The author McKenna Mobley sitting in the middle of a passage with the historical site in the background at one of the top things to do in Oaxaca

27 Best Things to Do in Oaxaca (in 2023)

With so many things to do in Oaxaca, this colorful dreamland should be high on everybody’s Mexico itinerary. 

Oaxaca is the birthplace of the smoky Mezcal alcohol and is the land of flavorous, traditional food. It’s the craftsman of colorful architecture and street art, and the bearer of the Dia de Los Muertos tradition. 

Oaxaca is one of my all-time favorite places to travel in Mexico. In this article, I’ll spill the beans on the best the area has to offer while staying safe in Oaxaca. Let’s dive in!

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27 Best Things to Do in Oaxaca

Hierve El Agua

Take a plunge into natural cliffside pools in the thick Oaxacan forest.

Scenic view of the waterfalls in the green landscape
The petrified waterfall contrasts the strikingly green landscape

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +529515021200 | Hours: 7 am-5 pm daily | Entrance: 50 Pesos/ $2.50 | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Hierve El Agua, in the heart of the thick forest just outside of Oaxaca, is one of the most epic things to do in Mexico. This site is essentially majestic waterfalls frozen in time that formed over thousands of years over the natural rock formations.

In just 1.6 miles, hikers arrive at one of the most beautiful natural sites in the state – natural cliffside pools surrounded by Sierra Norte Mountains and petrified waterfalls. 

Because this site is so breathtaking and Instagram-worthy, it’s near impossible to get a chance to swim in an empty pool. This is almost always the case if visiting Hierve El Agua with a tour company. If you want a pristine nature experience, either get to the site as early as they open or stay at the cabanas on site, about 200 Pesos/ $10.30 per night.

🚗 How to Get There: If you choose to go to Hierve el Agua without a guide, first take a bus from Oaxaca City to Mitla for 20 Pesos, about a one-hour ride. From Mitla, you will buy a seat in a collectivo to take you to the site along a bumpy mountain road for 75 Pesos each way. You will arrive in about 45 minutes.

Try a Tlayuda

Bite into a piece of Oaxacan culture with this meat and cheese delight.

The author McKenna Mobley taking a bite of Tylayuda in the street of Oaxaca
Me, eating a Tylayuda from a street vendor

📍 Google Maps | Website | Entrance: $3-$6 average Tlayuda price | 👉 Browse Street Food Tours on Viator

If you’ve never been to Oaxaca before, odds are you’ve never heard of a Tlayuda. This traditional Oaxacan meal can be found in abundance in this state and never fails to hit the spot.

The best way to describe an Oaxacan Tlayuda is like a hybrid of a pizza and a calzone. This Mexican twist on a seemingly-flatbread dish dates back to ancient Mexico and is a must-try while in Oaxaca.

The Tlayuda contributes to Oaxaca’s international acclaim for its food. The best way to try this dish is from a street vendor and eaten on a curb on the side of the road. This experience somehow enhances the traditional flavors of the smokey cheese, seasoned meat, salsa picante, and the fresh veggies of a custom Tlayuda.


Take a day trip from the big city to a town with a hundred attractions, including an ancient ruins archaeological site and the widest tree in the world.

Exterior view of the Mitla archaeological site in Oaxaca
Sharp agave guards the Mitla archaeological site

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 8 am-5 pm | Entrance: 75 Pesos/ $3.85 | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Mitla is one of the coolest day trips you can take from Oaxaca. Formally known as San Pablo de Mitla, this site also boasts the small Pueblo Magico town of Mitla, which has a heavy influence on Oaxacan textile and Mezcal production.

Take a day trip from Oaxaca to experience the serenity of the Mitla Zapotec/Mixtec archaeological site. Visit the religious center of the site, walking along its somewhat-preserved stone walls and resting on the agave garden bench to appreciate the scale of the ruins from a unique angle.

