PUEBLA TRAVEL GUIDE
Places to stay - Click here for price key
For super budget digs with good amenities, check out La Morada ($, Calle 6 Oriente #414 between 4 and 6 Norte, tel. 222/962-7395), in the heart of the city. Paid parking available 9am to 9pm, but you have to make other arrangements for overnight. Small but pleasant rooms offer Wi-Fi and a small, flat-screen TV.
We stayed at the not-exciting-but-well-situated Hotel Palace ($$, Calle 2 Oriente #13, tel. 222/232-2430 or 242-4030, www.hotelpalace.com.mx), three or four blocks from the main plaza. Rooms were plain and small but adequate, with tiny bathrooms. Cable TV, Wi-Fi (which didn’t work on my iPad), and room phone. Parking included was a plus, and there’s a generic sort of restaurant next door.
If you like a chain hotel frequented by budget-oriented business people, consider City Express Puebla ($$--$$$, Circuito Juan Pablo II #1755, tel. 222/211-7000, www.cityexpress.com.mx). Located in the city center, it offers a small gym, business services, free Internet and simple Continental breakfast included in the price.
Folks at the tourism office recommended Casa de la Palma ($$, Calle 3 Oriente #217, tel. 222/246-1437, www.casadelapalmapuebla.com). It is housed in an 18th-century building a block from the main plaza; its 16 rooms are equipped with Wi-Fi, telephone, cable TV, and coffeemaker. On the property are a gym and café; laundry service and airport transportation available.
La Purificadora ($$$$, Callejón de la 10 Norte #802, Paseo San Francisco, Barrio el Alto, tel. 222/309-1920, www.lapurificadora.com) is part of the chic Habita Hotel group. Hotel amenities include a bookstore, meeting rooms, restaurant with 24-hour room service, a/c, gym, a lap pool, tour services, laundry, business center, and valet parking. Rooms with minimalist décor have mini bar, cable TV, and room safe.
The classic stay in Puebla is at Mesón Sacristía de la Compañía ($$$$, Avenida 6 Sur #304, Callejón de los Sapos, tel. 222/232-4513, www.mesones-sacristia.com), renowned for its restaurant serving traditional Puebla cuisine. The décor is colorful, traditional Mexican … a bit fussy, but definitely interesting, lively, and unique. Amenities include room service, free local phone calls, a/c, café, cable TV, and Wi-Fi.
Places to Eat - Click here for price key
It’s fun to eat at one of the outdoor cafes surrounding Puebla’s large, beautiful main plaza. The food is average but the ambiance and people-watching can’t be beat. Also, many of the hotels listed above in the hotel section have restaurants worth trying: especially Mesón Sacristia de la Compañía and La Purificadora.
For a casual, inexpensive meal check out La Mexicana ($$, Calle 16 de Septiembre #706, tel. 222/232-6747). The daily lunch special makes for a complete meal, or you can order a la carte.
Locals head to Villa Rosa ($$--$$$, Calle 5 Oriente #207, tel. 222/232-4293) for traditional breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Choose a la carte, or the lunch specials on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or a buffet on Tuesday, Thursday, weekends, and holidays. On the menu you’ll find such dishes as mixed grill, pasta, grilled chicken, and soups and salads. Full bar; live music 1 to 3PM.
Across the street from Villa Rosa is La Zanahoria ($$, Calle 5 Oriente #206, tel. 222/232-4813), where vegetarians can enjoy the large and varied menu, juice bar, and daily specials.
El Mural de los Poblanos ($$$, Calle 16 de Septiembre #506, tel. 222/242-6696) is a great place for typical Puebla dishes such as chicken in mole sauce, chiles en nogada, pipian verde, flan, and other yummy desserts along with artisan beers and different types of mescal.
La Casona de la China Poblana ($$$, Avenida 4 Norte #2, tel. 222/242-5621), in a 17th-century building, is another popular place for typical Puebla cuisine. Located within a hotel of the same name, the restaurant is open daily for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner, athough it closes between 6 and 8PM and at 8PM on Sunday.
Things to Do & See
Listed here are just a few of Puebla’s many museums and exhibition centers for fine art. Pick up a brochure at the municipal tourism office for a complete list.
One of the most appealing museums in the city is Museo Amparo (2 Sur #708, tel. 222/229-3850, www.museoamparo.com, closed Tuesday), which has pre-Hispanic art in one wing and colonial-era art and furnishings in another around the corner.
Children and railroad buffs will enjoy the Museo Nacional de Ferrocarriles (Calle Oriente 7 #4, at 12 Poniente, tel. 222/232-0395, closed Monday). It’s at the old train station, and entrance is free.
In a city known for its many fabulous churches, you should not miss La Iglesia de Santo Domingo (Calle 5 de Mayo, at 4 Poniente, tel. 222/232-6264). Its over-the-top chapel, la Capilla del Rosario, is entirely covered in a high-relief maze of painted and gilded stucco angels, saints, warriors, flowers, vines, and geometric designs. The church is closed between 1 and 4PM.
Near Santo Domingo church, the free Museo José Luis Bello y Zetina (Calle 5 de Mayo #409, tel. 222/232-4720, www.museobello.org, closed Mondays and all of January) has temporary exhibits and permanent collections.
