extensive collection includes artifacts from Monte Alban and Mitla, colonial art, and more.

The museum is a treasure trove for anyone interested in the deep and diverse cultural history of Oaxaca, making it a pivotal place to visit in Oaxaca City.

Explore the numerous exhibits, including the Mixtec treasure of Tomb 7 from Monte Alban. Enjoy the stunning views of the botanical garden from the museum’s windows.

The museum’s library is also worth visiting for those interested in further research.

The entrance fee is approximately 80 pesos ($5 USD). The museum is located within the Santo Domingo complex, easily reachable on foot from anywhere in Oaxaca City’s historic center.

24. Macedonio Alcala Theatre

The Macedonio Alcala Theatre, named after the composer of the Oaxacan anthem, is a neoclassical building inaugurated in 1909.

It stands as a monument to Oaxaca’s rich cultural heritage, hosting a variety of performances from local and international artists.

As one of the premier cultural places to visit in Oaxaca City, the theatre offers an impressive array of performances, including concerts, plays, and ballets.

The architecture itself is a sight to behold, with its stunning façade and beautifully decorated interior that transports visitors to a bygone era.

Entrance fees vary depending on the event, with some tours and performances offered at no cost. The theatre is centrally located on Calle Independencia, easily accessible on foot from many points in downtown Oaxaca City.

25. El Llano Park

El Llano Park, also known as Parque Juárez El Llano, is one of the largest and oldest public parks in Oaxaca City. It has been a beloved green space for residents and visitors since the 16th century, offering a peaceful retreat in the heart of the city.

This park is among the tranquil places to visit in Oaxaca City for those seeking to escape the city’s bustle.

With its lush landscapes, walking paths, and weekly events, El Llano provides a perfect setting for leisure and cultural immersion in the city’s everyday life.

On Fridays, the park hosts a popular market where you can find everything from handicrafts to local snacks. Access to El Llano Park is free, making it an accessible option for visitors of all ages.

26. Plaza de Danza

oaxaca attractions

The Plaza de Danza is a significant open-air venue situated below the Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude.

It was constructed to host cultural and civic events, playing a pivotal role in Oaxaca’s community life by serving as a gathering place for performances and celebrations.

As a vibrant epicenter of culture and community, the Plaza de Danza is a dynamic place to visit in Oaxaca City. It showcases the rich traditions of Oaxacan dance, music, and festivals, offering visitors a chance to experience local culture firsthand in a stunning outdoor setting.

Attend one of the many cultural events or festivals that take place here, such as the Guelaguetza celebrations. The plaza is also a great spot to enjoy panoramic views of the city and the basilica, making it a picturesque location for photography enthusiasts.

Entrance to the Plaza de Danza for most events is free, although some special performances may charge an admission fee.

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  1. Wow! I had no idea that there is so much to see and visit in Oaxaca. We’d love to visit Itanoni since my husband loves corn. This would be a unique gastronomic experience.

  2. Oaxaca city has so many notable points to visit. I would love to see the Tule tree and the black pottery of San Bartolo Coyotepec, the Stamp museum, the Zapotec ruins on Monte Alban and the colorful street art of Jalatlaco and much more.

  3. I would love to return to Mexico and visit Oaxaca as well. I missed it on my first visit to the country. I like that there are so many things to do in Oaxaca, definitely enough for at least a week. I would love to explore the colourful streets of Jalatlaco and take photos around there. The Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca would be another great visit, to learn more about the city and its culture.

  4. 41+ reasons to go to Oaxaca! And, it starts with Ethnobotanical Garden. Talk about instagrammable, this is a great start! The budding photographer in me would want to check out Cuilapam de Guerrero Former Convent – what an interesting place to visit and try and capture through my camera lens.

  5. My mother loves sowing and Knitting. She would love to visit the Teotitlán del Valle for textiles. As for me, I would like to visit the University Central Building. I am profound in science and art. I am sure I would learn something there. In addition, I would like to visit the Plaza de Danza and Nuestra Señora de Las Nieves.

  6. Such a comprehensive guide to Oaxaca city. Frankly speaking, I am planning for Mexico and now I know Oaxaca would be on the list of cities for sure.

  7. Oh my goodness, there is so much in Oaxaca that I would love to see and do! I’ve seen a lot about this destination on social media, so I am actually surprised that not more tourists know about it. It’s great to hear that it’s one of the more affordable options in Mexico, too. Topping my list would be the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden (I am a gardener, at heart) and along that same vein, I’d love to see the The Tule Tree – I can’t believe it’s over 2,000 years old! It would be a treat to sample all the delicious corn dishes at Itanoni – especially since it’s such a hidden gem. Honestly, everything on this list inspires a visit to Oaxaca!

  8. Having never visited Oaxaca in Mexico, this was a great list of things we need to consider when we plan a trip. Good to know that there is so much to do and that it is not yet too expensive. We do love to visit places like Oaxaca before the crowds find it! I love the mix of different kinds of activities to do and sights to see. So many interesting museums to learn more about the history and culture. And get out of the heat on some days!

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