We’ve been in Oaxaca, Mexico for over a month but we’ve been so focused on work that we haven’t seen much of the city. Before we leave we decided to spend a day exploring and as we’re working with Trover again this month we used the app to plan our day.
Last year I wrote about Trover which is a visual guide to the best of everywhere. It’s like Pinterest for travel but with useful tips and locations as well as pretty pictures. You can see my Trover review for more information on how to use it. In this post I’ll be writing about how to use the discoveries (photos with tips) on Trover to plan your travels.
Creating my Oaxaca List on Trover
Trover is really easy to use. If you are using the iPhone or Android app it knows your location so it’ll suggest nearby discoveries. I used the website on my laptop and typed Oaxaca into the search box to find discoveries in the city. It’s very visual so I scrolled through the photos clicking on any that interested me to read the tip and adding them to an Oaxaca list that I created.
Trover is an easy way to get an overview of a destination. It gives you a good idea of what’s popular (there’ll be lots of photos) as well as providing less well known tips. Some discoveries give more useful detailed information than others, but in general I still needed to do some extra research about opening hours, entrance fees etc. It’s is a starting point rather than a detailed guide.
I found some discoveries in Oaxaca unhelpful—they didn’t mention the name of the location and the position on the map was incorrect, so it was impossible to visit ourselves. Trover depends on the user entering accurate information so it can be hit or miss. I still ended up with a long list of fun things to do in Oaxaca and used the map to see clusters of attractions and plan our route.
Our Day in Oaxaca
We chose seven discoveries for our itinerary in Oaxaca’s city centre.
Plaza de La Danza
We started close to home—Plaza de La Danza is only a two minute walk from our house but it’s hidden up a staircase and we’d never been there. The ornate carvings on the facade of the Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude glowed in the morning light. Outside were colourful stalls decorated with flags and embroidered seat covers all selling a huge variety of nieve (Mexican ice cream) with flavours ranging from tuna (prickly pear) to tequila to tamarind with chile. It was a little early for that so we carried on up a few more steps to the large and empty Plaza de La Danza with great views of the church and the hills that surround the city.
We continued on down Avenida de la Independencia to the Zócalo—Oaxaca’s main plaza and the heart of the city. Two Trover discoveries had recommended it as a place to relax and watch live music, and to shop for colourful crafts. We wandered around the stalls selling clothes, jewellery, and street food like empanadas, tacos, and freshly squeezed orange juice. There’s currently a major protest going on by local teachers and many protesters have set up tents. It was busy with tourists and locals, vibrant, and full of life.
Centro Cultural San Pedro
The Zócalo can be a bit overwhelming so we moved on a few blocks to the Centro Cultural San Pedro. The Trover discovery said they were obsessed with the courtyard here and we can see why—it’s a hidden gem in the city and a peaceful retreat from the busy streets. The ex-convent has been converted into a cultural centre that mixes modern and ancient architecture. It’s a perfect combination of geometric brick and grass floor, wall hugging cacti, and buildings of old stone and contemporary wood and glass. We stopped for breakfast at the San Pablo restaurant which has views of the courtyard and tasty food and drinks—my giant hot chocolate was served with the wooden molinillo that is used to froth it up.
Inside the building we found elegant arches in the interior courtyard, a glass fronted library, and a textiles exhibition. Entry is free and it’s really one of Oaxaca’s unknown highlights.
Our next stop was a few minutes away on Oaxaca’s pedestrian street the Alcalá. This is my favourite part of the city with no cars, colourful historic buildings, and a lively atmosphere. We’d walked down here many times before but never stopped at MACO, the Oaxacan Museum of Contemporary Art. The Trover discovery said entry was only $1 although we actually got in for half price (10 pesos or $0.67), possibly because one of the exhibitions was closed.
The gallery was another beautiful place with an arched courtyard, high ceilinged rooms, and views down to the Alcalá. The exhibition we saw was of carved ceramic pillars that worked perfectly in the space.
The next Trover discovery was Matria, a therapeutic art garden that sounded wonderful and was just around the corner from MACO. Unfortunately the garden has now closed permanently.
