A Quick Overview of the 6 Beautiful Oaxaca Pueblos Magicos
If traveling through Mexico, you will hear buzzes of “pueblos magicos,” which translates from Spanish to magic towns. There are 132 officially listed pueblos magicos in Mexico. These Mexico magic towns are spread across all of the 32 states of Mexico.
Oaxaca state is home to six unique and diverse pueblos magicos. The Oaxaca pueblos magicos boast culturally rich traditions, beautiful landscape, delicious cuisine, and are most definitely worth a visit!
Here’s a brief overview of the six Oaxaca pueblos magicos found in Oaxaca Mexico.
Table of Contents
- What is a Pueblo Magico in Mexico?
- Is Oaxaca de Juaraz a Pueblo Magico in Mexico?
- The Six Official Oaxaca Pueblos Magicos
- More Unofficial Oaxaca Villages That Are Magic
- Overview of the Six Registered Oaxaca Pueblos Magicos
What is a Pueblo Magico in Mexico?
Pueblo Magico translates to magic town and is a program designed by the Mexican government to encourage local and sustainable tourism in each pueblo. The program is aimed at helping maintain, regenerate, and preserve ancestral traditions.
Towns that are considered for the status of a pueblo magico have unique architecture, deep rooted culture and folklore, have a significant historical importance, and most oftentimes showcase natural beauty.
The Pueblo Magico program was initiated in 2001 with only four listed towns registered. Today, there are 132 pueblos magicos in Mexico, each with their own charm and uniqueness.
There are certain guidelines to make the cut to be a Mexico pueblo magico. Villages must have a population of 5,000 people and be well connected to a central city hub. For a majority of the Oaxaca pueblos magicos, this would be Oaxaca city, or Oaxaca de Juárez.
⁉️ Did you know that Mexico has inspired other countries to create pueblos magicos programs? Colombia has Pueblos Patrimonio that focuses on rich heritage villages. Nearby Guatemala has Pueblos Pintorescos, which showcases picturesque towns. Ecuador has a very new pueblo magico program that was started in 2019 and boasts incredible Ecuadorian villages like Saraguro and Alausí.
Is Oaxaca de Juaraz a Pueblo Magico?
No, the unmissable city of Oaxaca de Juaraz, or Oaxaca city is not a pueblo magico. However, it is a very central hub to access all of the Oaxaca pueblos magicos.
Most travelers spend a few days in the city of Oaxaca. There are many things to do in Oaxaca, including visiting the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site of Monte Alban. The historic centro of Oaxaca is also recognized by UNESCO.
Oaxaca city is known for its distinctive Oaxaca cuisine. The best place to sample Oaxacan cuisine is at the many diverse Oaxaca markets and the endless Oaxaca restaurants. Although, one of the best Oaxaca food experiences is to try all the delicious street food!
Oaxaca provides spectacular day trips. The East Oaxaca Valley should not be skipped.
Do not miss the chance to spend a few days exploring the magic of Oaxaca before journeying out to the Oaxaca pueblos magicos. Oaxaca is undoubtably one of the best places to visit in Oaxaca State.
➜ Browse the best places to stay in Oaxaca City
As many of the Oaxaca pueblos magicos are a little more off the beaten path, it is best to rent a car. However, I’ve included tips on visiting the Oaxaca pueblos magicos by bus and collectivo (shared cars and vans).
The Six Official Oaxaca Pueblos Magicos
There are six official Oaxaca pueblos magicos.
6 Government Recognized Oaxaca Pueblos Magicos
✔ San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula
1 | San Pablo Villa de Mitla
San Pablo Villa de Mitla is an Oaxaca pueblo magico that is most famous for the Mitla Archaeological Site. The name translates from Zapotec language to “Place of the Dead,” and it is believed to have been used for ceremonial purposes, making it one of the most powerful religious zones in the entire Oaxaca Valley.
Mitla Archaeological Zone
When visiting the Mitla Archaeological site one thing that stands out is the unique mosaic patterns found carved in the ruins. Many of the patterns are decorated on the exterior of the buildings. There are over 150 mosaic panels that can be seen in the Mitla Archaeological Zone. A majority of the ruins wear the remnants of bright red paint on the stucco buildings.
