How to Travel From Oaxaca to Mitla by Bus

by wheretheroadforks

This is an easy and inexpensive trip to make. One bus takes you all the way from Oaxaca to Mitla. No transfers are required. This guide walks you through where to catch the bus, prices, safety, things to do, and more. You may wish to make this trip to visit the Tule Tree, the Mitla ruins, or Hierve el Agua, or to go mezcal tasting.

Oaxaca City, Mexico

Where to Catch the Oaxaca to Mitla Bus

You can catch the bus in one of two places:

  1. Oaxaca 2nd class bus station- The address is Central de Abasto, 68090 Oaxaca, Mexico. Once you get there just look around for a bus with a big ‘Mitla’ sign in the window. Alternatively, you can tell one of the attendants that you want to go to Mitla and they will point you in the right direction. 
  2. Along Boulevard Jose Vasconcelos (Highway 190)- This is the main highway running just north of the Oaxaca City. After the bus leaves the 2nd class station, it drives along this road and picks up more passengers until it’s full. Simply stand on the side of the road and wait for a bus with a sign reading ‘Mitla’ in the window and wave it down. Make sure you’re standing on the correct side of the road. From Oaxaca City, you’re traveling Southeast to Mitla.

The best place to catch the bus depends on where in Oaxaca you’re staying. Most likely, you can just walk to one of the above two places. If you’re staying in the Eastern or Southern part of the city, it will be more convenient to walk to the 2nd class bus station. If you’re staying in the North of the city, you’re better off waking to highway 190.

How to Buy Bus Tickets from Oaxaca to Mitla

You can pay for your ticket on the bus in pesos in cash. The ride costs 20 pesos (about $1). Credit and debit cards are not accepted. Make sure you’re carrying a small bill or coins to pay with as the driver may not have enough change to break large bills.

Oaxaca to Mitla Bus Times

This is a popular route. Buses leave about every 15-20 minutes all day long starting early in the morning. I don’t believe they operate on a set schedule. They just leave when they’re full. I’m not sure of the schedule during the night. I believe the buses run less frequently after 10 pm. They may stop completely at that time.

My friends and I caught the bus on Boulevard Jose Vasconcelos (highway 190). Before catching the bus we had to wait for some more friends to show up. We ended up watching a couple of Mitla buses go by while we waited. If you miss one, another will come by soon.

The Bus Ride

This is an easy 25 mile (40 km) bus ride. The trip only takes about 1 hour. You follow one highway all the way between Oaxaca and Mitla. It’s a well-traveled route and the road is in good condition. There are no bathrooms, WiFi, or other facilities on this bus. It’s just a basic old bus from the 80s.

Luggage Storage on the Oaxaca to Mitla Bus

The 2nd class bus will most likely be packed full of people. Because of this, there won’t be much room for luggage. If you’re just going to Mitla on a day trip, it’s best to leave your large bag in Oaxaca at your hotel or hostel and just bring a small day pack with necessities like sunglasses, food, money, camera, etc. This is better for security as well because pickpocketing can be a problem on Mexican 2nd class buses. Leave your valuables locked up where they are safe.

If you’re not planning to return to Oaxaca and need to bring your large luggage on the bus with you, expect to carry it on your lap or between your legs during this bus ride. You could also pay for a second seat if you need more space for your luggage.

Is the Bus from Oaxaca to Mitla Safe?

Yes, the bus trip between Oaxaca and Mitla is perfectly safe. This is a well-traveled road between major tourist attractions. This route is traveled by dozens of buses per day.

The bus will be old and the road will be bumpy in places. The driver may drive too fast. That’s just the reality of traveling by second class bus in Mexico.

Your biggest worry is being pickpocketed or ripped off by a dishonest driver. As long as you’re careful with your belongings and know the prices, you’ll be fine.

For more general safety tips, check out my guide: Is Mexico Safe? Avoiding Crime and Scams.

Other Way to Travel Between Mitla and Oaxaca City

  • Taxi- This is a good option if you don’t want to wait for the bus or walk to the station. Pretty much any Oaxaca taxi driver will take you to Mitla for the right price. Negotiate hard.
  • Rent a car and drive yourself- It’s an easy drive between Oaxaca and Mitla. The road is flat and well-traveled. There are numerous car rental agencies in Oaxaca including Economy, Alamo, and Optimus. When renting a car in Mexico, be sure to read the contract. There are sometimes hidden fees.
  • Colectivo (shared minibus)- Van and taxi colectivos also make the trip from Oaxaca to Mitla. The price is about the same as the bus.
  • Take a Tour- In Oaxaca, you can book day tours to all of the sites in the region which I’ll outline below. These include private transportation which is usually an air-conditioned van. Of course, this is the more expensive option.

