Like all cities of the world, Oaxaca City is divided into several neighborhoods, some of which make fantastic places to stay for first-time trips to Oaxaca.
But Oaxaca City is no ordinary city!
This sprawling capital of the state with the same name (Oaxaca) has pristinely preserved centuries-old colonial architecture, ancient Zapotec ruins, fine art, and world-renown cuisine.
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And Oaxaca’s neighborhoods? Those aren’t your ordinary suburbs, either.
The neighborhoods of Oaxaca have been transformed over the years, but they have very much kept their traditional roots.
If you’re looking for a memorable experience, then you might stay in its old-world historic center, classed a World Heritage Site.
Or maybe if you’re an art lover, you can wander into the old Zapotec neighborhood of Jalatlaco and stay in this neighborhood teeming with colorful street art.
No matter your preference, there’s a perfect place to stay in Oaxaca City just for you!
And if you’re looking for where to live in Oaxaca as a nomad or new resident/ex-pat, this neighborhood guide to Oaxaca City will clue you in on the best places to stay as well.
Read more below to discover the quirky, fun, and historic neighborhoods of Oaxaca de Juárez!
Best Neighborhoods & Places to Stay in Oaxaca City, Mexico
Oaxaca Centro Histórico & Zócalo
If it is your first time visiting Oaxaca City, then a stay in the historic center is ideal.
This is because you will be within easy reach of all the top attractions to visit in the Centro Histórico which is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The best boutique hotels in Oaxaca tend to congregate in the center (though, not all) as well, which is why you will be spoiled for choice with accommodation options.
My top recommendation for where to stay in Oaxaca Centro is below!
Casa Antonieta ($$+) — Click here to check rates/availability
I used to work on my laptop on the rooftop of Casa Antonieta multiple times a week while living in Oaxaca as a digital nomad.
(Side note, if you are a nomad searching for apartments in Oaxaca, then Centro is going to be extra expensive. Check my guide for renting an apartment abroad for more tips on finding local accommodation.)
Back to Casa Antonieta, the atmosphere of this boho-chic boutique hotel combines the charm of Oaxacan hospitality with design-forward amenities. For that reason, it has earned several press mentions for being a top design hotel in Oaxaca, as named by Forbes, Food & Wine, and Sunset Magazine.
Casa Antonieta’s prime location on Calle Miguel Hidalgo is perfect for stays in Oaxaca, especially for first-timers.
The historic, family-owned building in which it is set has an unassuming ground-floor cafe which works out great if you need your morning (and afternoon) coffee. (They also make the absolute best caesar salads! 🥗)
More reasons to stay in the Oaxaca Centro neighborhood:
- Must-see attractions are close by such as the Zócalo, Templo de Santo Domingo de Gúzman, Anador Turístico, museums, and the Catedral Metropolitana de Oaxaca.
- Some of the city’s top restaurants, bars, and cafés are within walking distance from Centro.
- It’s easy to hail a taxi or get a DiDi ride from the city center (albeit, pricier).
- You can walk home at night as Centro is one of the safest areas in Oaxaca.
The only possible cons, or downsides, to staying in Oaxaca Centro could be:
- The cost/prices — You will certainly pay more to be in the city center. I wouldn’t recommend staying here if you are on a tight accommodation budget. However, there are just a couple of very central hostels in Oaxaca that are ideal for balancing location/convenience and budget.
- The noise/traffic — Oaxaca sees many weddings and wedding parties, so noise from celebrations or festivals might be more likely in the city center.
👉 In summary, Oaxaca Centro is an ideal place to stay in Oaxaca for first-timers to the city. Everything is within walking distance, but you will pay higher prices for the location. The chic boutique hotel, Casa Antonieta, is a top-rated choice for short stays.
The next best place to stay in Oaxaca is arguably the neighborhood of Jalatlaco, located just a 10-minute walk east of the Santo Domingo Temple.
If you love neighborhoods that feel more like a village than a cookie-cutter district inside a city, then stay here.
Jalatlaco is brimming with colorful, symbolic street art. You will see murals on nearly every corner, wall, and building.
Despite its increase in popularity in becoming a “trendy” spot for tourists and artists—who have converted many of the old buildings into independent art studios, galleries, and cafes—Jalatlaco remains very down-to-earth and local at heart.
There aren’t many hotels here like there are in Centro, but there are a couple that offers simple budget-friendly accommodation and others that offer a more luxurious stay.
- El City Centro (4-star hotel) is idyllically located on the corner of Calle Aldama in the heart of Jalatlaco.
- Casa Grana Cochinilla is a modern and cozy boutique hotel ideal for short stays in Jalatlaco.
- Paraje La Huerta is a quaint family-owned hotel that offers an authentic, comfortable stay in the heart of the neighborhood.
