25 Spectacular & Best Places to Visit in Oaxaca State

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While Oaxaca City is the most popular destination in Oaxaca state, some of the best places to visit in Oaxaca stretch through the eight diverse regions. With a rugged and wild Pacific coastline, and magical mountain ranges in the north and south there are hidden treasures found throughout the entire state of Oaxaca.

Oaxaca Mexico is special and I’m not just talking about the magic and lure that attracts travelers to the UNESCO World Heritage Historical city center of Oaxaca de Juárez. Yes, Oaxaca city has it all, bustling markets boasting typical Oaxacan dishes, ruins from lost civilizations that are not mentioned as much as neighboring ruins of the Aztecs and Mayans, and charming cobblestone streets. The city has a pulse, a heartbeat, that keeps travelers here longer than expected and a magnet that pulls them back time and time again.

Fancy a hike through small communities? Want to take magic mushrooms or practice the sacred technique of a temazcal? Or maybe you want appreciate fascinating and crumbling Oaxaca ruins or visit a “pueblo magico?” Don’t forget all about the best Oaxaca beaches.

Here are over 25 of the best places to visit in Oaxaca State.

Contents

Table of Contents

Where is Oaxaca & Why You Should Visit

Oaxaca City, Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, mountains, things to do in oaxaca, oaxaca mexico, rooftop barOaxaca de Juárez is the capital of Oaxaca State Mexico

Oaxaca State is found in the south of Mexico. It is blessed with over 330 miles of coastline on the Pacific Coast. To the East, find underrated Chiapas State that shares a border with Guatemala. In the north, Oaxaca state borders Veracruz and to the northwest it shares a border with Puebla. To the west find Guerrero State.

Within Oaxaca State find eight very diverse regions with the best places to visit in Oaxaca. Oaxaca City is found in the Valles Centrales. Around Valles Centrales are the mountain regions of the Sierra Norte (North) and the Sierra Sur (South). The Pacific Ocean coastline is the Costa region. Before Chiapas State is the Istmo region. The Mixteca region is filled with the rich history of the Mixtec culture. The final two regions, Cañada and Papaloapan, share a border with Veracruz.

Oaxaca (pronounced waa·haa·kuh) Mexico is a must for travelers looking to seek a more authentic and real side of Mexico. In Oaxaca State, 16 Indigenous languages alone can be heard spoken throughout the Oaxaca region. There are still deep roots and connections of the Indigenous people and their traditions.

teotitlan del valle, artisan workshop, weaving, clothing, day trips from Oaxaca, Oaxaca to Mitla, artisan villages OaxacaWhat to see in Oaxaca: many artisan villages like Teotitlan del Valle that is famous for it’s weavers, especially rugs

The best way to see and experience this is to take a day trip from Oaxaca to many of the nearby artisan villages that are still practicing techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Wiith so much diversity, Oaxaca state is a must-visit Mexico destination. To make the most of your time, spend time in the city and throughout the state.

Now, with a little history of this diverse state, here are the best places to visit in Oaxaca city and Oaxaca state.

Discover Oaxaca City

papel picado, bright and colorful paper flags in Mexico, sky, building, Oaxaca cityOaxaca Mexico is a state full of colors, cultures, unique cuisine, and diverse beauty

Oaxaca city will probably be the starting point to discover all the best places to visit in Oaxaca state. There is a small, but efficient airport, a centrally located ADO bus station, and lots of collectivo and mini vans that make this region well connected to the rest of Mexico.

There are so many awesome things to do in Oaxaca city. Try to spend at least three full days here to get a better understanding and appreciate the richness of the city.

✈ Oaxaca Travel Planning | Awesome Things to Do in Oaxaca Mexico

Stroll the Oaxaca Historic Center

Oaxaca, best places to visit in Oaxaca, flowers, Oaxaca centro
Teatro Macedonio Alcalá, Oaxaca Theater, flags, buildings, Oaxaca city
Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Oaxaca Church, agave plant, sky, things to do in Oaxaca, best places to visit in Oaxaca,
Oaxaca Street performer | Teatro Macedonio Alcalá | Oaxaca’s main church Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán

A walk through the historic city center will more than likely include the towering and center stage church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán. Walk past the old aqueduct surrounded by colorful and car-free streets. Visit a colorful and diverse Oaxaca marketplace. Get lost in at least one of the whimsical barrios like Xochimilco, or hip Jalatlaco. Chill out in one of the lovely plazas, like Plaza de la Danza that is filled with a handful of ice cream shops.

Oaxaca has a fun and vibrant art scene. Culture can be found everywhere in the form of modern art galleries, street art, free museums, and street performers. Must-visit places in Oaxaca City include the Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca, Mercado Benito Juárez, and the historic Zocolo that is engulfed in historical buildings, filled with bustling restaurants, and home to multiple street vendors.

Sample Oaxacan Cuisine

tlayuda, tlayudas el negro, where to eat in Oaxaca, Oaxaca cuisine, meat, radish, juice, menu, table cloth, juice, condiments, best places to visit in OaxacaTlayudas El Negro is a popular spot to try a tlayuda, which is a staple of Oaxacan cuisine

What is Oaxaca known for? Besides the culture, Oaxaca boasts its own unique and rich cuisine. Indulge in a typical Oaxacan dish, like say a tlayuda that is kind of like a Mexican pizza with meat, Oaxacan cheese, refried beans, and all the dipping sauces.. Try at least one of the seven moles that Oaxaca is famous for. Don’t miss snacking on a memela, a fried masa cake slathered in pig lard and topped with goodies like Oaxaca cheese, beans, and additional toppings if you so desire. Trust me, don’t leave Oaxaca without diving deep into the cuisine.

Oaxaca is also known for their mezcal. The process is more like an art form that again has been passed down from generation after generation. It’s a labor of love and there are plenty of stunning rooftops, intimate tasting rooms, and Oaxaca restaurants to sip on a few.

