THE ANCIENT RUINS OF MITLA OAXACA – A COMPLETE GUIDE

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruins

The Ancient Ruins of Mitla Oaxaca is the second-most important archaeological site in the state of Oaxaca and a must-see during your visit. Mitla is most famous for its mosaic features which can be seen on the interior and exterior walls of the temple structure. 

I have put together this complete guide of Mitla Oaxaca including how to get there, how much it costs and what to expect!

 

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WHERE IS MITLA OAXACA

The Mitla Ruins are located 43km southeast from Oaxaca City Center in the municipality of San Pablo Villa de Mitla.

Mitla Oaxaca lies in the upper end of the Tlacolula Valley which is one of three valleys that form the Central Valleys Region in the state of Oaxaca. 

HOW TO GET TO MITLA OAXACA

There’s a couple of ways that you can reach the Mitla Ruins and they are DIY or with a tour. 

VISIT MITLA OAXACA DIY

If you wish to visit Mitla Oaxaca without a tour, your best option is to rent a car in Oaxaca City Center and make your own way out to this archaeological site.

The drive from Oaxaca City Center to the Mitla Ruins takes approximately 1-hour depending on traffic. 

Find All ∼ Car Rentals in Oaxaca City

VISIT MITLA OAXACA WITH A TOUR

The next best option for visiting Mitla Oaxaca (and the way I did it) is with a tour.

There are countless tour companies in Oaxaca City to book a tour to the Mitla Ruins but in my experience, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which one is best. 

I recommend booking a tour to Mitla Oaxaca online in advance with Get Your Guide which has great reviews and hundreds of bookings. This will save you from having to haggle for a good price with the local tour companies in the city. 

The tour starts with a hotel pick-up from Oaxaca City at around 10:00 am and not only will you get to visit the Mitla Archaeological Site, but the tour also includes a visit to El Tule Tree, Hierve El Agua, Mezcal Factory and Zapotec Village before returning to your hotel in Oaxaca City at around 6:00 pm.

Book Now → Mitla Oaxaca Tour

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsWandering around the Mitla Ruins

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsThe colorful Mitla sign 

MITLA OAXACA ENTRANCE FEE

The entrance fee at Mitla Ruins is 75 MXN per person and this gives you access to the entire Mitla Archaeological Site. 

You can also find a number of small market stalls and ice cream vendors at the entrance to the Mitla Oaxaca if you wish to purchase some hand-made garments or cool off with a refreshing sorbet ice cream. 

Iglesia de San Pablo (Church of San Pablo) is situated right next to the Mitla Ruins which is worthy of stopping at for a quick photo.

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsSmall markets stalls at Mitla Oaxaca

Iglesia de San Pablo

WHAT TO EXPECT AT MITLA OAXACA

Mitla is one of the most well-preserved archaeological sites in the Oaxaca Valley due to the dry climate which has conserved these impressive ruins for thousands of years.

The most famous feature at Grupo del Norte (the main ruins at the Mitla Archaeological Site) is the mosaic stone carvings which you can see on the outer walls and also on the interior walls inside the complex. 

Inside the archaeological zone, there are two main structures that were inhabited as far back as 900 BC and it was the main religious center in the area. The site is surrounded by a fence of cactus plants and Iglesia de San Pablo (Church of San Pablo) stands prominently at the north end.

You can simply marvel at the detailed mosaics carvings on the exterior walls of Mitla Oaxaca before climbing up the stairs to the inside of the main plaza.

On the inside, you will find 6 stone columns that are said to weigh up to 18 tonnes and were once used to support the roof of the temple. From here you can enter through another doorway into the square-shaped chamber which boasts more impressive mosaic carvings on the walls.

Search All → Accommodations in Oaxaca City

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsMitla surrounded by cactus plants

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsInside the plaza at Mitla Mexico

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsThe square chamber at Mitla Oaxaca

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsThe internal walls at Mitla Ruins

MITLA ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE

The second plaza that lies below the main structure houses a couple of tombs that can be accessed via a small set of stairs that lead underground. Unfortunately, you won’t find any human skeletons inside the tombs, just a few dark chambers with carvings on the walls. 

It’s a bit of a tight squeeze through the tunnel entrance to the tombs so be sure to mind your head. It’s quite damp and moldy inside which isn’t that ideal so I wouldn’t recommend spending more than a few minutes to take a quick photo and retreat for some fresh air.

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsEntering the Mitla tombs

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsWall carvings inside the tombs

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsDark tunnel inside Mitla Oaxaca

FINAL THOUGHTS OF MITLA OAXACA

If you are a history enthusiast and on a mission to explore as many Mesoamerican ruins in Mexico as you can, then be sure to add Mitla to the list.

As I mentioned earlier, I highly recommend visiting the Mitla Ruins with a tour which also includes a number of must-see tourist attractions in Oaxaca. This particular tour was the highlight of my visit to Oaxaca and I guarantee you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Book Now → Mitla Oaxaca Tour

 

PIN LOCATION OF MITLA OAXACA

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WHERE TO STAY IN OAXACA CITY

Oaxaca City has hundreds of accommodations to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay in Oaxaca to suit the needs of luxury travelers and budget backpackers. See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:

Luxury: QUINTA REAL OAXACA

Check prices on Agoda | Check prices on Booking.com

Mid Range: Hotel Casa De La Tia Tere

Check prices on Agoda | Check prices on Booking.com

Budget: SELINA HOSTEL

Check prices on Agoda | Check prices on Booking.com


 

FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN OAXACA CITY, SEARCH ON AGODA OR SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM

 

MY CAMERA GEAR

• DSLR Mirrorless Camera: Sony A7ii 

• Drone Camera: DJI Mavic Pro 2

• GoPro: GoPro Hero 8 Black

• Everyday Lens: Sony F2.8 24/70mm

• Camera Bag: Lowepro Protactic 31L

• Selfie Stick: Sandmarc Metal Edition 1.2m 

• Tripod: Joby Flexible GorillaPod

• GoPro Dome: Underwater GoPro Dome

• Power Bank: Anker Powerbank

• External Hardrive: WD Elements 4TB

 

WHAT TO PACK FOR MEXICO?

• Waterproof Phone Case: Universal Waterproof Case

• Reusable Water Bottle: Hydro Flask Water Bottle

• Rain Jacket: North Face Rain Jacket

• Water Shoes: Slip-on Water Shoes

• Day Bag: Nomatic 20L Day Bag

• Power Adapter: Universal Power Adapter

• Packing Cubes: 4 Set Packing Cubes

• Microfibre Towel: Quick Dry Travel Towel

• Travel Insurance: World Nomads Travel Insurance

• Money Belt: Hidden Money Belt

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions at all about Mitla, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Happy Travels!

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