The first time I visited Puebla City was in my college years. There was a student competition back then and I was part of the team. Although our focus at the time was the competition, we did spare some time to tour the city. I fell in love with it. Just walking along its streets made me feel at peace. Even though it’s one of Mexico’s largest cities, there was a small-town vibe to it. You could feel it in the air. It was as if time had stopped. Old people were seated in the plaza, kids running and playing around, while I enjoyed my ice cream seated on a bench under the shadow of a huge tree. What else could I ask for? You don’t get this in many places, I can assure you.
My stay in Puebla City was short. I wish I had stayed more time. It’s a picturesque, charming city that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. You will need at least one week to tour it all. If you would like to visit but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. Today I will share with you some of the best things to do in Puebla City.
Table of Contents
- Walk Around the Historic Center
- Visit the Cathedral
- Admire some Art or Buy some from Local Artists
- Visit the Markets and Antique Shops
- Visit the Oldest Library in America
- Visit a Museum
- Ride the Most Famous Ferris Wheel in Town
- Eat a Chile en Nogada
- Buy a Talavera Souvenir
- Buy Something for that Sweet Tooth
- Getting There
- Where to Stay
- Where to Eat
- Suggested Budgets
- Tips for Saving Money
- How to Stay Safe
- Apps to Download
Walk Around the Historic Center
As always, the starting point I recommend is the main square, in this case, the Zocalo. It’s a beautiful plaza with lots of trees, benches, a fountain, and several colonial buildings all around. This is a perfect spot for people-watching. You will see lots of people enjoying a lively conversation, taking a stroll, or just stopping by to take a break. This is a gathering place for locals, very popular on weekends. Get yourself a snack or a drink, sit under a tree, and just relax. We need to do this now and then. Take this opportunity to start planning your day if you still haven’t done it.
Visit the Cathedral
Right next to the Zocalo, you will find the cathedral. It’s one of the most representative buildings in the whole city. The cathedral also hosts one of the most important museums of New Spanish art in all of Mexico. Its two towers took almost 200 years to build! Can you imagine that? At 70 meters high (230 ft approximately), they’re the tallest towers of all Latin American cathedrals. They look really beautiful when lit up at night.
Admire some Art or Buy some from Local Artists
Very close to the Zocalo, you will find the Barrio del Artista (Artist Neighborhood) which is filled with painters and sculptors working on their art. On weekends, you can even watch a live show as there are other artistic expressions besides painting.
The neighborhood has a bohemian, hipster style to it, so if you’re into that, you’ll love it.
Talking to the artists while they’re at work is such an enriching experience. You will learn a lot from them. They also have items for sale in case you’re interested.
Visit the Markets and Antique Shops
Right in front, there is el Parian, which is a craft market. You will be able to buy all kinds of crafts, regional candy, traditional clothes, souvenirs, etc.
About 10 minutes walking from the Zocalo, you can find the Callejon de los Sapos. This is a very colorful street filled with antique shops and crafts of all kinds. Locals say the best time to go is the weekend, especially Sundays. The ambiance is great and this is a perfect spot to take some Instagram pictures or get yourself some souvenirs.
Visit the Oldest Library in America
If you love books, you won’t want to miss visiting the Biblioteca Palafoxiana. It’s the oldest library on the American continent. Its collection includes over 45,000 books! You can even read some of them but you have to make an appointment. Admission for adults is 40 pesos ($2) and kids are 20 pesos ($1). It’s free on Tuesdays.
Inside the same building, you will find the Galeria Tesoros de Catedral. There are pieces and works of sacred art that have never been shown anywhere else and that represent an important part of the history of the cathedral. Admission is free.
Visit a Museum
A museum you have to visit is Museo Amparo. It showcases exhibits from pre-Hispanic, Colonial, and contemporary times. You can also get on the rooftop and admire a panoramic view of the city. This museum is huge and will take you 3-4 hours to tour it all.
Another museum you cannot miss is the Museo Internacional del Barroco. It’s a cool museum, a work of art itself. It showcases 11 exhibits, some of them are interactive. You will spend at least 2 hours here.
Other museums worth checking out are:
- Museo Regional de la Revolucion Mexicana, the former home of an active family during the Mexican Civil War in the early 20th century.
