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Where to Stay in Oaxaca

Where to Stay in Oaxaca, Mexico – a city of fine cuisine and unusual festivities

Millions of tourists visit Mexico each year for its pristine beaches, crystal clear sea, culture, and history. While most of these visits are to its capital, Mexico City, or to summer resorts such as Cancun, or Cabo, this is far from what this splendid country has to offer. One of the lesser-known areas of Mexico, located in the southern part of the country is the state of Oaxaca (wah-hah-kah). 

This state is distinguished by its indigenous culture, unique and lively crafts and arts, traditional celebrations, and folklore, but most of all, by superb local cuisine and natural wonders. Its perfect location between Sierra Madre mountains and beaches provides some of the most astonishing landscapes and scenery for both locals and travelers to admire. 

Conscious of their colonial and cultural treasures, the government has been promoting eco-tourism with an aim to conserve their centuries-old legacy.

Image source: acawanderer

Five Best neighborhoods to stay in Oaxaca

The central place of this state occupies its capital, Oaxaca City, Oaxaca de Juárez or simply Oaxaca. This colonial city has developed into a cultural and historical hub of the area. As one of the rare cities in the world to contain examples of all the historical periods of their country such as pre-Hispanic, colonial, independent, and modern, the city along with the archeological location of Monte Albán has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. 

Thanks to its authenticity and avoiding mass tourism, Oaxaca is slowly becoming a favorite destination for locals and ex-pats searching for tranquility and abundance of activities and landmarks. 

Despite being a relatively small city, Oaxaca is divided into many neighborhoods which are at a walking distance from each other while some of them even merge at some point. Each district is unique in content and activities. 

But some of these neighborhoods are better than others. With so many options, it can be difficult to find the best area to stay in during your visit to this marvelous city. We have gathered some of the best areas for you and here is what we suggest:

  1. Centro
  2. Santo Domingo 
  3. El Llano 
  4. Jalatlaco
  5. La Noria

These are the top 5 neighborhoods to stay in Oaxaca and to help you even more with finding accommodation and securing a pleasurable stay in this city, here are the features of each neighborhood and for which activities they are ideal: 

Neighborhood

Ideal for: 

Why?

Centro

First-timers

Center of all landmarks and activities of the area

Santo Domingo

Nightlife

Energetic nightlife, restaurants, tavernas, and bars

El Llano

On a budget

Backpacker experience

Jalatlaco

Bohemians and ex-pats

The coolest place with a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere

La Noria

Long-term stay and families

Local experience, peaceful but with many attractions

Where to stay in Oaxaca for the first time – Centro

In most of the cities around the world, the majority of attractions are usually located in its central area, and Oaxaca isn’t any different. Centro, or Center, is the very heart of the city. As such, it is the most congested neighborhood in Oaxaca. Not only does it have many cultural and historical landmarks, but it also provides numerous shopping, dining, and entertainment options. 

In addition, it is well connected with surrounding neighborhoods which you can explore even on foot, as well as with other cities in the state. As a result, it is the ideal place for the first visit to this colorful city since its colonial architecture and cobblestone streets are truly something special and unique.  Image source: tomomiyoshim

Things to see and do in Centro

As the central neighborhood of Oaxaca, there is plenty to see and do here. Inquire about the incredibly rich culture and history of this area, participate in some of the craft workshops, and make unique and memorable souvenirs to remind you of Oaxaca. 

Here are our recommendations: 

  • Monte Alban 
  • Museo de Los Pintores Oaxaqueños
  • MACO
  • Casa de la Ciudad
  • Zocalo

Monte Alban 

Take a short walk to the nearby Santa Cruz municipality and take a tour around one of the largest pre-Columbian archeological sites declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. 

Image source: indsay_caron

Museo de Los Pintores Oaxaqueños

If you are an art lover, then you will know to appreciate and admire the collection of contemporary art presented in this museum.

Image source: arianereine

MACO

Museum of Contemporary Art of Oaxaca or MACO is another place worth visiting and acquainting yourself with some of the exquisite art pieces of some of the most renowned Oaxacan artists. 

Image source: jose_keyblade

Casa de la Ciudad 

A place where most activities in Oaxaca take place, this community center seems like a great place not only to admire the exhibited pieces but also to engage in some interesting and creative workshops. 

Image source: worldbikeforum

Zocolo

Zocolo is the main town square where both international and domestic travelers like to gather especially during the night as it serves as the meeting point. 

Image source: majo_sal

Where to stay in Centro

Since this neighborhood is the hub of Oaxaca, it is tourist-friendly in the sense that it offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every taste. Despite being the heart and soul of the city, in comparison to other travel destinations, it is quite affordable. The average price in Airbnbs is $41 per night. Our top picks are:

Affordable option – This private room with an incredible view

Moderate option – This apartment in the historical part of the town

Luxury option – This green loft in the city center of Oaxaca

Find more Airbnbs in Centro here

Where to stay in Oaxaca for nightlife – Santo Domingo

North of the city center within walking distance, Santo Domingo is located. This peculiar and vivid neighborhood is most famous for its energetic and vibrant nightlife. With so many restaurants, tavernas, and bars, it is the favorite area not only for parties but also for trying out some of the most delicious local dishes and drinks such as diverse moles, which is a type of a sauce, chapulines, spicy fried grasshoppers, or tasting the local drink, mezcal, and many more. 

Image source: axelmalohdz

Things to see and do in Santo Domingo

This neighborhood has an interesting combination of clubs and bars, colorful colonial architecture, and historical heritage. Check out our must-see places in Santo Domingo:

  • Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán
  • La Mezcaloteca
  • El Cortijo Mezcaleria
  • Oaxaca Brewing Company
  • Los Danzantes

Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán

This temple with impressive architecture and art is the most iconic landmark of this neighborhood. 

Image source:

La Mezcaloteca

As a part of the local experience, you should visit La Mezcaloteca and learn everything about the local drink mezcal. Don’t worry, tasting is included!

Image source: renebeckhansen

El Cortijo Mezcaleria

This is a great place to stop by and try different blends of mezcal. Polite and kind staff will assist you in buying the most suitable blend for you. 

Image source: jony137b

Oaxaca Brewing Company

Oaxaca is famous in this area of Mexico for many distilleries and small brewing companies. Stop by this one and try some of the unique craft beers. 

Image source: oaxacabrewingco

Los Danzantes

Los Danzantes is the perfect restaurant to try some of the rich and delicious Oaxacan food. If you decide to visit this place, make reservations in advance as it is quite a popular place. 

Image source: danzantesoaxaca

Image source: louise_rothschild

Where to stay in Santo Domingo 

This area tends to become quite busy especially during the night so make sure to seek accommodation in some quieter parts of the street if you decide on this neighborhood as your base. The average nightly price in Airbnbs is $39. We recommend:

Affordable optionThis nice house in a quiet area

Moderate optionThis room in a hostel 

Luxury optionThis small but luxurious house 

For more Airbnbs in Santo Domingo click here.