I recently returned from an Oaxaca road trip and full disclosure, it was a bit of a disaster. Well, it was and it wasn’t. As far as trips go it was a fun trip with some friends where we got to see some cool places and eat some delicious breakfast in Oaxaca. But I also had a constant feeling that I wished I’d done a bit more planning!
The truth is I did no planning at all. Not. One. Bit. Something that is essential, especially if you plan to enjoy the day of the dead in Oaxaca.
Which was fine, I had fun and I got to experience a new state in Mexico. But most of all what that short road trip Oaxaca did was get me really excited about planning a second road trip in Oaxaca, one that was better planned by following some solid road trip tips and going when it wasn’t the rainy season so we could actually do more than hang out indoors waiting for the rain to stop…
So here is my Oaxaca road trip itinerary. The one I’m planning on doing very soon! Once I’ve done the road trip Oaxaca I’ll come back here and write about my experience. Even though I haven’t actually been to all of these best places to visit in Oaxaca from my research I couldn’t find anything like this on the internet, so I wanted to share in the hope it would help you in planning your visit to Oaxaca.
PS. If you don’t want to rent a car in Oaxaca because you are worried about driving in Mexico then this Oaxaca itinerary could also be done by public transport. You could also easily add hiking Camino Copalita in Oaxaca, Mexico to your itinerary too!
This is the most obvious starting point for a Oaxaca itinerary, as most people arrive into Oaxaca City via their international airport. Or on a bus from another Mexican city. It’s also going to be a great place to rent a car in Mexico from as you will have many more options for car rentals in Oaxaca city than you will in other places.
Before you pick up your rental car, be sure to spend some time exploring Oaxaca City, eating lots of delicious Mexican food, and catching up on some work at Convivio.
Once you have taken your time exploring Oaxaca City there are some places close by you can explore as day trips.
This is one of Mexico’s most iconic archeological sites and it some truly magical views over the city.
Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?
If you are planning a trip right now then you NEED to think seriously about insurance. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything! Travel insurance has always been high on the list of things to get before you travel but now more than ever it should be at the top of your list! I’m pretty sure we have all had travel plans messed up because of COVID and not all insurers covered this. So you need to find an insurer that covers travel disruption due to COVID-19, World Nomads, Safety Wing, or Travel Insurance Master are the ones to go for.
World Nomads is great for incidents that happen prior to your trip, so if you get sick or are unable to travel due to travel restrictions some of their policies will cover that as cancellation cover.
I also use Travel Insurance Master for some short vacation type trips as they are cheaper than World Nomads a lot of the time.
If you are doing shorter trips or a longer backpacking trip then WorldNomads or Travel Insurance Master are the best option. If you are a digital nomad or planning travel of at least 6 months then go for SafetyWing.
The Tree of Tule
The Tree of Tule is the widest tree in the world and located just 9 km outside of Oaxaca city. I’m not sure I’d make the trip just to see the tree. But as it’s on the way to Monte Alban it’s on my itinerary.
So this isn’t so much or a day trip, it’s more of a multi-day hiking kinda thing. I need to look more into it. But from what I can see it’s better to go on an organized tour with a guide. So that’s what I’ll be looking at doing. You can read more about it here.
When you are ready to leave Oaxaca I would suggest heading north first and then doing a big loop that will bring you back to Oaxaca city. Please find below a map of the places on this Oaxaca road trip itinerary so you can see the geographical location of each place. It’s in numeric order so you can easily see the order to travel to each place in.
San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec
More commonly referred to simply as Tuxtepec it is located in the North of Oaxaca and a beautiful place surrounded by the Papaloapan River. It was an important place for the Aztecs and then the Spanish conquerors. It’s the ideal jumping-off place for entering the Chinantla and discovering a way of life that is in harmony with nature. There is a lot of things to do here so give yourself enough time to fully immerse yourself.
Capulalpam de Mendez
One of Mexicos Pueblo Magicos, Capulalpam de Mendes borders neighboring Varacruze in the north of Oaxaca high in the Sierra Juarez mountain range. Please visit here to explore the nature and do outdoor activities like zip-lining.
Tecotitlan del Valle
Next up on this Oaxaca itinerary is Tecotitlan del Valle at the base of the Sierra Juarez mountains. Tecotitlan de Valle is renowned for its artisan goods from weaving to woodwork. Here is the best place in Oaxaca to shop for local products and learn about the traditions behind them.
San Pablo Villa de Mitla
Commonly referred to simply as Mitla people travel here to explore the archeological site, wander around the churches, shop at the craft markets, and most importantly eat all the different color Mole!
It’s time to head south to Huatulco Mexico for beaches, waterfalls, and lots of hidden adventures. You can spend time here in Parque Eco-Arqueológico Copalita exploring the pre-hispanic ruins, and on the coast at Huatulco National Park. Or you can just chill at the beach in the town of La Crucecita.
I did actually make it to Mazunte, but I can’t really tell you much about it as it rained the entire time! From what I saw it’s a super cute Pueblo Magico with a great Pizza restaurant and a nice beach. We stayed at some accommodation high up on the cliff with amazing views. We decided to leave early because of the rain, but I will go back and stay there again for sure.
Give yourself at least 3 days in Puerto Escondido, more if you have time. The main thing to do here is to explore the beaches and go surfing. Don’t expect to get decent wifi here, you will be disappointed. We stayed at Casa Daikiri and loved it.
The location was great, it had a pool and a decent kitchen, and the staff were super friendly. You may ee lots of advertising for turtle releasing, personally I would avoid this are I’m not sure it’s very ethical, but do some research and make your own mind up.
This is the place to visit to see the bioluminescent and the ‘frozen’ waterfall.
Lagunas de Chacahua
More lakes!!! It’s a little off the beaten path, but totally worth adding to your Oaxaca itinerary if you have time. Not only are the lakes supposed to be absolutely stunning there is also a traditional Medicine center that I really want to visit. You can take a boat ride through the mangrove forest to the beach where you can stay.
Time to leave the coast now and head back up into the mountains. San Jose del Pacifico is the ‘mushroom capital of Mexico’. I wrote a whole blog post about it that you can read here. 1 or 2 nights is enough here.
Santa Catarina Minas
I’m sure by now on your Oaxaca road tip you have already been introduced to Mezcal but how much do you know about the Mezcal distilling process? Santa Catarina Minas is a great place you can stop off on your way back to Oaxaca City to visit a small mezcal producer to learn all about it. You don’t need to spend the night here a few hours is enough.
And that’s it! You are back in Oaxaca City where you can return your rental car and hit up the fast wifi at Convivio coworking to upload all of your epic Oaxaca road trip pictures and catch up on your emails.