30 Best Guided Tours in Oaxaca, Mexico to Experience

The state of Oaxaca is a magnificent mix of sierras, unspoiled beaches, rich forests, and ancient culture. There is so much to explore in downtown Oaxaca and small surrounding towns, plus ancient ruins of the Mixtec and Zapotec civilizations to see where it all began. On top of it all, Oaxaca Food is among the best cuisine in the world, with several restaurants just waiting for you to sample their flavorful Mexican dishes. One of the best things to do in Oaxaca is supporting locals on these amazing tours!

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Best City Tours of OaxacA

1. Oaxaca City Architecture Walking Tour

Oaxaca City Architecture Walking Tour: Explore the hidden secrets of Oaxaca with a local guide, born and raised in the area! This tour will start at the Plaza de la Danza yard with an introduction to the history and culture of Oaxaca near the Municipal Palace and two catholic temples. Tour guide Juan will show you some of the best-hidden secrets, equip you with travel tips for the remainder of your stay and explore the different architectural styles of the buildings in depth. 

2. Half-Day History Walking City Tour

Half-Day History Walking City Tour: This private tour will take you through the central market in Oaxaca and the main city square, “zocalo.” You’ll travel to the Government Palace by vehicle and past notable city monuments, including the cathedral. Groups are limited to 10 people, with free hotel pickup in the downtown area or pick-ups outside the city for a surcharge.

3. City History Tour: Local Stories & Woman’s History

City History Tour + Local Stories & Women Legends: If you want an Oaxaca walking tour with a guide who doubles as an impeccable storyteller, Verónica is the one for you! Her tour–titled The Historical Compass–guides you through historic areas and prominent neighborhoods in Oaxaca City, highlighting the celebrations, struggles, and mysterious stories, with a heavy focus on Oaxacan women. Guests will also try a shot of Mezcal (a popular agave alcohol in Oaxaca) and delicious ice cream at the end!

4. Oaxaca City Free Walking Tour

Oaxaca City Free Walking Tour:  This free walking tour of Oaxaca was created by a local resident who designed it to explore the most intimate an delicious parts of the city and culture. Tours are offered in the morning and afternoon, starting at Teatro Macedonio Alcala under the yellow umbrella. If you are a foodie, this tour will point out the best restaurants in Oaxaca, with recommendations for local dishes and drinks to fit your palette.  

Oaxaca City Photoshoot Tours

5. Oaxaca Photoshoot by a Local Photographer

I did this photoshoot experience which included stops at beautiful spots in Oaxaca like the Santo Domingo temple, the Macedonio Alcalá theater (one of the most important buildings in Mexico), and many other gorgeous spots. The tour can also be catered to your style, too. Then, the final photos will be sent to you through Wetransfer. Or, you can do what I did, handing the photographer my camera and SD card.

6. Walking Photography Workshop + Tips

The photographer on this tour is highly experienced with top-notch knowledge of Oaxaca and great tips to help you take memorable photos. You’ll walk through the local streets from the city’s main center, beginning at the Esplanade of the Temple of Santo Domingo. The tour ends over a cup of local coffee at El Volador, discussing the photos you took on your journey. 

zapotec medicine & SpiRituality

7. Traditional Mexican Medicine Workshop

Learn about the history of Traditional Mexican Medicine and the methods for preparing herbal teas on one of the most unique tours in Oaxaca! This workshop also includes practicing traditional massages that heal ailments such as sore throats and stomach issues. Note: Bring a light jacket, and do not eat for an hour and a half before you arrive. 

8. Temazcal Experience

This one is not for the faint of heart. Literally. I almost fainted it was so hot in this all-natural heat lodge experience. This Zapotec tradition goes back hundreds of years. A temazcal ceremony is performed to help detoxify your body while you work internally with your mind, thoughts, and other inner reflections. My experience helped me connect with pre-colonial heritage and learn about the uses of medicinal herbs.

I strongly recommend doing this with a healer that is of your own gender, since you shouldn’t wear clothes during this experience.

OAXACA Biking Tours

9. Oaxaca City Bike + Street Art Tour 

This tour will guide you through the city’s most artistic quarters and highlight the modern street artists making their marks over the last 15 years. Gliding along the streets, your guides will teach you all about the history of Oaxaca street artists while passing murals, posters, and stencils and visiting an art workshop. 

