The most important and well-known time of year to visit Oaxaca is during the Day of the Dead celebrations, which take place over 3 nights culminating on the very day, Nov 2nd. You will learn about and partake in many of these important experiences. The weather at this time is picture perfect, every day – highs in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s at night. We’ll also savor all the sensory delights of Oaxaca, from artisanal crafts to hand made Mezcal to the best and most unique food in the country. This is the land of the 7 moles of barbacoa and blue tortillas. While Tequila may be more well known in the US, the most important drink in this part of Mexico is Mezcal. Made from a dozen different agave species, and 52 more sub-species, Mezcal is emblematic of Oaxaca’s diversity, and is at the heart and soul of Oaxaca, to be sipped and celebrated with friends. Once you get to know this town, you will not want to leave!
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip
Our driver will meet you at the airport and take you to our wonderful boutique hotel - Hotel Azul - conveniently located in the historic downtown area.
You’ll have time to unpack and refresh before we meet for our welcome drink and snacks around 6pm with a stunning view of the historic Cathedral.
Then we'll depart to visit the cemeteries with our trip leader and local guide. Coco, one of our beloved guides, will explain the beliefs and significance of the Day of the Dead. This is not a somber event; it's a welcoming home of departed spirits and a chance for families to commune with their ancestors. Tonight, in addition to the appetizers we have with drinks, we'll be sampling some local street food.
You may want to consider arriving a day early to shake off that travel fatigue, because your first and second nights will be late ones.
Rest will come easy tonight.
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll head over to tour the Cathedral Santo Domingo, the construction of which began in 1585, along with the cathedral’s museum which is an absolute treasure. Then we'll take a walk in the central part of town to discover the beauty of the colonial buildings in wonderful bright colors. as well as the neighboring district of Barrio de Jalatlaco which you'll simply adore.
Lunch will be at one of our favorite places, Casa Oaxaca. The salsa there is to die for.
After lunch, we'll have some free time for shopping or relaxing, but hurry back to the hotel by 4pm. Leticia, your trip leader who's also an artist, will help you get dressed up in your personalized headdresses that she's made for you plus an appropriate outfit and make-up, so you'll be all ready for our excursion tonight.
We'll have a simple meal of Oaxacan Tlayudas, like a Mexican pizza but way better! This is the quintessential homey, feel-good food of Oaxaca.
Then we'll head out to explore the neighboring town of San Augustin de Etla where there are parades and festivities for the Day of the Dead throughout the night! Mezcal will be served tonight so get your party shoes on and prepare for a late one!
Today, we'll have a big hearty breakfast to coat our tummies for what's to come.
We'll drive outside the city for a comprehensive tour to learn all about the making of artisanal Mezcal. Even if you have told yourself you don’t like Mezcal, this experience will change your mind. Our guide is one of the most knowledgeable people on the subject in Mexico and he is also a producer.
After our excursion including multiple tastings, we’ll stop at a famous market for a late lunch.
This afternoon will be reserved for some much needed down time. Take a nap after 2 late nights or shop some of the superb stores in central Oaxaca City.
Tonight's meal is on your own. Discover some good neighborhood places or just pick up something simple and relax in your hotel room, you deserve an early night!
Today we can sleep in a bit. Then we’ll head out to enjoy a proper Mexican breakfast at Floricita in a small nearby market. Here you will want to try their delicious hot chocolate and for the adventurous, taste some chapulinas (grasshoppers). Actually they are quite good and provide some extra protein on your morning tortilla.
Then we’ll head out to a nearby village that makes handmade rugs. They’ll been creating and hand weaving rugs in this town for nearly 1000 years, we’ll stop into the women’s cooperative which is our favorite. We’ll have a simple homemade lunch nearby. We'll also visit a pottery maker or two in a different town that specializes in the black pottery this region is famous for.
Once back in town, we'll make one more stop at a wonderful artisan craft store that has nearly everything you'd ever want that's handmade from the area including stunning Huipils.
After some rest back at our hotel, tonight we'll dine on the elevated über fresh cuisine of an extremely talented female chef at Lucina Cocina de Humo. She focuses on heirloom tomatoes and is famous for her tomato displays. Her food, often smoked, is out of this world!
Today, we will delve deep into the richness of Oaxacan cuisine and its classic ingredients. The state of Oaxaca may be one of the poorer ones in Mexico, but it’s rich in heritage due to the diversity of the indigenous peoples that hail from this area.