- Regional Museum of Puebla, where you will learn about the history, art, and daily life in Puebla.
- Museo Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Mexicanos, a must to learn about railroad history in Puebla.
- Museo San Pedro de Arte, a museum hosting permanent and temporary exhibitions by local artists.
- Museo de la Evolucion, a museum with fossils, skeletons, and dinosaur models.
- Museo de la Talavera, a museum that houses an impressive collection of pieces made of Talavera.
- Museo Casa del Mendrugo, once part of the Saint Jerome Jesuit College.
Ride the Most Famous Ferris Wheel in Town
One of Puebla City’s most famous landmarks is the Estrella de Puebla, a Ferris wheel. You can ride it and get an excellent view of the city from the top. Another option would be taking the cable car or teleferico. Yet a third option would be taking a double-decker bus or a trolley at the Zocalo to tour the city. This is a good opportunity to learn more about the city and get a better idea of what other places you can visit during your stay.
Eat a Chile en Nogada
Pueblan cuisine is exquisite and one of the most representative of Mexican cuisine. Among its dishes, we can mention: mole, chiles en nogada, cemitas, chalupas, molotes, enfrijoladas, and the list goes on and on. Keep in mind that chiles en nogada are seasonal. The season starts in mid-July and lasts through September. If you happen to visit during this time, you should give them a try. A good place to try authentic cuisine is Fonda de Santa Clara. There are several locations throughout Puebla City, but the original one is the downtown location. It’s not cheap, but I recommend doing it at least once.
Buy a Talavera Souvenir
Puebla City is widely known for Talavera pottery. Talavera plates are colorful and have beautiful designs on them. However, you can also find plenty of things made from this material such as bowls, jars, flowerpots, religious items, and various decorative figures. You can buy these at El Parian or el Callejon de los Sapos, among other places.
Buy Something for that Sweet Tooth
Puebla City is also famous for its regional candy. There is a street in the city center known as La Calle de los Dulces (Sweets Street) where you can find all kinds of such candy. Among these, we can mention camote (sweet potato), jamoncillos (milk fudge), piñones, mueganos (similar to fritters), mazapanes (peanut candy), tortitas de Santa Clara, suspiros de monja, borrachitos, etc. Candies come in various sizes and shapes. I got myself a sizable amount of goodies for the trip back home and everybody loved them.
Don’t forget to buy rompope! This drink is made with eggs, milk, vanilla, and rum. It was originally made in the convents of Puebla City by nuns (although people say they didn’t drink it as they were not allowed). There are variations to it which include flavors such as pecan, pistachio, almond, coconut, and pinon. It can be drunk by itself or used in recipes, mainly for desserts due to its sweet flavor.
Locals say you can’t leave the city without trying the pasita. This is a liqueur made of raisin and has a cube of goat cheese at the bottom. There’s a bar with the same name in the city center and that’s where it was first made. Do yourself a favor and buy a bottle to take back home. It will be an interesting experience to share with family and friends.
Officially named Puebla de Zaragoza, Puebla City is located in the center/south portion of Mexico. It is located about 136 km (84.5 miles) from Mexico City. The trip by land between these two major cities takes around 2.5 hours. Due to their proximity, land travel is a viable option between these two points.
The Hermanos Serdan International Airport is the airport that serves this city. It is situated about 32 km (20 miles) or 40 minutes from the city center. It seems there are no direct flights between Mexico City and Puebla City, so you’ll either have to take a connecting flight or travel by land. This really surprised me. Puebla City is connected to other major destinations like Monterrey and Guadalajara, but not Mexico City. Other than that, the only international destination out of this airport is Houston, Texas via United.
Where to Stay
This time I did not stay in the city center, but not far either. I stayed in the Noria Neighborhood about 6 miles from the cathedral. The service was excellent at the Holiday Inn I chose. I loved their breakfast buffet (for a surcharge) which included chilaquiles, refried black beans, tamales, pancakes, fruit and so much more. I’m drooling right now just by remembering. This hotel also offers free parking, free Wi-Fi, cable TV, air conditioning, a swimming pool, a fitness center, safety deposit boxes in every room, among other amenities. The best part is that it’s near the city center, so distance is not a problem.
