Where to Stay in Oaxaca, Mexico: Best Areas & Hotels
If you’re wondering where to stay in Oaxaca, or where is the best area to stay in Oaxaca, you’re in the right place. In this article, I will give an insight into the best places to stay in Oaxaca for first time visitors, couples, families, backpackers, all budget travelers; read on as I show you the best of Oaxaca.
Located in the Central Valleys region of Southern Mexico, and with a history of civilisation dating back thousands of years, Oaxaca is a city where you can find the best of Mexican tradition and culture. Both the city and the surrounding valley have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so you know there is plenty worth seeing in the area.
Despite having grown into a thriving modern city, Oaxaca has managed to retain much of its cultural charm. Across the city, small neighbourhoods offer glimpses into the area’s history and tradition. If you are looking to spend your vacation experiencing authentic Mexican culture, in the convenience of a vibrant metropolis, Oaxaca is the destination for you.
Where to Stay in Oaxaca: Tips & Info
Oaxaca is a city rich with things to see and do. The many neighbourhoods that comprise the city each have their own distinct atmospheres and appeals, so you may be left wondering which is right for you. If you know generally what it is you are looking for from your visit to Oaxaca, I have a few quick suggestions for places that may suit your needs.
If staying as close to the city centre as possible is your priority, Centro is the place to look. Full of historic sites and modern attractions, you will be surrounded by all the major draws of the city.
If you are in Oaxaca for just a short time, this is where you will want to go. Stay within walking distance of everything from shops and bars to museums and ancient buildings, so you won’t have to waste precious time travelling around.
For the best of the city’s nightlife, head to the north of Centro. Here you will find the best selection of bars and restaurants in the city.
Alternatively, for shopping consider the south of Centro, where you can find streets lined with stores and boutiques. There a several local markets held in this area, particularly near to the cathedral.
If you want a more local, authentic experience, whilst still staying close to the city centre, the smaller barrios of Jalatlaco or Xochimilico are ideal. Both offer a small town, community atmosphere, whilst sitting just minutes from Oaxaca’s main attractions.
Where to Stay in Oaxaca – 7 Best Areas to Stay in Oaxaca
To help you get to know the city and what it can offer you, I have selected the seven best areas to stay in Oaxaca. If you want to discover which particular neighbourhood is the best for you, keep reading to find out what makes each one worth your consideration.
1. Centro North
The historic Centro district at the heart of Oaxaca is so large that I have separated it into two distinct halves, bisected by the Avenue de la Independencia. The northern half is formed from an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods and communities.
This is where you will find the neighbourhood of Santo Domingo. The grand Temple De Santo Domingo is the centrepiece of this region, drawing visitors to explore its opulent interior. The attached 17th century monastery has been converted into the Museum of Cultures of Oaxaca, displaying a variety of artefacts relating to the region’s history.
The monastery sits in the grounds of the Oaxaca botanical gardens, which are dedicated to preserving and displaying plants native to the local region. The artfully maintained gardens are a great place to wander or picnic on a hot afternoon. The shady, treelined pathways offer a cooler environment than the surrounding city streets.
The area between the botanical gardens and the Avenue de la Independencia is a great place to take in Oaxaca’s arts culture. The Graphic Arts Institute of Oaxaca is just across the road from the Temple and several small art galleries and local crafts shops dot the streets leading to the MACO Museum of Contemporary Art.
In the west you will find the ornate 17th century Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad. The historic structure is set behind the Plaza de la Danza and the Socrates Garden. A beautiful example of early modern architecture, this is a must visit for anyone who loves history.
If a bustling nightlife is important to you, the northern part of Centro is a great place to stay. Known for having the best selection of bars and restaurants in the city, the streets here are particularly active after dark.
There is a great selection of hotels, apartments, guesthouses, and hostels in the area. The streets around the Temple and parks boast some of the more high-end options, offering views of the monuments and historic sights. However, if you are working on a tighter budget, there are plenty of more affordable options to choose from.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN CENTRO NORTH IF:
- Staying at the heart of the city is essential
- You are interested in learning about the history of the region
- It is your first time visiting Oaxaca
- You are only staying for a short trip
- You would like to explore the city’s arts culture
- Vibrant nightlife is a priority for you
Best Hotels in Centro North
- Quinta Real Oaxaca is a luxurious, 5-star hotel with a traditional feel, set in a beautiful historic building at the heart of the city centre. The on-site restaurant, El Refectorio, is open throughout the day, offering local a la carte cuisine in a lovely, rustic dining room. Guests can enjoy dining on the terrace overlooking the courtyard gardens or indulge in the poolside barbeque.
