Mexico City and Oaxaca are two of the best places to visit in all of Mexico. While Mexico City is the country’s actual capital, filled with historical buildings, a vibrant art and fashion scene, and world-class museums, the latter is its culinary capital and an absolute heaven for foodies.
What’s even more awesome about these two places is that they’re really well-connected! Since we first began living part-time in CDMX, we’ve made the trip to Oaxaca on several occasions, as it’s a great getaway option when we’re in need of a long weekend away from the crowds of the metropolis.
We have our own opinion on the best way to travel from Mexico City to Oaxaca, but in this post, we’re going to go through all the different methods for how to get to Oaxaca from Mexico City, including details on the bus to Oaxaca from Mexico City, the Mexico City to Oaxaca drive, and the direct flights Mexico City to Oaxaca has available.
Here is the summary of your options:
|How To Book
|Cheapest, best for solo travellers
|From $19 one way
|Flexibility, affordable, best for couples and families
|From $30 per day
|Use Discover Cars
|Most convenient from CDMX airport
|Fastest, but requires a bus transfer
|Browse Sky Scanner
Our Experience Of Getting To Oaxaca From Mexico City
In our experience, the best way to get from Mexico City to Oaxaca is by plane. Why? Put simply, because it’s easy, it’s fast, and (if you book in advance) it’s cheap – the first time we flew, it was just $24 one way!
Having said that, we still take the bus sometimes because it means we can be more flexible with our plans. Yes, the journey time is a few more hours, but the long-distance ADO buses are clean, comfortable, and about as efficient as you’re going to get driving about Mexico. Plus, there’s some beautiful countryside to see along the way.
#1 Getting By Bus From Mexico City To Oaxaca
One of the most common ways to get from Mexico City to Oaxaca is by bus. Most of the routes are operated by ADO, which has frequent daytime and overnight buses from Mexico City to Oaxaca services from the Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros (TAPO) and Autobuses del Norte.
Make sure you check which station is closer to your accommodation before booking. In general, TAPO is the more convenient of the two, as it’s a lot closer to getting to the Centro area. However, if you’re staying in Polanco or La Condesa, you might find it’s quicker to catch an Uber to the Northern Bus Station. Both bus depots are easily accessible by metro.
Mexico City to Oaxaca bus schedule
The Mexico City bus to Oaxaca departs almost continuously throughout the day, starting from around 6:30 am or 7:30 am and finishing at about midnight, depending on the day of the week.
If you’re on a tight schedule, you might be tempted by one of the Mexico City to Oaxaca night bus routes, which, in theory, means you can optimise your journey by spending the time you plan to sleep travelling.
The trouble that we’ve found with this idea, however, is that the length of the route is just a little too short to get a good amount of rest. Ultimately, you end up either leaving at midnight and arriving at about 7 am or leaving at a decent evening time and arriving at 3 am. Either way, it’s a pretty tiring way to kick off your first day in Oaxaca.
Plus, for first-timers, it’s quite interesting to watch the landscape go by during the day, something that you miss if you travel at night, which is why, on balance, we prefer the day routes.
|From 08:00 every hour
|From $50 (via Bookaway)
|00:30 and 22:30
|From $19 (via Bookaway)
Are there direct buses from Mexico City to Oaxaca?
Getting from Mexico City to Oaxaca by bus is almost always a nonstop trip, aside from toilet breaks at gas stations. A number of the services do have a couple of extra waypoints within either CDMX or Oaxaca, however, so make sure to check what’s most convenient for you in terms of where your accommodation is located.
For example, while the bus might originate from TAPO near the centre of town, it could also stop at the bus station in Santa Martha Acatitla, situated in the southeast of CDMX, before heading off to Oaxaca. Even then, however, it shouldn’t add much, if any, time to your journey.
How much are bus tickets to Oaxaca from Mexico City?
The Mexico City to Oaxaca bus price varies depending on the level of vehicle you select – and there are quite a few different options. The most basic level is the AU bus, which has no toilets on board but costs a bargain $594 pesos (approximately $34 US).
If you want to pimp the ride a little, the ADO standard ($876 pesos, approximately $50 US) features on-board WCs, individual TV screens, and (when it’s working) free Wi-Fi, while the slightly more deluxe ADO GL ($1,068 pesos, approximately $62 US) adds on a complimentary beverage, individual audio outlets, USB charging ports, and a little bit more seating space.
The most luxury bus Mexico City to Oaxaca is the ADO Platino service ($1,274 pesos, approximately $74 US), which tricks out its vehicles with everything in GL, plus an entertainment system with touch screen, Bluetooth, and chairs that can recline into a sleeping position.
So which service should you take? To be honest, all of them are fine. If you want a bit more comfort and are tall, the GL is probably the best bet. In our experience, the Platino is only worth it if you intend to try and get some shuteye.
Although you can purchase tickets in person at the bus stations, we always buy our tickets in advance online because it’s just so easy. Additionally, discounts are usually available, even if you purchase just a day in advance.
