LILIT MARCUS, CNN
by LILIT MARCUS, CNN
Puebla is the fourth-largest city in Mexico, just a two-hour drive from the capital (it’s 67 miles, but there’s no accounting for Distrito Federal traffic).
Yet it often gets tacked on as a day trip from Mexico City instead of treated like a destination in its own right. That’s all about to change, though, as a slate of new hotels and structural improvements make this vibrant city easier to travel to than ever.
Following an earthquake in Puebla in September 2017, many of the city’s most famous attractions have gotten fixed up and are ready to host visitors again–which means that contributing to the city’s economy is more vital than ever.
What to know
First things first: Puebla is the capital of Puebla state, and people from there are called poblanos. If you’re not up for driving, you can fly to Puebla directly from several US cities, including Dallas and Houston. Puebla’s previous governor sunk a lot of money into projects like new bridges, trains and hotels, many of which are now completed and ready to handle visitors.
Within Mexico, Puebla has a reputation for strong religious roots. The Spanish built the city at the intersection of two rivers and dubbed it their new Jerusalem, and there seems to be a stunning church on every corner. Locals will tell you there are 365 — one for every day of the year.
And while September 16, Mexican Independence Day, is a big deal throughout the country, it’s a particularly big one in Puebla, as the famous battle where the Spanish were defeated took place here. All that and Puebla’s city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, too. Talk about crossing a lot off your list at once.
What to do
First, you’ll want to get started on a few of those 365 churches. While you could easily drive yourself crazy trying to see them all, you’re best off focusing on a few of the most celebrated.
Start at the central Church of Santo Domingo, which is most notable for its over-the-top Baroque-style Capilla del Rosario, which drips with so much gold you’ll wonder how it doesn’t come crashing down to the floor. Then stop into the Templo de San Francisco, a bright-yellow structure that pays homage to local hero Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio (who happens to be a step away from sainthood), and Puebla Cathedral, with its stunning black limestone front and stunning gold organ, which is the second-tallest church in the country.
As you’ll see from its church interiors, Puebla is known for its Baroque architecture, which made it a logical home for the International Museum of the Baroque, which opened in 2016. The museum — which looks more like the Guggenheim Bilbao on the outside with minimalist sweeps of white and silver — gives useful background on Baroque art and shows off some classic examples.
Beyond art, history buffs will want to visit the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, a 17th-century book collection and reading room that is widely considered the first public library in Mexico.
Talavera pottery is one of Puebla’s proudest exports. The mud is baked, glazed, and hand-painted, most traditionally in blue and white patterns. It’s so strongly associated with Puebla that even the local Starbucks has Talavera-style decor.
Many stores in town sell a few items, but your best bet is to head to Uriarte, the shop that is home base to the country’s largest Talavara producer — you’ll have a lot of options, from tableware and vases to individual tiles and custom requests.
Church of Santo Domingo, Avenida 5 de Mayo, Centro Histórico, 72000 Puebla
Templo de San Francisco, Avenida 14 Oriente 805, Barrio del Alto, 72290 Puebla, +52 222 235 1659
Puebla Cathedral, Calle 16 de Septiembre, Centro, 72000 Puebla, +52 222 232 3803
International Museum of the Baroque, Atlixcáyotl 2501, Reserva Territorial Atlixcáyotl, Corredor Comercial Desarrollo Atlixcayotl, Puebla, +52 222 326 7130
Biblioteca Palafoxiana, Calle 5 Oriente 5, Centro, 72000 Puebla, +52 222 2323483 x118
Uriarte, Avenida 4 Poniente 911, 72000 Puebla 52 (222) 232 1598
What to eat
Some of Mexico’s most beloved foods have their origins in Puebla, most notably mole poblano. The spicy chocolate sauce was reportedly invented here by a woman who was trying to clean out everything in her pantry.
Nearly every restaurant in town has their own mole poblano, so you’ll have to sample a few different ones — for research, of course. One solid option is El Mural de los Poblanos, which is known for its modern takes on Puebla classics — besides the mole, try tacos arabes (meat and cheese wrapped in pita bread instead of corn tortillas, inspired by Lebanese immigration to the area) and salad with nopales, a local cactus (it’s on the Mexican flag).
And if your sweet tooth still isn’t satisfied, head to Calle 6 Oriente, also known as Calle de Los Dulces — Candy Street. This street is lined with small, locally owned candy stores that sell some of Puebla’s most beloved sweets, including camotes (cigar-shaped rolls of colorful coconut), candied citrus rinds and the small round tortitas de Santa Clara. Most of these will be hard to find elsewhere in Mexico, so stock up — in particular, La Gran Fama will wrap your souvenirs up in white paper boxes tied with ribbon, making them perfect for gifts back home.
