Puebla is a city in Mexico. It is in the Puebla Valley, surrounded by volcanoes and snow-capped mountains, slightly over 110 kilometers (68 miles) south-east of Mexico City. The city proper in 2005 had a population of 1.5 million people, while the metropolitan area had a population of 2.1 million.
The city of Puebla is the fourth largest city in Mexico with 2.1 million inhabitants and the Capital of the State of Puebla. It was founded on April 16, 1531 as "La Puebla de los Ángeles". It was the first city in central Mexico founded by the Spanish conquistadors that was not built upon the ruins of a conquered Amerindian settlement. Its strategic location, halfway between the port of Veracruz and Mexico City, made it the second most important city during the colonial period. During the seventeenth century, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz lived in the city until her confrontation with the Bishop of Puebla.
The city’s main claim to fame, however, is Cinco de Mayo, a festival commemorating the May 5, 1862 defeat of a French expeditionary army by Mexican general Ignacio Zaragoza. It was after this battle that the name of the city was changed to "Heróica Puebla de Zaragoza". The forts where the battle took place are a major tourist attraction of the city and the site of an annual month-long carnival marking the anniversary of the battle. The city is also famous for its cuisine, being said it is this city where "Mole" -a famous Mexican spicy thick sauce- was invented.
Traveling to Puebla from Mexico City is fairly straightforward and can be accomplished via bus. There are continual bus services between Mexico City and Puebla throughout the day and night both from the TAPO terminal (also known as Terminal Oriente, located beside the San Lázaro Metro station) and from Benito Juarez International Airport.
A one-way ticket on Estrella Roja or ADO from the TAPO usually runs about $110 MXN for regular direct service; a first class ticket ("Pullman Primera Clase" service) on Estrella Roja costs about $130 MXN. (The extra 20 pesos or so are worth it: the first class coaches seat less people, thus less crowded, more space, more comfortable.) Buses leave for Puebla approximately every half hour from both locations. Travel time from TAPO to Puebla's CAPU is usually around 2 hours, but this time may vary by up to a full hour depending on Mexico City traffic conditions at that time of day. Taking an Estrella Roja bus from the airport costs about $200 MXN for a one-way ticket or $400 MXN for a round-trip.
There are two bus terminals in Puebla: the Centro de Autobuses Puebla (CAPU), the main bus terminal, and Estrella Roja’s 4 Poniente bus terminal, this terminal is located in downtown Puebla. Both Estrella Roja and ADO run buses to the much larger CAPU. If you’ve never visited Puebla before, the 4 Poniente is your safest bet to get you to your final destination; there are secure taxis (called Top Driver Express) in which you pay the cashier and not the driver and if you choose CAPU this is a major intersection of several public transportation bus lines (known as combis or camiones) if you are going to nearby towns.
Alternatively, Hermanos Serdán International Airport (PBC) is an international airport located near Puebla with direct flights from Houston TX and several cities within Mexico.
Traveling within Puebla can sometimes be stressful as the local public transportation system is entirely privatized, leading to hundreds of bus routes, none of which are mapped out. If you know where you are going, you can ask around as to which route will take your destination, but often transfers are necessary for long-distances, which can be confusing, especially if you are not familiar with the language. The general fare rate is $6 MXN. (Safety note about buses: they are generally safe, but they tend to carry pickpockets, especially when crowded. Always have a hand over any bags/backpacks that you have.) The buses generally run from about 7AM to 10PM.
Taxis are naturally more expensive, but in Puebla they are deemed safer. They tend to run between $40-80 MXN for a ride. Negotiating a fare before entering a taxi is normal as the taxis do not carry meters in Puebla. If the driver does not offer you a fare that you like, you can always just wave them off and wait for the next taxi.
- Los Fuertes (Fuerte de Loreto and Fuerte de Guadalupe) - The forts, which sit atop the Cerro de Guadalupe is where the Battle of Puebla took place on May 5, 1862. This successful defense of the city by General Ignacio Zaragoza from invading French forces is commemorated every year in Puebla throughout the month of May and specifically on May 5 (Cinco de Mayo in Spanish).
- Zócalo (City Center)- Puebla's historic downtown contains beautiful colonial architecture and was granted UNESCO world heritage status in 1987.
- Cathedral - Built between 1575 and 1640, it has two of the tallest church towers in Mexico.
- Palafoxian Library - A library built in the 18th century which contains a unique collection.
- Los Sapos (Art District)- Many painters have ateliers offering their paintings and a block away, every Saturday and Sunday, there is a flea market where you can find handicrafts and some antiques.
- Chipilo- Italian town that is only 20 minutes outside the city for an authentic northern Italian experience.
