Walking around Oaxaca de Juárez (Oaxaca City) is undoubtedly the best way to take in the city’s myriad historic sites, local markets, hidden courtyards, and art galleries.
Fortunately, Oaxaca City is extremely navigable on foot, making it easy to do your own walking tour.
Thanks to the city’s grid-pattern—typical of Spanish city planning—you can easily find your points of interest and retrace your steps.
Also, most of the top things to do and see in Oaxaca City are located in the Centro Historíco (Oaxaca City Historic Center).
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As a previous nomad in Oaxaca, I had the wonderful opportunity to explore Oaxaca multiple times during the two months I spent there—both on and off the beaten path.
In this guide, I will share the best self-guided walking tour of Oaxaca, including my favorite streets to explore (and why), shops to step inside, restaurants not to miss, and more!
I also provide more info about the free walking tour of Oaxaca (you know those “meet at the umbrella” huge group tours where you tip at the end), plus a handful of top-rated guided tours not to sleep on.
Read more below for the perfect self-guided walking tour of Oaxaca City! 👣
The Best Oaxaca City Walking Tours
There are actually several ways to see Oaxaca on foot, so in this post, I suggest a few different walking routes based on your available time and interests.
Please note: The times and distances below include time for visiting certain attractions/places but are just meant to serve as estimates. Your individual experience may greatly vary based on what you stop to visit, etc.
Free Self-Guided Walking Tours of Oaxaca (Read more below for details on each)
- Heart of Oaxaca Walking Tour — 2 hours (2 km /1.4 mi)
- Oaxaca Centro Extended Walking Tour — 4 hours (3.5 km / 2.2 mi)
- Oaxaca Centro Extended + Jalatlaco — 6 hours (5 km / 3.1 mi)
- Full-Day Oaxaca Walking Tour — 8 hours (6 km / 3.7 mi)
Guided Oaxaca Walking Tours & More
- 🌮 Half-Day Food & Culture Walking Tour — Eat and walk your way around Oaxaca at the same time!
- 🎨 Oaxaca Art Walking Tour (+ Cacao Tasting) — Stroll downtown and explore Oaxaca’s artsy neighborhoods.
- 🚴 Biking Street Art Tour — Need a break from walking? See more in less time on this artsy bike tour.
- 🚶♀️ Private Walking Tour (+ Mezcal Tasting) — Upgrade to a private group tour just for you and friends/family.
Self-Guided Walking Tour: Heart of Oaxaca
Ok, so you want to see the best of Oaxaca in one day, right?
The easiest* way to kick off your free, self-guided walking tour of Oaxaca City is to start at “Km 0” or at the Main Square, called the Zócalo.
From here, this route traverses four blocks north to the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán.
*Alternatively, you can ask your DiDi/taxi driver to drop you off at the 20 de Noviembre and Benito Juárez markets, located 700m south (two blocks) of the Zócalo. Then, from here, head north on foot all the way following this itinerary.
On this tour of Oaxaca Centro, you will see:
- Zócalo and Alameda
- MUPO (Oaxacan Painter’s Museum)
- The tourist’s corridor (Anador Turístico)
- Jardín Labastida and Templo Cristo
- Santo Domingo Church
- Ethnobotanical Garden (requires a guide)
- Museum of Cultures of Oaxaca (inside Santo Domingo)
- Plazuela and Templo de Carmen Alto
The Historic Center of Oaxaca City is a World Heritage Site with over 1200 registered historic sites, many of which are now occupied by Oaxacan boutique hotels, museums, cafes, homes, restaurants, art studios, and even some of Oaxaca’s backpacker hostels.
As you walk between the points of interest mentioned above, take notice of the low-lying, colorful buildings which were designed to withstand earthquakes since Oaxaca City lies in the Central Valleys—an earthquake-prone region of Oaxaca.
Take note as well, particularly as you visit the Templo Santo Domingo, of the green volcanic stone used to construct many of the historic buildings and churches in Oaxaca City.
Beyond the architecture, you will be mesmerized by the beauty and multitude of hidden squares, hole-in-the-wall eateries, textile and boutique shops, quaint cafes, and much, much more, all located in the Centro Historíco.
Below is a brief breakdown of all the points of interest you’ll see on this Oaxaca walking tour!
Zócalo (Plaza de la Constitución)
At the heart of Oaxaca’s Centro Histórico lies the bustling Zócalo, or main square.
Why should you start your walking tour here?
Well, as you’ll soon discover, this large, shady square is lined with shops, hotels, and restaurants.
You can watch local life go by here, catch a concert, pick up a souvenir at the outdoor market or even get your shoes shined.
To the northwest corner of the Zócalo lies the Alameda de Léon square on which you’ll find the historic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (Catedral Metropolitana de Oaxaca) from 1535.
Across the Avenida in front of you sits the Museo de Los Pintores Oaxaqueños (Museum of Oaxacan Painters) housed inside a former 17th-century historic site. (Admission costs 20 MXN pesos.)
Also, two blocks right from the Alameda is the Textile Museum, which is free to visit, and offers a wonderful overview of Oaxaca’s eight indigenous groups, and their clothing and textiles. Don’t overlook the Teatro Macedonia Alcalá building on the corner of Calle Miguel Hidalgo, either!
To continue this walking tour, head north down Calle Macedonio Alcalá (or more commonly known as the Anador Túristico).
This cobbled, car-free lane is abuzz with tourists and locals.