10. El Tule Tree

Riding to the El Tule Tree is one of the most unique ways to explore Oaxaca while visiting farther-out sights like its most ancient natural treasure. El Tule Tree is the widest tree in the world and a site you have to add to your day trips from Oaxaca. The ride is pretty easy (6 miles one way) and will allow you to explore the Santa Maria del Tule church and market. 

11. Sierra Norte Mountain Biking

  • Mountain Biking Day Trip (Sierra Norte Mountains): Discover the beautiful Sierra Norte Mountains of Oaxaca by bike, starting in Oaxaca city and driving up to the mountains to enjoy an authentic Mexican breakfast. This ride takes you 19 miles down the mountains overlooking the valley. There are a few areas where you will have to ride uphill, but you can skip these and hop in the vehicle if you want. 

Oaxaca Cooking Classes

12. Prehispanic Cooking Class in Fire Pit

Prehispanic Cooking Class in Fogón: This class allows you to shop for your own ingredients at a local Oaxaca market with your chef before diving into delicious pre-Hispanic dishes. Participants will make a soup of Nixtamal origins from scratch, with the option to make chocolate and an open mole in another experience. The entire class is taught in Spanish–if you have trouble understanding, just watch carefully!

13. Tortillas, Nixtmal & Salsa Workshop

Beginners and expert chefs will both enjoy this super interactive cooking class that includes lunch, coffee/tea, and snacks. You’ll meet your chef at the local market to pick out all the ingredients for your menu, including two starters (fillings, salsas, and freshly made tortillas) and finish with the main course (memelas, tetelas, and tlacoyos). This experience really dives deep into the Nixtamal process of cooking and the development of local gastronomy. 

14. Flavor of Oaxaca: Cooking Class + Local Market Tour

Small groups will love learning to prepare traditional Oaxacan recipes right in the heart of the city on this cooking class with a local market tour. The drinks are complimentary as you cook away, with one-on-one attention from your instructor. Every participant actively participates, with both English and Spanish instruction. Note: This experience is not wheelchair or stroller accessible.

15. Casa de los Sabores

Local market + Hand’s On Cooking Class: I love this class taught at Casa de los Sabores and run by famous local check Pilar Cabrera. First, guests will accompany Pilar to the local market to purchase all the ingredients before jumping into the kitchen to gain a hands-on appreciation of Mexican cooking techniques, tools, and skills. You’ll create some of the most delicious Oaxacan dishes from 17 different menus if you book the private class.

Mezcal Tours IN Oaxaca

16. Agave & Mezcal Tasting Experience 

Agave & Mezcal Tasting: This tasting takes place at the Casona Oaxaca Hotel, one of many unique places to stay in Oaxaca. Settle down in the stunning courtyard and enjoy a variety of the best Mezcal around. Your host Franciso has worked in the industry for years and is highly knowledgeable about each brand’s history and distinct taste. 

17. Mezcal and Mole with Certified Sommelier

Mezcal and Mole with Certified Sommelier: If your group wants to try more than Mezcal, this tour includes a tasting of Mole and is perfect for friends and couples. This tasting room has a gorgeous mountain view and is led by a team of professional sommeliers. You can try seven handcrafted moles and seven artisanal mezcals, and there’s a menu with snacks to munch on. 

Food Tasting Experiences (No Cooking Necessary) 

18. Foodie Night Tour & Bar Crawl

What better way to explore the nightlife spots than with this foodie night tour and barcrawl. This trip will take you through the neighborhoods around Conzati Garden to explore local taquerias and bars while sampling drinks and tacos! Groups are limited to four people, and your experience can be shaped by the type of food and drink you prefer. 

19. Traditional Sauces, Tastings & Tortilla-Making ★

Traditional Oaxacan Cooking Class (Sauces, Tastings, & Tortillas): Foodies will love this intimate class that allows them to cook, dine, and enjoy learning about Mexican cuisine from the comfort of a gorgeous Oaxaca home. You can help chop spices and make tortillas, but this experience is more about watching the process and appreciating the hard work. An open mezcal bar makes this place perfect for relaxing and pleasing your taste buds in a beautiful backyard and outdoor kitchen. 

Easy Day Trip Tours from Oaxaca

20. Monte Alban + San Bartolo + San Martin (Artisan Route 1) ★

This tour is simply one of the best Oaxaca day trips to explore the ancient heritage and meet some talented artisans of Oaxaca. First, you’ll start with the UNESCO archeological site of Monte Albán–the Zapotec capital. You’ll learn about the history of the civilization and the history of the treasure found there!

