Cholula, Puebla Guide: What To Do, See & Eat

cholula puebla mexico

I just got back from a wonderful few days in Cholula in Puebla state and can’t wait to tell you about it. I visited during a day trip in 2019 (while staying overnight in the state’s capital, Puebla) so I was happy to return in May 2023 and spend a few days exploring the gorgeous town more thoroughly.

In this travel guide to Cholula, Mexico, I’ll tell you what to do in Cholula de Rivadavia, where to stay, where and what to eat, how to get there, and more!

Let’s get stuck into this town with a famous hot sauce named after it…

cholula puebla
Pretty corners of Cholula, Mexico

Where is Cholula?

Cholula is in Puebla state in Central Mexico, just over 2 hours driving from Mexico City and only 30 minutes (7 miles) from Puebla City, the capital of the state.

It’s located close to other towns in Puebla such as Atlixco and a stone’s throw from Popocatepetl volcano, something that was slightly problematic during my trip in May 2023…

Popocatepetl volcano
Popocatepetl is very active

There are actually two volcanos close to Cholula: active Popocateptl and dormant Iztaccihuatl, meant to resemble the shape of a sleeping woman.

An ancient legend goes that Popo was a warrior while Izta was his love waiting at home. She heard that he’d died in battle and died herself of a broken heart. He vowed to always watch over, hence the two volcanos sitting eternally opposite each other.

How to get to Cholula, Mexico

The best way to reach Cholula is by taxi from Puebla. An Uber should cost between 120 and 150 pesos, taking around 25 minutes.

The local bus from Puebla to Cholula will take closer to 1 hour and cost around 25 pesos. Make sure to have small bills as the driver won’t have change from a 200 or 500 note.

If you’re coming from Mexico City, your best bet is to ride the bus from TAPO station to Puebla (2 hours 20 minutes) then, from Puebla CAPU bus station, jump in a taxi or local bus to Cholula, Puebla.

street art what to do cholula puebla

How to get around Cholula

Walk! It’s pretty small and flat. The longest distance I walked was around 30 minutes from my hotel in San Pedro to the neighborhood of San Andres.

Another option is hiring a bicycle. Sadly, they don’t have EcoBici bikes like Mexico City but your accommodation may have some for hire. If you get tired, you can also call an Uber to get around. Journeys shouldn’t cost more than 50 pesos.

What’s the best time to visit Cholula Puebla?

Since the weather in this elevated, fertile valley, is good year-round, there’s really not a bad time to visit Cholula!

Unlike some destinations in Mexico that are TOO crowded on weekends, I’d say that the weekend is actually a good time to visit Cholula because it’s fun and lively. It can be a bit quiet during the week.

Another idea is to time your trip around regional events. The Church Bells Concert is held each November (dates vary each year) when the city lights are turned off and locals carry candles through the streets to the peal of church bells.

San Pedro or San Andres?

The first thing to know about voting Cholula is that there are two separate parts to the town, separated by the archaeological site and church in the center. The good thing is that you can easily move between the two sections on foot so it doesn’t overly matter where you choose to base.

The two sections are…

San Pedro Cholula

san pedro cholula sombrero shop

This is the part of town that most day trippers will visit. It’s home to the most popular things to do in Cholula including the impressive monuments and local markets.

if you’re wondering whether to stay in Cholula San Pedro or San Andres, I would suggest San Pedro for families and couples looking to relax.

Where to stay in San Pedro:

  • Budget accommodation – I stayed at Collection O Las Iglesias which has clean, comfy rooms, and outdoor swimming pool. Book from $37 a night.
  • Mid-range – Santa Josefita B&B is full of plants, colorful details, and beautiful details in line with a traditional hacienda. Breakfast is included. Book from $70 a night.
  • Splash-out – Hotel Tila is a 5-star hotel with a swimming pool, roof terrace, and enormous rooms. Book from $120 a night.

