The historic yet sophisticated city of Oaxaca is ringed by a slightly more rustic collection of towns and villages that tout some the state's biggest calling cards: ancient Mesoamerican ruins, indigenous crafts, industrious markets, riotous festivals and fields full of mezcal-producing agave plants. There are three main geographical arteries: the Valle de Tlacolula, stretching 50km east from the city; the Valle de Zimatlán, running about 100km south; and the Valle de Etla, reaching about 40km north. All are within easy day-trip distance of Oaxaca city. The people of these Valles Centrales (Central Valleys) are mostly indigenous Zapotec.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Valles Centrales.