Things to do in Puebla México
There are endless things to do in Puebla, with its UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic city center, the enchanting colonial city of Puebla boasts over 2,600 buildings and monuments of historical value as well as a wealth of museums. Visitors are invariably captivated by Puebla’s incredibly rich culture, which is proudly represented in its celebrated artisan crafts and culinary traditions.
Puebla’s main square, the Zocalo, is situated in the heart of the city and surrounded by stately historical buildings, monuments and green spaces. The vibrant tree-lined square is a perfect starting point for a leisurely walking tour beginning with the nearby Puebla Cathedral, the town hall (Palacio Municipal) and three sets of arched arcades known as Portales—Portal Hidalgo, Portal Iturbide and Portal Morelos—which are renowned for their broad range of restaurants and bars. Visitors are encouraged to sample a michelada while listening to marimba melodies, enjoy a cocktail at Nevados Don Hermilo and try a typical cemita (sandwich) from Meche.
One of the most impressive churches in Mexico, Puebla Cathedral is a treasure of colonial architecture and artwork dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. Designed by Francisco Becerra, the first stage of construction took place between 1575 and 1618. The second phase was directed by Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza who consecrated the cathedral in 1649. The main structure and interior design include mainly Baroque and Neoclassical features. Reaching over 70 meters, the cathedral’s towers are the tallest in the country. Designed by Manuel Tolsa, the stunning main altar depicts the kings and queens of 17th-century Europe, while the painter Cristobal de Villalpando decorated the dome of the apse chapel. The choir is an exquisite example of Mudejar artwork with inlaid wood of eight different varieties. According to local legend, the nine-ton main bell was raised at night by angels while the workers slept.
Hailed at the time as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the beautiful Rosary Chapel (Capilla del Rosario) was consecrated in 1690 following 40 years of construction. Attached to the Temple of Santo Domingo, the chapel is bathed with natural light. The walls and ceilings are entirely covered with masterful paintings, ornate sculptures, elements of Talavera Poblana and plasterwork covered in dazzling gold leaf. The lavish chapel is considered to be one of the finest examples of Baroque art in Mexico.
Forts of Loreto and Guadalupe
The forts of Loreto and Guadalupe were chapels modified for military purposes in the nineteenth century. Serving as strategic points during the French invasion of 1862, they were the site of one Puebla’s greatest historical moments, the Battle of May 5th. Today, the Mexican army’s victory is celebrated as Cinco de Mayo. In 2012, on the 150th anniversary of the heroic battle, the site of the forts was remodeled to include pavilions, enhanced gardens and a lake where visitors enjoy boating, jogging, picnics and “Nights of Legend” over-the-water video projections showcasing the history of Puebla. Cultural venues at the site include the Museum of Non-Intervention, the Regional Museum of the National Institute of Anthropology and History, the Interactive Museum of the Battle of Puebla, the Museum of Evolution and a planetarium. At the close of the day, a cable car ride down to the city’s historic center provides magnificent views of Puebla and the surrounding volcanoes.
The Amparo Museum (Museo Amparo) possesses a permanent collection of over 6,000 works of pre-Hispanic origin and features multiple temporary exhibitions displaying Novo Hispano, modern and contemporary art. Situated in a 16th-century colonial structure that formerly housed a hospital, the building was converted by Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, a renowned figure in Mexican architecture. The museum has a souvenir shop, libraries and a beautiful rooftop terrace cafeteria which offers magnificent view of the nearby cathedral.
International Museum of Baroque
Built by Toyo Ito, recipient of the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize, the International Museum of Baroque (Museo Internacional del Barroco) opened in 2016. It offers an overview of the prolific Baroque period in Europe and Latin America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The museum is situated in the Angelópolis, one of the most modern areas of the city. Parks, bike paths, shopping malls, universities, cultural venues and the Star of Puebla Ferris wheel are located nearby.
