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Introducing Oaxaca City

With a beautiful colonial core of lovely, tree-shaded streets and highly creative artistic, culinary and craft scenes, Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s most captivating cities. Artists and artisans alike are inspired by the area’s deep-rooted indigenous traditions and by its bright, clear southern light. Oaxaca has top-class museums, charming inns, fascinating markets, a clutch of good language schools and its own exhilarating version of Mexican cuisine. The easygoing pace frequently breaks out into the fireworks of a fiesta, and there’s some brightly colored event unfolding in the streets or the Zócalo (Oaxaca’s lovely central square) almost every day.

Set at the nexus of three valleys flanked by high mountains, the city is surrounded by fascinating archaeological sites and colorfully traditional villages and small towns with bustling weekly markets. The valley and mountain landscapes provide abundant opportunities for hiking, biking and horseback riding, and good active-tourism operators and successful rural tourism programs make it easy to enjoy these experiences.

Despite its cultural riches, the state of Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s poorest, and the city’s fringe settlements of migrant villagers, as well as some of the villages themselves, are as impoverished as any in Mexico. There are opportunities for volunteer work among these communities. Yet despite such problems, the people of Oaxaca are among the most warmly hospitable in the country.