It's no exaggeration to say that we loved Oaxaca. It's on our list of places we could actually live, and that's not a long list (Lisbon, Ubud and, let's be real, anywhere in Japan).
Sometimes it's hard to figure out exactly why a place grabs you, but for Oaxaca it was obvious. It's colourful and full of street art. It's easily walkable, but there are plenty of things to do. The streets are lined with great coffee shops and restaurants. It's surrounded by mountains, ancient ruins and indigenous villages. There are interesting markets to explore.
And then there's the food. We ate very well here. Oaxaca has some of the best food in Mexico and there are lots of regional dishes to try. One of the more intriguing ones is chapulines (grasshoppers). We put this off until the last day, but they're not as bad as you think (there's a lot of chilli and lime involved).
It's our favourite place in Mexico, and I'm sure we'll be back.
Oaxaca has a surprising number of museums and galleries for its size. A lot of them are in beautifully preserved colonial buildings and most are free or M$20 to get in. My favourites were the stamp museum (much more interesting than it sounds, trust me!), the textile museum and the cultural centre.
Where to eat
This is the only photo I took of the food in Oaxaca and I think that speaks for how good it is (I was too busy stuffing my face).
- Boulenc Bakery: The best breakfast spot, this bakery has everything from Mexican breakfasts to croissants. The coffee is great too.
- Restaurante Cabuche: When we couldn't decide where to eat, we always ended up here. Not the usual Mexican fare, we must have tried half the menu and it was all delicious.
- Zandunga: A lovely place for dinner, get the sharing platter to try a bit of everything.
- La Biznaga: A nice courtyard and a menu of traditional Oaxacan dishes.
- Itanoni: Up in Reforma, this casual lunch spot specialises in corn antojitos (small dishes) of all kinds, think memelas, tacos and quesadillas.
- Los Danzantes: Modern Oaxacan food in a lovely setting, this is a great place to come for a special occasion.
Where to stay: Hotel Posada del Centro is right near the zocalo with nice rooms and friendly staff, go for a shared bathroom if you're on a budget.
Lots more on Oaxaca's street art, coffee shops and day trips coming up!