Walks & Hikes — Oaxaca City, Oaxaca
Walking forces you to slow down, giving you time to observe a place, taking in its rhythms, engaging with its people, bringing you deeply in contact with it, making walking a great way to experience a place. It's also by far the easiest way to get around the dense, historical center of town, as well as some of its adjacent neighborhoods, such as the Colonia Reforma.
Having recognized the benefits of pedestrian areas for tourism, the city has wisely set aside as no-traffic zones the Zócalo, some of its adjacent streets, and the Macedonio Alcalá, a pedestrian corridor stretching about half a mile (0.8km) from Independencia Avenue to the northwest corner of the botanical garden, Jardín Etnobotánico. Most places of interest in the Centro lie within a few blocks of these traffic-free zones, so naturally, most travelers find they gravitate there.
And for anyone physically able, the moderate hike to the top of the Cerro del Fortín is a must. Even though most of the walk is on city streets, traffic is minimal, and once at the top, the views of the city, surrounding valleys, and mountains are spectacular.
But of course, the entire city is just too large to be walked. To reach outlying neighborhoods, relatively inexpensive taxis are easiest and quickest. Alternatively, local buses go everywhere in the city for just a few pesos, although they're slow and and the routes can be difficult to navigate.
Lastly, walking and hiking tours offer a quick and easy way to see and learn about the historical center of the city and the state. (See article "Walking & Hiking Tours.")
Macedonio Alcalá • Pedestrian Corridor • (W)
A traffic-free pedestrian corridor, paved with locally quarried green stones, stretching about half a mile from Independencia Avenue (north-side of the cathedral) to the northwest corner of the botanical garden, Jardín Etnobotánico. Most places of interest in the Centro lie within a few blocks of this street or the other major traffic-free zone, the Zócalo, so naturally, most travelers find they gravitate there. The street is named after the 19th-century Oaxacan composer Macedonio Alcalá, remembered primarily for his waltz "Dios Nunca Muere" (“God Never Dies”).
- 0.4 miles/0.65km pedestrian corridor that begins at Independencia Avenue and ends at Berriozabal Avenue; North of Independencia, Centro Histórico.
Cerro del Fortín Urban Hike • Walks & Hikes • (B)
Spectacular 360° views of the city and the surrounding valleys and mountains are the well-deserved reward for anyone making the moderately difficult trudge up the hill to the top of Cerro del Fortín. However, avoid the dirt road running north along the ridge behind the planetarium and observatory. It has long deserted stretches (making it especially attractive to two-legged predators) where several armed robberies and assaults have occurred recently. This warning is not just hype and should be taken very seriously.
- Beginning at the intersection of Indepedencia and Alcalá (across the street from the cathedral) walk up traffic-free Alcalá for about half a mile (0.8km) to Carranza.
- Turn left on Carranza and continue three blocks to Tinoco y Palacios.
- Turn right on Tinoco y Palacios and then almost immediately turn left on Boca del Monte. Continue one block to Crespo.
- Turn right on Crespo and continue about a block to the staircase on the left side of the Crespo.
- Continue up the staircase, through the tunnel, to the amphitheater.
- Veer right and continue to the road behind the amphitheater.
- Turn right at the road and continue for about half a mile (0.8km) to the planetarium. Here, the elevation is 5647' (1721m), about a 600' (183m) elevation rise from the Zócalo.