The Top 14 Things to Do in Puebla, Mexico

A happy tourist walking down the street
MStudioImages / Getty Images

Mexico's fifth-largest city, Puebla de Zaragoza is the capital of Mexico's Puebla state. With well-conserved Baroque-style architecture, a UNESCO-recognized historic center, and iconic regional dishes like mole poblano, Puebla's blend of modernity and rich history make the city a must-visit on any Mexico itinerary. As it lies 80 miles southeast of Mexico City, Puebla is an easy day trip from the country's capital, but it is well worth staying a few days. Here are 15 of our favorite things to do.

01 of 14

Stroll Around the Zócalo de Puebla

Zocolo at Dawn
Rob Tilley / Getty Images
Address
Av. Don Juan de Palafox y. Mendoza, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue., Mexico
Phone +52 800 326 8656

Located in the city's historic center is the Zócalo de Puebla, a main square and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Formerly a marketplace and bullfighting stage, this large and attractive plaza is now a common gathering ground for cultural and political events. Plan a visit here to see the Catedral de Puebla (Puebla Cathedral), statues and monuments, and San Miguel Arcángel Fountain, which dates back to 1777. The Zócalo can get quite crowded on weekends, but it makes for great people-watching. This is the perfect starting point for a walking tour of Puebla.

02 of 14

Tour the Amparo Museum

Amparo Museum Figurines
Creative Commons photo by Olivier Bruchez
Address
C. 2 Sur 708, Centro, 72000 Puebla, Pue., Mexico

Spread across two buildings, the Museo Amparo (Amparo Museum) houses impressive collections of pre-Colombian, Viceregal, 19th-century, and contemporary Mexican art. Among the objects here, you'll find bowls, stelae, figures, and more crafted by civilizations indigenous to Mesoamerica, including the Aztec, Maya, and Teotihuacan cultures. Along with excellent museography and interactive displays, you'll find a variety of temporary Mexican and international exhibits highlighting themes ranging from archaeology and history to architecture and design. Be sure to head up to the café and rooftop terrace, where you'll get a gorgeous view of Puebla.

03 of 14

See the International Museum of the Baroque

Baroque Museum in Puebla

 Getty Images / Edmund Sumner/VIEW

Address
Atlixcáyotl 2501, Reserva Territorial Atlixcáyotl, 72830 Puebla, Pue., Mexico
Phone +52 222 326 7130

The striking architecture of this all-white building, designed by Japanese architect and 2013 Pritzker Prize winner Toyo Ito, is decidedly modern but the exterior belies what you'll discover inside. Spanning seven halls, you'll see a stunning collection of paintings, sculptures, installations, and interactive exhibits that explore the Baroque period, which ran from the early 17th to the late 18th centuries, in Mexico and abroad. A highlight is the Angelopolis exhibit, which features a scale model of Puebla's historical center. It's open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday.

04 of 14

Meet Elephants, Giraffes and Tigers at Africam Safari

A tiger at Africam Safari in Puebla

Suzanne Barbezat

Address
Carretera al Oasis 17302-22, Oasis, 72960 Puebla, Pue., Mexico
Phone +52 222 281 7000

This wildlife conservation zoo is home to more than 450 species of animals that roam across roughly 500 acres of various habitats, from Botswana's Okavango Delta to the Huasteca. View elephants, giraffes, rhinos, tigers, zebras, and more from the comfort of your own car or via guided tour (4x4, bike, and walking tours available). You can also sign up for fun and educational experiences with the different animals, including drinking cocktails as safari animals roam around you, picnicking with the giraffes, and learning how to track animals. Africam Safari is located 10 miles south of Puebla; buses leave from the Zócalo and the CAPU bus terminal daily.

