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How to Spend 2 Days in Oaxaca City

How to Spend 2 Days in Oaxaca City

With two days to dedicate to Oaxaca City and the surrounds, you can cover both the essential bases—such as traditional food, history, and handicrafts—while tailoring out-of-city excursions to your tastes for a more comprehensive trip. Here’s how to make the most of your limited time in Oaxaca City.

Day One: Stick to the City

Morning: Spend your first morning exploring traditional Oaxacan food, such as tamales and tlayudas (tortillas covered with refried beans and other toppings). Explore the fresh produce–filled 20 de Noviembre Market independently or as part of a guided city tour before taking part in a half-day, mid-morning cooking class.

Afternoon: Escape the heat of Oaxaca’s midday sun by visiting one or more of the city’s many museums—entry to some can be booked in advance—and handicraft boutiques. From heavily embroidered shirts and blouses to dainty coin wallets, you’re sure to find the perfect souvenir.

Night: Dedicate your first night to seeing what Oaxaca City nightlife has to offer. From laid-back joints selling pulque (traditional, milky-white, fermented alcohol) and lively mezcalerías (mezcal bars) to curbside restaurants where you can enjoy a beer and people watch on the plaza, you’ll find a spot to suit you.

Day Two: Get Out and About

Morning: Wake up early and stroll the central plaza (zócalo) in peace while much of the city still sleeps, before wandering up the lively pedestrianized Calle Alcalá towards Santo Domingo Temple and snapping traveler-free photos. Be sure to grab a coffee made from Oaxacan beans along the way.

Afternoon: Choose between archaeology, handicrafts, and mezcal on day two, with convenient day trips that typically leave midmorning for distilleries in Santiago Matatlán, visits to villages such as San Bartolo Coyotepec, or tours through Mitla and Monte Alban. If you can’t decide, some longer tours combine two or even all three options.

Night: Finish up your stay in Oaxaca City with a relaxed evening dining and drinking in the city center; sample the foods you haven’t yet had a chance to—a rich mole sauce, perhaps?—accompanied by a smoky glass of mezcal. If the Guelaguetza show is in town, watch the performance with dinner included.

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7 Tours and Activities

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Monte Albán, Arrazola, Cuilapam y San Bartolo Coyotepec. pick up 8:00am

Monte Albán, Arrazola, Cuilapam y San Bartolo Coyotepec. pick up 8:00am

star-4.5
55
From the mountaintop pyramids of Monte Alban to the Cuilapam Convent on the valley floor, learn all about the rich history of Oaxaca Valley on this guided full-day trip by coach. Discover the Zapotec pyramids and excavated ruins of UNESCO-listed Monte Alban, admire the mystical woodcarvings of San Antonio Arrazola and meet resident artisans in San Bartolo Coyotepec, a town known for its beautiful black pottery. Hotel pickup and drop-off from Oaxaca included.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$47.57
From
$47.57

Monte Albán cradle of civilization in America/half day tour pick up 8:00am

Monte Albán cradle of civilization in America/half day tour pick up 8:00am

star-4.5
72
Discover the pyramids of Oaxaca in Monte Alban, meaning ‘White Mountain,’ located on a vast mountaintop expanse with spectacular 360-degree views of Oaxaca Valley. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with Oaxaca City, the pre-Columbian archaeological site is considered the most magnificent of the region’s ancient ruins. On this guided tour by coach from Oaxaca, explore the complex filled with pyramids, ceremonial rock carvings, a huge ball court and 170 excavated tombs. Hotel pickup and drop-off included.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$35.94
From
$35.94

Oaxacan Artesanies Tilcajete, Jalieza, Ocotlán y Sta Carina Minas pick up 9:30am

Oaxacan Artesanies Tilcajete, Jalieza, Ocotlán y Sta Carina Minas pick up 9:30am

star-4.5
7
Explore Oaxaca’s pottery, textiles, and other artisanal goods on this half-day excursion. After a convenient hotel pickup, visit three towns famous for their crafts—San Bartolo Coyotepec, Santo Tomás Jalieza, and San Martin Tilcajete. Led by an informative local guide, you’ll find the best spots for exquisite black pottery, embroidered belts, shawls, and handbags, and gorgeous alebrijes, the colorful wood sculptures carved from the copal tree.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$40.50
From
$40.50

City Tour Santo Domingo/Alcalá/mercados/chocolate pick up 9:30am

City Tour Santo Domingo/Alcalá/mercados/chocolate pick up 9:30am

star-4.5
11
Find culture, history and excellent souvenir shopping on this 4.5-hour guided tour of the city of Oaxaca. Explore by foot the ‘zócalo’ (town square) and city center, and visit the Temple of Santo Domingo de Guzman and the Oaxaca Regional Museum located in its former convent. Wander the stalls of 20 de Noviembre and Benito Juarez, two of Oaxaca’s most popular markets, and pick up woven goods, crafts and tasty snacks like chocolates and chilies. Hotel pickup and drop-off by coach included.
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$46.80
From
$46.80

Oaxaca Cooking Class pick up 9:30am

Oaxaca Cooking Class pick up 9:30am

star-5
10
Learn how to create Oaxacan cuisine at a world-class restaurant in Oaxaca raved about in the ‘New York Times’ and ‘Bon Appétit.’ During this 3.5-hour cooking class led by an expert chef-instructor, your small group, limited to just 10 cooking enthusiasts, decides which dishes are on the menu. After picking up the necessary ingredients, all fresh, from a local market, prepare your dishes back in the kitchen. Whether it’s tortillas, salsas, soup, mole, or dessert, take home exciting recipes knowing you’ll be able to easily recreate the flavors of Oaxaca.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$116.03
From
$116.03

Full-Day Monte Alban Archaeological Site and Oaxaca Artisan Experience

Full-Day Monte Alban Archaeological Site and Oaxaca Artisan Experience

star-4
23
The ancient Zapotec city and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Monte Alban sits about 9 miles (6 kilometers) west of Oaxaca. With this tour, explore the hilltop archaeological site with a guide and enjoy views overlooking the Oaxaca Valley. That leaves enough time to visit the artisan towns of Arrazola, Cuilapam de Guerrero, and San Bartolo Coyotepec. Plus, round-trip transportation from your hotel in downtown Oaxaca is included.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$30.76
From
$30.76

Monte Alban, Atzompa, Yagul and Mitla Archaeological Sites Day Trip

Monte Alban, Atzompa, Yagul and Mitla Archaeological Sites Day Trip

star-5
2
Explore the archaeological highlights of Oaxaca without getting lost on this day trip, a great choice for first-time visitors. Take a guided tour of Monte Alban, the largest Zapotec urban center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visit its satellite city, Atzompa. Then travel to Yagul and Mitla to see other examples of Zapotec architecture. Plus, round-trip transportation from downtown Oaxaca is included.
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  • 10 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$79.99
From
$79.99