This post is one that is near and dear to our hearts. While we frequently write about cities that we have visited and loved, this one is about the place that we chose to call home for a short stint of our lives while we earned our Master’s degrees. This Puebla Travel Guide is as thorough as it gets.
After visiting Puebla once, I knew that Puebla was the perfect place to spend a couple of years. We planned on moving to Mexico to go to graduate school and attain true fluency in Spanish. After living in Puebla for a while, we are equipped to tell you everything to know for your visit to Puebla!
A lot of people wonder, “Is Puebla worth visiting?” Once you read this post, I think you’ll know the answer to that!
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Why Is Puebla Worth Visiting?
First, we want to address a potential elephant in the room: Why is Puebla Mexico worth visiting? Does this city really deserve a visit? Honestly, is Puebla worth visiting at all?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is found throughout the rest of this post.
Fact: Puebla is one of the most historic cities in Mexico.
Most Americans have heard of Cinco de Mayo. But few know that this is actually the commemoration of the Battle of Puebla! This battle took place in Puebla, and was actually between the Mexican Army and the French Invaders – not the Spanish!
Puebla state was a very important region when Spain ruled Mexico, and Puebla de Zaragoza is its capital city. Its wealth and beauty have extended into the 21st century, between the opulence of its luxury hotels to the quaintness of its cobblestone streets.
- DID YOU KNOW? - The Battle of Cinco de Mayo took place in Puebla and was actually between the Mexicans and the French – not the Spanish!
Puebla is located less than two hours from the sprawling metropolis of Mexico City. For this reason many see it as one of the best day trips from Mexico City. While this is certainly a nice plan, you’d be missing out if you tried to visit Puebla as a day trip from Mexico City.
How Many Days Do You Need in Puebla?
We’d say that at minimum you need at least three days. We find new exciting things here every week and can’t imagine trying to experience this place in just a few days!
I am a Philly guy, and I think Puebla reminds me a lot of Philadelphia in a few ways. Both are massive cities that are among the top 5 cities in terms of population in their country (about 1.5 million people each). Both are jam-packed with history, and both tend to live a life in the shadow of their massive metropolitan neighbor.
If you visit Puebla as a day trip, you will be able to go on a guided tour to see some of the city’s highlights and taste some of its delicious food. However, this isn’t enough time to really explore the rich Mexican history that is still alive in Puebla. From the Calle de los Dulces to traditional markets, there is just too much to experience in such little time.
How to Get to Puebla
You have two main options when deciding how to get to Puebla. The first option is flying directly into Puebla and taking an Uber or a taxi into the city. Puebla International Airport is very small and your flight options may be limited, but it is definitely the quickest way to get to Puebla.
If you choose this route and want to take an Uber, you may need to exit the airport and walk to the main street before you can request it, as Ubers are (for some odd reason) allowed to drop off at the airport but not allowed to pick up. The airport sits about 30 minutes northwest of the city and the trip to the center should cost between 5 and 10 dollars (100 to 200 pesos) in either Uber or Taxi.
If someone asked me how to get to Puebla, I probably wouldn’t recommend this option because the flight routes are usually pretty expensive and all require a layover somewhere (unless you’re flying from Houston!)
The second way to get to Puebla, which is almost definitely more affordable for most people, is to fly into Mexico City and then take a bus to Puebla. Buses run from Mexico City International Airport (MEX) all day every day to both of Puebla’s main bus stations: CAPU and Paseo Destino.
Both are a bit removed from the center of the city, but Paseo Destino is definitely easier to navigate, it’s a lot nicer, and it is probably closer to where you’ll be staying.
To get to the bus area in the airport, once you’ve passed through customs, you’ll hang a left, following the overhead sign with the bus on it. You’ll need to go up an escalator, pass by a Starbucks, and eventually hang another right up a ramp.
There are ticket counters for each bus company here and you can hop on whichever bus heads out next! Once you arrive in Puebla you can simply call an Uber or wave down a taxi to take you to your hotel, Airbnb, or other destination. If someone asked me how to get to Puebla, this is absolutely the option I’d recommend.
