There’s plenty to see and do on a vacation to Oaxaca, Mexico. But what’s the best time to visit Oaxaca? Stick with us and we’ll detail all you need to know about exploring this area of Mexico’s southwest.
When is the Best Time to Visit Oaxaca?
The great news for first time travelers considering a vacation is that there are actually two periods of the year which together comprise the best time to visit Oaxaca. They correspond with Mexico’s spring and fall, and the months of April – May and September – October.
The weather across the summer months is equally fine for a trip to the region, if June through to August are the only months you can get away. This is mostly down to the fact that Oaxaca’s hilly terrain keeps temperatures much lower than elsewhere in Mexico. However, these months form Oaxaca’s high season, and you’ll not only encounter larger crowds but also higher flight and hotel costs. This is something to keep in mind if you’re on a budget.
Historically, the remainder of the year, roughly from November until March, is considered the low season. But that’s not to say you can’t enjoy a vacation in Oaxaca during this period. If you’re looking for great deals, this is almost certainly the best time to visit Oaxaca. Bear in mind though that the crowds return during the Christmas and New Year break as those already tired of cold winters seek out some revitalizing sun.
Oaxaca Month by Month
Below we’ll go into further details on the climatic conditions you can expect in Oaxaca throughout the year, as well as highlighting some of the most intriguing cultural events which take place month by month.
April & May in Oaxaca
The start of the main tourist seasons, April and May in Oaxaca sees the countryside blanketed in attractive wild flowers and the skies largely clear of cloud. The cloud builds towards the end of the period, with May experiencing an average of 2.8 inches of rain – double the April average.
When it comes to temperature, both months have daily lows of around 58°F (14°C), meaning you’ll want a sweater for the evenings. However, in the middle of the day, temperatures can rise as high as 88°F (31°C) making it perfect beach weather.
More likely that not, April or May will be the time of Easter – Domingo de Gloria, or ‘the glorious Sunday’. The period is kicked off with a mardi gras-style carnival alive with color and music. Easter Sunday is marked after mass with street food favorites such as nopal (prickly pear leaves) and ice cream rather than chocolate eggs.
September & October in Oaxaca
The months of September and October record similar temperatures to April and May. Lows hover around 56°C, while daily highs peak at 80°F (27°C). Those looking to avoid the need for an umbrella should make their planned trip in October, which sees just 1.6 inches across the month compared to September’s 5 inches.
The end of the month also sees the region gear up for the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations of November 2. Look out for marigolds and decorative skulls, which are well known symbols of the nationwide event.
June – August in Oaxaca
If the highs of April and May seem a little too hot to handle, June through to August make for a good alternative. Temperatures during the summer months reach 82°F (28°C) in the afternoon hours, while lows still never fall below around 59 or 60°F (15°C).
The only reason it’s rare for the June to August period to be called the best time to visit Oaxaca is because the region’s hotels quickly fill up with those looking to enjoy the long school break.
Another thing to consider when planning a trip to Oaxaca in summer is the amount of rainfall. June has the highest rainfall of the year, at about 6.3 inches. Levels then fall to just over 4 inches for both July and August. While avoiding the heavy showers isn’t difficult, it does mean the sky becomes overcast for at least some of the day. If it’s going to, rain normally appears in the late afternoon and evening, and can develop with little warning.
Travel in July and you won’t fail to notice the Guelaguetza or Los lunes del cerro festival, taking place in the middle of the month. One of the biggest days in Oaxaca’s cultural calendar, the streets of its towns and cities fill with marching bands, dancers and performers in indigenous pre-Colombian dress.
November – March in Oaxaca
Finally, there are the winter months of November through to March. Outside of the Christmas break, they are the low season when it comes to both tourist numbers and hotel prices. At the same time, it is actually a period packed full of festivals, with at least six major celebrations taking place.
Temperatures in Oaxaca are at their lowest of the year, with daily lows falling to 47°F (8°C) in January. Highs range from 77 – 85°F (25 – 29°C), which makes it a favorite time of year for those looking to go trekking or take on other more strenuous activities. What’s more, there’s no need to be concerned by the possibility of rain, since each month sees no more than a third of an inch.
The best-known festival to take place at this time of year is the Day of the Dead, portrayed in James Bond film Spectre. Street parades also accompany the fiesta Virgen de Guadalupe, which sees large statues of the Virgin Mary brought out of their churches. Los Posadas meanwhile kicks off the Christmas festivities, and is marked by the singing of Christmas songs, large feasts and children eagerly breaking into star-shaped pinatas filled with candies.
When to Visit Oaxaca
There’s no bad time to visit Oaxaca. Spring and fall offer a good mix of temperatures and tourist numbers, while summer sees slightly reduced temperatures and the winter months a long list of cultural events.