Founded in 1531, the city of Puebla is a colourful, vibrant city steeped in history. It is filled with gorgeous colonial architecture, historic landmarks, and great food, making it a must-visit for anyone travelling to Mexico. Puebla City, located in the Puebla region, is less than 100 kilometres from Mexico City. Due to its close proximity to the capital, my boyfriend and I initially thought of just doing a day trip to Puebla. However, we are really glad we stayed a couple of nights as we had much more time to explore this fun and lively city. If you are unsure about visiting, here are some ideas of things to do that will convince you!
Explore the beautiful Historic centre
Puebla is one of the oldest colonial cities in the Americas and its historical centre was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It is full of stunning colonial-era landmarks which are some of the best preserved in Mexico. Walking around this area you will encounter countless beautifully-decorated buildings, plazas, monuments and churches.
The heart of Puebla’s historic centre is the Zócalo de Puebla (the main square), which is a great place for people-watching, especially in the evening when the atmosphere becomes even more vibrant and energised. There are plenty of restaurants and bars around here too, as well as a park and historical landmarks. Your first stop should be the Catedral de Puebla. With its ornate façade, towers, and domes, it is one of the oldest and most beautiful cathedrals in Mexico. Another must-see in the historical centre is Templo de Santo Domingo which contains the Capilla del Rosario, a stunning baroque chapel covered in intricate carvings and gilded altars.
Sample the local cuisine
Puebla is renowned for its gastronomic heritage, which is a wonderful mix of indigenous, Spanish, and Asian cuisine. You should prioritise trying some local dishes while you’re here, such as Tacos Arabes, Cemitas, Chiles en Nogoda, Pelonas, Sopa Poblana, and most famously Mole. There are many variations throughout Mexico but it’s Mole Poblano – a deliciously rich, savoury sauce made with chocolate, chillies and spices – that is most well-known around the world. You can find this dish almost anywhere in the city, but a great place to try some is the restaurant Aguerio. Make sure you also try their pork ribs in Pipián Rojo (a red mole-like sauce made from pumpkin seeds and red chillies).
Embrace your artsy side
With such beauty in and around Puebla, it is unsurprising that there is a thriving art scene. Art lovers should wander around Barrio del Artista, Puebla’s artists quarter. This cute cobblestoned area is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city, home to dozens of artists selling their paintings and sculptures. For traditional handicrafts like textiles, jewellery, and Talavera Poblana pottery, you should head to one of the numerous artisan markets, such as El Parián. Street art fans should venture slightly outside of the centre to explore Barrio de Xanenetla, a neighbourhood full of wonderful and creative murals by local artists showcasing the city’s history and traditions. I spent almost an hour taking photos of the incredible street art here.
Indulge your sweet tooth
North East of the Zocalo in the Centro Historico is La Calle De Los Dulces, “The Street of Sweets”. It is exactly what you would think it is! Dozens of candy stores line this street selling all manner of traditional Mexican sweets, biscuits, and cakes. The most famous type to try are Camotes de Santa Clara, super sweet and sticky candies made from sweet potatoes. These come in a variety of flavours, including coconut, vanilla, and maracuja. We couldn’t resist buying some at La Gran Fama, the first traditional candy store in Puebla.
Just 30 minutes away from Puebla is Cholula – a pueblo magico with a lot of history, beautiful architecture, and the largest pyramid in the world. Buried beneath a hill in the Zona Arqueológica de Cholula is the Great Pyramid of Cholula (also known as Tlachihualtepetl), a gigantic complex built in the 3rd century BC. It is so huge it dwarfs the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Despite being covered in vegetation, you can still visit this important archaeological site and even explore the tunnels that run through it. Entrance is $85 MXN and includes access to the on-site museum. While we were there, the tunnels were closed but hopefully they will reopen soon.
Perched on top of the hill is the striking Santuario de la Virgen de los Remedios, a bright yellow monastery unknowingly built on top of a pyramid by the Spanish conquistadores. Entry is free but it is a somewhat strenuous walk up the stairs (especially in the heat). However, you will be rewarded with great views of Cholula, Puebla, and the distant volcanoes.
Afterwards head to the speakeasy bar Licorería San Pedrito, where a hidden doorway leads you up to a rooftop terrace. The cocktails here are really delicious. For something a bit different, try some ice cream made from toasted corn at Coyotitla Heladería y Cafetería.
Getting to Cholula: You can either take an Uber from Puebla to Cholula, or a bus from Autobuses Puebla – Cholula y Anexas on Av 6 Pte 1106. The bus is really cheap (10 pesos per person) and takes an hour or so depending on traffic. An Uber will be much quicker (25-30 minutes on average)
Getting to Puebla
Most people visiting Puebla will be coming from Mexico City. You can either drive or take the bus. It is an easy and surprisingly nice journey, passing through scenic green forests and past the towering Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes. Two bus companies operate this route; ADO and AU. There are buses continuously between these two cities from as early as 5 AM and as late as 1 AM.
We took an ADO bus from Mexico City’s TAPO terminal (closest metro station San Lazaro (lines 1 and B). The ride takes around 2.5 hours and costs around $200 MXN (depending on which bus you take). ADO buses are considered to be “first class” with their reclining seats and bathrooms, while AU buses are more of a second-class service.
You can get your tickets in advance online at ADO’s website or from the ticket desk at TAPO station. It is also possible to take a bus to Puebla directly from Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport. You will arrive at either CAPU (Central de Autobuses) Terminal, or 4 Poniente Terminal. Both terminals are a short Uber ride from the historic centre (expect to pay around $80 MXN)
I hope this post has given you a lot of ideas about what to do, see and eat in Puebla City. If you have any questions or recommendations to share, please leave them in the comments.
Ciao for now
Izzie, the Curious Sparrow