🍽 Foodie Guide | Where to Eat in Oaxaca, 60+ Best Oaxaca Restaurants, Cafes, Coffeeshops, & More

Visit Oaxaca Markets

fruit, Oaxaca fruit market, apples, papaya, watermelon, grapefruit, bananas, One of the best places to visit in Oaxaca is simply a local market

One of the best places to sample Oaxacan cuisine is at one of the many bustling markets. Mercado Benito Juárez is the one of the busiest and most lively Oaxaca markets, and nearby Mercado 20 de Noviembre boasts tons of food stalls. For a truly local experience, visit Mercado de Abastos, where not many tourists venture to. Be mindful of your personal possessions here. Of course, each neighborhood has at least one busy marketplace. Oaxaca also has fantastic organic markets, like La Cosecha. In all serious, one of the best places to visit in Oaxaca is a local market.

Detailed Oaxaca Travel Guide | 13 Best Oaxaca Markets to Visit

Best Things to Do in Oaxaca Just Outside the City

There are multiple day trips from Oaxaca that are worthwhile. Some of the best places to visit in Oaxaca are just outside the city limits!

From incredible archaeological zones, stunning natural sites, and artisan villages, here are some must visit Oaxaca day trips.

Skip to | Huayapam | Cuilapam de Guerro | Santa Maria Atzompa | San Agustin Etla

Monte Alban | Monte Albán

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Monte Alban, ruins, stones, rocks, grass, things to do in Oaxaca, oaxaca day trips
Monte Alban, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Oaxaca ruins, pyramids, people, things to do in Oaxaca, Oaxaca day trips
One of the best places to visit in Oaxaca is just outside the city Monte Alban Archaeological Site

Don’t miss the Oaxaca ruins of Monte Alban, maybe the most popular day trip from Oaxaca city. This impressive Archaeological Site is also recognized as a UNESCO site due to the fact this hilltop zone was inhabited for over 1,500 by the three most prevalent Indigenous civilizations of the Oaxaca region: Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs. At its height, Monte Alban was one of the most important cities in Mesoamerica and was home to almost 35,000 people.

It’s easy to visit Monte Alban on your own or as part of an organized Monte Alban tour. The sprawling ruins offer informative signboards with chances to pass by tombs, wander ancient roads and gawk at unique structures. Climb up Platforma Sur to get some of the best views of these incredible Oaxaca ruins and the nearby valley. Monte Alban is one of the best places to visit in Oaxaca.

Monte Alban | Entrance Fee for Foreigners: 80 pesos ($3.75 USD) | Daily: 8:00 – 17:00 | Due to Covid, access is limited, try to arrive first thing in the morning

How To Reach Monte Albán as a day trip from Oaxaca

Monte Alban, Oaxaca ruins, stones, grass, sky, clouds, trees, things to do in Oaxaca, best Oaxaca day tripsMonte Alban is an easy day trip from Oaxaca City

Take a Monte Alban tour or hop on one of the direct busses from Oaxaca Centro. The Monte Alban ruins are only 8 kilometers from Oaxaca city.

Two companies in town offer direct shuttle buses to Monte Albán.

🚐 Lescas Co. Tours to Monte Alban | Roundtrip Cost: 100 pesos ($4.75 USD) | Shuttles drop off at Monte Alban parking lot and return to Oaxaca, 4 hours in total | Purchase tickets in the lobby of Hotel Rivera del Ángel, here | Verify which time slot you would like to leave | Tip: the first shuttle (9:00) will pick you up from your Oaxaca accommodation | Shuttles return to Oaxaca and drop near the Zocalo downtown

Another option is to take the tourist bus.

🚌 Touristic Buses to Monte Alban | Roundtrip Cost: 80 pesos ($3.75 USD) | Purchase tickets from near Hotel Rivera, here

Current Time Table for Touristic Buses

Note that Saturdays and Sundays, buses leave for Monte Alban every half hour

Departure Time for Monte AlbanReturn Time to Oaxaca9:0012:3010:0013:3011:0015:0012:0016:0013:0016:0014:0016:00

San Andrés Huayapam

San Andrés Huayapam, oaxaca hiking, things to do in Oaxaca, Oaxaca city view, mountains, trees, sky, clouds, what to do in Oaxaca, hiking in OaxacaSan Andrés Huayapam has hiking trails with superb views of Oaxaca city

Just outside of Oaxaca city is the small village of San Andres Huayapam, or simply called Huayapam. This little village offers some great Oaxaca hiking trails. Although it’s possible to reach via public transport, the trails are on the outskirts of the village in the nearby hillsides and are easiest to access via a car. Expect some seriously incredible views of Oaxaca city.

There are a few eco parks, like Ecoturistico Huayapam Park and Presas de Tlalixtac De Cabrera which have small entrance fees, but a few different hiking trails.

Luz de Luna, pictures, windows, San Andrés Huayapam, where to eat in Oaxaca, art, photos, lightsLuz de Luna serves up traditional dishes of Oaxaca in an artistic and bright space in San Andrés Huayapam

Huayapam has a beautiful Plaza and church. A great place to eat at is Luz de Luna, which boasts a beautiful dining area, outdoor seating, and a cozy bar that feels as if you’ve been transported to a secret cocktail bar in New York City. At Luz de Luna, find lots of typical Oaxacan dishes, their own mezcal brand, and a whimsical cocktail menu.

Want to sleep in the tranquility of Huayapam? Try Hotel Huayapam Yuu Spa or Casa Bi’cu

Cuilapam de Guerrero

10 kilometers from Oaxaca is the small village of Cuilapam de Guerrero. What makes this half day trip from Oaxaca so special is the unfinished Ex Monastery of Santiago Apóstol, a church that never would have its ceiling finished. This grand church was built by the Dominicans in 1550’s, with hopes of converting all the Indigenous communities of the Mixteca and Zapotecas to Christianity.

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Cuilapam de Guerro village, cactus, boy
Another great day trip from Oaxaca is to visit the village of Cuilapam de Guerro

In the 1580’s, construction came to a halt. There are two legends as to why the massive basilica was halted, one involving a legend with the devil himself, another of the pushback from the Indigenous communities. Their resistance so strong, the church was left unfinished. In reality, it was probably due to the lack of funding behind the mighty Ex Monastery of Santiago Apóstol.