Mitla was originally built by the Zapotecs, and would eventually come into reigns of the Mixtec culture close to 1,000 AD. During the Mixtec rule, The Grand Hall of Columns was guessed to be built during the 14th century. This building is special because it boasts six massive monolith stones made of volcanic rock.
Like most Indigenous Sacred Sites, after the Spanish conquest, a church was built on top. The Mitla Archaeological Site is an excellent example of where to see Zapotec, Mixteca, and architecture from the Spanish Conquest in the Valley of Oaxaca.
Onsite it’s possible to browse local artisan handicrafts.
Mitla Archaeological Zone | Cost: $90 pesos ($4.75 USD) | Hours: Tues – Saturday: 10:00 – 16:00, Sunday 10:00 – 14:00
Things to Do in San Pablo Villa de Mitla
While the Mitla ruins are the main draw of San Pablo Villa de Mitla, there are a few more things to do in this Oaxaca pueblo magico.
In town, find a section of free ruins before the main Mitla Archaeological Zone and the hilltop ruins of El Calvario. This crumbling structure boasts some excellent views of San Pablo Villa de Mitla village.
Outside of town there are more Pre-historic caves of Mitla hidden in the hillsides. These caves are protected and can only be visited with a local guide.
San Pablo Villa de Mitla has a cute plaza with benches, vendors selling ice cream, and colorful street art. Along the road to the Milta ruins are plenty local handicraft shops and little shops offering mezcal tastings.
San Pablo Villa de Mitla is also an access point to the most popular Oaxaca day trip, Hierve el Agua, or the petrified waterfall.
How to Get to San Pablo Villa de Mitla
San Pablo Villa de Mitla is easily connected to Oaxaca City, making it one of the best day trips from Oaxaca. There are only 34 miles (55 km) from Oaxaca to Mitla. Mitla is found in the East Oaxaca Valley and can be reached via bus, collectivo, taxi, or as part of an organized guided Mitla tour.
☛ Oaxaca Travel Tip | Oaxaca to Mitla, Discover the Best of the East Oaxaca Valley
A majority of Oaxaca tours include stops at Mitla as part of a full day tour option.
Some visitors want to spend more time in the area of Mitla. There are nearby Oaxaca ruins, mezcal villages, and the famous Hierve el Agua. There are a few places to sleep in San Pablo Villa de Mitla Oaxaca.
2 | Capulálpam de Méndez
Capulalpam de Mendez is a pueblo magico in Oaxaca that is located high in the Sierra Norte Mountains. The village is found north of Oaxaca city and sits at an impressive elevation of almost 6,700 feet.
The village has deep connections to their Zapoteca ancestors. This can be seen in one of the first recognized Traditional Indigenous Medicine Centers. The center opened in 1995 and offers alternative medicines like temazcals, limpias, or spiritual cleansings. The Indigenous women also offer massages and a natural pharmacy.
Another iconic point of interest in Capulálpam is the San Mateo church that is located in the center plaza and is over 300 years old. The chapel was built during the 16th century and is most famous for its intricate wood altars. There are 14 wooden altarpieces found inside the San Mateo church.
Capulalpam de Mendez is one of the best Oaxaca pueblos magicos for stunning natural beauty. Here, there are plenty of hiking trails that showcase the diverse flora and fauna.
Los Sabinos Recreation center offers the experience to walk with the mighty Montezuma cypress, or sabinos trees. This mystical tree became the Mexico’s official tree of Mexico in 1910.
Mirador La Cruz is a spectacular viewpoint and boasts incredible views of the village and nearby mountains.
How to Get to Capulalpam de Méndez Oaxaca
Capulalpam de Méndez is pretty far off the main Oaxaca tourist circuit, which adds to the magic. There are collectivos that run from the Oaxaca macroplaza, but patience and basic Spanish will come in handy.