For an upscale dinner, head to the Casa Reyna restaurant inside the boutique hotel of the same name. If you can, request a table in the middle of the restaurant underneath the open roof. The menu is a mix of American favorites and Mexican standards, so take an opportunity to try a local specialty like tuna with sauce of jamaica (hibiscus) flowers, chalupas (another dish Puebla lays claim to creating) or guava-and-cheese souffle.
If you’re in town during the fall, Pueblan specialty chiles en nogada (peppers stuffed with ground meat, fruit and nuts all covered in a milky sauce) is a traditional thing to eat around Independence Day on September 16.
El Mural de los Poblanos, Calle 16 de Septiembre 506, Centro, 72000 Puebla, +52 222 242 0503
Dulceria La Gran Fama, Avenida 6 Oriente 208 Centro 72000 Puebla +52 222 242 3316
Casa Reyna, Privada 2 Oriente 1007, Centro, 72000 Puebla, +52 222 232 0032
Time for a siesta
Puebla is having a bona fide hotel boom. The latest notable arrival in town is the Rosewood Puebla, an outpost of the posh hotel chain with thoughtful touches like Talavera tilework and hand-hammered silver that manages to still feel like a comfy guest house and not a museum. The brand also has outposts in Playa del Carmen and San Miguel de Allende, making it super-tempting to extend your Mexico travels.
Opening in October 2017 is the Hotel Cartesiano, a 78-room boutique property inside two historic buildings — one was originally a home, the other a tile factory that still has many original pieces incorporated throughout the design. Because of the unique spaces next door to each other, each room is slightly different in shape and size, but they’re unified by an elegant, neutral design palette.
For a classic Puebla experience, it’s hard to go wrong with the Hotel La Purificadora, which was the city’s first major design hotel and is part of the upscale Grupo Habita portfolio. Its central location on the beautiful Parque San Francisco (hang out there during the day, but avoid at night when it turns into teenage makeout central) makes it convenient to nearly everything in town, while its trendy bar and restaurant are the places to be seen on a weekend night.
Rosewood Puebla, Calle 10 Norte 1402, Barrio del Alto, 72000 Puebla, +52 222 122 2300
Hotel Cartesiano, Calle 3 Oriente. 410, Centro, 72000 Puebla
Hotel La Purificadora, Callejon de la 10 Norte 802, Paseo San Francisco, Barrio El Alto, 72000 Puebla, +52 800 309 1920
Keep on going
Just a few miles from Puebla is the town of Cholula, which is known for having the largest pyramid in Latin America — yes, bigger than Giza and Chichen Itza, but with significantly fewer people. Much of the Pirámide Tepanapa is obscured beneath a hill, with the vivid yellow Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (Church of Our Lady of Remedies), a popular pilgrimage site for people seeking cures for diseases or chronic ailments, at its peak. The church is beautiful, but you’ll want to make sure you turn your camera outward for panoramic shots of the countryside.
There is now a nice “tourist train” that runs between Puebla and Cholula, dropping you off just at the base of the pyramid. However, the train still has limited hours, so you’ll need to plan ahead. Most days, there are three departures from Puebla in the morning and three returns, each about 40 minutes long, from Cholula in the late afternoon and evening.
If you prefer more flexibility, you may be better off catching a local bus (there are direct buses from Puebla’s Plaza Pedrera throughout the day) or taking an Uber one or both ways.
Beyond the pyramid, there are quite a few fun things to see and do in Cholula. If Talavera is on your wish list, head to the Santa Caterina factory and shop, one of the official government license holders to sell the products. Their range is huge, from dishes to candleholders to jewelry and even decorative eggs a la Faberge.
When lunchtime rolls around, don’t park in a restaurant. Instead, walk through the meandering Mercado Municipal Cosme del Razo, a multi-street series of stalls where you can sample a local Cholula craft beer, custom-order tacos to be cooked in front of you, buy a traditional embroidered dress or shirt, and pick up handmade wooden toys and crafts as souvenirs — all in a single short stroll. Good news for a hot day: the market is mostly covered, so you’ll be able to avoid a sunburn.