- Flowers in nearby town of Atlixco
- Huey Atlixcáyotl - A festival in the municipality of Atlixco that occurs the last Sunday of September.
- Cuexcomate, the world's smallest volcano (now extinct), is in Puebla, in the suburb of La Libertad. Take a bus from Avenida 11 oriente in the city centre going to La Libertad, and get off in the main square of the suburb (which is the terminus of the bus anyway). The volcano is right there in the square.
- Cholula - A neighboring town 10 kilometers away filled with as many as 365 churches (actually just 45..) and an archaeological site.
- Africam Safari - A Zoo park where wild African animals live freely.
- Visit other towns, if you can, such as Cuetzalan in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, or Atlixco.
- If you like night life, try the antros (clubs) in Cholula. Many don't charge cover. Alcohol ranges from $450-800 MXN a bottle if you want to get a table in the clubs. There is also abundant live music throughout Puebla. Smaller and less popular antros are also located in the Los Sapos district, only a few blocks from the Zocalo.
- Visit the churches of Tonantzintla and Acatepec. They were built and decorated during the late 1600s and early 1700s in the Baroque style. Both are extremely lavishly decorated outside and inside.
- Take a tour around the city on a tour bus. This may seem very touristy but this is a really cheap ($80 MXN) easy way to get a quick view of some of the coolest attractions in the city. It also is a way to get a good bearing before you decide to set off and dive into some of the attractions the city has to offer. The tour is in Spanish, but you can ask for headphones when you get on the bus and then you'll be able to listen to a translated in several languages. The bus has several stops along the route where you can get down and get up.
- If you are in the mood for authentic Italian cuisine, head over to the nearby town of Chipilo, just 15 minutes from downtown Puebla and near Cholula and Atlixco. This town was settled by Veneto immigrants from northern Italy in the late 1800's. Take a stroll around the Piazza, the Chiesa (Church), and try the many restaurants it has to offer such as Piazza delle Sole, Caffe Ristorante I Dagot, Ristorante Venezia; or have a cafe in the original "The Italian Coffee Co." and people watch. Gelato at Topolino is also a good way to have dessert. And do not forget to buy pastas, cheeses, cold cuts and wines at the Nave Italia store. Stop to listen to the people speak their 19th century Venetian dialect which still survives in Chipilo. Take a stroll around the town which still holds many aspects of typical rural Venetian towns. Truly a unique gem in the middle of Puebla.
- Talavera (Fine china-like wares.)
- Local crafts and artifacts from El Parian.
- Jewelry, antiques and crafts from Los Sapos.
- Freshly ground coffee or beans from Cafe Britania, Av de la Reforma 528a - costs around $150/180 per kilo, also sold in 250g bags - the coffee comes from the nearby Veracruz region
- Local Puebla folkart – the store Cihuatl sells crafts made by indigenous women: 7 Poniente 110, Colonia Centro
Eat the street food. Travel books will almost always tell you not to, but generally speaking, it is entirely safe and can be one of the best "cultural" experiences of your trip.
Street foods to try:
- Quesadillas with mushrooms, sausage (chorizo), pumpkin flower (flor de calabaza), or huitlacoche (corn truffle, an Aztec specialty)
- Memelas (tortillas made with mixed masa and beans red or green salsa on top, then topped with onions and cheese)
- Elote (corn on the cob with parmesan cheese, mayonnaise if desired, and chili powder).
- Pelonas (fried sandwiches filled with meat, lettuce, cream, and salsa)
- Gorditas (similar to memelas, but topped with chorizo, chicharron--fried pig skin)--or chicken, avocado slices, salsa, onions, and cheese).
- Potato chips, usually fried the same day (extra crispy) and topped with lime juice and hot sauce.
- Mixiotes Piece of Chicken or "Carnero" (Goat) in a special sauce made out of juajillo chile and spices with an avocado leaf cooked in vapor all wrapped in foil paper or special mixiote paper.
- Chalupas a tortilla with green or red sauce then topped with onion, chicken or beef shreds, and cheese. (Traditional chalupas have no cheese.)
- Cemitas a special bread that looks like a torta prepared with milanesa, avocado, queso oaxaca in shreds, papalo, aceite de comer and chipotles.
All street food generally costs between $8-15.
- A must is something with "Mole poblano".
- Tacos Arabes - Very good. Made with Lamb or pork. Originated from the high arabic population in the city.
- Chiles en Nogada
Some good restaurants include:
- El Mural de los Poblanos, 16 de Septiembre 506 (From the front of the cathedral, left at 16 de sept.; will be on your right after 5 Poniente), ☎ 222-2426696, . 13:00 - 23:00. Traditional Cuisine; fine dining. The best mole poblano; other seasonal dishes, Spanish cuisine. Steps from the Cathedral and Zócalo. $260.