Best Things to Do in Puebla
It’s impossible to squeeze all of our favorite places and the must-sees into one post, but we’ll do our best to summarize the top things to do in Puebla. Most of these things can be found in the heart of the city, and most can be done almost any day of the year.
1. Admire the Colorful Colonial Architecture
Being one of the most elite cities when Mexico was under Spanish rule, Spain invested a ton of money in making the city of Puebla absolutely beautiful. The gem of the city is its massive burgundy cathedral with a stone façade that sits right on the south side of the Zocalo.
The cathedral isn’t everything, though! The architecture of colonial buildings throughout the entire city is extremely ornate. The pastel colors express a distinctly Mexican attitude.
A walk down the Callejon de los Sapos is one of the most beautiful ways to witness this love for bright colors. But buildings all throughout the city are colored like pastel sidewalk chalk. One of my favorite things to do is go for a walk in a different direction every day and admire the sheer beauty of the architecture in the city! This is easily one of the best things to do in Puebla, and there’s no need for a tour guide.
2. Go Church Hopping
Whether you’re Catholic or not, it’s hard not to fall in love with the raw beauty of the churches in Puebla. There are 365 Roman Catholic churches in the city of Puebla, and every single one is stunning!
The churches here are so stunning that it would be impossible to leave this off the list of the top things to do in Puebla. Ranging from smaller chapels to massive structures like the cathedral, each church is different and has its own flare. There is no denying the influence that the Roman Catholic Church has had on the area.
There are 365 Catholic churches in the city of Puebla. That means you could visit a new church every day for a year!
We highly recommend checking out the cathedral, the Templo de San Francisco de Asis, the Templo de Santo Domingo, and the Capillo del Rosario, which is decorated with inexpressible amounts of gold.
When we lived in Puebla, we tried to go to a new Church every Sunday to get a taste of all of the churches that this city has to offer. We have yet to be disappointed in a church in Puebla, and none of them charge an entrance fee to visitors.
The cathedral is the nicest cathedral we have visited in Mexico, surpassing even the one in Mexico City (which is actually very underwhelming)!
3. Visit the Fort of Loreto and its Beautiful Surrounding Park
Visiting the Fort and its park has been one of the top things to do in Puebla for over a century. The fort was used in the Battle of Cinco de Mayo where the Mexicans fought off the French. If you visit, you’ll see why they fought over this part of the city!
It is very high up and has gorgeous views of the city. You can even see the snow-capped volcanoes that lie to the west, east, and north. While it was an area of extreme strategic importance in 1862, it is now a fantastic spot for a sunset picnic.
The Fort of Loreto is the perfect spot for a sunset picnic.
The fort isn’t just surrounded by your average small park. The part surrounding the fort is large, grassy, and even has a couple of coffee shops.
If you sit on the western slope of the park you’re in for an incredible view. You can watch the sunset over the National Park of the twin volcanoes of Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl. While you’re in the park, be sure to check out the Museum of the Evolution of Puebla, the Regional Museum of Puebla, and the Interactive Museum of the Battle of Cinco de Mayo!
4. Take a Ride on Either the Teleferico or the Estrella de Puebla
While both of these are a bit touristy, they both provide awesome bird’s-eye views of the city. Teleférico is Spanish for cable car, and the Estrella de Puebla is a ginormous Ferris Wheel in the posh area of Angelopolis. The Estrella costs 40 pesos (around $2) for a ride, and the Teleférico will cost you 70 pesos (around $3.50).
The reason that we suggest only hitting up one of these spots is that the views are very similar. Ferris wheels and cable cars offer similar experiences, and they can both be a great way to see the city from above.
If you’re looking for some higher-end dinner spots or some shopping, go to the Estrella de Puebla. It’s surrounded by malls and restaurants of all kinds (including American places like iHop, Chili’s, and Applebees).
If you want to do two of the top things to do in Puebla at once, you can hop on the Teleferico in the middle of the park surrounding the Fort of Loreto. Both the Estrella de Puebla and the Teleferico are good things to do in Puebla, but only one is necessary.
