This festive 8-day itinerary offers visitors an intimate look into one of Mexico's biggest holidays with the Day of the Dead. You'll begin your tour the end of October in Mexico City, discovering the history behind the tradition before exploring the canals of Xochimilco and the stoney ruins of Teotihuacan. You'll end your stay in Oaxaca where you will celebrate like a local: join in processions, visit cemeteries, and marvel at elaborately decorated altars in honor of the deceased.

Highlights

  • Climb the stone steps of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan
  • Enjoy a boat ride through the canals of Xochimilco in Mexico City
  • Bathe in the mineral-rich water of Hierve el Agua
  • Learn how to cook a traditional Mexican meal in Oaxaca
  • Paint your face and join in a comparsa in Jalatlaco

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Mexico City; Guided walking tour of the historic center Mexico City
Day 2 Float through Xochimilco Mexico City
Day 3 Discover the Aztec city of Teotihuacan Mexico City
Day 4 Drive to Oaxaca city Oaxaca
Day 5 Day trip to Tree of Tule, Hierve el Agua and Teotitlán del Valle Oaxaca
Day 6 Participate in a cooking class and join in the comparsa de Jalatlaco Oaxaca
Day 7 Explore Oaxaca's historic city center during the day and cemeteries at night Oaxaca
Day 8 Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Mexico City - Guided walking tour of the historic center

Zócalo Mexico City
Zócalo Mexico City

Welcome to Mexico City! When you arrive, you will be picked up at the airport and taken to your hotel. After checking in, you will then meet your guide for a walking city tour of the historic center.  Depending on your arrival time, you will have the chance to visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, explore the Museum of the Great Temple, and stroll through the main square, Plaza de la Constitución or Zócalo as it is commonly called.

The evening will be yours to spend as you like.

Day 2: Float through Xochimilco

Trajinera boats at Xochimilco
Trajinera boats at Xochimilco

This morning you will join your guide to explore the Xochimilco neighborhood, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.  One of the best ways to experience Xochimilco is by taking a colorful gondola-like boat ride (trajinera) through its many canals—remnants of an Aztec water transport system. Learn about the history of Mexico City as you navigate the canals, sampling antojitos (Mexican snacks) along the way. You may even be serenaded by mariachi bands as they float past.

In the afternoon, you will visit significant altars throughout the historic city core and learn about the origins of the Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead celebrations.

Day 3: Discover the Aztec city of Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan, Mexico City
View of the Pyramid of the Sun and the Avenue of the Dead

After breakfast, join your group to visit the massive archaeological complex of Teotihuacan. The so-called "City of the Gods" holds the remains of one of the most important civilizations in Mesoamerica. Walk down the Avenue of the Dead and marvel at the imposing stone structures it links, like the Pyramid of the Moon, Pyramid of the Sun, Temple of Quetzalcoatl, and the numerous pyramidal bases where the sun and fertility were worshipped. 

Upon your return to Mexico City, enjoy an evening wandering the streets of the downtown core before selecting a restaurant that suits your taste.

Day 4: Drive to Oaxaca city

Mexico - Oaxaca - Pedestrian street
Pedestrian street in Oaxaca

Today you will travel five to six hours south to the city of Oaxaca. After settling into your accommodation, meet your guide for your tour of this colorful colonial city.

Your first stop is to the early 17th-century Xochimilco Aqueduct located just outside of the downtown core. From there, return to the city center and walk along Calle García Vigil to reach the former convent of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, home of the sprawling Museum of Cultures, which houses the treasures of Monte Albán's tomb 7 (one of a number of pre-Columbian tombs). Continue to the Baroque Temple of Santo Domingo before further exploring the colorful and car-free Alcalá Street, passing by stunning churches and historical buildings, restaurants and cafés.

Day 5: Day trip to Tree of Tule, Hierve el Agua and Teotitlán del Valle

Hierve el Agua, Mexico
Calcified mineral puddles formed by water bubbling from springs in Hierve el Agua

Meet your guide outside your accommodation for a full-day excursion. Your first stop is in Santa María del Tule to see the ancient Tree of Tule, an approximately two-thousand-year-old Montezuma cypress—its trunk is the stoutest in the world!

From there you will continue east to Hierve el Agua (translated its name means 'the water boils') a unique set of rock formations that resemble waterfalls. Explore the area and bathe in the mineral-rich waters all the while taking in the scenic view of the surrounding mountain landscape. On the way back, you will conclude your day trip in Teotitlán del Valle with a weaving workshop. Here you will learn from local artisans how to make typical garments using traditional techniques.

You will return to Oaxaca in the evening.

Day 6: Participate in a cooking class and join in the comparsa de Jalatlaco

Day of the Dead, Oaxaca, Mexico
Day of the Dead carnival in the streets of Oaxaca

Today you will participate in a cooking class before you head out into the night to partake in local Día de los Muertos festivities. First, meet your chef and learn about the local ingredients you will need before you put it all together to make your traditional Mexican meal. You may even have the opportunity to make pan de muerto—tastey yolk bread with decorative heads stuck in it.

With a full belly, you'll have the afternoon to explore on your own as you choose, perhaps putting on your own Día de los Muertos makeup before you head to the Jalatlaco neighborhood to enjoy the carnival-like processions or Comparsas of people in costume. During this festive celebration, people paint their faces and dance in the streets to the rhythm of lively music in order to honor their deceased loved ones. You will have the privilege to be in the middle of this animated party! 

Day 7: Explore Oaxaca's historic city center during the day and cemeteries at night

Cemetery in Oaxaca, Mexico Dia del los muertos
Families gather around and honor their deceased loved ones in Oaxaca's cemeteries

After breakfast, meet your guide for a walking tour of Oaxaca's city center and learn about its history and why it's a designated UNESCO Site. Along the way, you will see many altars set up with offerings of fruit, flowers, religious tokens, sugar skulls and ornaments, and pan de muerto.

As the day progresses parades and celebrations take place in the streets and once the sun sets, you will make your way to one of the city's cemeteries. Wander amid the graves and memorials lit up with the soft light of candles and decorated with colorful flowers and food the deceased enjoyed. Families gather around their loved ones' tombs to remember and celebrate their life, staying out most of the night. 

Day 8: Depart

Oaxaca, Mexico, Day of the Dead make-up
Caption

It's time to say farewell to Oaxaca. Depending on your departure details you may have time to complete any last minute souvenir shopping before you catch your transfer to the airport for your next destination. 

Map

Map of Celebrate Day of the Dead in Oaxaca - 8 Days
Map of Celebrate Day of the Dead in Oaxaca - 8 Days