Tourist Train Station: Calle 11 Norte 11, El Tamborcito, Puebla
Pirámide Tepanapa: Calle 8 Poniente 2, San Miguel, Centro, 72760 San Andres Cholula, +52 228 194 5667
Talavera Santa Caterina: Prolongación 14 Oriente 1402 San Andres, Cholula, +52 222 247 66 14
Mercado Municipal: Calle 5 Norte 109, 72760 San Pedro Cholula
Is a day trip to Puebla worth it? ›
Yes — Puebla is a unique Mexico destination that many types of travelers will love. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Puebla City is full of history and beautiful colonial architecture, and as one of the best foodie destinations in Mexico, don't miss taking a Puebla food tour.Is Puebla a day trip from Mexico City? ›
A two-hour drive southeast of Mexico City, Puebla city is a perfect day or overnight trip from the nation's bustling capital. Even better? The bus ride from Mexico City's TAPO terminal is a cheap and comfortable way to get there (200 MXN or about $10 USD each way on Estrella Roja or ADO bus lines).How many days do you need in Puebla Mexico? ›
While you could spend way longer, many travellers visit for two days. It's a small city yet there's plenty to fill your Puebla itinerary. If you've got two days, I would recommend one of the following options: Spend a busy day seeing Puebla and a second taking a day trip to Cholula.Why is Puebla Mexico Popular? ›
Puebla is Mexico's fourth metro area in population and of its oldest. Among Mexicans, it is known for its delicious food, beautiful churches and rich, cultural scene.Can I take an Uber from Mexico City to Puebla? ›
From both terminals, you can easily find taxis to reach the city center. If you get to the Puebla CAPU terminal, take a taxi or call a Uber as the terminal is not walking distance to the city center. The ride shouldn't cost more than 80 pesos.Is it better to stay in Cholula or Puebla? ›
The pro of staying in Cholula is that it's a self-contained town with its own center, so you get restaurants, bars, and shops just like you'd find in Puebla but it's cheaper, cleaner, less crowded, and more laid back. Cholula also has a surprisingly good food scene.What is unique about Puebla? ›
It features 2,619 monuments, making Puebla the city with the largest number of monuments in the Americas. Additionally, the city preserved some important documents, including the original Royal Charter and Royal Provision, both of which are on the UNESCO-Mexico Memory of the World Register.How far apart are Mexico City and Puebla? ›
It's only 130 kilometers (less than 81 miles) from Mexico City to Puebla.Is Puebla cheaper than Mexico City? ›
Puebla is a great, fun university city in Mexico, that's just a two-hour drive from the capital and it offers really an abundance of fun activities to its tourists. The the food there is delicious, and it's way cheaper than Mexico City, though it's also smaller than Mexico City.Is it safe to travel to Puebla Mexico right now? ›
Puebla state – Exercise Increased Caution
Exercise increased caution due to crime and kidnapping. Criminal activity and violence may occur throughout the state. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping. There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Puebla state.
How far is Puebla from the US border? ›
Remember, mexbound.com is "the first choice for the smart traveler." Puebla is located 1,957 miles south of the U.S. border at San Ysidro, California. Driving in Mexico can be challenging, as large trucks and buses will pass in the opposite direction.What is the rainiest month in Puebla Mexico? ›
The rainy period of the year lasts for 7.2 months, from April 8 to November 16, with a sliding 31-day rainfall of at least 0.5 inches. The month with the most rain in Puebla is September, with an average rainfall of 5.2 inches.What are people from Puebla known for? ›
Many of the rich traditions of Puebla involve food and art. Mole poblano, a spicy sauce, was developed around the 17th century and is still enjoyed today. Puebla is also well known for its Talavera ceramics, which are crafted using the same techniques introduced by the Spaniards in the 16th century.
Puebla: poblano/a. Yucatán: yucateco/a. Morelos: morelense.Is Uber or taxi cheaper in Mexico City? ›
Is Uber cheaper than a taxi in Mexico City? Taxis and Ubers in Mexico City are similarly priced depending on where you're going and at what time. An Uber ride is usually cheaper than a taxi, especially if you're going long distances.Should you tip Uber in Mexico? ›
Tipping Taxis/Ubers in Mexico
You now have the option to leave a tip on Uber in Mexico. Once your ride is complete, go back onto the app and you can leave 10, 15 or 20 Pesos for the driver. It's not required, but it's always a nice way to encourage really great Uber drivers.
The fastest way to get from Puebla to Mexico City is to taxi which takes 1h 28m and costs $1400 - $1800. Is there a direct bus between Puebla and Mexico City?How many nights do you need in Puebla? ›
The trip takes around 1.5 to 2.5 hours each way (depending on the traffic) so Puebla is doable on a day trip from Mexico City. But, I recommend spending at least one or two nights in Puebla because there's so much to see.What neighborhoods are safe in Puebla? ›
The best areas to stay in Puebla for both first time and returning tourists are the neighborhoods of the Centro, La Paz, Angelopolis, and Cholula. In this guide we will be looking at where to stay in Puebla, best things to do in each area, as well as the safest area to stay in Puebla.Is Puebla a magic town? ›
In fact, Puebla has the most pueblos magicos of any state in Mexico! Of them all, Cholula is the most popular, though Atlixco is right behind it at the second most-visited popular pueblo magico in Puebla. Atlixco makes for a popular day trip from Puebla City.
Is Puebla Aztec or Mayan? ›
The Emergence of the Aztec Empire
Eventually, the Aztecs incorporated into their empire much of what is known today as Puebla.
