Oaxaca may be hard to pronounce but there’s nothing difficult about vacationing here. It is among Mexico’s finest destinations for travelers from around the globe. Outdoor markets, quaint villages, and some of the country’s finest cuisines are only a few of the outstanding things this city and state offers.
Spend some time at the Santo Domingo Cultural Center in Alcala street. Located in a restored convent next to the Santo Domingo Church, you can explore the history of Oaxaca here. Relax and enjoy one of the concerts performed in the cloister.
For a truly different experience with the arts, visit the Museo del Palacio. Located in the Governor’s Palace built in 1576, it has been extensively renovated since. The now neo-Classical building is itself worth a visit, but there are also numerous exhibits, including science-related material. Since they’re always changing, no matter how often you go, you’re guaranteed to always see something new.
No visit to Oaxaca would be complete without a trip to Mitla. Whether strolling through the Farmer’s Market or taking in the big Catholic Church you’re bound to see something interesting. There are pre-historic caves in nearby Yagul where you’ll find hundreds of ancient artifacts to view. Humans have occupied the area for 10,000 years!
Be sure to save some time to catch Guelaguetza. Here you’ll be entertained by traditional dances from the seven regions that comprise the state of Oaxaca. The performances are held in the chapel of a 16th-century monastery that was long ago transformed into the Camino Real Hotel. As part of the experience at Guelaguetza, visitors dine on a sumptuous Oaxacan buffet while 20 regional dancers in native costume move to the sounds of a 14-piece village band.
Many tourists come to Mexico to enjoy some of the outdoor markets, and there is none finer than the Mercado de Abastos. It’s open every day, but Saturday is the most festive. Hanging rugs, baskets, strange herbs, and even tied up goats dot the area.
The smells at Abastos are fantastic, blending the aromas of tortillas cooking and fragrant flowers from the stalls. On Saturday, Trique Indian weavers make rugs from scratch on backstrap looms before your eyes. Buy a birdcage or a hammock. Purchase authentic huaraches (sandals). Several aisles are devoted to native pottery, from Atzompa, Coyotepec, and elsewhere. You can even buy a basket of grasshoppers if that’s your taste.
If you’ve visited botanical gardens in London, New York, or elsewhere, you won’t want to miss the one on offer in Oaxaca. The Ethno-Botanical Garden features thousands of samples dating as far back as 1876. With over 1,300 varieties you won’t be able to see everything in one visit. That’s one reason the Garden has to employ two dozen gardeners!
Last, but far from least, be sure to enjoy the historic center of Oaxaca centered on the Zocalo (public square). Among the dozens of astounding sights is the Oaxaca Cathedral, displaying architecture, unlike any church you’ll see in Italy, France, or even Spain.
Oaxaca is the city that gives the Mexican state its name. But you don’t have to pronounce it to love it.