PrimorTravel

Where to Stay in Oaxaca in 2021 – Best Areas and Hotels

In a deep valley of the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca mountain range, Mexico, there is a colorful city rich in flavors, history, and culture that will enchant you with its mystic vibe: Oaxaca. Located in the south of Mexico, this is the largest city and capital of the state of Oaxaca, the most ethnically and linguistically diverse state in the country!

Thanks to its colonial architecture, archeological sites, and indigenous origins, Oaxaca became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and once there you won’t wonder why! Just in the city center, you’ll be able to travel back in time through the Santo Domingo de Guzmán Church, the historic Zócalo square, and the Oaxaca Cathedral or visit its numerous museums.

If you’re interested in exploring the ancient Zapotec and Mixtec ruins, you’ll be happy to know that Monte Alban, one of the largest archeological sites in Mexico, lies inside a beautiful green valley only a short drive from Oaxaca. But Oaxaca is much more than this, with the flavors and aromas that you can experience in its food markets and the fiestas of its clubs and bars, you’ll never want to leave this city!

After all, this Mexican Jewel is the home of the famous Mezcal, the ‘smoky tequila’ that will give you the right energy to go party, and the best place to celebrate the famous Day of the Dead festival (Dia de Muertos), celebrated with music, drinks, and traditional food in vibrant colors. Oaxaca is also known as the “land of the 7 moles” because of its different sauces (that’s what mole means) with which the locals prepare delicious meals. So… are you ready for your exciting vacation?

Being the largest city in the state, there are so many areas where to stay in Oaxaca for different interests and budgets, so it could be quite hard to choose the perfect one for your needs and expectations.

To help you with that, I made this neighborhood guide with all the best accommodations, from budget to luxury. So no need to worry about anything but making sure to book your hotel in advance, this is one of the most loved cities in Mexico by tourists and places go fast!

Ready? Let’s go!

If you are in a hurry

If you need to make a quick decision for your stay in Oaxaca, I gathered the best accommodation options in Oaxaca Centro sorted by price:

airbnb

Casa la Joya

An Airbnb with amazing reviews

budget hotel

Las Mariposas Eco

Best affordable accommodation in the center

Here’s a map to help you have a mental image of all the areas that I will be talking about in this post:

1. Centro – where to stay in Oaxaca for the first time

The City Center also called “Centro”, is the soul and heart of Oaxaca. This busy and bustling neighborhood is the best place to stay if it is your first time in Oaxaca and you want to experience a little of everything: shops, restaurants, bars, and the city’s most famous historical attractions.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, downtown Oaxaca is characterized by Spanish colonial architecture which gives the city a glorious atmosphere.

Even though there are many inspiring museums and art galleries, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Casa de la Ciudad, just walking in Centro streets is an experience, with all its sounds, smells, tastes, and local people’s welcoming spirit. Check out the Macedonia Alcalá, a pedestrian promenade full of shops, bars, and hotels.

Offering also lively nightlife, well-connected public transport, and a wide variety of hotels, the Historic Center is the perfect area for any kind of first-time traveler!

Luxury hotel

Enjoy luxury in the spacious rooms of the Quinta Real Oaxaca, featuring tiled floors, colonial-style décor, and big cushions, right in the heart of Oaxaca! After visiting the Oaxaca Cathedral, just a short walk away, relax in the swimming pool, have a drink in the on-site bar or work out in the hotel’s fitness center if you want to stay active!

Other accommodation options in Centro

Budget

Enjoy spacious rooms and a charming interior courtyard in Oaxaca Centro

Things to do in Centro

  • Check out the impressive Oaxaca Cathedral, one of the oldest churches on the continent
  • Browse an exquisite collection of local art at the Museo de Los Pintores Oaxaqueños!
  • Go for a stroll and do some shopping at the atmospheric Macedonia Alcalá
  • Gaze at the works of well-known Oaxacan artists at MACO, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Oaxaca
  • Dress up and go on the street to celebrate the famous Day of the dead in November!
  • Check out the creative and artistic exhibitions of Casa de la Ciudad

2. Santo Domingo – where to stay in Oaxaca for nightlife

North of the city center you will find Barrio de Santo Domingo, a small neighborhood with the best nightlife in Oaxaca. With its countless bars, lively clubs, and restaurants, its charming cobblestone streets come to life as soon as the sun goes down!

But Santo Domingo also has a lot to offer during the day too, this is one of the most beautiful areas of the city thanks to its colorful buildings and spectacular heritage sites. In fact, here you’ll find the Santo Domingo Cathedral, a spectacular masterpiece of art, architecture, and design. Just nearby there’s also the 17th-century monastery that today is home to the Museum of Cultures of Oaxaca, showing the region’s history through many artifacts.

But if you are hungover and don’t feel like visiting (I understand you), you can go have a picnic or just relax under the shade of the trees in the beautiful botanical gardens, dedicated to preserving and displaying plants native to the local region. Santo Domingo’s mix between party, history, and culture, is also typical of the capital Mexico City, a must-stop for your trip in Mexico if you’re not in a rush!