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05 of 14

Visit the Catedral de Puebla

The Main Square (Zocalo) of Puebla, Mexico
AlbertoLoyo / Getty Images
Address
C. 16 de Septiembre s/n, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue., Mexico
Phone +52 222 232 2316

Catedral de Puebla (Puebla Cathedral) is a Roman Catholic church located right in the city's historic center, on the southern side of the Zócalo. Although construction began in 1575, it wasn't completed until the late 1600s. Its two towers, which stand at about 226 feet, are the tallest in Mexico. Admire the cathedral's architectural design, a blend of Baroque and Renaissance-Herrerian styles, before stepping inside to explore its 14 chapels.

06 of 14

Sample Some of Puebla's Delicious Regional Foods

Mole at Fonda de Santa Clara

Fonda de Santa Clara / Facebook

Puebla is well-known among Mexicans for its cuisine: Both mole poblano and chiles en nogada are said to originate here. Be sure to try the mole at Fonda Santa Clara, a Poblano landmark with two locations in the historical center, or at Casona de la China Poblana, a boutique hotel whose restaurant serves up a pine nut-based version. Chalupas—mini corn tortillas topped with shredded pork, chopped onion, and red and green chili sauce—are also very popular, and can be best enjoyed at La Casita Poblana. And if you're hankering for some snacks, La Calle de los Dulces (Sweet Street) is the place for treats like camote, muégano, and las tortitas de Santa Clara.

07 of 14

Learn About Cinco de Mayo at the Forts of Loreto and Guadalupe

Fuerte de Guadalupe, Puebla. Fuertes Cerro de Acueyametepec.

 Getty Images / Roberto Vaca

Address
Av Ejercito de Ote 100, Zona de Los Fuertes, 72260 Puebla, Pue., Mexico

The Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, in which the Mexican army led by General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated French forces, is celebrated every year as the Cinco de Mayo holiday—and it took place right here. Overlooking the city atop Acueyametepc hill, the neighboring forts of Loreto and Guadalupe (Fuertes de Loreto y Guadalupe) were originally built as chapels in the 16th century, but both were fortified in the 1800s to protect the city during its independence movement. Wander around Fort Guadalupe to see the remains of its walls and cannons, then visit the Museo de la No Intervención (Museum of Non-Intervention), which showcases weapons, uniforms, documents, and oil paintings portraying the battle. If you take the Turibus city tour, you'll drive by here, but you're better off taking a taxi if you would like to visit the museum.

08 of 14

Take a Day Trip to Cholula

The Great Pyramid and the Our Lady of Remedies Church in Cholula, Mexico
Leonid Andronov / Getty Images
Address
C. 14 Pte. S/N, San Miguel, Zona Arqueológica San Andrés Cholula, 72760 San Andrés Cholula, Pue., Mexico
Phone +52 222 247 9081

Just 6 miles outside of Puebla, you can see The Great Pyramid of Cholula, the world's largest pyramid by volume. Also known as Tlachihualtepetl, it is said to comprise six structures, which collectively stand at 180 feet tall and have a base of 1,480 by 1,480 feet. Now mostly covered in vegetation, you can explore the archaeological site, including a fraction of its 5 miles of tunnels, on a guided tour before visiting the on-site museum. The church at the top, La Iglesia de la Virgen de Los Remedios, is open and free to the public.

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09 of 14

Get Lost in the Stacks of Palafoxian Library

Biblioteca Palafoxiana

 Getty Images / ​De Agostini / G. Dagli Orti

Address
Av 5 Ote 5, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue., Mexico
Phone +52 222 232 1227

The oldest public library in the Americas, the original collection of the Biblioteca Palafoxiana (Palafoxian Library) was donated by Bishop Juan de Palafox in 1646 with the stipulation that the books be made available to the public and not just academics. Now boasting more than 45,000 works, the library features not only its original collection of books but also the original shelving, which dates all the way back to the 1770s. Don't miss the splendid 14th-century altarpiece, located at the far end of the library. Biblioteca Palafoxiana is open for guided tours, Tuesday through Sunday.

