Markets/Food – so many that they almost deserve and entire dedicated post. The markets of Oaxaca are one of its biggest attractions and there are 3 right in the city centre just a few blocks apart. The Artisan market was the most touristy and least enjoyable to us, we just had a quick stroll around and it seemed that others were in agreement as it was almost empty of customers. Then there is the Benito Juarez market full of touristy but cool stuff it’s a great place to pick up some bits and bobs, they sell everything from seafood, Mexican wresting masks and mescal to leather products, sombreros and cheese! Some of the more generous mescal stands are well worth a visit, they will basically ply you with free shots until you walk away or buy something (in fact even after we had bought a bottle, we were still being offered more shots)! The building that houses the market of 20th November was closed for construction while we visited (September 2015) and after wandering around lots of streets full of food stalls around the perimeter we eventually realised that the building was closed and that we had infant being wandering around the market the whole time, all the stalls had moved onto the surrounding streets! These stalls were amazing, reasonably cheap real oaxacan food, particular favourite dishes were the ‘Amarillo de res’ a kind of spicy soup/stew of beef, potatoes and veg normally served with tortillas and rice. Another winner was the locally renowned tlayudas kind of like a Mexican pizza, these are massive crispy tortillas covered in salad, meat and cheese! Delicious! I’d like to say we spent our time in Oaxaca doing culturally things but to be honest we were mostly just eating our way around the place with the occasional non-food related activity here and there!
Central square- although most of the bars/restaurants round here are pretty overpriced you can score a seat in the park or just stop for a drink, it’s a great place to sit and people watch! There are 2 confected central squares so plenty to wander around if you don’t want to stop for a drink!
Auditorio Guelaguetza – you can walk right up to the auditorio through the city and eventually a huge set of stairs. The whole walk up from central square takes less than 30 mins and the view back down over Oaxaca is stunning from the top!
Bar scene – there are lots of bars in Oaxaca but particularly along the street Ignacio Allende there are lots of bars with rooftop terraces and one mescal bar called Los Amantes which is tiny and only serves mescal but it’s a true experience, when we went it was packed with Mexicans and had an amazing atmosphere!
Monte Alban – these ruins don’t seem to be visited as much as a lot of the other ruins liked palenque, but the sheer size of them makes them worth a visit, I think it’s the way that the area between each part of the ruin is flat, from the top of the highest point you get a real view of the layout of the structures, opposed to say palenque where they all seem much more like individual structures because of the sections of jungle in between! We really enjoyed wandering around this site and the museum afterwards.
Chocolate – often just walking down the street in Oaxaca you are hit with the powerful smell of chocolate in the air. It is the home of Mexican chocolate and you can stop in at the main Mayordomo Chocolate store. to see them processing the beans right there in the store! You can also buy chocolate beans, chocolate powder and just straight up chocolate here!