There are plenty of things to do in Puebla to keep you occupied for a long weekend. Most people tend to visit Puebla on a day trip from Mexico City.
However, if your schedule allows, the city is definitely deserved several days or even a week of your time.
26 Things to do in Puebla Mexico in 2023
The gorgeous city of Puebla de Zaragoza shares its name with the state it occupies (Puebla).
It was founded by the Spanish in 1531 in an area called Cuetlaxcoapan meaning “where serpents change their skin”. At that time, it was named ¨the city of Angels¨ and created to form a midway point between the commercial route from Mexico City to the port of Veracruz.
The city thrived and became one of the richest and most important in ¨New Spain¨. Many of the buildings here have been constructed in the baroque style and little has changed since the 16th and 17th centuries.
Puebla city’s historic center was given UNESCO world heritage status in 1987. It feels very European in parts and has a character that is very different from other parts of Mexico.
When choosing where to stay in Puebla, opting to base yourself in the historic center and close to the Zocalo will place you close to the main Puebla attractions and things to do in Puebla.
Visit the Palafoxiana Library
The biblioteca palafoxiana in Puebla is the oldest library in the Americas as well as one of the most beautiful. It dates back to 1565 and looks like something from a movie set.
Its bookshelves and winding staircases are made from the finest carved cedar, ayacahuite pine, and coloyote wood. Many of the books here are centuries old.
Their dusty tomes sit behind protective glass so that you cannot touch them. They are often leather-bound with ornate golden detailing and elaborate handwriting.
Admission to Palafoxiana library is 43 pesos per person with concessions available for the elderly, students, and teachers. If you are not particularly interested in history or literature, you arguably called bypass this Puebla attraction.
The library is small and can be explored in less than 10 minutes. However equally, it sits in a beautiful traditional building with an arched courtyard showcasing local art pieces.
It is a UNESCO-protected site that helps you to gain a complete picture of the history of the city.
Sip coffee and indulge in tapas in the Zocalo
The central Square in Mexican cities is known as the Zocalo and Puebla´s is a beautiful one. It is framed by the 18th-century Puebla cathedral and has a small Park with scenic walking trails as its center.
Various coffee shops and restaurants encircle the square beneath porticoed walkways. Here, a well-heeled crowd sips freshly brewed coffee and tucks into tapas bites and Poblano delicacies as they watch the world go by.
This area feels very European and is quite unlike anywhere else you will find in Mexico. Despite their central location, the restaurants here are not tourist traps.
They serve exquisite Poblano Cuisine and other traditional Mexican dishes. In particular, you may want to check out Barra Castiza Zócalo (Av, C. 16 de Septiembre 111).
Their chicken sandwiches with homemade mole a second to none. Equally delicious are their tapas entrees.
For instance, the patatats bravas and the patatas aioli.
Take a walking tour of the city
Opting to take a walking tour is a great way to get your bearings when visiting somewhere for the first time. The same rings true exploring for Puebla.
Exploring Puebla on a guided tour with a local means that you gain more information and context on the various sites and buildings that you see. You will discover neighborhoods, markets, and restaurants that you perhaps would not otherwise find independently.
Better yet? Exploring with a local means that you have a Puebla expert on hand to ask for recommendations on the best things to do in pueblo, where to go for drinks, where to eat, and where to hang out.
Recommended Puebla tours
Many reputable local tool companies operate in Puebla. A selection of excellent guided tours is detailed below for your consideration.
Reserve your place online in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Puebla: Cholula and Atlixco private tour with food tastings
- Puebla: Full-day Malinche summit experience
- From Mexico City: Puebla, Cholula and Tonantzintla Day trip
- From Mexico City: Puebla and Cholula day trip
Try raisin at La Pasita
Several traditional Mexican drinks are native to Puebla. One of the most interesting that you should be sure to try while you are in town is a drink called raisin.
As the name suggests, the liquor is made of raisins. It is served in a caballito (tequila glass), before a chunk of goat cheese and a raisin are added to the drink.
Many balls and restaurants around Puebla serve raisin. However, for the quintessential Puebla experience, you should sample the beverage in the place where it was invented.
That place is a tiny, ramshackle bar the size of someone’s living room named La Pasita.