Another main draw of Mitla is its Tule Tree. California Sequoias take a backseat to this ginormous tree that takes the cake for the widest tree in the world. Roughly the size of a tiny house, El Tule is a Mitla landmark you don’t want to miss.

Mezcal Tasting

Drink down the most famous drink in Oaxaca and discover a surprise Annelida at the bottom.

A glass of Mezcal beverage and a small bowl of sliced oranges

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +529515140115 | Website | Hours: 4 pm-2 am Monday-Saturday, 6 pm-12 am Sundays | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

The birthplace of the famous Mezcal alcohol, Oaxaca has no shortage of Mezcal tasting experiences. Mezcal comes from the Aztec word Mexcalli, meaning oven-cooked agave, which is verbatim what this smokey alcohol is.

This ancestral drink actually predates tequila, with the first written record of the sacred alcohol dating back a few centuries. The Mezcal that I’ve sampled in Oaxaca is so smooth that it doesn’t produce the scrunched-up, grossed-out face usually made from trying bad alcohol.

You can find Mezcal almost everywhere in Oaxaca, from the city center to the beach towns and the thick forest pueblos. Most people visit Mezcalogia in the city to sample their first Mezcal but anywhere you try the smoked elixir in Oaxaca is guaranteed to be delicious.

As you take a Mezcal tour, try to keep in mind the tradition of the drink. The Maguey plant, also known as agave, has been a sacred staple in Mexico for centuries. When you try a shot of Mezcal, you are tasting cultural history.

Monte Alban Ancient Ruins

Marvel at the most impressive archaeological site in Oaxaca, complete with ancient temples and a Zapotec ballgame court.

The author McKenna Mobley posing at the top of one of the Monte Alban temples
Me, posing on top of one of the Monte Alban temples

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +529515167077 | Website | Hours: 9 am-3:30 pm daily | Entrance: 70 Pesos/ $3.59 | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Oaxaca just keeps getting better. Monte Alban is one of the major archaeological sites in Mexico and can be appreciated by history buffs and regular tourists alike. 

As an archaeology student myself, I’ve visited this grand site multiple times and cannot recommend it enough. This Zapotec metropolis dates back to the sixth century B.C. and extends over 4 miles in length with ancient temples, a ball court, an observatory, and canals.

Unlike other major ruins in Mexico, you can still climb the Monte Alban pyramids, one of the best reasons to visit the site. Unless you really know your Mesoamerican history, I recommend visiting Monte Alban with a guide to not miss out on the important information and cool facts only a local would know.

Oaxaca City Center

Explore Oaxaca’s main plaza shops, eateries, and special events like live music and dancing.

View of people enjoying the street of Oaxaca City Center with a small mural of a skeleton

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Also known as the “Zocalo,” the Oaxaca city center is a first-stop destination for tourists. Get to know Oaxaca by exploring its downtown area filled with local handicrafts, local traditional clothing shopkeepers, and wide-eyed tourists.

Oaxaca’s main square is laid out as a large plaza with shops and restaurants lining its perimeter. The colonial-style architecture alone is worth the visit, but the hustle and bustle of the major city center also make it prime people-watching terrain.

The Oaxaca Zocalo is the perfect place to taste some local Oaxaca treats, catch a mariachi band, or take a walking tour. If you need to bring souvenirs back home, this is the place to shop for them. I also recommend checking this area out after sundown, when the streets come to life with live music and dancing.

🛎️ Need a Hotel? The Iguana Hostel is my favorite choice for where to stay in Oaxaca. It’s close to the city center and is a great way to meet fellow travelers and backpackers. The open rooftop also offers a killer view of the sunset over the city.

Enjoy a Local Market

Be a part of the chaos of a small but jam-packed local market and try the fresh meat, cheese, and produce of the area.

View inside the busy local market with colorful buntings above
A photo I took inside the market at lunchtime

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: Typically 8 am-5 pm | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

There’s no better way to experience Oaxaca’s culture than visiting a local market. As a part of our recommended Mexico packing list, you will want to bring either an extra suitcase or a large backpack with enough room to bring some goods home from Oaxaca.