- Hotel Oaxaca Real – This colourful, traditional hotel, located in a refurbished mansion, offers a cosy atmosphere in the middle of downtown Oaxaca. The hotel celebrates the local art and culture with the décor of its common areas. The rooms are spacious and bright, with private bathrooms, air-conditioning, and wi-fi. Guests can enjoy relaxing at the poolside bar, or sample local Oaxacan cuisine at the onsite restaurant and its alfresco dining terrace.
- Hotel Parador de Alcalá is an indulgent, 4-star hotel boasting huge rooms, beautiful common areas, and a gorgeous rooftop pool with views over the city. With spacious, stylish bathrooms, plenty of natural light, and all the mod-cons like air-conditioning, wi-fi, and flatscreen TVs, the rooms have everything you could need for a comfortable stay. Just a few minutes’ walk from some of Oaxaca’s top attractions, you will be perfectly placed for exploring the city.
- Hotel Las Golondrinas is a fabulous, quirky guesthouse with boutique charm. The inner courtyard houses a luscious garden where guests can relax amongst beautiful exotic plants, or enjoy their breakfast amongst the flowers. The rooms are colourful and tastefully decorated, with spacious bathrooms and views over the gardens. Located less than a mile from many of the most popular attractions, including Oaxaca Cathedral and the 20 de Noviembre Market, it provides both comfort and convenience.
2. Centro South
Just across the Avenue de la Independencia is the Oaxaca Metropolitan Cathedral. A grand building that began construction in the 1500s, it is one of the primary tourist locations in Oaxaca. It overlooks the Zócalo Oaxaca public square, directly to the south.
The square is a popular meeting place, surrounded by cafes and restaurants. It is also a popular spot for street vendors and market stalls to set up, so it’s worth taking a stroll around to see what’s going on.
For the opportunity to take in some of the city’s performance art, the Teatro Macedonio Alcalá is just around the corner. The theatre, located on the Avenue de la Independencia, has a beautiful façade worth appreciating in its own right. Hosting both music and theatrical shows, it is well worth checking the schedule to see if there is anything you would want to see during your stay.
The southern half of Centro is ideal for anyone who loves shopping. The streets are lined with a mix of contemporary stores and well-known brands, as well as smaller independent shops and boutiques. The Mercado Benito Juárez and neighbouring Mercado 20 de Noviembre are vibrant sheltered markets, hosting a range of stalls selling local produce and street-food, as well as artisanal crafts. It’s a great spot to pick up some souvenirs unique to the area.
Accommodation in the south of Centro mostly falls into the mid-range. There are a few hostels available if you are really on a tight budget, but mostly the offerings are affordable hotels and apartments.
Some more boutique style, independent hotels charge higher rates, but are still within a reasonable range, perfect for treating yourself to something unique.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN CENTRO SOUTH IF:
- Shopping is a highlight of your vacation
- You enjoy browsing markets
- Staying central is a priority
Best Hotels in Centro South
- Casa De Sierra Azul is a delightfully rustic hotel with tons of traditional charm. The rooms are spacious, with generous modern bathrooms, yet their tasteful décor lends them a cosy atmosphere. The common areas are similarly lovely, from the historic stone features of the courtyard to the ornate traditional furnishings of the on-site restaurant.
- Andaina Youth Hostel – If you are travelling to Oaxaca on a tight budget, this is a fabulous hostel offering amazing quality at an incredible price. There is a range of options to suit various budgets and preferences, but all guests will have access to wi-fi, kitchen facilities, and a rooftop lounge and barbeque area.
- NaNa Vida Hotel Oaxaca is an exceptional, quirky hotel that celebrates the traditional style and culture of Oaxaca. Guests can relax in large rooms, with garden views, generous bathrooms, and charming décor accented by local artwork. Located at the heart of the city, the hotel offers a service for organising sightseeing and tours, making this a perfect location for first time visitors.
- Hotel Casona Oaxaca is a fabulous, 4-star hotel that blends high-class style with local art and traditional crafts, to provide an authentic Oaxacan experience with a luxury edge. Guests can enjoy breakfast in the beautiful arched courtyard, or relax in the terrace lounge bar. Many of Oaxaca’s top attractions are just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel, including Oaxaca Cathedral and the Food and Flea Market.
3. Barrio de Jalatlaco
Nestled at the north-western corner of Centro is the small, bohemian neighbourhood of Jalatlaco. Known for its cobbled streets and small, local shops, Jalatlaco is ideal for anyone who wants to stay close to the city centre but out of the crush of the main district.
The area isn’t famous for any particular tourist attraction but the street art that covers many of the buildings here is a popular draw. Many of the shops are decorated with beautiful, vibrant artwork, which paints the winding streets with a wash of rainbow colours. It’s worth taking a walk around the alleys just to see what new art you can discover, almost like it’s an open-air gallery.
