Oaxaca became my favourite city in Mexico pretty quickly, not least of all because it’s visually beautiful. Here’s a few of the things I loved about it.
As with the rest of Mexico, the centre of Oaxaca city is filled with stunning colonial-era and Spanish baroque buildings. Though not as colourful as San Luis Potosí or San Miguel de Allende, I preferred the more rustic appearance of the crumbling stone and wrought iron balconies. Every day we’d stumble upon a new favourite church or library while wandering the narrow streets.
Politics / Art
This one is hard for me to describe, but the city just had a great buzz to it. One day we accidentally walked into an amazing feminism rally full of all types of people enjoying the music, art and spoken word events being held. Each doorway you peer through seems to lead into an art gallery, or a sculpture garden, or just something interesting going on. The main square has posters urging people to boycott American brands in protest of Donal Trump. It’s also the only place in Mexico we saw many openly gay couples walking around.
It’s hard to put it into the right words but the whole city just felt vibrant, politically active, artistic and very tolerant. And it made me like Oaxaca a lot.
I won’t go into any more detail on Mexican food, but when you wander Oaxaca’s streets and markets it’s very easy to see why the region is known as the culinary capital of Mexico. All of the best produce is here, from spicy crickets to mozzarella-like Oaxacan cheese. We would pop in regularly to pick up fresh vegetables for dinner or to grab a quick snack like a tamale.
Oaxacan Hot Chocolate
Again, I shouldn’t keep going on about the food, but the hot chocolate here was SO GOOD that it deserves to be mentioned again! We visited one of the many Chocolate Mayordomo cafés in the city – they’re the biggest chocolate brand of the region but it’s for good reason.
The hot chocolate here is traditionally made with cacao, sugar and water (so it’s also vegan!) and hand mixed in a terracotta jug. It smells incredible, and is best enjoyed for breakfast.
Old VW Beetles
In nearby Puebla, there’s a gigantic Volkswagen factory which has produced millions of Beetles since the 1970’s. For whatever reason, it seems as though most of them have ended up in Oaxaca – they’re everywhere! It became a bit of a game to spot them while walking through town (extra points for a colour you haven’t seen already, obviously). My favourite was the custom “pick-up truck” version!
Hierve el Agua
Translated to English as “the water boils”, Hierve el Agua is a natural wonder that we visited on a day trip from the city. After a slightly terrifying 40 minute “collectivo” ride up the side of a mountain, we arrived to one of the most tranquil views I’ve ever seen.
First we took a dip in the turquoise green pools which are supplied by a natural underground spring. The high mineral content gives it the strange colour and is supposedly great for your skin. We then set off for a hike around to the main Hierve el Agua site – a huge petrified waterfall. Formed by minerals solidifying as the water slowly drips down, it’s an amazing sight to see. And the surrounding mountains aren’t bad either!
La Villada Inn
A hidden gem of a guesthouse nestled in Oaxaca’s surrounding hills. We were given a beautiful private villa because the owner found our height hilarious and then decided to move us to the room with the biggest bed! We were also the only guests so pretty much had a private pool with stunning views all to ourselves. It was the perfect place to spend a day relaxing, and to enjoy our first sunbathing of the trip.
To top it all off, we had a loveable but extremely hyper collie dog to keep us company!