Other places worth considering due to their location, price, and reviews are:
- Hotel Casa de Oracion San Jose
- Hotel Santiago
- Hostal Talavera
- Hotel Nube
- Hotel del Capitan de Puebla
- Milagro Hotel
- Suites La Concordia
- Hotel 5 de Mayo
- Hotel Casa Monarca
Where to Eat
These are some places I recommend to eat the best regional dishes:
- Mercado de los Sabores Poblanos, a spacious market with lots of cheap restaurants to choose from. Try the mole, cemitas, and tacos. The average check is between 100 and 130 pesos ($5-6.50) per person. Address: Av. 4 Poniente 1106, Puebla 72090 Mexico.
- Comal Cocina de Antojo, a laidback diner serving traditional Pueblan dishes at great prices. It’s right in front of the cathedral. The average check is between 80 and 120 pesos ($4-$6) per person. Address: Calle 16 de Septiembre 311-B, Centro Histórico, Puebla 72000 México.
- Mercado El Parral, an excellent place to get breakfast or lunch at inexpensive prices. The average check is between 80 and 120 pesos ($4-$6) per person. Address: ESQ. 2a. Privada 7 Poniente, C. 9 Sur, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue., Mexico.
- Taqueria Viviana, delicious tacos arabes (Arabian-style tacos), similar to tacos al pastor. The average check is between 60 and 100 pesos ($3-$5) per person. Address: Av 8 Ote 402C, Puebla City, Puebla, Mexico.
- Cemitas y Tortas La Poblanita, great cemitas and tortas in downtown. The average check is between 140 and 200 pesos ($7-$10) per person. Address: Calle 4 sur 5, Puebla 72000 Mexico.
- Frenchie’s Cafe, American food at reasonable prices. The restaurant offers magnificent views of the cathedral. The average check is between 100 and 200 pesos ($5-$10) per person. Address: Avenida 16 de Septiembre 315 Planta Alta, Puebla 72000 Mexico.
Public transportation consists of buses and combis (a type of van). They usually operate between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m every day. and cover most of Puebla. Fares run between 8 and 9 pesos ($0.40-$0.45) per person one way. Cash only.
RUTA is a Metrobus system with three routes. The fare is 7.50 ($0.38) per person. You need to get a prepaid card at any station to pay for your fare. For more information, check out this link.
Most taxis have meters. The base fee is 40 pesos ($2) and 5 pesos ($0.25) per additional kilometer.
Rideshare apps include Uber and Didi.
The state of Puebla is huge. If you would like to visit other towns and travel at your own pace, I recommend renting a car.
If you’re backpacking, you’re looking at around 975 pesos ($48.75) per day. This includes accommodation at a hostel/cheap hotel, a combination of street food and home-cooked food, local transportation (buses/subway), and a few attractions per day (museums, parks, etc).
A mid-range budget is around 1,850 pesos ($92.50) per day. This includes accommodation at a 2-star hotel/Airbnb, cheap restaurants, a few more attractions than the backpacker budget, and a taxi if need be.
Finally, if you don’t want to limit yourself, then a luxury budget will cost you at least 4,400 pesos ($220) per day. This includes staying at a 4-star hotel, eating at nice restaurants, taking taxis/Uber everywhere, and taking tours/guided trips.
Keep in mind these figures are just estimates. Some days you will spend less, while others you will spend more. This will give you a foundation to plan your budget and adjust it as necessary.
For your convenience, I created a table comparing the budgets we mentioned above. The prices are in Mexican pesos ($1 = 20 pesos)
|Lodging||Meals||Transportation||Attractions||Average Cost Per Day|
Tips for Saving Money
I know saving money when traveling is important for many. Here are some ideas:
- Stay at a hostel or use Couchsurfing (an app that connects travelers looking for free lodging).
- Eat street food. Food stands are easy to find and are an affordable option. Other excellent options are visiting the city markets or mall food courts.
- Use public transportation as much as possible.
- Although Uber is generally cheaper than taxis, fares can increase considerably due to surge pricing. This usually happens on weekends and weekdays before/after work hours. In that case, a regular taxi might be a better option.
