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This Surprising Destination Was Voted Best In The World By Travelers

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We may all have our own personal favorites, but most travelers can agree when they visit a destination that is truly awesome.

For Americans, Mexico will always be one of those places – a country packed with stunning scenery, incredible food, and a vibrant culture.

However, it may still surprise you that one Mexican city was just voted the best in the world by the readers of Travel & Leisure for the second year running.

street celebration in oaxaca mexico

Known for its mezcal, mole, and multicolored avenues, Oaxaca topped the annual ‘World’s Best Awards’ survey of the magazine’s readers.

It beat off competition from hot spots such as Tokyo, Mexico City, Istanbul, and Bangkok in the process.

Why Is Oaxaca Loved By Travelers?

Oaxaca (or to give it its full title, Oaxaca de Juárez) is located in the center of the Mexican state that shares the same name.

The city is a colorful blend of ancient indigenous culture and colonial influence that will leave a strong impression upon any visitor.

The brightly painted houses, imposing bell towers, and quaint cobbled streets of its city center have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987.

church of santo domingo de guzman oaxaca mexico

Sights such as the impressive Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption and Church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán are must-sees, as are the city’s museums.

The Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca will take you back in time through the region’s fascinating past, while a wealth of art museums will captivate those who love culture.

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hierve el agua oaxaca mexico

And that’s not to mention the fact that the city is also a great base camp for visiting beautiful places around the state, including beach paradise Mazunte, the Zapotec pyramids of Monte Albán, or the petrified waterfalls of Hierve el Agua.

It Offers An Authentic Taste Of Mexico

Oaxaca could easily claim to be the food capital of Mexico thanks to its wealth of amazing cafes and restaurants.

It’s a true foodie paradise and the perfect place to sample authentic Mexican dishes, many of which are specific to the region.

Perhaps the most famous is mole, a thick sauce of many varieties that can be served with rice, meat, or even in tacos. You’ll struggle to find a Oaxacan dining table without it.

Oaxaca is known for having a staggeringly large variety of different types of mole, made from many different ingredients and with different levels of spiciness.

Mexican Traditional Food "Tlayuda" in Oaxaca, Mexico

Street food is another wonder of Oaxaca, with one of the most popular options being tlayudas, a thin, crunchy tortilla topped with refried beans, shredded meat, Oaxaca cheese, avocado and more.

Empanadas are another street food hit. These oval tortillas are filled with yellow mole and shredded chicken before being folded and cooked on a griddle.

Thirsty after all that delicious grub? Wash it down with a mezcal.

Oaxaca produces most of Mexico’s output of this distilled alcoholic spirit made from the agave plant. Tequila is probably the most famous type of mezcal.

people holding up tiny mugs

It Won’t Break The Bank

Another reason why Oaxaca is such a popular destination is the fact that it’s pretty cheap.

According to data from Lonely Planet, a hostel dorm room should cost around $20, while a basic hotel room in high season can set you back around $45.

Public transport is cheap and readily available; you can even get a cross-country bus to Oaxaca from Mexico City, which may work out cheaper than a connecting flight.

colorful houses in oaxaca mexico

Food is affordable, with street food costing a few dollars and meals in restaurants hitting only around the $30 mark for two.

There are also plenty of free things to do in Oaxaca. Many of the museums are free, as is milling around the many markets and marveling at entertainment in the Zócalo (just don’t forget to tip live street performers).

Celebrations Hit Different

Oaxaca is known for being a place where celebrations are done properly.

Whether it’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in early November, the Guelaguetza folk festival in July, or the Mezcal Festival in July and August – this city knows how to throw a party and have a good time.

man with facepaint day of the dead mexico

You may also get swept along by the many street parades that occur all year round as this vibrant Mexican city celebrates its culture.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.