- Hotel Tabáa is another top-rated 4-star hotel in Jalatlaco that oozes a rustic yet luxurious atmosphere.
Things to do if you stay in the Jalatlaco neighborhood:
- Take a guided street art tour of Jalatlaco and Oaxaca
- Wander south to explore the sprawling Mercado de la Merced.
- Step into the many galleries, cafes, and down-home eateries.
- Head north to catch a Guerreros Baseball game (or catch the bus to go on a day trip from Oaxaca).
Don’t forget, Jalatlaco is only a 10-minute walk from the Santo Domingo de Gúzman cathedral so it still makes for a great home base from which to explore Oaxaca.
Xochimilco is perhaps Oaxaca’s most well-known neighborhood.
Indeed, it is quintessentially Oaxacan. They say it was founded as early as 1486, making it Oaxaca’s oldest neighborhood.
Xochimilco, like Jalatlaco, is alive with color. Its pastel homes are iconic of Oaxaca, as are its traditional stone and brick arches.
The Arches (Arcos, Arquitos, or Aqueducts) of Xochimilco are not to miss when staying in this neighborhood (not that you could).
These 18th-century arches are what carried vital water to the city from the now-suburb of San Felipe del Agua. You will see the arches along the typical Rufinto Tamayo street.
As Xochimilco is still quite residential, there aren’t that many commercial boutiques or hotels.
Here are the best places to stay in the Barrio de Xochimilco:
La Betulia Bed & Breakfast ($$+) — The locally-owned B&B of La Betulia is a little hidden gem poised perfectly near Xochimilco, just a 10-minute walk from Santo Domingo church. It’s quiet, colorful, and very Oaxaqueño. Rooms start at $90 USD+. Check rates/availability here.
La Casa Carlota ($$) — For a personable, intimate experience when staying in Xochimilco, look no further than Casa Carlota. With only five rooms, the attention to detail and service here is exceptional. Rooms from just $60 USD. Book it here.
Things to do nearby the Xochimilco neighborhood:
- Visit the house-museum of indigenous president Benito Juárez
- Stroll around the local Mercado Sánchez Pascuas (featured on Netflix)
- Arquitos de Xochimilco
- Grab a drink at the Zapotec Mixology Bar
- Shop inside the Instituto Oaxaqueño de las Artesanias
- Wander down the colorful Calle Macedonio Alcalá
- Visit the Parroquia de Santo Tomás Xochilmilco (Parish)
- Hike up to the Cerro del Fortín
If you are looking for even more areas and neighborhoods to stay in Oaxaca, keep reading!
If you were to continue northeast on foot from Xochimilco, you would end up in the La Reforma neighborhood of Oaxaca.
You won’t find the historic sites and museums here as you will in Centro, but what you will find is a handful of understated cafes, bars, and restaurants such as the popular Casa Oaxaca Cafe with Oaxacan Chef Alejandro Ruíz.
This unassuming neighborhood north of Oaxaca Centro is not exactly quick to reach on foot. It takes 30 minutes to walk there or 5-10 minutes by Didi/taxi ($40-50 pesos).
That said, Colonia La Reforma is a great base from which to explore not just Oaxaca Centro, but beyond it.
If you have your own vehicle or plan on taking public transport, La Reforma is ideal for day trips to Monte Albán, Hierve El Agua, etc., as traffic isn’t as congested as it will be if you try to get into the heart of Oaxaca City.
Where to stay in La Reforma:
Finally, if you are familiar with Oaxaca City already then a neighborhood you might not yet have discovered is La Noria.
This neighborhood rarely gets seen by tourists because it sits to the southeast of Centro.
But if unfussy accommodation outside of the busy (and expensive) historic center is just what you’re looking for, then La Noria is a great area to be in.
While it doesn’t offer much in the way of activities (except for the local markets in Oaxaca), it does offer a more peaceful, local, and quiet place to stay in Oaxaca.
A few of the markets nearby are the 20 de Noviembre, Benito Juárez, and Mercado de Artesanías markets.
Here are your best options for stays in the La Noria neighborhood.
- Mid-Range ($$): Hotel Hacienda, Hostal Xitla
- Budget-Friendly ($+): Hostal Chocolate, Azul Cielo Hostal
- Luxe / Vacation Rental ($$$): Villa Noria La Casa del Barro Verde (Vacation Rental)
If you are on a budget, traveling with a large group/family, or prefer to stay in a more local residential neighborhood in Oaxaca, then La Noria is a good choice.
Also, for long-term travelers, nomads, or ex-pats, La Noria will have more affordable accommodation. The studio we found was just a few blocks west of here.
If you have any questions about your stay in Oaxaca, please drop me a comment or reach out on socials!
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