The structure is fascinating and the main courtyard was meant to hold 20,000 people, the population of the surrounding areas in the 16th century. The building boasts murals that show both Indigenous and Christian components and is how the church tried to convert the native people.

Ex Monastery of Santiago Apóstol | Admission: 45 pesos ($2 USD) | Due to Covid, the interior is currently closed

Even if you can’t enter the Ex Monastery of Santiago Apóstol, you can still wander around the building and get a perspective of how large and important this building was. There is a nice plaza and main market. The town is small, but find plenty of food stands and local people enjoying the village.

How To Visit Cuilapam de Guerrero as a day trip from Oaxaca

Cuilapam de Guerro, Oaxaca day trips, signboard, building, park, trees, things to do in oaxacaEven if the monastery is closed, the village and main plaza of Cuilapam de Guerro are nice to visit

Buses and collectivos depart from Oaxaca to Cuilapan.

🚗 Cuilapam de Guerro Collectivos | One-way Fare: 13 pesos (60¢) | Collectivos depart frequently from next to Central de Abastos Market here | Duration: 20 minutes

Also, it’s possible to take a bus in the direction of Zaachila

🚌 Zaachila Buses | Company name: Zaachila Yoo, buses white with pink and purple markings | One-way Fare: 9 pesos (40¢) | Buses depart frequently from the Lineas Unidas mini bus station here | Duration: 35 minutes

Santa Maria Atzompa

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Santa Maria Atzompa, best places to visit in Oaxaca, pottery, building
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Santa Maria Atzompa is a village known for green pottery and is one of the best places to visit in Oaxaca

One of the best places to visit in Oaxaca for beautiful pottery is the artisan village of Santa Maria Atzompa. This small village creates unique pottery, especially of the vivid green coloring. However, you’ll find a wide rang of different styles and colors.

There is a main artisan market found in the center of town, which hosts many of the local artisans’ work. It’s possible to walk the small and twisting streets and visit the actual workshops and homes of the artisans.

Besides the beautiful pottery, Santa Maria Atzompa has its very own hilltop ruins a few miles out of town, which are free to wander about. The village has a charming plaza. If you’re visiting on a weekend, stop by the garden restaurant of Barbacoa de Borrego Jardines de Sofía, for you guessed it…. barbacoa!

How To Visit Santa María Atzompa as a day trip from Oaxaca

Santa Maria Atzompa church, oaxaca day trips, cross, flags, trees, plaza, things to do in OaxacaThe cute church of Santa Maria Atzompa

Collectivos depart frequently from Oaxaca to Santa Maria Atzompa. Once you’re in the village, if you want to visit the Atzompa ruins, you will need to flag down a moto, as it’s a little outside of town.

🚗 Santa Maria Atzompa Collectivos | One-way Fare: 10 pesos (50¢) | Collectivos depart frequently from close to Terminal Periferico here | Duration: less than 20 minutes

San Agustin Etla

Centro de las Artes de San Agustín, door, san agustin etla, design, oaxaca day trips
San Agustin Etla church, trees, clouds, oaxaca day trips
With an impressive cultural center, hiking trails, and a picturesque plaza, San Agustin Etla is a worthwhile Oaxaca day trip

San Agustin Etla is a popular village just outside of Oaxaca city in the This picturesque hamlet is known for the impressive Centro de las Artes de San Agustín. The village has access to a wide range of hiking trails in the mountains and nice welcoming plaza with a mountainous backdrop.

Best Places to Stay in Oaxaca City

best places to stay in oaxaca, casa montana oaxaca, coffee mug, mountain view, rooftop view, best places to visit in oaxacaMornings views from Casa Montaña Oaxaca, a short bus ride from downtown Oaxaca

There are a wide range of Hotels, hotels, apartments, and guesthouses in Oaxaca

➜ Browse the best hotels in Oaxaca City

  • Budget | Casa Montaña Oaxaca is a hidden gem oasis found just on the outskirts of Oaxaca. There are stunning rooftop views, clean spacious rooms, and self-sufficient apartments. Roci, the hostess goes above and beyond for her guests. Since it’s easily connected by bus, Casa Montaña is perfect for short or long stays in Oaxaca.
  • Budget | Azul Cielo Hostel is one of the most popular hostels in Oaxaca. Find large rooms, a nice garden space, friendly hosts, and breakfast included! The location is a few blocks from the hustle and bustle of centro, but there’s a large kitchen and the place has a bohemian vibe.
  • Midrange | Hotel Oaxaca Real is one of the most popular hotels in Oaxaca due to it’s prime time location, outdoor pool, and free parking. Hotel Oaxaca Real makes a perfect place to explore the many day trips from Oaxaca.
  • Luxury | Quinta Real Oaxaca stay in one of Oaxaca’s most beautiful building in the historical center of Oaxaca. This luxury accommodation in Oaxaca has it all from a pool, gym, gardens, and more.

Booking.com

Exploring Deeper in Valles Centrales Oaxaca

East Oaxaca Valley, Cerro Picacho, Valley of Oaxaca, Oaxaca to Mitla, Teotitlan del Valley, mountains, cloudsEpic views hikiing El Picacho in Teotitlan del Valle

Some of the best places to visit in Oaxaca are found in the beautiful Valles Centrales region. Many of these villages and places in Central Valley of Oaxaca are simple day trips from Oaxaca and are found in the East Oaxaca Valley or nearby.

➯ Detailed Oaxaca Travel Guide | Oaxaca to Mitla Discover the Rich East Valley of Oaxaca

Skip to | Tlacolula | Dainzu | Yagul | San Pablo Villa de Mitla | Hierve el Agua | Santiago Matatlan

Teotitlan del Valle street, flags, artisan village Oaxaca, day trips from Oaxaca, weaving village Mexico, car, plants
Zapoteca artifacts, Museo Comuunitario Teotitlan del Valle
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There are lots of diverse things to do in Teotitlan del Valle from museums, hikes, to artisan shops

Teotitlan del Valle

One of the best places to visit in Oaxaca is the charming village of Teotitlan del Valle. Teotitlan del Valle is known for their textiles, but more specifically their artisan rugs made with love by hand. Intricate rugs can take over 8 months to complete!