San Andres Cholula

Despite being smaller with fewer tangible tourist attractions, San Andres Cholula is the cooler part of town popular with local students. For specialty coffee shops, nightlife, and restaurants in Cholula, it’s great! Younger travelers may prefer this area to San Pedro.

However, it still feels tranquil during the day. The center point is Parroquia de San Andrés (San Andrew’s Church, pictured above) and the pretty plaza beside it (pictured below).

Where to stay in San Andres:

  • Budget accommodation – the simple comfy rooms at Casa San Andres start from $27.
  • Mid-range – Majikal B&B provides colorful, Alebrije-themed apartments with all your home amenities including a kitchen. Book from $55.
San andres square things to do cholula
Parroquia de San André Plaza

Note – both towns make up the Pueblo Magico of Cholula. The term Pueblo Magico means ‘magic town’ and is a designation from the tourist board ensuring a destination has unique cultural, historical, or architectural significance. I’m trying to tick off as many as I can!

Is a day trip to Cholula enough, or should you stay overnight?

If time’s tight, you can certainly stay in Puebla city and head over to Cholula for a day trip. That’s what I did the first time I visited and I managed to see most of the Cholula tourist attractions.

However, if you have the time, I would definitely suggest staying overnight in Cholula. Two nights would be ideal. The benefits of staying overnight include:

  • Getting to experience the bars and nightlife. There are some great places to drink mezcal and pulque!
  • Having time to explore both San Andres and San Pedro properly.
  • Getting to see the view from the hilltop church at sunrise AND sunset to compare.
  • More time at the museums to properly understand the history of the archeological site.
  • Time for more Cholula restaurants and food! What other reasons do you need?

Quick history of Cholula Mexico

  • It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited settlements in North America. Many places including Tepoztlan also compete for this title, but Cholula is thought to have been founded between 800 and 200 BC.
  • Cholula means Place of Springs in Nahuatl.
  • The Olmecs were the first people documented living here, followed by the Toltecs who built the famous Cholula Pyramid. The Aztecs ruled the roost until the Spanish came along.
  • The Cholula Massacre was a bloody battle that the locals lost (as the word massacre may suggest).

Things to do in Cholula, Puebla

So, what are the main attractions in Cholula? Let’s start with the obvious ones before moving onto some lesser-known museums and markets…

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (Our Lady of Remedies Church)

Our Lady of Remedies Church is the icon of Cholula, pictured on every postcard and the first thing you’ll see when you Google ‘Cholula Mexico’, often with an unrealistically large view of Popocatepetl behind it (I think some photos are taken with a telescope lens).

The history of this sunny yellow church dates back to Spanish rule, of course. The ancient pyramid built by the Toltecs was largely disguised with grass by the time they arrived so some say they didn’t know it was there, so built the Catholic shrine to the Virgin of Remedies on top in 1594.

One of the best things to do in Cholula is climb the steep hill to Our Lady of Remedies at sunset. On a clear day, you’ll soak up views of the colorful city with a backdrop of the vast volcanos.

On the San Andres side is a park, a colorful sign, and a Frida mural that makes for a pleasant wander.

Explore the archaeological site (outside)

Zona Arqueológica de Cholula
Pyramid in Cholula Puebla

The Zona Arqueológica de Cholula is home to the remains of the Great Pyramid of Cholula, the world’s largest pyramid by mass! However, it doesn’t look like a pyramid because grass and plants have grown over it.

I learned when visiting that Mexican pyramids never held tombs or relics inside like Egyptian ones; instead, they had flat tops and steps up the side so they could be used as a platform for community events.

Tlachihualtepetl (‘Made By Hand Mountain’) took more than 1,000 years to complete, measuring 1,476 feet wide and 213 feet tall. It would have been red on the outside with carvings of Quetzalcóatl, the serpent god. Coincidentally, all things the Spanish would have associated with the devil!