The ADO website is only in Spanish, but it’s really easy to navigate, even if you only know a tiny bit of the language. Alternatively, get that Google Translate app out, and you shouldn’t have any problems. We also often use Bookaway if for some reason, ADO doesn’t work (which happened to us a few times when trying to book tickets outside of Mexico’s borders).
If you’re looking for a super budget, we’ve also noticed a company called Dolphins that runs overnight buses from CDMX to Oaxaca every day at 10 pm for just $330 pesos (approximately $19 US). However, we’ve not ridden with them, so can’t speak to the level of service, the comfort of the bus, or how reliable the operator is.
How long is the bus ride from Mexico City to Oaxaca?
Most rides from Mexico City to Oaxaca by bus take between 6 and 7 hours, depending on the time of day. If the roads are clear and it is off-peak time, you can sometimes even make it in 5.5 hours, but equally, we’ve been on the bus when the traffic is terrible, and it’s taken more like 7.5 hours.
#2 Driving From Mexico City To Oaxaca
Is anyone up for a Mexico City to Oaxaca road trip? Renting a car is a great option if you value flexibility and personal space. Although it’s probably one of the more expensive travel options, it’s slightly faster than the bus, and you can control your own stops.
For example, you could lunch in Puebla on the way down to Oaxaca, enjoying some mole in the city of its birth, or stroll about a pre-Columbian archaeological site like the one around Tehuacan while you stretch your legs.
How far is Oaxaca from Mexico City?
The driving distance from Mexico City to Oaxaca is about 462km. On average, the drive should take you about 6 hours, though make sure you avoid the morning rush hour unless you want to get trapped in CDMX for ages. Setting off around 10 am is usually a good bet to avoid gridlock.
Is it safe to drive from Mexico City to Oaxaca?
Yes, absolutely. The route from Mexico City to Oaxaca is one of the safest and easiest ones we’ve driven. It’s essentially just a straight shot along toll highways, which cost a little extra but are definitely worth it for the sense of security and the quality of the roads.
Renting a car in Mexico City
To travel from Mexico City to Oaxaca by car, you’ll need to rent an appropriate vehicle. We usually use Discover Cars because the user interface is superb, so it’s simple to see all the different options at a glance. Each rental listing is displayed with clear pricing and customer reviews so you can weigh up your options with full transparency. Prices start from $30 per day.
If you’re travelling on a budget, make sure you factor in the price of petrol, which can add up to almost as much as a bus ticket on its own.
#3 Can You Do A Day Trip To Oaxaca From Mexico City?
Hypothetically, yes, you could do a day trip from Mexico City to Oaxaca, but why would you want to? You’d essentially spend most of the day in a car, bus, or plane just to eke out a couple of measly hours exploring one of the best parts of Mexico – Oaxaca was actually voted the best city in the country by travellers in 2023.
The idea is so unattractive, so we’re not surprised that nobody on Viator offers Mexico City to Oaxaca tour itineraries.
In short, we strongly recommend you don’t attempt a day trip unless you only plan to visit as part of a tick-box exercise.
#4 Getting A Private Driver From Mexico City To Oaxaca
A happy medium between the public bus and having to drive yourself, there are companies that will arrange a private driver to ferry you from CDMX to Oaxaca. Of course, this is probably the most expensive option of all, but it does mean you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Taxi from Mexico City to Oaxaca
We generally don’t advise using taxis in Mexico City because they are just so liable to rip off tourists. As an alternative, there are international businesses like Bookaway.com that organise private cars for people in CDMX.
These can cost as little as $385 US for a basic service and up to $650 US for a comfortable car with a driver who speaks English. While standard sedans can accommodate three passengers and their luggage, there are also larger vehicles for groups of up to seven people.
One of the best things about these kinds of services is that they can usually accommodate sightseeing stops along the way for an additional fee. For example, you can break your journey in Puebla for a couple of hours to sample the local mole or pay a visit to Cacaxtla, a Mesoamerican archaeological site that has some beautifully preserved murals.
Uber from Mexico City to Oaxaca
While Uber does operate in Mexico City, it doesn’t in Oaxaca. Even if it did, it’s unlikely that a driver would pick up a fare that would involve a 12-hour return journey. That means that even if you want to fork out to take a private car using the ride-hailing service, you won’t be able to. Sorry!
#5 Flights From Mexico City To Oaxaca
Several carriers operate nonstop Mexico City to Oaxaca flights, including national airline Aeromexico, as well as budget airlines Viva Aerobus and Volaris.
The prices can get as low as $24, though most of the time, you’ll probably end up paying in the region of $50 to $100, depending on the time of year and how far in advance you book. To put that in perspective, the low-cost flights are actually about the same price as you will pay for a luxury bus ride. Make of that what you will!
The Mexico City to Oaxaca flight time is about 60 to 70 minutes, so going by aeroplane is easily the fastest way to get between the two cities, even once you factor in the boarding and disembarking times. Of course, you have to weigh that up against the lower flexibility and the general hassle that flying in the modern world entails, as well as the additional costs that you’ll accrue if you’re travelling with more than hand luggage.
Does Oaxaca have an airport?