Never walk into a local Oaxacan market on an empty stomach because the sharp, enticing aromas hit the moment you walk through the entrance. From freshly slaughtered poultry to herbs and spices, pan dulce, fresh-made tortas, and more, Oaxaca markets always satisfy the taste buds.

This is also a great place to try fresh produce and local Mexican fruits like papaya, guava, sapote, chirimoya, and naranjilla. 

San Jose del Pacifico

Retreat to the mountains of Oaxaca to participate in a local ceremony or enjoy the solitude and fresh mountain air.

Panoramic view of the lush mountain landscape and blue sky
The crisp mountain air of San Jose del Pacifico

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +529581150071 | Website | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

San Jose del Pacifico is a mountain oasis with a particular reputation. Known as the birthplace of hongos, or magic mushrooms, most visitors to San Jose are either on a spiritual journey or in need of an off-grid mountain retreat.

This high-elevation Mexican mountain town was once home to Maria Sabina, a curandera, or medicine woman, who revolutionized magic mushrooms.

San Jose del Pacifico has become a tourist town since the globalization of knowledge about the special fungi but is still less visited than other tourist towns in Mexico like the beaches of Tulum and Cancun.

San Jose is not exclusive to only those seeking psilocybin. The mountain cabanas surrounded by dense pines and the soft coo of mountain chickadees are other major draws to the remote town.

I recommend hiking to San Mateo Rio Hondo or indulging in an indigenous temazcal ceremony to maximize your leisure time in San Jose del Pacifico.

Museo de las Culturas

Learn about past and present Oaxacan cultures, traditions, and belief systems.

A traditional Oaxacan wood art piece with a colorful painted design
A traditional Oaxacan wood art piece displays an Abuela cooking traditional food from scratch

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +529515162991 | Website | Hours: 10 am-3 pm Tuesday-Friday, Closed Saturday-Monday | Entrance: 70 Pesos/ $3.59 | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Oaxaca and culture are synonymous. The Museo de las Culturas, or museum of cultures, showcases the unique cultures and traditions of this notoriously decorative state.

Located in an old monastery building near the Templo de Santo Domingo, the museum emphasizes both past and present Oaxacan cultures and the Hispanic influences on the region’s food, medicine, and art.

Experience local treasures through the illustrative displays of silver, turquoise, gold, jade, and other local precious stones as well as worked ancient bones and relics from the nearby Monte Alban site.

The museum also houses an on-site library with over 30,000 titles in multiple languages. The serene environment of this Oaxacan establishment is the perfect place to spend an idyllic afternoon in town and gives the best museums in Mexico City a run for their money.

Street Art Tour

Photograph contemporary art, cultural murals, and political pieces on the walls around town.

A wall with a colorful mural of the diverse culture of Oaxaca
One of many Oaxaca street murals highlighting the diverse culture of the state

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Roaming the romantic streets looking for cool street art is one of the best things to do in Oaxaca. Put in a few thousand steps and you may just discover both two-dimensional satirical murals and three-dimensional cultural displays lining the city streets.

The papel picado (colorful paper flags) stringed between low-rise houses and above the cobblestone streets of residential Oaxaca neighborhoods give the city a colorful exuberance and the individualistic street art around the city contributes to its character.

Looking for interesting murals around the city is the best way to discover hidden gems and brick-and-mortar panaderías during your search. Some of my favorite pieces can be found on Calle Jose Lopez Alavez but art seeps through every corner outside of the Oaxaca city centro

Day of the Dead Celebrations

Witness one of the largest celebrations in Latin America with city-wide parades and cemetery altars honoring the dead.

A tribute exhibit to Día de Los Muertos displayed inside an Oaxacan museum
A tribute exhibit to Día de Los Muertos I saw in an Oaxacan museum

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: Seasonal, end of October-beginning of November | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Día de Los Muertos is the most celebrated Mexican holiday. Traced back to Aztec origins, this celebration of the dead honors those who’ve passed on in elaborate, paper-mache ways.