At one point, it was the largest city in Mexico after Tenochtitlan, the remains of which can be seen in the downtown of Mexico City. Entry to the outside site and tunnels costs 80 pesos.

Walk through Cholula Pyramid

Pyramid Cholula puebla
Inside the pyramid

The excavation by architects in the 1960s saw them drill into the pyramid and, subsequently, you can walk through Cholula Pyramid. In fact, the tunnel system is one of the top tourist attractions in Cholula.

Entry to the Pyramide Tepanapa tunnels is included in the archeological zone ticket price (80 pesos) which also grants you entry to the Museo de Sitio de Cholula mentioned below.

I would highly recommend a guided tour around the archeological zone because you’ll learn a lot more about the Toltec people and their religion and customs, the Spanish invasion, and the Cholula Massacre led by Hernán Cortés who was invited to visit by Montezuma as an ambush (that didn’t pay off).

More churches in Cholula, Puebla

Tecamec Church of Saint Paul

A rumor goes that the Spanish planned to build 365 churches in Cholula, one for each day of the year. Either this rumor is untrue or it just never happened because the real number today is around 40. Still a huge number for such a small town!

The Cholulans are very religious, and the church communities are highly active with celebrations to honor various Catholic saints almost daily. So if you experience regular fireworks and bells, know it’s probably local ceremonies.

Churches to visit include:

  • Tecamec Church of Saint Paul – this impressive orange church is en route between San Pedro & Andres so you might naturally pass it traveling between the two. It’s a pretty place to stop beside a small park.
  • Temple of San Francisco Acatepec – slightly out of town, this church is worth a visit for its unique combination of red brick and Talavera mosaics.
  • Convento de San Gabriel Arcángel – near Plaza de la Concordia, this sunny yellow convent is one of the most important attractions in Cholula. Entry is free, like the rest of the churches.
  • Parish of San Pedro Cholula – this red and white church near the Zocalo of San Pedro is one of the most attractive in town.
  • Capilla Real de Naturales – with 49 domes and an Arabic-style design, this church is connected to  San Gabriel Convent.

Parque Soria 

Parque Soria is the green space at the bottom of the archeological zone where you can snap a photo of the ‘San Pedro Cholula’ sign with the pyramid and church behind.

There’s a small artisan market here to buy souvenirs, and if you follow the path to your right (when facing the pyramid), you’ll come to an area of outdoor bars and food trucks that gets lively in the evenings.

Regional Museum of Cholula

Regional Museum of Cholula mexico

Of the museums in Cholula, I easily found this one the most captivating. The Regional Museum of Cholula (Museo Regional de Cholula) is a spacious museum with eight rooms where you can learn about the history of the region and admire some impressive alebrijes!

For those that don’t know, these weird and wonderful mystical creatures are an important part of Mexican folklore, dreamed up by local artist, Pedro Linares Lopez, in the 1930s.

As well as alebrijes, you’ll see colorful Pueblan pottery and the Lienzo de Quauhquechollan, a cloth painting by indigenous people telling their story of the Spanish invasion.

Entry is 42 pesos.

Museo de Sitio de Cholula

This smaller museum is an interesting place to visit in Cholula for those wanting more information about Cholula Pyramid. Museo de Sitio de Cholula has just a couple of rooms, telling the story of this ancient civilization.

Exhibits include a miniature reconstruction of the pyramid, a large mural wall recreating an image found onsite, and pieces of pottery, masks, weapons, and sacrificial vases dating back as far as 1,500 years. You’ll notice a strong color palette of reds, oranges, and yellows due to the naturally-occurring minerals in the valley.

Entry to the museum is included in the 80 peso archeological zone ticket price that also grants you entry to the tunnels.

Mercado de San Pedro Cholula 

Sweets at Mercado de San Pedro Cholula 

Once you’ve experienced the culture at the museums and archeological site, it’s time to experience a different kind of culture: the bustling local market!

