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Darryl Leniuk/Getty Images

Key Info

Portal del Palacio, Centro

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Free, Neighborhood/Area, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 5.0Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

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.

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More Best Things To Do in Oaxaca

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#2 Templo de Santo Domingo

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. 

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