- For cheap souvenirs, head over to El Parian.
- Look for free walking tours online. You just have to tip your guide at the end of the tour.
- Puebla often hosts free events such as carnivals, book fairs, parades, and movie screenings. Check out this link for more info.
How to Stay Safe
Downtown Puebla is relatively safe, except for some areas. Exercise caution in the area by 8th, 10th, and 12th streets as mugging and pickpocketing are common there. Other areas where you should be careful are the one by Mercado de los Sabores Poblanos as well as the neighborhoods of Analco and La Luz. Avoid those areas at night.
The best places to stay and be around are the ones by the Cathedral and the Estrella de Puebla.
Use common sense. Avoid empty/dark alleys and streets. Leave valuable items at your hotel. Be mindful of your surroundings at all times.
Rideshare apps are safe to use. Avoid taking street taxis. If you need to take one, ask at your hotel or hostel and they should be able to request one for you. You can also look up “taxis de sitio” online.
As to COVID, please follow the local authorities’ instructions/recommendations. Generally speaking, in Mexico, it’s standard practice to check your temperature and require you to wear a facemask and put on disinfectant in public places, whether indoors or outdoors.
If you ever find yourself in an emergency, you can dial 911.
Don’t forget to buy travel insurance. You never know when you will need it.
Apps to Download
To make the most of your visit, I recommend downloading the following apps:
- Puebla es mi Destino. A complete guide to Puebla. Find attractions, events, itineraries, hotels, restaurants, and all you need to know to enjoy your stay.
- Google Maps. Find driving directions and download maps for offline use.
- Parkopedia Parking. Find the nearest garage/parking lot.
- Uber. The most important rideshare service in Mexico.
- Moovit. Get the ins and out of public transportation. Just enter your origin and destination and find out which bus to take.
- Google Translate. If you don’t speak fluent Spanish, then make sure you have this app.
- TravelSAFE. Connect to an emergency hotline by just pressing the SOS button.
- MyCurrency. Find the latest exchange rate to know how much something is costing you.
- Tripadvisor. Learn about other travelers’ experiences and recommendations for hotels, restaurants, and other places in town.
- Busbud. Find bus schedules (when traveling to other cities) and book cheaper tickets online.
- Travello. Find other travelers on the road and make new friends.
I would say a week is a reasonable time to explore the city. But if you have the chance to visit regardless of time, I recommend you do it. You might be in Mexico City or some other place nearby and not know what to do, so why not try Puebla City? You will be amazed by all you will find.
I hope you found this useful and, as always, feel free to comment and ask any questions you have. See you soon!
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Book your flight
The first thing you have to do is find cheap flights. But where do you find those? There are many search engines, but the one I highly recommend is Skyscanner. Here you can compare fares from all over the world and pick the one that suits you best.
Book your accommodation
The next thing you have to do is secure your lodging. Whether you prefer a hostel, a guesthouse, a B&B, or a hotel, you can find them all on Booking. You can find lodging of all kinds ranging from cheap to expensive and somewhere in between. Many people have scored good deals using it.
Another popular option is Hostelworld. This website focuses on hostels as opposed to hotels.
Book a tour
In some places, you might want to hire a tour. Not all places are equally accessible to visit by oneself. It helps enormously when you visit with a local guide who can show you around and answer any questions you might have…all in your native language. My to-go place is Viator as they offer tours of all kinds and have a presence all over the world.
Rent a car
Public transportation is usually cheaper than renting a car, but it’s sometimes more complicated and time-consuming. That’s a reality. In some cases, it’s more convenient to rent a car. My recommendation is Rentalcars.com. Here you can compare rates and choose the one that fits you best.
Book your bus tickets
You can save money by booking bus tickets online. My favorite site to do this is Busbud.
Get travel insurance
Never travel without a travel insurance policy, especially during these days! Travel insurance can save your life. My recommendations are World Nomads and Insured Nomads. Both companies cover COVID-19 related incidents, which is crucial these days.
Just click on the “Plan your trip” tab at the top of this page, and you will find more resources like getting Mexican insurance for your foreign car, buying travel accessories, and learning Spanish. And, of course, don’t forget to check back often to read about more tips on Mexico travel.