Visiting Mercado de San Pedro Cholula is one of the best things to do in Cholula for foodies. It’s a typical Mexican market selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to flowers and piñatas. It’s also a great place to eat in Cholula: sit down for a hearty local meal or simply grab a sweet snack and keep sightseeing.

Spot street art (Cholula San Pedro and San Andres)


I LOVE street art! Mexico is fantastic for urban murals and Cholula is no expectation. One of the best places in Cholula for street art is Avenue 5 de Mayo in San Andres. There are vibrant murals showing people, animals, activities, and traditions related to Mexican culture.


Lots of artists joined the effort. A few whose tags I spotted here include Dvivbar, Fredelle, and Thaya Pithaya.

Find street art in Cholula using the Street Art Cities map.

Take a prehispanic tour (archeology and food)

pre hispanic food

If you’re interested in prehispanic history and culture, one of the best things to do in Cholula is take a tour with Obsidian Tours. I had a great time on their prehispanic tour which began with a walk around the archeological park with a qualified architect. I learned a lot I wouldn’t have otherwise!

Next, we had a 7-course tasting menu prepared by a trained chef. Everything was locally sourced, in season, beautifully presented, and absolutely delicious. Although you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy it (I’m not), veggies should definitely take note!

Hike or horse ride in Izta-Popo National Park

Active types visiting Cholula can enjoy the chance to get into nature and go hiking in Izta-Popo National Park. Driving from Cholula to the entrance point of Paso de Cortes (35 peso entry) takes around 1.5 hours, and there are numerous trails you can take of varying degrees of difficulty.

Hiking Popo is never a possibility due to its volcanic activity but summiting the peak of Izta Volcano is doable although difficult. Hiking boots, thermal clothing, and enough food and water are essential.

Sadly few hiking tours are available from Cholula (although you can certainly ask around) but there are guided hikes departing from Puebla.

If hiking isn’t your thing, another option is horse riding near the base of the volcanoes.

Where to eat in Cholula Puebla

Now to the important stuff! I’m sure you’ll want to sample some of the local delicacies at the best restaurants in Cholula.

Cholula isn’t known for its regional cuisine like Puebla, so the best thing to do is try the famous Puebla dishes also served here like mole poblano sauce, pipian mole sauce, chili en nogada (between August and October), chalupas, tacos árabes, and cemitas.

Of course, there are plenty of other typical Mexican foods served as well as international cuisine.

Mexican food in Cholula Mexico

These are the best places to visit in Cholula to try all your favorite Mexican dishes like tacos, tortas, chilaquiles, and regional dishes.

Tortas and cemitas

cemita traditional food

Tortas are popular around Mexico and for good reason! These OTT sandwiches are usually stuffed with ingredients not limited to cheese, meat, milanesa, avocado, chilis, pineapple, and more. Personally, I like a Cubano which comes with a bit of everything, although I can’t have them often: they’re a FEAST.

The regional version in Puebla state is the cemita. Differences include the type of bread, plus the addition of delicious quesillo (sometimes called Oaxaca cheese) which is stringy, salty, and muy rico. Vegetarians will be happy because these make for hearty meal without the need for meat, although you can add that if you wish.

The best places to eat in Cholula for cemitas are Cemitas Lupita 3 and San Pedro Tortas and Cemitas.

Maza Cholula (tacos)

maza cholula restaurants

For tacos, I would recommend a modest restaurant in Cholula hidden away near Parque Soria. I believe it’s quite new and I hope everything goes well for them because the food is excellent and very affordable, plus there are artisanal beers, mezcal, and aguas del dia.

The menu at Maza Cholula is divided into land, sea, and earth with options for all diets. I opted for the shrimp and fish tacos and got one free due to an offer that day. There are 2-for-1 deals throughout the week so be sure to check before ordering.

