TLAXCALA TRAVEL GUIDE
For general info about Tlaxcala, see www.mexicoguru.com/tlaxcala.php.
Places to Stay - Click here for price key
Recommended by the girls of the State Tourism Office for budget digs, Hotel El Refugio ($, Blvd. Revolución 4, Hwy. Apizaco--Texmelucan Km 23.3, tel. 246/462-2491) is just outside downtown near the Convention Center. The hotel offers parking, cable TV, restaurant/bar, room service, and Wi-Fi.
Also outside the historic district, the low-rise Hotel Jeroc's Plaza ($, Blvd. Revolución 4 Bis, Col. La Garita, tel. 246/462-1577) has parking, a restaurant, bar, and laundry service as well as a covered, heated swimming pool.
Posada La Casona de Cortés ($$, Av. Lardizabal 6, Centro, tel. 246/462-2042 or 246/462-5477) offers a bar, restaurant, valet parking, and Internet. It's just a few blocks from Los Portales, Plaza de la Constitución, and other downtown Tlaxcala hot spots.
Hotel Posada de San Francisco ($$$, Plaza de la Constitución 17, Centro, tel. 246/462-6022 or 246/462-6101) is the nicest hotel downtown. In a colonial structure facing the zócalo, this classy hotel has two tennis courts, a bar, restaurant, Wi-Fi, and a business center. There's also a lovely pool, and valet parking.
Places to Eat - Click here for price key
For excellent people watching, sit at an outdoor table at Los Portales ($$, Plaza de la Constitución), a row of restaurants and shops facing the main plaza. Try a typical snack such as tlaxcales (sweetened cornmeal cakes), tlacoyos (corn cakes stuffed with beans), or memelas (little pinched corn cakes cooked on the griddle and topped with cheese and salsa).
El Tablao ($$--$$$, Av. Independencia 1, tel. 246/111-0726) is a pleasant little Spanish-style café/bar serving tapas and wine by the glass (they have a full bar, too). The food is average, but the place is clean and cheerful, the background music lively yet unobtrusive, and the location facing Plaza Xicohtencatl can't be beat. Open after 1PM; closed Mondays.
Things to Do & See
Museo de Artes y Tradiciones Populares de Tlaxcala (Av. Emilio Sánchez Piedras 1, tel. 246/462-2337 or 246/462-5704) shows a humble selection of regional crafts and an adjacent folk art shop.
Museo de Arte de Tlaxcala (Plaza de la Constitución 21, 246/462-1510, www.mat.org.mx) has changing exhibits by painters like Botero as well as lesser-known artists. Closed Mondays. Small admission fee.
Museo Regional (Ex-Convento de San Francisco, up the stairs at the southeast corner of Plaza Xicohtencatl, tel. 246/462-0262) has archaeological displays on the first floor and mainly religious paintings and artifacts on the second story.
Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Ocotlán (northeast side of town) is a lovely church built to commemorate the apparition of the Virgin for which it is named. The faithful bring receptacles (or buy them onsite) from which to drink or carry away the holy water from the well which is a short walk away.
Fourteen kilometers (9 miles) northeast of Tlaxcala Centro Vacacional La Trinidad (Av. del Trabajo s/n, Santa Cruz, tel. 246/461-0700 or 01800/711-0614) is a former factory turned recreational center that offers an open-air swimming pool and a covered swimming pool as well as tennis courts, go-carts, an artificial lake with row boats, four-wheelers, and other outdoor activities as well as a restaurant and snack bar. Admission is about 40 pesos.
Learn to cook a variety of simple and more complex traditional Mexican classics at Mexican Home Cooking (www.mexicanhomecooking.com), which offers comfortable lodgings as well as multi-day cooking classes and market visits.
Within the small state of Tlaxcala are historic haciendas that can be visited for the day or overnight. Tlaxcala is a big producer of bulls, and a number of the restored haciendas breed them for bullfighting. One is a pulque (undistilled relative of tequila) hacienda, while some simply cater to tourists with restaurants, spa services, horseback riding, lodgings, and so on.
Dulces Tipicos (Plaza de la Constitución, next to Posada de San Francisco) has a colorful and tasty array of traditional candies of the area; they also make their own potato chips.
Alfareria Tlaxcalli (Calle Morelos 8, near Plaza Xicohtencatl, tel. 246/466-4622) has two floors of Talavera platters, bowls, and decorative pieces.
Grupo Textil Santa Ana (Plaza de la Constitución 4, at Los Portales, tel. 246/462-4446) has a huge inventory. From the nearby textile town of Santa Ana Chiautyempan come clothing both traditional (rebozos, shawls, stoles, serapes, ponchos) and modern (sweaters, unprinted t-shirts, men's driving caps). They come in wool, cotton, acrylic, chenille and other fabrics. There are also tablecloths and bedspreads and other woven household items.
On weekends Plaza Xicohtencatl fills with vendors selling the Talavera ceramics for which the state is known as well as toys, books, costume and silver jewelry, and souvenirs.
The Municipal Tourism Office has several kiosks downtown, including the main one at Los Portales, Calle Juárez, Plaza de la Constitución and another at the eye-catching, orange San José church, in the center of town between Plaza Juárez and Plaza de la Constitución.
For info about things to see and do both in the city and state of Tlaxcala, visit the State Tourism Office (Av. Juárez at Lardizábal, tel. 246/465-0961 or toll free in Mexico 01800/509-6557). For info ahead of time, go to their website, www.descubretlaxcala.com.
How to Get There & Away
Mexico's tiniest state, Tlaxcala is embraced by Puebla to the north, east, and south; to the west and southwest it borders Hidalgo and Mexico states.
By Bus: From Mexico City (120 km/72 miles) away, a bus takes less than two hours from TAPO, Mexico City's eastern bus station (bus lines: ATAH and Primera Plus). Puebla, Puebla is just 32 km/19 miles from the city of Tlaxcala. From Puebla, take Flecha Azul or ATAH from the CAPU bus terminal. People visiting Puebla for its cuisine and Talavera pottery should consider combining their adventure with a jaunt to neighboring Tlaxcala.
By Car: The new toll-road, El Arco Norte, or D40, connects Tlaxcala the states of Querétaro, Mexico, and Hidalgo as well as Puebla, to the south. But Tlaxcala is also a short, straight shot up Hwy 119 from Puebla. From Mexico City, take the Mexico-Puebla toll highway (Hwy 190).