The Charming City of Puebla

We wanted a nice little city to settle into on our way to Oaxaca. Puebla de los Ángeles (as it is called) fit the bill perfectly. We chose it someone at random as we were planning out our first week in Mexico and I think foreign tourists often see it as more of a daytrip from Mexico City than a destination in its own right (it is only about 2.5 hours southeast of CDMX). But we loved our four days and nights in Puebla and I highly recommend it for a longer stay. Here are some of our favorite things about Puebla.

Under the Volcano

The drive from Teotihuacan to Puebla was lovely, especially as we approached the city itself, which sits under an impressive active volcano called Popocatépetl. It was really cool to see, especially because it was smoking a little as we drove by (in fact, Popocatépetl means “smoking mountain” in one of the native languages). Its 1st Century eruption is said to have caused the migration that settled Teotihuacan, which made Puebla a full-circle destination after our two great days at those ruins. We didn’t get any great views of the volcano from Puebla itself, but it was fun to see driving in.

Appealing Architecture

As my title indicates, Puebla is incredibly charming. The colonial architecture is lovely – it is a very historically important city and continues to be a thriving metropolis (population is something over 3 million people). Our Airbnb apartment was just perfect and was right down around the corner from one of the famous artisan streets, Callejon de los Sapos (alley of the frogs), which is lined with cute shops. The zocalo is great, a lovely park with huge trees, public art and lined with nice buildings, including the truly impressive Catedral de Puebla. The other famous street, which was perfect for Chad, is called Calle del Dulce (street of sweet), where we picked up some of their famous candy, camotes, which are made out of sweet potatoes. Mostly we just loved walking around the city and soaking it all in. It is a truly lovely place.

Epic History

Puebla was one of the earliest colonial cities, founded in 1531. But before that (and during that) it was also home to spectacular indigenous cultures. The excellent Museo de Amparo captures and shares some of those cultures and is not to be missed. I also really enjoyed visiting the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, which is said to be the first public library in the Americas (founded in 1646).

The Pyramid of Cholula (or Prime Pyramid, or Premium Pyramid)

Cholula is essentially a suburb of Puebla and home to really neat ruins of a pyramid, which was co-opted by the Spanish colonists to be a base for a truly beautiful little Catholic church. The pyramid is actually the largest by volume in the world. We enjoyed our visit to the Pyramid of Cholula tremendously, first walking up, up, up to the church and then exploring the ruins, walking through the excavated tunnels and checking out the museum. It was a morning well-spent. We still had our rental car, so we drove ourselves, but I understand that it is not hard to reach Cholula from Puebla centro by bus or even taxi.

Deluxe Dining

We had four nights in Puebla, so we cooked twice and ate out twice for dinner. Both of our dinners out were fantastic, in really nice restaurants and delicious food, especially the mole. We also had a chance to sample some incredible street food at lunch time, including tacos al pastor and tacos arabes. And, enjoyed drinks out at some fun bars, including one (not sure of the name) serving pulque, an ancient alcoholic beverage made of the maguey plant, which was mentioned a few times in the ruins we visited.

Summary

We had a wonderful time in Puebla. Our one-bedroom apartment we found on Airbnb was fantastic and the town itself was fun and welcoming and authentically Mexican. I’d love to spend more time in Puebla in the future and highly recommend it as a destination in Mexico.

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