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Spend A Day Surrounded By Flowers In Atlixco, Mexico

Posted by Emily Henkel on 1/20/24 7:30 AM

ILP Mexico

Atlixco is a charming town surrounded by volcanoes and wildflowers, not to mention that it's one of the top destinations in the state of Puebla! If you're coming from the city of Puebla, you're just a short drive away, making it a perfect town to go explore for the day.

If you think you can hit the highlights of Mexico in a week or two, think again! ILP volunteers are here in Mexico for a few months during their semester abroad and they've proven that this sprawling country has adventures around every corner. They've found the most perfect cenotes to swim in, jungly waterfalls to hike to, towering cathedrals to explore, and now this — a whole long list of cutie towns that are perfect for exploring on the weekend, including our newest fav: Atlixco! So, yep, it's official: you need way more time in Mexico if you really want to see it all. 

READ NEXT: The best weekend trips in Mexico

We've been a fan of
the city of Puebla for quite some time. It's got those classic colorful streets that we all love, plus it's known for detailed and styled architecture and pottery. It's also a great jumping-off city if you're wanting to explore more of the state, with a long list of other cutie towns worth exploring that make for great day and weekend trips.

And for those who are fans of flower-filled cities and cathedrals and some of the best food I had in Mexico, Atlixco is what you're looking for. 

The Perks Of Atlixco 

If you've got Magic Towns on your must-see list while you're in Mexico, this colorful little city should be at the top if you're in Puebla. (Pst: Not sure what a magic town is? We have a breakdown of Mexico's Magic Towns here (you should plan on visiting a few).

The painted streets aren't the only thing that makes this town so colorful — keep an eye out for the large production of botanicals blooming! Altlixco has been nicknamed 'The City of Flowers' and 80% of the cut flowers grown here are actually sold to the United States. This flower culture has only been reinforced by stunning botanical gardens and flower-filled festivals (more on that, below). Of course, this does vary depending on when you visit — the spring time and summer months are going to be the most flower-filled, though I rather enjoyed the greenery of Atlixco even when visiting in November. 

The town boasts a beautiful botanical garden and Baroque churches, all framed by towering volcanoes (be sure to soak up the views of the volcanoes that seemingly guard the city). You can sometimes see a curl of smoke from nearby Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl towering behind the many Folk Baroque churches in the area if you're lucky! 

Past ILP groups have visited from Puebla for an afternoon of exploring, visiting ice cream shops, eating stuffed churros, and snapping the prettiest pictures. Here are a few things to keep you busy on your visit if you're looking for details.

Ex-convento del Carmen en Atlixco AdobeStock_515940839

Time At The Zócalo de Atlixco

If you've spent any time exploring Mexico's cities you know the Zocalo is the place to be! It's the heart of every city (think "downtown" if you're from the States).

Here you'll find shopping, dining, people watching, and more which is fringed with a church, manicured garden squares, and street vendors selling all sorts of snacks. You can find markets full of fresh fruit, along with items like clothing, shoes, and other souvenirs from the city. If you'd like a bit more to look at, the towering town hall has several brightly painted murals depicting important moments in the city's history, all painted by the artist Juan Manuel Martínez Caltenco, along with other neighboring buildings full of tiled and painted walls.

We love the Zocalo as your starting point for your day in Atlixco. Come here to get your first taste of the city, take some photos, and get your bearings before you head off on more adventures. It's also a very nice place to eat a snack (there are many restaurants to try out in Atlixco — keep reading for more). 

ILP Mexico

ILP Mexico

The Stunning Churches + A Rope Swing View 

Parroquia De La Natividad

Let's chat a bit about that big yellow church in the Zocalo! You'll find a few churches around, but the Parroquia De La Natividad is on the list for some of the most well-known in Atlixco. For one, it's conveniently located right in the action of the city center, but its beaming yellow and pastel peach walls are hard to miss.

Make sure you also take a few minutes to step inside and admire the intricate interior, complete with an embellished altar and golden chandeliers hung from the vaulted ceiling. There's a large courtyard to hang around in as well, and is found just right down from the city square making it hard to miss. 

Find it here on the map

Parroquia De La Natividad Atlixco AdobeStock_287993808

La Merced Cathedral

If you're looking for more photo ops, the decoration and unique style found at the Baroque-style La Merced Cathedral is pretty unmatched! You'll be greeted with sculpted doors and columns adorned with statues and carved flowers in a range of colors. The ornate frame found on the entrance door for the Third Order Chapel is another one to make sure you visit. 

It's located just a couple of blocks from the Zocolo, which makes it easy to while you're out exploring on foot.

Find it here on the map

Cerro de San Miguel

Though the churches above are impressive, if you're only here to see one church, choose Cerro de San Miguel. It's a church situated on a hilltop that overlooks the whole city of Atlixco, giving you a panoramic of the floral-filled city below. There is quite a climb ahead of you to reach the top, but don't worry, it's worth it! As note, you can get a taxi or Uber up closer to the church, but you cannot make it all the way up by car (you will still have to hike a good 15 minutes up to the church itself). 

There is a set of painted dancers on the double staircase up to the church which helps with the climb, plus there's also a swing at the top if you want to brave your fear of heights and get a picture of yourself seemingly swinging above the city! 

Find it here on the map


This video gives you a good overview of some of the highlights of the city if you're wanting a more visual walk-through. Oh, and this is often an area of the city hosting a handful of events. When I was visiting, there was a rock concert to attend which was a fun surprise. 