La Pasita (Av 5 Ote 602) Is one of the oldest and best-loved cantinas in Puebla. It was first opened in 1916 by Emilio Contreras Aicardo.
Today, his son manages the bar. There are no seats inside and patrons stand and sip raisin liquor and other local beverages in the tiny space decorated with vintage posters and decor.
Shop for traditional candies at Calle de los dulces
Calle de los dulces is a great place to shop for Mexican souvenirs in Puebla. It was here where the very first candy store in the city opened In 1892.
The store was called La Gran Fama and was opened by a local lady named Victoria Ortiz. (It still exists and operates to this day!)
As others saw the success of La Gran Fama, they started to follow suit and open candy shops nearby.
Mexican candy makes a great gift either for yourself or for your friends and family back at home. In these stores, you will find prepackaged gift boxes of candies and chocolates, as well as individual treats that you can select yourself in order to create a gift box or hamper.
Jamoncillo de leche candies are particularly delicious. This is essentially Mexican milk fudge.
It shares some similarities in taste and consistency with British fudge. It is made with milk, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract.
Try Puebla sweet potato candies (Los Camotes)
Another Mexican candy that is typical in the region of Puebla is made from sweet potatoes(camotes). You’ll find little boxes of long, soft, rectangular candies made with sweet potatoes sold in all of the city’s sweet shops.
Flavorings are then added. Vanilla, strawberry, and orange flavor camote candies are particularly popular.
It is said that this type of Puebla candy was invented as part of a prank. A child was playing in a nunnery when she saw that one of the nuns had put a pot ready for cooking close to the fire.
She took one of the sweet potatoes, mashed it, beat it with sugar, and shaped it before tossing it into the pot to boil. To her surprise, the nun wasn’t angry or horrified.
Instead, she loved the sweet potato candy. From there, one of Puebla’s most famous candies was born.
Search for vibrant street art
The street art found in Puebla is arguably some of the best in Mexico. Large murals adorn the facades of storefronts and entire walls and alleyways.
Some of the best pieces have been created by local and nationally adored artists close to the Barrio del Artista, La Luz, El Alto neighborhoods, and Xonaca.
They depict scenes of local life and indigenous groups, and notable periods of Mexican history (e.g. the 20th-century Mexican revolution).
Some notable pieces to look out for and their locations are detailed below for your reference. A nice way to spend a morning is to start in the Barrio del Artista and set out on a self-guided street art walking tour, stopping for Poblano street food and Mexican coffee here and there as you go.
Try the local mole Poblano
Poblano cuisine is known for being among the best in Mexico, and many of the dishes found here are simply not found elsewhere. (Indeed, Mexican food is far more than just tacos, tortillas, and burritos and the local dishes vary from region to region. For instance, Yucatecan food is completely different from Puebla food, as in turn, the meat-focused cuisine of Sinaloa and Northern Mexico, and the specialties of Jalisco).
Mole is one of the most famous Puebla specialties. Even if you have tried mole elsewhere in Mexico, it doesn’t really compare to mole from Puebla. So you should definitely sample the salsa in its native homeland.
This dense, rich chocolatey sauce is commonly served with chicken. But as far as Puebla locals are concerned, it goes with just about anything.
The sauce is typically made with chocolate, dried nuts, chilis, seeds, and spices. It has a unique taste that is equal parts bitter, sweet, and tangy. It sounds questionable and it’s an acquired taste for sure but you may be surprised by how much you enjoy it.
Nobody is certain as to precisely who created the salsa and when. A popular running theory is that it was invented by Catholic nuns working at the Santa Rosa convent in Puebla in the 17th century.
An Archbishop was visiting the nunnery for dinner and the nuns were frantic and worried as they didn’t know what to cook. They randomly threw ingredients together in a pan based on what they had available in the pantry.
The result was mole. Fortunately, the Archbishop loved it.
Try some chalupas
Chalupas are a simple yet tremendously flavorful dish found in Puebla. The dish consists of small, bite-sized tortillas that are lightly fried and then topped with green and red tomato salsas.
The red salsa is made from fresh tomatoes, whereas the green salsa is made from the tomatoś cousin: tomatillos or ¨husk¨ tomatoes. They have a somewhat more tangy and sour taste than their red counterparts.