Benito Juárez and Ixtlán de Juárez are good places to start to reach Capulalpam Oaxaca. There are daily buses from Oaxaca City to Ixtlán de Juárez. From there you can ask in the village for local buses and collectivos.
Taxi services will be expensive and may be better once in the Sierra Norte.
The Pueblos Mancomunados, or local communities in the Sierra Norte are just to the south of Capulalam and offer unique opportunities to hike in the Sierra Norte mountain ranges. Expediciones Sierra Norte helps run local tourism to the Pueblo Mancomunados. Capulalpam de Mendez is not part of the community but is fairly close. Why not visit both?
3 | San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula
San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula is a Oaxaca pueblo magico located in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca.
Ex Convento de San Pedro y San Pablo
Teposcolula is home to the stunning Ex Convento de San Pedro y San Pablo, which is part of the unique Dominican route. The Dominican route includes nearby places like Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán.
The Ex Convento de San Pedro y San Pablo is a Dominican church that was built in the 16th century. What’s unique about this church is that it was constructed from stones from white and pink quarries. The massive San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula church has an open chapel, which is the largest in Latin America.
Ex-Convento de San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula | Open: Daily, 10:00 –15:00 | Admission: $40 pesos ($2.25 USD)
More Things to Do in San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula
Nearby, don’t miss the Casa de la Cacica. There is less information here, but it was the last house of the last Mixtec queen of the region. Today, the old palace is a library and cultural center for the community.
San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula is famous for its typical dishes and its distinct yellow mole.
San Pedro Yucunama
About 5 miles uphill from San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula is San Pedro Yucunama. This tiny village is also called Cerro Viejo, or old peak. Here, find a beautiful church, ancient ruins, and an old aqueduct. One of the most notable ruins is the ball court, or Juego de Pelota.
Don’t miss the San Pedro Yucunama Archaeological Museum. It is believed that many of the pieces here actually originated from the mysterious Olmec culture.
To experience the natural beauty of San Pedro Yucunama, take the short walking path to El Sabino. This village showcases a very large Montezuma Cypress tree.
How to Get to San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula Oaxaca
San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula is one of the best Oaxaca pueblos magicos to get off the beaten path.
To get to San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula from Oaxaca you’ll need to get to Nochixtlán. From Nochixtlan, catch a collectivo or bus that passes Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán.
A taxi may be able to take you all the way to San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula from Nochixtlan.
➜ Additionally, there are a few guided tours from Oaxaca like this one that includes highlights of the Mixteca region
4 | Huautla de Jiménez
Huautla de Jiménez is a Oaxaca magic pueblo known for it’s cultural impacts of magic mushrooms.
A Brief History of Oaxaca Magic Mushrooms
The most famous curandera in Mexico, Maria Sabina, was from Huautla de Jiménez. A powerful shaman, she had been with mushrooms since the age of seven and used ancient techniques to help heal the sick. Maria Sabina lived and worked with magic mushrooms and is credited with re-introducing the powerful magic mushrooms to the modern world. She was also a beautiful poet.
Maria Sabina hosted many healing ceremonies throughout the 1950’s and 60’s in her home in Huautla de Jiménez. It is said that many celebrities came to participate in otherworldly ceremonies with her. Whispers of John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Aldous Huxley, and even Walt Disney were said to sit in ceremony at the house of Maria Sabina.
Thousands were said to take the pilgrimage to Oaxaca to experience a mushroom journey with Maria Sabina.
It was actually R. Gordon Wasson who published an article in Life magazine that made eyes turn to Mexico and the curative powers of mushrooms. This inspired Timothy Leary to take the journey to experience the healing powers of Oaxaca Magic Mushrooms. Of course, his controversial research with LSD at Harvard would be shut down rather quickly.
There was a lot of dissension about Maria Sabina sharing the medicine of Oaxaca Magic mushrooms. In fact, she had expressed regret in sharing the power of the Mazatec mushroom ritual with foreign tourists.
Today, it’s possible to visit the House of María Sabina, which is now an intimate museum.
