Tlaxcala, Mexico: Where Tradition Meets Modernity
Welcome to Tlaxcala, Mexico – a land of rich cultural heritage, stunning natural beauty, and a thriving local community.
Tucked away in central Mexico, this charming state offers much for travelers seeking an authentic experience away from the typical tourist crowds.
From fascinating archaeological sites to picturesque colonial towns and stunning mountain landscapes, Tlaxcala is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.
In this blog post, I’ll take you on a journey to explore the best things to do and see in Tlaxcala, giving you a taste of the vibrant culture and unique experiences that await you in this fascinating region of Mexico.
So pack your bags and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure in Tlaxcala!
Where is Tlaxcala, Mexico?
Again, Tlaxcala de Xicohténcatl (the official name for Tlaxcala City) is located east of Mexico City and is bordered to the north by Hidalgo, to the northwest, east and south by Puebla, and the west by Mexico State.
12 Best things to do in Tlaxcala
1. Explore Val’Quirico in Tlaxcala
This is the very first place I want to recommend going. It’s a small medieval village ideal to visit as a couple or with your family.
If you come from Mexico City, the trip takes approximately 2 hours; the exact location is on the road to Xoxtla, Sta. Isabela Tetlatlahuca km 2 Nativitas Tlaxcala.
In Val’Quirico, you can perform various activities such as:
- Visit the fountain “La teta de abundantia.” According to Roman beliefs, if you touch it, you will attract prosperity and abundance
- Attend the equestrian bullfighting festival: During January and February, this spectacle takes place, to access you must buy a ticket ranging from 400 to 800 pesos
- Buy handicrafts and other items: You can buy various accessories such as watches, t-shirts, and mugs, among others in any of its 20 craft and fashion stores
- Stroll through its cobblestone streets: Whether by bike or on foot, you can admire its stone facades, murals, and alleys
- Have fun in the children’s fortress: Children here can enjoy fun activities and amazing games
Where to eat in Val’Quirico?
There are several good dining options in Val’Quirico; among the best restaurants are:
- La Catrina del Zocalo
- Out of Africa
- Meson de Los Reyes Val’Quirico
In short, this magical place is inspired by medieval Italian Tuscany, which makes it a good choice for the best photos. For sure, one of the best things to do in Tlaxcala!
2. La Malinche: One of the most beautiful places to visit in Tlaxcala Mexico
La Malinche National Park, also known as “Matlalcuéyatl,” is perfect for outdoor activities, surrounded by incredible trees and beautiful landscapes.
La Malinche houses the fifth-highest mountain in Mexico and is considered a living museum of flora and fauna.
Inside, you can find the extinct volcano La Malinche, one of the oldest in Mexico, part of the Atoyac and Guadalupe river basins.
It should be noted that from the summit, you can see an actual landscape of three Mexican states and the snow of Pico de Orizaba, Iztaccihuatl, and Popocatepetl.
Its shape is a slightly elongated cone, similar to the silhouette of a stooped woman.
At the top is a ridge with peaks that, in the winter season, are filled with snow.
What activities can be done in La Malinche?
In La Malinche, you can go mountaineering, camping, and hiking to fill your lungs with fresh and clean air.
3. Admire the Talavera in San Pablo del Monte
Talavera is a glazed ceramic distinguished by its uniform, slightly milky white tone highlighting solid blue colors.
For the elaboration of Talavera, it is necessary to mix two different muds obtained in the region, which are white and black. To have the mud ready, it must go through a cleaning process.
Each workshop produces its colors based on oxides obtained by burning or spraying various elements mixed with sand and glass.
However, here are some workshops where you can find the best pieces and take home a nice Talavera souvenir:
- Coyotl: This workshop has been making cups, crockery, crosses, and vases for 26 years, and the owners are the Coyotl brothers
- Talavera la Concordia: The workshop of Don Ignacio Conteras is one of the pioneers of Talavera. Here you will find platones and tibores (large earthenware jar)
- Talavera del ángel: The specialty of this workshop is large pieces such as vases. Located at Xicoténcatl 361, Barrio del Cristo
By the way, Talavera is certified by UNESCO, making it an intangible cultural heritage of humanity, from Tlaxcala with love.
