Expert-Led Group Tour

Mexico - Day of the Dead

8 days

from £4,395pp
  • Learn about the cultural importance of Day of the Dead
  • Be immersed in the rich traditions and cultures of UNESCO Oaxaca
  • Witness devoted families honour their beloved deceased with prayers, music, flowers, and candles
  • Observe Compararas a carnival-like day of colourful costumes and street parades
  • Discover archaeological sites and take part in a cooking class

Discover the colourful Mexican holiday of Day of the Dead, locally know as 'Día de los Muertos', in Oaxaca, experience the beliefs and traditions of life after death. Learn about this often-misunderstood holiday in Mexico and explore Oaxaca as the community prepares to welcome the spirits of their loved ones back to earth. Be dazzled by the colourful and vibrant altars and explore the local markets to learn about the significance behind the traditional elements used to honour spirits of the deceased.

Despite the rather ghoulish connotations and costumes, Day of the Dead is actually a celebration of life and it is an important event in the Mexican calendar. This group tour is a great way to witness this elaborate and colourful festival in some of the most traditional towns in Mexico.


Often confused with Halloween, El Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico to remember friends and family who have died. In addition to the catholic holidays, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, the indigenous communities of Latin America believe that at midnight on the 31st October, the Gates of Heaven open for 24hrs to allow the deceased to reunite with their families. On the 1st November, the ‘angelitos’ (children) are released and on the 2nd the adults come down to join in the festivities.

It's not a gloomy or morbid occasion, rather it is a festive and colourful holiday celebrating the lives of those who have passed on. Mexicans visit cemeteries, decorate the graves and spend time there, in the presence of their deceased friends and family members. They also make elaborately decorated altars (called ofrendas) in their homes to welcome the spirits.

Because of its importance as a defining aspect of Mexican culture and the unique aspects of the celebration which have been passed down through generations, Mexico's indigenous festival dedicated to the dead was recognized by UNESCO as part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2008.


This Mexico group tour takes place to coincide with the Day of the Dead festivities and truly immerses guests into one of the world's more colourful and cultural festivals.


Accommodation in Mexico varies, from larger chain hotels to smaller boutique haciendas. During this tour the group will be based at the centrally located, Hotel Quinta Real Oaxaca. This beautiful property is set in the grounds of the 16th Century Santa Catalina nunnery, with inner courtyards and thick stone brickwork, the hotel has a tranquil, otherworldly feel.


The tasty and unique Mexican cuisine is a top favourite all around the world. And there is so much more to discover than burritos, guacamole and salsa. During Day of the Dead, Pan de Muertos (Day of the Dead Bread) is served, this is a round, sweet bread that is topped with sugar or sesame seeds. Mexico is known for its tequila, which is made from agave cactus that is well suited to the climate of central Mexico.


You do not need to be particularly fit to participate, there are no long walks involved but there will be a certain number of stone steps and uneven surfaces.

Departing on:
  • 28th October 2018

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
28th Oct 2018 4th Nov 2018 £ 4,395 £ 850 £ 1,425 Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accommodation
  • Guided tours as described
  • Meals as indicated
  • Transfers

what is excluded

  • Airport Entrance and Exit Fees
  • Gratuities
  • International Flights
  • Visas


Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Upon arrival into Oaxaca you will be met by your local english speaking guide who will coordinate your transfer to the lovely Hotel Quinta Real Oaxaca.

After checking in, you will have the rest of the day at leisure to relax and wander around this historical property or stroll the city streets before meeting your guide for a briefing and welcome dinner.

Capital of Oaxaca State, this is one of the prettiest towns in Mexico and was deservedly nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust Site in 1987. Founded by the Spanish in 1521 on a pre-existing Zapotec and Mixtec settlement, the town gracefully combines colonial charm with its ancient pre-Hispanic roots.

Imposing churches, airy plazas and hidden convents blend with busy markets, traditional craft stalls and local music makers. Relax in the zocalo and enjoy a locally produced Mezcal while absorbing the feel of this vibrant and colourful town.

Oaxaca is also one of Mexico's major handicrafts and arts centres with a vast range on offer guaranteed to keep even the most dedicated souvenir shopper happy.

