Oaxaca has the bluster and range of a sizeable city, which it is.
Oaxaca is an excellent city for leisurely rambling, and if you’ve just flown in, we recommend a day to get in tune with the city’s laidback yet elegant vibe. Drink espresso or fresh-squeezed orange juice in the shady zócalo (plaza), hit the market food stalls in the Mercado 20 de Noviembre for lunch, and shop for rugs, shoes, hand-embroidered clothing, folk art, or local delicacies at the Mercado Benito Juárez.
Spend the morning exploring the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Albán (located high on a hill above the city), and then get a feel for post-conquest history by visiting a few of the capital’s many cathedrals and museums.
Drive 13 km east of Oaxaca (if you don’t have a car, catch a colectivo, or group taxi) along highway 190. Stop in Santa María del Tule to see the giant and ancient Árbol del Tule, which is somewhere between 2000 and 3000 years old.