During the day, the large number of cafes and coffeeshops that line the streets give it a distinctly hipster vibe. If wandering the streets hunting for art in between stops for Mexican coffee sounds like a dream afternoon, Jalatlaco is the neighbourhood for you.
Aside from its stunning art scene, Jalatlaco is known as one of the best places to eat in Oaxaca. Filled with little independent restaurants, some of the most unique culinary experiences in the city can be found in this neighbourhood. If you are looking to try traditional Oaxacan cuisine or street food, you should definitely visit Jalatlaco.
Jalatlaco is home to some lovely boutique hotels and quirky guesthouses. Rates for these are higher than the more standard commercial fare you can find in Centro, but still reasonable. There are a few more budget options available, but they tend to be quite basic.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN BARRIO DE JALATLACO IF:
- You love street-art and interesting shopfronts
- Trying the local cuisine is at the top of your to-do list
- You would like to stay close to the city centre but outside of the crowded tourist hubs
- You prefer staying in unique hotels and guesthouses
Best Hotels near Barrio de Jalatlaco
- One Oaxaca Centro is a fabulous mid-range hotel, offering contemporary comfort at the heart of Oaxaca. The rooms are bright and comfortable, with storage space, good sized bathrooms, and city views. Air-conditioning and wi-fi are available throughout the hotel. With a shared lounge, laundry room, and vending machines, the hotel has all the modern facilities you could need during your stay.
- Los Pilares Hotel – If you are looking for elegance with traditional Mexican charm, this hotel is a superb option for you. The hotel’s décor is opulent without being gaudy and allows you to immerse yourself in the history and culture of the city, whilst enjoying modern comforts. Boasting a beautiful pool area and terrace lounge, generously accented with exotic plants, and an on-site bar and restaurant, this is the ideal location for anyone looking to relax. Guests can even indulge in a massage for an additional fee.
- City Centro Oaxaca is a uniquely colourful, 4-star hotel in the heart of Barrio de Jalatlaco. Lovers of pink will be drawn to this boldly decorated hotel, which manages to carry its rosy theme throughout the property with an impressive degree of taste and style. From the large rooms, with their spacious bathrooms, to the bright and contemporary common areas, and the lovely rooftop pool, the hotel is a wonder of charm and comfort.
4. Barrio de Xochimilco
A little community to the north of Centro, Barrio de Xochimilico is the oldest neighbourhood in Oaxaca. Despite being just a few minutes from the activity of the city centre, the old, cobbled streets possess a quiet, small town vibe. Spending your vacation in Xochimilco is perfect if you want to enjoy a peaceful break, in the convenience of a modern city.
The area is ideal for anyone who wants to experience the local culture. There are several galleries offering workshops in local arts and crafts for you to try during your stay, whilst independent handicraft stores sell locally made and traditional artisan souvenirs. Meanwhile, the bars and restaurants that populate the area primarily offer traditional Mexican cuisine.
An aqueduct runs through the north of the neighbourhood. Tucked away behind trees, the stone arches and waterfalls make for an attractive spot to visit for a walk or picnic.
Despite its historical status, Barrio de Xochimilco remains largely undiscovered by tourists and as such has few options for accommodation. There are a couple of independent hotels operating around the neighbourhood at reasonable prices. However, for a better selection you should look south to the border with Centro.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN BARRIO DE XOCHIMILCO IF:
- You want to experience the history of the city
- You want to stay close to the city centre but in a neighbourhood with a more local vibe
- Learning about the traditional food, arts, and culture of the region is an important part of your trip
Best Hotels in Barrio de Xochimilco
- La Casa Carlota is a beautiful, modern hotel that tastefully celebrates local art and culture. Boasting spacious, expertly decorated rooms and elegant common areas, this is a superb hotel to immerse yourself in Oaxacan style. Guests can enjoy the exceptional daily breakfast before heading out to explore the numerous nearby attractions, including Santa Domingo Temple and Oaxaca Cathedral, both only a few minutes’ walk away.
- El Callejón Hotel Boutique is a superb example of contemporary elegance with a rustic twist. This luxurious 5-star hotel boasts large rooms with flatscreen TVs and stylish modern bathrooms, luscious gardens, and wi-fi and air-conditioning throughout. Guests can unwind at the on-site bar or with a session of yoga or massage at the hotel’s wellness centre.
- Suites Bello Xochimilco is a charming self-catering hotel, offering rustic Mexican style at the heart of Oaxaca. The air-conditioned suites are large and comfortable, decorated in a cosy, traditional style, with private balconies, en suite bathrooms, and fully fitted kitchens with dining space. Free parking is available at the property and pets are also welcome, although additional fees may apply.
5. Santa María del Marquesado
Branching off from the northwest corner of Centro, Santa Maria del Marquesado is a residential suburb that runs along the southwest side of the Estatal Cerro del Fortín ecological park. The massive park is ideal for anyone who enjoys hiking and outdoor activities, with a number of trails leading across the wooded hill.
