The state of Oaxaca is best known for its intricate handicrafts, folklore and chocolate. But there is much more to discover!
In addition to the charming colonial city, there are numerous archaeological sites and impressive landscapes. Rugged beaches on the “Riviera Oaxaqueña” attract many vacationers and surfers including surfers and to this coast of Mexico.
The city of Oaxaca is a popular destination with interesting museums, a lively art scene, delicious regional gastronomy and many beautiful plazas lined with cafes and restaurants where you can observe the people, relax and enjoy the unique atmosphere.
The beautiful colonial center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The Zocalo, the city’s main square, is particularly beautiful and is only accessible to pedestrians. Thanks to the huge shaded trees, it is easy to lose yourself here and spend time on a park bench soaking up the city life. Visit the Palacio del Gobierno where you can admire impressive murals that, in addition to famous inhabitants of the city, also show scenes from the history of Oaxaca. The Church of Santo Domingo should not be missed and is often referred to as the most magnificent of all churches in Oaxaca. Behind thick stone walls there are beautiful golden decorations, stonework, figures and pictures that are guaranteed to leave a lasting memory. If you want to continue your cultural education, visit the adjacent Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca which is housed in a magnificent monastery building and portrays the entire history of Oaxaca.
Oaxaca is an ideal starting point for several interesting day trips. Monte Albán is an old Zapotec city whose culture once ruled the entire southwest of the country. The archaeological site is on a strategicly high vantage point and the views over the valley is breathtaking. Hierve el Agua is a unique petrified limestone waterfall in a beautiful location. A refreshing dip in the mineral rich natural pools will definitely is a perfect way to admire the view and end your visit. The bustling indigenous weekly market in Ocotlán is also unforgettable. Every Friday, buyers and sellers from all over the region come here to sell and buy goods. This market has a long tradition as it has been held since pre-Hispanic times. It is just the thing if you want to get off the beaten path. Other popular day trips are tours to the Mitla archaeological site which is another important Zapotec site, the most voluminous tree in the world in Tule (with a circumference of 46 meters!) Or Teotitlán, the most famous weaving village in the region. People have been producing many different types of woven goods here for generations and as a visitor you get a very authentic impression of the way people live and work.
Excursions to the surrounding artistic villages are an absolutely worthwhile experience. Nowhere else is the handicraft scene as thriving and lively as in Oaxaca. In small family businesses you can look over the shoulder of people at work. Black woodfired pottery and alebrijes (small wooden fantastical animal figures) are wonderful souveniers and they are also cheaper and more sustainable to purchase directly from the local artists.
Oaxaca has always been a politically rebellious state. Since 2006, there have been minor riots and protests blocking major highways. They started with a teacher´s strike which quickly led to the creation of the APPO group. Their main demand was the resignation of the Governor at that time who was accused of corruption. The situation is no longer acute today and tourists are not affected; to be on the safe side, you should inquire about the current situation before you travel.