If you’re looking to escape the busy streets of Mexico City, one of the most quaint and charming places to visit is Puebla.
From its colorful colonial architecture to its wide streets and tree-lined squares, you’ll feel a million miles away from the capital, even though you are just a 2-hour drive away.
Known for its food and arts, Puebla is the birthplace of several iconic Mexican dishes including mole poblano and chiles en nogada.
There’s just one thing that some might find more enticing—La Calle de los Dulces which translates to Candy Street.This city is quirky, colorful, alive with creativity and filled with a handful of artisan craft markets as well as galleries.
In this guide to Puebla, we’ll be sharing the best things to do, as well as where to eat, sleep, and shop.
What to See in Puebla
While half the charm of Puebla is wandering through the cobbled backstreets, there are a few notable sights you won’t want to miss.
Catedral de Puebla
It’s impossible to miss Puebla Cathedral, in part due to its sheer size. Dating back to 1575, it’s known as one of the most impressive cathedrals in Mexico, if not the Americas.
You should visit to see the intricate architecture and stay for cocktails at the rooftop bar, Attico 303.
The oldest public library in the Americas is worth a visit in Puebla.
Built in 1646, it’s home to a staggering 45,000 books.
Since you won’t have time to read them all, we’d recommend spending an hour browsing the heavily-laden shelves, which will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time (or at least into Hogwarts library).
Entry costs 50 pesos.
Great Pyramid of Cholula
Technically in the city of Cholula, this colorful settlement is one of the best things to do in the Puebla region. Expect to pay around 150 pesos to take a 40-minute taxi ride from Puebla to Cholula.
When measured by volume, Cholula Pyramid is the largest in the world. You can purchase a ticket for the Zona Arqueológica de Cholula to gain entry to the pyramid site as well as the intricate network of tunnels nestled beneath it.
While visiting Cholula Pyramid, we recommend visiting a few other locations in this small city.
You can grab a cemita (sandwich) at San Pedro Market, browse the family-run shops selling leather goods and sombreros, and visit the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, a sunny yellow hilltop church overlooking Popocatépetl volcano.
Where to Eat in Puebla
Puebla is widely known as one of Mexico’s foodie capitals, even giving Oaxaca a run for its money.
For that reason, we suggest you don’t leave without trying...
Both Puebla and Oaxaca claim to have invented mole sauce, which is one of Mexico’s most indulgent dishes.
Regardless of its origin, we don’t recommend leaving Puebla without tasting this chocolatey, chili-infused sauce drizzled over chicken enchiladas.
You can try it at Fonda de Santa Clara, a traditional Mexican restaurant that is also worth visiting to see the authentic Pueblan pottery adorning the walls.
Another place that serves amazing mole is El Viejo Rosario, which is an institution with an old-school-quirky vibe.
Chiles en Nogada
There’s no doubt about the origin of this Pueblan delicacy.
Translating to chili in walnut, the dish comprises a whole chili pepper, stuffed with a mix of stewed fruits including peach and pear, and bathed in creamy walnut sauce.
We recommend sampling it at Fonda Tipica La Poblana in central Puebla. You won’t be disappointed!
shop food & snacks
Even those with a limited knowledge of Mexican cuisine will have heard of the torta, a quintessential Mexican sandwich.
Puebla’s cemitas are pretty similar. They are rounded sesame seed buns packed with locally-sourced ingredients.
Try one with milanesa (a pan-fried meat fillet), Oaxaca cheese, and chipotle at Cemitas La Poblanita, a colorful cafe in Puebla with lines as large as the portion sizes! You’ll be thinking about it for weeks.
You’ll find churros in just about every Mexican city and Puebla is no exception.
For warm, crispy churros coated in cinnamon sugar and dipped in chocolate, cajeta (sweet milk dip), or an indulgent cup of hot chocolate, visit Puebla La Churreria.
This modest cafe doesn’t look like much from the outside, but we promise there’s no debating over the quality of the churros!
Calle de los Ducles
Was there ever a calle (street) that sounded more appealing?
Running through the historic center of Puebla, this famous “candy street” sells all kinds of goodies from jellies to flavored sweets and cookies.
Pick up a basket from one of the many dulcerías (sweet shops) to sample a wide variety.
Secret Tunnels of Puebla
There’s a lesser-known attraction in Puebla that’s well worth a visit.
The Secret Tunnels of Puebla are nestled beneath the city, located halfway between the Zocalo and Xanetla neighborhood.
For a long time, these tunnels were boarded up and considered an urban legend.
But in 2016, the 500-year-old tunnels were rediscovered full of objects (now considered antiques) used by past residents.
Take 30 minutes to walk this eerie underground tunnel or hire a guide to learn more about them.
Entrance is 30 pesos.
This colorful neighborhood which is a 20-minute walk from central Puebla is known for its vibrant street art and colorful houses.
We recommend taking a self-guided walk to snap photos of the urban murals.
This was once a rundown neighborhood, but is now considered safe as long as you explore in the daylight hours.
Where to Shop in Puebla
As an artsy city known for its pottery and handcrafts, Puebla is one of the best cities to shop for souvenirs in Mexico.
Not to mention, the prices are low compared to Mexico City.
This traditional handicraft market is located in a large, sunny square and is a pleasant place to wander whether you have money to spend or not.
From colorful embroidered rugs to typical Talavera pottery, leather goods, jewelry, and ornaments, few items will set you back more than $30.
The Artist’s Quarter
Take a stroll around Barrio del Artista, a quaint corner of Puebla where local artists display their work.
While tourism is the primary focus these days, the quarter’s history is authentic.
The location was once the Academy of Fine Arts where tutor Márquez Figueroa taught outdoor lessons.
He was known for being a self-taught artist who trained students in the philosophy of art, promoting individuality rather than the replication of other artists’ styles.
He spent more than 50 years tutoring at the university and helped to set up the Barrio.
Hotels in Puebla
If you have the budget to treat yourself in Puebla, an undeniably charming place to stay is Meson Sacristia de la Soledad.This former monastery has all the charm of Puebla without missing out on home comforts. There are just three suites, each with unique furniture, artwork and antiques.
For an equally quirky option, head to Andante, a boutique lodging with bedrooms dedicated to different Mexican composers.Details like vintage gramophones and chandeliers make it one of Puebla’s most desirable places to stay.
Looking to indulge even further? One of the most luxurious options is Hotel Cartesiano Puebla, voted the number 1 hotel in Mexico and number 2 in the world by Conde Nast Magazine 2018 Reader Choice Awards.
This gorgeous venue with an outdoor pool overlooking Puebla Cathedral also has a spa and gourmet restaurant.
For more affordable accommodations in Puebla, there are plenty of options such as Gente de Más B&B. This guesthouse with a spacious, sunny courtyard has double rooms starting at 300 pesos a night and dorm beds for 100 pesos. Another affordable option is Hotel Posada de Analco, a short walk from the historical center. Each room has a desk, TV and private bathroom for 300 pesos a night.
Getting to Puebla from Mexico City
It couldn’t be easier to get to Puebla from Mexico City. Buses depart Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente in Mexico City hourly and take two hours to reach Puebla.
They arrive at the city’s main terminal, from where you can catch a 20-minute taxi to the city center.
How Long to Spend in Puebla
This picturesque city can be visited as a day trip from Mexico City as long as you don’t mind a two-hour drive each way.
However, with so many colorful corners to explore and delectable local foods to sample, we’d suggest spending at least two nights in Puebla, especially if you’re keen to explore Cholula and the pyramids as an additional day trip.
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