Downtown Oaxaca: Things to Do and Places to Visit


Oaxaca de Juárez is a destination that has several things to offer and is also a perfect place to base yourself if you want to know other things about the state of Oaxaca. Here we will share with you how to enjoy the City and the Center of Oaxaca

It was a magical place where we were surprised by the high consumption of grasshoppers and the Oaxacan clothing. Here we met the Tlayudas and some impressive natural beauties.

There are so many things that I want to tell you about the city of Oaxaca that are even making me want to return, the good news is that all the information you need is here below.

Things to do in downtown Oaxaca

There are many places that can be visited if you travel to this destination; however, after having visited it we have been able to make a list of those tourist places that you cannot miss if you travel to Oaxaca de Juárez.

Here is a list of the best things to do in Oaxaca City.

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13. Enter the Museum of Oaxacan Painters

One of the recommendations on the internet about what to do in Oaxaca is the Museum of Oaxacan Painters.

This museum was created with the purpose of publicizing the works of Oaxacan artists as well as linking them and people to artistic works from other parts of Mexico and the world.

12. Museum of Contemporary Art of Oaxaca (MACO)

The Museum of Contemporary Art is located in an old house built at the end of the 17th century and it seems that the building is an attraction in itself.

During a visit to Oaxaca try the MACO without exhibitions since both the exhibitions and the workshops are usually temporary, therefore we cannot recommend it based on experience.

If you are interested in going, we recommend that you check their website or, if you are nearby, take a walk to see what is there.

11. Admire the monuments and historical sites

Former convent of Santa Catalina de Siena
Lavatories of the Ex-Convent of Santa Catalina de Siena

In Oaxaca Centro you will find a lot of historical sites, stopping to appreciate its architecture is something you should consider doing. These are the places worth knowing in Oaxaca Center:

  • Admire the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption: Beautiful on the outside and inside, it is an example of ecclesiastical beauty.
  • The Macedonio Alcalá Theater: It bears the name of the artist and composer of the song ” God never dies “, the facade is beautiful and the interior is even more so. On one side of the theater is the box office with information about works and presentations of the theater in case you want to go to one and see the theater inside.
  • Former Convent of Santa Catalina de Siena: What used to be a convent today is a hotel that has its doors open to tourists who want to visit it. It is impressive how preserved the walls and ancient paintings of the former convent are. In its time this place was recognized for its excellent hydraulic system. It is a visit that will not last more than 10 minutes but it is worth it if you have the time.
  • Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude: This minor basilica is another point that you can visit in downtown Oaxaca. Both the exterior and the interior are beautiful.

10. Eat an ice cream in the Plaza de la Danza

Outside the Basilica, there is the dance square where pre-Hispanic dances around the Guelaguetza used to be performed.

Today it is packed with Oaxacan ice cream stalls. So, if you are already there, I recommend that you try the classic prickly pear with burnt milk.

9. Museum of Philately

In this museum, you will find a huge collection of stamps and seals that had a postal use. If you like to see great collections this place is for you.

There are different themes. You will be able to see the first postal stamp called Penny Black, the baseball collection, the commemorative one of the centenary of the independence of Mexico, and others from different countries.

This museum is probably not for every traveler; 

8. Benito Juarez Market

Another thing to do in downtown Oaxaca is to visit the Benito Juárez Market. Everything a person could need is sold here. From the classic vegetables, seeds, and fruits, plastic bags, handicrafts, souvenirs, pitchers, umbrellas, everything!

Let Oaxacan Mexican folklore envelop you in this place.

7. Enter the Casa Juárez Museum

The Casa Juárez Museum is another of the things to do in downtown Oaxaca. Here you will find six rooms decorated with furniture and ornaments similar to those of the time in which reference is made to the life of Benito Juárez.

We asked Mr. Luis about an aspect of Benito Juárez’s life and very kindly he did not tell his whole story; so if you want and agree with him, you can ask him a question.

Free on Sundays or with INAPAM credential, student, or teacher.

6. Textile Museum of Oaxaca

Textile Museum of Oaxaca
Textile Museum of Oaxaca

Another of the main activities to do in downtown Oaxaca is to enter the Oaxaca Textile Museum. There are two floors completely dedicated to textiles approached from different areas: the pigment, the technique, or some specific trend.

The exhibitions change every four months so we recommend you visit their page in case you want to check the topics before your visit.

Admission to the museum is free and on Wednesdays, they have a guided tour that costs $10 per person (Oct 2019)

5. Taste Mezcal

Oaxaca is the ideal place to try this Mexican drink, the variety of mezcal that you can find in this region of Mexico is impressive, in a nutshell, it is the cradle of mezcal.