Take in the colorful flag-strewn street stress-free as you explore the nooks and crannies on either side of the street.
If you’re in need of a mid-morning coffee break, head to Cafe Brújúla—one of our favorite cafes in Oaxaca for its ambiance and chill inner courtyard—and the cute library called Librería Grañen Porrua.
This pedestrian-only street continues for four blocks.
Follow it until you reach the opening to the grand Santo Domingo Plaza and the Templo de Santo Domingo. You literally can’t miss it!
Along the way, enjoy the quaint views of the garden and Templo de Cristo just opposite.
✨ If you have time, duck inside the Atemporal Design Market, one of my favorite markets in Oaxaca.
El Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán
Considred “the jewel of Oaxaca” (as cited by Manuel Toussaint) the Temple de Santo Domingo is one of the top reasons why Oaxaca is worth visiting.
Expect to spend a bit of time here stepping in and out of the art galleries and boutiques circling this plaza.
Your best chance to visit the inside of the temple will be in the afternoon, despite what the “opening times” are.
It’s good to know that the Santo Domingo Temple isn’t the only thing to visit here.
As a part of the greater Santo Domingo Cultural Center, there is also the Museum of Cultures of Oaxaca/Santo Domingo and the attached ethnobotanical garden.
Visit the museum to witness the treasures of Tomb 7 from the Monte Albán archaeological site—which you should consider visiting when you have several days in Oaxaca City.
Should you decide to visit the museum and the Jardín Ethnobotanical, you might have to adjust your schedule a bit.
While you can visit the museum at your own pace (cost $100 MXN), you can only visit the garden with a guided tour. Tours in English cost $100 pesos and run Monday–Saturday at 11 am. Tours in Spanish cost $50 pesos and run Monday–Saturday but at 10 am, 11 am, or 12 pm.
Plazuela de Carmen
To continue your walking tour on foot, continue past the Santo Domingo Church to reach the small little plaza and Templo del Carmen Alto.
It’s here, in this unassuming plaza, where you’ll find the outdoor artisanal jewelry and crafts market.
Walk through the market to get to the other side, where you can visit the temple and also try tejate—a traditional drink of Oaxaca made with fermented corn, cacao, mamey fruit, and topped with a frothy foam.
Based on how much time you have to spare, you can end your Oaxaca Centro walking tour here or continue on the extended version, detailed below.
Oaxaca Centro Extended Walking Route
The extended version of the Oaxaca Centro walking tour includes more historic sites and attractions, including some of the highlights of the oldest neighborhood of Oaxaca—Xochimilco.
To continue this tour, click the map above to open it in a new tab.
Here is a quick overview of sites to see on this extended walking tour:
- Museum of Casa Benito Juárez (the house-museum of Mexico’s indigenous president)
- La Cosecha Organic Market (quaint outdoor organic food market)
- Calle de Xóxotl and Plaza de Piedra (ancient, cobbled neighborhood)
- Xochimilco’s Aqueducts (the historic aqueducts which once brought water from the hills down into the city)
- Mercado Sánchez Pascuas (a local food market)
- Calle Hidalgo (a very cute, cafe-lined street!)
- Oaxaca’s Brewing Co. (craft brewery)
- Mezcalogía (mezcal bar)
The extended tour will lead you right back to the Santo Domingo Plaza.
From here, you can hop in a DiDi/taxi to head south to explore the southern half of Oaxaca City which namely features the city’s popular markets.
(You can also start your walking itinerary with the markets as I mentioned at the start, but I personally like to go either at lunchtime or dinnertime since the highlight is the food.)
Oaxaca Walking Tour + Jalatlaco Neighborhood
If you’re keen to see both of Oaxaca’s charming, old neighborhoods, then you can add Jalatlaco to your itinerary.
The colorful, artsy neighborhood of Jalatlaco is a must-see.
It features lots of beautiful murals/street art, cafes and co-working spaces, independent art studios/galleries, and quirky eateries.
And it’s located just 4.5 blocks east of the Santo Domingo Plaza / Jardín Ethnobotanico.
To reach the heart of Jalatlaco, head to Aldama Street (pass El Lano park and follow Calle Zárate).
If you do that, you should pass below the “Jalatlaco” neighborhood sign. Soon after that sits the cute Templo de San Mátias.
Next, get lost in the winding, cobbled streets!
As I mentioned, Jalatlaco is teeming with art, so take your camera (or phone).
✨ For drinks and eats in Jalatlaco, there are several bars and cafes, but two we particularly enjoyed are the Santa Hierba (lunch) and the vegan-only Rescue Cat Cafe.
Visiting Jalatlaco should take around two hours. The neighborhood is not that big, and is definitely worth adding to your self-guided walking tour!
Full-Day Walking Tour of Oaxaca City
If you want to do a complete walking tour of Oaxaca, then you can combine all of these routes into one.
- Start at the 20 de Noviembre Market
- Head north to the Zócalo
- Follow the suggested routes for visiting Oaxaca Centro (both the core + extended versions)
- Continue east into Jalatlaco
- Hop in a DiDi/taxi to reach other parts of the city you missed out on, or go back to your accommodation and rest your feet!
I hope my DIY walking tour helps you have the best time exploring Oaxaca on your own two feet and at your own pace!
If you have suggestions or questions for these routes or would like to share your experience, please drop me a comment below.
Pin this self-guided walking tour to Oaxaca!