The Itinerary is my series of travel guides on where to stay, eat, drink, go, and chill. For this edition, get a unique taste of Mexico in Puebla.
Have the post-vacation blues got you already thinking about your next vacay? If you are unsure where to go, maybe you should consider Mexico (and I’m not talking about Cancun or Mexico City).
Two hours south-east of Mexico City is the charming city of Puebla. However, as the 4th largest city in Mexico, it is by no means small. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Puebla is full of history, art, food, and people who are happy to share its many beautiful and delicious treasures.
With its world-class museums, fantastic restaurants, and 365 churches (one for everyday of the year), there is so much to do in Puebla. Are you a foodie? This city is a foodie haven, where you can enjoy the many flavors (and creative dishes) of Poblano cuisine. Want to be more active? You can even hike either of the city’s still-active twin volcanoes; Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl! Since Puebla has remained in the shadows of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations — the best part is, it’s still under the radar.
You will not see many American tourists here (if any). Yet with its growing number of luxury hotels and culinary joints, this Mexican city will continue to draw some serious attention. Come and discover Puebla: Mexico’s latest hot spot.
Keep reading for tips on planning a visit to Puebla
What to Know Before You Go to Puebla
When to Visit Puebla
Puebla is a great destination to visit anytime of the year, but you might consider avoiding the rainy season (mid-May through September). If you enjoy warmer weather, plan your trip between March to May or from August to September. Some interesting holidays to go visit during are Mexico’s Independence Day (September 16) and Cinco de Mayo (May 5).
Yes, Puebla celebrates Cinco de Mayo, but not in the way you think. Cinco de Mayo is not a celebration of Mexico’s independence, but a celebration of Mexico’s victory against France in the Battle of Puebla in 1862 . Which is 50 years after Mexico gained its independence from Spain on September 16, 1810.
There are plenty of options for how to get to Puebla. Most travelers fly to Mexico City International Airport (MEX), and either reserve a car service to Puebla (I recommend reserving through your hotel) or fly directly to Puebla International Airport (PBC). If you are a more budget conscious traveler, take the Estrella Roja bus for 130 pesos ($7 USD). This bus is available from Mexico City International Airport (MEX) to Puebla’s locally known CAPU bus station. However, due to the increased travel traffic to Puebla, Aeromexico, Delta, Interjet, Southwest, and United all have direct flights from Houston to Puebla.
Puebla is a rather sprawling city, so walk if you like, as it isgood exercise while on vacation, but most likely you will be using a car to get around. It is recommended to organize a car service through your hotel, but Uber is readily available in Puebla. Just don’t be surprised if there are language barrier issues.
Puebla is a very affordable city to enjoy. On average, a meal for two at a mid-range restaurant costs $20 USD (380 pesos). Credit cards are accepted at most restaurants, but it is a good idea to have a few pesos ready. Especially if you would like to purchase something from a more local establishment or a street vendor.
Find out where to stay, eat, drink, go, sweat, and chill in Puebla, Mexico.
Where to Stay in Puebla
Puebla has experienced a growth in tourists and the hotel scene has expanded as a result. With many hotels to choose from, including plenty of affordable luxury options, you are sure to find something very comfortable within your price range.
During my visit to Puebla, I stayed a the Rosewood Puebla. I would describe it as a luxury hotel with a boutique vibe. Centrally located with quick access to many other neighborhoods, this hotel is an oasis from bustling Puebla City. Rosewood Puebla exudes true 5 star service. The concierge and staff are incredibly attentive and helpful with anything you could need. They strive to make your stay as special as possible and often exceed expectations. The rooms are comfortable and tastefully decorated with many nods to the local culture. Make sure to explore the property as there a beautiful settings to sit and relax. Want to take a dip? The hotel has a beautiful rooftop pool overlooking the city.
Where to Eat in Puebla
Puebla is becoming a popular foodie destination, especially since being there is like an eating vacation. The local cuisine is very generous and incorporates a unique blend of indigenous, Spanish, and Arab influences. What makes visiting Puebla extra special is picking the right time enjoy its delicacies, as the cuisine is often based on seasonality. In particular, chiles en nogada are only available from July to September. This is the only time in the year that its ingredients are at their peak. Another must have dish is the mole poblano. This dish involves 20 different ingredients (including chocolate!) to create its signature sweet an savory taste.
The menu variety in Puebla is incredible, so the key part of ordering food in Puebla is asking the wait staff what is recommended based on your personal tastes. Don’t be afraid to try something out of your comfort zone!
Housed in a hacienda from the 16th century, La Noria is a must visit! If you enjoy a more gastronomic experience with your food — this is the restaurant to go to in Puebla. There are definitely some interesting menu items available, but plenty of delicious options with more typical ingredients. This is the perfect restaurant to explore your palate.
El Mural de los Poblanos
For a more traditional experience, consider visiting El Mural de los Poblanos. This restaurant is the heart and soul of authentic Poblano cuisine. What makes this restaurant ever better is that they offer vegetarian versions for many of the menu items. It is important to note that this restaurant is touristy, but that is no reason to skip it! The service is friendly and the food just as delicious.
