Chignahuapan is a scenic small town in Puebla. It has a colorful downtown core, waterfalls and other natural scenery, and some traditional restaurants with tasty regional cuisine. It is a popular weekend destination that is one of Mexico's Pueblos Magicos.
In 2017, it was home to 20,000 people.
The closest commercial airports to Chignahuapan are Puebla International Airport PBC IATA (2 hours, 15 minutes by car) and Mexico City-Santa Lucia International Airport NLU IATA (2 hours, 20 minutes by car). From Mexico City, the drive to Chignahuapan is 190 km (2 hours and 20 minutes) via Federal Highway MEX 132 in the direction of Tulancingo de Bravo. From Puebla, it is 112 km from Chignahuapan, via federal highway MEX 121 and Puebla Highway 119D.
Autobuses Supra and ATAH both operate several buses each day to Chignahuapan leaving from Puebla Terminal CAPU. The 2-hour trip costs about M$200. Second-class bus lines also operate on the route at about half the price.
- 1 Terminal Chignahuapan, Lerdo de Tejada 46, Centro. Small terminal, often crowded, especially weekends and holidays.
Chignahuapan is a good size small city so you may want to use a taxi for points outside the core centro. A taxi sitio is located next to Plaza de Armas. Taxis in Chignahuapan are baby blue with yellow doors.
A good option to get your bearings the first day is the town's Axolot Bus. These double decker buses do a tour past downtown sites and then make three stops outside Centro: 1) a "sphere" factory making christmas ornaments, 2) the lake, and 3) Ensenada winery. The tour route takes 1½ hours and costs M$120 (a bargain). There are usually touts selling Axolot Bus tickets in the Plaza de Armas.
- 1 Plaza de Armas (Zocalo, Plaza Principal, Plaza de la Constitucion). Large, immaculately maintained central park with several great photo ops for your Instagram selfies. The most unusual is the Kiosco Mudejar, the big wood 2-story bandstand with the myriad bright colors. No other town has one quite like it. The park also features a statue of popular Mexican comic Gaspar Henaine, known to a generation of Mexican kids as "Capulina".
- 2 Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Basilica de la Inmaculada Concepcion), Romero Vargas s/n, Centro. The basilica is the largest and most important church in Chignahuapan, it's a modern church with an exterior of stone giving it a traditional look, but inside, the huge church is bright and full of important ecclesiastic art. A row of paintings line the upper level of the main nave, the largest of which hangs over the main entrance. The most startling work is the enormous carved sculpture of the Immaculate Conception that stands over the altar. The 14-meter-tall work was carved in cedar by artist José Luis Silva over a period of six years between 1966 and 1972. Don't overlook the fabulous ceiling either.
- 3 Parroquia de Santiago Apostolo, Plaza de la Constitucion s/n, Centro. This is the town's original main church, built by the Franciscans in the 16th century using indigenous labor and craftsmen. The facade is a simply stunning blend of Spanish baroque architecture with indigenous themes of life and the use of bright colors. Just when you think you've seen it all when it comes to spectacular Mexican churches, along comes one like this to shake up your preconceptions.
- 4 Museo Mexicano de Axolotl (Casa de Axolotl, MUMAX, Axolotl Museum), Castro 16, Centro, ☏ . 11:00 - 18:00 (closed Tu). Small museum laser-focused on one of the most fascinating creatures on earth, the critically endangered axolotl, a salamander that never undergoes metamorphosis and lives its entire life in the water breathing through gills. It's been called "the missing link" because it looks like a fish with legs. It lives up to 16 years and has the amazing ability to regenerate body parts, including vital organs like the lungs. Scientists have been studying it with an eye towards someday being able to generate human body parts, thus curing currently incurable maladies and restoring lost limbs. Guided tours explain more about this fascinating animal and some guides speak English (but don't count on it). M$50.
- 5 Santuario del Honguito (Church of the Mushroom), Nigromante 125, Tenextla. 08:00 - 20:00 (check hours locally, it was only open Sundays during Covid). Cool church that's got some cool stories and traditions. The crux of it is that, following a fire many years ago, a mushroom was found in 1880 that bore a silhouette of Jesus. It was a miracle! So the locals built a church for the mushroom and preserved the mushroom in a glass casing and set it in the middle of a cross, where visitors can come and see the mushroom. There's even a balcony built specifically for this purpose. I think the painters must have been sampling some mushrooms because otherwise I can't understand why the interior is pink! That's a new one! The church has a big festival on May 3 each year. No word as to whether mushrooms will be served.
- Cascada de Quetzalapa (Quetzalapa Waterfall). The Quetzalapa Falls are about 10 km from the city center, an easy taxi or bike ride. The falls are 200 meters high, and are a favorite spot for outdoor extreme sports enthusiasts who enjoy rappelling, climbing, and zip-lining.
- Almoloya Lagoon (Lake Chignahuapan) - Beautiful lake with opportunities for sports fishing, boat rides, nature watching, and admiring the sunsets. On Day of the Dead, it is a site of the local celebration. The lake is fed by 9 springs and is one of only 3 lakes where the axolotl live in the wild.
- Festival de la Luz y la Vida - the local celebration of Day of the Dead, November 1. According to Meso-american tradition, to reach Mitlan, the city of the dead, spirits had to overcome several challenges, one of which was crossing the Chignahuapan River. Locals help the spirits find the crossing and build a large ceremonial pyramid in the lake.
- 1 Emiliano's, Hidalgo 8, Centro. 08:00 - 21:00. Traditional Mexican cuisine with reasonable prices and friendly service. Terrace dining room with excellent views of the Plaza de Armas. M$200.
- 2 Enricco, Aldama, Teotlalpan, ☏ . 12:30 - 20:00. Small cozy Italian restaurant with plenty of fresh pasta dishes as well as chicken, beef, and sausage.
- 3 Doña Chuy, Guillermo Prieto s/n, Paseo de la Laguna, ☏ . 12:00 - 21:30. Casual lakeside restaurant with international menu. Plenty of parking. Boat rentals available.
- 4 Meson Del Caminante, Lázaro Cárdenas 6, Teotlalpan, ☏ . M-Th 09:00 - 18:00, F-Su 09:00 - 19:00. Excellent traditional Mexican restaurant, very popular with the locals. Recommend the tlacoyos. Family friendly with small children's play area. M$200.
- 1 Hotel Axolotl, Matamoros, Toltempan, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Clean, well-equipped, spacious rooms. M$500.
- 2 Hotel 9 Manantiales, Guillermo Prieto S/N, Teoconchila, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Luxury hotel with spotlessly clean rooms and friendly service, rates include full breakfast in the morning. Lakefront location with scenic views. M$1500.
- 3 Hotel Symer, Romero Vargas 7, Centro, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Good choice for the budget traveler, rooms are a bit small and utilitarian, but prices are low, they have off-street parking, and the location is very central with a 2-minute walk to the zocalo. M$600.
- 4 Hotel Osalle Inn, Vicente Guerrero 25, Centro, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Modern hotel with clean, spacious rooms, off-street parking, and a full American-style breakfast. No phone or safe in the rooms. M$1300.
Puebla is one of the safest states in Mexico and no special precautions need to be taken to visit here. Just do your normal common-sense precautions and you'll have a great time.