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Oaxaca’s Central Valleys

Photo: Tule Tree

The Central Valleys are easy day-trips from Oaxaca City.

The valley is Y-shaped with Oaxaca City in the center and the valley is quite high in altitude — the average is 1,550 meters (5,115 feet). It is also quite extensive, more than 3,375 square kilometers (1,303 square miles) in size. The agricultural land covers about 1100 square kilometers (700 square miles) and is largest ‘flat’ patch of arable land in the state. Not surprisingly, this is where the earliest settlements were founded.

The Tlacolula Valley extends 50 kilometers to the east, the Zimatlan valley stretches 100 kilometers to the south, and the Etla valley extends 40 kilometers to the northwest.

Oaxacan valleys enjoys a pleasant climate year-round, though the hottest months are April and May. Expect a chance of rain between May and October. The rainiest months are June and July.

The A-Z Guide (Arrazola to Zaachila) of great places to visit in Oaxaca’s Central Valleys.

Oaxaca’s Central Valleys have amazing archaeological sites and great markets. Opportunities for hiking and biking abound. Vaya con Dios!

San Antonio Arrazola – Artesan town 10 kilometers WEST from Oaxaca City. Craft makers fashion wooden figures or alebrijes from the copal tree.

Santa María Atzompa – Market town 6 kilometers WEST of Oaxaca City and a few kilometers from Monte Albán. Atzompa is home to the region’s green-glazed pottery. Tuesday is Market Day.

San Bartolo Coyotepec – Market town 10 kilometers SOUTH of Oaxaca City on Highway 175. It is famous for its black pottery as well as its museum of regional folk art.

San Juan Chilateca. Fiesta: June 24.

Cuilapam de Guerrero – Located 14 kilometers SOUTH of Oaxaca City near Zaachila. The village is known for its unfinished 16th century Exconvento de Santiago Apóstol. Also called Cuilapan. wiki

Dainzu – Archaeological site EAST of Oaxaca City. Located one kilometer south of Highway 190. The site is aligned on an east-west axis (unlike most other sites in the region). There’s an impressive ball court and great views!

Ejutla – Town 60 kilometers SOUTH of Oaxaca City.

Hierve el Agua – Natural wonder EAST of Oaxaca City. Unusual geological formation located 25 kilometers EAST of Mitla and near the town of San Lorenzo Albarradas.

San Andrés Huayapan. (Sometimes spelled Huayapam) The town hosts an annual tejate festival and is home to a private botanical garden, La Encantada. Octavio Suárez has collected more than 700 orchids. From Oaxaca City, take the road that goes to Guelatao and Tuxtepéc, then turn left on the Huayapan turnoff. Look for the sign reading ‘Jardín de Orquideas.’ Entrance fee. (Latitude: 17° 6′ 0 N, Longitude: 96° 40′ 0)

San Pablo Huizo. Fiesta: January 25.

Lambityeco – Archaeological site EAST of Oaxaca City.

La Union Tejalapa – Known for its production of alebrijes. The landscape is ideal for cyclists. Getting there from Oaxaca City: Head north and past Brenamiel but before the new highway, take a left where there’s a sign post for San Lorenzo Cacaotepec.

Santiago Matatlán – The self-procliamed ‘Mezcal Capital of the World’ is a short drive from Mitla. Tours review the entire mezcal production and conclude with a tasting (degustación).

Mitla – Archaeological site 40 kilometers EAST of Oaxaca City.

Miahuatlán – Featured on Tomzap. GPS: 16°19’N 96°35’W

Monte Albán – Archaeological site 10 kilometers WEST of Oaxaca City.

Ocotlán – Market town 33 kilometers SOUTH of Oaxaca City. The town is known for its cultural center. The blue church has a neo-classical facade. Friday is Market Day.

Rojas de Cuauhtemoc – Agricultural town.

San Austin de las Juntas – Agricultural town.

Santa Cruz Papalutla – Agricultural town. Residents make baskets from reeds (carrizo). The town’s name means ‘field full of butterflies.’

San Bartolome Quialana – Small community of 2,500 people. Craft makers fashion nets from agave fibers. Fiesta: August 24.

Santa Ana del Valle – Market town 34 kilometers EAST of Oaxaca City. The town has a museum with various archaeological objects as well as examples of weaving techniques and natural dyes.

Santa Ana Zegache – Located near Ocotlán

Santa Catarina Minas – Town 6 kilometers south of Ocotlán; known for its tasty mezcal.

San Dionisio – EAST of Oaxaca City.

San Pablo Guila – EAST of Oaxaca City.

San Pedro Ixtlahuaca WEST of Oaxaca City

Santa Catarina Minas – Town 6 kilometers south of Ocotlán; known for its tasty mezcal.

San Miguel Ejutla – Farming town SOUTH of Oaxaca City.

San José El Mogote – Located in Guadalupe Etla

San Martin Tilcajete – Market town 20 kilometers SOUTH of Oaxaca City and 1 kilometer west of Highway 175. Known for its wood carvings. Fiestas: January 15, February 18, November 11.

Santa María del Tule – Small town EAST of Oaxaca City and famous for the Tule Tree.

Teotitlán del Valle – Market town EAST of Oaxaca City. Famous for its traditional weavings.

San Jerónomo Tlacochahuaya – Town 25 kilometer EAST of Oaxaca City. This is one of the oldest settlements in the region, founded by Zapotecs in the early 1100s. The town festival is held on September 30.

San Marcos Tlapazola – Craft town known for its red pottery.

Santo Tomás Jalieza – Market town 25 kilometers southeast of Oaxaca City. Archaeologists says that its mostly unexplored archaeological zone may compete in importance with that of Monte Albán. Residents produce wool and cotton textiles on back-strap looms. Friday is Market Day.

Tlacolula de Matamoros – Market town 31 kilometers EAST of Oaxaca City. Central town in the Tlacolula Valley. The town is home to more than 10,000 people. The Sunday market is reported to be one of the oldest in all of Mesoamerica.

Xococotlán – Collective taxis leave from Oaxaca City at the corner of Miguel Cabrera and Zaragoza. Up the hill is the archaeological site of Monte Albán.

Yagul – Archaeological site 45 kilometers EAST of Oaxaca City. The ancient town co-existed with Monte Albán and boasts an impressive ball court.

Zaachila – Market town known for its archaeological site and annual village Guelaguetza.

Zimatlán – Market Day is Wednesday.

Caldo de Piedra



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