Within the Rosewood Puebla is Pasquinel Bistrot, a restaurant that puts a European twist on the local cuisine. If you would like to dine here, make sure to get a seat by the window overlooking the hotel’s garden, or eat on the terrace for a more casual vibe.
Calle de los Dulces
Puebla is not just full of savory cuisine, but also lots of sweets. If you have a sweet tooth, definitely pay Calle de los Dulces a visit! This 3 block long street is lined with stores that sell a variety of candies and baked goods.
Where to Drink in Puebla
If you are looking for an afternoon aperitif or are getting ready for a night out in Puebla, there are plenty of watering holes that provide a variety of ambiances.
You must make a stop to La Pasita, as its Puebla’s oldest bar. This quaint hole in the wall, near the Las Sopas artisan area, serves shot glasses of fruit flavored liquors. Come here to try the “la pasita”. It’s a flavored liquor serves with a raisin and a cube of cheese.
Come to this rooftop deck for a great view of Puebla’s most prominent church and lush square. The view is the best part of this restaurant, as the service could be more attentive, so I recommend ordering a drink while watching the scenes below. Also, the elevator is often on the fritz, so be aware that you might need to walk up quite a few flights of stairs.
La Terraza at La Purificadora
La Terraza is the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset with the view of the Templo de San Francisco in the background. If you stay at La Purificadora, come during the day to enjoy your cocktail by the rooftop pool. This may be one time you might want to take the stairs instead of the elevator. The transparent floors and stairs are a fun (and dizzying) treat!
El Ciego is a very low-key speakeasy in Puebla. Unlike most speakeasys in the US, you cannot just pop into this place. You have to call ahead of time and reserve a time to enter. Once your reservation is confirmed, the host will give you a code that is needed for entry. As a heads up, your code is absolutely required for entry, and it only works during a 15 minute window from your reservation time. It may sound complicated, but trust me the drinks here are worth it.
Bar Los Lavaderos
Nestled beneath the Rosewood Puebla is the Bar Los Lavaderos. The name comes from the fact that the bar is partially built within a 19th century wash house. This intimate bar has a very sophisticated vibe and impressive cocktails. Great spot to enjoy a nightcap.
Where to Go in Puebla
There are plenty of places to go in Puebla between the many museums and churches. However, these are the places you must go to take in the beautiful architecture and art.
Catedral de Puebla
You will probably want to see a few of those 365 churches to start. Since it is almost impossible to see them all, start with the Catedral de Puebla, which is the most celebrated. Considered to be the second largest church in Mexico, the Catedral de Puebla is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. Thought the exterior looks dark and foreboding, within is an impressive example of classic Baroque design and architecture.
Zócalo de Puebla
Right next to the Catedral de Puebla is the Zócalo de Puebla. This public square is the main square in Puebla. It is a great place to sit and watch the world go by. Maybe check out the interesting local artwork or find a spot to people watch. Zócalo de Puebla is also surrounded by many restaurants and cafes. Once you find a good place, relax and enjoy the view.
International Museum of the Baroque
The International Museum of the Baroque is Puebla’s newest museum. The museum itself is a work of art as it was designed by Japanese architect Toyo Itō. Within it’s minimally designed (and earthquake resistant) walls is an extensive collection of Baroque art. If Baroque art is not your style, this museum is still worth a visit for its unique architecture. If you are feeling a little hungry, head to the Barroco Restaurante at the top of the museum. The food presentation is just as artistic as the building.
The Amparo Museum is one of the most important historical museums in Mexico. Located in the historic center of Puebla, it holds a wide variety of Mexican art including Pre-Columbian, colonial, modern, and contemporary. Need to take a break from exploring the art? Head to the museum’s rooftop cafe for a snack and a beautiful view of the city.
Great Pyramid of Cholula (Tlachihualtepetl)
A little fun fact about Puebla is that it has the largest man-made pyramid in the world. The Great Pyramid of Cholula is an Aztec temple with a very interesting history, in that it is completely buried. This buried pyramid is worth the day trip and a guided tour to understand its bizarre and mysterious history. After the tour, get ready for the hike up to the Spanish church situated at its peak.
La Iglesia de los Remédios
La Iglesia de los Remédios (also known as La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios) is the Catholic church perched on top of the Great Pyramid of Cholula. Built in the 16th century, this church isn’t only interesting because of its location, but also its incredibly ornate interior decor. If you decide to do the hike to the top, make time to enjoy the view overlooking Cholula and the volcano Popocatépetl.
Where to Chill in Puebla
As important (and fun!) as it is to explore a new city that you are traveling to, it is also important to find time to chill. You deserve some #selfcare.
Sense Spa at the Rosewood Puebla
During my stay, I booked the 90-minute Essential Remedies Massage after a workout at the hotel gym. It was an amazing, multi-sensory experience. The massage therapist gave me a choice of scents that were infused in the room and incorporated in the massage oils. She was very skilled in treating my problem areas with a vigorous, but smoothing massage. I was so relaxed that the time flew by.
As you can see, there is so much to do in Puebla. It may be a city that is unheard of to most, but it is seriously worth a visit!