Luxury hotel

Have a unique experience in this boutique hotel, where tradition and modernity mix to create an atmosphere of luxury and exclusivity.  Located within walking distance from Santo Domingo church, the hotel gives you easy access to Oaxaca’s best restaurants and bars, and a spa and wellness center to relax!

Other accommodation options in Santo Domingo

Mid-Range

Boutique hotel with beautiful garden and sun terrace, in Barrio de Santo Domingo

Budget

Spacious rooms and a nice garden in Santo Domingo, at great value for the price!

Airbnb

Entire residential house with all amenities, in Santo Domingo city center

Things to do in Santo Domingo

  • Be amazed by the art and colonial architecture of Santo Domingo Church
  • Have a picnic at the green Botanical Gardens
  • Sample and learn all about the true mezcal at La Mezcaloteca
  • Dance the night away at El Barracuda club
  • Enjoy some good cocktails at Passion Bar
  • Learn about Oaxaca history at the Museum of Cultures of Oaxaca
  • Bring your kid to the Children’s Museum of Oaxaca!

3. Zocalo – where to stay in Oaxaca for culture

Zocalo is a bustling Spanish-style square composed of a regular grid of narrow streets, located in the City Center, and surrounded by the most iconic buildings like the government palace and the 18th-century Cathedral. Lined with restaurants, mariachi bands, and vendors selling fresh delicious fruit, beautiful clothing, and textiles, this is the perfect area to discover the city just by wandering around!

If you want to deep dive into Oaxaca culture, in this area there are several must-sees for you, starting of course from the architecturally stunning Santo Domingo Church! If you’re obsessed with markets like me, Benito Juarez market gives you a good representation of Oaxaca, with the various stalls where you’ll find a mix of everything, from fishmongers to local food, artisans, and clothing.

In between the Zocalo plaza and Santo Domingo neighborhood, you’ll find some amazing museums like the Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art, art galleries selling local art, and a lot of traditional dining places… after your stay here you will know everything about Oaxaca culture! If you can’t wait to be there, book your accommodation immediately and secure a spot in one of the following hotels!

Luxury hotel

Enjoy the spacious and cozy rooms of the boutique hotel Casa Antonieta, featuring a lovely sun terrace where to relax and a nice bar to enjoy a cocktail and meet other travelers. Start your day with an amazing continental breakfast and take advantage of the hotel’s great location to visit all of Oaxaca’s best attractions!

Other accommodation options in Zocalo

Mid-Range

Boutique rooms with private patio, walking distance from Zocalo main square

Budget

Enjoy family rooms and a delicious breakfast in the heart of Oaxaca City

Airbnb

Enjoy the Oaxaca City skyline views from your spacious apartment!

Things to do in Zocalo

  • Wander around the beautiful colonial main square Zocalo
  • Attend one of the many festivals held at Plaza de Armas such as the Night of the Radishes or Fiesta de Rábanos
  • Check out the various stalls of the colorful market Mercado Benito Juárez!
  • Visit the Museum of Regional Textiles, an encounter between people, traditions, design, and contemporary art!

4. La Noria – where to stay in Oaxaca with the family

Just south of Centro there is Barrio de La Noira, a peaceful residential neighborhood, perfect if you’re looking for a quiet place to spend some quality time with the family while at the same time being very close to Oaxaca’s main attractions.

Here you can have a taste of Mexico by trying the delicious dishes in its restaurants or in the famous Mercado de Artesanias (where you can also do some craftsman shopping) and enjoy the many bars and shops of the area.

But La Noria is also the perfect base to explore further afield: Monte Alban, the archaeological site where you can explore the Zapotec ruins, is only a short drive away, as well as the Templo de San Agustin, an ancient church and convent which is definitely worth a visit!

Luxury hotel

Enjoy luxury in the beautifully furnished and comfortable rooms of  Casa Divina Oaxaca, an exclusive Boutique Hotel set in a restored 19th-century building. Start the day with a complimentary organic breakfast and excellent coffee, and discover something new about Oaxaca city every day thanks to the hotel’s great location!

Other accommodation options in La Noria

Mid-Range

Enjoy the outdoor swimming pool of this boutique hotel in the central Barrio de La Noria

Budget

Enjoy panoramic city views from the terrace of your cozy room in La Noria

Things to do in La Noria

  • Visit the Ex Convento de los 7 Principes
  • Try some street food from the many stalls
  • Shop for local crafts at the market Mercado de Artesanías de Oaxaca
  • Try delicious Mexican, Latin and Spanish food at Sabor Antiguo!
  • Take a day trip to the nearby Monte Alban to explore the archaeological site and the ruins of the ancient Zapotec capital!

5. Jalatlaco – the coolest neighborhood to stay in Oaxaca

If you’re all about street art, quirky bars, and hip vibes, then Barrio de Jalatlaco will blow your mind! This colorful neighborhood, located across the dry river bed, east of the Barrio del Centro, brims with art galleries, museums, vibrant murals, cozy coffee shops, and a laid-back atmosphere.

