Planning a Trip
Getting There & Departing
By Plane -- Puebla has an international airport, but most air travelers still fly into Mexico City because it has more flights. From the Mexico City airport, you can take an express bus directly to Puebla. Look for area E-2 and find the upstairs concourse that spans the passenger pickup area. You'll find ticket counters at the end of the concourse. Buses for Puebla leave every half-hour and cost 180 pesos. They will arrive at either the main bus station (CAPU) or the small downtown bus station. Continental ExpressJet (tel. 800/231-0856 in the U.S., or 01-800/900-5000 in Mexico; www.continental.com) has a direct flight connecting Puebla and Houston.
By Car -- There are two roads to Puebla from the capital: Hwy. 150, an old, winding two-lane road where traffic is often slow; and Hwy. 150D, a four-lane modern toll road that's much faster. From Veracruz, take Hwy. 150D west. From Xalapa, take Hwy. 140 west to the intersection with 150D. Tolls from Mexico City run 140 pesos; from Veracruz, 300 pesos.
By Bus -- The ride from Veracruz to Puebla takes 3 1/2 hours and costs around 240 pesos. From Mexico City, it takes 2 hours and costs 140 pesos. Several bus lines have regular departures from Mexico City's TAPO bus station, as frequently as every 15 minutes. You can also catch a bus to Puebla directly from the Mexico City airport.
You'll probably arrive at a large bus station, known by its acronym, CAPU. To get to downtown Puebla, look for one of several booths marked TAXI AUTORIZADO. Many buses to and from the Mexico City airport use the small downtown Estrella Roja station, at 4 Poniente 2110.
The State Tourism Office (tel. 222/246-2044) is at Calle 5 Oriente 3, across the street from the south side of the cathedral. The office is open Monday through Saturday from 8am to 8pm, Sunday from 9am to 2pm. The city's tourism office is under the archway that runs along Palafox y Mendoza in front of the zócalo (Portal Hidalgo 14; tel. 222/404-5047). It's open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, with shorter hours on the weekends.
Puebla's streets are laid out on a Cartesian quadrant. Two main avenues serve as the x- and y-axes, but instead of separating the positive from the negative numbers, they separate odd from even. The role of x-axis is played by Avenida Reforma/Palafox. North of it are even-numbered streets, south of it are odd-numbered streets. The north-south axis (y-axis) is 5 de Mayo/16 de Septiembre. East of it are even-numbered streets, and west are odd-numbered. So if someone tells you that some place is at the intersection of calles 6 and 10, you know it's in the northeast quadrant. Street names also include a direction -- norte, sur, oriente, poniente (north, south, east, west). So if someone tells you that a church is on Calle 7 Oriente, then you know what part of town it's in: Oriente tells you that it's the eastern portion of an east-west street, and the odd number indicates that it's south of Palafox (or Palafox y Mendoza, to use the full name). Each main axis changes names after it passes the center point of the city.
Don't count on taxi drivers to know where certain restaurants, hotels, or attractions are located; keep addresses handy.