One of the things you should definitely do is try different flavored mezcals during your stay in Oaxaca. How do I explain that you can find even scorpion and cannabis

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4. Visit the Craft Market

If you fell in love with the colors and Oaxacan garments (and I assure you that you will) you have to go to the craft market. Here you can buy the typical Oaxacan shirt, huipiles, blanket shirts with classic embroidery, skirts, shawls, and shoes.

EYE! If you want to buy real clothes, made by artisans and help the people of the area, make sure you do it in the craft market or directly in the workshops, so you don’t buy imitations.

3. Eat at the November 20 Mercado

One way to get to know the folklore and live directly with the locals is by going to a market.

One goes to this market exclusively to eat. Wherever you turn you will find typical Oaxacan food in all its presentations. Yolk bread, water chocolate, tlayudas, black mole, coloradito, jerky, in addition to the classic fast food, tacos, snacks, and stews.

This place is ideal to know the Oaxacan gastronomy

Market November 20
November 20 Mercado

2. Stroll through the Tourist Walkway

From the zócalo, you can walk down Calle Dr. Aurelio Valdivieso which becomes Calle Macedonio Alcalá which is purely pedestrian. In this tourist walkway, you can find shops, cafes, restaurants, and some weekends people selling their handicrafts.

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Alfonso Galindo

Whether you consume/buy or not, walking around is a way to let yourself be enveloped by what Oaxaca is. Also, if you come from the zócalo, this corridor will connect you with the other activities to do in downtown Oaxaca.

1. Visit the Santo Domingo Cultural Center

Temple of Santo Domingo Oaxaca
Temple of Santo Domingo

The Santo Domingo Cultural Center is another place to visit in downtown Oaxaca, probably one of the most important.

This cultural complex is located in what was one of the most important convents in the colony. At the entrance, you will see a model that will give you a great idea of ​​how big this establishment is.

It contains five important things within itself:

Temple of Santo Domingo de Guzmán

Declared a cultural heritage of humanity, this 17th-century temple is decorated inside with gold sheets and endless curved details that, with the play of light, give the impression of shining in the eyes of the beholder.

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Museum of the Cultures of Oaxaca

The Museum of Cultures of Oaxaca has 14 rooms in which the history of Oaxaca from pre-Hispanic times to the conquest is explored through objects and explanatory texts.

Its star room is the one with the treasure found in tomb 7 of Monte Albán. Your eyes will not believe the amount of gold and rhinestones that this place has.

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Alfonso Galindo, Monte Alban Archaeological site for a great tour service provider contact Innova TOURS Oaxaca ask for Mitzi

It is one of the activities to do in Oaxaca Centro, however, you have to be ready to stand for a long time.

Admission is free on Sundays.

Historic Ethnobotanical Garden

In this garden, which can only be accessed at certain times and with a guide, the relationship between people and plants over time and the importance of their care and conservation are captured and explained.

We did not enter the garden because it was not within our budget, so we cannot make a recommendation based on experience.

Visiting hours are Monday through Saturday at 10:00, 12:00, and 17:00

Fray Francisco de Burgoa Library

Entering the former convent of Santo Domingo, you can find the old Fray Francisco de Burgoa library.

Access is free so you can lean out, read curious facts and imagine: what was the world like without the internet? how did they learn? How did they have access to the information?

Public Newspaper Library

For a fan of the books like me, this place is ideal. Here you will find volumes of newspapers bound by year and printing.

You can see them and even ask for a volume to read it.

We leafed through a newspaper from 1937 and saw everything from an announcement of a Yo-yo contest with Mickey Mouse to the news of the installation of electric light in one of the towns of Oaxaca.

It is very interesting if you like books, old objects or gossiping about the past.

Live the Guelaguetza 2022

This festivity is the maximum festival in the state of Oaxaca. It takes place during the month of July and has its origins in pre-Hispanic times. It is a celebration where everyone is welcome. The environment permeates a sense of community that stays in the heart.

Guelaguetza 2022 ¿Cuándo es? - Blog de Viajes & Turismo en México

In addition, while the Guelaguetza is celebrated, there are dance groups, belonging to different regions of this magical state, which, accompanied by traditional music and the representative clothing of their community, give beautiful dances to the spectators. You cannot miss this experience!

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Views from Capital O

Where to stay in Oaxaca

Capital O Parador Crespo Hotel, Oaxaca

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The Oaxaca Post