In the village, stroll through the charming streets and stop in at a few of the artisan workshops. The process of making the Zapotec textiles is an ancient weaving tradition that has been practiced over 1,000 years. Besides the artisan rugs, drop by Casa Viviana, who is making incredible beeswax candles from elaborate molds.

There’s a bustling main market and an informative Centro Cultural Comunitario Teotitlán del Valle. Don’t skip past the Museo Comunitario where you can purchase tickets to climb the sacred Cerro Picacho. This is one of the best Oaxaca hiking trails that offers spectacular views of the East Oaxaca Valley.

 🥾 Hiking Guide El Picacho | El Picacho Hike Fee: $25 pesos ($1.25 USD) | Out & Back Trail | Distance: 3 miles total | Excursion Duration: +/- 2.5 hours | Download the Free Cerro Picacho Map here

Foodies should have lunch at the famous Restaurante Tlamanalli, which is run by Abigail Mendoza and her sisters and known for their typical Zapoteca dishes.

➯ Detailed Travel Guide | Spend One Full Day in Teotitlan del Valle Oaxaca

➜ Browse the best Teotitlan del Valle Hotels and Guesthouses

Oaxaca Day Trip to Teotitlán del Valle

Teotitlan del Valle rugs, textiles, weavers in MexicoBeautiful artisan rugs in Teotitlan del Valle

🚌 Oaxaca to Teotitlán del Valle | Take any bus or collectivo heading in the direction of Mitla or Tlacolula | Exit on the main road to Teotitlán del Valle and flag down a Moto | Average Moto fare to village center: $10 pesos

Tlacolula

Tlacolula de Matamoros, or simply Tlacolua is known for its bustling Sunday Market. This is one of the best places to visit in Oaxaca to experience a truly authentic marketplace, which runs daily. However, the Sunday Tlacolula Market brings in over 1,000 vendors who setup and sell along the closed-off streets. 

Tlacolula, Tlacolula Market, Mercado Tlacolua, women, men, Oaxaca Valley
Tlacolula Market, vendors, fruit, best places to visit in Oaxaca, oaxaca markets
Barbacoa in Market Tlacolula, flags, people, Valley of Oaxaca, Sunday Market in Oaxaca
One of the best places to visit in Oaxaca Central Valley is the Tlacolula Market

This village has been a trading hub throughout the Zapotec Empire. Tlacolula is said to be the oldest and longest running continuous markets in Mesoamerica. In the market, don’t miss the alley of women selling barbacoa.

In Tlacolula, find a lovely plaza with a main church. There’s also a small square that sells ice cream and lots of outdoor tables, perfect for people watching.

How to Visit Tlacolula as a Oaxaca Day Trip

🚌 Oaxaca to Tlacolula | Take any bus or collectivo heading in the direction of Mitla or Tlacolula | Tlacolula has a bus terminal with buses to both Oaxaca and Mitla | Average Bus fare: $12 pesos (50¢ USD) | On Sundays the market begins as soon as you hop off the bus

More Oaxaca Ruins

While the Monte Alban Archaeological Site is the largest set of ruins in Oaxaca, there are plenty of other places to understand the Zapotec and Mixteca history in the Central Valley of Oaxaca.

Dainzu

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Dainzu ruins, Dainzu Archaeological Zone, best places to visit in Oaxaca, Oaxaca ruins, pelota court, grass, mountains, East Oaxaca Valley
Dainzu Archaeological Zone is almost a hidden-gem to visit in Oaxaca

One of the most underrated Oaxaca ruins can be found at the Archaeological Site of Dainzu. Find them right before the village of Teotitlán del Valle. Onsite, theses Zapotec ruins have a pelota field, a tomb with a jaguar over the entrance, and informative signboards. The views are spectacular and not many people visit Dainzu, so it’s the perfect sunset destination. For now, Dainzú Archaeological site is free to visit.

 🚌 Oaxaca to Dainzú | Take any bus or collectivo heading in the direction of Mitla or Tlacolula | Exit on the main road and then walk to the main entrance gate (3/4 of a mile)

Yagul

Yagul pelota court, Oaxaca ruins, Yagul Oaxaca Mexico, Zapoteca ruins, mountains, clouds, sky, things to do in Oaxaca StateYagul has one of the largest Juego de Pelota courts in Mexico

Located just after the Tlacolula village is the Yagul Archaeological Site. What makes this one of the best places to visit in Oaxaca is the well intact pelota ball court. This ball court is the largest in Oaxaca and only second to the one found at Chichén Itza. Yagul sees few tourists, but is a fantastic place to visit with detailed information boards about the history of this site. Nearby, find the UNESCO recognized and history filled Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla. Appreciate the epic views of the entire Tlacolula Valley.

Yagul Ruins | Cost: $75 pesos ($3.50 USD) | Hours: Sunday – Wednesday 10:00 -15:00 | Guide required a tour of the Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla

San Pablo Villa de Mitla

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Mitla Archaeological Zone, Mitla church, sky, what to do in Oaxaca
Mitla has one of a kind ruins that boast mosaic patterns and bright red coloring

San Pablo Villa de Mitla, or simply Mitla, is one of Oaxaca’s “pueblos magicos.” This village boasts the Mitla Archaeological Zone, a fusion of Zapotec and Mixteca cultures. This site is different than most Oaxaca ruins as it has unique mosaic patterns carved into the exterior of the stucco buildings. Notice the bright red coloring on many of the structures. The name translates to mean “place of the dead,” so there are many tombs here, too. The Spanish conquistadors came and eventually built a church on top of this sacred site.

Mitla Archaeological Zone | Cost: $75 pesos ($3.50 USD) | Hours: Wednesday – Saturday: 10:00 – 15:00, Sunday 11:00 – 13:00

Mitla also has many artisan shops, mezcal producers, and a cute and colorful Plaza.

