There are tons of tour agencies and independent tour guides in Oaxaca. You will trip over them all over the place in Centro. Most trips are focused on tours to Monte Alban and sites outside the city. If you want to get a feel for the city itself though, here are some options to consider for exploring Oaxaca, either on your own self-guided tour or with specific tour offerings. Most tours are posted with U.S. dollars for prices, so I have the U.S. dollar amount and the rough Mexican peso equivalent (from early 2018). I’ve also marked tours we’ve actually taken with an asterisk (*), and we can’t really vouch for any of these tours or guides listed here. This list is only provided to gather links for things to check out for yourself.
Oaxaca is a very walkable city and has a fair amount of vehicle traffic, so city tours are walking tours. As far as I can tell, there are no English bus tours (and honestly you miss a lot of interesting pedestrian places with those, e.g. Santo Domingo, Zócalo, and markets). You can find a whole bunch of Spanish bus tours, which you don’t need to sign up for in advance, at the corner of Alcalá and Morelos. The buses are from several different companies, so there are different kinds of buses (e.g. single and double-decker) and different lengths of tour. You can ask the bus driver how long the tour is and the cost, and pick which one you want to go with.
As I said, you can find tour operators everywhere, and most of them will accommodate you with a city tour of your choosing. Here is a list of tour guides who offer city tours that I’ve been able to find online and were active as of early 2019.
- Free Tour Oaxaca (free) is what it says on the tin; it’s a free tour and at the end you pay whatever amount you want in the form of a tip to the guide. There is no pressure to tip, but if you enjoyed the tour you should pay what you feel it was worth, as that is the only money the guide receives for their time.
- Discover Oaxaca (US$75/MX$1400 for up to 3; US$25/MX$460 per person over 3)
- Roberto’s Oaxacan Tours (starts at US$25/MX$460) is a boutique tour company that provides custom tours.
- Journeys Beyond the Surface is another custom, boutique tour company.
- Mexitours runs tours all over Mexico, based in Mexico City.
- Gray Line (US$59/MX$1100) is the largest tour operator worldwide, based in the U.S.
If you want the freedom to wander on your own and not pay anything, you can always do a self-guided tour. These are 2 options I’ve found that provide routes, though they don’t have a ton of explanatory information to go with the locations, so you should probably have a guide book or do some of your own research before you go.
- Casa Machaya B&B has a blog post that provides a route to take, though there is no map; it’s all text. I’ve created a public Google Map and added text form the post to help with taking the tour from your phone.
- GPSMyCity is an app that provides self-guided tours for cities all over the world, submitted by members. There are a few for Oaxaca in there, and they provide both a map and a brief explanation for each stop. (Note that “Article (A)” types have descriptions on the GPSMyCity site, and the “Article (B)” types have a link off to someone else’s site for the details.) You can either use the GPSMyCity app on your phone or you can view the information directly on thier site in a browser.
Oaxaca is a food city. If you want to eat your way through the city, here are some tours to check out. If you are planning to take a cooking class, most of them also have a market tour included with them.
- * Free Tour Oaxaca (US$10/MX$200) also has a street food tour, which is very affordable. The tour does not include food or drinks, as you buy what you want as you go. We did this tour and it was a fun romp through Mercado 20 de Noviembre, exposing you to a variety of Oaxacan food.
- Oaxaca Profundo Sessions (US$25-40/MX$500-800) has 2 tours in the city, one for Chocolate & Maize and the other for Maguey & Pulque.
- Oaxaca Eats (US$80/MX$1500) does a tour that takes you around different restaurants in el centro to introduce you to classic food and mezcal.
- Alma de Mi Tierra is a small boutique operator who does custom market tours. She does tours in the Oaxaca city markets as well as trips to markets in the surrounding villages.
- Celiac Food tours: Legal Nomads, aka Jodi Ettenberg (US$70/MX$1300) is a celiac and so her tour is specifically designed for people with Celiac disease or those who need or want to avoid gluten. Sadly, these are not happening in 2019 due to Jodi’s health.