Mexico is a colourful, diverse and vibrant country and any trip to Mexico is guaranteed to be alot of fun. It’s also a huge country with so much to see that it’s hard to decide where to go if you have limited time. There’s so much to see in Mexico including ancient ruins, colourful towns and stunning beaches, but you can’t see it all in 2 weeks or even a month. My top tip is to concentrate on one region so I wanted to share my 2 week Mexico City, Beaches and Oaxaca itinerary which gave me a fantastic slice of the best of Mexico. Trying to travel long distances and see too many places at once will only make for a stressful and tiring trip – better to focus on one region and enjoy that fully.
This Oaxaca itinerary takes you to some of the best spots in Mexico. While the Yucatan region might be the most popular this route is less touristy and more authentic.
Fly in and out of Mexico City and explore the best of this exciting megalopolis. Chill out, learn to surf or practice yoga on the laid back, less touristy and uncrowded beaches of the Oaxaca Coast and the explore the colourful, historic city of Oaxaca and the surrounding countryside, indigenous culture and ancient ruins of the Valles Centrales!
You might want to also read my post about my experience backpacking Mexico solo in 2021 for all Covid related entry requirements and tips for traveling in these strange times. Mexico has been consistently open for tourism throughout the pandemic with no entry restrictions and is the most popular destination of 2020 and 2021.
So here’s my 2 week Mexico City, Beaches and Oaxaca Itinerary
Mexico City – 3 days
Mexico City (or CDMX as it’s known by the locals) is an endlessly, amazing, unique megalopolis that offers everything from mysterious Aztec ruins and enchanting Spanish colonial buildings to elegant, tree lined, art deco neighbourhoods and an exciting dining and nightlife scene.
Did you know that Mexico City also rivals London as the city with the highest concentration of museums in the world! There’s over 150 cultural institutions here. So allow at least a couple of days in any Mexico itinerary to see Mexico City (and maybe also a few days before you fly out) – there’s a lot to explore in CDMX!
I didn’t expect to like Mexico City so much! From the, somewhat negative, stereotypes I’d heard I thought it would be a place I’d want to get out of a soon as possible. It was a bit of a culture shock at first but actually I grew to love this exciting, sprawling and diverse city.
- Strolling around the Centro Historico and taking in the beautiful, Spanish colonial buildings.
- See the shamans at work in the Zocolo,
- Visit the massive Cathedral Metropolitana
- See the Aztec ruins of Tenochititlan at Templo Mayor
- Visit the Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Palacio Postal
- Go up the Torre LatinAmericana for great views over the city
- Visit some of the museums and galleries. Don’t miss the huge Anthropology Museum and the University Museum of Contemporary Art
- Stroll around Chapultepec Park and get amazing views from the Castle
- Be inspired visiting Frida Khalos House and Museum in Coyoacan
- Colourful boats on the Xochimilco Canals
- Admire the mysterious, mighty pyramids at Teothiucan
(I visited during Covid times and some attractions including most of the museums and galleries were not open, so check before you travel)
Where to Stay in Mexico City
Mexico City is pretty safe if you stick to the safe neighbourhoods and use Uber. The safest and most pleasant areas in Mexico City include affluent, modern Polanco, the leafy, arty areas of La Condesa and Roma and Frida Khalo’s birthplace of Coyoacan. The Centro Historico can also be a good, budget friendly place to stay with lots to see but be careful in the North and East areas at night.
This deserves a whole post but here’s some quick recommendations:
Hostel: Casa Pepe – This colourful, boutique, luxury hostel is located in the heart of all the action in the Centro Historico. The comfy dorm beds have plenty of privacy and all the mod cons and there’s a buffet breakfast available. Another highlight are the daily free walking tours and loads of other events and interesting people to meet from all the over the world on the sociable roof terrace. Click here for prices and to book.
Budget: Hotel Catedral – This great value 4 star hotel is located in a fantastic location just steps from the Zocalo, Cathedral, Templo Mayor and all the historic sights of the Centro Historico. Rooms are comfy, spacious and airy with large windows. The staff are wonderful and there’s an airport shuttle and a good breakfast included too. Click here for prices and to book.
Boutique: Hotel Parque Mexico Boutique – This colourful hotel is located in my favourite area of La Condesa by the Parque Mexico, the leafy pedestrian Amsterdam Ave, and the art deco buildings and chic cafes. It’s also walking distance to the trendy neighbourhood of Roma too. There’s a lovely terrace with a restaurant and bar with regular live music and the rooms feature handmade furniture, coffee machines and kitchenettes. The staff go the extra mile and it’s great value. Click here for prices and to book.
Apartment: Flow Suites Polanco – Feel at home in this modern apartment located near the park in Polanco – the swankiest, and safest, area of Mexico City. These slick and comfy apartments have large windows and everything you need including a double bedroom, bathroom, sitting area and kitchen. There’s also helpful and friendly staff available 24 hours at the front desk. Click here for prices and to book.
