If you can look beyond the exhaust fumes and beeping car horns, then the city of Puebla is actually a very nice place to spend a few days. At the heart of the action is the pretty Zócalo (main square); surrounded by churches and colonial architecture, this shaded plaza is a good place to sit and soak in the atmosphere or eat street food in the evenings. As well as being overlooked by the imposing Puebla Cathedral, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes surrounding the square too, many serving the rich delicacy "mole poblano" (a traditional meat dish with sauce) and offering street side people-watching potential.
As it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are hoards of impressive churches in Puebla’s center as well as more than two thousand designated historical buildings. The city also has a vibrant arts scene with ample galleries and several museums focused on decorative arts or crafts. The Barrio del Artista is a lovely area where local artists ply their wares from alcove-like shops and the cafes and bars draw a nighttime crowd. There are also a few cute little streets with flea markets, antiques, and handicrafts for sale.
Tons of small buses hoot and hurtle along the narrow streets so if you can manage to unravel the mystery of their stops and destinations then getting around is fairly easy. Think twice if you have luggage, though -- there’s rarely anywhere to put it, drivers have a habit of pulling away before you’ve properly got on, and attempting to balance on a speeding bus with a backpack on is not especially fun!
An easy day trip can be made to the university town of Cholula, which boasts the largest pyramid ever built -- Piramide Tepanapa -- though you won’t see more than a big hill these days, as it’s covered with earth. But you can still walk though some of its tunnels at the base. The view from the top is also a great place to take in the mountainous volcanoes of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl; make sure you visit in the mornings before the mist sets in. There are both buses and colectivos (minibuses that serve as shared taxis) which run from Puebla to Cholula.
Staying in the center of town is most convenient and Puebla’s hostels tend to be pretty walkable from the main sights. There is also a good selection of budget-friendly hostels to choose from. Puebla has a large bus station (located a little way out of town so catch a bus or hail a cab) with connections to Mexico City, Oaxaca, and numerous other destinations.
Hi, I'm Laura T,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Puebla hostels. Welcome.