*If anyone at either place (especially the Teleférico) tries to tell you that purchasing the pictures is mandatory, don’t listen to them. It’s not.*
5. Head to the Callejon de Los Sapos
This one is near and dear to us because it is where we lived for a significant portion of our time in Puebla. The Callejon de los Sapos and its surrounding area, which is just referred to as Los Sapos, is the prettiest street in all of Puebla. It’s towards the top of the list of the top things to do in Puebla.
If you don’t believe us, just look on Instagram. In English its name means “Alley of the Frogs,” because hundreds of years ago there used to be a pond in this spot that was home to hundreds of frogs and toads. Nowadays, this areas cobblestone streets don’t resemble frogs at all!
Filled with cute cafes, restaurants, high-end boutique hotels and a lively nightlife scene, this area is by far the best borough of the city. It gives us strong European vibes mixed with the colorful flare of Mexico. On Saturday mornings, there is a cute artisan/flea market that is set up all throughout the area which we’d also recommend seeing!
On Saturday nights, the place is filled with people socializing with one another. We’d recommend visiting here either in the morning on a weekend or right before or after dinner on a weekday. We hope you love it as much as we do!
The name of this iconic street in English is “Alley of the Frogs”.
6. Walk Around the Zocalo of Puebla
In Mexico, the zocalo is essentially the main square of the city. Visiting the zocalo isn’t just on the list of the top things to do in Puebla – it’s probably on the list of the top things to do in any city in Mexico. There’s a zocalo in almost every city, and they’re the center of life and culture in the city.
In each zocalo, you’ll normally come across the Cathedral, a pretty small park or fountain area, and a ton of food options.
In Puebla, you’ll find the Cathedral (a must-see) on the southwest side, the Municipal palace on the northeast side, and food options lining the rest of the way. Some of the restaurants have great terraces and outdoor seating, and we definitely recommend either eating outside or getting a spot on a terrace.
If you want some good Mexican food, try either Mi Viejo Pueblito or La Porfiriana, both located on the southeast side of the square. There is also a colorful Puebla sign in the Zocalo where you can take pictures!
7. Visit Puebla’s Top Museums
Puebla is actually jam-packed with great museums. There are the ones by the fort which we already mentioned, and then there are a few other standout options throughout the city.
First and foremost, there’s the International Baroque Museum. This museum is considered to be one of the best museums in all of Mexico, and it is filled with awesome baroque designs and architecture. There are also some awesome views from the art museum’s roof!
Then there is the Museo Amparo, which houses over 3,500 pieces of Pre-Columbian (that’s before Christopher Columbus) art. Third is the Museo Casa de Alfeñique, which is a preserved 18th-century mansion.
Finally, we’d say check out the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, which is a huge 17th-century library that has thousands of old books. Did we mention that this is the OLDEST LIBRARY IN THE AMERICAS? Visiting any combination of these museums is easily one of the best things to do in Puebla.
Puebla City houses the oldest library in the americas!
8. Take a Day Trip to Cholula
Cholula is a satellite city of Puebla, and it is one of the most charming places in all of Mexico. Recognized by its stunning mountain backdrop, Cholula is becoming a tourist favorite. We lived in Cholula for a year and are dying to move back.
Cholula is filled with stunning colonial buildings, but its main draw is its archeological sites. Most notably, the Great Pyramid of Cholula, which is just a short walk from the city center.
While it is mostly underground, this is the largest pyramid in the entire world. It’s even bigger than the Great Pyramids of Giza, in terms of volume! Built on top of it is the Capilla del Rosario, which is one of the most iconic sights in Mexico.
Between the colonial era and pre-colonial era, Cholula has a rich history that rivals the heritage of any other Mexican city. While the state of Puebla is filled with smaller towns worth visiting, Cholula tops the list.
9. Try Chile en Nogada
Chile en Nogada is the National Dish of Mexico, and it originates in Puebla! This dish consists of stuffed chili peppers covered in a creamy sauce and topped with pomegranate seeds. Personally, I am not a huge fan, but many people are and there’s no denying they are part of what gives Puebla such a good food reputation.
Even if you don’t love them, you simply need to try them to have an authentic experience! Chiles en Nogada are only served around September, in celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day on September 16.
10. Learn About Talavera Pottery
Talavera is a type of pottery that has been made in the area for centuries. Talavera pottery is distinguished by its white and blue colors, and it’s one of the top souvenirs to purchase in Puebla. This is really high-quality stuff, too, making it a great option to give as a Christmas gift back home.
