The city of Puebla de los Ángeles, located in the state of the same name, is one of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations, not least because of its delicious culinary heritage, breathtaking colonial architecture and convenient location a few hours south of Mexico City. Even UNESCO have recognised its cultural value. Here’s our guide to the 12 unmissable sights and activities in Puebla City.
Explore a volcano – inside or out!
If you’re feeling adventurous, or want to take the path less travelled on your next visit to Puebla, the obvious option is to go explore some volcanoes. Puebla boasts a location that’s just a stone’s throw away from the famed twin volcanoes of Mexico; Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl. While the latter is off limits to visitors, due to a 1994 eruption, the former still makes for a great climbing or sight-seeing option. Equally, step inside the Cuexcomate geiser instead. You never know, you might even see some UFOs…
Indulge your sweet tooth on the Calle de los Dulces
Besides mole poblano and the seasonal delight that is a chile en nogada, Puebla is also well known for producing some delicious sugary treats too. The best place for those of you with a sweet tooth to sample all the culinary specialities this city has to offer is the so-called Calle de los Dulces (Sweet Street). Also known as La Calle de Santa Clara, make sure to try out some of the region’s most representative candies – camote, muégano and las tortitas de Santa Clara.
If you’re tired of traipsing the artisanal-store lined streets of Puebla, why not get a new perspective of the colonial city by taking a ride in its teleférico, or cable car. The 680-metre journey suspends you above the city so you can truly take in all its breathtaking views in one go. If dangling from a wire doesn’t float your boat though, take a ride on the Estrella de Puebla, an 80-metre high ferris wheel that offers spectacular views of Izta and Popo.
While Puebla is principally known as one of the best architectural destinations in Mexico, it also has a smattering of slightly more unusually decorated buildings that are worth taking a look at. The first is the Talavera tiled Casa de los Muñecos, although if you’re into beautifully tiled buildings, make sure to stop by Casa del Alfeñique too. For Baroque fans, the Capilla del Rosario is a must-see, as is the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús. However, for something more modern, head to the Ricardo Legorreta designed La Purificadora hotel.
Art lovers, particularly those interested in Mexican art, cannot pass up the opportunity to pay a visit to Museo Amparo when in Puebla. Within the duo of colonial buildings is housed one of the finest collections of Mexican art in Latin America – and entry is free. First opened in 1991, the museum now houses everything from pre-Hispanic art to modern day pieces. Don’t forget to head to the terrace either, as from there you can admire an enchanting vista over the city.
As well as food, Puebla is the home of many fantastic drinks more or less exclusive to the state. You could knock back a Mexican mojito, also known as a menjul, or dare to try a pasita, a popular liqueur made from a local, raisin-esque fruit. If the idea of a liquid raisin shot doesn’t appeal, instead enjoy a much more palatable Rompope (basically, alcoholic eggnog). For both of the aforementioned drinks the auspiciously named La Pasita comes highly recommended.
You simply cannot visit Puebla without trying out some of its famed mole poblano. This rich, thick, chili-chocolate flavour sauce, typically served with rice and meat, is the national dish of Mexico, and where better place to try it than in the place from which it originates? Either try it at a restaurant or buy the ingredients to make it yourself from Mercado el Carmen. If mole doesn’t do it for you, then perhaps Puebla’s signature sandwich-like dish cemita will, or even a purple quesadilla from Mercado de Cholula?
Xanenetla, considered Puebla’s youngest neighbourhood, is also one of its most vibrant and makes for an excellent escape if you’re more interested in street art than colonial architecture. Once known for being fairly unsafe, street art projects have breathed new life into the barrio, making it a viable destination for the artsy traveller. Cobbled streets and around 55 colourful, full-wall sized murals await you in this quirky corner of Puebla City.
Many people confuse Cinco de Mayo for Mexican Independence Day (that honour actually falls to September 16th); however, one state in Mexico does celebrate that day and that state is Puebla. On May 5th 1862, Ignacio Zaragoza and his troops defeated the attacking French army on the Cerro de Loreto y Guadalupe; to this day you can explore the old military stronghold which is now home to a museum rather than an army. The view from the Fuertes de Loreto y Guadalupe is spectacular too.
Situated, as with most of Mexico’s cathedrals, right on the city’s main square, the Catedral de Puebla makes for an unmissable sightseeing opportunity. Widely considered to be one of the country’s best, this enormous edifice was constructed in 1575 and has a tiled dome roof inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica. Famed sculptor Manuel Tolsá is the brains behind its impressive principal altar, too.
Callejón de los Sapos, translated to Frog Alley, is a treasure-trove of antiques dealers, artisanal vendors and furniture hawkers. Every Sunday, the length of this callejón transforms into a vibrant destination where you can enjoy the fresh air and the atmosphere all at the same time. Pick up some Talavera pottery or some vintage movie paraphernalia to take home as a colourful souvenir of your time in Puebla.
Our final entry comes in the form of one of the country’s, if not the continent’s, finest libraries. The Biblioteca Palafoxiana is situated within Puebla’s Casa de la Cultura and is more than worth a visit if you’re a bibliophile. In fact, we’d even recommend it for the casual culture fiend. Housing over 43,000 works, this library was the first public library in Mexico and many even claim it was the first in the Americas.