Santo Domingo Church
Continuing up the Alcalá we reached Santo Domingo church which has many Trover discoveries and is regarded as the most attractive church in the city. We love the grand building fronted by agave plants and cacti. It’s a lively place busy with people and souvenir vendors.
A couple of Trover discoveries recommend going inside the church to see the stunning gold altar and to visit the cultural centre and library, but it was closed on Mondays.
Instead we stopped at Cafe Brujula in front of the church for a coffee. It wasn’t on Trover so we added it—it’s Simon’s favourite place for a cappuccino and blueberry muffin.
Our Trover tour proceeded across town with a 10 minute walk to the Escaleras del Fortin (Stairway to the Fortress) in order to reach the next tip, the Auditorio Guelaguetza, a stadium high above the city. The stairway leading up the hill was surprisingly lovely and quiet, lined with towering plane trees and a few small houses and shops.
At the top we entered the underpass and came across the best street art we’ve seen in the city. All the walls are covered in colourful murals of Oaxacan historic figures, dancers, and people in vibrant traditional dress.
The auditorium was closed for refurbishment but we could still enjoy extensive views over Oaxaca and the surrounding hills.
20 de Noviembre Market
Our final stop was the 20 de Noviembre market where the Trover discovery said we could find cheap and tasty food. We usually buy our vegetables at the Benito Juarez market just a block away, but had never made it to 20 de Noviembre. The hall itself was actually closed but all the food stalls had been moved to the streets surrounding it so you can still stuff yourself with tlayudas, quesadillas, enfrijoladas, mole and more. We were still full from breakfast so we wandered rather than participated.
It turned out to be the best day we’ve had in Oaxaca. Following the Trover discoveries gave us a new appreciation of the city’s well known spots and helped us discover some off the beaten track gems.
More Things to Do in Oaxaca
There are many more things to do in Oaxaca and I’ve added them to my Oaxaca list on Trover. Some of them are things we loved ourselves—the Monte Alban archeological site, Prana yoga studio, and our favourite coffee shops—while others are things we’d like to do next time—a cooking class, the mammoth tree at Tule, and the Hierve El Agua petrified waterfall.
If you’ll be visiting Oaxaca take a look at my Oaxaca list and start planning your trip.
On Friday we leave Mexico for the US so I’ve also created a Trover list for Williamsburg, the neighbourhood where we are staying in New York City. I found the discoveries even better than in Oaxaca with more useful tips and accurate locations. We now have plenty of pizza, bagels, and coffee to try!
Trover has grown a lot since I first wrote about it a year ago and one of the cool things that they’ve started doing is a monthly travel scholarship where you can win $500. You don’t have to do anything for your chance to win—just use Trover! The team picks a winner each month based on who has been inspiring them to travel the most. You can read about March’s winner here.
You should also keep an eye out for the themed contests that Trover regularly run. They just had one where you post photos from road trips for a chance to win $1500! I hear that the next contest will be on landscapes—we’ll keep you posted.
Is Trover a Good Way to Plan Your Travels?
Trover is a great way to get an overview of a place. It’s not a guidebook so you’re not going to find all the information you need to plan your trip but it’s a fantastic starting point. The visual format works so well for travel—rather than reading pages about a city you can quickly and easily see at a glance what a place looks like and what you’re interested in seeing.
There could be some improvements—more accurate locations and detailed tips—but this comes down to the user. Do bear that in mind when you’re posting discoveries to Trover. Instagram is the place to post pretty pictures of sunsets; Trover is where you provide useful information about the best location to watch the sunset along with your photo.
We loved our day in Oaxaca with Trover—it helped us choose fun things to do, plan a logical route on the map, and discover some hidden places we’d never have visited otherwise.
And then come and follow us on Trover here.
You might also be interested in our cost of living in Oaxaca.
This post is brought to you by Trover but written by us based on our experience using the app to explore Oaxaca.
Are you planning your travels for 2018? See our Travel Resources page for our favourite tools and gear to help you plan the perfect trip.