Oaxaca Offers Adventure and Culture for Every Traveler

Discover the enchanting beauty of Oaxaca, Mexico, where the past meets the present in a vibrant blend of culture, tradition, and natural wonders. From colonial architecture and archaeological sites to colorful handicrafts and exquisite gastronomy, Oaxaca offers a rich and diverse experience.

Oaxaca Offers Adventure and Culture for Every Traveler
The stunning Temple of Santo Domingo de Guzman in Oaxaca boasts Mexican Baroque architecture and impressive interior decoration. Credit: SIC

Oaxaca, a state located in the southeast of Mexico, is a treasure trove of natural beauty, history, culture, and traditions. It is a popular destination for both local and foreign tourists, thanks to its diverse offerings that range from beaches, mountains, forests, and valleys to archaeological sites, colonial architecture, and an incredible biodiversity of flora and fauna. Here's a closer look at what makes Oaxaca a must-visit destination.

Access and Location

Oaxaca is only five hours away from Mexico City by the Mexico-Puebla-Oaxaca superhighway. Additionally, it has a well-connected airport, which makes it accessible by air. It's a perfect location for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse themselves in a natural paradise.

A Feast of Colonial Architecture

The historic center of the city, made of green quarry, is declared a Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO. The Plaza de la Constitución or "Zocalo" is one of the most beautiful squares in Mexico and is the heart of the vibrant city. The andador Macedonio Alcalà or "Andador Furistico" is a pedestrian street that showcases museums, old colonial houses, galleries, restaurants, and handicraft and jewelry stores.

Visitors can explore the Temple of Santo Domingo de Guzman, one of the most impressive baroque-style churches in Mexico. The church is adorned with gold leaf and exquisite interior decorations. The ex-convent of Santo Domingo, one of the largest colonial buildings in Mexico, now houses the Santo Domingo Cultural Center, which features the Museum of the Cultures of Oaxaca, the Fray Francisco de Burgoa Library, the Ethnobotanical Historical Garden, and areas for conferences, congresses, exhibitions, courses, and concerts.

A Haven of Arts and Crafts

Oaxaca is known for its traditional and colorful handicrafts, which include ceramics, textiles, basketry, saddlery, goldwork, carved wood, and tin leaf figures. The state's handicrafts reflect its culture and traditions, and they are an essential part of its identity. Visitors can buy these unique handicrafts at local markets and shops.

A Culinary Journey

Oaxacan cuisine is one of the richest and most diverse in Mexico and the world, with pre-Hispanic ingredients forming a fundamental part of the dishes. Visitors should not miss out on trying the famous "mole oaxaqueño," a sauce made from a blend of chili peppers, chocolate, and spices.

There are seven varieties of mole in Oaxaca, each with a unique flavor and preparation method. Other must-try dishes include chiles rellenos, quesillo, dayudas, typical tamales, flavored ice creams, fresh fruit waters, rich tasajo, gulas soup, and the totopos of the region of the Isthmus.

Traditional Festivals and Celebrations

Oaxaca is a state full of traditions and customs that have been passed down from generation to generation. Visitors can experience these unique cultural celebrations and festivals, such as "La Guelaguetza," a festival that celebrates indigenous culture through music and dance. Another popular celebration is the "Noche de Rábanos," which is celebrated on December 28th every year and features the carving of radishes into intricate shapes.

Witness the vibrant and colorful dress of the women of Santo Domingo Tehuantepec.
Witness the vibrant and colorful dress of the women of Santo Domingo Tehuantepec, a town full of customs and traditions in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca.

Alternative Tourism

Oaxaca offers three types of alternative tourism: ecotourism, adventure tourism, and rural tourism. Visitors can enjoy a range of outdoor activities such as rafting or kayaking on rivers, paragliding in the valley of Zaachila or Tlacolula, mountain climbing in the Sierras Norte and Sur, the Coast, the Mixteca, and the Central Valleys of the state. Recreational fishing in Huatulco or Yosocuta, rappelling in Piedra de Moros, Punta Celeste, Copalitilla, or Apoala, and rock climbing in Punta Celeste or Tlacolula are other thrilling activities that visitors can enjoy. Those looking for a more relaxing experience can opt for horseback riding in Santa Ana and Teotitlán, in the Tlacolula Valley, or hiking in the Coast, Sierra, Valles, and Mixteca.

Nature Lovers' Paradise

Nature lovers can enjoy swimming in natural pools in Copalitilla, La Guacamaya, Apoala, Laollaga, or Tlacotepec while observing the countless species of flora and fauna throughout the state. Visitors can also participate in the elaboration of wool rugs in Teotitlán and Santa Ana del Valle, the green clay of Atzompa, and the multicolored pottery of the Aguilar family in Ocotlán. Additionally, they can taste and learn how bread, pulque, beverages, and local dishes are made in different communities. Coffee lovers can explore the processing of coffee in the Pacifico, Alemania, and La Gloria farms in Pochutla.

Indigenous Wisdom

Oaxaca is also rich in indigenous wisdom that is steeped in mysticism. Visitors can learn about this heritage by participating in tours and workshops that highlight traditional practices such as herbal medicine, temazcal, and other indigenous practices.

In conclusion, Oaxaca is a state that has something for everyone, whether you're interested in nature, culture, history, or adventure. It's a place where visitors can immerse themselves in a unique world of natural beauty, traditions, and customs. With its accessible location, diverse offerings, and friendly locals, Oaxaca is undoubtedly one of the top destinations in Mexico.