4. Visit the Magical Town of Huamantla, Tlaxcala
Among the places in Tlaxcala, Mexico, you can visit the Magical Town of Huamantla, considered a monumental and heroic zone during the American invasion.
The city was founded on October 17, 1532, by orders of Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza.
In 1847 it was the scene of the Battle of Huamantla, and in 1858 it was designated the capital of Tlaxcala until 1863.
Things to do in Huamantla Tlaxcala:
- Visit the temple of San Luis Obispo
- Try some delicious mueganos
- Go to the bullfighting museum
- Attend “the night that no one sleeps” (sawdust carpets of bright colors and flowers). This celebration began in 1943 when several settlers decided to elaborate a colorful path for the passage of the Virgin of Clarity
- Enjoy the “burladeros” parade
On the other hand, if you want to travel from Mexico City to Huamantla, you must follow the Puebla/Mexico 150D highway. From Tlaxcala, you only have to take the Apizaco road.
5. Explore the Archaeological Zone of Cacaxtla
The name Cacaxtla comes from the Nahuatl “cacaxtli,” which means “place of cacaxtles” and is one of the main attractions of Tlaxcala.
The most outstanding vestiges of this archaeological zone are its colorful mural paintings, considered the best preserved.
First, you can visit the great foundation at the center of Cacaxtla, 200 m long and 25 m tall, where the main religious and civil buildings were located.
Later you will find the palace with a series of rooms of different sizes that belonged to the rulers or leaders, surrounded by two patios (rhombus and sunken).
Some of the services offered at Cacaxtla are a site museum, restrooms, a restaurant, and a gift shop.
It is open Monday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:30. The entrance fee to Cacaxtla is 85 pesos, and the use of a camera is 45 pesos.
6. Experience the Tlaxcala Fireflies Sanctuary
Among the places of interest in Tlaxcala Mexico is the sanctuary of the fireflies. Between June and August, an impressive natural light show can be appreciated.
Before starting your tour, I would like to emphasize some recommendations, which are the following:
- The phenomenon is natural, and its success is not guaranteed
- There are a series of rules that you have to follow and respect
- If you are afraid of the dark, it is better not to do the activity
- The use of flashlights is not allowed
- Pets are not allowed
- Do not take ANYTHING from the forest
- No food and beverages during the tour
- Bring a raincoat in case it rains (umbrellas are not allowed)
- Wear comfortable, non-reflective clothing and be cautious, as it may get cold
- Insect repellent is not allowed
- It is important to note that the tour is at night and lasts approximately one hour
- The ideal conditions to appreciate this sighting are that it has rained that afternoon and that there is no moon
- For those arriving at the site, access to the forest is from 7:00 pm through one of its 4 ecotourism centers, and from 10:30 am onwards, you are allowed to admire the spectacle
- Lastly, the cost of access to the firefly sanctuary varies between 60 pesos and 140 pesos per person
7. Visit Tlaxco: The second Magical Town of Tlaxcala, Mexico
Tlaxco is the second of the two Magical Towns in Tlaxcala.
Nestled between the mountains, Tlaxco lets you appreciate gorgeous landscapes with streams and waterfalls.
Visiting this town is not to be missed because it is full of history with its old haciendas, pulque, and delicious artisan cheeses (like the famous local cottage cheese).
By the way, if you are a pulque lover like myself, I recommend you visit the Xochuca hacienda, where you will learn about the process of extracting honey water (aguamiel); the cost of the tour per person is 270 pesos.
You can also visit the wood museum with over 50 years of tradition.
And finally, you will find the cheese factory “La Vaquita,” where you will learn about the process of making artisan cheeses, among which are the adobado, ranchero asador, and canasto.
8. Stop by the San José Parish
The Parish of San Jose is one of Tlaxcala’s best places to visit.
It was built in the eighteenth century, and its facade is of baroque style; it is also covered with bricks and Talavera tiles adorned in mortar details.
The parish of San José is located at 1° de Mayo No. 4 Centro Histórico 9000 Tlaxcala Xicohténcatl.
