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5 Must See Attractions in Oaxaca, Mexico

by Rick Wendland on October 25, 2011

Oaxaca is a bit of an obscure place, hiding away at the bottom of Mexico. But it is hard to see why, as it is a great place to explore. Culturally, it is fabulously rich, because it is home to sixteen recorded tribes of indigenous peoples. That, combined with its fascinating and rugged terrain and spectacular coastline, makes it a very special place to visit.

Oaxaca Landscape
Photo Provided by Keirn

You can see the variety of sights within Oaxaca if you are prepared to get out on the road and investigate. It doesn’t matter if you have a brand new 4×4 or a used Honda, the task is to explore and enjoy this wonderful region of Mexico to its fullest.

In order to get the most from Oaxaca, you need to be mobile and have a good checklist of where to go. There are many great sites to see, but there are certainly 5 places you shouldn’t miss.

1. Cueva del Chevé

One such location is the grotto at “Cueva del Chevé” (Chevé’s Cave). Here, there are fourteen miles of mysterious caves and caverns full of wonderful pre-Hispanic discoveries that have fuelled the imagination. They are believed to have been used in rituals by predecessors of the current inhabitants of the region. They are also the sites of some of the best underground limestone formations in the world.

2. Lagunas de Chacahua National Park

dock on a lake at laguna de chacahua national park Photo provided by Reaktivo

A second must see site is the Lagunas de Chacahua National Park, which has been around for almost a century. It spans just over 12 square miles and has a network of beautiful and fertile lagoons as well as over 150 animal species. A delight to visit, you can watch the spoonbills, blue-winged teals and herons go about their business naturally.

3. Benito Juárez Market

Goods at the Benito Juarez Market in Oaxaca Photo provided by Christopher Holden

Visiting Oaxaca City is also a must on your sightseeing list. If nothing else, just to sample its colorful markets. Saturday is the best day to be in town and experience the Benito Juárez Market. With over 700 stalls, it is a mind-bending labyrinth of sights, noise and smells. You really get a taste for the tradition and skills of the Oaxaca people, their food and handicrafts. You might even think about the local delicacy snack of toasted grasshoppers.

Fried Crickets at the Benito Juarez Market in Oaxaca Photo provided by Christine Zenino

4. Temple of Santo Domingo de Guzmán

Above the city of Oaxaca, you should also plan on visiting the temple of Santo Domingo de Guzmán; a stunning Baroque inspired masterpiece that its builders labored over for 50 years. With its renowned portal, it is a classic, textbook example of the distinctive Mexican slant on existing design styles. It is a religious destination as well as being a historic symbol of Oaxaca resistance to dictatorship.

5. Monte Albán

Structure at Monte Alban
Photo Provided by Eduardo Robles Pacheco

Finally, your journey would not be complete without a trip out to the ruins of Monte Albán. This was one of the region’s earliest known pre-Hispanic towns. According to scholars, it served as the capital of the Zapotec people and existed between 500 B.C. and 800 A.D. Even after it was abandoned as a town, it was still used as a place of worship until the Spanish came. This unique site is now a Cultural Patrimony of Humanity designated by UNESCO and remains the foremost historical monument and discovery in the area.

Window at Monte Alban
Photo Provided by Lin Mei

With its rich history and inspiring sites, Oaxaca should be on your must see list of travel destinations in Mexico.

Landscape around Monte Alban in Oaxaca Photo provided by Lin Mei

What is your favorite spot to visit in Oaxaca?

Rick Wendland
View all posts by Rick Wendland

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