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It was incredibly difficult to narrow down this list to the top 10 Instagram spots in Oaxaca, because the city is just so damn magical, but I did my best.
After a bit of pruning and a few painful cuts, I can confidently say that photogenic round-up includes the best of the best that Oaxaca has to offer, from botanical gardens to historical streets to ancient ruins and so much more. So, grab your camera. and lets get exploring!
10. Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden
This small botanical garden is hidden behind the imposting stone walls of the Santo Domingo church, so it’s easy to miss even though it’s right in the center of the city.
Unlike most botanical gardens, visitors can only enter on guided tours which take place Monday through Saturday at 10 am, 12 pm, and 5 pm and cost 50 mxn / 2.20 usd per person. Tours are an hour long so there’s plenty of time to both learn about the native plants and snap some pretty pics like this.
9. Santo Domingo Church
After your tour of the garden, head inside the Santo Domingo church to photograph the ornate interior. The outside of the church is nice, but the inside truly shines (and glistens, and gleams) with gold.
More than 60,000 sheets of gold leaf make the Santo Domingo church hard to beat as one of most beautiful Instagram spots in Oaxaca.
8. Calle Macedonia Alcala (Pedestrian Street)
Next, take a walk down Calle Macedonia Alcala, the pedestrian street that runs in front of the Santo Domingo Church.
Head south and you’ll find vendors, galleries, restaurants, shops, and plenty of picture-perfect Instagram spots like this. Sunset and sunrise are the best time to photograph the pedestrian street, but it’s pretty Insta-worthy at any time of day.
7. Hierve el Agua
No visit to Oaxaca is complete without a day trip to Hierve el Agua.
Though the name literally translates to boiling water, these natural water springs in the mountains are so cold and refreshing that they’ve been renovated into pools to swim and soak in high above Oaxaca’s expansive green valleys.
Dan and I went to Hierve el Agua on our own because we didn’t want to take the all-inclusive tours touted all over the city, and managing transport wihtout a car or a tour was honestly a huge pain in the a**.
I very, very, very rarely say this on Slight North, but if you want to visit Hierve el Agua, the group tours are actually the best way to go. Plus, there are so many great Instagram spots at the pools that you’ll be able to get a good picture no matter how many people you arrive with.
6. Monte Alban
The Monte Alban ruins have been keeping watch over the Oaxaca valley for more than 2,500 years.
The pre-Colombian site has impressive views not just over Oaxaca and surrounding mountains but also of the imposing ruins themselves, which you can climb to get a bird’s eye view of the ancient city’s central courtyard.
Go early in the day to both beat the crowds and to photograph Monte Alban in the best light because the sheer scale, scope, and age of this UNESCO site is truly something to behold.
5. Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad
Although there are plenty of beautiful churches in the city, this one became one of my favorite Instagram spots in Oaxaca for two reasons:
- The dramatic stone walkway rolling out of the front doors like a red carpet and
- Its location off the beaten path, where you can take photos to your heart’s content without battling through the crowds that loiter in front of the others.
Beyond that, I think I can just let the photo speak for itself!
4. Ixtlan Caves
Dan and I took a day trip from Oaxaca to the nearby town of Ixtlan (about 2.5 hours away by bus) to hike in the Sierra Juarez Mountains. Ecoturixtlan, a (non-profit?) agency that protects the area, has an office in the city and gave us all the maps and info we needed to explore it properly.
We hit the trails, visited these eerie caves, and ate fresh-caught trout at a restaurant with a view. If you’re into nature, grab your camera and check it out!
3. This Pretty Street
Ok, all of the historic center of Oaxaca is pretty, but this street – Calle de Manuel Garcia Vigil – is one of the most photogenic in my opinion. No matter how short or long your stay in Oaxaca is, try to walk around every evening at sunset and I guarantee you’ll find a new magical corner or street or shop to photograph every time!
2. Mitla Ruins
Remember Hierve el Agua above?
The Mitla ruins are also included in the group tours to the natural pools, so you can visit this Oaxaca Instagram spot in conjunction with it. The Mitla ruins are from the Zapotec tribe that is still present in Oaxaca today.
Because these ruins are from a different civilization and time period, you’ll find they’re in a completely different style than those at Monte Alban. The satisfying geometric designs and picture-perfect cacti at Mitla make it not just one of the most culturally important sites in Oaxaca but one of the most beautiful as well.
1. Oaxacan Food, Drinks, and Restaurants
Did you know that traditional Mexican cuisine was designated as a UNESCO cultural heritage site in 2010?
Oaxaca has clung to their indigenous roots and is home to traditional foods and drinks that have faded into the background in many other parts of the country where Spanish influences were stronger.
There is so much to eat and drink in Oaxaca like chapulines (dried, roasted grasshoppers), mole, and, of course, mezcal, the traditional agave liquor born in a town right outside of the city. Whether you do a mezcal tasting at the photogenic Casa Embajador Mezcaleria or just eat your way through the street food, there’s no way you (or your camera) will leave this city disappointed.
Bonus: Day of the Dead Celebrations
Oaxaca’s most famous celebration, the Day of the Dead, is held every year From October 30th to November 2nd.
Festivities include food, music, dancing, and parades as well as the lighting of ceremonial altars called ofrendas that are dedicated to deceased family members.
Mexicans also take to the cemeteries for evening vigils that are much less somber than you may expect. It’s much more like a party than a funeral where family and friends enjoy home-cooked feasts and turn the graves into a sea of burning candles and orange marigolds.
Day of the Dead belongs on every North America bucket list so try to time your visit to Oaxaca for the most authentic experience of the city.
Map of the 10 Best Instagram Spots in Oaxaca
Not only did I track down and photograph all the best Instagram spots in Oaxaca for ya, I also put them all on this map so you can easily find them too.
Check this when you’re out and about in the city to see what’s near you at any given time, or use it to create your own walking photography route through the city.
Whatever you do, make sure to keep your eyes open, because Oaxaca will always surprise you with beauty when you least expect it. Enjoy!
Ready to discover the best Instagram spots in Oaxaca?
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