Shredded meat (usually chicken or beef) is then added to the top. When you order a plate of chalupas, you will be given 4-6 of them that can be enjoyed as an entree to share or as a light bite.
You will find these virtually everywhere you go in Puebla and there is arguably no such thing as a bad Poblano chalupa.
Spend a day in Cholula
One of the best day trips that you can take from Puebla is to the nearby Pueblo magico of Cholula. The town is known for its numerous Catholic churches as well as the Cholula archaeological site which is actually the largest pyramid by volume in the world.
Cholula was established between 800 and 200 BC and is considered the oldest continuously inhabited city in Mexico. The yellow Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Church sits at the top of the Cholula pyramid and offers spectacular panoramic views over the area.
Another notable church to look out for is the Royal Chapel of Naturals (La Capilla Real o de Naturales). The church, built in 1540 was built based on the design influence of Arab mosques.
It has seven naves and 49 domes and it is possible to walk on the rooftop, capturing incredible photos of the unique architecture. On a clear day, you can see out to the Popocatépetl volcano from the rooftops of Puebla.
Sample chile en nogada
Chile en nogada is a beloved Mexican dish that hails from the Puebla region. It is commonly enjoyed throughout the country during Mexican independence day (16th September).
However, it can be found in the restaurants of Puebla all year round. To make the dish, a large green poblano chili is cut in half and then filled with picadillo and a creamy walnut sauce known as nogada.
It is then topped with fresh pomegranate and chopped parsley. The end product is a flavourful medley in the colors of the Mexican flag!
Visit the Puebla Cathedral
The Puebla cathedral is the piece de resistance of the Puebla Zocalo. The cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, dates back to 1575.
It has been built in blacksmith style with renaissance facades and baroque interiors. It is widely regarded as being one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the country.
Admire the view of the city from the fuertes
The sunbleached remnants of two old fortresses can still be found in the northern part of Puebla. They sit on the top of Acueyametepec hill.
Originally, It was two churches that stood here. However, due to ongoing conflict with the French, the buildings were militarized and repurposed and became the forts of Loreto and Guadalupe. A lot of fighting took place here during the second French intervention in Mexico.
Today, both of the fortresses have been converted into museums. They tell the story of Mexico’s battle against the French on the 5th of May In 1862.
The exhibits contain various interesting artifacts related to the battle and the lead-up to it. Everything from military uniforms, weaponry, letters, and important documents can be found in the museums.
There is also an exhibition dedicated to the life and accomplishments of Benito Juarez, the first president of Mexico who protected his country against the French.
Browse through Mercado El Parian
There are several mikados scattered throughout the city of Puebla. One of the most notable is the Parian which sits close to the artist’s quarter.
The Parian market Dates back to 1930 and specializes in handicrafts and is a great place to buy unique Goods from local artisans.
Everything from Talavera pottery, hand-stitched garments and accessories, and oil paintings and art pieces can be found at the market. the word Parian comes from the Philippine word market. Several centuries ago, almost every Spanish imperial city with an important Commerce Center had a market with this name.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Many people think that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day but that isn’t true. Mexican Independence Day is celebrated in September every year and Cinco de Mayo is only really celebrated in Puebla.
The holiday exists to celebrate Mexico’s victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla that took place in 1862.
Interestingly, Cinco de Mayo has become more of a big deal in the United States than it is in Mexico. It has been largely commercialized by American beer companies and now, every year, the holiday exists as a celebration of Mexican traditions and culture.
Being in Puebla for the Cinco de Mayo celebrations is a magical experience. a parade (desfile) filled with floats makes its way through the streets of downtown Puebla. The military march through the streets as do marching bands, drummers, and school children.
Visit the Musuem of the Revoultion
The Museo De la Revolucion is one of the most interesting museums that you can visit in Puebla. The museum tells the story of the 1915 Mexican War of Independence against the Spanish.
Many believe that it was here where the first actions that led to the start of the Revolution took place. The house was a gift from Manuel Sevilla to his wife Natalia Serdan Alatriste Aquiles and her siblings.
The family was part of the anti-reelectionist movement led by Francisco I. Madero, who called for an armed uprising against Porfirio Díaz. On November 18th, 1910, A police raid was ordered on the house based on a claim that the residents kept illegal guns inside.
