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March 9, 2022

First Time Photo and Travel Guide to Oaxaca, Mexico

We heard about Oaxaca on our first trip to Mexico City in 2020 but we didn’t have enough time to make a pit stop. So when we planned our month long return to Mexico in 2021, Oaxaca was a must. It’s a bright, European influenced city that has some of the best food on planet Earth. I am not exaggerating.

You must go here. Unless you hate sunny skies, amazing food at an even better value, boutique cafes, mountains, cobblestone streets, an artsy feel, and kind people.

Getting To Oaxaca + Accommodations

We flew in from Mexico City so I can’t speak to prices from the states. But I don’t imagine they’re more than $500 for round trip. From Mexico City, flights were marketed at $50-70pp but that’s with no bags, not even carryon.

So first class with everything included was $133pp – winning.

If you want to rent a car, we had a great experience with Europcar – It was a short walk from our hotel.

There are TONS of boutique hotels in Oaxaca – many of which don’t actually have AC. Being there in May, no AC was simply not an option for us.

I LOVED the way Quinta Real Oaxaca looked, but without AC, we couldn’t swing it. We also looked at Casa Carmen Morelos, but settled on Casa De Serria Azul for easily the best value. Hotel Parador de Alcala was also on the table due to the amazing rooftop pool. But for us, it just wasn’t worth the extra money (at the current rates).

Casa de Serria Azul Oaxaca with Annie Miller

Walk the City

As stated, Oaxaca as European influence, mainly the in the architecture and churches. Your hotel will likely be near the center. It’s not a large area. You could easily explore the main sights within a single day. Which is precisely what we did. Our hotel gave us a map, and we simply made our way from one end to the other.

Stop at Muss Cafe and order a Coffee & Tonic. You won’t regret it.

Annie Miller in Oaxaca, Mexico
bright buildings in Oaxaca, Mexico
Nate Miller in Oaxaca, Mexico
the streets of Oaxaca, Mexico
Annie Miller in Oaxaca, Mexico

Food

Alfonsina – block out three hours for this place. It’s a 20-30 minute drive outside Oaxaca. You could easily drive, or take a taxi.

They only serve two menus – of the house and of the chef. 500% go with of the house. We accidentally got both. We were very underwhelmed by the chefs menu. The house menu far surpassed the chefs menu. It wasn’t even comparable.

Prepare to pay $100+ USD

Alfonsina Restaurant outside Oaxaca, Mexico
visiting Alfonsina Restaurant outside Oaxaca, Mexico

Los Danzantes

FAV MEAL + top 3 fav meals of all time. Eat here. We had 3-4 Mezcal shots, two cocktails, 3 appetizers, 2 entrees and 2 desserts.

Ran us $150 with tip.

It was the perfect mixture of “fine dining” food, but in a comfortable, non-pretentious setting. Which is our preference.

Please just take in the low quality photo of pure joy radiating from Nathanael in this photo…we still reminisce about this meal.

Danzantes in Oaxaca, Mexico
amazing food in Mexico with Annie Miller

El Destilado

You’ll pay $250-400 for two people .

The pairing with the alcohol is obviously more. You’re paying for the whole experience, not value of the food. Remember that.

We didn’t get to Casa Oaxcaca but it comes highly recommended.

Mezcal Tour

If you can swing it, go to LaLocura for a Mezcal tour. As far as we know, tours are private. Or ours was. We just showed up, and did the tour. You can rent a car, or hire a tour through your accommodation.

They take you through the entire process of traditional making of Mezcal. And you follow that up with a tasting. I believe we tasted 11 mezcals. They were NOT hasty with the pours…we had to walk for a bit. Which was fine, because they allow you to explore the plants from which the mezcal is made!

$15 USD pp

50 minute drive

LaLocura for a Mezcal tour in Oaxaca, Mexico
LaLocura Mezcal Tour in Oaxaca
Annie and Nate Miller on a Mezcal Tour
Mezcal Tasting with Annie Miller
process of making mezcal with Annie MIller

Honorable mention:

Fonda Florecita – in El mercade at the East side of Oaxaca away from the center.

They were SUPER friendly and helpful. The food in our opinion was just “okay” but it was an authentic experience.

Fonda Florecita in Oaxaca, Mexico
Annie Miller eating at Fonda Florecita
Food at Fonda Florecita
Authentic food at Fonda Florecita

Ciollo – on the edge of town. About a 20 minute walk from the center. You will need a reservation for all times of day. This meal wasn’t overly expensive. It was a good experience but just was AS amazing as some of the other meals. Still suggest this one for sure!

Ciollo Restaurant in Oaxaca, Mexico
Dining outside at Ciollo
Ciollo Restaurant with Annie Miller

Visit the Ruins

MONTE ALBÁN

Costs nothing. Which is awesome. To our knowledge, it opens at 10am. We got there at 11am, spent 1.5 hours there at a leisurely pace. Some areas are wheelchair accessible, others are not. But it’s very walkable and the stairs are well constructed for a ruin. Nothing will ever be as bad as hiking the original steps of Huayna Picchu. You can read about that here in our Machu Picchu post.

This was by far the most difficult navigation AND sketchiest roads/location we drove in or around Oaxaca. You drive through what would be considered “favelas” in Rio De Janeiro. I’d suggest a taxi or tour for sure. Unless you’re comfortable driving in foreign countries. We certainly stuck out like a sore thumb.

Visiting MONTE ALBÁN
Annie Miller visiting MONTE ALBÁN
Annie Miller at MONTE ALBÁN

We visited Oaxaca on our second trip to Mexico and I can promise you the Millers will be back. I could see this place being a great pit stop for families, foodies, backpackers and instagram influencers alike. For a small city, it has much to offer. Not at all surprised we love yet another Mexican city.

Like the travel posts? Want to visit Mexico City? Pin these and save it for later!

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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