If the question of “Is Oaxaca worth visiting?” has been roaming your mind while trying to choose your next Mexican destination, the answer is absolutely! And I’m here to show you why.
Oaxaca is a lush state south of Mexico City that has been growing in popularity in the last couple of years, with its world-renowned cuisine, bold and colorful streets, strong artistic community, rich history and culture, and unique natural wonders, it is no surprise that travelers all around the world—Mexicans included— are falling in love with this unique region of Mexico.
As a born and raised Mexican who has spent the past seven years living and traveling abroad, I had recently made a promise to myself to make the effort to explore more of my own country whenever possible, and Oaxaca had been at the top of that list for a while.
Soon after arriving in Oaxaca City and wandering the colorful streets, tasting my first local meal, and seeing the lush mountains all around I knew I had made the right decision coming here.
So I am excited to share with you all the reasons why Oaxaca is worth visiting, as well as everything you need to know for preparing for your trip.
Reasons Why Oaxaca Is Worth Visiting
1) Oaxacan food is like no other
If you love Mexican food—who doesn’t?—then Oaxaca is worth visiting.
Oaxacan food plays a strong influence on the rest of the Mexican cuisine, a lot of delicious dishes that we enjoy all across the country—and the world— originated in Oaxaca, so visiting Oaxaca city means that you will be able to enjoy some of the best and most authentic Mexican dishes, and all for incredibly affordable prices.
As a born and raised Mexican, I had some of the best Mexican dishes I had ever eaten during my trip to Oaxaca City, the food here is just on another level!
2) Oaxaca is the cultural capital of Mexico
Oaxaca as a state has over 500 municipalities and over 400 individual cultures due to its biological diversity, making it the state with the biggest number of ethnic groups in the whole country.
This much diversity in one place has given room to an incredible array of cultures and traditions that you will not see anywhere else, making for one of the most authentic and enriching cultural Mexican experiences you will ever have.
3) Oaxaca City is what colorful Mexican dreams are made of
Color is the main thing that comes to mind when you think of Mexico, lots and lots of color, and that is exactly what this charming Mexican destination has to offer.
From the beautiful and vibrant colonial houses that line the streets to the “papel picado”’ that delicately dangles from the lamp posts to stunning art murals spread in the Jalatlalco neighborhood, Oaxaca City is one of the best Mexican destinations to visit if that colorful Mexican postcard view is what you are after.
4) Oaxacan hand-woven textiles and stunning craftsmanship
Mexico’s characteristic colorful and vibrant culture comes alive in Oaxaca in the form of the incredible amount of artisan work that you can find in Oaxaca City, from modern ceramic pieces to more traditional and intricate hand-woven woolen rugs, hand-crafted wooden alebrijes and hand-poured beeswax candles made in tiny villages outside Oaxaca City.
Visiting Oaxaca will allow you to learn more about the incredible processes behind some of your favorite Mexican artisan products and learn to appreciate their value as you see the hours that some of these stunning pieces can take.
And honestly, all the amazing souvenir shopping you can do while on this trip makes Oaxaca worth visiting on its own.
5) Taste the real deal: Oaxacan mezcal
For any mezcal lovers out there, this alone will be enough reason to see why Oaxaca is worth visiting.
While tequila is widely recognized around the world as the “one” Mexican liquor, the world is slowly but surely becoming obsessed with our other great alcoholic export; Mezcal, and while celebrities love to come out with their own version of our Mexican elixirs, it will never be the same as trying local artisan quality products made by families that have been doing this for generations and generations.
Sprinkled throughout Oaxaca City you will find mezcalerias offering mezcal tasting sessions, or you can also book a tour of distilleries outside of the city.
6) Oaxaca’s diverse flora
Oaxaca state is home to all kinds of ecosystems, from grassland to sand dunes to forests and mangroves, which means that flora is incredibly diverse in the state, you can even get a taste of the diversity within Oaxaca City with all the beautiful trees that line the streets, and the lush mountains that surround the city.
If you want to get a closer look at the variety of plants in the region you can catch a tour of the Ethnobotanical Garden in the city center.
7) Oaxaca’s incredibly rich Zapotec culture and history
One of the most beautiful things about Oaxaca is the fact that the state is still very close to its indigenous roots, even with its hundreds of different cultures and many dialects, with the Zapotecs being a notable group that came and conquered the whole state back in 1400 BC.
The Zapotecs defined a lot of what we know as Oaxacan, a lot of its heritage can be seen through the food, signs woven into wool rugs, or the design of the ruins of their ancient civilization.
8) World-class natural wonders just a short drive outside of Oaxaca City
Another notable aspect that makes Oaxaca worth visiting is its world-renowned natural wonders.
Just a short drive from the capital of Oaxaca you will find Hierve el Agua, a small group of petrified waterfalls that are estimated to be thousands of years old, and are also one of the only two phenomenons of this kind in the whole world!
9) Oaxaca is the best Mexican destination for coffee lovers
If you are a coffee lover like me, then Oaxaca is definitely a place worth visiting!
A lot of the coffee that we consume around the world comes from a variety of Mexican states, and Oaxaca is one of those, the mountainous landscape, together with the humidity and rainy seasons in Oaxaca make for the perfect environment for coffee to grow.
That is why you will find no shortage of amazing coffee shops around Oaxaca offering delicious and locally produced coffee.
10) Oaxaca City is one of the cheapest Mexican vacation spots
Lastly, if what you are after is a cheap vacation in Mexico without compromising comfort and a good time, look no further, Oaxaca city is a favorite holiday spot for locals but still quite undiscovered by foreign tourism which is why it is still an incredibly affordable Mexican destination to visit year-round.
From its rich indigenous heritage to its colorful culture, incredible cuisine, and diverse landscapes, Oaxaca truly has something to offer to every kind of traveler.
So I hope this post has provided a compelling answer to the question of whether Oaxaca is worth visiting, and if you have decided to plan your next adventure here, I am excited for you!
If you are already mentally planning your next adventure to Oaxaca make sure to check out the top things to do in Oaxaca City for first-time visitors, or if you are ready to plan the step-by-step of your trip, check out our itinerary for the perfect 3 days in Oaxaca City, including everything you need to see, eat and drink.
Are you thinking of visiting Oaxaca? What are you most looking forward to?