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 of the ruins including how to get there, how much it costs, and what to expect when you arrive.
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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.
HOW TO GET TO MITLA OAXACA
There’s 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.
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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
Wandering around the Mitla Ruins
The 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.
Small markets stalls
Iglesia 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 surrounded by cactus plants
Inside 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.
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The square chamber
The 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.
Entering the tombs
Wall carvings inside the tombs
Dark 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
Mid Range: Hotel Casa De La Tia Tere
Budget: SELINA HOSTEL
LONELY PLANET MEXICO
One of the best books to take on your trip is the Lonely Planet Mexico Guide!
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Another great option when searching for accommodation in Oaxaca is to stay in an Airbnb which generally has some great deals!
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MORE CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA TRAVEL GUIDES
- Mexico: 4 Week Mexico Itinerary
- Guatemala: 2 Week Guatemala Itinerary
- Cuba: 10 Day Cuba Itinerary
- Peru: Backpacking Peru – 3 Week Itinerary
- Bolivia: Things To Do In Bolivia
- Brazil: 2 Day Rio De Janeiro Itinerary
- Argentina: Things To Do In Argentina
- Chile: Things To Do In Chile
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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 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.