Oaxaca may be off the beaten path for many tourists in Mexico, but it has a rich cultural history that offers something uniquely delightful for travelers who want to experience something other than ritzy beach towns. Located in the southern part of Mexico, Oaxaca is home to a variety of indigenous tribes who continue to preserve their customs and cultural heritage. There are a variety of ruins in the state, but the capital city of Oaxaca also has a lot to offer.
Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca (MACO)
A great choice if you are interested in modern art, the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo offers a variety of exhibits and displays featuring colorful paintings, traditional handicrafts and much more. Several local artists such as Francisco Toledo, Rodolfo Morales, Rodolfo Nieto and Rufino Tamayo hold their masterpieces in this museum as well.
Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca
Home to a fine collection of art in addition to over 10,000 books, the Instituto de Artes Graficas is a great choice for art lovers and book nerds alike! Francisco Toledo, one of Mexico’s most famous contemporary artists founded this museum about 15 years ago and it continues to be a great place to browse.
Mueso Regional del Estado de Oaxaca
As in many regional museums in Mexico, here you will find a collection of pre-Hispanic art and a detailed description of what life was like for many indigenous cultures. If you’re looking for an opportunity to explore Zapotec or Mixtec culture in depth without having to go to any ruins, this is the place to go.
Centro Cultural Santo Domingo
This 16th century convent was recently restored and converted into a cultural center that offers a variety of services. Inside you will find a history museum, library, botanical garden and much more! Also, expect to find cultural performances on the patio on Friday evenings.
Templo de Santo Domingo
This is one of the most intricate churches in the world, and is definitely not one to miss! Stay for mass and observe a movingly religious culture, or just wander around in awe looking at the gold-laced adornments.
Monte Alban is by far the most important geological site in Oaxaca. Constructed by the Zapotecs around 500 B.C., this ruin offers incredible views of pyramids and intricate tombs. If planning a trip to Oaxaca, this must be on your list of things to see, so make sure you plan for a day trip to this fantastic location.
>> More information on Monte Alban.
After going to Monte Alban, your desire to see more ruins may grow. If so, Mitla is definitely the second most important ruin in Oaxaca. When the Spanish came to this city, they used stones from many original buildings to make cathedrals. Now, this is an enchanting town that was created around these ruins and offers a nice contrast between modern and ancient cultures.
Mercado de Benito Juárez
In this market you will find typical goods that you may find in just about any market in Mexico. Food, clothing, electronics, leather goods and jewelry line the walkways while vendors invite you in saying, “Pasale, pasale, ¿qué va a llevar?” Remember that whenever you’re going to a market, it’s probably best to dress down and don’t forget to try your hand at your bartering skills!
Mercado de Artesanias
In the Handicraft Market, you will find an abundance of handmade Oaxacan crafts. Some typical things you might find here are green and black pottery, hand painted pieces of wood, knives, leather products and much more!
Also, on Alcala Street (North of Independencia), you will find a street lined with many crafts that you would most likely find in surrounding towns. If you don’t have time to go explore these towns looking for treasures, you can conveniently browse here.
Paseo Juarez “El Llano”
Parks are often overlooked by tourists as places to go, but they are a nice option to take a break and observe the culture. El llano offers everything a typical Mexican park may offer, including walkways, a fountain, gardens and benches. You will most likely find some tasty specialties in the park as well.
This is a great option for a night out on the town if you like jazz music. Offering a relaxed atmosphere, Nueva Babel is a great place to hang out with friends and drink a refreshing cocktail.
Tapas and Pista Bar
If you’re looking for something a little more upbeat, the Tapas and Pista Bar is for you. Here you can dance to techno music all night long!
“Pump it” sound like a good description for the night? At Candela you will find a hopping dance scene and great drinks! Check it out!
If you are seeking out the live music scene, La Central often times hosts live bands, shows independent films and holds other special events. Stop by and see what’s happening here!