You can’t miss the huge and impressive catedral (Calle 16 de Septiembre, on the south side of the main plaza between Calles 3 and 5 Poniente). This Dominican church was one of the first built after the Conquest. Its façade is somewhat austere, and the interior lavish but formal.
Other churches worth visiting for their baroque architectural styles include el Templo de la Compañía (Avenida 4 Sur at Avenida Juan de Palafox y Mendoza); el Templo de San Francisco (Blvd. Héroes del 5 de Mayo at 14 Oriente), with beautiful brick and tile work and one super tall bell tower, which gives it a lopsided appearance.
Displaying handcrafts from around Puebla state, Centro Cultural Santa Rosa (3 Norte #1203, tel. 222/232-7792), is housed in a former convent. It’s allegedly where Puebla’s famous mole poblana sauce was invented, an intricate concoction of nuts, chocolate, chiles, and many different spices and ingredients.
If you’re walking around the city, look for La Casa Del Que Mató al Animal (The House of the Guy Who Killed the Animal), located at Calle 3 Oriente #201 and la Casa del Deán, at Calle 16 de Septiembre #505 and Avenida 7 Poniente.
Several different bus companies offer city bus tours that are a good way to see the sights and get oriented, especially from the bus’s upper level. Look for them parked at the southwest corner of the plaza.
Travelers seeking souvenirs and reasonably priced versions of Puebla’s famous Talavera pottery head for the small shops lining Plaza El Parian (Blvd. Héroes del 5 de Mayo between Calles 2 and 4 Oriente).
For a smattering of antiques as well as pottery and handicrafts, check out two-block Callejón de los Sapos (Calle 5 Oriente and Avenida 6 Sur), behind the cathedral.
One block east of Santo Domingo Church, la Calle de los Dulces (Calle 6 Oriente between 5 de Mayo and Avenida 4 Norte) is the place to shop for Puebla’s famous sweets. You also find Talavera pottery here.
For high-end Talavera place settings and other ceramicware, visit one of Mexico’s oldest and most respected businesses, Uriarte (Calle 4 Poniente #911 between Calles 9 and 11 Oriente, tel. 222/232-1598, www.uriartetalavera.com.mx/ingles/index.htm). It was founded in 1824.
Buzzing with personnel, the municipal tourism office (Portal Hidalgo #14, tel. 222/309-4300, ext. 197, www.turismopuebla.gob.mx) is under the arcade facing the main plaza on the northeast side. They offer maps, booklets, and plenty of advice.
For info about destinations outside the city, including Pueblo Mágicos and other interesting small towns, visit the state tourism office, a few doors down from La Casa de la Cultura and Biblioteca Palafoxiana. It faces the side of the cathedral on 5 Oriente.
How to Get There, How to Get Around There
Puebla was a planned city, drawn on the grid system. In the historical center, streets are numbered and labeled north, east, south and west, with the exception of the main street called Calle 5 de Mayo north (northeast, actually) of the zócalo and Calle 16 de Septiembre south (southwest, really) of the square. Many times addresses on business cards or street names on maps are not labeled as Calle or Avenida. For example: 4 Norte No. 2. Addresses labeled oriente (abbreviated Ote., which is east) or poniente (abbreviated Pte., or west) are Calles and those labeled norte (north) and sur (south) are Avenidas.
From the center of Mexico City, driving distance is approximately 133 km (82 miles) and traffic notwithstanding, the drive takes about two hours. Once past the eastern part of Mexico City, look for Highway 150D. If driving from Guanajuato or Querétaro or other points north of Mexico City, you can skirt a good deal of urban congestion by taking the new toll road, el Arco Norte.
Puebla’s Hermanos Serdán International Airport (Km 91.5 Carretera Federal Mexico--Puebla, Huejotzingo, http://aeropuertopuebla.com, tel. 227/102-5080) is located northwest of the city, 90 kilometers east of Mexico City. The airport code is PBC. It has guarded 24-hour parking, car rental agencies (see below), and the usual services such as a restaurant and shops.
Puebla’s Terminal Central de Autobuses de la Ciudad de Puebla (CAPU) is located at the north end of the city, at Boulevard Norte #4222, Colonia Las Cuartillas. It connects to Mexico City’s TAPO (eastern bus terminal) and Terminal del Norte (northern bus terminal) and to the capital cities of almost every mainland Mexico state. The principal bus lines are ADO (tels. 222/ 230-4014, toll-free in Mexico 01800/702-8000, www.ado.com.mx); Estrella Roja (tels. 222/273-8300 and toll-free in Mexico 01800/712-2284); Futura (tels. 222/249-7561 and toll-free in Mexico 01800/507-5500); and OCC (tels. 222/225-9007 or 222/248-7311). For more info see the bus terminal’s helpful website, www.capu.com.mx, or call 222/249-7211, ext. 222.
Official bus terminal taxis connect the city with CAPU bus station; contact SERTA-CAPUL Taxi Service at http://www.taxisautorizadoscapu.com or tels. 222/224-6505 or toll-free in Mexico, 01800/836-7223.
Other Puebla Taxis can be reached by dialing 222/240-6299 and 222/240-6344.
Puebla Car Rental Agencies
You can rent cars at the airport and through major hotels. Two well-known companies are Eurocar (tel. 222/224-2418) and Hertz (tel. 222/249-6808). For online booking, check out www.directorio.com.mx/renta-de-autos.