The chief of the police was killed, and a gunfight broke out that lasted for more than 3 hours and killed more than 15 people that were involved with the anti-reelection movement.
Many people believe that the Mexican Revolution started with this event. The museum is essentially a living museum that depicts what the building would have looked like when the Serdan Brothers lived here.
The rooms are decorated with original furnishings and some have been made into exhibition halls that tell the story of the uprising and the events leading up to the Mexican Revolution.
Ride the Star of Puebla Ferris wheel
The Puebla Ferris wheel (Estrella de Puebla) is a tourist attraction that sits just south of Rio Atoyak in central Puebla. The Ferris wheel is 80m high and holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s largest portable Ferris wheel.
From the top, you can admire the view over the city of Puebla, with the volcanoes of Popocatéptl and Iztaccíhuatl in the distance. Riding the Ferris wheel is particularly enjoyable at sunset.
A simple admission ticket is 40 pesos per person. However, a transport ticket is also available which is 110 pesos per person, and includes a transfer from the Zocalo to the Ferris wheel.
As of February 2023, the Ferris wheel is currently temporarily closed to the public. However, it is likely to reopen again soon.
Meander around the artist’s quarter
The artist’s quarter (Barrio del Artista) is Hobbled, tree-lined Promenade in the center of Puebla. The azulejo-tiled buildings here reveal artists’ Studios where local painters and sculptors create their artwork in full view of the public.
There are a lot of displays with paintings and handicrafts for sale, and many quaint cafes where you can while away an afternoon with a coffee or two. The artist’s quarter sits adjacent to the El Parian marketplace.
The area boomed in the 1930s and 40s following the opening of this marketplace. According to local legends, renowned artist José Márquez Figueroa challenged his students to create a bustling art space and bohemian community here
Take photos at the Callejon de los Sapos
The Callejon de los Sapos (alley of the toads) is one of the most picturesque streets in Puebla Mexico. The multicolored houses here are a photographer’s dream.
Many of these colorful structures have been converted into cafes, antique stores, and artists’ workshops. It is said that the street takes its name from the various floods that happened in this area in colonial times that caused 6th street to become overrun with toads.
Fortunately today, the only sign of toads is a water fountain with ornate toad sculptures that sits in the center of Plazuela de los Sapos. Every morning, street vendors venture to the street to sell their wares.
The marketplace is particularly lively on Sunday mornings. Here, you can find everything in the ramshackle stores from antiques, to vintage furnishings, second-hand books, and dusty tomes in a variety of languages, and oil paintings.
Even if you are not looking to buy anything, it is worth stopping by for the people-watching opportunity alone.
Visit the Museo Amparo
If you only have time to visit one Museum during your time in Pueblo or you do not consider yourself a museum person, be sure to stop by the Amparo Museum ( C. 2 Sur 708, Centro). This small Museum in the historic centre was created in honor of Amparo Rugarcía de Espinosa.
Rugarcía was the wife of the Mexican banker and philanthropist Manuel Espinosa Yglesias. The museum exhibits are organized in chronological order and showcase numerous artifacts that have been recovered from the state of Puebla.
Everything from historic artifacts from the prehispanic era to paintings and drawings by various Mexican artists over the centuries can be found within the museum.
Sample local street food delicacies at the Mercado de Sabores
The Mercado de Sabores (market of flavors) is a food market that sits at v. 4 Pte. 1104, Historians just north of the main square in Puebla. The street vendors here sell all of Puebla’s classic dishes.
For instance, tacos arabes, chiles en nogada, cemitas and pelonas. It is popular among locals and tourists alike.
You can also buy gastro products to take home here. For instance, jars of homemade mole and salsas, as well as local cheeses and coffees.
Visit Atlixco Pueblo Magico
Atlixco is a charming pueblo magico that sits in the foothills of the Popocatépetl volcano. It is known for growing flowers (and indeed, fresh, fragrant flowers adorn every wall, storefront, and alleyway).
Atlixco comes from Nahuatl and means ¨place of the valley of water”. The city is well worth visiting on a day trip and is filled with brightly colored colonial buildings and baroque-style churches.
Almost every wall and alleyway is filled with vibrant street art created by local artists. There are several gorgeous boutique hotels in this Mexican city such as Casa Flora Atlixco which offer unparalleled views over Popocatépetl.
