How to Travel From Mexico City to Oaxaca by Plane, Bus, and Car

Mexico, Oaxaca, Istmo, young woman in traditional dress walking by stone wall
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The capital of the state of Oaxaca is the city of Oaxaca de Juarez—usually referred to as simply "Oaxaca"—and it's about 287 miles (462 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City, the capital of Mexico. This UNESCO World Heritage City is well-loved for its traditional colonial architecture as well as the rich indigenous history that informs the region's culture through art and cuisine. Despite being far from the beach, Oaxaca is one of the most popular destinations for travelers who want to learn more about Mexican culture, and from Mexico City, it's easy to reach by car or bus, but the fastest way to get there is to fly.

  Time Cost Best For
Bus 6 hours from $17 Budget travel
Flight 1 hour, 10 minutes from $54 Quickest route
Car 5 hours, 30 minutes 287 miles (462 kilometers) Flexibility

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Mexico City to Oaxaca?

One-way bus tickets to Oaxaca may cost anywhere between $17 and $40, depending on the class of bus and the time of year. The bus ride could take anywhere between six and eight hours, depending on the number of stops and the state of traffic. You can take a bus from Mexico City's main station, the Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente (TAPO) and usually, there is no need to reserve your ticket in advance—unless you're traveling during a busy holiday season like Day of the Dead, Christmas, or Easter.

Bus companies that service the Mexico City to Oaxaca route include Autobuses Unidos (AU) and Autobuses de Oriente (ADO). ADO offers the most frequent service and their buses are quite comfortable with on-board restrooms and basic service. The AU bus company also has several buses per day to Oaxaca at a cheaper price, but without toilets or movies on the bus.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Mexico City to Oaxaca?

You can fly from Mexico City to Oaxaca in as little as one hour, 10 minutes with a non-stop ticket. Airlines that offer direct flights include Volaris, VivaAeroBus, and Aeromexico. With so many airlines offering daily nonstop service, you'll have no problem finding a flight to fit your schedule and one-way tickets can be quite affordable as well. On a good day, one-way tickets can be found for as little as $54 and rarely exceed $150. Oaxaca's airport is international, so it's also possible to fly directly from the U.S. or another a country.

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

Without traffic, the drive from Mexico City to Oaxaca should only take about five hours, 30 minutes—though it could take longer depending on how many stops you make along the way. You'll need to drive southeast of Mexico City and will pass by the city of Puebla and the great pyramid of Cholula, which happens to be the world's largest pyramid by volume. After Puebla, you can follow the signs the rest of the way to Oaxaca. Driving will give you the most flexibility to plan an exciting road trip through Mexico with many stops, but you should also factor the mounting costs of the car rental, gas, tolls, and parking into your budget. If you've never driven in Mexico before, make sure you take time to read up on the rules of the road.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Oaxaca?

With cooler weather, smaller crowds, and Day of the Dead celebrations, fall is the best season to plan a trip to Oaxaca. During shoulder season, there are fewer crowds and even though temperatures are considered moderate when compared to the summer highs, fall in Oaxaca can still be pretty hot with average highs of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). However, humidity does start to go down in October and November and rain is less likely during these months than in the summer.  

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

There are no public bus routes that run between the airport and downtown, so the best way to travel from the airport is to take a taxi. The Oaxaca International Airport (OAX) is about six miles (10 kilometers) away from the city center, so the cab ride will only take about 20 minutes. You can also check with your hotel beforehand to see if they offer complimentary airport transfers.

What Is There to Do in Oaxaca?

In addition to visiting landmarks and attractions like the baroque Santo Domingo Church and the Rufino Tamayo Museum, the best thing you can do in Oaxaca is eat. As one of Mexico's premier destinations for food, many of the region's specialties date back to the pre-Hispanic era. As you explore Oaxaca, make sure you try the dishes unique to this region like tlayudas, which are like oversized tortillas covered with cheese and vegetables and caldo de piedra, which is a savory soup made with hot stones. If you're feeling daring, you can even try the chapulines, which are spicy grasshoppers that can be eaten alone or used to add some texture to the guacamole. For non-food adventures, there are also many day trips you could take from Oaxaca, such as visiting the Mitla and Monte Albán archeological sites or going on a hiking adventure to see Hierve el Agua, a petrified waterfall.

Article Sources
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  1. History Today. "The Largest Pyramid in the World." August 8, 2016