Aside from the views across the city that can be appreciated from the top of the hill, the park houses several interesting facilities. Most notably, the observatory and neighbouring planetarium will be fascinating attractions for any visitors with a love of science.
The urban neighbourhood itself contains mostly small shops and restaurants catering to the residents of the area. It’s a great area to get a feel for everyday suburban life in the region.
Going largely unnoticed by the majority of the tourist crowd, the southern part of this district is ideal for anyone looking to stay close to the city centre whilst avoiding floods of fellow travellers. There are a few 3 and 4-star hotels to choose from at reasonable prices, offering an affordable alternative to the inner-city hotels.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN SANTA MARIA DEL MARQUESADO IF:
- You enjoy hiking and outdoor activities
- You are on a budget
- You want to stay close to the city centre without the crowds and higher prices
The large area to the south of Centro is the university district, Universidad. Comprised of a number of smaller communities, this region is ideal for anyone who wants to stay near to the city centre whilst avoiding the crowds and higher rates for accommodation.
Being so close to the main attractions, whilst being more open with fewer people, makes this an ideal location for those visiting with children. There are plenty of local restaurants serving a range of cuisines to keep everyone happy, so you won’t have to worry about constantly travelling into Centro and back for meals.
Admittedly, aside from some local shops and small museums, there isn’t much for visitors to do here. The main benefit of the area is its proximity to the city centre and relative calm atmosphere. If you are in Centro for the first time, or just for a shorter trip, and want somewhere with tons to see and do on your doorstep, this likely isn’t the place for you.
A large portion of the district is taken up by the university grounds. The university sometimes run exhibitions or displays of its students work in their buildings and grounds, so it’s worth checking ahead to see if they have any events during your stay.
If you opt to stay in this neighbourhood, I recommend looking for hotels in the north, around the La Noria neighbourhood. This is where the region borders with Centro and you will find the best selection of conveniently located options.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN UNIVERSIDAD IF:
- You are on a budget
- You want to stay near to the city centre but outside of the crowded tourist hubs
- You are travelling with family and children
- You are visiting the university or a student
7. San Agustín de las Juntas
The last option on this list is further out of the city than the others. San Agustin de las Juntas is a small town, just south of Oaxaca City, directly next to Oaxaca International Airport. If you are in Oaxaca on a layover, have an early morning flight you don’t want to miss, or want to stay near the airport for any other reason, San Agustin de las Juntas is the perfect choice.
If you do want to travel into Oaxaca City during your stay, Route 175 connects the area directly to the city centre. You can be in the heart of the city in just a few minutes by car or taxi.
If you don’t want to venture all the way into the city, there are a few bars, restaurants, and small local shops in the area. It all caters solely to the residential population, rather than tourists, but if you want to get a feel for everyday suburban life around Oaxaca, this will provide that.
Just across the Atoyac River is a large park. It contains a small forest that would make a great place to take a walk in the shade and avoid the Mexican sun.
The area itself is primarily residential, so you won’t find too many hotels throughout the main part of the neighbourhood. However, the area around the airport, particularly around Route 175 which acts as the main trafficway for the region, is home to a number of options for accommodation catering to travellers.
Most of the choices are mid-range and affordable, with a few low budget options. There aren’t any particularly high-end hotels out this way.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN SAN AGUSTIN DE LAS JUNTAS IF:
- You want to stay near the airport
- You don’t mind being a little further out of the city
- You are not looking for a luxury hotel
Best Hotels in San Agustín de las Juntas
- Maria Ines Hotel Suite is a fabulous 4-star hotel, featuring spacious rooms, beautiful bathrooms, and a fitness suite. Guests can relax at the hotel bar and restaurant, or with a massage at the on-site parlour. Located on the main road running into Oaxaca, this hotel is ideal for those who want easy access to the city centre whilst staying close to the airport.
- Fiesta Inn Oaxaca boasts large rooms, a gym, and a beautiful pool area lined with palm trees. Those wishing to travel into the city centre will appreciate the complementary transport service offered by the hotel. Guests can enjoy local cuisine at the onsite Café La Fiesta restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or unwind at the hotel lounge bar.
- Hotel Hacienda is a lovely 4-star hotel, blending rustic style with contemporary comforts. The rooms are spacious, with double beds, seating areas, and air-conditioning. Guests can sample local cuisine at the hotel restaurant, which is open for breakfast lunch and dinner, or enjoy an array of drinks and cocktails at the poolside bar. Wi-fi is available throughout the hotel.
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Oaxaca is a beautiful city, with tons to offer visitors, regardless of how you like to spend your city breaks. I hope this article has given you a solid idea of where you most want to see and where the best place for you to stay in Oaxaca is.