You will be staying at Quinta Real Oaxaca, bed and breakfast

Day 2

An Exploration of the Historical Centre
You will meet with your guide and the rest of the group at the hotel and travel through the colonial UNESCO World Heritage city of Oaxaca. Walking its cobbled streets, explore the vibrant squares, colonial structures and numerous churches, all the while learning about Oaxaca’s historical and cultural importance.

You will be guided through the central plaza (Zócalo) to the largest central market of Oaxaca, where you will learn about the different handicrafts of Oaxaca before sampling local fare, such as Oaxacan cheese and grasshoppers. Next you will head to the traditional chocolate mills to see how they operate and taste Oaxaca’s specialty chocolate.

Lunch will be at a local restaurant to taste some characteristic dishes of Oaxaca’s rich cuisine, before some free time to wander in the city centre or go back to the hote. Later this evening there willl be a group dinner.

You will be staying at Quinta Real Oaxaca, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Mezcal and Mitla Tour
Today, have a full day to exploring ancient ruins, the art of mezcal production and the traditions that surround the festival of Day of the Dead.

Starting in Mitla, be transported into Mesoamerica. Explore its tombs and intricate mosaic work. Continue from Mitla to meet a local Mezcal producer. This encounter is not the usual tourist experience, instead you will be taken to meet genuine, quality producers of the traditional liquor who will teach you about the different distillation techniques used to make mezcal, referred to as the elixir of the gods by the locals.

Before heading back to Oaxaca, stop in a small village famous for its production of pan de muerto, a special bread made only during the season of Dia de los Muertos - Day of the Dead. Visit one of 20 bakeries in town, learn what the various bread shapes symbolise, and discover why it's so widely used as an offering to the deceased.

Dinner included tonight.

You will be staying at Quinta Real Oaxaca, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Observing Day of the Dead

The day begins with a visit to the sprawling central market of Oaxaca, covering several city blocks. During the week of Day of the Dead, the market is full of vibrant, seasonal offerings, and you will have a chance to see the locals hurrying to buy fresh bread, marigolds, candles, incense, sugar skeleton skulls, and other traditional altar offerings for tonight's observance.

After the market, continue to the local cemeteries to see how typical Altares de Muertos are prepared. Discover the significance behind each aspect of the altar, including what the levels, gifts, and offerings represent, and what the cultural beliefs regarding the connection between life and death are.

Later this evening once the sun has set, meet again for the highlight of the day, the day of the dead at midnight.

First stop is San Miguel Cemetery, one of the many sacred places in Oaxaca, for an inauguration event where magic explodes in the form of ten-thousand candle flames, softly swirling and beautifully illuminating 2,000 niches of the cemetery. Continue toward the small village of Xoxocotlan to meet a local family and share dinner as special guests in their home. You will have a chance to try the traditional tamales, pan de muerto bread, and the special hot chocolate that accompanies it. After dinner, join the family on their visit to the local Xoxocotlan cemetery and help them decorate one of their ancestors' tombs. After midnight, witness how the entire town gradually fills the cemetery with flowers and candles, adorning the graves of their loved ones and sitting patiently by the tombstone all night waiting for the spirits to arrive.

You will be staying at Quinta Real Oaxaca, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Explore the Ancient Zapotec City of Monte Alban and other Villages
Today, the group will visit Monte Alban, one of the oldest cities of Mesoamerica, known for its importance as a ceremonial centre where more than 150 tombs have been found. A site of the Zapotecs and the Mixtecs, it is still considered a sacred site by shamans today. Explore the site with a bilingual guide who will accompany you, explaining what is known about Monte Alban and what remains a mystery.

Following the visit to Monte Alban, enjoy a traditional lunch in Oaxaca's north valley and then witness the famous comparsas, a carnival-like event specific to the Day of the Dead where locals dress up in colourful costumes and parade through the streets. Walk with the locals for a while and admire this enchanting celebration.

Return to Oaxaca for an evening at leisure and dinner on your own.

You will be staying at Quinta Real Oaxaca, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Teotitlán with Cooking Class and Day of the Dead Cemetery Visit
Departing from Oaxaca late in the morning visit Teotitlán del Valle where Zapotec traditions live on in the form of modern-day woven goods. Visit the town whose church lies on visible remains of a Zapotec temple. Meet a family of weavers and learn how the wool is processed and see how they use natural dyes like cochineal, violet and pomegranate to create a variety of hues. Opportunity to also observe the traditional Zapotec designs and glyphs that live on in their craft today.