Celebrations of the day of the dead take place all throughout October until the beginning of November although the traditional celebrations are from October 31-November 2 (with some variations from family to family). 

Oaxaca sees its most tourists at this time and for good reason. The cemeteries are drowned in marigolds, candles, commemorative altars, and food offerings for deceased loved ones. There are even traditionally-dressed skull dancer parades throughout the city during the festive celebrations.

This is the best time to visit Mexico for travelers interested in photography or who enjoy cultural celebrations.

Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca

Take a relaxing stroll through a cactus-dense garden in the heart of town.

View in the botanical garden with different plants and cacti
The botanical gardens display only local Oaxacan plants

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +529515165325 | Website | Hours: 8 am-3:30 pm Monday-Saturday, Closed Sundays | Entrance: 50 Pesos/ $2.57 | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

This botanical garden is adjacent to the Templo de Santo Domingo and is the best way to escape busy tourist crowds on the weekends. This small slice of nature contradicts the surrounding metropolitan space of Oaxaca city and represents the ancient concept of duality.

Once a monastery overrun by the military, the Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca is a symbol of Mexico’s challenging history. The endemic display of local Oaxacan flora gives visitors a lesson in the natural history of the unique desert state.

The garden was designed by local artists, inspired by pre-Hispanic art and architecture. Bring a journal into the gardens, sit for a while, and contemplate a bit in the company of sacred Oaxacan cacti.

Templo de Santo Domingo

Enjoy the Baroque-style architecture of an old convent and photograph the vibrant interior.

Façade of the historic church of Templo de Santo Domingo with cacti around
The front facade of the historic church

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +529515163720 | Website | Hours: 7 am-1 pm, 4 pm-7:30 pm daily | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Historically used as a convent, this church is a major landmark in Oaxaca. Its inviting, outstretched plaza is lined with agave plants and welcomes church-goers and intrigued tourists alike.

The Baroque-style facade of Templo de Santo Domingo houses gold-plated reliefs and statues in the interior, illuminated by the sunset during evening masses. If you internet search Oaxaca, the odds are very high that the historic Templo de Santo Domingo will be among the top photos shown.

This establishment also houses the cultural museum and botanical gardens. A visit to the church grounds is likely to take up an entire afternoon, so be sure to eat a hearty breakfast before you explore this holy sanctuary.

Colorful Architecture

Take photos of what makes Oaxaca so unique- its bright streets and artful houses.

View of the artful and colorful houses and colorful buntings hung above in the street of Oaxaca
Papel picado lines most cobblestone streets in Oaxaca Mexico

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

One of the biggest draws to Oaxaca is its spirited architecture. Splashes of color illuminate the papel picado-lined streets, a tribute to the lively local culture.

Almost as fun as going on a street art hunt, finding the most energetic streets in town is one of the top things to do in Oaxaca. The buildings alternate between colors of the rainbow, a sight that’s certainly not seen in the U.S.

Every photo taken in Oaxaca is a colorful one. Not only do the brightly-colored buildings give this town a warm atmosphere, but the affectionate demeanor of the local people, the live music serenading each street, and the sweet scent of warm chocolate all contribute to the city’s bright aura.

Sierra Norte Hiking

Hike along a lesser-known path through the hills of the Oaxacan backcountry.

Overlooking view of the town from the Sierra Norte viewpoint with cacti in the foreground during sunset
A photo I took of the small pueblo below as I climbed higher up the hillside

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +529515148271 | Website | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Sightseeing, eating, and dancing are the top things to do in Oaxaca but don’t forget to check out the countryside for a complete tour of the state.

Hiking in the Sierra Norte Mountain range is one of my favorite things to do in Oaxaca. You are almost always guaranteed to be free from other tourists in the rolling Mexican hills above the agave farms.

