Why We May Pack Up Everything And Move to Oaxaca, Mexico

Ok, so maybe we won’t be moving to Oaxaca, Mexico immediately, but from the first night we arrived in this charming town, we knew we were going to love it.

A Cruising Couple on Oaxaca

Oaxaca City was the first stop on our road trip through Oaxaca with Cantimplora Travel. Led by our awesome Mexican guides and professional photographer Sam and Bernie (founders of Cantimplora Travel) our small group met in Oaxaca City for a few days of off-the-beaten-track adventure before continuing on to discover one of the most diverse and artistically gifted states in all of Mexico.

As we wandered down the cobblestone pedestrian street in Oaxaca our first night, we heard loud music and drumming coming from the church plaza. Surely it’s just a street band looking for some tips from passersby, we thought…until we noticed the giant dancing puppets.

Wedding party in Oaxaca
Photo by Cantimplora Travel

These wedding puppets were about 15 feet tall and on long wooden poles, dressed in the form of a bride and groom. The music was pouring out of the church and a large group of friends and family were dancing in the courtyard. After a while, the party started to make its way down the main avenue through town as the bride and groom danced in the streets past cheering onlookers. This wedding parade, called a calenda, perfectly expressed the colorful, fun-loving and friendly community vibe of Oaxaca. And this ambience of celebration, arts and culture would set the tone for the rest of our journey with Cantimplora Travel.

calenda in Oaxaca
Photo by Cantimplora Travel

Though you may not be as lucky to catch a calenda in action, there are plenty more reasons to love Oaxaca. Here are just a few of the reasons why we so quickly fell in love with Oaxaca.

Why We May Pack Up Everything And Move to Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca collage


With food, clothing, jewelry and artisanal markets a plenty, Oaxaca is a great place to stock up on authentic Mexican merchandise. The oldest market in Oaxaca is the Benito Juárez Market, just a few blocks south of the Zocalo, the historic district.

Oaxaca Church in the Zocalo

Here you can find all sorts of unique Oaxacan produce and products. Be on the lookout for quesillo, a soft white cheese rolled into a ball that can only be found in this region of Mexico. Also available are jars of mole sauce, honey, and cacao beans; all of which Oaxaca claims the most delicious in the entire country. You’ll no doubt also notice the large plates of barbecued grasshoppers as well…more on that later.

Grasshoppers in Oaxaca

Despite its name, the Oaxaca Saturday Market is actually open every day of the week. However, on Saturdays, the craft section joins the market. On this day, you’ll find Trique Indian weavers using looms to create intricate textiles and rugs. It is a bit far from the main part of town, but taxis are affordable and you may find yourself needing a cab just to transport all of your new purchases back to your hotel.

The handicrafts market, or Mercado de Artesañas, is open daily and offers lots of household items, leather goods, native textiles, handicrafts, and ceramics. You’ll find it at the corner of Zaragoza and García downtown.


If you are ambitious enough to take a walk around town during the early morning hours, it may seem like Oaxaca doesn’t have much going on. The evenings, however, are a different story. Clubs and discos aren’t the scene in Oaxaca. Instead, you’ll find small friendly bars serving up beer, cocktails, Mexican wines and the local liquor, mezcal.

It doesn’t get more hole-in-the-wall than the Los Amantes Mezcalería. We would never have found this eclectic bar if it hadn’t been for Cantimplora Travel. This was the perfect place to try several different types of mezcal before we choose our favorite to kick back and listen to the music. We had a great time singing the night away to familiar Mexican classics as well as rubbing elbows with a few of the region’s popular celebrities who frequently stop by for a drink.

Los Amantes Mezcalería
Photo by Cantimplora Travel

If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, than the Mezquite Gastronomia Y Destilados has a wide variety of drinks and the outdoor patio has an amazing view of the church. Perfect for a romantic evening with your special someone.


Many people claim that the Mezcal is at least partially to blame for the creativity and artistic ability that thrives in Oaxaca City. The smooth yet strong drink can be sipped in bars all over town. Read all about the details of how mezcal is made and our experience meeting an independent organic producer in this post!

Cantimplora Mezcal
Photo by Cantimplora Travel


Mexican food, in general, is one of our all-time favorites, and some of the best food in all of Mexico can be found in Oaxaca City. Here are a few of our favorite dishes we ate during our time in Oaxaca.

Tlayudas are large semi-dried tortillas, either folded or open and stuffed with refried beans, tomatoes, avocados, and some variety of meat. The portions are huge so bring a friend to split one.

Chilaquiles are the best excuse to have nachos for breakfast. The dish consists of lightly fried tortilla chips covered with your choice of red or green sauce. Sometimes other toppings like shredded chicken, cheese, and Mexican cream are added to the mix as well.


There are 7 different types of Oaxacan moles and while we only got to try 5 of them, they all offer unique and delicious flavors. The process of making mole is tedious and time-consuming but the wait is well worth the reward.

You’ll likely see, Chapulines (Grasshoppers) in masses at any of the Oaxacan markets. These little critters are used in some dips or on top of tlayuda to add a bit of extra crunch.

Whether you consume it as a bar or a beverage, Oaxacan chocolate is delicious. Check out Casa Crespo to sample a wide variety from chocolate with ginger to chile to cedrón.

Oaxacan Chocolate

The ice cream around Oaxaca has enough variety to rival the gelato shops of Italy. For a special treat, try the mezcal flavor.


For us, one of the most important things about making a destination livable is the local cafes. Being able to grab a cup of coffee and work at local and artistic cafes is a must for traveling entrepreneurs like ourselves. The state of Oaxaca has a large and talented community of artists and that artistic atmosphere extends to Oaxaca’s many cafes.

Oaxacan Coffee


Big enough to get lost in yet small enough to see the major sites in a day, Oaxaca is the perfect size for people like us who love getting around on our own two feet. The pedestrian road makes it even easier to get where you’re going without needing a ride.

Oaxaca Pedestrian Road

One thing is for certain – we will definitely be returning to Oaxaca to amble along its quaint streets and soak in more of it’s charm.

Have you ever been to Oaxaca? Are you ready to pack your bags for the colorful and charming town of Oaxaca?

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We were guests of Cantimplora Travel. All thoughts and opinions, as always, are our own.