In 1835, businessman Esteban de Antuñano opened the first factory in Mexico driven by hydropower which remained in operation until 1991. Today, the nearly 7,000-meter structure houses three museums—the House of Music in Vienna (Museo Casa De La Musica De Viena En Puebla), the Puppet House (Casa De Las Marionetas Mexicanas) and the Children’s Museum (Museo Infantil)—which are integrated into the original architecture.
UDLAP’s Art Chapel
With its striking French field architecture and green metalwork, UDLAP’s Art Chapel (Capilla del Arte) stands out among the buildings of Puebla’s historic city center. The former site of the city’s first retail store, the landmark building was constructed by Schwartz & Maurer using materials ordered by catalog and shipped from France. The building’s metal core is characteristic of Art Nouveau. The façade features large windows adorned with intricate vegetal ornamentation. In 2009, the building’s upper floor was donated to the Universidad de las Américas Puebla and converted into the Art Chapel cultural center which features a contemporary art gallery, event rooms and an auditorium.
Located three blocks from Puebla’s main square at 6 Norte Street, the market of El Parian is an excellent source for traditional crafts. Open Monday to Sunday, the market boasts over 100 stalls featuring an assortment of regional artisan wares including textiles, embroidery, jewellery, leather goods and beautiful creations in Talavera, Puebla’s famed ceramic pottery. There are also purveyors of tempting regional culinary treats such as camote, jamoncillos, borrachitos and marzipan.
Puebla is known for its passionate enthusiasm for golf. Area courses include Campestre Mayorazgo, El Cristo, La Huerta, Las Fuentes and La Vista. La Vista is an exclusive 18-hole, PGA-category course developed by the prestigious designer Robert Von Hagge.
Referred to as the “City of Flowers,” the small town of Atlixco is an enchanting and colorful destination for a day of shopping and sightseeing. You will have time to peruse the markets where a bevy of local products, fruits, cheeses, flowers and artisan crafts are on display. In the evening, the hotel will deliver your purchases to your room or prepare a dinner from your selections.
Set high in the clouded hills of the northern reaches of the state, the small town of Cuetzalan is known for its cobblestone streets, grottos, waterfalls and coffee plantations. It is also a place of well-expressed cultural fusion between the indigenous population and mestizos, a characteristic reflected in local artisan crafts and the town’s typical white dresses. Visitors to this quiet and restful retreat enjoy high-quality freshly blended local coffee and the chance to witness the Dance of the Flyers, a traditional ceremony in which the performers climb 40-meter poles and slowly descend by rope. 170 km from Puebla
Nestled in the Sierra Norte Mountains, the small town of Pahuatlán is a magical place bursting with tradition. Noted for its cobblestone streets, red tile roofs and simple traditional architecture, the town specializes in handicrafts, including embroidery, beadwork, textiles, leather goods and Amate bark paper, one of the oldest papers in the world, which has been produced since before the Spanish conquest. Locals also serve up exquisite freshly baked bread and some of Mexico’s finest Arabica coffee. A tour of an area coffee plantations allows visitors to travel back in time and connect with the area’s rich heritage.
Known as the Sierra Norte’s garden, the small mountain town of Tlatlauquitepec offers a perfect pairing of culture and nature. The lush natural environment surrounding Cabezón Hill provides a magnificent encounter with the outdoors as visitors set out on trails to explore waterfalls, caves, rivers, pools and springs. Back in town, a stroll through the quiet streets allows one to appreciate the town’s colorful colonial architecture, including an imposing former Franciscan convent. Regional culinary specialties include papered trout, mole smoked beef and tlayoyos (stuffed tortillas). 160 km from Puebla
Surrounded by deep green mountains covered in mist, Xicotepec is home to a pre-Hispanic ceremonial center, Vivo Xochipila. At this indigenous shrine, the most important ceremony of the year takes place on June 24 in honor of the flower goddess and features sacred rituals, traditional dances, parties and, of course, flowers. To the delight of travelers, the town’s culinary traditions include cecina (salted beef), tostadas, enchiladas, chorizo ahumado (smoked sausage) and acamayas (shrimp-like crustaceans). 220 km from Puebla
Zacatlán de las Manzanas
The town of Zacatlán is characterized by its peculiar cool and misty climate. Away from the bustle of the big cities, it is a relaxing escape featuring a picturesque historical center and beautiful gardens. It is surrounded by orchards of apple and other fruit trees which fill the air with intoxicating scents during blossom season. Juárez Garden is the town’s most popular spot, where one can peruse an array of boutiques and art galleries. The town’s main annual festival is the Apple Fair (Feria de la Manzanais) held in August in celebration of the fruit-growing traditions of the region. Located 20 minutes by car from Zacatlán, Las Piedras Encimadas Valley is filled with pine forests and fascinating volcanic rocks carved into capricious forms by millions of years of erosion. 121 km from Puebla.
