Wondering how to get from Mexico City to Oaxaca? In this article, I’ll cover the main ways to get between the two cities to help you decide which transportation method is best for you.
Oaxaca City has become one of the most popular destinations in Mexico, known for its exceptional culinary scene, fascinating archeological sites, mezcal productions, and rich cultural heritage. It’s no surprise that so many travelers are adding this vibrant city to their Mexico itinerary.
Whether you’re headed there to check out the Day of the Dead festivities or simply want to soak up all the wonderful things to do in Oaxaca, you won’t regret making the trek.
Here’s how to get to Oaxaca from Mexico City.
Related Reading: 4 Magical Days in Oaxaca: Itinerary for First-Time Visitors
Where is Oaxaca City?
Oaxaca City, also known as Oaxaca de Juárez, is located in the middle of Oaxaca State, in Southern Mexico.
How far is Oaxaca from Mexico City?
The driving distance from Mexico City to Oaxaca City is approximately 554 km (344 miles), and the journey takes between 7 and 8 hours, depending on traffic. The trip to Oaxaca City by bus is advertised as just under 7 hours, but don’t expect to make the trip that quickly in a personal vehicle. The fastest way to reach Oaxaca from Mexico City is by flight, which cuts the travel time down to 90 minutes, but you should allow for time spent in the airport ahead of the flight.
Bus Travel from Mexico City to Oaxaca
Long-haul buses are one of the safest and most cost-effective ways to travel in Mexico. Dozens of premium buses travel between Mexico City and Oaxaca each day. One of the most popular bus companies in Southern Mexico, ADO, serves this route. The bus ride takes about 7 hours if you travel directly, without stopping along the way.
Mexico City has several different bus terminals, but TAPO is the main one you’d use to travel to Oaxaca. TAPO stands for Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente and is located to the east of the Mexico City center. It serves bus routes leaving the city to the east or the southeast, meaning it’s well-positioned for buses to Oaxaca.
You can also take an ADO bus directly from Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport (MEX). They don’t run as frequently from the airport as they do from TAPO, but it’s worth checking the schedule in case it lines up with your flight.
There are other bus companies offering transfers to Oaxaca, depending on which bus station you visit, but I would go straight to ADO. They are my favorite bus company and one of the largest in the country. They have several different service classes of varying degrees of luxury and comfort.
For a long trip, like the one to Oaxaca City, opt for the most comfortable bus available. This would be an ADO Platino. These buses have 27 seats and two on-board restrooms. Each seat is equipped with a USB charging port and an electrical outlet to charge your devices during the trip. Seats also have individual entertainment centers, so you can watch movies or listen to music on the trip. Tickets from Mexico City to Oaxaca on ADO Platino will cost around $1300 MXN.
The next best option would be the ADO GL. GL stands for gran lujo (great luxury). These buses carry 40 passengers and have two on-board restrooms. Each seat is equipped with an electrical outlet and a USB port to charge devices. GL buses cost less than Platino but are still very comfortable, making them a great option for a long journey. A bus ticket for an ADO GL from TAPO to Oaxaca will cost about $1050 MXN.
ADO also offers a general executive class bus known as ADO Primera Clase. They’re a little bit more cramped than the GL buses and only have one restroom onboard, but these are still perfectly comfortable. ADO Primera Clase bus tickets from TAPO to Oaxaca City cost about $876 MXN.
There are a few other bus options if you’re looking for more budget-friendly fares to Oaxaca City. The following bus lines are lower-cost (but still perfectly safe).
These bus lines are still under the ADO umbrella, but they are lower-cost carriers. Average ticket prices on either of these lines will be about $500-$650 MXN from TAPO to Oaxaca City. These buses don’t always have restrooms onboard, though, and they may make stops along the way, adding to the travel time.
Check out this article for more information on the ins and outs of Mexico’s ADO bus system.
How to book bus tickets to Oaxaca
There are several ways to book your bus tickets to Oaxaca.
- In person at the bus terminal – Unless you’re on a tight schedule or traveling at a super busy time of year (Dia de Muertos, for instance), you can typically get away with showing up at the bus station and booking your ticket shortly before departure.
- At a convenience store – If you want to book ahead but don’t feel like venturing all the way to the bus station, head to your local Oxxo, Fasti, X24, or really any convenience store. You can usually book bus tickets through the cashier.
- At a Clickbus kiosk – Clickbus often has kiosks in malls, airports, and busy town squares. You can book a ticket through them to get to Oaxaca. They charge a very small commission, but you’ll hardly notice the additional cost.
- Through the ADO website – You can purchase tickets from the ADO website (or their app), but it’s very buggy so I prefer to use it as a last resort. That said, they often offer discounts if you book online two or three days prior to your travel date. The website doesn’t usually accept foreign credit cards, so opt to pay via PayPal when you check out. An e-ticket will be emailed to you. The ADO site is also entirely in Spanish, so if you’re looking for an English alternative, keep reading, I got you!
- Through a third-party website – There are a couple of third-party websites that make it easy to book bus travel in Mexico.
- Gotto Go is a Latin American startup that makes it easy to book any type of transportation throughout Mexico and the rest of Latin America. Click here to purchase tickets from Mexico City to Oaxaca.
- Busbud is another popular transportation aggregator that enables you to buy bus tickets online. They charge a small commission on top of the ticket price, but their website is in English and they take foreign credit cards, so it’s a great option. Click here to book tickets!