Walk through the charming cobbled streets, stop to look at the colorful single-story houses and try traditional Oaxacan dishes in the numerous family-run restaurants, or the popular taco stands (street food is a must here!).

Here you can also visit the majestic Temple de San Matías Jalatlaco, but if you want to explore more attractions, the City Center and Santo Domingo are just a 10-minute walk away!

Luxury hotel

Enjoy the modern interior design of this colorful and vibrant hotel, reflecting the vibe of the Jalatlaco neighborhood! Enjoy its amazing breakfast, relax in the outdoor swimming pool on the rooftop terrace, and have the best drinks at the on-site bar, all within walking distance from Oaxaca center.

Other accommodation options in Jalatlaco

Mid-Range

Beautiful rooms with access to a private balcony and the hotel’s garden

Budget

Comfortable family rooms located in a quiet neighborhood

Things to do in Jalatlaco

  • Visit the majestic Templo de San Matias Jalatlaco!
  • Try delicious local dishes and delicacies at Cocina Económica El Atrio
  • Discover all the colorful street murals and take some nice pictures
  • Eat the best tacos of your life at one of the popular taco street stands
  • Have some good drinks with tasty snacks more at Mesón Jalatlaco

6. Reforma – where to stay in Oaxaca on a budget

Located northeast of Centro, lies Barrio de Reforma, a chic and quiet neighborhood brimming with boutiques, international restaurants, wine stores, and unique bars where you can sample the best mezcals of the region.

Reforma is the perfect place if you’re looking for a relaxed stay far from the hustle and bustle of the more touristic areas, and you want to enjoy good dining and lazy shopping, but aren’t bothered by lots of sights and attractions. But don’t worry, this won’t really be a problem even if you do as Santo Domingo and Centro are just a short taxi ride or 15-25 minute walk away!

Luxury hotel

Enjoy a peaceful view from the balcony or take a moment to relax on the terrace of your luxurious room, in this 5-star eco-hotel. Taste the wide selection of the best Mezcals of the Oaxaca region at the on-site bar and try the exquisite local dishes at the hotel’s delicious restaurant!

Other accommodation options in Reforma

Mid-Range

Enjoy the outdoor pool and terrace of this lovely boutique hotel

Budget

Beautiful spacious rooms with access to an amazing outdoor pool at a great price!

Things to do in Reforma

  • Try amazon local tacos at the Taquería Los Combinados
  • Have a taste of mexico at Casa Oaxaca Reforma
  • Enjoy some cocktails with music at Coco Beach Reforma
  • Do some shopping in the many boutiques of the area
👑 Luxury price: $220
💵 Mid Range: $130
🛏️ Budget: $60
🏠 Airbnb: $80
💰 Accommodation prices: Low
📍 Best area: El Centro
👪 Best area for families: Barrio de La Noria
🛎️ Best luxury hotel: Hotel Quinta Real
🧳 Best mid-range hotel: Hotel Boutique Parador
👛 Best budget hotel: Las Mariposas Eco

Frequently asked questions about Oaxaca

🏙️  Which is the best place where to stay in Oaxaca?

👪 Where to stay in Oaxaca with family?

The best place to stay in Oaxaca with family is La Noira, a quiet residential neighborhood south of Oaxaca Centro. Stay at the exclusive Casa Divina Oaxaca or at Casa Tobalá for a cozy stay at affordable prices!

👀 What are the best things to do in Oaxaca?

Oaxaca has lots of attractions and fun activities to offer to tourists: visit the Santo Domingo de Guzmán Church, celebrate the Day of the dead at the beginning of November, discover the street art in Barrio de Jalatlaco and taste the famous Mezcal!

🟡 Is it safe to stay in Oaxaca?

Oaxaca has a relatively low crime rate for a large Mexican city, and the touristy neighborhoods like Centro, Santo Domingo, La Noria, Jalatlaco, and Reforma are generally safe. Nevertheless,  opportunistic pickpocketing happens, so be aware of that especially around Zocalo and at markets!

Conclusion

We have come to the end of our magical holiday through the Mexican jewel Oaxaca, full of colors and charm! With so many accommodation options and neighborhoods with a unique and distinct character, you won’t have any problem finding the perfect spot to fully enjoy your vacation.

Whether you’re traveling on a budget, with the family, looking for history, culture, or partying, Oaxaca is waiting for you! Among luxury hotels, “on a budget” options, and cozy Airbnbs… where are you gonna stay?

If you still don’t know where to stay in Oaxaca I won’t blame you, we went through so many options! Let me help you and give you my favorite hotels, with great location and reviews:

  • Hotel Quinta Real – Enjoy luxurious and comfy rooms with beautiful colonial-style décor, right in the heart of Oaxaca!
  • Hotel Boutique Parador – Boutique hotel with traditional Mexican décor and gourmet restaurant in central Oaxaca

I hope you enjoyed discovering Oaxaca with me and reading this guide. I am sure it will help you book the perfect accommodation for your desired holiday, but I highly recommend you do so in advance, as they sell out super quickly!

Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any other suggestions or questions about the areas or hotels in Oaxaca, I will be very happy to answer you!

Have a wonderful trip!

Elena

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