Magical Towns: Cuetzalan

In Culture, Magical Towns by Belen Molina

Beyond the luxurious resort experiences offered at Mexico’s most exclusive beach destinations, there is a vast group of “Magical Towns,” or Pueblos Mágicos, that are located all across the country and that remain largely undiscovered. In 2001, the Mexico Tourism Board acknowledged that Mexico offered a magical element that went beyond its beaches and that kept tourists coming back. For this reason, they created the Magical Towns Program, an initiative that seeks to promote a series of towns across the country that are significant due to their history, rich culture, unique traditions, and natural beauty. These towns welcome visitors from all around the world, offering them a truly magical experience.

Cuetzalan, whose name comes from Náhuatl and means “place where abound the quetzals” is a small town perched on the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range, in the state of Puebla. Due to its unique location, the town traps moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, which provides the perfect environment to grow bananas and coffee, the latter of which has played a very important role in the development of the town. Located 900 meters above sea level, the town is characterized by a foggy atmosphere and cobblestone streets that rise and fall. In Cuetzalan, the past lives on, and indigenous men and women walk the streets wearing their traditional attire.


Culinary Delights

Cuetzalan has a very deep-rooted culinary tradition that is almost as magical as the town itself. During your trip to Cuetzalan, be prepared to feast like a King. Traditional restaurants serve dishes such as beef or cecina tasajo, fillings with garlic soaked quelite and acamaya (a crustacean similar to lobster), and other delicacies. In the markets, you will find smoky bacon, mushroom broth, tlacoyos, tamales wrapped in hoja santa, as is the custom, and freshly baked bread. Local drinks such as the passionflower wine and yolixpa, an herb based liquor, are also very popular.

Lodging Options

Cuetzalan offers a great variety of lodging options, whether it is hotels located within old town houses, eco-hotels, forest cabins, or campsites. For more information about where to stay, click here.

You Can’t Miss:

  • Cuetzalan is one of the most important coffee-producing regions in Mexico. A trip to this magical town isn’t complete without a guided tour of the coffee plantation Reserva Azul; in addition to learning about the coffee-production process, you will have the opportunity to participate in coffee tastings and be able to buy their products to enjoy at home.
  • Nature lovers will be able to enjoy a tour of the village’s nature reserves: the caves at Grutas La Aventura, the Xoxoctic botanic gardens and Las Cascadas de las Hamacas y Las Brisas waterfalls.
  • Sundays at noon, in the center of town, the voladores (flyers) of Cuetzalan perform their traditional dance across the main church, the Iglesia de San Francisco de Asis.
  • The Handicrafts Market is host to several family workshops and a great place to shop for handcrafted souvenirs.
  • Across the Market is the Cultural Center (Casa de la Cultura), featuring a permanent exhibition of regional painter Gregorio Nava, whose colorful work portrays the region’s customs and traditions.
  • Check out the Templo de los Jarritos (Church of the “Little Jars”), which is a replica of the Basilica of Lourdes in France, with the difference that one of its towers was decorated with clay jars.

Insider Tip: Book a guided tour through Recorrdios Xochiquetzal in order to take full advantage of the natural wonders that Cuetzalan has to offer. To book a tour, or request more information, email: or call +52 (233) 33-100-21.

For more useful information, such as how to get there and how to plan your trip, please visit:

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