🚌 Bus Oaxaca to Mitla | Average Cost: $22 pesos / Collectivos Oaxaca to Mitla | Average Cost: $40 pesos

Hierve el Agua

Mitla is also the gateway village to one of the best places to visit in Oaxaca, Hierve el Agua. The petrified waterfall, which names literally translates to “boiling water,” is located near the small communities of San Lorenzo Albarradas and San Isidro Roaguia. While this naturally beautiful place is one of the main Oaxaca attractions, it has been shut down due to turmoil between the communities and between the communities and the government.

More recently, the communities are slowly starting to reissue entrance to visit Hierve el Agua. Always confirm with the tourist information center to verify any road blocks or resistance. To reach Hierve el Agua, it’s a long ride on a dusty road and then a hike to the top of the petrified falls.

Hierve el Agua Waterfall Admission Fee: $50 pesos ($2.25 USD) | Verify that there are no road blockages or community disputes before booking a tour or visiting independently

Mezcal Tasting in Santiago Matatlan

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Mezcal Palenque, Santiago Matatlan mezcal capital, plants, building, sky, clouds, bushes, things to do in Oaxaca, oaxaca day trips
Visit a Palenque to understand the complexity behind each sip of mezcal

Mezcal is part of the Oaxaca culture. The distilling process and heart and soul that goes into Mezcal production is admirable. One of the best places to visit in Oaxaca is Santiago Matatlan, which is nicknamed the “Land of the Mezcal.”

Here, it is possible to visit the agave fields, and walk among the impressive plants that are used to make Mezcal. These plants are commonly referred to as “maguey” in Oaxaca State. In the village, stop at a Palenque, the actual place where the mezcal is distilled and produced. Many of these Palenques are still using ancient techniques.

The best part is sampling the varied Mezcals and tasting the labor of love that goes into the ancient process.

Psst.. I loved touring El Cortijo, which also has a lively tasting room, in downtown Oaxaca

Best Places to Visit in Oaxaca | Oaxaca Beaches

playa del amor zipolite, oaxaca beaches, best places to visit in oaxaca, umbrellas, people, waves, oaxaca coast, what to do in oaxacaOne of the best places to visit in Oaxaca are the charming beach towns. Pictured: Playa del Amor Zipolite Oaxaca

With over 330 miles of rugged coastline, the diverse Oaxaca beaches are special. Each little beach town has its own quirk of magic and special things to do. Many of the Oaxaca beaches are tranquil and not overly developed. From magic villages, natural beauty, and unique cultures, the best places to visit in Oaxaca State are along the coast. While many of these beaches are incredible, please note that due to rip currents and large waves, swimming is oftentimes discouraged. Look for the red flags that deters visitors from swimming. However, many of these beaches are home to surfers.

✈ Oaxaca Travel Planning | 5 Best Oaxaca Beach Towns and Stunning Oaxaca Beaches

Skip to | Mazunte | Puerto Escondido | Chacahua Oaxaca | Where to Stay in Oaxaca Beach Towns

Zipolite

Zipolite playa, Oaxaca beaches, best oaxaca beach towns, trees, sand, waves, buildings, sky, clouds, best places to visit in Oaxaca stateBare it all along the shores of Zipolite Playa, one of the best nude beaches in Mexico

Zipolite is a chilled out and relaxed beach town on the Pacific Oaxaca coastline. The main beach, Zipolite Playa stretches for miles with lots of restaurants, hostels, and camping spots. Zipolite is a popular nude beach and attracts many travelers and is super LGBT friendly.

Make sure to visit the little cove of Playa del Amor with two stalls serving cold beer. On the hilltop, catch a sunset near Vista Del Amor Restaurant, with panoramic views of the sandy coastline. At night, there’s a funky artisan market where you can purchase anything from jewelry to crepes. Zipolite has a diverse cuisine, with typical Oaxacan dishes, coffeeshops, sushi restaurants, and pizzerias.

How to Get to Zipolite from Oaxaca

Oaxaca beach towns, rocks, waves, pacific ocean, what to do in oaxacaA beautiful walk along the shores of Zipolite Playa

🚐 Oaxaca to Zipolite Collectivos Logistics | Catch Líneas Unidas in the direction of Pochutla in Oaxaca here: Bustamante 601, Centro | Pochutla has multiple collectivos that depart frequently to Zipolite | Collectivos depart for Pochutla daily, 24 hours a day, every 30 minutes | Current Departures Direct to Zipolite: Mon – Thur: 5:00, 9:40, 13:00, 18:30, 23:00 / Fri – Sun: 5:00, 10:20, 13:40, 20:00, 23:15 | One-Way Ticket Cost: $300 pesos($14.50 USD) | Duration: 7.5 hour | Check the most current schedule by messaging them on FB here

Mazunte

Mazunte is a laid back beach town and also the only Oaxaca coastal “pueblo magico.”

Oaxaca beaches, Mazunte, people, best places to visit in Oaxaca, pueblos magicosOne of the best beach towns in Oaxaca is Mazunte

The most popular thing to do in Mazunte is to hike the Natural Reserve of Punta Cometa. This cape jets out into the Pacific, so it’s the perfect spot to wake up with the world or catch a stellar sunset. Bonus, it’s completely free to visit. Punta Cometa was believed to have been used during Prehistoric times to make sacred offerings.

Besides visiting Punta Cometa, there are plenty of beaches to explore like the main Playa Mazunte, the small and scenic Playa Rinconcito, and finally, the deserted and wild Playa Mermejita.

While in the past, Mazunte was known for its turtle sanctuary, it has been closed since Covid. Nearby, it’s possible to visit the small community of La Ventanilla. Two of the communities are preserving this natural park where it’s possible to tour the lagoon filled with mangroves, crocodiles, iguanas, birds, deer, and other wildlife.

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Punta Cometa has lovely trails, small beaches, and is ideal to watch a sunrise or sunset

With a funky beach town vibe, there are plenty of ethnic restaurants, bakeries, and bars to enjoy while visiting Mazunte Oaxaca.

