Puebla, Mexico is famous for its beautiful city center and incredible surrounding sites, like Cholula and the Ex-Hacienda de Chautla. While the common tourist sites are most definitely must-sees, sometimes you just want to see something that isn’t in a guidebook.
Here’s my top 10 list of more unusual and not so well-known tourist sites worth visiting around Puebla.
1. Paseo San Francisco (Unique Shopping Mall and Garden)
Av. 4 Ote. 1006, Centro, 72290 Puebla, Pue.
Do you want to see what it looks like when a modern commercial shopping center is built on top of archaeological zones and old factories? Well, you might not think you do, but it’s actually beautiful. The combination of glass and metal with visible old stones and ruins in the floors and walls are actually stunning.
And behind the shopping center is one of the prettiest natural areas in all of downtown Puebla. It’s a gorgeous park with paths, cacti, trees, ruins, and flowers. If you’re on the hunt for your next perfect Instagram shot, this is the place to come. Or if you just need a minute’s respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, bring a picnic and find a quiet space to spread out.
2. Revolución Mexicana Ecological Park
Calle 24 Sur S/N, Azcarate, 72501 Puebla, Pue.
It’s not close to the city center, and definitely not in a side of town that most tourists will see, but it’s quite an impressive park with an aviary (which you have to pay for), a lake, every court and field imaginable, and gorgeous trees and walking paths. If you’re a sporty person or enjoy a long pretty walk, I’d recommend this park for a nice wind-down.
3. Museo de La Casa de Los Muñecos
Calle 2 Nte 2, Centro, 72000 Puebla, Pue.
This museum, hidden back beyond a courtyard also containing a restaurant, is a museum containing a wide-variety of objects from taxidermy animals to navigational instruments, the most interesting part of this museum is a shrunken head. In my opinion, don’t go here if you have a weak stomach because I did find some of the exhibits quite creepy (i.e. dead people), but it was still incredibly interesting. Read the plaques about the shrunken heads to learn some very odd history.
4. Museo Amparo (free rooftop views)
Av 2 Sur 708, Centro, 72000 Puebla, Pue.
Everyone knows about the Museo Amparo. What not everyone knows is that it’s completely free on Sundays and Mondays, and even if you aren’t a museum person, it’s still worth going for the gorgeous rooftop views which you can get from the top of this museum.
5. Plaza de la Tecnología Puebla
Calle, Av 10 Pte #104, Centro, 72000 Puebla, Pue.
Have you ever seen photos of those Japanese technology malls, that are filled with the latest tech on one floor, and jam-packed full of anime and manga material on the next? Well, Puebla, weirdly, has one of those malls.
It’s also conveniently located on the popular Calle Cinco de Mayo. The first floor is all cheap tech, perfect for anyone looking for a new cellphone case or to replace a computer battery. Upstairs is where you’ll see the anime and comics. It’s really fun to take a look around and see the teenagers playing DDR or Yu-gi-oh surrounded by bright lights, plushies, and cartoon characters. This place would be a must-see tourist destination in a lot of places in the world, but here it’s something of a secret from tourists, and really, if you’re into tech or anime at all, you have to stop by.
6. National Museum of Mexican Railways.
Calle 11 Nte. 1005, San Miguelito, 72000 Puebla, Pue.
Is a railway park really cool? In my opinion, yes. It’s an especially fun place for kids who can hop around on the old trains and train cars. This is another excellent Instagram worthy place. It’s a fun place to spend an hour or two wandering around and learning about Mexico’s history of transportation.
7. Barrios de Xanentla
Okay, so this place isn’t exactly a secret, but it’s not on the typical tourist path either. Beneath the parks of Los Fuertes there’s an old neighborhood that was apparently once quite poor and dangerous, but is now a really lovely area with impressive street art. I felt very safe walking around here and taking photos in front of all the cool murals. If you’re walking from downtown to Los Fuertes (admittedly not a super easy or quick walk, but for me, still fun), make sure you head through this barrio first for some really stunning art.
8. McDonald’s Rooftop
McDonald’s might seem like a stupid place to add to a list of tourist destinations, but it’s got one of the best rooftop views in the city and all you have to do is pay about a dollar for an icecream (or just walk up to the roof for some photos). Not bad.
9. Heladeria el Parian (Ice cream!)
Calle 6 Nte 407, Centro, 72000 Puebla, Pue.
If you’re into experimental ice cream flavors (or just delicious ice cream), then head over to El Parian. They’ve got red wine, rompope (similar to eggnog), nutella, guava, and the list goes on. Best of all? This place is super cheap. Many of the ice creams and popsicles are less than 20 pesos. Wander around the historic center like a local with a cone or a popsicle in hand.
While technically not in Puebla (it’s closer to Tlaxcala). This unusual theme park / town offers an afternoon of interesting sight-seeing only about 30 minutes outside the city. Go to Puebla’s bus station CAPU. Ask for a bus to San Miguel Xoxtla on the Estrella Roja. Once you’re in Xoxtla (a tiny town next to the highway) ask for a combi or little bus to Val’Quirico.
In total, you’ll spend between 30 and 40 pesos to see Val’Quirico which is an odd project to make a medieval Tuscan village in the countryside outside Tlaxcala. It’s certainly an unusual sight and there are plenty of places for good food and drinks inside, so you can easily spend an afternoon here taking photos, wandering around, and listening to the musicians that are playing around town.