Oaxaca Mexico Travel Guide

Oaxaca Mexico Travel Guides
A Vagabond Life

Oaxaca Mexico Travel Guide A Vagabond Life

Oaxaca Mexico Travel Guide explores the southern mountain city of Oaxaca giving you the top things to see and do, how to get there and much more.

Oaxaca (pronounced HA-WA-CA) is in south-western Mexico and is the capital of the region of Oaxaca. The area has a diverse and very long history with evidence of human habitation dating back 11,000 years found in the nearby Guila Naquitz cave near the town of Mitla. Named a UNESCO World Heritage site is 2010 for having the earliest known evidence of domestic plants on the continent. By 2000 BC agriculture had been established in the area with corn, beans, chocolate, tomatoes, chillis, squash and gourds being grown for consumption.  The diet remained the same until the Spanish conquest.

Zapotecs and Mixtecs lived in the central valley as far back as the 12th century. The Zapotecs gained dominance over the region with the centre of the people being Monte Alban which flourished from the years 500 BC to 750 AD . At its height of power Mount Alban had a population of 25,000 people.

In 1457 the Aztecs invaded and took rule, a rule that only lasted 30 years before the Spanish Conquest took place.

Lured by the promise of gold the Spanish lead by Hernan Cortes arrived in Mexico in 1519, within two year Cortes had over thrown the Aztec Empire. In Oaxaca the few natives who survived the invasion returned to remote villages and a substance lifestyle.

In Oaxaca beautiful homes were built in the Spanish colonial style for the Spaniards moving to Mexico which today make up the majority of buildings in the old centre of the town.

Today Oaxaca is a beautiful city that has a great deal to offer visitors. Discover this lovely city with the Oaxaca Mexico Travel Guide.

Oaxaca Mexico Map Table of Contents

Oaxaca Mexico Map
Oazaca Mexico Travel Guuide Placeholder
Oazaca Mexico Travel Guuide

Things To See & Do In Oaxaca Mexico

Catedral Santo Domingo de Guzmán

Oaxaca Templo
Catedral Santo Domingo de Guzmán – Oaxaca Mexico Travel Guide
 The Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzman in Oaxaca was built in the New Spainish Barogue style with construction starting in 1551 by the Dominican Order and inaugurated in 1608, it was not fully finished until 1724.
The church and adjoining convent were occupied by both the royalist army and the Insurgent army during the Mexican War of Independence (1810 – 1821) then by the centralist and federalists. During this time the alter piece was destroyed and many valuable art items were stolen. Catholicism was banned in 1866 and the church was not returned to the Catholic Church until 1902.
Inside you will find beautiful ornate ceilings and a stunning alter piece that was restored in1959.

Museo de las Culturas

Museum of Culture Oaxaca
Museo de las Culturas – Convent of San Pablo of Oaxaca – Oaxaca Mexico Travel Guide

The Convent of San Pablo of Oaxaca joins the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzman and served as a convent, it is a stunning buildings of soaring ceilings, arches, courtyards and fountains. Building commenced at the same time as the temple next door in 1551 and like the church took many years to complete. The convent was destroyed by earthquakes in 1603 and 1604 and rebuilt to the style that is seen today.  Over the years the former convent has been a regional language centre, a military barracks, the Institute of Sciences and Arts,  an hotel and a covered parking. It was rescued in 2006 and the restoration process began.

Today is a cultural museum showcasing artifacts from the region and documenting the history of the area. Posiibly the most important exhibition is that of the artistic objects discovered by in Tomb 7 of Monte Alban, belonging to the Mixtec Culture.

There is an entry fee to enter the museum.

Botanical Gardens of Oaxaca

Oaxaca Gardens
Botanical Gardens of Oaxaca
Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca – Oaxaca Mexico Travel Guide

The Botanical gardens of Oaxaca are attached to the convent and example of Oaxaca’s biodiversity, particularly its cacti variations. The gardens were saved from having an hotel built on it and developed in to the existing garden by Oaxacan artist Francisco Toledo opening in 1998.