Mesón Las Macetitas

For a hearty, affordable local meal in beautiful surroundings, don’t miss Mesón Las Macetitas. I’m glad I stumbled upon it because I had an amazing serving of mole chilaquiles for just 75 pesos! If you haven’t had chilaquiles yet, that needs to change. They’re one of my favorite Mexico City breakfast dishes!

If you’re feeling indecisive, they also do trio chilaquiles with mole, salsa rojo, and salsa verde (in separate pools I hope!).

The courtyard is gorgeous with colorful walls and tablecloths, and lots of flowers and plants. They’re open ’til 2pm on weekdays and 5pm on weekends so it’s a great breakfast or lunch spot.

Pescados y Mariscos Moby Dick

I had a delicious meal of seafood tostadas at Pescados y Mariscos Moby Dick in Cholula San Andres. It’s a modest eatery not far from the main plaza with just a few seats at the bar.

They have a short menu of the day based on what fish is freshly available. I opted for one ceviche and one tuna tostada, and paid 90 pesos for both. They have a fantastic selection of hot sauces.

International food in Cholula Mexico

For a relatively small and traditional town, I was surprised how much quality international food there is in Cholula. If you’re craving home comforts or simply pasta (is anyone NOT constantly craving pasta?), some of the best Cholula restaurants for international food are…

Spezzia (Italian food)

Spezzia italian food international restaurants cholula mexico
Truffle shrimp pasta

Honestly, Spezzia serve some of the best Italian food I’ve had in Mexico (and I live in the capital where there are lots of great international restaurants).

I opted for ravioli with truffle mushroom and shrimp, but there are lots of other unusual options as well as pizzas, salads, starters including burrata, and wines. If I hadn’t wanted to sample lots of restaurants for this Cholula travel guide, I could have easily eaten here every night!

Cus Cus Cus

For Italian food in Cholula, this is a decent option although not as good as Spezzia. The main reason to visit Cus Cus Cus is the fantastic views from the terrace over the town and Our Lady of Remedies Church.

Best cafes & coffee in Cholula Puebla

Coffee is never far from my mind and I’m confident I found the best of it while visiting Cholula, Mexico!

Semola y Pan

Semola y pan
Coffee and breakfast

For baked goods, you simply won’t find anywhere better than Semola y Pan. It’s a lovely spacious cafe in the San Andres barrio with delectable brunch dishes, but I don’t think you can beat starting your day with a pastry and coffee.

With so many glorious-looking pastries, it was difficult to choose. After lusting over a honey and fig one, I went for the one pictured above with vanilla cream and berries. They also serve some of the best coffee in Cholula.

Harina y Sal

Just down the road from Semola y Pan is another lovely place to enjoy pastries and coffee for breakfast. Although the pastries were better at Semola y Pan, I loved the rooftop setting at Harina y Sal with views of the pyramid.

The guava bun filled with sweet guava paste and topped with a fresh slice was delicious. The staff are really friendly here, too.


For the absolute best specialty coffee in Cholula, I would recommend Barbarista. They know their beans from their blends! I went for an unusual cold brew tonic with ginger.

However, if you want to relax and enjoy the ambiance of a cafe, I preferred the places mentioned above. Barbarista has all the features of a hipster coffee shop with granite surfaces, so it doesn’t feel overly ‘cosy’, plus the rap music was too loud.

Blends Coffee Café 

Most of the best coffee seems to be over in San Andres, I guess because of the student population. However, Blends is one of the best places cafes in Cholula San Pedro that I found, so be sure to check it out if you’re sightseeing around the main attractions in Cholula. They have amazing coffee, cakes, and friendly staff.

Bars & nightlife in Cholula

There are some cool spots, either because of tourism or the students. Despite being smaller, there’s more nightlife in Cholula than Puebla. For late nights, the best region is San Andres Cholula where the students go to dance.

But, actually, both boroughs have decent bars, some of the best being…

La Popular Mezcaleria 

As it says on the tin, this lively bar in San Pedro is known for mezcal. La Popular Mezcaleria is a casual spot with indoor and outdoor murals, lively music, and free-flowing mezcal and pulque in different flavors and forms.


