Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, Oaxaca is a charming and beautiful example of a Mexican colonial city. Incredibly diverse, Oaxaca has been occupied since 1000 BC by the Zapotecs, the Mixtecs, the Aztecs, and of course the Spanish. This has lead to a city rich in cultural traditions and varied cuisine.
The Spanish designed the city around a central square, or Zócalo, which is one of the most attractive squares in Mexico. Surrounded by grand government buildings and bustling cafes and restaurants, the Zócalo is the central hub in Oaxaca. Leading away from the Zócalo, the city extends outwards in a grid formation. The colonial architecture that lines the streets in Oaxaca is of a unique style, the sturdy green stone structures built to survive the many earthquakes which have beset the city.
Travellers take flights to Oaxaca to experience its rich cultural history by visiting the famous festivals and celebrations that take place in the city year-round. The largest of all the festivals is the internationally renowned Guelaguetza – a celebration of dance, music and Oaxacan traditions.
Oaxaca is hot year-round, with average highs of 25°C in the winter, rising to 30°C in the summer. The winters tend to be warm and dry, and the summer months hotter and wetter, with the rainy season occurring from June through to October. The rainfall usually occurs in the afternoon and is fairly heavy, but tends to last just a couple of hours.
The peak season in Oaxaca is the winter months, from November through to March. At this time of year the days are still warm, with average highs of around 25°C, and nights are cool and comfortable. The city is also busy at Easter and around July and August.
The biggest festival in Oaxaca takes place in July, the Guelaguetza. This celebration of Oaxacan folk dance brings in visitors on flights to Oaxaca from all over Mexico and beyond.
Late April to late June is the main off-season in Oaxaca, and these are actually the hottest months. Rainfall can be heavy, particularly into June, although this is usually concentrated to just a couple of hours in the afternoon. The best time to pick up a bargain is late April, with average highs of more than 30°C and little rainfall.
Centred around the Zócalo, Oaxaca is a city that is easy accessible on foot. Most of the most popular attractions are within walking distance of each other, and the grid-like layout of the city centre lends itself to getting around easily.
Taxis are regulated by the government but it is advisable to agree the fare with the driver before travelling. A cheaper way of getting to and from the airport is by collectivo, a group taxi, which will take you from the airport directly to your hotel.
(prices quotes are from London)