Where to Stay in Oaxaca: 8 Best Areas

In this guide, I will help you to find Where to stay in Oaxaca, best areas to stay in Oaxaca for first-timers and tourists (with a map and video), best hotels in Oaxaca for all budgets (including the hotel where I stayed), and the safest places to stay in Oaxaca.

Oaxaca is a city locaed in the Central Valleys region of Southern Mexico, and with a history of civilization dating back thousands of years. It is home to the best of Mexican tradition and culture.

Both the city and the surrounding valley have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so you know there is plenty worth seeing in the area.

Where to stay in Oaxaca?

The best areas to stay in Oaxaca for tourists are Zocalo /Centro, Santo Domingo, Barrio de Jalatlaco, Barrio de Xochimilco, Barrio de la Noria, Universidad, San Agustín de las Juntas. These are popular and safe areas for tourists that have a wide variety of attractions and amenities.

Oaxaca Centro is the overall best area to stay in Oaxaca for first-timers. It is the heart of the city that has the highest concentration of major tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, and shops. You’ll easily find a hotel here that suits your budget and preferences.

If you want a more local, authentic experience, whilst still staying close to the city center, 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 did I stay in Oaxaca?

When I first visited Oaxaca, I stayed for at the mid-range Hotel Casona Oaxaca. It was a great historic accommodation located within walking distance from the main square, Cathedral, Benito Juarez Market, and the Culture Museum. I had a lovely breakfast, and a comfortable bed.

💖 Best Area for First Timers:Centro Oaxaca
💎 Best luxury hotel:Quinta Real Oaxaca
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Hotel Parador de Alcalá
💰 Best budget hotel:Hotel Las Golondrinas

Map of the best areas and neighborhoods in Oaxaca:

Map best areas to stay in Oaxaca
Map best areas to stay in Oaxaca

The Best Areas to stay in Oaxaca for tourists are:

1. Zocalo – Oaxaca Centro

Centro Oaxaca is the best area to stay for first-timers and those who want to be in the midst of all the action. You’ll be close to the main square, historic sites, restaurants, and shops.

The heart of the Centro is the historic Zocalo square (aka Plaza de la Constitución de Oaxaca). It is a popular meeting place and a site for many national festivities, weekly performances, political rallies, and protests. It is surrounded by cafes and restaurants, street vendors, and market stalls.

Zocalo square boasts a daily marke, Benito Juárez Market that selling local products and traditional artisans crafts.

To the south side of the zócalo, you will find the Palacio de Gobierno, or the State Government Palace. On the north side lies the 15th century Cathedral of Oaxaca, also known as Catedral Metropolitana de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.

In front of the Cathedral are the Hotel Monte Albán, the post office, and the beautiful park Alameda de Leon Plaza that is shaded by giant Indian Laurel trees and comprising monument in honor of General Don Antonio de Leon.

You can also find the walkway of Los Portals lined with restaurants; and the old Government Capital Building home to the Museo del Palacio.

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.

If you love museums, there are a few museums between Centro and Santo Domingo such as MACO, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Oaxaca, the Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art, Museo de Los Pintores Oaxaqueños, Museo De La Filatelia Mufi, and Museum of Regional Textiles.

Oaxaca is famous for its rich craft heritage, head to Instituto Oaxaqueño de las Artesanías, known as Aripo to grab quality pieces by local artists. it also hosts regular workshop.

The southern half of Centro is ideal for anyone who loves shopping. The cobblestone streets are lined with a mix of contemporary stores and well-known brands, as well as smaller independent shops and boutiques.

The Mercado de Artesanias de Oaxaca and neighboring 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.

You can take a day trip to the impressive pre-Columbian site of Monte Alban, or White Mountain. This ruins of the ancient Zapotec capital is one of the most magnificent archaeological sites in all of Latin America. You can climb to the top and enjoy stunning views of the countryside.

If you visit Oaxaca for the Day of the Dead festival, or the Dia de Muertos, which is held from October 31st to November 2rd, I suggest staying in Centro, near the Zócalo square.

Another big festival in Oaxaca is the Guelaguetza Festival, one of the best festivals in Mexico which takes place on the last two Mondays of July. The Night of the Radishes festival in December 23 also has fantastic figures made from radishes.

Centro has high range of accommodations including budget-friendly guest houses and apartments and luxury hotels. Most of the boutique luxury hotels area former colonial mansions and palaces.

Stay in Centro if You’re first time visiting Oaxaca; Shopping is a highlight of your vacation; You enjoy browsing markets; Staying central is a priority.

Best places to stay in Oaxaca Centro:

  • luxury ($$$): Quinta Real Oaxaca, great 5-star hotel in central Oaxaca, in Oaxaca de Juárez, short distance from the Santo Domingo de Guzmán Church. It offers an Outdoor swimming pool, a 24-hour reception, airport shuttle services, and comfortable family rooms.
  • mid-range ($$): Hotel Casona Oaxaca, popular 4-star hotel in the middle of all of the historic area, great base for first-timers, within walking distance from major sights such as the Cathedral and Zocalo.
  • budget ($): Andaina Youth Hostel, this backpacker hostel is located in the heart of Oaxaca, featuring a shared lounge and free private parking, and a shared kitchen.

See more: Bes areas to Stay in Mexico City

2. Santo Domingo

The northern half of the historic Centro district in the north of Calle Independencia is home to Santo Domingo. It’s a labyrinth of cobblestone streets and beautiful buildings.