Next, you get to see how local artisans make the popular brightly colored Mexican folk art, Alebrijes, in the town of San Martín Tilcajete. Then you’ll check out some amazing black clay ceramics. One of the only in the world. This black clay technique has been preserved for generations! If you love art, this tour (and the next on below) is a must!

21. Teotitlan Weaving & Candles + Tacolula Market (Artisan Route 2) ★

This day trip focuses on the artisan creatives of Oaxaca’s small towns. I absolutely loved my time on this tour. First, I learned about the artistic traditions of candle-making and weaving in the town of Teotitlan. Make sure that you are told exactly which candle-making experience you are doing, as I was not fills your belly with fantastic cuisine in between. You’ll travel to Tlacolula Market for top-notch barbacoa–a delicious Mexican slow-cooked meat. The tour wraps up with a Mezcal tasting with over 20 agave options. Transportation will pick you up from Santo Domingo Church and take you to Teotitlán del Valle. 

22. Monte Alban Tours

  • Monte Alban Only (Half Day): History buffs will love the archaeological site of Monte Albán in Oaxaca. On this tour, you’ll explore the ruins where the state’s first inhabitants lived. You get to travel back and forth in an air-conditioned, and it’s perfect for travelers who don’t have a full day to dedicate but still want to see the ruins. 
  • Monte Albán + Tree of Tule + textiles + Hearse el Agua Full Day Jam Packed: If you want to squeeze as much exploration as possible out of Monte Albán in one day, this is the perfect opportunity. In 9-hours, you’ll visit the ruins, see the thickest tree in the world (El Tule Tree), and try some amazing authentic cuisine. You’ll also visit the village of Teotitlán Del Valle, where locals speak the Zapoteco language and witness the protected practice of weaving wool rugs. 

23. Mitla Half-Day Tour

M. Thierry

Mitla Guided Half Day: There is an incredible archaeological complex in Mitla you have to add to your Oaxaca Itinerary that the Zapotecs built. You’ll explore this site and visit local workshops on this half-day tour to learn and witness the traditional ways of producing textiles with the ancient and natural dying processes of Oaxacan locals. This opportunity is perfect for small groups and to avoid larger crowds.

Hiking & other Outdoor Oaxaca tours

24. Hierve El Agua Hiking Tours 

  • Hierve el Agua Hike + Teotitlan Town (Visit for Textiles): Before your hike, you’ll start with an authentic breakfast of Oaxaca delicates in San Isidro Roaguía on your way to explore the entire area of Hierve el Agua. Bring your swimsuit to cool off in the thermal pools, a perfect place to relax and meditate. There’s another secret oasis 7km down into the valley (some say it is the trip’s highlight) before heading to the world-renown town of Teotitlåan del Valle and visiting the home of a local artist.
  • Ultimate Hierce el Agua HIke + Mezcal Tour After: Be ready to start early with this hike, meeting at 6:00 am in Oaxaca. Similar to the previous Hierve el Agua hike, you’ll get a chance to swim in the thermal pools, explore the area, and hike down the valley. In addition, you’ll stop at a local family’s Mezcal Distillery to see the production process up close. 
  • Hierve el Agua Oaxaca + Teotitlan Town: This tour will combine an exploration of Hierve el Agua’s petrified waterfalls and pools with a trip to the textile workshops in Teotitlán del Valle. Here, you’ll watch how they make majestic wool carpets up close before popping over to try handmade Mezcal at the nearby factory. Breakfast is not included, but there you can pay an extra fee of $50 to enter Boil the Water for a traditional Oaxacan breakfast. 

25. Day Hike to Mystical Forest of Ixtepeji (Sierra Norte Mountains) ★

This stunning hiking tour through the mystical forest of Ixtepeji will take you above the clouds. Located just 45 minutes from downtown Oaxaca, this trail takes 4-miles to get to the summit and is another 3 miles to the lush forest. You’ll explore tons of local fauna and flora, but be sure to bring a jacket; it gets chilly at the top!

Hikers will also get to see the nearby communities and learn more about the history of the forest and surrounding vegetation. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks are all included. They will provide water, but it’s best also to bring your own since you will be hiking all day. 

