Five things to do in Puebla, Mexico

//Five things to do in Puebla, Mexico

Five things to do in Puebla, Mexico

There is plenty to enjoy in Mexico’s fifth largest city: colonial architecture, appetizing local dishes, and traditional crafts.

Surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, filled with Renaissance and Baroque architecture, and famous for classic Mexican cuisine, colonial Puebla in central Mexico can appeal to many interests. The lively city, home to over 1.5 million people, offers plentiful leisure and sightseeing options.

Here are five activities I recommend as a starting point for exploring the city and area, or if you stop there for only a few days.

1. Visiting the Zócalo

Like many Mexican cities, Puebla is centered around a main plaza. The European-style zócalo is lined with arcade buildings, outdoor cafes, and a large 16th century cathedral. Head to the square to soak up the city’s atmosphere, grab a drink, or relax on a bench and people-watch.

2. Walking the historic district

Puebla dates back to 1531 and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It has more than 2,600 monuments and well-preserved historic buildings, including many covered in elaborate tiles.

You can see the tile work on Templo de San Francisco, the oldest Catholic church in the city, and Casa de los Muñecos (“House of Dolls”), a former yarn warehouse that now serves as a restaurant and cultural institution. Paseo Bravo, a long and narrow plaza popular with lunch crowds, features a tiled church.

Arcade buildings surrounding Zócalo

A street in ‘Centro Histórico’

Templo de San Francisco at dusk

3. Tasting local cuisine

The city has long been recognized for its culinary traditions. Food enthusiasts may enjoy these three local inventions:

  • mole poblano – a dark, thick sauce prepared from around 20 ingredients, such as chili peppers and chocolate
  • cemitas – round bread-roll sandwiches with various toppings, including Mexican string cheese (quesillo)
  • chiles en nogada – stuffed peppers in a walnut-based cream sauce.


4. Learning about history and crafts

Puebla was the birthplace of the Mexican Revolution and site of the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 (the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo – Spanish for May 5th – commemorates that day). Mexican Revolution artifacts can be found at Museo Regional de la Revolución Mexicana. For pre-Hispanic collections, visit Museo Amparo, located inside two colonial-era buildings.

The city also houses Uriarte Talavera, a painted pottery workshop and store, carrying a large catalog of handcrafted items, including tiles, dishes, and home accessories.

Elaborate tiles on a building in the historic center

5. Taking a day trip

There are many historically-significant towns surrounding Puebla, many of them easily accessible by bus.

Cholula, founded between 800 and 200 B.C., is believed to be the oldest continually-inhabited city in the country. It is the site of the Great Pyramid of Cholula, one of the world’s largest at 181 feet / 55 meters tall. Cholula’s historic center features a large zócalo with restaurants inside arcade buildings, a set up similar to that in Puebla.

Another idea for exploring the area is hiking nearby archeological sites, such as the Olmec ruins in Cantona.

Zócalo and the Great Pyramid (background) in Cholula

Getting there & Links

Puebla is located 85 miles south-east of Mexico City and accessible via bus and air:

  • Estrella Roja/ADO operates comfortable first-class buses (the trip takes approximately two hours). Snacks, a beverage, and onboard Wi-Fi are provided.
  • The area airport is operated by United Airlines (direct flights from the United States), Volaris, and Aeromexico.

Official Tourism Site | Puebla Turismo on Facebook

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Have you been to Puebla or other colonial cities in Mexico? If so, what was your favorite experience?

By | 2012-10-17T15:40:03+00:00 October 11th, 2012|CITIES|19 Comments

About the Author:

Pola Henderson is a travel writer, city explorer, expat, and event host. Traveling has been a part of her life since she was three. Pola grew up in Krakow, lived in Chicago for many years and is currently based in Paris, where she teaches Business English.