The State of Oaxaca has three airports, including Oaxaca International Airport (OAX), which is where flights from CDMX arrive. The airport is located about 20 minutes drive from the town centre, which you can reach using a registered taxi, a private transfer, or a public bus.
Best Places To Stay In Oaxaca
Once you arrive in Oaxaca, you’ll obviously need somewhere to stay! We’ve written several comprehensive posts about the many different hotels you can find in Oaxaca, from chic boutiques to resorts with pools, but here are a couple of options to whet your appetite.
Luxury Pick – Quinta Real Oaxaca
The Quinta Real Oaxaca is a gem of a hotel situated inside the walls of a restored 16th-century convent. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay with plenty of historical character, then look no further than this well-equipped oasis, which features original frescoed walls throughout.
It’s also in a prime location, just a short walk to all the major Oaxacan attractions, including the Zocalo, the Templo de Santo Domingo, and the Andador Turistico.
One of our favourite features at the Quinta Real is the large outdoor pool, which is surrounded by plenty of loungers, as well as the beautiful old stone building of the convent. There’s also an outdoor terrace restaurant, an indoor bar that exudes the ambience of a colonial-era smoking room, and a fitness centre.
Rooms preserve a relatively austere appearance that’s perfectly in keeping with the history of the building.
Mid-Range Pick – Holiday Inn Express Oaxaca
While the Holiday Inn Express doesn’t have as much charm as the Quinta Real, it is a perfectly comfortable option for those looking for mod cons at a decent price point.
Situated north of the city centre, it’s about 10 minutes to the Templo de Santo Domingo and 15 minutes to Oaxaca Cathedral, so you’re still close to the action. When you’re not being wowed by the quaint streets, there’s an outdoor pool and a fitness centre to keep you occupied, as well as an open-air terrace where you can enjoy an evening cocktail.
The rooms are in keeping with what you would expect from a Holiday Inn Express anywhere in the world, which means clean, carpeted rooms with functional furniture.
How To Get From Mexico City To Oaxaca: FAQ
How many days do you need in Oaxaca?
We spent three days in Oaxaca, including day trips to the pre-Columbian city of Monte Alban and the petrified waterfalls of Hierve el Agua. That gave us plenty of time to explore the Oaxacan Zocalo, the flourishing folk art scene, and (best of all) the edible delights of Mexico’s culinary capital.
Is there a train from Mexico City to Oaxaca?
Sorry guys, the Mexico City to Oaxaca train is long gone. In fact, a curious fact about Mexico is that all its intercity passenger rail lines were wiped out a decade or so ago. While there’s been talk about opening them up again at some unspecified point in the future, the only passenger trains that operate at the moment are commuter lines and a couple of tourist-focused operations like the Copper Canyon.
Should I spend more time in Oaxaca or Mexico City?
We recommend spending longer in Mexico City, as the capital has more to do and see than Oaxaca, with lots of varied neighbourhoods. It’s also more spread out, so it takes longer to visit the different areas of interest, including Xochimilco, which is far to the south of the centre.
Having said that, Oaxaca is a handy base for visiting places of interest like Monte Alban, Mitla, and Hierve el Agua, which is a good reason to prolong your stay. We recommend spending about three days in each city, though half the time in Oaxaca is actually spent on day trips.
What’s the distance from Mexico City to Oaxaca?
The Mexico City to Oaxaca distance is around 462 kilometres, or 287 miles for people who prefer imperial over metric/ That translates into a drive time of around 6 hours or a flight time of round about 70 minutes.
Is it worth going to Oaxaca?
We absolutely recommend going to visit Oaxaca. The state is one of the most ethnically diverse regions in Mexico, which feeds into the city’s thriving culinary scene and folk crafts so that there’s plenty of local culture to enjoy. Make sure you visit the Zocalo during the evening to experience the local dancing and socialising that takes place in the town square.
Is it safe to walk around Oaxaca?
Oaxaca is often cited as one of the safest cities for expats in Mexico. It’s also an extremely walkable city, particularly around the centre, which is filled with cheerfully coloured houses as well as impressive colonial remnants like the Templo de Santo Domingo.
Obviously, you still shouldn’t take any silly risks, like straying down isolated streets alone late at night, but on the whole, we feel very comfortable walking around in Oaxaca whenever we visit.
What is the best way of getting around in Oaxaca?
Walking is far and away the best method of exploring Oaxaca. All of the major attractions are located in the downtown area, within a 15-minute radius of the Zocalo.
If you want to travel further afield, perhaps to Reforma where there are some excellent restaurants and bars, there’s the standard bus network as well as the more adventurous ‘colectivos’ (a sort of taxi transit van that’s used by locals as a cheap form of public transport).
Alternatively, you can call a cab using the DiDi ride-hailing app, which offers more security than just flagging a driver down on the street.
Getting From Mexico City To Oaxaca: Wrap-Up
If we haven’t already made it clear, we 100% recommend paying a visit to Oaxaca from Mexico City! Not only is it really easy to reach from CDMX, it also provides a huge contrast to the chaotic energy of the capital, offering a more laidback vibe that’s ideal for some rest and relaxation.
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