Uriarte Talavera is a good place to buy some pottery pieces, and its central location is one of the main reasons so many people visit.
The Best Foods to Eat in Puebla
Puebla has a reputation of being a bit of a foodie city, especially for those interested in Mexican cuisine. This makes sense, as both of the national dishes of Mexico, Chiles en Nogada and Mole, originated here. Poblano cuisine is actually considered by many to be the best food in Mexico, which means that the best foods to eat in Puebla are actually some of the best foods to eat in Mexico as a whole!
We wrote a full blog post on all the foods you should be eating in Puebla. The history behind this food is fascinating, and the tastes are next level. Open our full blog post to see it.
Best Places to Eat in Puebla
This place is widely regarded as one of the finest restaurants in the city and easily one of the best places to eat in Puebla. They serve authentic, high-quality Poblano food for a reasonable price by US standards. This place is a bit on the nicer end, and you’d be better off in smart casual attire. This is a great place to try Mole Poblano or Chiles en Nogada, as many people say this restaurant is the best in the world at both of these dishes!
2. Casa Barroca
This is another restaurant on the finer end. They also serve fantastic Poblano food in a beautiful environment. It’s really hard to put either of these first two restaurants above the other, as both serve incredible local food in a fantastic space and belong on the list of the best places to eat in Puebla without a question. This would be another awesome spot to try one of the national dishes! We went for brunch on a Sunday, and it was honestly fantastic.
3. El Cielo de Jalisco
This is less of a restaurant recommendation and more of a quick bite stop, but it still deserves the title of one of the best places to eat in Puebla. It’s an extremely local, little shop and we have one recommendation for you – cemitas arabes and cemitas al pastor (or tortas if they’re out of cemitas!) This place is our go-to for a quick bite, and we’d be lying if we said we go here any less than weekly. Expect to pay less than a dollar per cemita or torta!
It’s a mom & pop so they don’t have a website, but these directions should get you there!
Address: On Calle 4 Sur between Avenida 5 Oriente & 7 Oriente.
4. La Berenjena
We hate to include a restaurant on the list of the best places to eat in Puebla that doesn’t even serve Mexican food, but La Berenjena is just that good. The pizza here is fantastic, along with a good selection of other Italian dishes. There are several locations, but the one we’d recommend is the one in Los Sapos, as you can stroll the neighborhood after your dinner! They have a great indoor and outdoor space and are a good way to mix things up if you want a break from Mexican food.
This place is another chain, and it is the home of Tacos Arabes. There are a bunch of these located throughout the city. Their Tacos Arabes are clearly the thing to try, but we’ve never heard a complaint about anything on their menu! We’d recommend it as a great lunch spot. The thing that makes this one of the best places to eat in Puebla is its convenience. There are locations in just about every part of the city!
6. El Patio y Las Ranas
Do you like tacos? We hope so if you’re headed to Mexico! The final place we’d consider one of the best places to eat in Puebla is Las Ranas. It’s our favorite taco joint in town. They have so many different types of meat that you can order in your tacos, and they have very affordable prices. We’d recommend trying their chorizo tacos or their tacos al pastor!
How to Get Around Puebla
Puebla is very much a car city. By that we mean the public transportation exists, but it isn’t the most accessible. There is no subway system – it is all buses and colectivos.
While renting a car is always an option, we’d simply recommend using Uber all the time. Taxis are never your best bet in Mexico, and Uber is both safer and cheaper. You can Uber just about anywhere in the city for less than $3!
Uber is dirt cheap in Mexico.
Ubering will probably be significantly cheaper than renting a car or hiring a driver, and it is definitely easier than driving. If you are worried about using Uber while in Mexico, be sure to read this post about why Uber is safe to use abroad.
Driving is a bit wilder in Mexico than it is in the United States. If you do decide to rent a car, though, check out our post on tips for driving in Mexico.
Is Puebla Safe for Tourists?
“Is Puebla safe for tourists?” is probably one of the questions that we get the most when people ask us about our previous home city. A lot of people are worried about visiting different parts of Mexico and tend to wonder things like “is Puebla safe for tourists?” and “how dangerous is Puebla?”