Note: at this time, Uber is not available in Oaxaca City.

Arriving in Mitla

Where you get off the bus depends where you want to go. It’s a good idea to tell the driver or bus attendant where you’re planning to go so they can drop you off in the right place. Otherwise, you’ll end up at the bus station in central Mitla which may be a bit out of your way depending on your destination. Below, I’ll outline how to visit a few of the most popular attractions near Mitla.

How to Visit the Mitla Ruins by Bus

Mitla Ruins

Mitla Ruins

This Zapotec site is considered to be the second most important archaeological site in the state of Oaxaca after Monte Alban. The entrance fee is 65 pesos.

The Mitla Ruins lie around 3 miles west of the center of Mitla, near the junction of highway 190 and the main road leading to the town of Mitla.

To get there, tell the bus driver that you want to visit the Mitla Ruins and he will drop you off at the junction, just a short walk from the entrance gate. From where the driver drops you off, you can easily walk to the ruins in just a few minutes.

When you’re ready to leave, you can walk back to the junction where the driver dropped you off. From there, you can catch a bus or taxi into the town of Mitla. You can also cross the road and catch a bus back to Oaxaca city. Just flag one down when it arrives.

How to Visit the Tule Tree (El Árbol del Tule) by Bus

Tule Tree

The Tule Tree

This popular attraction lies between Oaxaca and Mitla. Actually, it’s closer to Oaxaca at only about 10 km or 6 miles from the city center.

The Tule Tree is considered the widest tree in the world and is believed to be over 1400 years old. It lives on the grounds of the church Templo Santa María de la Asunción in the center of the town of Tule. You can see the tree from outside the gate for free. Entry to the church grounds costs 10 pesos (about 50 cents).

To visit the Tule Tree, just tell the driver that you want to be let off at ‘Arbol del Tule’. They will drop you off just a short walk from the compound where the tree lives. You can make this stop going in either direction.

If you want to visit the Tule Tree from Oaxaca, you can also catch a bus that travels from Oaxaca to Tule for about 8 pesos (around 40 cents).

After you visit the Tule Tree, simply head back to highway 190 going in the direction that you want to travel and flag down the next Mitla or Oaxaca bound bus. Remember, Oaxaca is West of Tule and Mitla is East of Tule.

How to Tour a Mezcal Distillery Near Mitla

The state of Oaxaca is famous for its mezcal. A popular activity in and around Mitla is visiting a mezcal distillery, taking a tour, and tasting some different variations of the drink.

There are a handful of mezcal distilleries in the town of Mitla where you can go for a tour and tasting. They can be reached on foot or by taxi from the bus station in Mitla.

Many tourists make the short trip to Matatlán for mezcal tasting. This small town lies just 5 miles down the road from Mitla. You can easily get there by taxi from Mitla.

For more info, check out this guide about mezcal and distilleries in Oaxaca and nearby Matatlán from Off Path Travels.

How to Travel from Mitla to Hierve el Agua

hierve el agua, oaxaca

Hierve el Agua

When you board the bus in Oaxaca, tell the bus driver that you are headed to Hierve el Agua. He will drop you off just outside of town, down the street from where the colectivos to Hierve el Agua wait for passengers.

If you don’t tell the driver, he will likely continue on to the Mitla bus station which is in the center of town. This is a mile or two from where the Hierve el Agua colectivos wait on highway 190.

The Hierve el Agua colectivos leave when they’re full. This could mean you don’t have to wait or it could take an hour to fill up. They usually charge about 50 pesos per person but the rate is negotiable. You may also be charged a 10 peso fee while driving on the road to Hierve el Agua. The entry fee to the site is 25 pesos.

If you want to go into the town of Mitla for whatever reason, you could take a taxi or tuk tuk back to the place where the Hierve el Agua colectivos wait for just a dollar or two. There may be colectivos waiting near the bus station in Mitla as well but I’m not sure.

To return to Oaxaca or Mitla from Hierve el Agua, the process is the same. Find a colectivo in the parking lot, negotiate a rate and wait until it fills up. You could also hire a taxi if you don’t want to wait. This costs a bit more.

For more information, check out my step-by-step guide: How to Visit Hierve el Agua from Oaxaca City.

Final Thoughts

Mitla makes for an excellent day trip from Oaxaca City. If you leave early enough, you can check out the Tule Tree and Mitla Ruins in the morning, then spend the afternoon swimming and relaxing at Hierve el Agua. You may even have time to stop at a Mezcal distillery for a quick tour and tasting.

Have you traveled from Oaxaca to Mitla by bus recently? Share your experience in the comments below!

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