10 of 14

Sign Up for a Talavera Workshop

Mexican pottery Talavera style of Mexico
LUNAMARINA / Getty Images

Puebla isn't called the "City of Tiles" for nothing. Talavera poblana (Talavera pottery) is a type of hand-painted, tin-enameled earthenware that was first introduced to Puebla in the 16th century by colonizers from Talavera de la Reina, Spain. Today, the city is one of the few places in the world producing authentic Talavera, and seeing some of Puebla's master artisans at work will add a whole new level of interest to your shopping expedition. You can watch the whole process by signing up for a workshop tour of Talavera de la Reyna or Uriarte Talavera, after which you will have the opportunity to purchase some beautiful ceramics to take home.

11 of 14

Shop for Traditional Handicrafts at El Parián Market

Crafts fair in the city of Puebla, Mexico

Dedé Vargas/Getty Images

Address
Mercado de artesanias El Parian local 111, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue., Mexico

Located in the historic center of Puebla, this charming handicrafts market (also known as the Antigua Plaza de San Roque) is the largest in the city. With 112 stands, you'll find a little bit of everything here, from Talavera pottery and traditional clothing to wax dolls, blown glass, and Amozco silverware. Alternatively, you can check out the Mercado La Victoria, a late 19th-century market that's been converted into a modern shopping center with department stores and upscale boutiques, or the Sunday flea market on Callejón de los Sapos (Frog Alley).

12 of 14

Marvel at the Rosary Chapel of Santo Domingo Church

Santo Domingo Church
Rob Tilley / Getty Images
Address
Av. 4 Pte., Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue., Mexico
Phone +52 221 644 0524

The opulently decorated Capilla del Rosario (Rosary Chapel) inside the Templo de Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo Church) is a dazzling example of the New Spanish Baroque style. The church was built between 1571 and 1611, but the chapel was added later, in 1690, to teach locals how to pray the rosary. At one time called the Eighth Wonder of the World, it is adorned in a dazzling display of 24-carat gold leaves as well as stucco and onyx work. It's located just three blocks from the Zócalo; admission is free.

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13 of 14

Hike One of the City's Nearby Volcanoes

Iztaccíhuatl Volcano. Mexico.
Luis Castaneda Inc. / Getty Images

About 28 miles from Pueblo is Lq Malinche National Park, home to the sixth-tallest mountain in Mexico. The 14,566-foot peak of La Malinche volcano (also known as Matlalcueye or Malintzin) can be reached by trekking the difficult 7.6-mile summit route. Passing through thick forests and winding up a rocky ridgeline, the trail is no easy feat (there's a 4,183-foot elevation gain)—but the views are well worth it. Further afield (37 miles) is Izta-Popo National Park, where you'll find Mexico's third-highest peak. IztaccíhuatlIf (Izta, for short) rises more than 17,000 feet above sea level; if you're up for the challenge, take the strenuous 7.6-mile summit trail, which has an elevation gain of 4,537 feet. Note that this trail is recommended for experts only, as the high altitude and icy terrain add an extra challenge to the trek.

14 of 14

Visit an Art Museum Housed in a Former Convent

Santa Monica convent kitchen, Puebla

Getty Images / De Agostini / S. Gutierrez

Address
Av 18 Pte 103, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue., Mexico
Phone +52 222 232 0178

According to legend, the former convent of Santa Rosa is where mole poblano was first prepared. Although the 17th-century building is now home to the Poblano Museum of Popular Art, you can still step inside the kitchen, which is decked out in nearly 18 thousand Talavera tiles. Elsewhere in the museum, you'll find textiles, silverware, wooden masks, and other folk art created by ethnic groups indigenous to the region, including the Mixtecs, Popolocas, and Totonacs. The Museo de Arte Religioso de Santa Monica (the Religious Art Museum of Santa Monica) is located in a former convent, too, and it is here where the nuns allegedly invented chiles en nogada. Recently renovated and restored, the museum features sacred paintings, sculptures, embroidery, and altarpieces.

Article Sources
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  1. World Population Review. "Population of Cities in Mexico (2022)." Retrieved on February 18, 2022.

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The Top 14 Things to Do in Puebla, Mexico