The gardens can only be accessed by a guided tour.

Plaza de la Constitución (Zolcalo)

Oaxaca Zocalo
Plaza de la Constitución (Zocalo)

The Plaza de la Constitución, or Zócalo, originally planned in 1529 has be re designed many times over the years to arrive at what one see today, a shady oasis surrounded on two side by colonnaded arcades filled with restaurants and stores. The very impressive Oaxaca Cathedral –  the  Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption – sits at one end on the Zocalo and the Museo del Palacio ‘Espacio de Diversidad at the other.

The Oaxacan people love to gather in the square, sit in the shade, eat ice – cream and catch up with friends and family. Visit the Zocalo on a Sunday or any evening and you will find it busy with families enjoying their time off, street traders, visitors, entertainers and much more.

Markets of Oaxaca

Oaxaca Markets
Oaxaca Makets
Oaxaca Makets
The Markets of Oaxaca

Oaxaca markets are a vibrant experience full of local colour and life.

The three main markets in Oaxaca are;-

Mercado 20 de Noviembre (Market 20 November)

Famous for the Pasillo de Humo or Hall of Smoke which is a hall full of vendors BBQ’ing meat. Its is crowded, noisy with vendors spruiking their restaurants and as the name suggests full of smoke. It is also a delicious place to enjoy freshly cooked meats with accompanying salads and salsa. You will also find in Market 20 November numerous other food stall where you can sit and enjoy local dishes and very reasonable prices.

Mercado Benito Juarez

Named for Mexico’s indigenous Zapotec leader Benito Juarez (1806 -1872). This is the place to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry plus dried legumes chillis, herbs and so on. While here try the local delicacy of grasshoppers.

Mercado de Artesanias de Oaxaca – Artisans Market

Head to the Artisans Market for arts and crafts made by local and indigenous artists. Products available include hand embroidered clothing, hand crafts, pottery, art and much more.

Oaxaca Mexico Travel Guide

Monte Alban

Monte Alban
Monte Alban
Mont Alban Mexico
Monte Alban Oacaca Travel Guide

Monte Alban sits on a low mountian range over looking the city of Oaxaca in the Mexican central valley region. It is one of the most important archaeological zones in Mesoamericaca and one of the the most significant archeological site in the Oaxaca Valley

Founded by the Zapotec in the 6th century it grew to be their capital for thirteen centuries between 500 B.C and 800 A.D. As the Zapotec culture declined in the fourteenth century, areas of Mount Alban became occupied by the Mixtec peoples.

The site sits on over 6 square kilometres and includes impressive architectural remains that include the structures built around the Great Plaza, pyramids, terraces and platforms.

The first explorations and restorations of the archaeological zone started in 1938 by Alfonso Caso. It was Caso that discovered Tomb 7 which held one of the richest burial finds from pre-Columbian Mesoamerica ever found. Artifacts from tomdb 7 can be found in the Oaxaca Cultural Museum.

Monte Alban suffered severe damage in the 2017 earthquake with fifteen structures suffering structural collapse and many more needing emergency structural support.

The archaeological preservation of the site continues today.

How to get to Monte Alban Oaxaca
Guided Tour

There are numerous agencies located in Oaxaca who conduct guided tours, simply head to the Zocalo and find on of the agents who can talk you through the different options and costs.

Mini Van

If you prefer to wander the site without a tour you can take a mini van to and from Mount Alban. We used Lescas Tours who depart from their office in the Zocalo, drop you off at the site and collect you three hours later returning you to the Zocalo.


You can get a taxi to the site, the downside is there is not always a taxi there when you want to return and we witnessed many people waiting for taxi’s when we were there.

What to Take To Monte Alban Oaxaca

It can get very hot at Monte Alan so it advisable to take water and a hat, there is a cafe with a stunning view of the valley where you can have a meal and a cold drink.

Mexico Travel Stories