How to Visit Mazunte from Oaxaca

🚐 Oaxaca to Mazunte | Take the collectivos to Zipolite | In Zipolite, walk to the camioneta station here | Hop off in Mazunte | This stretch is under 4 miles and should cost no more than 15 pesos

Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido viewpoint, palm trees, buildings, best places to visit in Oaxaca state, mountains, skyPuerto Escondido has lots of beaches, cafes, restaurants, and connects to many of the popular Oaxaca beaches

One of the best places to visit in Oaxaca is Puerto Escondido. With it’s many diverse beaches, trendy places to eat, and a hub on the Oaxaca coastline, this seems to be where all the cool kids flock to. Puerto Escondido is a haven for surfers looking to ride some gnarly waves.

One of the most trendy spots in Puerto Escondido is La Punta. This beach is popular and can become packed at sunset. This Puerto Escondido beach offers a lot of different open concept bars, organic shops, night clubs, and restaurants in a condensed area. La Punta Playa is a popular spot for surfers, travelers, and digital nomads alike.

How to Get to Puerto Escondido from Oaxaca

Puerto Escondido is a popular spot on the Oaxaca coastline due to the fact that it runs a larger bus on less windy roads.

 🚌 ADO Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido Bus Logistics | Oaxaca ADO bus terminal: 5 de Mayo 1016 Ruta Independicia, Barrio Jalatlaco | Average One-Way Ticket Cost: $550 pesos ($26.50 USD) | Current Departure Times: 21:30, 22:30 | Duration: 10.5 hours | Book tickets here

Chacahua Playa

Lagunas de Chacahua, Chacahua Oaxaca, buildings, best beaches in Oaxaca, ocean, trees, lighthouse, sky, best places to visit in Oaxaca stateFor a truly rustic beach experience, visit Lagunas de Chacahua Oaxaca

One of the best places to visit in Oaxaca state is Chacahua. This no-frills villages has a unique Afro-culture and is found in National Park. Lagunas de Chacahua can be hard to reach, but it’s worth the effort.

The main beach, Chacahua Playa is lined with beach huts and cabanas that offer simple accommodation and places to pitch a tent. One of the best things to do in Chacahua is to simply unplug, relax, read, and lay in a hammock.

Since it has a larger breakwater, the waves aren’t as intense here and attract a wide range of surfers. Those more experienced surfers can ride massive waves beyond the jetty, which is also super fun to watch!

Travel Tip | There are no ATMS in Chacahua, plan accordingly. Most people end of staying longer than expected!

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From hikes to surf, Chacahua National Park is a rustic and special beach experience

There’s a nice little hike to the lighthouse, or El Faro. Technically, it’s closed, but everyone catches at least one sunset from here. There are places to practice yoga or get a massage. The food here is simple, but made with so much love, and the seafood is as fresh as it gets.

Chacahua Playa is still pretty disconnected from the internet, so you won’t find any accommodation online just yet. I camped at Terra Tipi for 50 pesos a night, but can be waived if you eat all your meals here. BTW they have excellent cheesecake and some of the best food on the beach. It’s best to show up and find a cabaña upon arrival. It’s smart to pack a tent just incase.

➯ Detailed Mexico Travel Guide | How to Reach Chacahua Oaxaca & What to Do There

Where to Stay in Oaxaca Beach Towns

Zipolite, best Oaxaca beach towns, beaches in Oaxaca, sunrise, Ocean, best places to visit in Oaxaca state, sunrise, beautiful beaches in Mexico, best places to visit in OaxacaSavoring an incredible sunrise from my room at Shambhala Vision in Zipolite Oaxaca

There are so many awesome options to stay along the Oaxaca Coast. Here’s different accomodations in the most popular Oaxaca Beach towns.

Zipolite

➜ Find the Best Places to Sleep in Zipolite

Mazunte

➜ Find the Best Places to Sleep in Mazunte

Puerto Escondido

➜ Find the Best Places to Sleep in Puerto Escondido

Best Places to Visit in Oaxaca | Sierra Sur

Hiking Sierra Sur, San Sebastian Rio Hondo, dog, pine trees, forest, trail, Oaxaca hikingTake a walk through the mystical forests of the Sierra Sur

One of the best places to visit in Oaxaca is to the South Mountains (Sierra Sur) and into the land Magic Mushrooms. This mountains ranges provides spectacular opportunities to go hiking, walk among magical forests, and participate in ancient ceremonies. This is one of the the best places to experience Oaxaca magic mushrooms and sit in a temazcal. 

Psst… Those interested in visiting the home of Maria Sabina, the powerful female shaman that helped re-introduce mushrooms as a healing medicine will have to visit Huautla de Jiménez, found in the Cañada region of Oaxaca State.

Skip to | San Jose del Pacifico | San Sebastian Rio Hondo | San Mateo Rio Hondo | Where to Stay in Sierra Sur Oaxaca

How to Visit Sierra Sur Oaxaca

San Jose del Pacifico viewpoint, Sierra Sur, best places to visit in Oaxaca state, vivelo sign, woman, mountains, clouds, miradorSan Jose del Pacifico is the access village to reach the southern Oaxaca Mushroom region

The gateway to this region lies in San Jose del Pacifico. There are multiple mini buses that depart from

🚐 Oaxaca to San Jose del Pacifico Collectivos Logistics | Catch Líneas Unidas in the direction of Pochutla in Oaxaca here: Bustamante 601, Centro | Pochutla has multiple collectivos that depart frequently to San Jose del Pacifico 24 hours a day, every 30 minutes | One-Way Ticket: $150 pesos ($7.25 USD) | Duration: 3.5 hours

Many people leery of the mini vans that head to Zipolite will break up the long trip to the coast with a night or two in San Jose del Pacifico. If you wish to visit the nearby smaller towns, simply catch a collectivo, flag down a moto or taxi, or take a hike!

💬 Real Talk | These small buses twist through the mountains and are sometimes called “vomit comets,” if you get motion sickness it’s best to take some Dramamine before the ride

San Jose del Pacifico

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Discover the magic of the Sierra Sur from San Jose del Pacifico

San Jose del Pacifico is becoming one of the more popular places to visit in Oaxaca. Not only does the village provide some great opportunities to go hiking in Sierra Sur and mushroom foraging, but it also is the halfway point between Oaxaca city and the coastline and the best Oaxaca beaches. However, one of the best things to do in San Jose del Pacifico is to simply relax and savor the natures and views.