- Vittorio's, 2 Sur 106 (On the Zócalo, along 2 Sur), ☎ 222 232 7900. Excellent Italian and Mexican cuisine, at good prices. Apparently known for holding the Guinness World Record for the largest pizza. Try their garlic bread and their pastas if you're not in the pizza mood (they make a mean Pennette Arrabiata). They also serve traditional poblano cuisine. Extensive wine and beverage list. Has an area for outside seating, though this may be full at peak hours; also has two floors of indoor seating. $50-150, wine/beverages $40+.
- Restaurante La Fonda, 2 Oriente 801 (On 2 Oriente, the south street of El Parián market; big awning with name). Located on the south street by El Parián market. Excellent local cuisine for less than you'd spend in the Zócalo area; their chiles en nogada are especially delicious. $100 for a chile en nogada with a soup and a dish of rice w/ mole poblano (half of what you'd spend for the same in the Zócalo). They also sell their excellent mole poblano by the kilo or half-kilo. $50-120.
Just in the "Zócalo" (main square) there's a place called Vittorio's; it's famous for the excellent and delicious Mexican and Italian food. Very nice and cozy; they have indoor and a terrace and more important very clean. They made it into the Guinness Book of Records for making the biggest pizza ever; and in the night upstairs they have the bar La Vita è Bella for an amazing collection of folding knives and other cool stuff. Near the Zócalo, you can eat at El Mural, probably the best mole poblano in town; also famous for other seasonal dishes and its Spanish cuisine. For drinks with a view to the square go to Hotel Royalty, popular with locals and tourist. Hotel La Purificadora, a few blocks away, offers a more sophisticated dining and lodging experience. For those who want to venture to other neighborhoods, go to Restaurante La Noria with a beautiful Mexican patio, enjoy contemporary Mexican cooking in what used to be a nice Hacienda. For more avant-garde food, go to Intro on Calzada Zavaleta, where Chef Ángel Vázquez will pamper you with a weekly changing menu.
Remember that Puebla has the most culinary schools in Mexico and these new professionals enjoy showing off their skills to locals and visitors alike.
- Super Paleteria Barragan, Av. 16 de Septiembre (between 15 and 17 Ote). Delicious ice creams, sorbets and aguas frescas. Very popular with locals (in fact often huge crowd outside). from $14.
- La Mia Pizzeria, Corner of 4 norte and 2 Oriente, ☎ 01 222 242 5584. Mon-Sat 2pm-10om, Sun 2pm-9pm. Relatively authentic pizzeria with some other Italian food, good portions, seems not to serve alcohol though.
- La Zanahoria, 5 oriente 205. Vegetarian restaurant with well-priced menu. Veggie burgers are good. Seems not to serve alcohol. Also shop selling vegetarian products.
- Agua Miel
- Agua de Limon
- Agua de Tamarindo
- Agua de Jamaica
- Chocolate Mexicano
- Atole (Cornmeal Drink)
- Cafe de olla (coffee with cinnamon)
- Pasitas (in los sapos)
- Tortas de Chalupa (mini telerra roll with mashed potatoes, beans and 2 fried tortillas covered with green or red salsa)
- Vittorio's. See "Eat" above.
- El Mural de los Poblanos. See "Eat" above.
- Hotel Royalty, Portal Hidalgo #8 (On the Zócalo). Great for drinks with views of the Zócalo.
- Cafe Teorema, 2 Pte # 703-B, ☎ 2 98 00 28 or 2 32 78 99, . Cafe, bar, bookshop and arts venue, with frequent evening concerts.
- Paradeplatz, Calle 16 septiembre 1713-A. Mon-Fri 9am-9.30pm, Sat 9.30am-8.30pm. Fashionably designed Swiss-style cafe serving good quality coffee and hot chocolate, along with delicious Swiss-style cakes. A little pricier than other coffee shops in Puebla but unique ambience and style (as well as taste!).
- Yelao, 3 oriente 207B, ☎ 232 12 45. Tue-Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 9am-8pm, closed Mon. Cafe which opens late (closed Monday), selling a variety of hot and cold drinks, some alcoholic beverages, home-made ice cream and various cakes and salads. Nice upstairs seating area including small balconies.
- Casona de la China Poblana, . This 5 star contemporary hotel is housed in a construction typical of the Colonial architecture of the XVII Century as is named China Poblana, in memory of Catarina de San Juan “venerable servant of god”. This boutique hotel blends in perfect harmony the classic style of the colonial era with the luxuries of the modern times.
