Visiting Puebla, Mexico
The Enchanting Town of Churches, Pottery & Mole
At only a two hour drive from Mexico City, the Historical Center of Puebla is the perfect escape from the hecticness of the big city. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Puebla offers a little bit of everything: baroque and colonial-style architecture, 17th century churches, unique pottery, culinary delicacies and much more!
On a day trip from Mexico City, I wander down one of Puebla’s pristine, colonial streets and I am dizzied by the blasts of color. Blue, green, yellow, orange – every perfectly manicured building calls to me to knock on their large, wooden door to see if there was an equally stunning courtyard behind it. After passing by a cluster of even more technicolored buildings, I stumble upon one of Puebla’s gradious churches. In the city famous for its baroque-style architecture, I spend hours contemplating the intricate details of these 17th and 18th century masterpieces.
In search of a special memento to bring home, I head for the local artisanal market. There I stand in awe at the brightly painted, white and blue talavera pottery, made there in Puebla. Tempted to buy a whole dish set and somehow ship it home, I settle on a decorative plate that I can carefully protect in my carry-on bag. With all that sensory overload, I am famished. Not the worst problem to have when you’re in the capital of one of the most famous moles in all of Mexico. The rich, spicy, chocolaty sauce smoothers the morsel of chicken. The complex flavors take me to another world as it melts in my mouth. The waiter comments that it’s their “special recipe” of 23 ingredients which is married together over the course of two weeks.
I could easily spend weeks here but yet, I am obligated to catch my five o’clock bus back to the city. The mole sits happily in my belly as we pull away from this enchanting town. I admire my plate and vow to visit again soon to discover even more that Puebla has to offer.
SEE – Photos & Videos
GO – Getting There
Major airlines such as Aeromexico and American fly to Puebla by way of Mexico City or direct from the US.
- From Mexico City International Airport: – Take the direct bus with Estrella Roja. Go to the Aerobus Ticket office in Terminal 1 (T1) or Terminal 2 (T2) (see this map). Buses leave almost every hour and the ride takes about 2.5 hours. You can check the bus schedule here (destination will be Puebla CAPU Bus Terminal). The price should be about 300 mxn for a one-way ticket.
- From TAPO Bus Station: – If you’re already in Mexico City, you can go to the TAPO Bus Station and purchase a ticket with Estrella Roja or ADO (the destination will be Puebla CAPU Bus Terminal). The price should be about 200 mxn for a one-way ticket and should take about 2.5 hours.
Do – Activities & Attractions
- Stroll Around the UNESCO Heritage City Center – Wander through Puebla’s pristine, brightly-colored colonial streets. See if you can spot the difference between colonial and baroque style buildings. Make sure to save some time to venture over to Avenida 6 Oriente, nicknamed “La Calle de Los Dulces,” or “candy street” which is lined with shops selling traditional candies of Puebla.
- Visit churches – Coined as the “New Jerusalem,” legend says that there are 365 churches in Puebla, one for every day of the year. Although this is a slightly fabricated number, it’s not that far off! Many of these churches are adorned with intricately detailed baroque-style architecture both inside and out. Don’t miss the gold, baroque-style Capilla del Rosario inside of the Templo de Santo Domingo.
- Eat Mole – Puebla’s iconic Mole Poblano is a rich brown sauce made of chiles, spices, and chocolate and is normally served over chicken. Check out our list of restaurant recommendations in the “eat” section to try the best mole.
- Shop for traditional pottery at the Artisanal Market – Looking for something really special to take home? Look no further than Mercado El Parián. Keep your eye out for the bright white and blue, talavera-style pottery which is one of Puebla’s proudest exports.
- Visit the International Museum of the Baroque – Located in the modern area of the greater city of Puebla, the Baroque Museum is totally worth the trip outside the city center. Opening its doors in 2016, this stunningly innovative museum pays tribute to the city’s most prized architecture. Aside from the state-of-the-art museum inside, the building’s architecture is so unique that there are separate tours for students and professional architects who just want to marvel at its construction!