One of the most popular hiking routes in Oaxaca is the Pueblos Mancomunados hike, a tour of 6-8 small indigenous villages throughout the Oaxacan countryside. This overnight adventure is best done with a tour guide to avoid getting lost, which is a top tip for Mexico.

Most smaller day hikes in the Sierra Norte range are doable as a solo adventure. 

Ice Cream 

Satisfy your sweet tooth with a refreshing cone of traditional Oaxacan ice cream.

A closeup look of a hand holding an ice cream in a cone in the middle of an empty street
My Oaxacan ice cream, or nieve, was tuna and lime flavored

📍 Google Maps | Website | Entrance: Average ice cream: 30-40 Pesos / $1.50-$2 | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

It’s no secret that Oaxaca is known for its local cuisine. From mole to Tlayudas and traditional hot chocolate, it seems as if every concocted food item from Oaxaca becomes a famous treat.

Oaxacan food doesn’t stop at savory. Known by the local community as nieves, the sweet treats are more like ice, similar to a snow cone or sherbert. The fruit-flavored nieves represent Oaxacan culture and the utilization of the local produce.

My favorite Oaxacan ice is the tuna flavor; the pink fruit on top of prickly pear cacti. You can find these unique desserts everywhere in Oaxaca without even asking. You don’t want to leave the Oaxaca state without sampling this sugary staple.

Double-Decker Bus Tour

Go for a ride on an open-air bus to get to know the city more in-depth.

View of an empty street with colorful buntings hung above
The colorful back streets of Oaxaca 

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Normally I would stray away from an activity that’s so obviously touristic while traveling, but exploring Oaxaca city via bus is one of the best things to do in Oaxaca.

Catch a bus in the Oaxaca city main square and explore the huge town without expending any energy. I recommend getting a spot on the top so you can see the city with 360-degree views but bring a sunhat to avoid a sunburn.

The double-decker bus tour takes you to the most important spots in town like the historic center, the political Reforma area, and to small barrios on the outskirts of town.

Puerto Escondido

Bathe in the cooling Pacific Ocean waters with a trip outside of Oaxaca City to the coast.

Aerial view of the stunning Playa Carrizalillo beach and the lush green island
The stunning Playa Carrizalillo beach in Puerto Escondido

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

This beach town is located in the state of Oaxaca but is nearly 7 hours away from Oaxaca City. This is one of the best things to do in Oaxaca for travelers who have an extensive Mexico itinerary.

Puerto Escondido is a Pacific Ocean beach town with killer beach views and an even more popular nightlife scene. You can drink a beer and play pool right on the sandy beach in Puerto Escondido.

This is a top destination for backpackers in Mexico, so you are likely to make many friends if you stay at a hostel in Puerto Escondido. The most scenic beach in this area is Playa Carrizalillo (pictured above). 

Trip to Mazunte

Experience Oaxaca’s hippie town along the coast.

A brown dog with a hat biting a coconut in the sand of Mazunte
My friend’s dog, Chulo, enjoys his beach coconut in Mazunte

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Mazunte is another one of my favorite things to do in Oaxaca. A bit under the radar, Mazunte has been rising in popularity over the last few years but still retains some of its local mystique. 

Known among locals as a “hippie beach town,” Mazunte embodies a free spirit and attracts individuals with that same mentality. You will find yoga centers, smoothie bowls, and dreadlocked surfers in the small Mazunte town.

The best activity in Mazunte is hiking to Punta Cometa, a rock viewpoint, for the sunset. This short but steep climb takes visitors to a high point in town on a cliff towering over the water. During full moons, you may stumble upon a drum circle at the top of the lookout, so bring your maracas if you have them!

👉 Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for an esquites vendor on the far right side of town by the bridge during dusk. This is one of the most delicious treats in Mexico, similar to street corn on the cob but in a cup.

Temazcal Ceremony

Get to know local Oaxaca customs and the indigenous culture with this unique ceremony.