Natural Wonders in Huautla de Jimenez
Huautla de Jiménez is also blessed with natural beauty. Hikers can climb the sacred Cerro de la Adoración, or hill of Adoration. This is a very sacred place in Huautla de Jimenez and it is highly recommended to leave a gift for passage.
Outside of town, it’s also possible to visit the waterfall Cascada Velo de Novia.
Huautla also has an extensive cave system that has been welcoming adventurous explorers since the 1960’s. The caves are known to be one of the largest systems in the Americas. Due to the complexity of the cave system, you must visit with a local guide.
How to Get to Huautla de Jiménez Oaxaca
Huautla de Jimenez can be reached by public transit, but having a car is better. The village is quite far from Oaxaca city, almost 150 miles.
By bus it’s easiest to go up to Tehuacán in Puebla Mexico and catch a local bus to Huautla de Jimenez.
5 | Santa Catarina Juquila
Santa Catarina Juquila is tucked away to the south of the Sierra Madre Sur mountains. This Oaxaca pueblo magico is known for the Festival of the Immaculate Virgin of Juquila. This festival takes place on December 8th and is a Guelaguetza with dancing, fireworks, and more.
However, millions of devoted pilgrims make the journey to Juquila each year. It is said that over 2 million pilgrims visited Juquila to stand in the sacred Sanctuary of the Immaculate Virgin of Juquila. Most pilgrims arrive by bus, but many bike and even walk to this village nestled in the mountains.
The significance of the Virgin of Juquila dates back to the 16th century. This article tells the whole story of the Virgin.
Next to the Sanctuary of the Immaculate Virgin of Juquila is another small chapel filled with candles. Juquila is also known for its typical sweet breads and drinks, many of them made with mezcal.
A ten minute walk from the village, find the Petition. The chapel is where many people come to pray and follow the path of faith trail.
Ruta de la Fe
Juquila is one of the most important religious towns in Mexico. There is now a pilgrimage route, Ruta de la Fe, or the Route of Faith. This route includes small village and points of interests that end at Juquila.
The Ruta de la Fe starts south of Oaxaca in Zimatlán de Álvarez. It continues to the villages of San Pablo Huixtepec, Ayoquezco de Aldama, and a visit at the San Sebastián de las Grutas (caves). From there, the route goes to Villa Sola de Vega and San Pedro Juchatengo before arriving at the chapel in Santa Catarina Juquila.
More Things to Do in Santa Catarina Juquila
For a short pilgrimage, take the path of faith walk to see natural beauty.
Nearby, there are a few waterfalls to reflect in silence.
How to Get to Santa Catarina Juquila
From Oaxaca, there are daily collectivos that depart for Santa Catarina Juquila. The path twists through the mountains and the road is narrow. The journey takes more than 5 hours and costs around $260 pesos for a one-way ticket.
➜ Check the schedule and get up to date information here
6 | Mazunte
Mazunte is a super laid back beach town and also the only Oaxaca pueblo magico found on the coastline. Mazunte is one of the best Oaxaca beach towns, so it’s no surprise that it is recognized as a magic town.
The most popular thing to do in Mazunte is to hike the Natural Reserve of Punta Cometa. This cape jets out into the Pacific, so it’s the perfect spot to wake up with the world or catch a stellar sunset. Bonus, it’s completely free to visit.
Punta Cometa has connections to prehistoric times. Evidence shows that Punta Cometa was possibly used as a place to make sacred offerings. It is said that this special spot emits healing powers and that it may be inline with the Milky Way.
More Things to Do in Mazunte Oaxaca
Besides visiting Punta Cometa, there are plenty of beaches to explore like the main Playa Mazunte, the small and scenic Playa Rinconcito, and finally, the deserted and wild Playa Mermejita. There are more nearby beaches like the popular Playa San Agustinillo.
The Oaxaca coastline is on the Pacific coast and is not very well-protected. Many of the beaches are for experienced swimmers as there are many riptides and undercurrents. Don’t be surprised to find red flags for swimming conditions. The waves and riptides do make the area a popular spot for surfers.