San Andrés Cholula and San Pedro Cholula
Listed as the Magic Town of Mexico since 2012, San Andrés and San Pedro Cholula are two of the municipalities that make up the modern City of Cholula. These municipalities are an exceptional source of a rich heritage of over 2,000 years. Cholula is a fervent religious community since the Hispanic era and the city is recognized for its numerous variety of churches. In San Andrés, the main attraction is the Great Pyramid of Cholula that is over 60 meters high. It is the largest pyramid in the world having an area of more than 400 meters per side and has a series of tunnels excavated in the ruins that can be explored. At the top of the pyramid is a 16th century church. It is the perfect setting to have an impressive panoramic view. In San Pedro is the Plaza de la Concordia where the San Gabriel Convent is located, which houses the Franciscan Library and the Guerrero Portal, the longest arched portal in Mexico that offers a variety of restaurants and cafes.
Located in the center of the sierra poblana it is the perfect place to connect with nature and for those who enjoy adventure activities such as mountain biking, boat rides, fishing, photo safari and hiking. Surrounded by waterfalls, rivers and green landscapes will turn any walk into an unforgettable experience. This magical town is characterized by its flowers, mainly azaleas that are easily found and even every year since 1938 the Flower Fair is celebrated.
This picturesque magical town is located in a valley in the north of the state of Puebla. You can enjoy a lagoon formed by 9 eyes of water, swim, contemplate the view, fish or take a ride on the boat are some of the options. You will also find thermal baths and a spring of sulphurous waters that ensure it has healing properties.
The town is a large producer of blown glass spheres, there are more than 300 workshops and factories that are dedicated to this activity and provide the people with brightly colored facades, perfect frame for a photograph.
The archaeological site of Cantona features the ruins of one of the first pre-Hispanic cities in Mesoamerica. The walled city, which rivaled Teotihuacán, reached its peak between 600-1000 CE with 80,000 residents, only to be abandoned around 1050 AD. The site consists of more than 500 cobbled streets, 3,000 courtyards and residences, an elaborate acropolis, small pyramids, temples and over 24 game courts. To date, a small, yet awe-inspiring portion of this ancient settlement has been uncovered. Cantona is located 1.5 hours from Puebla. In route, visitors can stop to marvel at the impressive 17th– and 18th-century architecture of the Hacienda de Tepeyahualco.
Located in Puebla’s historic center, the Paxafoxian Library (Biblioteca Palafoxiana) is widely considered to be the oldest public library in The Americas. Established in 1646 with a donation of 5,000 volumes from Bishop Juan Palafox y Mendoza, the library is recognized for its antiquity, originality and artistic value. A museum since 1981, the library holds over 42,000 books and manuscripts dating back to the fifteenth century and continues to serve as a repository for researchers from around the world. UNESCO added the library to its Memory of the World Register in 2005.
