When I visited Oaxaca, I loved it so much I didn’t want to leave. My taxi driver and I chatted about it during my ride back to the airport. And even with my poor Spanish, there is one thing he said that I clearly understood: “Oaxaca es mágico.” With its art galleries, museums, craft markets, foodie culture, and annual Day of the Dead Festival, Oaxaca is a destination that will steal your heart, too. Read on for my best hotel recommendations for where to stay in Oaxaca City for your own magical trip!
Where is Oaxaca?
Oaxaca City (pronounced “wah-HAH-kah” with the emphasis on the “HAH” ) is the capital of the state of the same name, located in Southwestern Mexico. The area is known for indigenous cultures including Zapotecs and Mixtecs, as well as historical sites at Monte Alban and Mitla. The state of Oaxaca is also famous for its Pacific-coast beaches in Puerto Escondido, Mazunte, Zipolite, and Huatulco. Oaxaca’s beach towns are a quick flight or 6-7 hours by bus from the capital. If you visit, I recommend extending your Oaxaca City trip with a few days at the beach, too!
Visiting Oaxaca – The Basics
Haphazard rating: 2 of 5. Stick to tourist areas and use common sense. Oaxaca is one of the safest areas for travel in Mexico.
Get there: Fly into Oaxaca International Airport, OAX, 5 miles from the city. It’s about an hour flight from Mexico City, or 4-6 hours by bus. Shared shuttle service to the city can be booked in the airport after you exit customs.
To do: Visit the city’s museums, art galleries, botanical garden, and cathedrals. Oaxaca is known for their artist and foodie culture. Take a day trip to Mitla, Hierve el Agua, or Monte Alban, or a cooking class.
When to visit: The Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) festival Oct. 31- November 2 is a huge draw, so book well in advance; April-May has higher temperatures but less rain.
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Best Neighborhood to Stay in Oaxaca
The entire historical center of Oaxaca is touristic, and this neighborhood is the best place to stay in Oaxaca City. Within 12 blocks, you can walk from the historic Santo Domingo church to the Zócalo (city square) and the Mercado 20 de Noviembre market. This is the main tourist area, with lots of hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and shops in easy walking distance of this neighborhood. Many Oaxaca hotels are also historic, located in old homes that have been renovated.
During the Day of the Dead festival, Oaxaca hotels often display elaborate altars and other decorations in their lobbies. I spent a week popping into hotels all over the city to see these, so I have the best hotel recommendations for you near the main city sights – including one hotel in a restored convent!
PRO TIP: If you are planning to visit for Day of the Dead, you’ll want to be in the neighborhood of the main tourist center below, including the Zócalo (square). There are many events throughout the day that you won’t want to miss, including parades that stop traffic! So be sure to book one of these hotels within walking distance of the Zócalo.
Best Hotels on a Budget – $50/night or less
Hostal Central Oaxaca This hotel is located near the basilica, and has great reviews, free yoga classes, and a friendly atmosphere. Their rates start around $10 with a vegetarian breakfast included! Check out their Instagram here.
Azul Cielo Hostel Azul Cielo Hostel is located a few blocks from the Zócalo, and has bunk options starting around $30 as well as private rooms. They have great reviews for the design of the rooms, atmosphere, and shared spaces, including a rooftop terrace. Check out their Instagram here.
Comala Bed & Breakfast I was lucky to find a room available here when I visited during Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos). Many options book months in advance during this time, but Comala had just opened. The staff, including the proprietor Carlos, go out of their way to be helpful. Comala has basic but comfy rooms, a great rooftop terrace and bar with live music, plus a lovely breakfast included.
Agrado Guest House Central location, modern design and great reviews for the warm service of the staff. Some options include both breakfast and dinner, which makes this an amazing value. (Although of course you’ll want to try more of the many amazing restaurants in Oaxaca!) Their Instagram includes on-site event info – check it out here.
Best Mid-range Hotels
Hotel Casantica Located only a block from the zócalo, Hotel Casantica is set in a restored 16th century building and has a beautiful inner courtyard with a pool. They also have an amazing altar display during the Day of the Dead, which makes it an especially great pick for a stay during the festival!