In the morning we’ll drive out to the home of our chef and cooking instructor. She and her son have created a gorgeous outdoor covered kitchen. You’ll get to make your own homemade tortillas, memelitas and so much more. After our hard work we’ll enjoy the fruits of our labors.
Use your afternoon for rest, shopping or hitting up the modern art museum MACO situated in a gorgeous old colonial building in Oaxaca’s historical district.
Tonight we will dine in style at Origen, one of the prettiest places in town with elegant cuisine that will surely knock your socks off!
For those heading home today, we'll arrange for your transport back to the Oaxaca airport
For those staying on for the Trip Extension, we have more in store for you ...
After breakfast, we'll head over the charming Barrio de Jalatlaco, where we'll check into our new, terribly charming hotel that is all pink! We'll drop our bags and head out for a tour of Monte Alban, a pre-Columbian settlement which was the center for the Zapotecs for about 1000 years from 500 BC to 500 AD. Our guide will help explain the pyramids and the significance of this important culture, still strong in Oaxaca today.
A stop in the small shop is not to be missed, their jewelry based on ancient archeological finds is worthy of a look.
Today’s late lunch is an exciting one. A trip to Alfonsina is more of a pilgrimage than a lunch stop. Voted best restaurant of the year by New World Magazine several years back, you’d never know it by the humble look of the place. Chef Jorge León began his journey back home by working first at Casa Oaxaca and then Pujol (voted best restaurant in the world several years ago in Mexico City) and now he is at his happiest in his family compound working outdoors and creating whatever he wants for his small cadre of diner. You will be guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face.
Afternoon is set aside for rest and recovery or shopping.
This evening's dinner is on your own. Many people are still full from the epic lunch at Alfonsina.
Today's excursions take us to two epic sites. We'll stop at Mitla, an important ancient archeological site of the Mixtec culture. The 30-40 minute drive will take us up to an elevation of nearly 5,000 ft, surrounded by the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountain range.
Then we'll head over to Hierve El Agua, a petrified or frozen waterfall, complete with soaking pools. This is a site of unparalleled natural beauty. Plenty of photos will be taken and don't forget to bring your suit if you want to take a dip.
After all of this sightseeing we'll sit down to a local lunch and then drive back into town.
After some down time, we'll meet up again for a meal at Teocintle. This is a unique experience that you won't soon forget. Experience a Michelin star worthy tasting menu in a glorified garage. This is a secret "hole in the wall" where the serious foodies are headed and a perfect place to toast to our last night in this rich Mexican paradise.
Oaxaca is a hard place to leave but somehow we must all muster the courage. No doubt you'll be leaving with your suitcase full of handmade treasures and your heart full of memorable experience and the best part - new friends made!
Our driver will escort you to the airport around 10 or 11am based on your flight time.
Casa Azul is an authentically beautiful property with its own interior cactus garden and quiet rooftop deck. Conveniently located in the historic downtown area, Casa Azul is the perfect oasis of calm during the Day of the Dead festivities.
For those staying on for the 2-day trip extension, we're staying at the pink Centro Hotel.
There is something magical about Oaxaca and the vibe of the people
Oaxaca, Mexico is a magical place – and it is most magical during the annual Day of the Dead celebrations! The Day of the Dead (or Dia de los Muertos) is a festival celebrated in Mexico on October 31, November 1 and November 2, 2022. During this time, locals believe that the veil between the world of the spirits and the living is lifted, so their deceased loved ones can travel back for a visit.
All ground transportation (including airport transfers)
2 glasses of beer, wine or mezcal (when specified) at dinner
All market visits, mezcal visits and tastings
A cooking class
Your stay at a boutique hotel in downtown Oaxaca
All meals except for dinner on Day 3 as well as Day 1 of the Extension
Your own personal headdress made by Leticia Martinez, an artist
Guided tours and experiences around Day of the Day including local parades
Massages or additional spa treatments
Trip and Medical Insurance (required)
You should fly into Oaxaca International Airport
The average temperature in Oaxaca in February for a typical day ranges from a high of 78°F (25°C) and a low of 49°F (9°C). Some would describe it as mildly cool humid but cool.
We will have a zoom call about 6 weeks before the trip starts to discuss all that information and give you a packing list Here is a great website that we love that will help you with packing and travel trips.
No visa is required for this destination for a stay of up to 180 days. Please keep in mind that while a visa is not required, you must: Hold a passport valid for at least six months beyond your date of country exit and with one blank visa page