In 2014, Puebla’s local government found evidence of a network of tunnels beneath the city. Further exploration revealed an underground passage over 70 meters in length with a history reaching back over 300 years. Constructed in 1682, the tunnel known as Bubas Bridge (Puente de Bubas) originally connected Bubas Hospital to the city and it continued to serve as hidden road for the distinguished upper class families of colonial-era Puebla for many years. Today, the Secrets of Puebla program offers tours of the tunnel to visitors.
Located northwest of Puebla, Chautla Hacienda was once a vast tract of farmland owned by the Marquis of Selva Negra. In the nineteenth century, the land became the property of an Englishman named Thomas Gillow. His son built an English-style castle (El Castillo) in remembrance of his ancestors. He also modernized the estate with electricity in 1903 by building Latin America’s first hydroelectric power plant on site and introduced its first railway system. Today, a small fraction of the hacienda remains, providing a lovely destination for a leisure outing. Visitors can view the original manor house, go fishing or row boating on the lake, enjoy a picnic beside the pine forest or tour the castle which serves as a museum.
Former Convents of Huejotzingo and Calpan
UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1994, Huejotzingo and Calpan are located on the slopes of the volcano Popocatépetl. They belong to a group of 14 area monasteries that were built in the sixteenth century by the Augustinians, Franciscans and Dominicans in order to evangelize the surrounding region. The communities of Huejotzingo and Calpan are very festive and host a variety of celebrations throughout the year. Huejotzingo’s carnival is renowned for its widespread local participation, sumptuous costumes and representations of Puebla’s history. Between July and August, Calpan holds one of the best Chiles en Nogada festivals in the country. Though it is possible to enjoy this exquisite dish in Puebla, the farm-to-table experience of sampling it in Calpan is especially memorable.
El Mural de los Poblanos
Offering Puebla’s typical gastronomy with a contemporary touch, this restaurant features three large murals by the artist Antonio Álvarez Morán which celebrate Mexico’s rich history. El Mural’s house specialty is mole. Other highlights include duck and a broad selection of mezcales.
Calle 16 de Septiembre #507, Centro Histórico
Telephone: +52 222 242 0503
In 1989, the 16th-century San Miguel La Noria Hacienda was thoughtfully re-imagined as a dining establishment. The granaries were converted into a lobby while the stables and courtyards were transformed into a restaurant which evokes the hacienda’s past splendor. La Noria features Poblano cuisine with a menu comprised of typical dishes, seafood, meats and wines.
41 Poniente y 23 Sur Ex Hacienda La Noria
Telephone: +52 222 237 7213
Specializing in finely prepared steak, fresh seafood and thoughtful wine pairings, Ensamble emphasizes quality ingredients in its refined global cuisine.
Paseo Opera 570, Lomas de Angelópolis
Telephone: +52 222 431 8111
La Casa de los Muñecos
The original location of La Casa de los Muñecos is situated in a Novo Hispano-style building known as “The House of Dolls” in reference to its intriguing façade. The restaurant’s menu features traditional Puebla cuisine as well as signature creations that merge local recipes, ingredients and flavors with contemporary trends.
Museo de Arte BUAP – 2 Norte #2, Centro Histórico
Telephone: +52 222 242 4825
In keeping with the slow food movement, Entre Tierras presents artisanal Mexican cuisine using the finest organic ingredients and products from the region. Its vibrant signature dishes are deeply rooted in Mexican culinary tradition to stimulate the senses.
4 Norte #410, Centro Histórico
Telephone: +52 222 232 5306
Paseo San Francisco
While the origin of traditional chalupas is uncertain, most cite Paseo San Francisco, with its group of traditional restaurants, as the first place to offer this delightful Mexican specialty. According to some, the author of this simple yet delicious dish was Severina Méndez, whose family owns the restaurant La Abuelita. Others assert that chalupas were created in 1896 by Francisca Hernández, the matriarch of the family which has operated the restaurant La Chiquita for five generations.
La Abuelita – Located between 10 Norte Street and Boulevard 5 de Mayo, Centro Histórico
La Chiquita – Located between 14 and 20 Oriente Streets, Centro Histórico