Be sure to climb Cerro de San Miguel, stopping to see the Danzantes del Atlixcayotl mural staircase en route and admiring the views as you go. Visit the Jardin Magico botanical garden and then go for an evening drink or a coffee at the Hacienda Santo Cristo.
Go hiking in the foothills of Popocatépetl
Popocatépetl Is the name of an active supervolcano that sits in Puebla state. It is the largest volcano in Mexico and sits 72 km southeast of Mexico City and 43 km from Puebla respectively.
There are several hiking trails that weave through the gorgeous woodlands in the foothills of the volcano. You are not permitted to climb Popocatépetl. However, you can hike with a licensed mountain guide close to the summit of Iztaccíhuatl.
One of the most famous hiking trails here is known as the route of the volcanic rabbit. This species of rabbit known as a teporingo is endangered and can only be seen in certain parts of Latin America, including along this trail.
The Alpine way is another popular route. This hiking trail takes you to the La Jolla lookout point which offers unparalleled views over Iztaccíhuatl.
Many of the less frequented trails are also worth your attention and lead past farmlands and hidden waterfalls.
Admire the beautiful churches
There are 288 parishes in Puebla city, with each one seemingly more beautiful than the last. (That is not exactly one for each day of the year but thereabouts!).
One great way to explore the city and uncover hidden neighborhoods is to simply wander around with no set plan and follow Google Maps from one church to another. One of the most unique Puebla churches is the red ad white Iglesia de Santa Ines.
The convent is dedicated to Santa Ines del Monte Pulciano. It dates back to 1626 and at that time it was the 7th female Convent to be founded in the city.
Both Creole and Spanish maidens would live inside the complex.
The Interiors of the convent are just as spectacular as the exterior although the entrance gate is often closed. Inside, the walls are filled with colorful paintings in frescoes that depict the life of the nuns that once lived inside Santa Ines.
The church was abandoned during the siege of Puebla which took place in 1863. Like many other religious buildings, it was used as barracks against the French.
Sadly it was partially destroyed. there is a small sculpture inside the church which is known as El Nino Prodigio. Local legend has it but when the temple was attacked by soldiers in 1857, the little sculpture covered its ears and close its eyes.
To this day, it remains that way.
Admire the tilework on the Iglesia de Guadalupe
Another gorgeous Church to add to your radar in Puebla is the Iglesia de Guadalupe. This church is a little on the outskirts of town close to the Mercado de Sabores.
It is distinguishable by its colorful blue and white Talavera tiles that decorate its facade. There are also interesting motifs, angels, and figures on the front of the church.
Learn about Talavera pottery at the Tile Museum
Talavera pottery is one of several handicrafts that Puebla city is famous for. Vases, plates, tableware, and decorative ceramics are often created in the distinguishable blue and white Talavera style.
This decorative style originated in Spain. However, When the Spanish arrived, Pueblo already had a deep-seated tradition of producing ceramics largely due to the excellent clay that they had available.
So, the Talavera pottery that you can buy in the region today is a mixture of Spanish and Mexican influences.
If you are interested in purchasing Talavera Potter as a gift, there are several workshops and galleries that you should look out for. Talavera de la Luz (Av. Don Juan de Palafox and. Mendoza) is one place to add to your radar.
Also worth your time is Uriarte Talavera (Av. 4 Pte. 911), the largest Talavera manufacturer in the world founded in 1824. You may also want to stop by the Patio de los Azulejos (tiled courtyard).
This 17th-century building was originally part of the architectural complex of the Temple of Nuestra Señora de la Concordia. It is distinguishable by its colorful tiled walls.
This is a great spot for photos and there is seldom anybody here. Today, the historic building contains a museum that is free to enter and tells the history of Talavera handicrafts.
Final thoughts on the best things to do in Puebla
There are plenty of things to do in Puebla to warrant spending at least 2-3 days here. If you want to explore more of the surrounding area, go hiking and visit the nearby pueblo magicos, you may even want to spend as much as a week in the region.
Puebla is a safe place to visit, provided that you take precautions. If this is your first time traveling to Mexico, you may also enjoy reading these facts about Mexico.
Have a wonderful time exploring Mexico! Buen Viaje!