- Camino Real Puebla Centro, 7 Poniente No. 105 (on 7 Poniente, just west of 16 de Septiembre), ☎ +52 (222) 229 0909 (fax: +52 222 229 0998), . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 2PM. In the building that was once the Convent of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1593. Features two restaurants and bar. Standard rooms and bathrooms are a little small, but quaint and charming, decorated in the rustic style, and quite clean and comfortable. Featuring TV, desk, minibar, A/C. A great deal, for the price. Hotel has excellent wi-fi reception throughout (for a fee, unless specified in room package). $80-120.
- Puebla de Antaño Hotel Boutique, 3 Oriente 206 (Steps from Zócalo; on 3 Oriente, just off 2 Sur), . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 1PM. Wonderful, small hotel in the historic center, literally steps from the Zócalo (main square) and Cathedral. Set in an 18th-century casona, 19 luxurious rooms on 3 floors, with a restaurant and "sky bar" that provides good views of the Cathedral. Very clean and comfortable; rooms are spacious. Breakfast included, à la carte from the hotel restaurant, served from 8AM-noon. Very friendly and helpful staff. Free wi-fi, though it's sometimes down. (Plenty of cheap Internet cafés nearby if this happens.) You can book directly through their website; wouldn't hurt to check external sites like Kayak.com or Orbitz for good deals. $70-110.
- Hotel Del Portal, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza 205 (On Zócalo, on Palafox just off 2 Sur), ☎ (222) 404 6200, . Can get a room (very small balcony) that faces the Zócalo. The rooms don't have air conditioning; only fans. The hotel provides small bottles of water. A bottle of Pepto Bismol would be an essential item to take just in case. They did not have wash cloths. Take some Dove facial cloths and used these as wash cloths. They do provide towels.
- Mesones Sacristia, 6 sur 304 Callejón de los Sapos, Centro Histórico, ☎ (222) 2324513, . Offers colonial-style hotel setup with items robust wooden doors and traditional balconies. Best rates on official website start at MXN 1,100″.
- Holiday Inn Puebla, 2 Oriente No.211, Centro Historico, ☎ 52-222-2236600, . Located in the heart of the historical district, the Holiday Inn provides upscale lodging for a reasonable price. $1000-1300.
- El Sueño Hotel, 9 oriente No. 12 Centro Histórico, ☎ 52-222-2326489, . This Modern style hotel offers good deals on rooms with many amenities and hotel spa. The food offered by the hotel isn't traditional Mexican, instead offering Mediterranean dishes.
- Puebla Marriott Real Hotel, Avenida Hermanos Serdán 807 72100., ☎ +52 222 141 2000 (fax: +52 222 141 2001), . The Puebla Marriott Real Hotel offers 192 rooms, including four executive, four junior and three master suites, all surrounded by gardens. It also offers restaurant, bar, two outdoor pools, gymnasium, tennis court, room service, business center, 14 meeting rooms, banquet or convention with a capacity of between 10 and 800. High Speed Internet in all rooms and wireless in public areas. US$85.15-169.
- Bed and Breakfast Puebla La Paz (http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/pu-puebla-bedandbreakfastpueblalapaz.html), Tepeyahualco 44-A, Col. La Paz (near SCT and Universidad Cuauhtemoc, between Oriental and Perote), ☎ +1-216-255-6767, . checkin: 3:00 pm; checkout: 11:00 am. Modern, bright, and comfortable well located in a quiet neighborhood, enjoy exploring all that Puebla and the surrounding area has to offer with guidance from your hosts. We are pleased to help you explore Puebla by offering information about museums and events, walking directions and calling taxis. The Historic Centre of Puebla is a UNESCO World Heritage property. $1100+. (19 03 24.26,98 13 57.98)
Drink bottled water and be careful with valuables in public.
You will rarely see locals wearing shorts, doing so will identify you as a tourist. Jeans are generally acceptable, except perhaps in some of the nicer restaurants.
If you are staying in a hotel and you want to take a taxi, someone working the front desk will most likely be able to call and arrange for a cab to pick you up, or you can hail one off the street if you speak enough Spanish to be able to negogiate the price with the driver. In Puebla, there are a multitude of taxis but your best bet will be a radio taxi.
The radio taxis are the best cabs in appearance and since they are registered they are also the safest, but they tend to charge more: about $10 MXN more than if you hail one on the street. If you run into a friendly cab driver, it is a good idea to get his cell phone number, so you can call whenever you need safe transport.
- Spanish Institute of Puebla address: 11 oriente No. 10 Centro Histórico Phone= 52-222-242-2062 url= http://www.sipuebla.com A language Institute located in the Ex-convent of Las Capuchinas that offers intensive Spanish courses year around.