- Visit the town of Cholula – If you are staying for an extended weekend, it’s definitely worth the trip to visit Cholula, another colonial town with bright buildings and just as many churches! It’s claim to fame, though, is the Great Aztec Pyramid of Cholula, said to be the largest in the world. Unfortunately, due to poor care, it has been left overgrown making it resemble a large mountain rather than a pyramid. The lovely yellow church perched on the top, complete with a backdrop of the Popocatepetl volcano, is worth the hike for some jaw-dropping photos.
Stay – Accommodation
- Budget: Posada Vee Yuu Avenida 7 Poniente 107, Centro Histórico
Situated in a baroque-style house with an original courtyard, this hostel offers dorm-style lodging and free breakfast.
- Mid-Range: Hotel Sofia Avenida 3 Poniente 319, Centro Histórico
With an exceptional location, this hotel is the perfect mix of elegance and colonial charm at an affordable price.
- High-End: El Sueño Hotel Avenida 9 Oriente 12, Centro Histórico Meaning “dream” in English, this converted “casona” or “Grand Spanish House” is the lap of luxury. It has been tastefully remodeled to incorporate some contemporary features while maintaining it’s colonial grandeur.
Eat – Restaurants
- Budget: Fonda La Mexicana Calle 16 de Septiembre 706, Centro Histórico
Tucked away in an unassuming building, this restaurant serves up all the traditional favorites at affordable prices.
- Mid-Range: El Mural de Los Poblanos Calle 16 de Septiembre 506, Centro Histórico
Admire the colorful murals on display in the courtyard while you enjoy some of Puebla’s most famous dishes.
- High-End: Sacristía de la Compañía Calle 6 Sur 304, Centro Histórico
Considered the crème de la crème in Puebla, the quaint decor and excellent Pueblan cuisine of this restaurant is something really special!
Time – Seasonality & Schedules
Puebla has mild temperatures all year long. The city can be overrun with tourists around Battle of Puebla Day (May 5th), Independence Day (September 16th) and Christmas.
Safety – Possible risks
Puebla’s Colonial Center is likely one of the safest areas in all of Mexico with regards to theft. Not that many of the others are overly dangerous mind you, but there is a certain feeling of security being here. It is likely due to the high percentage of tourists to locals, mixed with the kind and gentle demeanour of people that makes this place safer than most.
Physical danger certainly exists and if at all you don’t feel confident with your own abilities to navigate the town, be sure to hire a guide and/or bring a friend along. It is best to always let family or friends know of your movements when you travel in case you go ‘off the map’ – and it is no exception in Puebla.
Please Note: Travel inherently comes with an element of risk (just like crossing the road does). You are putting yourself in elements that are unfamiliar and foreign to your usual lifestyle and with that, become more susceptible to fall victim to those who try to play off those unfamiliar to their local scams. There are also potential dangers in the environments to which you may not be accustomed to.
Please take extra care in travelling, ensure that you have adequate medical insurance (accidents seem to happen when you least expect them), and have let a trusted colleague, family member or friend know your whereabouts and activities.
Where Sidewalks End travel advises you to travel at your own risk, and to be extra aware of your surroundings (without letting it spoiling your time).
Pay – How much does it cost?
A day trip to Puebla from Mexico City, including round trip bus fare and a stop for some mole will run you about you 600 mxn – 800 mxn. Add in a shopping trip at the artisanal market and an overnight at a hotel in order to visit neighboring Cholula will increase the cost.
Responsible Travel – Best Practices
While visiting churches in Puebla, be respectful of the mass schedule and anyone who might be praying. Take off your hat and keep voices low while inside. Always be cognizant of signs prohibiting photos with flash.
Reality Check – Be Aware
Puebla is a wonderful day trip from Mexico City or can stand alone as a destination all in itself! It is a colonial city famous for its architecture, history and food so if you’re looking for something more adventurous, Puebla might not be the place for you. As the colonial center is small, you might find that churches and restaurants hold relaxed hours or may not have posted hours at all so stay flexible. Also, as Puebla is less-visited by foreigners, you may find that fewer people speak or understand English and therefore, it’s a good idea to brush up on your basic Spanish phrases.
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Have you ever been to a city that had a really unique historical or cultural feature? Where was it and what made it so unique?
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