1. Calle Alcala
Calle Alcala is probably the most popular attraction in Oaxaca City. It is a long street, about 5 or 6 blocks long that is blocked off from vehicle traffic, so there is foot traffic and the occasional bicycle. The street starts at the Central Square, and ends at Santo Domingo church, and enormous and beautiful landmark. Calle Alcala is FULL of art galleries, handcraft shops, bookstores, and small café’s. Strolling up and down Calle Alcala is a MUST when visiting Oaxaca.
2. Street Art
Oaxaca has a HUGE art community which is clear from all the great art galleries located around the city, but as you’re walking from place to place, pay attention to the walls around you because you will notice some beautiful street art! Every time I visit Oaxaca I am anxious to see all the amazing works of street art! Keep you eyes open and I’m sure you will see something beautiful!3. Amate Books
Amate Books is located on Calle Alcala, it is a small bookstore, but it’s selection is amazing. I feel as if the bookstore was opened just for me! I want to read everything! It selection ranges from used classics, Central American history books, Mezcal and Oaxaca history books, to social awareness and social justice books. Amate books is my favorite stop in Oaxaca.
4. The Oaxacan Coffee Company
If you’re in Oaxaca strolling along Calle Alcala and feel like a little boost of energy stop by The Oaxacan Coffee Company. The place is small and quaint, comfortable and clean. The employees are always extremely friendly and helpful. On my first trip to Oaxaca I stopped in for a coffee and sat and talked with the barista while he was making my drink, he was so friendly I ended up drinking my coffee with him (which I ordered to go) and then ordered a chocolate croissant! Which by the way are amazing, and they don’t just have chocolate – their croissant flavors are endless! I highly recommend The Oaxacan Coffee Company for all your coffee needs while in Oaxaca!5. Central Square
The Central Square of Oaxaca is where it all happens. It is surrounded by great restaurants, which will never disappoint. In the center is a gazebo where live music is played every once in awhile. The Central Square is always full of people. Entertainers, people trying to sell their good, shoe shiners (you’ll get the best shoe shine of your life here), travelers, tourists, and locals alike. This place is great for grabbing a bite to eat, sitting down with a good book, or just people watching.
6. THE FOOD
My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Most Oaxacan’s will tell you that the food in Oaxaca is some of the best in the world. I’m here to tell you that they are not wrong. The food in Oaxaca is traditional Mexican food, and because of its close proximity to the sea there’s a lot of really great seafood. I can talk about it all I want, but I really think you all will just have to experience it for yourselves!
7. Mezcal Palenque’s
For those of you who don’t know, mezcal is a spirit similar to tequila. Tequila is made from one type of agave plant (blue agave) in one specific region on Mexico, while mezcal is made from many different agave plants all over the state of Oaxaca. Mezcal is usually a bit stronger than tequila, but the smoky flavor can’t be beat. I’ve been really lucky on my trips to Oaxaca because I’ve been able to tag along with some of the Ilegal Mezcal guys to the Palenque, or factory, where they make the mezcal that is served at Café No Se in Antigua. The drive out to the Palenque is one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever taken. Driving through the desert with beautiful mountains all around you. Once at the Palenque it’s standard to take a quick tour to see the magic that is the making of mezcal. There are mezcal palenque’s everywhere in Oaxaca and most producers will be more than happy to show you around. Just take a short drive out of town and stop at the fist one you see. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
8. In Situ
In Situ is a small mezcaleria with over 100 different types of mezcal. The owners are beautiful people, and are incredibly knowledgeable about every product. When you go, don’t even look at the menu, just ask them what they recommend and let them do their thing. If you like mezcal, you’ll like it here!9. Casa de las Artesanías de Oaxaca
While there are many many handcraft stores and markets in Oaxaca, this one is by far my favorite. It’s a huge store located right off Calle Alcala. It sells the work of over 50 small, family run workshops around Oaxaca. You can find ceramic skulls (a Oaxacan tradition), rugs, hammocks, jewelry, small hand painted trinkets, and much more.
10. Los Amantes
Los Amantes is another little mezcaleria which only serves one brand of mezcal, Los Amantes. Los Amantes mezcal is made from an agave plant called espadin. It’s sweet and smoky. Again if you’re a mezcal fan you’ll like it here. And even if you’re not a fan of mezcal, go anyway. It’s a great place to hang out