Puebla (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpweβla] ( listen) English: colony, settlement), officially Free and Sovereign State of Puebla (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Puebla), is one of the 32 states which comprise the Federal Entities of Mexico.Is Puebla considered Mexico? ›
Puebla, estado (state), east-central Mexico.How to get from Mexico City to Puebla? ›
There are two ways to get from Mexico City airport to Puebla, taking a taxi or bus. Taking a taxi is the most convenient option as it takes only 2 hours and 20 minutes and leaves you directly at your accommodation in Puebla. The cheaper option is to take the AU or ADO bus as they cost just €8.20 and €8.90 respectively.Is Puebla is two hours north of Mexico City? ›
📍 Puebla City, Mexico, is the capital of Puebla state, located about three hours from Mexico City by car.Is $5 tip a lot in Mexico? ›
It's up to you how much you tip, but the recommended amount in Mexico is between 10% – 20% (15% is a good standard in tourist areas) of the bill or ticket price.What is the cheapest city to visit in Mexico? ›
- Puerto Vallarta. ...
- Playa del Carmen. ...
- Isla Mujeres. ...
- Valladolid. ...
- Guadalajara. ...
- Cancun. ...
- San Cristóbal de las Casas. ...
- Mexico City.
Puebla is one of the cheapest places to live in Mexico. The monthly cost of living in Puebla starts from around $1,150 USD depending on your lifestyle choices. This includes rent, groceries, eating out, activities, coffee, and more. If you're a couple, it's more like $1,900 USD.Is Puebla Mexico safe for Americans? ›
The state of Puebla, in which OU operates its study abroad programs, is considered by the State Department to be stable and safe for US citizens.Is Puebla safe at night? ›
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women travel alone through Puebla in daylight is absolutely safe. You should be aware in the night time and concern the normal level of caution.
What is the crime rate in Puebla Mexico? ›
|Level of crime||64.71||High|
|Problem people using or dealing drugs||52.81||Moderate|
|Problem property crimes such as vandalism and theft||69.19||High|
|Problem violent crimes such as assault and armed robbery||70.64||High|
|Problem corruption and bribery||75.00||High|
The main U.S./Mexican border crossings along the Texas border are: El Paso, Texas / Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua.What language does Puebla City speak? ›
Nahuatl – properly called mexica – is the language of the Aztecs who ruled central Mexico at the time of the Europeans arrival. It is an agglutinative language (words formed by added pieces or morphemes together) from the Uto- Aztecan language family spoken by 1½ million people mostly in Puebla, Veracruz and Hidalgo.Is there narcos in Puebla? ›
Not one authority can prove that we're a cartel or collude with a cartel. No, we're merely campesinos, sugar cane workers, farmers, stockbreeders, doctors, engineers, there are all kinds of people here [but] there are no narcos, at least as far as we know,” he said.What is the best time to visit Puebla? ›
The best time to visit Puebla is from November to April, since it is the dry season; at night, however, it can get cold.Is Puebla hot or cold? ›
In Puebla, the summers are sweltering and arid, the winters are cool and dry, and it is mostly clear year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 43°F to 107°F and is rarely below 36°F or above 112°F.Does it rain everyday in Mexico City? ›
Year-round, Mexico City has weather that most people would call lovely, with daily highs between 20°C and 30°C. However, many find it more pleasant to visit in the wet season, from June through September, when it does rain every day, usually a heavy tropical burst in the evening.Is Puebla city worth visiting? ›
With well-conserved Baroque-style architecture, a UNESCO-recognized historic center, and iconic regional dishes like mole poblano, Puebla's blend of modernity and rich history make the city a must-visit on any Mexico itinerary.What is Mexico's favorite snack? ›
Gansitos. This is the gold standard of Mexican snack cakes, consisting of an irresistible filling of strawberry jelly and cream atop an airy cake with notes of coconut, covered in chocolate and topped with chocolate sprinkles.What is Mexico's oldest city? ›
Mexico City, the oldest capital in the Americas, has been continuously inhabited for nearly 700 years. It's been known by many names throughout its history, from the heart of the ancient Aztec civilization to its modern-day moniker, but one thing has remained constant: its unmatched beauty and cultural richness.
Is a day trip to Lake Como worth it? ›
Lake Como is one of the most beautiful lakes in northern Italy. The views are not only confined to the lake – the surroundings are just as stunning. The mountains, sunsets, villas, and small towns provide a perfect escape from Milan or any other big city. It is absolutely worth visiting!What is the best time to visit Puebla Mexico? ›
The best time to visit Puebla is from November to April, since it is the dry season; at night, however, it can get cold.Is one day enough for Como? ›
Lake Como is big and with only one day you will not have enough time to see all of it. The “golden triangle” of Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio, along with the villas that dot the shore here, are the best part of Lake Como to visit on a day trip, in our opinion.