A couple of bus travel tips to keep in mind:
- Keep your valuables on your person, not in your checked bags. I’ve never had anything stolen on a bus (and I’ve taken them to 15+ states and dozens of cities in Mexico), but it’s best to be cautious. Keep your documents and money in your purse, on your lap for the duration of the trip.
- Time your trip to arrive during the day. As a solo traveler, it’s much safer to arrive at a new destination during the day. The last thing you want is to be wandering around at night looking for your Airbnb. Plan accordingly.
- Night buses are generally safe for this route. There are some routes in Mexico where I wouldn’t recommend traveling at night, but the journey to Oaxaca is a safe bet.
Flights to Oaxaca City
A direct flight is the most convenient way to get to Oaxaca for those who wish to save time.
You can usually find nonstop flights from Mexico City to Oaxaca for very affordable rates. Of course, the price of Oaxaca flights surges around holidays like Día de Muertos in November or during La Guelelaguetza festival, which takes place in July. Definitely book your flights months ahead of time if you’re planning to visit Oaxaca during those festive days.
That said, finding cheap flights to Oaxaca from Mexico City isn’t out of the question! Do a quick search to compare prices before you rule it out.
I like to use Skyscanner to search for flight deals everywhere I go.
I did a quick search for flights from Benito Juarez Airport in Mexico City to the Oaxaca Airport for February 2024 and included the results in the screenshot below. Prices for one-way flights range from $39 to $59 USD for a one-way ticket. A round-trip flight came in between $150 and $180 USD. Pretty compelling, considering it’s about the same price for a bus ticket as it is for a one-hour flight!
Of course, the best prices come from low-cost carriers (like Viva Aerobus), meaning you’ll probably face additional fees for luggage, etc. Prices for major airlines, like Aeromexico, were around $110 USD for a one-way ticket.
Remember, flight prices fluctuate all the time. What you see in my search results here may not be typical, but it should give you a general idea! If your trip is a few months out, set up a price alert through Skyscanner to track flight prices between Mexico City and Oaxaca so you can purchase the most favorable fare!
Pro tip: When searching for flights on Skyscanner, select “whole month” instead of a specific date to find the cheapest flight options. This will give you an idea of the best time to travel to secure the best flight price.
Driving from Mexico City to Oaxaca
Depending on your travel style and preferences, you could make a road trip from Mexico City to Oaxaca. This definitely won’t be the cheapest way to get there, but for those who have a sense of adventure and appreciate the freedom of their own wheels, it could be a fun way to go. Plus, then once you arrive in Oaxaca you’ll have the freedom to do side trips to some off-the-beaten-path destinations and natural wonders, such as Monte Alban or Hierve el Agua without having to navigate public transportation or taking a tour.
Much of the route from CDMX to Oaxaca is on major highways, but if you have time, you might consider a stop in Puebla City for brunch or a quick walk. It’s a lovely city and I’m pretty confident that stopping for a short visit will leave you wanting more!
Discover Cars is my preferred platform to find the best deals on rental cars in Mexico. They aggregate prices across all the different rental companies so you can compare prices and features to find the best deal.
The route from Mexico City to Oaxaca is pretty straightforward. It’s best to stick to the toll roads (called cuotas) as they are patrolled and in better repair than the free highways (libres).
I’ve included a map of the recommended driving route below, for your reference.
Before you jump at the idea of taking a road trip, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Toll roads (cuotas) are the absolute safest way to travel. Incorporate toll fees into your budget. For reference, I used TollGuru to estimate the total cost of tolls from Mexico City to Oaxaca and these are the results: $629 MXN ($35 USD) — that’s not bad!
- Most rental cars in Mexico have manual transmissions. If you need an automatic vehicle, reserve it well in advance and expect to pay extra for it.
- Rental car insurance is $$$ but it’s essential. There’s all kinds of conflicting information out there about whether or not you need rental car insurance in Mexico. I say yes. It’s a bummer because it’s a large expense, but if you get into an accident you’ll be glad to have it. Read this article for more info on what happens if you get into a car accident in Mexico.
- Driving is a little different in Mexico. The rules are largely the same, but the behavior on the road is different. For instance, it’s not uncommon for vehicles to split lanes. Also, many drivers will put their hazard lights on when they are slowing down. Aside from that, you may encounter challenges like poor road conditions, animals on the road, poorly maintained vehicles on the road, topes (speed bumps), and poor visibility while driving. Just be aware that it will likely be different than what you’re used to. This blog has lots of handy safety tips to review.
Continue Planning Your Trip!
Mexico Guide Books
This Mexico phrasebook will help you communicate, even if your Spanish skills are lacking.
This Mexico travel guide is packed with all the info you could ever need.
I use a combination of Booking, Airbnb, and VRBO to find accommodation throughout Mexico.
Some cities in Mexico have more listings on VRBO than Airbnb (or vice versa), so it’s best to check both to find the perfect place!
Rental cars add tons of flexibility to your travel plans. If you opt to rent one, I recommend using Discover Cars to find the best rates!
Skyscanner is my favorite tool for finding the best deals on airfare.
Never leave home without travel insurance.
SafetyWing offers super-affordable policies that cover things like medical expenses, trip interruption, and lost luggage. They even offer coverage for some expenses related to COVID-19. Their policies are particularly great for long-term travelers, making them a great option for Mexico.
There’s no question that knowing basic Spanish is wildly beneficial in Mexico. It helps you stay aware of your surroundings, solve problems, and make friends!
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Still have questions?
Join my Female Travelers in Mexico Facebook group, a supportive community of fellow Mexico travel enthusiasts, where you can find answers to all your travel questions!