The grand Temple De Santo Domingo is the centerpiece of this region, drawing visitors to explore its opulent interior. It was build on the ex-convent of Santo Domingo in 1552 and took around a century to build.

The attached 17th-century monastery has been converted into the Museum of Cultures of Oaxaca, or Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, displaying a variety of artifacts from pre-Hispanic times through the colonial period and independence. The Treasure of Tomb 7 from Monte Alban is one of the highlight.

The monastery sits in the grounds of the Oaxaca botanical gardens, or Oaxaca’s Ethnobotanical Garden, which are dedicated to preserving and displaying plants native to the local region. Access at the corner of Constitución and Reforma.

The artfully maintained gardens are a great place to wander or picnic on a hot afternoon. The shady, tree-lined pathways offer a cooler environment than the surrounding city streets.

On the Santo Domingo Cultural Center area, you can visit Francisco de Burgoa Library. It has more than 30 000 published between 1484 and 1940. There are a reading room and the showroom.

Another famous park nearby is the Parque Juarez El Llano, it’s quieter than but very close to the Santo Domingo area.

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 bustling nightlife is important to you, the northern part of Centro is a great place to stay. Known for having the best selection of craft beer breweries, mezcalerias (mezcal 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.

Stay around Santo Domingo if this 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 places to stay in Oaxaca near Santo Domingo:

  • luxury ($$$): Grand Fiesta Americana Oaxaca, 5-star hotel in central Oaxaca, featuring a ree private parking, an indoor pool, fitness center, and good breakfast. Easy distance from Santo Domingo Temple, Oaxaca Cathedral and Central Bus Station foreign buses.
  • mid-range ($$): Hotel Oaxaca Real, great 4-star restored colonial mansion in central Oaxaca, close to the famous Santo Domingo Cathedral. Free parking for those who drive.
  • budget ($): Hotel Maela, 3-star accommodation, located within walking distance from various attractions, offering rooms with a garden view.

3. Barrio de Jalatlaco

Nestled at the north-western corner of Centro is the small, bohemian neighborhood of Jalatlaco. Known for its cobbled streets and small, local shops, Jalatlaco is ideal for anyone who wants to stay close to the city center but out of the crush of the main district.

The neighborhood is centered around Templo de San Matias Jalatlaco. This church was dedicated to St. Matthew.

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 colors.

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. You can check out the Cafeteria La Casa de las Calaveras on the corner of Calle de Ignacio Aldama and Calle de Hidalgo.

During the day, the large number of cafes and coffee shops that line the streets give it a distinct hipster vibe. If wandering the streets hunting for art in between stops for Mexican coffee sounds like a dream afternoon, Jalatlaco is the neighborhood 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 neighborhood.

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.

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 center but outside of the crowded tourist hubs; You prefer staying in unique hotels and guesthouses.

Best places to stay in Oaxaca near Barrio de Jalatlaco:

4. Barrio de Xochimilco

A little community to the north of Centro, Barrio de Xochimilco is the oldest neighborhood in Oaxaca. Despite being just a few minutes from the activity of the city center, 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 neighborhood. 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 neighborhood at reasonable prices. However, for a better selection, you should look south to the border with Centro.

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 neighborhood with a more local vibe; Learning about the traditional food, arts, and culture of the region is an important part of your trip.

Best places to stay in Barrio de Xochimilco:

5. Barrio de la Noria

If you are looking for a quiet area with more authentic experience, close to the Centro, La Noria is a great base. It is only a 15-minute walk from the action of Zocalo.

Barrio de la Noria is a residential area with a few family-run restaurants such as seafood restaurant Marisquería La Casa del Pirata, Los Compadres, Sabor Antiguo, and La Cocina Oaxaquena.

There are numerous of martkets nearby including Mercado de Artesanías de Oaxaca, Mercado Benito Juárez, and Mercado 20 de Noviembre.

It is a great place to stay for a family with kids who want a quiet holiday but an easy distance to the center.

Best places to stay in Barrio de la Noria:

6. 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. Aside from the views across the city that can be appreciated from the top of the hill, the park houses several interesting facilities such as the observatory and neighboring planetarium.

The urban neighborhood 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 center whilst avoiding floods of fellow travelers.

There are a few 3 and 4-star hotels to choose from at reasonable prices, offering an affordable alternative to the inner-city hotels.

Best places to stay in Santa María del Marquesado:


7. Universidad

The large area to the south of Centro is the university district, Universidad. It’s a good choice if you want to be around a younger crowd and enjoy a college town vibe.

There are plenty of local restaurants serving a range of cuisines to keep everyone happy, so you won’t have to worry about constantly traveling 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 center and relative calm atmosphere.

If you are in Oaxaca 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 student’s 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 neighborhood, I recommend looking for hotels in the north, around La Noria. This is where the region borders with Centro and you will find the best selection of conveniently located options.

8. San Agustín de las Juntas

San Agustín  in Oaxaca
Maria Ines Hotel Suite in San Agustín

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, San Agustin de las Juntas is a perfect choice.

If you do want to travel into Oaxaca City during your stay, Route 175 connects the area directly to the city center. 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 neighborhood. 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 travelers. 

Best places to stay in San Agustín de las Juntas:

Check out the virtual tour about the best places to stay in Oaxaca:

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In conclusion, Zocalo /Centro, Santo Domingo, Jalatlaco, Xochimilco, and la Noria are the best places to stay in Oaxaca for tourists. The centro is the most convenient location and has a widest range of accommodation options that suit all budget travelers.

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.

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

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