The experience will include a lunch and cooking class hosted by an indigenous Oaxacan family who will introduce you to local dishes. Not only can you observe your hosts working in the kitchen, but also you will be able to get involved with cooking with Nixtamal, a traditional ingredient for making corn tortillas.

Continue to a local cemetery to experience even more Day of the Dead traditions for first-hand experience of at how this indigenous town celebrates.

Return to the hotel for the evening and dinner at leisure.

You will be staying at Quinta Real Oaxaca, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Artisanal Route Around Oaxaca
This day is designed to immerse you in the rich traditions and cultures that make up the vibrant state of Oaxaca. We will visit the homes of local artisans in some of the small pueblos, such as San Bartolo Coyotepec, Santo Tomás Jalieza, and San Martín Tiljacete, just beyond the Oaxacan city limits. Some of the area’s most recognized artisans and craftmasters will explain the techniques involved in making black pottery, alebrijes, and backstrap loom weaving. Find out how these artisans continue the traditions of making native crafts to this day.

This evening meet for a farewell dinner in Oaxaca.

You will be staying at Quinta Real Oaxaca, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Departure Day
This morning you will be collected from the hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight home.

Do ask us if you would like to extend your holiday to Mexico as we can arrange a number of extensions on a tailor-made basis.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Quinta Real Oaxaca

Quinta Real Oaxaca

Once a 16th Century convent, the Quinta Real has been carefully converted into a luxury hotel....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Mexico

James Armitage, Travel Expert

"The help and great knowledge James offered really made the holiday special"

"James listened and managed our expectations and therefore made sure we were prepared for all eventualities when going on our holiday to Brazil"

"James was brilliant and all the advice was spot on."

Read More

John Faithfull, Travel Expert

"Personalised service. Seemed to really want to get it right for us. Very impressed when I first called and John spent 40 minutes finding out what we wanted to do and tailoring it for us."

"The expertise that John has really gave us faith in where we were going, the regions, the hotels, the trips. John knew about it all, he described them in detail, and when we asked for different regions he was straight in there with suggestions and ideas. The way the whole trip was planned and presented to us, never any pressure to book or any problem to change plans /ideas."

"John Faithful was wonderfully helpful and conscientious in arranging the itinerary and was always ready to suggest alternatives or rearrange matters without any hesitation; this and his detailed knowledge gave one great confidence."

Read More

Sue Grimwood, Travel Expert

"It was tremendously helpful to be able to speak to someone who had been to Antarctica before - Sue had been on the ship we had booked, so was able to give us some very useful information. We felt that at every stage of the booking process that we were in safe hands. "

""I was uncharacteristically worried about this trip - neurotic some might say - and I was given 110% support and help with everything. I had been disappointed by not being able to get a space on the 2014 trip and so Sue was stuck with me for 2 years - a testament to her patience and professionalism. I was confident in Sue - she knows Antarctica and speaks from experience, that is worth a huge amount. Emails, which I would send were responded to almost immediately.""

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 6 / Max 14

Departure Date (S):

  • 28th October 2018

Holiday Ideas in Mexico

You are unique, so we believe your holiday should be too.

We listen to what you want and create a personalised itinerary tailored around you.

Your holiday. Your experience. Your way.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Call our Travel Experts on +01285 880 980
Start Your Journey


  • Established for over 25 years creating journeys across 100 destinations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to the best private guides


  • We negotiate the best rates with hotels and expert guides
  • Be protected from fluctuations in exchange rates


  • Each time you travel with us we donate £5 to a local charity in the UK and £10 to an international charity

Fully Protected

  • Your monies are financially protected
  • 24/7 Emergency UK contact whilst abroad

Featured in the Press

Financial Times
The Telegraph
Sunday Times logo

Our Partners

African Parks
Galapagos Conservation Trsut
Restless Development
Save The Rhino
Tusk Trust
World Land Trsut
Gorilla Doctors

© Steppes Travel, 51 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD, United Kingdom