26. Mushroom Forest Hike in Cuajimoloyas (Sierra Norte Mountains) ★

  • Pueblos Mancomunados: If you love to explore mushrooms in the wild, you have to take advantage of this hiking tour through the Cuajimoloyas forest.  This full-day tour will start early with a yummy local breakfast before adventuring off into the forest to catch panoramic views of the mountain. End your day with a meal before returning to Oaxaca City, and if you come during the rainy season, you’ll get mushrooms on your plate! 

Multi-Day Tours of Mexico (That INCLUDE Oaxaca)

27. Magical Mexico 

The city of Oaxaca is included in this fantastic full-day tour that includes Mexico City, Puebla, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Palenque, Campeche, Merida, and Cancun! I absolutely love Campeche, too. So you’re getting a lot of gems in this tour. You’ll explore Mexican culture in-depth through each destination, with hotel accommodations, meals, transportation, and an expert guide included. Tours max out at 22 guests and can be personalized or privatized. Not bad for a small group tour!

28. Mexico Unplugged

Mexico Unplugged is an excellent group tour for at least 16 people through Mexico City, Oaxaca, San Cristobel de Las Casas, Palenque, Merida, Chichen Itza, Playa del Carmen. Guests love swimming in Playa del Carmen’s stunning azure waters, souvenir shopping, savoring local dishes in Mexico City, and having three days in Oaxaca!

29. The Mariachi Route 

This is a grand tour of some of the best places in Mexico! Guests will explore Mexico City, San Juan Teotihuacán, San Andres Cholula, Oaxaca, San Pablo Villa de Mitla, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Canon del Sumidero, Chiapa de Corzo, Zinacantan, San Cristobel de Las Casas, Agua Azul Waterfalls, Misol-Ha Waterfalls, Palenque, Champoton, and Merida. This trip includes hotel accommodations, flights, an expert guide, meals, transportation, insurance, and more!

Oaxaca Tours in OTHER Parts of Oaxaca State

30. Huatulco 

  • Huatulco City Tour: This tour is a wonderful experience starting at La Bocana by an open sea beach and exploring the main square of the adorable town of La Crucecita. You’ll also peruse the Church of the Virgin of Guadalupe, meet local artisans, and sample Oaxaca cheese, chocolate treats, and grasshopper snacks! 
  • Private Huatulco 5 Bays Boat Trip from La Crececita: This is a fantastic tour for anyone who wants to explore Huatulco from the water and view the stunning beaches. You’ll get the chance to swim and snorkel in crystal clear blue waters after a private boat cruise and the control to stop and relax whenever you’d like!
  • Bays Tour in Huatulco: Jump on an excursion to Mexico’s Huatulco National Park to witness the true beauty of beaches and wildlife-filled bays in a small group setting. You’ll get to visit Santa Cruz, Cacaluta, Maguey, and Chachacual, stopping at several premiere snorkeling locations along the way. 
  • Tour to Copalitilla Magical Waterfalls from Huatulco: An absolute must-tour if you love waterfalls and swimming in natural pools. This opportunity also takes you to visit a local coffee farm to try a handcrafted Mexican coffee and an authentic mole meal. 

31. Puerto Escondido 

  • Baby Sea Turtle Release in Puerto Escondido: This is one of the most unique experiences, allowing you to get up close and personal with sea turtles to release them into the wild! First, you’ll learn about their breeding habits and behavior before setting the baby turtles on their way out to sea while watching a gorgeous sunset. 
  • Surfing Lesson: Take surfing lessons from an experienced local in Puerto Escondido to learn the basics or brush up on your skills. You don’t have to bring anything but yourself–all equipment is included. 
  • Bioluminescent Lagoon Boat Ride and Swim from Puerto Escondido: The natural phenomenon of the bioluminescent waters in Puerto Escondido is like something out of a fairy tale. You arrive here by van, hop on a boat, and head out into plankton-filled waters that boast these beautiful lights! 
  • Snorkeling Adventure: Explore the magical underwater world of the Oaxaca reefs with a snorkeling adventure. Start in San Agustin (with hotel pickups available) and look out for kaleidoscopic fish and turtles!

32. Oaxaca Coast Town-Hopping Tour 

  • Oaxacan Coast Adventure (Ventanilla, Mazunte, Zipolite, & Puerto Angel): This round-trip tour will hit all the picturesque beach towns along the coast of Oaxaca and stop at pristine beaches like Puerto Angel and Ventanilla. Discover the wonder of the mangrove forest on a boat ride and get a chance to visit the National Mexcian Turtle Center

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