The Ancient Ruins Of Mitla Oaxaca – A Complete Guide

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The Ancient Ruins of Mitla Oaxaca is the second-most important archaeological site in the state of Oaxaca and a must-see during your travels through central Mexico!

Mitla is most famous for its beautiful mosaic features which can be admired on the interior and exterior walls of the temple structure. 

I have put together this complete guide to visiting the ruins including how to get there, how much it costs, and what to expect when you arrive.

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruins, mitla

WHERE IS MITLA OAXACA?

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

Mitla 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.

Click here to see the location on Google maps.

mitla

 

HOW TO GET TO MITLA OAXACA

There are a couple of options available when searching for how to get to the Mitla Ruins and they are either DIY or with a tour. 

VISIT MITLA OAXACA DIY

If you wish to visit 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 (and the way I did it) is with a tour.

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

I recommend booking a tour 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 fair 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 sign at the entrance

 

MITLA OAXACA ENTRANCE FEE

The entrance fee 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 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 ruins which are worthy of stopping at for a quick photo.

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsSmall markets stalls

mitla ruins oaxaca 14Iglesia de San Pablo

 

WHAT TO EXPECT AT MITLA MEXICO

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 of the ruins.

RELATED ARTICLE → 4 WEEK MEXICO ITINERARY

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsMitla surrounded by cactus plants

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsInside the plaza at Mitla Mexico

 

You can simply marvel at the detailed mosaics carvings on the exterior walls 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.

MUST READ: BEST TRAVEL ACCESSORIES FOR ANY TRIP

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsThe square chamber

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsThe internal walls

 

MITLA ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE

The second plaza that lies below the main structure at Mitla 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 tombs

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsWall carvings inside the tombs

mitla oaxaca, mitla ruinsDark tunnel inside Mitla Mexico

 

WHERE TO STAY IN OAXACA

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, budget backpackers, and everyone in between.

See the list of Oaxaca accommodations below that I personally recommend:

LUXURY: QUINTA REAL OAXACA

CHECK PRICES ON BOOKING.COM

CHECK PRICES ON AGODA

77243 0912230238002077678

 

Mid Range: Hotel Casa De La Tia Tere

CHECK PRICES ON BOOKING.COM

CHECK PRICES ON AGODA

318419274 

 

BUDGET: SELINA HOSTEL

CHECK PRICES ON BOOKING.COM

CHECK PRICES ON AGODA

185855048
 FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN OAXACA CITY, SEARCH ON AGODA OR SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM

 

WHAT TO PACK FOR OAXACA

When visiting Oaxaca, here is a list of items I highly recommend bringing with you;

  • Sunscreen – the Mexican sun is very strong, so make sure to pack some high-quality sunscreen.
  • Quick-dry travel towel – the most compact and lightweight towel for traveling.
  • Reusable water bottle – stay hydrated by bringing along a reusable water bottle.
  • Backpack – The Nomatic 30L Travel Pack is the ultimate backpack for everyday adventures.

If you’re interested in taking awesome photos and videos on your travels, this is the camera gear that I use and recommend;

  • GoPro HERO10 – the most popular camera on the planet for action-packed adventures.
  • Canon EOS R – perfect for traveling, this is the most affordable, compact camera on the market.
  • DJI Mini 3 Pro – take your photos and videos to new heights with this user-friendly drone camera.

 

MORE MEXICO TRAVEL GUIDES

 

TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or it’s your first trip overseas, here are some useful travel resources to help you kick-start your next adventure!

  • BOOKING.COM – search and book accommodation worldwide
  • SKYSCANNER – compare and book cheap flights to anywhere
  • VIATOR – find tickets, tours, and experiences around the world
  • BOOKAWAY – book buses, trains, and transfers online in advance
  • RENTAL CARS – search all rental cars in your next destination
  • GROUP TRIPS – join one of my epic small group trips
  • TRAVEL INSURANCE – purchase World Nomads travel insurance
  • TRAVEL MONEY CARD – get a Wise card today for free

Looking for more? Check out my Travel Resources page for further help with your trip planning!

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

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 this one to the list.

As I mentioned earlier, I highly recommend visiting the Mitla Ruins with a tour that 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 Ruins Tour

If you have any questions, be sure to join Jonny Melon’s Travel Tribe on Facebook and post your questions or recommendations to our awesome community.

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THANKS FOR READING

Hey friend, thanks for reading this guide!

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