The Oaxaca Coast
Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s most loved, enchanting and colourful regions due to it’s fascinating indigenous culture, festivals, unique cuisine and spectacular landscapes. You could end up spending a lot longer here but this Oaxaca itinerary should be enough to get a taste of the best Oaxaca state has to offer.
Let’s start with the beaches of the Oaxaca Coast! They are sure to be a highlight of any Oaxaca itinerary. Oaxaca’s beautiful Pacific Coast is home to some of the best sealife spotting opportunities, surf and yoga in Mexico. Plus, it’s cheaper, more laid back and not half as developed as the Yucatan Peninsula.
To make the most out of your time avoid the long bus ride take a cheap 1 hour flight from Mexico City straight down to Puerto Escondido which makes a great gateway to the Oaxaca Coast. I flew with Viva Aerobus for about 1,000 MXN (£35 / USD$50 ) There is also an airport at Huatulco. You can book your bus or plane online in advance with Bookaway.
Puerto Escondido – 3 days
Puerto Escondido is no longer a ‘hidden port’ but remains blissfully laid back. It’s one of the best places to surf in the world due to the consistently massive waves on Zicatela Beach. The huge waves, known as the Mexican Pipeline, are really only for experienced surfers but there are some fantastic surf camps that will take you to safer waters to teach you the ropes and the beautiful bay of Playa Carrizalillo is a blissful place to hang out. At night there’s a hip restaurant, bar and live music scene on the sandy streets of La Punta.
Where to Stay in Puerto Escondido
Selina is a trendy coworking, coliving and luxury hostel concept just steps from Zicatela beach that also offers surf lessons, tropical gardens, a shady swimming pool and plenty of hammocks and interesting people to meet. Stay in a dorm, thatched tepee or quirky private room. Check out Selina’s 3 day surf package.
If you have more time you could take surfing, Spanish and yoga classes at Oasis Surf School. The experienced instructors make learning to surf fun and easy, plus knowing some Spanish will really make your travels around Mexico and interactions with locals so much better. There are a couple of surf houses to chose from but I personally liked the apartments, pool and cafe at El Nopal which is located near Carrizalillo Beach, my favourite beach in Puerto Escondido. See more details here.
Mazunte and Zipolite – 3/4 days
Just a 1 hour bus or taxi ride along the coast are the sleepy beach towns of Mazunte and Zipolite. There are only 15 minutes apart and collectivos run between them for 10 MXN so choose one to stay in but be sure to explore both.
Mazunte is the yoga hotspot and hippie hangout of Mexico – it’s kind of like the Arambol (Goa) of Mexico with so many yoga retreats and classes on offer along with all sorts of meditation, tantra, breathwork, ecstatic dance, cacao ceremonies and alternative therapies and healing to try. There’s also some great health food and vegan cafes here but not much nightlife. Hridaya Yoga is the most famous yoga retreat in Mazunte, they offer many yoga workshops as well as popular 3 or 10 day silent mediation retreats. Don’t miss trekking to Punta Cometa for an amazing sunset.
Zipolite is Mexico’s only official nudist beach! It’s not obligatory to be naked and I’d say probably only 1/4 of people where. Zipolite is fun and open minded and very LGBTQ friendly but Mexican families, backpackers and hippies also love Zipolite. It’s a lovely long stretch of sand with crashing azure waters and low key development where the best thing to do is to eat fish tacos and drink pina coladas and simply relax! Most nights there were low key parties in the beach shacks and you can also find some yoga and healing activities to do here without having to go to Mazunte.
Although the beaches are a highlight of any Oaxaca itinerary be really careful swimming in the ocean on the Oaxaca Coast as the seas can be pretty rough
Best Places to Stay in Mazunte and Zipolite:
Rinconcito de Mazunte – This new hotel is in the best location as it’s pretty much is the middle of everything. It’s beautifully rustic chic, clean and comfortable with a restaurant that faces the main street and rooms all facing the swimming pool. All the rooms have air conditioning (very important as Mazunte is super hot) and patio doors opening out onto a balcony with hammock. Click here for prices and to book.
Naked Hotel Zipolite – Zipolite is famous as Mexico’s only nudist beach and, despite the name, I never actually saw any naked people here. But whether you choose to wear clothes or not, Hotel Naked is still the best hotel in Zipolite. It’s right on the beach and the ocean facing rooms are stylishly rustic and super comfortable with AC and balconies to soak up the amazing views. There’s a lovely swimming pool for when the ocean is too rough, a great beach bar and restaurant and plenty of quirky, Instagrammable features. Click here for prices and to book.
If hippie hangouts aren’t your thing you could explore the beautiful bays around Huatulco and relax in one of the resorts there instead. Or if you have more time for your Oaxaca itinerary you could see it all! Be warned – I came to the Oaxaca Coast for a few days which turned into a few weeks and I nearly got stuck here – it’s easy to get too relaxed, make friends and then it’s hard to leave!
Getting from the Oaxaca Coast to Oaxaca City
Prise yourself off the beach if you can and head through the mountains to Oaxaca City. You have a few options to get from the coast to Oaxaca city – take a 30 minute scenic small plane (which offers fantastic views but is expensive and gets booked in way in advance) or take a bus from Pochutla through the windy mountain roads.
