Puebla, Mexico For Families
If you drive South East from Mexico City you’ll arrive in the sprawling city of Puebla-Mexico surrounded by ancient volcanoes.
Like most Mexican towns and cities the old center or Centro has kept its charm with its tree lined town square, cobbled streets, amazing architecture and colourful buildings.
But Puebla is so much more.
Speak to any Mexican about Puebla and the thing they’ll talk about is the amazing food that Puebla is known for, especially the Mole.
Puebla is also famous for being the place where Mexicans defeated an invading French army at the battle of Cinco de Mayo.
But what about a destination for families?
As we drove into the city on the bus our first impression was not overwhelming with traffic clogged streets, blaring horns and an industrial feel.
As with most Mexican towns and cities the centre or Centro is always the oldest and prettiest part of town and Puebla didn’t disappoint.
Luckily we found an affordable hotel right in the old centre where our room looked out on to the surrounding streets.
We were ready to start exploring
Centro, The Old Town
The centre of Puebla is very walkable and having a central hotel is really convenient as you’re right in the middle of things.
We’d found a lovely and reasonably priced hotel where we had a corner room meaning we had a small balcony on two sides.
The room only had one kingsize bed but sharing between the three of us wasn’t a problem if it meant we could be this close to town.
Two blocks up from our hotel and we were right in the town centre.
What struck us almost straight away was the French feel of the Zocala ( town square ) with its tree lined pavements and roadside cafes brimming with people having lunch or drinks.
There’s a tourist information office right on the square with very helpful,English speaking staff where we got a map and asked what were the must sees while in Puebla.
The focal point of the Zocala other than the lovely areas to sit and watch the world go by is the huge Cathedral of Puebla.
If you like the cathedrals and churches of Mexico then it’s well worth a look around at the massive interior.
Puebla’s centre is a place to wander and navigation is easy as you can see the cathedral twin towers from mostly anywhere.
One thing to keep in mind especially if you have young children is the roads here are busy and driving is a bit erratic, as in most city centres there are far too many vehicles driving too fast.
Also in the old town you’ll find all the museums, art galleries and shops you’ll want.
We only managed a few but we really enjoyed the Amparo Museum which is really a hybrid of an art gallery and a museum of ancient Mexican artefacts. The only downside for us was that there was English signage everywhere except in the artefact section, which was our problem not theirs. The museum has a lovely rooftop terrace where you can have a drink or something to eat.
5 minutes walk from the main square you’ll find, Calle de los Dulces or The Street of the Candies.
Puebla is known for its candies and on this street you’ll find numerous shops selling all types of sweet treats.
They offer tasters so be sure to try a few to find your favourite.
Carry on down Calle de los Dulces until you reach the end and you’ll have found the Temple of Santa Domingo.
Step inside this plain looking church to discover one of the most beautiful chapels you’ll ever see, the Chapel of the Virgin of the Rose is coated in 22 carat gold leaf, onyx and gold mouldings.
This area of town is also great for shopping with its pedestrianised streets, performers and food stalls.
Outside Of The Centre
Further away from the old centre but still within walking distance you’ll find loads to see and do up on the hill overlooking the city.
This is where you’ll find museums, the planetarium, expo centre, two forts and a host of other cool stuff to do.
You can even take a cable car up to the top of the hill if walking isn’t your cup of tea.
The area is lovely to walk around with brilliant views over the city and beyond to the volcanoes.
You’ll find a lot of history about Cinco De Mayo at the Interpretive centre and the Fort of Guadalupe.
If you didn’t know then Puebla is famous for being the place where the Mexican army defeated the invading French army in 1862 thus saving the whole of Mexico from French rule.
Fort Guadalupe stands atop the hill strategically overlooking the city below.
We visited the Regional museum of Puebla but to be honest it was a bit boring as there were no English signage and it was one of the more expensive museums. We wish we had gone to the fun looking Science museum instead.
Further down the hill you’ll find a lovely boating lake where you can rent a small boat or there is a nice cafe with wonderful views of the city below.
Another great attraction connected with the history of Cinco de Mayo are the secret tunnels that run underneath the city.
A little way from the hill you can find the entrance to the tunnels which run for a couple of km underground and are full of old relics and information about their history.
There is also a short stretch of tunnel and an underground bridge on the other side of town which your tunnel ticket includes.
This area of town is also known for its street art in the shape of murals on buildings and walls everywhere.
Even further out of the old centre and a taxi ride away we had an afternoon at the ice skating rink which was really fun as both Annabel and I love to ice skate.
Out Of Town
One of the places we’d heard about near to Puebla is the town of Cholula so we definitely wanted to check it out.
You can hop on a local bus for 7 pesos and take the 30 min or so ride out to this beautiful town.
Cholula is really just an extension to Puebla but it feels much more laid back and quainter.
One of the main reasons for coming here was to see the Great Pyramid of Cholula ( the biggest pyramid in the world ) and the church of Iglesia de los Remedios that sits atop the pyramid.
The pyramid is mostly overgrown now but you can climb to the top and look around the lovely church with magnificent views in all directions.
At the base of the pyramid you should find the entrance to a tunnel that works its way underneath the pyramid to the opposite side where your entrance fee lets you walk around the grounds of the archaeological site to see the remains of the ancient civilisation that used to inhabit this area.
Cholula in its own right is a lovely place to wander around with its brightly coloured buildings and narrow streets.
Check Out The Food
Now we aren’t big foodies by any means so when everyone told us that the food in Puebla is amazing we pretty much dismissed the comments.
We don’t eat fancy at all but we really did enjoy the food we tasted in Puebla.
By far the best food we had were the simple Taco Arabe that Puebla is famous for and that we couldn’t get enough of at Las Ranas Taco restaurant.
We’ve tried Mole elsewhere in Mexico and not really liked it but the Mole here was lovely and sweet so we loved it especially the Mole Poblano.
Of course we couldn’t resist trying some candies on Calle de los Dulces too.
We all loved our visit to Puebla.
We were there for 5 days and it was the perfect amount of time for us to explore everything we wanted.
Annabel had a great time exploring the secret tunnels and the forts on the hill above Puebla as well as seeing the volcanoes surrounding the city.
She also loved the food especially the tacos with Chorizo.
The centre of town is nice and walkable with a laid back vibe with lots of sights to discover but once out of the centre there is an edgy but safe feel with much busier roads that seemed quite chaotic.
The Nitty Gritty
We travelled from San Miguel de Allende to Puebla via Queretaro.
We had booked tickets with the bus company ETN from San Miguel de Allende to Queretaro which takes just over an hour then a change of bus onto Puebla which is a four hour drive away from Queretaro.
If you’re coming from Mexico City then Puebla is about one hours drive South with many bus companies to choose from.
Where We Stayed
We booked our five night stay at Hotel Posada Guadalupe through Booking.com.
The hotel is in a fantastic location very close to the centre of the old town on the main road through the area.
There’s a little traffic noise if you get a street facing room but it was also lovely to have a view out of the surrounding churches.
Where We Ate
There are loads of places to eat but we had one particular favourite.
For tacos we loved Las Ranas that has two locations in centro very close to one another. The Taco Arabe is to die for and Annabel’s favourite was the chorizo tacos.
It gets busy with lots of Mexican families early evening but we could usually get a table quite easily.