Black Solo Female Travel Guide: Oaxaca City, Mexico

by Sojourner

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Known for its food and artistry, solo travel to Oaxaca City is a must-visit if you are in Mexico. While many people flock to Cancun or Tulum to experience the beaches or big city life in Mexico City, Oaxaca is a bit calmer. Yet, its vibrant culture, handmade weaving and ceramics, and love of mezcal have their own charm.

Solo traveling in Oaxaca City was one of my most colorful adventures. The town bursts with color, from the buildings to the traditional clothing and jewelry sold by street vendors. Learning how their traditions and Indigenous community values influence their culture was insightful and shaped my understanding of the city. So here is my solo travel guide to planning your trip to Oaxaca City.

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FAQs about traveling to Oaxaca

When is the best month to travel to Oaxaca?

The high season in Oaxaca City begins at the end of October and ends in April. Oaxaca is most known for its Day of the Dead Celebration at the end of October, which signals the start of its peak tourist season. But there are other celebrations you can plan your visit around throughout the year, including Festival Guelaguetza in July. The rainy season in Oaxaca begins in May and ends in September, which is in alignment with most of Mexico. This season also coincides with the hotter months in Mexico.

Does Oaxaca have an airport?

Yes! Oaxaca City does have an airport you can use to plan your solo trip. After taking the Jose Cuervo Express in Guadalajara, I flew from there to Oaxaca City. The airport is smaller, so flights may be more expensive if you fly directly from a U.S. city.  

Street in Oaxaca

Is Oaxaca a walkable city? Do you need a car?

Oaxaca City is walkable for most tourists. There are suburban neighborhoods a bit further outside of the city center. However, most cafes and restaurants do not require a car, and most tours include round-trip transportation. But if you do need transportation, you can get a taxi. There is also no Uber in Oaxaca City, so the only other option is the Didi app.

Is Oaxaca safe for solo female travelers?

Based on my experience as a solo female traveler in Oaxaca, it is a safe city. Crime can happen anywhere, so I don’t believe any place is 100% secure. Yet, I had no issues walking around during the day or early at night in Oaxaca City.

Where to stay as a solo traveler in Oaxaca

Private room at Co404

Co.404 Coliving

For solo travelers and remote workers, check out Co. 404 Coliving. They provide dorms and private rooms for remote workers to enjoy their stay in Oaxaca’s city center. To build community as a solo Traveler and remote worker, Co.404 also hosts family dinners and events throughout the week. If you want to be social on a workcation, this is the place to be. They also offer week-long and multi-month packages if you want to stay longer. 

Selina Oaxaca 

Check out the boutique hostel Selina Oaxaca for a more traditional solo travel experience. They offer dorms and private rooms depending on your budget and how you want to travel solo. Selina Oaxaca is in the city center, so it is within walking distance of places to eat, bars, street food and more. Selina can be a more affordable hostel option for solo travelers on a budget. 

The best things to do in Oaxaca alone

Tacos del Carmen street food

Take an Oaxacan cooking class

If you do nothing else while solo traveling in Oaxaca, take a cooking class! I did a vegetarian cooking class with Etnofood, and it was one of the highlights of my trip. We made tacos, mole, salsa, dessert, and passionfruit drinks with mezcal as a communal class. We also shopped at Mercado de La Merced to learn about the ingredients in the dishes we made together. However, Oaxaca has many other cooking classes, such as this traditional Oaxacan and another shorter cooking class.

Go to the markets 

Similar to Taking a cooking class, a solo trip to Oaxaca also means visiting the markets. Since the region is known for its food culture, its markets are heaven for those who want to learn more about Oaxacan dishes. Mercado de Abastos is the largest market in Oaxaca. South of the Zócalo, you can find Mercado Benito Juárez, and Mercado 20 de Noviembre has a mix of fresh and prepared food for you to enjoy. Some key dishes and ingredients to look out for are tamales oaxaqueños, quesillo (Oaxacan cheese), tlayudas (Mexican pizza), huitlacoche (corn smut) and chapulines (grasshoppers).

Visit Hierve el Agua

One of the most popular things to do in Oaxaca is visiting Hierve el Agua. These rock formations create a petrified waterfall due to the minerals in the water on the white rocks, giving a waterfall cascade effect. Depending on your itinerary, you can find a full-day tour or even a half-day tour that also includes learning about the ceramics in Teotitlán  del Valle. Be sure to pack sunscreen as there isn’t much shade, sunglasses, closed-toed shoes for hiking, and a swimsuit to get in the natural pools.

Spend money shopping 

As you explore Oaxaca’s streets, you will notice many vendors selling local goods. You can find colorful clothes, purses, jewelry, ceramics, and more. While I am an earrings and purse girl, I recommend you buy at least one souvenir from Oaxaca. They had some of the best handmade and well-made items I’ve seen on my trips to Mexico.

Learn about the local art, ceramics, and textiles

Learning about the indigenous history while solo traveling in Oaxaca is an enriching experience. On my solo trip to Oaxaca, I did the Zapotec Experience to learn about local art, ceramics, and textiles. This tour was a 10-hour day experience with multiple stops in towns such as Teotitlán del Valle and San Marcos Tlapazola. You can even visit Tlacolula de Matamoros, a local market outside of Oaxaca City. There are a variety of weaving and ceramics tours you can do in Oaxaca, so I recommend choosing at least one for your solo trip.

Walk the colorful streets

Before traveling to Oaxaca, I saw all the photos of colorful streets online. Bring your camera if you travel solo in Oaxaca and love color. Oaxaca City is full of cute, picturesque streets; you can even find photoshoots with local photographers to get some photos of yourself. Just remember to be a responsible tourist and always ask before taking pictures of locals. 

Do a mezcal and mole-tasting

Mezcal is a popular alcohol to consume while on a solo trip to Oaxaca. Every Oaxacan I met said I must try some while on my journey. Many tours will include mezcal, but you can also do an official mezcal tasting with mole. Mole is a Mexican dish made from toasted and dried chiles, roasted veggies, and pureed chocolate into a smooth sauce over chicken or turkey. Both are must-tries while solo traveling in Oaxaca.

Eat your way through the city

A solo trip to Oaxaca City is only complete if you indulge in incredible food. Whether you like street food or fine dining restaurants, there are many options to satisfy your taste buds. Mole is a popular option for many visitors to Oaxaca. However, tacos, tlayudas, quesadillas, and the famous quesillo (Oaxacan cheese) are also pluses.

On being a Black solo female traveler in Oaxaca 

Like many of my other solo travel adventures, I did stick out in Oaxaca City. Walking around with purple hair and green nails made people do a few double takes and also sparked some fantastic conversations with other locals and tourists. However, I did not have any anxiety traveling alone while in Oaxaca, nor did I face any issues traveling solo as a Black woman. Each activity ran smoothly, the people I met on my tours were kind, and the guides were open to any questions or curiosities I had about Oaxacan culture. 

Final thoughts on traveling to Oaxaca

Oaxaca has become one of my favorite cities in Mexico. If you love food, outdoor activities that aren’t too strenuous, and handmade crafts and experiences, I think a solo trip to Oaxaca is necessary. It’s not as busy as other cities, but it’s not a sleepy town. I enjoyed my time in the city and would love to return and bring my mom or go on a girls’ trip one day!

Are you looking to travel alone on your first solo trip? Read this post for tips.

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