A Guide to Oaxaca’s Neighborhoods

Oaxaca comes from the Nahuatl word “Huaxyacac.” The term refers to a tree called a “guaje,” which is prevalent in the state. It was founded in 1824, and Oaxaca city is one of its well-known cities. Full of culture and local cuisine, Oaxaca city is home to many different neighborhoods, all of which bring their own unique touch.

Best Neighborhoods

There are many different neighborhoods within Oaxaca, and after looking at the Oaxaca neighborhood map and what each neighborhood has to offer, we’ve outlined the best.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo is one of the busiest areas in Oaxaca, always busy with art installations, beautiful music, and foot traffic. The neighborhood is more tourist directed, with almost all of the attractions, shops, and restaurants marketing to tourists. It’s full of color and colonial architecture, and the art galleries and restaurants are some of the best in Oaxaca.

Because the area is more tourist-centered, you can expect the prices of goods, food, and places to stay to be higher. And because it’s also full of loud, vibrant nightlife, it may not be the best place for families to stay. All in all, it is a beautiful neighborhood for sightseeing.

Barrio de Xochimilco

Picturesque with its vibrant colors, Barrio de Xochimilco is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Oaxaca, dating all the way back to the 15th century. Cobblestone streets line the heart of this neighborhood, and Xochimilco is one of the best neighborhoods for family-run eateries and local food.

A short walk from other neighborhoods like Santo Domingo, this is one of the best Oaxaca neighborhoods that provides a quiet stay. Because of its semi-remote location, it’s off of the radar for most travelers, so it’s ideal for those traveling who don’t want the hustle and bustle of most tourist cities, and it has some of the most unique lodging in Mexico.

El Llano

Northeast of Santo Domingo is the neighborhood of El Llano. At the center of this neighborhood is Parque Juárez El llano; the area was once a zoo but now serves as a beautiful park filled with vibrant, thriving trees. The park is several blocks long and is where most of the activity is; in the mornings and evenings, families fill the park to run, play, and enjoy the local cuisine.

It’s a relatively quiet neighborhood and is great for travelers vacationing with family with some of the best hotels in Oaxaca city.

Barrio de Jalatlaco

Normally a quiet piece of Oaxaca, Jalatlaco is known for its celebrations like Dia de Los Muertos; its parades and decorations attract crowds of people. This neighborhood is very artsy, with outdoor murals decorating the walls of many of its buildings, and the cobbled streets give it an-old timey feel.

The neighborhood contains a mix of different restaurants, and you’ll find local Oaxacan food, coffee shops, and even Italian restaurants. At the center of Jalatlaco is the Church of Saint Matías Jalatlaco, which is thought to date back all the way through the 17th century. It’s the best neighborhood to stay in Oaxaca city when traveling with family due to its quiet nature.


Deep in the heart of Oaxaca is Centro, and it is easily the busiest area of the city. Centro spreads out across 247 blocks, and it is full of restaurants, galleries, museums, and over 1,200 historic monuments. Market stalls are set up within the area, along with street food carts, and many of the restaurants have patio seating and lively music. 

It’s a great area for all types of travelers, with plenty of activities to enjoy and places to stay. Some of the best places to stay in Oaxaca are located here, and it is the best neighborhood to stay in Oaxaca if you’re looking to experience local life.

Colonia Reforma

South of Buenos Aires, Colonia Reforma is one of the better neighborhoods for shopping. It doesn’t have the same aesthetics and heritage as other neighborhoods, but Colonia Reforma is full of modern conveniences, like high-end shopping, international restaurants and shops, and supermarkets. The area is mostly commercial and residential, and it is within walking distance to Centro.

Though it has an approachable charm, Colonia Reforma is known as being one of the more affluent areas of Oaxaca. If you’re looking to stay in an environment similar to the one you live in back at and not like a local, Colonia Reforma is a great option because it offers all of the modernity with a taste of local Oaxaca life. Because it’s in a more affluent area, the hotels are a bit pricier, but it hosts some of the best places to stay in Oaxaca.

Barrio de la Noria 

La Noria is a neighborhood on the southern edges of Centro. It is one of the quietest neighborhoods to stay in Oaxaca and is mainly residential, with a few family-run restaurants and corner stores. This neighborhood in Oaxaca isn’t too far of a walk from Centro, and it’s ideal for families looking for quiet.

Barrio de la Noria is a wonderful neighborhood to experience local life in Oaxaca, and the area has its own Mercado de la Noria, where families can enjoy lunch and sample local delicacies. There are affordable housing options for travelers with rates that are unbeatable, and the neighborhood has some of the most affordable Oaxaca, Mexico, lodging.

Oaxaca has relatively low crime rates, but it’s still important to be aware of your surroundings when in the city. It’s a beautiful city to behold and experience, and its neighborhoods are full of life and culture with plenty of Oaxaca lodging.