Top Things To See And Do In Oaxaca
The city of Oaxaca is located within a valley in the Sierra Madre Mountains, in the south of Mexico. It is a colonial city which is UNESCO-listed.
This area was once the main residence of the Zapotecs, however many other groups have called it home as well. It offers visitors a range of handicraft villages and indigenous markets, architecture from the colonial period and several ancient sites. Visitors have a wide choice of things to do in this area and can be kept busy for quite a while.
Church and Convent
There are several stunning churches to be seen in Oaxaca, but the one you should not miss is Santo Domingo. Every surface of the baroque interior is covered in gold leaf or art. A visit to the Rosary Chapel, which is part of the church that was added later, is particularly stunning.
There is a very well-presented, big museum in what was formerly the convent. One of the main attractions of the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca is the Treasure of Tomb 7 from Monte Alban.
The orchard section of the convent has now become the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden. The garden forms part of the guided tours, which are available daily in Spanish and several times per week in English.
Mezcal is a drink made from distilled agave and is Oaxaca’s specialty. You can visit the Mezcal distillery where you can observe how the spirit drink is made and have the opportunity to sample some of it.
Hierve el Agua
Hierve el Agua is a petrified waterfall. It can be found about one and a half hour’s drive from Oaxaca City, most of it being on an unpaved, very windy road. This drive into the countryside ensures that you will travel through spectacular landscapes and you will have the chance to enjoy rural Oaxaca. The recommendation for this visit is to take a hike around the petrified waterfall and thereafter enjoy a dip in the mineral spring which is at the top. There are usually stalls where you can purchase snacks and cold drinks to keep your energy levels up.
Mitla archaeological site may be smaller and less impressive than Monte Alban, but it deserves a visit. The site was created later and reached its peak when the Spaniards arrived during the 1500s. The most exciting feature at the site is the geometrical patterns which have been built into the walls to form a mosaic. The stones were carefully cut to precision, which allowed it to fit together without the need for mortar. Mitla is based around 40 minutes by car from Oaxaca City.
Monte Alban is an archaeological site close to Oaxaca. It is an approximate 20-minute drive from the city center. The site is placed atop a hill, which overlooks the entire valley. Here you can gain knowledge about the Zapotec civilization that inhabited the area from around 200 AD to 600 AD. It is recommended that you climb to the top of the pyramid on the northern platform as this is the highest point. This will give you the opportunity to obtain a 360 degree of the valley below and the site.
The Tule tree can be found in the town of Santa Maria el Tule, which is located just outside Oaxaca City. It may not be as big as some other trees in the world, but it is impressive nonetheless. It is estimated that the tree is over 2000 years old, making it one of the oldest living trees. It measures around 38.1 feet in diameter, which could make it the tree with the widest girth globally.
The Zocalo is in the heart of this city and is what the main square is called. You would be missing out if you do not spend some time at the Zocalo. There are restaurants and cafes which line three sides of the square, with the government building, the Palacio de Gobierno, to the south of the square. You can spend a relaxing afternoon in the square, whilst enjoying a drink in one of the many cafes and watch the people go by. The cathedral can be found just north of the square and the Alameda de Leon, another plaza, is in front of it.
Galleries and Museums
Oaxaca offers visitors a range of museums and art galleries. The most impressive is the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, which is located in the former Santo Domingo convent. However, if your interest lies in history and archaeology, you should make sure you include a visit to the Rufino Tamayo museum in your itinerary. This museum contains a pre-Hispanic art collection of the painter, which includes representations of several different Mexican areas. Other museums in the city include the Contemporary Art Museum, the Oaxaca Painters Museum and the Textile Museum.
The Oaxaca residents are very skilled at handicrafts and folk art. You will be offered the opportunity to buy pieces in stores within Oaxaca City, but it is recommended that you travel to some of the outlying villages where you will be able to visit the workshops and purchase goods directly from the artists. If you are looking for specific items, you should visit the village that specializes in your requirements. For woodcarvings, you should visit Arrazola or San Martin Tilcajete, for black pottery, San Bartolo Coyotepec is the place to go.
Oaxaca City has several markets for the visitor to enjoy. South of the Zocalo, you will find the Benito Juarez and 20 de Noviembre markets. The handicrafts market is placed a few blocks further toward the south and the main market, the Central de Abastos can be found beyond that point.
A visit to one of the villages on market day could result in some splendid goods, great sounds and delicious foods. Market day in Tlacolula is on Sunday, in Etla it is Wednesday, Zaachila’s market day is Thursday, Ocotlan Friday and on Saturday, the market is held in Central de Abastos in Oaxaca city.
Remember Your Mexican Auto Insurance
These are all very interesting sights to see during a visit to Oaxaca. Since you will more than likely be travelling on the roads of Mexico to reach these sites, you should ensure that you purchase adequate Mexican car insurance prior to your trip. It is possible for you to buy car insurance at the border post in the event you forget about it before you leave home. However, you should bear in mind that there are always long queues at the border post and this will place you under pressure to buy the first option offered, which may not be the best.
If you take the time to go online and purchase Mexican auto insurance from a licensed provider, you will be able to do a full comparison and ensure that you obtain adequate cover for your personal needs. You will have to make a choice between liability only or comprehensive insurance, as well as make a decision regarding the additional cover you would be comfortable with, such as legal assistance, bail bond assistance and others. You can purchase your Mexican auto insurance from this MexInsuranceStore.com link.
Once you have made your final decisions about the cover you need, you can pay securely on the site and print a copy of your policy immediately. It is often a good idea to print both an English and a Spanish version of your policy. The Spanish version may come in handy if you are stopped by a non-English-speaking traffic officer. Make sure that you have a copy of your policy with you at all times whilst traveling.
Mexican vehicle insurance should be placed on your to-do list when you plan your trip to Mexico. It is extremely important and you do not want your trip spoiled because you forgot about it.