Besides hiking, San Jose del Pacifico is becoming a popular place to dabble in the healing powers of Magic Mushrooms. During the rainy season, which usually lasts from July to October, there will be an abundance of fresh mushrooms.

Technically, mushrooms are a gray area, but are not specifically regulated in this area. For example, you can literally purchase hallucinogenic mushrooms on your credit card. Oftentimes it’s possible to sit in a healing ceremony with a shaman. Otherwise, experienced “travelers” can find a spot in the magical pine forest and take a journey outside their consciousness.

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Sacred Ceremonies are abundant in the Sierra Sur, from sweating it out in a temazcal to taking Magic Mushrooms

➯ Detailed Travel Guide | San Jose del Pacifico Oaxaca: Magic Mushrooms, Mountains, & More

San Jose del Pacifico is also one of the best places to visit in Oaxaca to sit in a traditional temazcal, a sweat lodge that honors the elements, four directions, and our ancestors. Many of these ceremonies are self-guided but can include a “limpia,” or cleansing of your soul before entering. There are four rounds in a traditional temazcal, one for each the cardinal directions, each one honoring different aspects of humanness. Be prepared to heal in the form of “sweating it out,” and through the breath. It’s also said that a temazcal is a rebirthing experience and exiting the sweat lodge is compared to exiting the womb.

Travel Tip | Temazcal Yo’o Be’en just outside of San Jose del Pacifico has a great authentic temazcal. They add in hot rocks for each round (per the elements) and give tips on how to have a great experience. At the end, get splashed with cold water and receive a healing tea.

The village is small, but there are plenty of miradors to visit and hiking trails to explore. Many people love to take the forest trail to nearby San Sebastian Rio Hondo.

San Sebastian Rio Hondo

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To get away from the main tourist circuit, visit San Sebastian Rio Hondo which is a short moto or hike away from San Jose del Pacifico

I can’t lie, San Sebastian Rio Hondo is my absolute favorite village in the South Mountains of Oaxaca. There is still an “untouched” feeling about this special place. There are plenty of hiking trails to walk next to the tranquil river. In the center of town, a beautiful church and plaza is the perfect place feel the authenticity of the village.

Spiritual seekers will love relaxing at Casa Maitri, with a zen garden, beautiful cabanas, and one of the most powerful temazcals I’ve had the pleasure to sit in. They also offer mushroom ceremonies.

San Sebastian Rio Hondo has unique boutiques like Khadi Oaxaca, which is helping preserve ancient weaving techniques while supporting the local economy. Don’t miss a chance to have a meal made with fresh and local ingredients from Casa de Barro. They have a cute garden terrace and make fresh baked bread. Casa de Barro is also running cultural events and the garden restaurant is only open on the weekends.

San Mateo Río Hondo

San Mateo Rio Hondo is another small village to visit in the Oaxaca Mushroom region, but again, with less crowds. Here, there are many hiking trails that connect to both San Jose del Pacifico and San Sebastian Rio Hondo.

Stop by Torre del Roure to buy serrano ham shaved fresh from the cured leg, just like in Spain.

Sleeping in Oaxaca Mushroom Region

San Sebastian Rio Hondo, casa maitri, temazcal, mountains, forest, best places to visit in oaxaca state, bucket, temazcal ceremony, sierra sur oaxacaCasa Maitri has a powerful temazcal with stunning views of the Sierra Sur Oaxaca

There are many places to sleep between the three villages, however, San Jose del Pacifico has the most options.

San Jose del Pacifico

➜ Find the Best Places to Sleep in San Jose del Pacifico

For San Sebastian Rio Hondo, Casa Maitri is special. In San Mateo there are more places to sleep, but aren’t on booking yet. Try contacting Cabañas Vicenta and Cabañas Juárez.

The Stunning Sierra Norte of Oaxaca State

La Cumbre Ixtepeji, Sierra Norte Oaxaca, Ixtepeji Ecopark, forest, trees, hiking in Oaxaca, plantsVisit La Cumbre Ixtepeji Ecopark to enjoying Oaxaca hiking trails of the Sierra Norte close to the city

Another one of the best places to visit in Oaxaca is the North Mountains (Sierra Norte) of Oaxaca. This little visited area has a plethora of Oaxaca hiking trails and nature preserves.

La Cumbre Ixtepeji

Hikers and mountain bikers alike will love a visit to the La Cumbre Ixtepeji. This eco-park boasts tons of mountain bike trails through the beginning hills of the Mountain range that lie north of Oaxaca city. This ecopark is run by a community, so make sure to stop at the roadside building and pay the entrance fee. There is also a small tienda and simple bathrooms.

 Oficina de Ecoturismo La Cumbre Ixtepeji Logistics | Find it here: 68777 Santa Catarina Ixtepeji | Standard Entrance Ticket: $50 pesos per person ($2.50 USD) | Current Hours: 8:00 – 17:00 | Facebook Page

La Cumbre Ixtepeji  mirador, Sierra Norte Mountains Oaxaca, forest, mountains, trees, things to do in OaxacaMirador La Cumbre Ixtepeji Oaxaca

Although it is possible to reach La Cumbre Ixtepeji via public transportation, the park is quite large and the more desirable trails lie deeper in the park. There are also small vista points to appreciate the sprawling forests. Before returning to Oaxaca, stop by one of the many cabaña like restaurants that are serving local dishes, especially trout. There are multiple little eco-parks to stop out and explore to the north and south of La Cumbre Ixtepeji.

Hike the Pueblos Mancomunados

One of the best places to visit in Oaxaca are the Pueblos Mancomunados which are scattered in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca. There are 6 main villages that make up the Pueblos Mancomunados ecotourism project in the Sierra Notre, however, it’s more like 8 villages. The most accessible village is Benito Juárez, which is usually the access point to go hiking in the Sierra Norte. The other popular Pueblos Mancomunados are Cuajimoloyas, Llano Grande, La Nevería, Latuvi, Yavesía, Lachatao, and Amatlán.

