GO Day of the Dead festivities run between October 31st and November 2nd, though you think it’s too much like being on the set of a Bond movie. The city’s altitude means autumn and spring are best, with sunny days and cool nights. Summer can be wet and overcast, winter is drier and colder at night.
STAY By the ocean in Mazunte. You started going there in the 1990s when the fishing village was just a beach with farms, and you still stay at Posada del Arquitecto. Why not? It has a nostalgic vibe, with no TV, no pool, no Wi-Fi. Bliss.
EAT You love the fondas – family-run food stalls – for, say, chicken with mole, and the carne asada vendors selling sliced beef or spicy chorizo by weight, grilled on the spot with onions and chillies and eaten with corn tortillas, guacamole, sliced radishes and nopal (cactus). But then there’s also the Criollo, a restaurant in an old Oaxacan house where you get to the dining room through the kitchen: do try the tamale.
DRINK The state of Oaxaca is the world capital for mezcal. Some are better than others. A good start is to talk through more than 100 maguey distillates at Mezcaloteca. Sabina Sabe does mezcal cocktails and has a pretty tiled floor. For fancy drinks, more wood and leather and pro bartending, try Selva Oaxaca Cocktail Bar. Have a tejate, a chilled drink made of corn and cacao.
SEE You always visit the Botanical Gardens in Oaxaca and the ruined pyramids less than an hour away, at the Mesoamerican city of Monte Albán, founded around 500BC. Or you’d take to the mountains and hike the Pueblos Mancomunados.
BUY Oaxaca city has several tiangui (markets), plus the huge Sunday Tlacolula market. Farmers bring in apples, cheeses, tiny mind-blowing chillies and wild-turkey eggs. You stay on the lookout for pre-Columbian arts and crafts. Hilo de Nube in town sells both traditional and jazzed-up tunics (huipils) and rebozos, scarves, for carrying babies too.•