A closeup look at the animal skeletal horn at the Temazcal Ceremony
A photo I took of the ceremonial offerings

📍 Google Maps | Website | Entrance: Ceremonies vary between 400-1,000 Pesos/ $20-50 | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Temazcal ceremonies are not easy to come by. Traditionally an indigenous practice, Temazcales are native to the Americas and are practiced as a healing medicine.

Everyone is welcome to participate in Temazcal ceremonies, which are frequently held throughout the state of Oaxaca. There’s no better way to acculturate to a place than participating in some of its local traditions. 

The ceremony is similar to a sweat lodge but with traditional instruments and songs. The ceremony uses hot coals from the fire to create smoke in the lodge to promote a trance-like state among the participants.

This traditional practice is a great way to get to know the indigenous Oaxacan culture but should be regarded as a ceremony, not an attraction.

Teotitlán del Valle

Buy high-quality wool handicrafts from this small pueblo, the most popular artisanal goods in the state.

The author McKenna Mobley posing on a bright light blue iron chair near the handcrafted Oaxacan textiles shop
Me, posing next to some beautifully handcrafted Oaxacan textiles

📍 Google Maps | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Welcome to the land of local textiles. No region in Oaxaca creates such beautifully-crafted wool textiles as Teotitlán del Valle, located in the Oaxaca Valley less than an hour outside of town.

This is one of the best day trips from the major city and, if you can, wait to buy handicrafts until you get to this unique pueblo. The quality of the bags, scarves, wallets, and tapestries is unmatched anywhere else in the country.

Besides meeting warm locals and shopping for one-of-a-kind artisanal pieces, there are also hiking trails accessible from this small town. Teotitlán del Valle is the perfect way to spend a day just outside of the city and is one of the best things to do in Oaxaca.

Mercado Benito Juarez

The author McKenna Mobley drinking a huge glass of papaya, mango, and pineapple smoothie inside the market
I’m drinking a huge, delicious papaya, mango, and pineapple smoothie inside the mercado

📍 Google Maps | Phone:+529515162352 | Website | Hours: 7 am-7 pm daily | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

The Benito Juarez market is one of the biggest and most abundant markets in Oaxaca. Not only will you find fresh ingredients for the week’s meals, but also complete restaurants inside the market at insanely affordable prices.

The market is between Las Casas and Aldama streets and is within walking distance of downtown Oaxaca city. The street food stalls in this market have Tlayudas, tamales, tejate (a delicious chocolate corn drink), mezcal, and a famous Oaxacan treat, chapulines– dried crickets.

🛎️ Need a Hotel? Here are some of the top hotels near the Mercado Benito Juarez. Just outside of the city center, you will get a better night’s rest staying in this zone.

Auditorio Guelaguetza

See Oaxaca from one of the town’s high points.

Overlooking view of Oaxaca from the top of Auditorio Guelaguetza
The view from the top of the auditorium

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free vista point | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Making the trudge up to this viewpoint is one of the best things to do in Oaxaca for a unique perspective of the major city. I’ve never been to an event inside of the auditorium but will always walk to this viewpoint each time I visit Oaxaca.

The huge white canopy at the edge of town can’t be missed. Its enticing grandeur pegs many tourists to climb steep Oaxacan hills to get to the vista point. Keep your eyes out for cool street art along the way and stop in the shade or at a local mercado for a cold drink on a hot summer day.

Textile Museum

A big mural of Frida Kahlo with the region's unique textiles
A mural of Frida Kahlo displaying the region’s unique textiles

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +529515011104 | Website | Hours: 11 am-8 pm Monday-Saturday, 11 am-6 pm Sundays | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Oaxacan textiles are distinguishable around the country. This free museum highlights the culture of the Mexican state through its patterns of textiles throughout the years. 

This small museum exhibits impressive, hand-crafted textiles and informs museum-goers about the process behind crafting such intricate designs. Differences between rural and urban artist styles are apparent but parallels can be drawn between Oaxacan textiles and the craft among other native Mexican cultures.