Each village has its own cultural draws and natural beauty. The best way to experience a few, or all for ambitious travelers, is to plan for a 3 or 4 day multi-day trek. While it’s possible hike the Sierra Norte independently, some trails are only accessible via a guide through the community.

One of the best places to visit in Oaxaca are the small communities in the Sierra Norte mountains.

Best Places to Visit in Oaxaca | Underrated Mixteca Region

Some of the best places to visit in Oaxaca are found in the lesser visited region of Miexteca. Find beautiful mountains, incredible hiking trails, stunning churches, and unique landscapes in this underrated region of Oaxaca State.

Santiago Apoala

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The small village of Santiago Apoala is magical with hiking trails, waterfalls, legends, and mysticism

Santiago Apoala is a magical hidden gem and one of the best places to visit in Oaxaca. The small community boasts beautiful and diverse hiking trails with rustic cabañas. You will only find Wi-Fi at the tourism center, so plan on a weekend of tranquility. Santiago Apoala is the perfect place to disconnect from the modern world, and reconnect with nature and appreciate the ways of the ancestors of these sacred lands.

There is an entrance fee to access this community. Both of the hiking trails also have a separate admission ticket.

Community Entrance Fee for Santiago Apoala Ecotourism Oaxaca: $50 pesos ($2.50 USD) | Find them here: Pino Suárez Santiago Apoala Oaxaca | There are two main hiking routes, each route costs $50 pesos | Hiking Guides are available for an additional fee | Official Website of Santiago Apoala Oaxaca Community

Visit the beautiful Apoala Oaxaca waterfall, walk the trail to the twin rocks, or take the steep climb up the Mirador trail. The Mirador trail boasts two incredible spots to gawk at the lush and fertile mountains.

The village only has a few restaurants and a few sparse tiendas. Make sure to stock up on snacks, fresh produce, and stop at the ATM in Nochixtlan.

Detailed Oaxaca Travel Guide | Discover Beautiful Santiago Apoala Oaxaca

How to Visit Santiago Apoala Oaxaca

Santiago Apoala Oaxaca, mirador trail, hiking in Oaxaca, mountains, mixteca region, best places to visit in oaxaca, sky, clouds, grass, forest, hills, what to do in oaxacaViewpoint of the charming community of Santiago Apoala Oaxaca

Nochixtlan is the access point to reach Santiago Apoala.

 🚐 Oaxaca City to Nochixtlan Oaxaca by T.T.N Combis Find them here: Galeana 222 Centro Oaxaca de Juárez | Buses run: 6:00 – 21:00, depart every 30 minutes | One way bus ticket cost: $50 pesos ($2.50 USD) | Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes | Up to date info here

From there either catch a camienta or private taxi to Santiago Apoala.

Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán

Santo Domingo Yanhuitlan Ex Convento, village of Santo Domingo Yanhuitlan, huge church in mixteca region oaxaca, trees, clouds, sky, things to do in oaxaca stateThe large Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán

Santo Domingo Yanhuitlan is most famous for its massive Ex-Convent church that was built during the 16th century. The large church seems to appear out of the middle of nowhere and towers over the small village. This site was built along a busy trade route. If you wander to the back of the convent, notice that it was built on top of a once Mixtec sacred site. Behind the church is a sleepy and beautiful plaza.

Interior is Temporarily Closed Pre-Covid Entrance Fee: $45 pesos ($2.25 USD)

Those interested inn the unique landscape of the surrounding landscape may want to stop at the Geopark Mixteca Alta, this eco-center offers a wide range of hiking routes focusing on geotourism.

How to Visit Santo Domingo Yanhuitlan

Multiple collectivos depart Nochixtlan to this part of the Mixteca region.

 🚗 Nochixtlan to Yanhuitlan by Collectivos Find them here: José María Morelos | Collectivos run: 7:00 – 21:00, depart every 10 minutes | One way cost: $15 pesos (75¢ USD) | Duration: 15 minutes

Tamazulapam del Progreso

Tamazulapam, ojo de agua grande Tamazulapam, natural springs mexico, grass, mountains, best places to visit in oaxaca, sky, plants, cloudsThe natural spring of Ojo de Agua Grande in Tamazulapam Mexico

One of the best places to visit in Oaxaca to relax is the small village of Tamazulapam del Progreso, which is known for their natural sulfur spring pools. Outside the village, stay at one of the facilities like Balneario Atonaltzin that has a lovely pool surrounded by green space, places to grill and picnic, a small tienda, and rustic rooms to rent.

If looking for something a little more natural, walk to the natural pools of Ojo de Agua Grande or the small Ojo De Agua Chico. The large pond has an observatory deck and places to swim. In the village itself, find a lovely church, authentic market, and a lively and garden plaza.

How to Visit Tamazulapam del Progreso

Tamazulapam church, mixteca region oaxaca, flags, beautiful places to visit in oaxaca state, things to do in oaxaca state, trees, clouds, skyThere is a charm to the village of Tamazulapam in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca

Tamazulapam del Progreso is connected via direct buses to Oaxaca or by collectivo with Nochixtlan

🚐 Oaxaca to Tamazulapam mini vansFind them here: Miguel Hidalgo 313 | Collectivos run: 3:30 – 22:00, depart at least every hour | One way cost: $95 pesos ($4.50 USD) | Duration: 2.5 hours | Check their Facebook Page for current schedules

25+ Best Places to Visit in Oaxaca State

best places to visit in oaxaca, volkswagon bug, building, street, oaxaca centro, what to do in oaxacaWhat to do in Oaxaca? Simply fall in love with the cities, villages, beauty, food and people

In conclusion, these are 25 of the best places to visit in Oaxaca state. While most travelers simply visit the picturesque and worthwhile city of Oaxaca, the entire state is filled with treasures and hidden gems.

The diversity of Oaxaca state is incredible! From waterfalls, magical forests, sacred communities, and artisan villages, there are so many things to do in Oaxaca. Each region brings something completely unique for travelers to experience.

Have you explored any of these best places to visit in Oaxaca? What did you think? Is there a best place to visit in Oaxaca state that I’m missing? I spent 6 months here, but only just scratched the surface of the treasures of Oaxaca State. Let me know in the comments below!


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