Sometimes you plan to visit a city for only a few days and sort of get ‘stuck’. This happened to me when I arrived in Oaxaca.
- A small walkable city full of brightly painted colonial buildings, beautiful parks, gardens and museums
- The city also has a vibrant arts scene - many concerts, festivals and gallery openings (mostly free) competing for your attendance. If coming to the city, check the oaxacacalendar website for a list of the regular weekly activities.
- Finally, Oaxaca is famous for its food - traditionally known for its seven moles, markets, mezcal and chocolate - it also has a selection mid to high-end restaurants serving beautifully plated and well thought out food (more posts on food below).
With all these great qualities, and extremely friend people living in the city, my stay grew from one week to two, ...and finally to four.
Here is a highlight of my favourite local and nearby sights:
- Monte Alban - Impressive Zapotec ruins, it was a civic and ceremonial centre that was mysteriously abandoned.
- Hierve el Agua (Spanish for ‘the water boils’) - Natural rock formations that resemble a gigantic waterfall. The smaller cascada chica also creates two natural infinity swimming pools which hang over the cliff of the mountain and overlook a valley of the Sierra Norte mountains.
- El Tule - Claimed to be the widest tree in the world, it is estimated to be over 1500 years old.
- Museums: With a large number of museums for its size, most of them are small and you can do a few in an afternoon. My favorites were the Cultural Centre of Santo Domingo, a huge museum located inside an ex-convent, and the Textile Museum, small but with very interesting exhibits, the building itself is gorgeous and worth the visit alone.
The Jardin Ethno-botanico is incredibly impressive - I went twice! With over 1,000 cactus varieties showing Oaxaca's biodiversity, the Jardin is located on the land of the old Santo Domingo Convent and then occupied by the military for 120 years before the construction of the garden began. Some of the cactus are more than 9 feet tall, and their largest biznaga is over 500 years old (and not even 3 feet high). My first time at the Jardin Ethno-botanico was for the regular tour and a second time for a sound and lightshow which reflected lights of the cacti, incredible.
CLICK BELOW TO SEE FULL-SIZE VIEWS OF THE PHOTOS:
I also fell in love with Matria Jardin Arterapéutico, a small garden that combines art with sustainable horticulture, set within the ruins of a historic house. It really makes you appreciate how every day items such as a bed frame, bath tub, table, and old chair can be incorporated into planters, not just for flowers, but for vegetables and herbs - Gorgeous!