Hotel Parador de Alcalá Super-central location with a terrace and bar. Plus, their pool is a show-stopper! Great reviews for the staff, location, and rooms. Breakfast is included in the room rates.
Hotel Pereyra Located a few blocks between the Basilica and the main tourist street, the Hotel Pereya gets rave reviews for its helpful staff and large rooms, most with seating areas, private terraces, or balconies. Breakfast is served each morning in the courtyard.
La Betulia Bed and Breakfast Featuring colorful rooms and custom tiles, La Betulia also has great reviews for comfy beds, helpful staff, and clean rooms. Breakfast is included and served daily in the quiet courtyard. Check out their totally charming Instagram here.
Hotel Siglo XVII Art Gallery With an amazing location in the heart of the historic area, Hotel Siglo XVII Art Gallery has an outdoor pool, garden, and fitness center (which not many of the hotels here offer).
Casa del Sótano This hotel has a rooftop terrace with spectacular 360-degree views including the Santo Domingo church a few blocks away. Guests gave high ratings for the charming architecture, breakfast and overall experience. I really want to go back for sunset drinks here!
Best Luxury Hotels in Oaxaca ($150+/night)
Hotel La Casona de Tita Located a few blocks from the cathedral, this hotel has a spacious terrace, colonial decor, and rooms decorated with pieces by local artists. Plus, the hotel has an-site restaurant and rates include breakfast.
Quinta Real Oaxaca With quite a “wow” factor, this historic hotel is set in a restored convent from the 16th century. It’s centrally-located with impressive stone architecture and a pool. Also, after my Oaxaca visit, I read that staff dressed as monks light candles outside of each room at night. (So extra! I must return!) Check out their Instagram here.
Palacio Borghese This 4-star hotel offers exceptional luxury in an old colonial building, with an indoor courtyard and rooftop terrace. Two words: FAN-CY!
Casa Antonieta 4-star luxury hotel with stylish modern design, lush interior courtyard, and central location. It has fantastic reviews for all aspects of guest stays, and I’m sort of in love with their peaceful Instagram vibe — check it out here.
BONUS: Best Oaxaca Boutique Design Hotels
City Centro Oaxaca Without a doubt, this the pinkest place in Oaxaca! It has a chic design, outdoor pool, and great reviews for the rooms and breakfast. When I visited, the church across the street was the site of a competition for artists creating sand tapestries for the Day of the Dead festival.
Hotel NaNa Vida Exceptional location and colorful, modern rooms. NaNa Vida has great ratings for the helpfulness of the staff, the charming interior courtyard, and spaces filled with local art. Check out their Instagram here.
Hotel con Corazón A socially responsible hotel that invests in local education projects, this spot is located a few blocks from the central tourist area. But it scores high reviews for its overall design, included breakfast, and thoughtful service. Check out their Instagram here.
Is Oaxaca Safe?
While no destination is completely safe, Oaxaca state is one of the safest parts of Mexico for travel. The city has a small-town vibe, and I was surprised to find that there’s quite a number of U.S. “expat” retirees living there. During my week in Oaxaca for the Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) festival, I definitely felt safe, even as a solo traveler.
It can be a bit intimidating to arrive to a new city late at night, so be sure your hotel knows your flight number in case of delays. Upon arriving at the airport, I booked a shared van drop-off with no problems, and the van was full of women travelers! Stick to tourist areas, and take the usual precautions when traveling, of course. Check out this article from USA Today on safety in Oaxaca.
Also, obviously it’s not recommended to walk alone most places late at night. However, due to a mishap with one of the tour companies, I ended up walking back to my hotel after a late excursion. I quickly realized that every passing taxi beeped gently at me, but it was only in case I wanted to flag them down!
Search More Oaxaca Hotels
Check out some Oaxaca tours:
I always recommend a tour with a lot of interaction early in your trip, like a cooking class. It’s a great way to find people to do other activities with and/or get tips on the local area — especially for solo travelers!
Pin these best hotel ideas for later and help others find it too!
Interested in more Mexico travel tips?
Grab this great 4-day interary for Mexico City.
Check out my guide to visiting Oaxaca for the Day of the Dead celebration.
And don’t miss my collection of nativity scenes from around the world, including a Day of the Dead nativity!