Mazunte is known for its turtle sanctuary, but since Covid the sanctuary seems to be lacking necessary funds. Many visitors are left with mixed reviews.
Close to Mazunte it’s possible to visit the small community of La Ventanilla. Two of the communities are preserving this natural park where it’s possible to tour the lagoon filled with mangroves, crocodiles, iguanas, birds, deer, and other wildlife.
Mazunte is a popular spot that attracts bohemian visitors from across the globe. Yoga studios, artisan shops, and vegetarian restaurants are continuing to pop up in this Oaxaca pueblo magico.
There are lots of places to sleep in Mazunte from budget style accommodations to cabanas, to high-end hotels.
How to Get to Mazunte
Mazunte is easy to get to from Oaxaca. Hop on a collectivo in the city on Líneas Unidas collectivos. There are about 5 direct collectivos to the coastal village of Zipolite. Zipolite is home to one of Mexico’s only nude beaches.
From Zipolite, it is a short taxi or camioneta ride to Mazunte. A camioneta is an open air truck found on the coast that works like a hop on hop off bus. Mazunte is about a 4 mile journey from Zipolite.
The road to reach Mazunte from Oaxaca is windy and a full day event. Some travelers choose to break up the trip in the mountain village of San Jose del Pacifico.
More Unofficial Oaxaca Villages That Are Magic
While the following Oaxaca villages aren’t officially registered as Oaxaca pueblos magicos, these were some of my favorite places to visit in Oaxaca Mexico.
✔ Teotitlan del Valle is a charming village found in the East Oaxaca Valley. The town is known for its ancient weaving techniques, artisan candles, and delicious food. The community has a small museum where you can also pay admission to hike to sacred hill of El Picacho.
✔ Santiago Apoala is tiny village nestled in the fertile hillsides of the Mixteca region. The community is surrounded by incredible nature and boasts incredible hiking trails. Make sure to visit the beautiful Santiago Apoala waterfall, eat traditional food, and stay in one of the community-supported ecolodges.
✔ Tamazulapam del Progreso is another village located in the underrated Mixteca region. Here, find a spectacular town plaza, an authentic market, and natural lakes fed with curative waters. The village is also home to two no-frills waterparks that offer cold water sulfur pools.
✔ San Jose del Pacifico and the surrounding villages are tucked away in the magical Sierra Sur mountains. Here it’s possible to dabble with Oaxaca magic mushrooms, enjoy endless hiking trails and even sit in authentic temazcal sweat lodges. Cabañas Rancho Viejo is an excellent place to sleep in San Jose del Pacifico.
✔ Chacahua is a rustic beach town found in the Lagunas de Chacahua National Park. Getting to Chacahua is half the adventure, as it requires a boat that twists through mangrove trees. Chacahua is a popular surfing destination, but one of the best things to do is simply relax, unplug, and enjoy the fresh cuisine.
Overview | Six Oaxaca Pueblos Magicos
In short, this is a brief overview of all the enchanting Oaxaca pueblos magicos. The six magical villages in the state of Oaxaca include: San Pablo Villa de Mitla, Capulalpam de Mendez, San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula, Huautla de Jiménez, Santa Catarina Juquila, and the beach town of Mazunte.
All of the Oaxaca pueblos magicos showcase natural landscapes, deep roots to ancient traditions, cultural experiences, and are worth a visit.
The Oaxaca pueblos magicos can be challenging to reach, but all are accessible by bus, collectivo, or can be reached utilizing a tour or taxi service.
As a bonus, I’ve included a few of my favorite villages in Oaxaca that aren’t officially registered as Oaxaca pueblos magicos. However, I found them to be charming and worth a visit.
The entire state of Oaxaca is filled with culturally rich treasures, delicious cuisine, and stunning nature. These six Oaxaca pueblos magicos embody the deep-rooted connections to civilizations that lived in Mesoameria.
Try to visit at least one of these special Oaxaca pueblos magicos!
Have you visited any of these Oaxaca pueblos magicos? What about my list of unofficial Oaxaca pueblos magicos? What did you think of them and which one did you enjoy the most? Let me know in the comments below!
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