5 Not-so-typical Reasons to Visit Oaxaca

Oaxaca is fast becoming the place to visit in Mexico. It has everything, including the best food in the country, incredible ruins, a diverse indigenous population, amazing chocolate and coffee, a perfect climate, and stunning landscapes. Google “Oaxaca” and you will come up with dozens of “top ten reasons to visit Oaxaca” blog posts. They all say pretty much the same thing, so I’ll try to offer a few unconventional reasons for making Oaxaca your next destination.

Take your Time

Oaxaca has a slow pace to it. It’s not frustratingly slow, but slow in a relaxing way. The brief downpours that came each day meant it was time to stop for a cup of hot chocolate, or just sit in a doorway and people watch. I spent two weeks in and around Oaxaca and did not run out of things to do. You can easily sign up for a tour and see the main tourist sites in two days, but you’ll miss out on the chance to sit back, relax, and enjoy the slow pace of Oaxaca.

Discover Responsible Tourism

I wrote about the microfinance tour I took with Fundación En Vía. What a great opportunity to learn about ways to travel and learn that will have a positive impact on the community. 

Feel at Home

Although the city of Oaxaca has a population of about 300,000, it has a small-town feel to it. It is easy to walk almost anywhere in the city and hard to get lost. It is also easy to meet other people. I wrote about meeting Zach in Benito Juárez; before I left for home, I would bump into him randomly on a trail in the mountains and at a market in another town outside of Oaxaca. During my short time there, it was comfortable to meet both locals and travelers. Whether staying in the mountains of the Sierra or with my AirBnB hosts in the city center, I always felt at home. And yes, it is safe!

Dance in the Streets

Okay, I didn’t dance, but I had a great time listening to the band and taking pictures at the weekly dance held in the zócalo. I met Hugo, his brother, and their friend who had all just arrived on an eight-hour journey from their village near Huatulco. Their expert dancing caught my eye. After each song, they would approach a different woman in the crowd and ask her to dance. They told me they learned to dance as kids and were clearly passionate about it. Watch the videos to see them in action!

Return for Another Visit

After one trip to Oaxaca, you’ll want to return for more. I know I do!

Here are some more photos from Oaxaca.

Comments (6):

  1. Lori

    September 3, 2019 at 06:19

    Oh, Tim! I really wish you would have danced!!!!! Great post, thank you for sharing!

    • Tim Flanagan

      September 8, 2019 at 10:07


  2. Vicky Ann

    September 3, 2019 at 20:56

    You live a very persuasive essay! With so much color!

  3. Vicky Ann

    August 11, 2020 at 13:49

    I want to go!

  4. Pam McDonald

    February 16, 2022 at 05:00

    Hi Tim,

    I wonder if you saw the statue of Lucius Smith in Oaxaca. He was my great grandfather. As I understand it, after he died there of an infected snake bite, the residents raised a statue to him in thanks for bringing his brand of Christianity there (Methodism). He wrote a reader of some kind specifically for the locals. He was an amateur botanist as well, sending loads of type specimens to Harvard where they once had a room for his collection. Wish I knew more about him. My uncle visited there decades ago and he and my aunt reported being enthusiastically hosted and shown the statue and other local sites.

    • Tim

      February 16, 2022 at 20:58

      I don’t recall seeing his statue, Pam, but I’ll be sure to look for it the next time I go. What a small world!


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