72 Hours in Oaxaca City

Photo by Anna Bruce

December 11th, 2019

Words by Sable Massingill

Located in southwestern Mexico, with varied landscapes, from mountains to untouched beaches, the state of Oaxaca has an unparalleled magic that draws visitors in from across the world. Home to more indigenous groups (16) than any other state in Mexico, the area is rich in cultural crafts, weaving and traditional dishes. Explore its UNESCO world heritage site capital – Oaxaca City, a centrally located and gorgeous cultural hub.

 

Know Before You Go

After flying into the Oaxaca City airport, there is a taxi line for authorized pickups with set rates to your hotel. There is no Uber or ride share available, but most everything within the city center is walkable (and the best way to experience it). For longer trips, there will be taxis you can use to get from point A to Point B.

 

Even though Oaxaca City is not a coastal location the sun can be intense! Don’t forget your sunglasses, and we recommend wearing a hat and sunscreen at all times. Bright colors and fun attire are always a good idea, but it’s best to dress somewhat conservatively. Comfortable walking shoes are a must on the cobbled streets of the city.

 

The nights can be chilly because of the surrounding mountains, so remember to pack a wrap or light sweater. You can never go wrong by buying one of the many beautiful woven rebozos available at the market for evenings too.

Photo by Paula Harding

Photo by Anna Bruce

Stay

Grana B&B is a recently opened bed and breakfast situated in the heart of the city. When you step inside the colonial style home, it will be hard to believe that it was abandoned for thirty years before it was renovated as a b&b. Now, it’s alive with design-led rooms (artisan pillows, chairs and light pendants), plant-filled and open-air courtyards, communal kitchens with gorgeous tiles, and thoughtful touches down to the customized all-natural hand soaps. However, the star of the show may be the concrete bathtubs….

 

Casa Antonieta is a beautiful boutique hotel situated around a gorgeous open courtyard in one of the first buildings ever built in Oaxaca. Bridging the original architecture such as stone walls with modern amenities means each of the six bedrooms in the hotel features a cloud like couch, gorgeous wall tapestries, and local artisan touches. A continuation of the gorgeous and calming space is Muss Café, the adjoining spot for coffee, tea and morning pastries.

 

In late November 2019, Grupo Habita (the same group behind the gorgeous Hotel Escondido and numerous other popular Mexican stays) opened a new hotel in Oaxaca City – Escondido Oaxaca. We can’t wait to stay there and have been drooling over the impeccable minimalist design on Instagram. There’s no doubt that this will become a new haven in the historic part of the city.

 

For those, that would like to venture a little bit outside of the city, book a stay via Airbnb at Casa Mosca, the entire property (6 bedrooms) is available for rent complete with a gorgeous pool, making it the perfect spot for group celebrations. Individual rooms are also available in this design centric home.

Photo by Anna Bruce

Photo by Sable Massingill

Photo by Anna Bruce

Eat

There is no bad food in Oaxaca City. Trust us, it’s known as Mexico’s culinary capital for a reason. That being said there are new spots popping up all the time, with no shortage of places to try. The below are a few of our staples.

Boulenc – No guide to Oaxaca is complete without a mention of this ultimate café and bread experience, that has something for everyone.

 

Cactus Loncheria – With only one table to be shared by all, this vegan-friendly lunch cafe is tiny, but bursting with deliciousness. On the menu is a variety of made to order toasts, sandwiches, coffee and juices.

 

Hierba Dulce – What started as a meeting space for cultural and feminist events has since evolved into a very popular, creative and plant-based restaurant.

 

Maguey y Maiz – Located in a dreamy little patio, this relatively new to the scene spot embodies all of the smoky and intense flavors Oaxaca is known for. Be sure to order the shrimp risotto dish.

 

Pitiona – A unique fusion restaurant with a seriously beautiful rooftop view of Santo Domingo church. Go for the tasting menu and be surprised!

 

To satisfy your sweet tooth, Mama Pacha Chocolate is a must. Visitors can see first-hand how cacao is made from bean to bar at this artisanal chocolate factory and shop.

 

Try some traditional Oaxacan specialties like tejate, a pre-historic drink made of cacao and maize that takes over 6 hours to make, Chocolate de agua and chapulines (grasshoppers) in the food market, Mercado 20 de Noviembre.

 

Aside from the food, Oaxaca is the birthplace of mezcal. Made from agave, this centuries year old spirit is smoky, meant to be sipped, and takes a long time to produce. We recommend visiting a distillery, such as Mezcal Real Minero to see the traditional ways of making this spirit. For some mezcal tasting room options in the city head to Sabina Sabe, La Mezcalerita, or Archivo Maguey.

While nightlife is somewhat limited, Txalaparta always has a fun dance party on their rooftop during the weekends. One of the oldest dive bars in the city, Cantina Salón de La Fama has an old-world cantina vibe and is definitely worth stopping in.

Photo by Anna Bruce

Do

When you’re not swooning over the colors, architecture and energy of the city, below are a few spots to check out.

 

Hierve el Agua – A gorgeous mineral pool and petrified waterfalls make up this gorgeous natural land formation.

 

Tule tree – The world’s widest tree is located just outside the city on the way to Mitla, a beautiful archaeological ruin site.

 

Ex-Hacienda San Antonio – A 400-year old hacienda turned spa and hotel. Say no more. This place is impeccable, beautiful, and the perfect relaxation getaway 45 minutes outside of the city. Opt for a temazcal (a traditional cleansing ceremony) and massage, then spend the rest of the day lounging by the pool.

 

The Coast – Venture down the state (6-7 hours) in a car or bus or hop on a quick (and very small) Aero Toucan flight for some beach time in Puerto Escondido, a laid-back surfer town. One hour further is Mazunte, another hidden beach town gem.

Photo by Paula Harding

Shop

Lanii Gifts – The three friends behind this brand work directly with artisans across Mexico and produce the most gorgeous ceramics, bags, accessories and more.

 

Virmanik – An all-natural wellness and skincare boutique that is full of made in Mexico brands. From facial serums and beard creams, to a handmade Copal oil (a resin made in Mexico that is seriously soothing and used in sacred ceremonies) there is something wonderful and for everyone in this mother-daughter owned shop.

 

Teottitlan del Valle – This small village (around 45 minutes outside of the city) is famous for its textiles and weavings. If you are interested in purchasing a rug, this is the place. For an immersive artisan-focused tour of Oaxaca and this area contact Thread Caravan.

 

Mercado Benito Juárez – Hats, boots, pet accessories, baskets and textiles galore. Get ready to spend some time browsing the colorful stalls at this daily market.

Photo by Sable Massingill

Photo by Anna Bruce

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