Because this museum is so small, it’s a good pastime activity to learn more about the Oaxacan people. This museum is right next to the cathedral, making it a convenient stop after visiting the grand church.

Txalaparta for Dancing

Dance well into the wee morning hours at this energetic nightclub in Oaxaca city.

The author McKenna Mobley with a man posing inside Txalaparta
Txalaparta is one of my favorite places to go dancing in Oaxaca

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +522025551212 | Hours: 1 pm-3 pm Monday-Saturday, 1 pm-2:30 am Sundays | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Travelers who don’t like dancing often find themselves busting a move in Oaxaca. I always have a fun time dancing in Txalaparta, one of the best establishments for dancing in the city that stays open late.

Although a stranger is likely to take your hand in the street and give you a twirl if there’s live music, Txalaparta is a great gathering place for a guaranteed fun time. It’s a great spot to meet locals and fellow travelers and get to know top Latin songs.

Located only 6 minutes walking from the Zocalo, this is the best place to go in Oaxaca city for dancing.

Cooking Classes

View of the colorful outdoor dining with people eating and chatting around

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +529512043992 | Website | Hours: 2:30 pm-8 pm Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, 9:30 am-3 pm Fridays, 9:30 am-3:30 pm Sundays, Closed Wednesdays & Sundays | Entrance: Package prices vary | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

If you’ve tried the delicious food in Oaxaca and are inspired to make your own, a cooking class is the perfect Oaxaca activity for you. Learn what flavors create famous Oaxacan dishes from a culinary expert during a multi-hour culinary experience.

Some cooking classes will even take you to the food market to buy fresh ingredients first-hand before you start the cooking process. I highly recommend this activity as one of the best things to do in Oaxaca because you can take this skill back home with you and showcase it to your loved ones.

If you’d rather sample all the best foods of Oaxaca instead of trying to cook them, then a food tour might be a better option for you. Stroll the streets of the city center, following the most delicious aroma of freshly cooked treats with the aid of a professional.

Try the Hot Chocolate

A closeup look at a locally and traditionally made hot chocolate

📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Did you know that chocolate comes from Latin America? If you’ve never tried Latin cacao, you’re in for a delicious treat. Out of the 30 different countries I’ve been to, Oaxacan hot chocolate is some of the best I’ve ever tried.

You can find this delicious drink in the local markets or made fresh from a street food vendor anywhere in town. You won’t be able to drink any other hot chocolate once you’ve tried the thick, rich taste of Oaxaca chocolate.

I recommend trying the tejate drink- a corn and chocolate beverage that can be served either hot or cold. Champurrado is another yummy oat and chocolate drink that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and fill you up. 

FAQs About What to Do in Oaxaca

Is Oaxaca worth visiting?

With so many things to do in Oaxaca, you will be hesitant to leave this vibrant state. From cooking classes to waterfall hikes, cobblestone pueblos, and live music lining every street, Oaxaca is every bit worth the visit.

How many days do you need for Oaxaca?

There is an overwhelming number of things to do in Oaxaca, so you will need at least 3 days to explore the area. 7-10 days is preferred to explore all regions of the huge state but you can see most of Oaxaca city in 3 days.

How do you spend a day in Oaxaca City?

Spend your morning with a fresh cup of coffee and warm bread from a local panadería right outside of the Templo de Santo Domingo. Next, explore the grand church, its cultural museum, and the botanical gardens. Try a Tlayuda for lunch then take a bus to Mitla to see the world’s biggest tree, El Tule. Listen to live music at night to complete your perfect day in Oaxaca city.

What is the #1 attraction in Oaxaca?

The Oaxaca Cathedral is the #1 attraction in Oaxaca. This grand church is the perfect place to take photos in Oaxaca and marvel at its unique architecture.

📅 Read Next: When is the Best Time to Visit Oaxaca?


Now that you’re up-to-date with the best things to do in Oaxaca, you’re ready to pack your suitcase and start exploring! Check out our helpful guide on Mexico travel insurance before you travel.

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