This Magical Garden 

After you have your fill of churches, consider wandering around the city's "Jardin Magico", a flower nursery and botanical garden sporting amazing floral sculptures. See a towering hummingbird, floral frog fountains in the ponds, and snap pictures under the cupula encased in blooms and vines. There is also an orchid garden and hedge maze if you'd like to test your sense of direction (it's rather small, but the walls are very tall). It'd be easy to spend an hour or so here, exploring the French and Japanese-influenced gardens. Even in November, the garden was so beautiful to visit! 

The garden is around 15  minutes from the city center by car .... you will not want to walk (part of the walk is on the busy road), so plan on taking a taxi or an Uber. The Uber we took was about 70 pesos. 

There are bathrooms here (free to use) and you can also get popsicles and ice cream right after you leave the gardens from a little stand. If you would like to stay for lunch or dinner, there is a restaurant on the property as well as a greenhouse where you can admire plants to purchase. 

ILP Mexico

ILP Mexico

Stop For Ice Cream + Other Snacks 

I loved the food in Atlixco. One of the major perks of Mexico are all the things to eat and I found some of my favorites here in the city. Come hungry and try out at least a handful of these places!

For Tacos 

Tacos Al Pastor are very popular in this part of Mexico, but so are Tacos Arabe. It's an herby pork mixture that half of my friends liked better than the classic Al Pastor. You'll just have to try both to find your favorite, right? You'll see this giant columns of meat turning in front of a flame all over, but my favorite place was Burgeur Y Taco — it was 35 pesos for two tacos (one of each) and I highly recommend you top both with plenty of lime, chopped pineapple, and fresh onion and cilantro. So. Good. I had both of these kinds of tacos all over Mexico when I was last there, but this place made 'em the best. 

Find it here

ILP Mexico

For Elote 

There are several elote stands that hang around at night around the city center. I grabbed an ear of hot corn smeared with mayo, generously dusted with cheese, and topped with a satisfyingly spicy sauce outside of the yellow Parroquia De La Natividad, but you're bound to run into several. Most vendors will serve elote on the ear or in a cup if you'd rather not get your face messy. I got mine for 30 pesos. 

For Ice Cream

I'm not sure about you, but ice cream is a must whenever I'm on vacation (especially in Mexico). There are a smattering of charming ice cream shops and cafes around Atilxco, but these ones are the favs: 

Ice Cream Factory: The homemade rolled ice cream has rave reviews and flavors like strawberry, coffee, mint, passionfruit, kiwi, mango, and others.

Ximitl Helados y Nieves Artesanales: You can find some wildly untraditional flavors (like poblano mole!) or stay safer with coconut or pistachio. This place also has a range of seasonal flavors worth going back for.

México Lindo Heladería Gourmet Mexicana: Some say this is the best ice cream around, with fruit-filled popsicles on the menu as well.

For Churros 

I love the churros in Mexico, but I extra love the ones that are stuffed. It can be hard to find stuffed churros (most places serve them plain, or with a chocolate/caramel/sweetened condensed milk/strawberry dipping sauce) but some places will fill them. Churros likisimos is one of those places. Try the caramel stuffed ones or the ones filled with Nutella. Yum! 

Find it here



A Few Tips For Your Visit 

If You Can Time Your Trip With Festivals ... 

Atilxco is home to some of the best celebrations in Mexico and if you can time your trip just right, you can experience them in person.

To start, there's the Festival de la Iluminación (Lights Festival), where huge figurines are lit to decorate the city's streets, and additional lights are strung for miles. You'll also find amusement rides and a sky lantern release on certain days. It's relatively new (only started in 2010), but is extremely popular — over half a million people come to visit during the dedicated month and a half the festival is running. If you'd like to time your visit, come at the end of November to the beginning of January (perfect for the lucky ILP volunteers who are in Mexico for the Fall semester trip). They were just setting up the lights when I visited mid-November, and was sad to have missed them. The whole downtown is covered in lights (that are free to admire) though you can also get tickets for Brilla Fest in the nearby Xtreme park,  which is a paid light event. Find the website here. 

But now for the real star of the show: the Festival de la Flor (Flower Festival)! This festival is a celebration of Atlixco's flower-growing fame, with huge flower sculptures, musical performances, and giant murals of flowers laid out on the streets. Check dates and other details here (it's always in the springtime, but the dates vary from year to year). 

Come For The Day 

Atilxco is the definition of a casual day trip, but not much longer. It's ideal for having a loose itinerary like "let's plan on a few churches, the gardens, and lots of ice cream before heading back" and letting the events and other activities that catch your eye fill the rest of your time. If that's the kind of trip on your mind, you'll enjoy Atilxco. 

It's Worthwhile From Puebla 

If you find yourself in Puebla and fancy a trip to see whimsical botanical gardens and churches, you'll love the charm of Atlixco. However, it's not a city I'd trek across half the country to come and visit. 

ILP Mexico

Getting Here From Puebla 

To get here from Puebla, hourly buses make the 30-minute drive to Atlixco throughout the day. Tickets are about $2. Check times here.

Uber is quite popular here, and it may be worth looking into splitting the ride with your ILP group if you'd rather not deal with bus schedules (though the bus will be the most affordable option). 

Past ILP groups have also recommended going with a tour (who will handle transportation and take you to the places you want to see in the city) if you really want to make things very easy! Around the city of Puebla you'll often run across vendors looking to take you to Atlixco (or you can also do some research and book online).

ILP Mexico

Want more tips for your semester in Mexico?

See what our volunteers are up to on Instagram! We have volunteers posting about vacations, teaching, and other tips to help you feel prepared for all the adventures during your semester abroad with ILP. 

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Topics: Central America

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We are ILP, a Utah-based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We love travel so we're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time living abroad + seeing the world, and how to do it all on the tiniest budget.

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