If you suffer from motion sickness opt for the longer, less windy route with the more comfortable and more expensive ADO bus. If not you could hop on one of the mini buses which takes the most direct but also most windy route. It’s the cheapest and quickest option at only 7 hours and I didn’t find it that bad. I went with Lineas Unidas for 250 MXN. The bus was clean and comfortable and the pharmacy across the road sold 1 Diamox (motion sickness pill) over the counter very cheaply. The journey wasn’t as bad as some people said it would be but then I don’t normally suffer much from motion sickness anyway.
You could also break up the journey after about 3 hours stop off at San Jose del Pacifico for great mountain views, hikes and magic mushrooms!
Oaxaca City – 4 days
Oaxaca City offers enough cultural delights and colour to rival most other places in Latin America without the overwhelming size of some cities. The Unesco world heritage listed Centro Historico is packed with historic, colourful, colonial buildings and churches, art galleries, street art and museums, chic cafes and boutiques all within walking distance of each other and is a must for any Oaxaca itinerary.
Oaxaca is also a great base for day trips in the Valles Centrales to explore ancient ruins, stunning countryside and natural wonders, indigenous Zapotec villages and artisan villages and fields of mezcal. Don’t miss seeing the stunning countryside off your Oaxaca itinerary.
Oaxaca is also known for it’s vibrant festivals and is one of the best places in Mexico to celebrate Dia de Muertos (The Day of the Dead) so time your trip around the end of October and start of November if you can.
- Join a free walking tour to get to know the city. It leaves from the Cathedral every day at 10am.
- Stroll along the pedestrianised Calle Alcala taking in the colourful buildings, shops, cafes and galleries
- Visit the Templo Santo de Domingo – Oaxaca’s famous church
- See huge cactuses at the Jardin Etnobotanico (just behind the church)
- Join the crowds in the buzzing Zocalo. Visit the Cathedral, browse the stalls, eat street food and soak up the carnival atmosphere.
- Visit the Museo de las Culturas (Museum of Cultures) to learn about the fascinating history and culture of the region.
- Visit the local markets like Benito Juarez to get a taste of local culture and life and sample the street food stalls outside
- Oaxaca has it’s own unique cuisine – if you love mole then take a cooking class here to learn how to make it at home
- Visit the art galleries and look out for the street art
Day trips from Oaxaca
- Explore the ancient Zapotec ruins at Monte Alban
- Soak in the springs at Hierve el Agua – amazing rock formations with hot springs that look like cascading waterfalls.
- Learn about and sample the local spirit on a Mezcal tour
- Explore the stunning countryside on a horseback tour
- Go trekking to an indigenous village or visit an artisan village with an NGO like Fundacion En Via the money from your tour helps them to provide financial aid to help village women start business
Where to Stay in Oaxaca City
Budget: Azul Cielo Hostel – Oaxaca’s best hostel is located in a colourful colonial style house with a beautiful garden and plenty of private rooms making it perfect for anyone on a budget. It’s located in a quite zone of the Centro Historico just a few minutes walk from all the sights, shops and eateries. A Oaxacan breakfast is included and there’s also a terrace, bar and shared kitchen you can use. The staff are super friendly and can help you arrange bicycle hire, transportation, tours, and yoga and salsa classes. Click here for prices and to book.
Boutique: Casa De Sierra Azul – A wonderful colonial mansion in the heart of the Centro Historico. Rooms are spacious, staff are super helpful and friendly. A highlight is luscious, magical courtyard complete with fountain and restaurant. Enjoy the authentic atmosphere and Mexican hospitality as its best. Great value for a heritage hotel in such a good location. Click here for prices and to book.
I took the AU bus back to Mexico City which was comfortable, air conditioned and the 7 hour journey offered great views of the countryside. It was only 476 MXN whereas the ADO bus is 600 MXN. The AU bus doesn’t have a toilet (but it stops many times along the way) or WIFI or entertainment but I had a local sim card and the loud movies they play are really annoying anyway. You can also fly if you need to save time. You can book tickets easily online in advance with Bookaway
Mexico City – 1/2 days
My Mexico and Oaxaca itinerary ends by returning to Mexico City for my flight home. I wanted to travel on from Oaxaca into Chiapas to San Cristobal de las Casas and Palenque which is totally do-able if you have more time.
I was excited to return to CDMX and enjoyed doing all the things I hadn’t got round to on my 1st visit, revisiting some of my favourite cafes and parks and doing some last minute shopping before heading to the airport. I enjoyed staying in a different area to the one I stayed in at first as I got a whole different experience of this fascinating metropolis!
(P.S. I actually ended up spending 1 month doing this route as I made so many friends and loved Mazunte and Zipolite too much so I stayed for 2 weeks there. But you could squeeze the highlights into 2 weeks.)
So there it is, I hope my Mexico City, Beaches and Oaxaca Itinerary is useful and helps you to see the best of what Mexico has to offer in a short time!