13 Reasons Oaxaca, Mexico, Should Be Zoomed To The Top Of Your Bucket List

It will become the love of your life!

Oaxaca is a state in southern Mexico that's unique in many ways, from its tasty food and incredible nature to its mystical ancient ruins. It's basically impossible not to fall in love with.

1. The local food in Oaxaca is some of the best you'll eat in your entire life.

Probably Oaxaca's biggest gift to the people of Mexico (and the world!): tlayudas (a big, thin corn tortilla base often topped with beans, cheese, and other ingredients), queso Oaxaca (or string cheese as we know it in the US), and chapulines (dried grasshoppers, and yes, they're delicious).

2. Oaxacan hot chocolate tastes like nothing you've ever tried before.

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Forget the idea you have of foamy hot chocolate. This one's way different but is absolutely delicious. Oaxacan chocolate is made with a cacao and almond paste, mixed with spices (like cinnamon) and sugar. This mix is then compounded into blocks, which can later be dissolved in either hot water or milk. YUM!

3. You can sample some of the best mezcal in the world.

In Oaxaca's marvellous agave fields, you can meet the "maestros mezcalerosare" (masters of mezcal) — families that have been producing this national drink for years, passing the knowledge from generation to generation. Visit a palenque (mezcal distillery) and try all the flavors that come from different varieties of agave.

4. In the capital, there are bursts of color everywhere you look.

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Oaxaca City is the capital of the state and honestly one of the most vibrant and lively cities in Mexico. You'll find great museums, outstanding restaurants, imposing colonial buildings, and unique local handicrafts.

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5. And not to mention all the amazing endemic plants in the Ethnobotanical Garden of Santo Domingo.

This breathtaking botanical garden is home to hundreds of plant species from the whole state of Oaxaca. It's part of the Santo Domingo Cultural Center, so while you're there you can also visit the beautiful Santo Domingo cathedral.

6. Just outside the city, you can visit the massive Tule Tree.

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This ancient tree near Oaxaca City is one of the biggest in the world. Hidden in its bark, you'll find lots of figures of animals, fruits, and even celebrities (you can pay a local guide to show them to you). Another fun fact: It's said that you need more than 30 people holding hands to "hug" the tree.


7. It's full of rich history, like the archeological sites of Mitla and Monte Albán.

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Monte Albán used to be the capital city of the Zapotec empire, and it's only five miles away from Oaxaca City. It's the most important archeological site in the region, and it offers amazing views of the valley. Mitla is another nearby site that is believed to have been created by the Zapotecs as a sacred burial ground. Both are definitely worth a visit.

8. There are stunning natural wonders that will make you feel like you're not on Earth anymore.

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Hierve el agua (or "boiling water") is the most beautiful natural wonder in Oaxaca. It consists of calcified waterfalls, with big and small ponds filled with a turquoise water. It looks so surreal, it's almost as though you're on the surface of another planet.


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9. You can sleep above the clouds in the nearby mountain town of San José del Pacífico.

This town perched in the middle of the Oaxacan mountains has astonishing views over the forests and valleys below. You'll see the clouds underneath you change color as time goes by. It's a place where you can find peaceful, rustic cottages that'll bring you closer to Oaxacan nature and mountain culture.

10. If you go to any of its beaches, you'll get a taste of *true* paradise.

Puerto Escondido, Huatulco, Chacahua, Carrizalillo, Zicatela, San Agustinillo, Zipolite, Mazunte...these are just a few of the mesmerizing beaches located in Oaxaca. Soak up the nature, have a surf session, load up on great mariscos (seafood), and get ready to party a little (or a lot).

11. And you can also get to know the contemporary side of Oaxaca at San Agustín Etla Arts Center.

Just 40 minutes from Oaxaca City, you'll find this inspiring arts center called San Agustín Etla. It's located in what used to be a textile mill built during the early 20th century, when Porfirio Díaz was the president of Mexico. Explore the building and discover the many architectural, natural, and artistic wonders all around it.

12. The unique local handicrafts are so good, you'll probably want to bring one of everything home.

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There are tons of wonderful handicrafts all throughout Oaxaca, but there are two things you cannot miss: the barro negro (pottery made with black clay) of San Bartolo Coyotepec, and the bright textiles of Teotitlán del Valle.

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13. And if you visit in July, you'll get a taste of the state's traditional sounds, dances, and food in the Guelaguetza festival.

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This annual celebration takes place in late July, and is the biggest and most important in Oaxaca. Try to time your trip accordingly, so you can see traditional dances and costumes, and try authentic foods from all eights regions of the state.

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