Mexico’s colonial towns will capture your heart and Puebla is no exception. This picturesque city of colourful buildings, ornate churches and exceptional food is definitely worthy of a place on your Mexico itinerary. Here are our top things to do in Puebla, Mexico…
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1. Eat all of Puebla’s famous foods
Puebla is a city for food lovers. Visit Puebla and you will find yourself eating most of the time! Two dishes which you can’t leave off the list are mole Poblano and cemitas.
The story goes that Puebla’s nuns heard the archbishop was paying them a visit. They flew into a panic as they had nothing to serve him so prayed for divine intervention whereupon they were inspired by an angel. They mixed together chocolate, spices, chilli, old breadcrumbs and a host of other ingredients and let the mixture bubble away on the stove for hours. They killed a turkey and cooked it before ladling the sauce over the meat. The Archbishop loved it and mole was born! Mole Poblano is rich, sweet and complex. We sampled a delicious version at La Mexicana, served over chicken and accompanied by rice.
Another food to try in Puebla is a cemita. This sandwich is made out of a brioche style bun which has a hollowed out top and is filled with a avocado, quesillo (string cheese), onion and chile. You can add different types of protein with the Milanese or thin pork schnitzel being the most popular. We sampled a cemita at the Cemitas La Poblanitas inside Mercado El Carmen but we hear Carmen’s does an amazing version as well.
2. Wander the streets of Puebla’s old town
Puebla is a photographer’s dream. Spanish colonial buildings, brightly painted houses, cobble stone roads and VW beetles tootling all over town. Take a few hours to simply wander around this charming town, it will captivate you.
3. Climb the Great Pyramid of Cholula
About 15 kilometres out of Puebla city is the university town of Cholula. Here lies the Great Pyramid of Cholula which is the largest monument ever built by any civilisation. No one knows what people built the Great Pyramid of Cholula.
When the Spanish arrived the 16th century they thought the Pyramid was merely a hill and so erected a church at the top of it. You can visit the grounds of the Great Pyramid which is a museum (70 pesos/$3.50USD) and then climb to the top and visit the church. It affords a stunning view of Cholula, a town which has 365 churches, one for each day of the year!
4. People watch in the zocalo
Any zocalo in any Mexican town is a people watching festival and Puebla is no different. Street vendors, shoe shiners, musicians and families congregate in the main square. It’s the perfect spot to sit for a while, with a snack and take it all in. Don’t forget to pop your head into the Puebla Cathedral- it’s magnificent.
5. Visit the Americas’ first and oldest library
Biblioteca Palafoxiana was founded in 1646. It has been beautifully preserved, wire mesh cupboards protect the books which sit on polished wooden shelves. it’s a beautiful space to wander around.
6. Drink Poblano pulque
It’s not to everyone’s taste but when in Puebla, a visit to a pulqueria is a must. Pulque is the fermented sap of the agave plant. It has an alcohol content of around 5% and has a viscousy texture.
At Sapita Pulqueria, you can sample different flavours of pulque such as pina colada, nut and guava or just opt for it naked. Apparently the drink is packed full of Vitamin C and probiotics. They serve the pulque in giant bamboo handles so it’s all or nothing. Bottoms up!
7. Walk down Sweet Street and try tortitas and camotes
Spanish nuns arrived in Mexico in the 16th century and would supplement their income by making sweets. Camotes, a flavoured sweet potato candy and tortitas, a biscuit filled with a sweet icing are the famous Poblano sweets which can be sampled on Calle de los Dulce or Sweet Street. Yes, there is a whole street dedicated to sweet shops- about 46 to be exact! If you have a sweet tooth this is definitely the thing to do in Puebla.
We hope this Puebla travel guide has helped you eat and explore like a traveller, not a tourist!
No matter where you’re travelling to we always recommend you have travel insurance. We use and love World Nomads. The great thing about them is that you can purchase travel insurance while you’re already travelling!
Spending more time in Mexico? Check out our Mexico City Travel Guide, Oaxaca Travel Guide and Where to eat on Isla Holbox post!
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