Free Things To Do in Oaxaca
- #1View all PhotosfreeThe Zócalo#1 in Oaxaca0.2 miles to city centerSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.2 miles to city centerSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Oaxaca's main square – formally referred to as the Plaza de la Constitución de Oaxaca, but colloquially called the Zócalo – is a must-see. Skirted by cafes and eateries and bounded by the Palacio de Gobierno (the State Government Palace) on its south side, the Zócalo is a prime spot for people-watching, picking up a souvenir or two and watching day fade into vibrant night. Thanks to its leafy landscaping and many trees, it's also a relaxing place to cool off in the shade. Plus, the Mercado Benito Juárez sits just minutes from the square.
Recent visitors gushed about the Zócalo, saying it's a nice spot for an afternoon coffee or an evening margarita. Others suggested visiting at night when the Zócalo fills with live music. You'll find the Zócalo in the heart of Oaxaca; it is free to enjoy at all hours of the day (though businesses operate on their own hours). For more information, check out Visit Mexico's website.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Oaxaca0.4 miles to city centerChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.4 miles to city centerChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Dating back to 1555, the Templo de Santo Domingo acted as a convent and church before being used as military barracks in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the convent portion of the building contains the Santo Domingo Cultural Center's Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca and botanical garden. But the real feast for the eyes is the church itself, which is outfitted in baroque design, applied in gold leaf and other rich materials. And don't forget to look up: The domed ceiling is covered in medallions featuring Catholic martyrs.
Even visitors who have traveled extensively and seen many of the world's most beautiful churches say the Templo de Santo Domingo wins the prize. The ceiling, they say, is unparalleled.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Oaxaca0.4 miles to city centerSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.4 miles to city centerSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
The Andador de Macedonia Alcala or Calle Macedonio Alcala, as it's sometimes known, is a pedestrian-friendly street that connects the Templo de Santo Domingo and the Zócalo. This north-to-south route is a great way for travelers to orient themselves with the city, especially since many of the top things to do are located in close proximity to it.
Recent visitors call it a lovely walk, punctuated by Colonial architecture, interesting shops and restaurants, the sound of music, and little to no motorbike or vehicle traffic. It's also extremely well-lit and feels very safe, according to other travelers.
- #7View all Photos
To get a taste of Oaxaca, visitors should head to the Benito Juarez Market (Mercado Benito Juárez). Different stalls purvey everything from crickets and mole to grilled meats and homemade tortillas to mezcal and cheeses. Stalls also contain handicrafts and souvenirs.
Most travelers say the Benito Juarez Market is a great place to grab lunch, sample local specialties and get an authentic Mexican market experience. Others say the market feels a bit touristy, but that it's still an interesting place to stop by.
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