  1. avatar
    Traveling Ted October 12, 2012 at 6:35 am

    I thought that I ate everything in Puebla, but I don’t think I had a cemita. I will have to try the one in Chicago sometime.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..Hiking loops in the Porcupine Mountains State Wilderness AreaMy Profile

  2. avatar
    Kieu October 15, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Ive always wanted to try the real deal mole. Mexico is high on our list.. were so close being from Califormia but just never made it crossed the border. Soon though. Dying to try the food!
    Kieu recently posted..Ranakpur in Photos: The Most Beautiful Temple in IndiaMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 23, 2012 at 4:59 am

      Mole is fantastic… There’s a Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood that serves what they call ‘haute Mexican cuisine’ and their mole is the best I’ve had outside Mexico.

  3. avatar
    @mrsoaroundworld October 15, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Wow, I really want to go to real mexico one day. My 2 experiences were horrendous and nothing like this!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..Photos of the Week – #FriFotos turns 2!My Profile

    • avatar
      the lazy travelers October 15, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      was literally just thinking the same thing! we need pola & craig to take us on a real tour.
      the lazy travelers recently travel requiredMy Profile

      • avatar
        Jetting Around October 23, 2012 at 5:00 am

        Ana – I’m sure a great Mexican adventure is in store for you. Don’t lose faith. :) And yes, I’d be happy to do a Mexico tweetup. ;-)

  4. avatar
    lola October 16, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Must. Get. To. Mexico! that sandwich looks delicious. i really shouldn’t read posts with food in the morning or evening – before mealtime. STARVING NOW!!
    lola recently posted..postcards, pins, patches – what’s your favorite travel souvenirs?My Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 23, 2012 at 5:01 am

      Haha, sorry Lola. ;-) But let me tell you – that sandwich was to die for, and served with freshly-squeezed juice. Yum.

  5. avatar
    Leah Travels October 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I love Mexico so much. I’d like to explore more of the interior like Puebla. Your photos are beautiful as always. And the food pics? Damn you!
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    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 23, 2012 at 5:02 am

      There are still so many places I need to see in Mexico… I wouldn’t mind going back to Puebla either. For the food and the historic center.

  6. avatar
    Rebecca October 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Nice piece, Pola! Thanks for linking to my site. I’d love to take you on my Taste of Puebla culinary tour the next time you’re in town. We’ll walk around the historic center and sample cemitas, tacos arabes, chalupas, pelonas, and other delicious, typically Poblano foods.

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 23, 2012 at 5:03 am

      Hi Rebecca. Thanks for stopping by! I do enjoy your blog and if I go back to Puebla, it will be a great resource. I’d love to do that food tour, it sounds amazing!
      Jetting Around recently posted..My ten favorite things about the USAMy Profile

  7. avatar
    Sand In My Suitcase November 2, 2012 at 11:08 am

    We haven’t visited Puebla yet, or Mexico’s other interior colonial cities like San Miguel Allende. They are on our wish list! We have, however, visited and written extensively about Puerto Vallarta, which has a colonial Old Town section. You may read our post about “Puerto Vallarta: Hot spot for art and fine dining” here:
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted..‘Tis the season for… storm watching on Vancouver IslandMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around November 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm

      I’d love to go to San Miguel Allende, plus lots of other colonial towns e.g. Guadalajara. There are so many places worth seeing in MX… Puerto Vallarta hasn’t been too high on my list though, but I’d be interested in reading about its historic part. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  8. avatar
    Wobblydangly July 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Beautiful photography. Did you visit Xochitecatl or Zacatlan or Huamantla- interested to hear your views. Thanks

    • avatar
      Jetting Around July 26, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      Thank you! No, I didn’t visit the places you mention, but on that trip I also went to Oaxaca and Mexico City.

  9. avatar
    Romy Mlinzk February 20, 2014 at 2:09 am

    Wanna go right now. Looks so pretty.
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    • avatar
      Jetting Around March 1, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Let’s go, Romy! :) I’d return in a heartbeat! Beautiful city and the food is fantastic.

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