For live music like jazz and flamenco, alongside Mexican food and drinks served in an atmospheric setting with low lighting, a trip to Jazzatlan is one of the best things to do in Cholula at night!

Licoreria San Pedrito

The coolest bar in Cholula (San Pedro) is this speakeasy cocktail bar with rooftop views. When I arrived at 6pm, you could easily walk in off the street but, as I was leaving, it had transformed into full speakeasy mode. When you arrive, you’ll see the pink bar above which is pushed back when you ask to enter.

On the menu at San Pedrito are lots of cocktails with a mezcal focus. Enjoy the rooftop terrace or head downstairs where there’s a courtyard, an altar, and several bars with a Wes Anderson vibe! Cocktails cost around 150 pesos.

Container City (San Andres)

To party, visit this popular student hotspot. Container City has several bars in shipping containers, one called ‘La Shoteria’ (no prizes for guessing what they serve). If you’re in your 20s, you may fit in with the clientele, otherwise you’ll probably want to enjoy the nightlife at any of the places listed above, instead.

Cerveceria Cholula

This microbrewery inside an old yellow hacienda is a place where you can come for drinks night or day. Cerveceria Cholula has indoor and outdoor seating, loads of craft beers, and brunch served on Sundays. Beer lovers, don’t miss it!

Quick guide – where to eat in Cholula San Andres

Quick guide – where to eat in Cholula San Andrés 

Where to go next?

Pubela is a diverse state so, once you’ve finished with the main things to do in Cholula Puebla, consider a visit to…

Puebla de Zaragoza

Unless you’re driving, it’s difficult to visit Cholula and NOT Puebla because public transport from other states connects here. I’d highly recommend visiting even if just to try the unique regional cuisine.

As the 5th biggest city in Mexico with 1.5 million residents, Puebla is a bustling, lively city especially on weekends when an antique market pops up on Callejon de los Sapos and live music plays in the Casa de la Cultura.

Other attractions in Puebla include the oldest public library in the Americas (Biblioteca Palafoxiana) and the Parian Market. A good amount of time to spend in Puebla is 2 days.

Read next: what to eat in Puebla


Even closer to the volcanos than Cholula (and just 30 minutes away by car) is the quaint barrio of Atlixco known for its fertile ground that produces all the ingredients for chile en nogada, alongside the cultivation of flowers. Half a day here is time well spent!


The misty mountain town of Cuetzalan is known for its markets selling local produce and indigenous handicrafts. Time your trip around the Sunday market if possible. It’s more than a 3-hour drive from Cholula but worth a visit if you have time!

FAQs about visiting Cholula

Is Cholula Mexico worth visiting? Yes, Cholula Puebla is absolutely worth visiting for its prehispanic history and architecture. It’s a beautiful place to spend a few days!

How safe is Cholula, Puebla? You don’t have much to worry about because Cholula is very safe. As a solo female traveler, I even felt safe walking alone at night.

What is the weather like in Cholula? Unlike some places in Mexico which have a specific seasonal window for visiting, Cholula has year-round good weather. The average temperature is around 65 degrees (18 degrees Celcius).

The main thing to be aware of is the activity level of Popocatepetl. When I last visited, it was raining black ash from a recent eruption. The locals are very tranquilo about the whole thing as it happens regularly, but you might want to check the news before visiting and pack a face mask just in case.

How far is Cholula from Puebla?
The distance between Cholula and Puebla is 7 miles, around a 30-minute drive.

Should I stay in Cholula or Puebla? This depends on you. If you enjoy a bustling city with lots to see and do, I would pick Puebla. But if it’s a charming town you’re after with a slower pace of life and more indigenous history, then Cholula is better than Puebla. It’s worth noting that, due to the students, there’s better nightlife in Cholula than in Puebla.

Thanks for reading!

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