Meanwhile, inside, you will find two carved stone pillars, one with the image of Camaxtli tutelary God of the ancient Tlaxcalans, and the other with the Spanish imperial coat of arms.
An earthquake knocked down the dome of this parish and its vault. Therefore, it had to be rebuilt by adding a tile covering to its construction.
9. The Puppet Museum
You will never find another Puppet Museum like this one. It is the only one of its kind in all of Mexico. It is located in an old mansion in the Historic Center of Huamantla.
The Rosete Aranda National Puppet Museum was inaugurated on August 9, 1991; here, you will find about 2500 pieces from other countries such as Poland, Scotland, Hungary, etc.
In fact, the pieces exhibited here are made with different techniques and sizes. You can find string puppets, rod puppets, well-known characters, and even complete orchestras.
During your tour through the Museum, you can find the figure of a bullfighter and a little black man.
They are 45 cm tall, their feet and hands are made of clay, and their bodies of ayacahuixtle.
It is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm; it has a guided tour service, store, and theater.
10. The Pulque Route, a must-do in Tlaxcala Mexico
An excellent alternative to learn more about pulque, how it is harvested, and its process, I recommend a tour of the Hacienda de Tenexac in Terrenate.
Throughout the region, you will appreciate old cases still standing; you will also learn about the benefits of the maguey, such as being healthy, nutritional, and probiotics.
And if that were not enough, you will have the opportunity to make the ancestral drink of the Gods with 100% natural ingredients such as coconut, mango, or pine nut.
If you don’t know what pulque is, it is a thick, whitish, and frothy alcoholic beverage obtained by fermenting the mead extracted from the maguey plant.
This drink fell socially disgraced in the past since people used to say that its elaboration was based on excrement, but it only remained a myth with time.
11. Basilica of Ocotlán: Not to be missed in Tlaxcala
The sanctuary and basilica of Ocotlán is a religious architectural complex complemented by two buildings: the Chapel of Guadalupe and the Pilgrims’ Portal.
The temple’s façade is baroque style, and it was built to obey the mandate of the Virgin, who appeared in 1541 to an indigenous man named Juan Diego Bernardino.
Inside, you will observe a flare of chiaroscuro and pronounced details of gold, canvases, golden embers, silver lamps, and carved wooden furniture.
It has been visited by millions of pilgrims from all over the world since the XVI century. You can enter the basilica every day from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm.
12. Murals of the Government Palace
The stories painted in the murals here recognize the Spaniards as a fundamental part of the national identity presenting Tlaxcala as its cradle.
The creator of this cultural treasure is the great Mexican muralist of Tlaxcala origin Desiderio Hernández Xochitiotzin who captured the history in the Palace of Government.
Desiderio Hernández Xochitiotzin was a relevant figure of Mexican muralism.
In addition to being a painter, he was a professor, architect, and writer.
This work consists of 24 segments that describe the history of Tlaxcala; here are some of them:
- 1 to 5: these describe the arrival of men to America and the Valley of Mexico
- 6 and 7: The arrival of the Nahua people to the Valley and their encounter with the legendary eagle
- 8: It refers to the 4 lordships
- 9: Festivals to the maximum deity of the ancient Tlaxcaltecs (Camaxtli)
- 10 and 11: Describes the reconquest of Texcoco by Nezahualcoyotl
For this reason, the Government Palace is one of the most iconic places to visit in Tlaxcala that you should not miss, particularly if you follow Mexican history. What better than to appreciate it in a mural.
Where to eat in Tlaxcala?
If you are in Tlaxcala and are getting hungry but don’t know where to go, I give you some options with delicious and accessible food for all tastes.
- Pulqueria la Tia Yola: this restaurant is a reference to enjoy the local food accompanied by a good pulque or mango curado. The atmosphere is family-friendly
- Los Portales: located in downtown Tlaxcala with a family atmosphere, where you can enjoy some delicious mutton mixiotes or escamoles
- Las Cazuelas: their dishes are very simple, but that does not take away how exquisite they are. Come and enjoy some huauzontle tortitas or a milpa soup
As you can see, this small state is another good option if you don’t want to go too far from the big city.
I hope you enjoy your visit to Tlaxcala and don’t forget to share your comments below. Until next time, Vamonos!