We have a selection of guidebooks to some of our most popular countries in Latin America. Written by our specialists, they detail destination information, a wildlife guide, some suggested itineraries and plenty more to inspire your holiday. Fill in the form below and if you live in UK, your guidebook will arrive by post within the next couple of days. For those who live abroad, we will send this via a PDF to your email.
Discover Mexico on this first-timers' trip, exploring cultural Mexico City, the vibrant colonial city of Merida, the iconic site of Chichen Itza and ending with a well-deserved break on the white sand beaches of Tulum. Perfect for a winter getaway.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Mexico’s national dish, Mole Poblano, the beautiful colonial city of Puebla is full of architectural and culinary delights. A cultural hotspot with a temperate climate and a gentle pace of life, it’s the ideal place for pottering around the narrow colourful streets while uncovering its charms.
Despite being the fourth largest city in Mexico and the second most important city in colonial Mexico, Puebla has managed to stay under the tourist radar. Yet, its growing reputation for spectacular colonial architecture and fantastic cuisine has meant the city is fast becoming a requisite part of any Mexican itinerary. The city is in the central region of the country under the imposing view of the smoking Popocatepetl volcano, around 75-kilometres east of Mexico City and it was this strategic location that made Puebla important to the Spanish colonials. One of Mexico’s oldest cities, founded by the Spanish in 1531 and full of impressive architectural gems, Puebla was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
The architecture spans the Spanish Baroque and Renaissance periods and many of the colonial buildings have Moorish-influenced tiled domes. The beautiful ornate tiles are another feature of the city, along with glazed pottery known as Talavera. The twin-towered Puebla Cathedral in the city’s main square was completed in 1664 and is a fine example of Spanish Baroque and also worthy of note is the Rosary Chapel finished in 1690, whose gold leaf and white interior is so beautiful many have dubbed it the ‘eighth wonder of the world.’ Another cultural highlight is the Palafoxiana Library, the oldest in the Americas and named after the Bishop who donated his collection of 5,000 books to Puebla in 1646. It can be found on the second floor of the Casa de la Cultura, in a beautifully restored room.
During the month of May, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated across the city, often with the reenactment of the Battle of Pueblo which took place on 5th May 1862, when the Mexican underdogs defeated the French forces after Napoleon 111 invaded the country. The celebrations include Mariachi bands, colourful costumes, dancing and fireworks. While the battle was significant, the French did win a counterattack the following year, but that does not dampen the fervor with which the victory is celebrated.
More recently, Puebla has become known for its incredibly vibrant culinary scene. Mexico’s national dish, Mole Poblano, a chili and chocolate sauce poured over meat, originated here and today the city boasts a thriving gastronomic scene, with everything from street stall tacos to upscale dining. Many visitors take a cooking class while here, learning how to make traditional deserts such as pine nut fudge and Santa Clara cake and Puebla is also a great destination for artisan chocolate tastings. One of the best ways to compensate for all this lovely food is to take a stroll around the narrow streets, full of colourful houses, or head to Mercado el Parian, the huge arts and crafts market in the historic centre of town, where you can shop for traditional Talavera ceramics, textiles, leather goods and handcrafted souvenirs.
Another highlight is the Great Pyramid of Cholula, an ancient Aztec pyramid which is hidden beneath layers of dirt, making it look more like a natural mountain than place of worship. In fact, the structure deceived the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés to the extent that he unwittingly built a church on top of it in 1519. Cholulua is around 10-kilometres from Puebla, making it an easy day trip. To really appreciate the charms of Puebla, we’d recommend staying at least two nights before heading back to Mexico City for a flight down to the beaches and archaeological sites in the south of the country.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8942