We understand the concern, but we think it may be a bit unnecessary. After living here for two years, we have a pretty good grasp on safety in Puebla. We wrote a whole post on the most dangerous places in Mexico, and Puebla doesn’t come close to cracking the list.
Puebla is no more dangerous than any major city in your own country.
Now, in my opinion, how dangerous is Puebla? No more dangerous than any major city in your own country. In fact, Puebla might even be safer.
While we’ve heard stories of various incidents that have happened, they’re rare and are nothing that doesn’t happen in places like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Puebla is nothing like Tijuana. I definitely had to talk a lot about safety in my Tijuana travel guide.
If you want to maximize your safety in Puebla, take the basic precautions that you would take in any major city. Don’t do anything illegal, don’t walk around too late at night, and don’t flash any valuables. If you go about your business normally and don’t go asking for trouble, the odds of something happening to you are very low.
Our Final Tips for Visiting Puebla
What to Wear in Puebla
The temperature is awesome all year long in Puebla. You can get away with springtime attire here any month of the year. Many places in this region have been dubbed “cities of eternal spring” because the weather really doesn’t stray too far from mild and comfortable.
It can get a little chilly at night. So if you’re coming any time outside of the summer I’d advise bringing a sweater. Also, it’s best to dress on the modest side, as Central Mexico is a more conservative area.
If you visit during the rainy season, be sure to bring an umbrella or a rain jacket. This runs from April to October.
Haggle in Local Markets
Secondly, if you go to any type of market, feel free to haggle! This is often the expectation, and speaking Spanish definitely helps. Visiting the local markets is one of the best ways to really immerse yourself in Mexican culture.
Our favorite market in Puebla is the Mercado La Acocota, which is just east of the Historic Center. We shopped here every single week while living in Puebla. They have everything from fresh corn tortillas to produce to meat to toiletries.
Always Give a Tip
Tipping in Mexico is a bit different from in the United States. In restaurants, 10% is the expectation and 15% is for exceptional service. But in Mexico, it is customary to tip almost anyone for anything.
Parking attendants, Uber drivers, and delivery people all expect tips. Having 10 pesos or so to pass along to anyone that gives you a hand will be greatly appreciated, and it’s one of the easiest ways to support the local economy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Puebla
How many days do I need in Puebla Mexico?
You should allot about 4 days to visit Puebla, at minimum. This gives you enough time to explore the historic center, take a day trip to Cholula, try some of the best restaurants, and visit the city’s top museums. Any less than 4 days is not enough time to truly experience Puebla.
Is Puebla walkable?
Puebla is very walkable. The best neighborhoods of the city are all around the historic center and can all be reached by foot. Any areas that are further away are easily reached by Uber.
Should I stay in Cholula or Puebla?
I highly recommend staying in the Historic Center of Puebla instead of Cholula. While Cholula is wonderful, there is much more at your fingertips when you stay in the center of Puebla, and there are many very nice hotels.
What is the best time to visit Puebla Mexico?
The best time to visit Puebla, Mexico is during the area’s dry season. This runs from October through April in Mexico’s central highlands. It offers visitors comfortable temperatures, little to no rain, and cool breezes.
Can you drink the water in Puebla Mexico?
You should not drink the water in Puebla, Mexico. While many of the locals do it, it isn’t a good idea for foreigners. You can buy jugs or bottles of water at any convenience store, and restaurants happily serve bottled water to their guests.
What is the best part of Puebla to stay in?
The best part of Puebla to stay in is the Historic Center. This is actually where we lived during our time in Puebla. Almost everything is at your fingertips and is within walking distance if you stay in the Historic Center of Puebla.
The Quinta Real is one of the top hotels in Puebla, and it is shockingly affordable for how nice it is.
That’s all we have for you about visiting downtown Puebla! Hopefully this Puebla Travel Guide helps you to plan the ultimate trip to Mexico’s 5th biggest city. If you have any questions, be sure to drop a comment in the comment section or shoot us an email.
If you’re planning a trip to Puebla, let us know! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have. Otherwise, have a wonderful day and stay present!