Tlaxcala, Mexico, abounding with history and culture, is a hidden treasure just waiting for tourists to take notice. Magnificent archeological ruins, ancient haciendas, beautiful botanical gardens, these are only a few of the things to enjoy in this state that has so much to offer. It’s a place where old cities meet thriving ecosystems, where a visitor’s longing to explore extraordinary archeological ruins meets their desire to rappel a cliff.

The Matlacoeyatl Volcano is Mexico’s 6th highest peak. Also known as La Malinche Mountain, it is home to the La Malintzin National Park, a very popular tourist destination for extreme sport enthusiast and nature lovers alike. Here you’ll find excellent cliffs and huge rock formations for rappelling or rock climbing. Nature lovers will enjoy the parks peaceful wooded campgrounds such as La Cañada, Las Cantinas, El Paso del Cuatro, and Altamira.

You cannot visit Tlaxcala without seeing its spectacular ruins. Located across the state are the archeological ruins of ancient civilizations, some representing whole cities. Don’t miss exploring the ancient dwellings, raised ritualistic altars like the Great Platform, colorful 15th century frescos, among other buildings, tombs, statues, and murals. Important ruins are found at Ocotelulco, Tezcatlipoca, Cacaxtla, Xochitecatl, and Tizatlan.

Tradition plays a major part in Tlaxcala celebrations, and the regional Carnival held at the capital city of Tlaxcala is no exception. Every year, just before lent, over 4,000 dancers dressed in exotic costumes take to the streets in dance. Carnival is a festive season, with parades that resemble aspects of a circus, costumed women and men in mustachioed masks imitating the Spanish, and public street parties all to celebrate the overturning of daily life. This is just one example. For an experience you won’t soon forget, search out one of the state’s colorful festivals.

Let’s not forget the museums, which promise fantastic displays taking you back in time to the rich culture and heritage of Tlaxcala. Both educational and awe-inspiring, Mexico’s museums are a good way to spend the afternoon. For example, the Handcraft House is a popular museum, where crafters, potters, embroiderers, woodworkers, and weavers demonstrate the production of regional articles, explaining techniques as you watch.

For families traveling with kids there are a number of things to do. Water parks in Tlaxcala are plentiful and all feature a variety of swimming pools and slides as well as picnic areas. Tourists love the Balneario Palo Huerfano, Santa Lucia, and Centro Vacacional La Trinidad parks. The Altiplano Zoo in the city of Apetatitlan is also a great choice for families. The complex covers 13 hectares and is home to 200 indigenous animals. Or take in the lovely scents and sights of indigenous flora at The Botanic Gardens, a popular attraction for everyone.

Anyone traveling to Tlaxcala simply must work a good bullfight into his or her schedule. In 1788, Jorge "El Ranchero" Aguilar Bullring of Tlaxcala was the home of the first bullfight. While the beautiful architectural design of this building is impressive, the bullfights instigated the construction of haciendas – a “must see” as well. Visitors will be able to find a good bullfight in many villages across the state; however, the Monumental Bullring of Apizaco is the largest in the state.

Be sure to visit the haciendas for a real sense of the area’s historical home and work life. Tour rural, agricultural, and bullfighting regions where workers and their families lived. Tlaxcala’s hacienda’s remarkable construction and architectural styles are legendary.

For an aesthetic, healing experience, check out the many natural springs found in Ixtacuixtla, such as Agua Santa, Cal, Canto, El Oyamel, Atotonilco, and Santa Cruz.

Everybody loves the romance of a waterfall, and the main attraction in Santa Maria, Atlihuetzia is its stunning 30-meter high cascade found along the Rio Zahuapan. And as long as you are in the area, check out the museum of religious art or the 16th century church and ex-convent that is home to the first bell made in the Americas.

Tlaxcala is a state with tenacity that goes back a long way. The territory that once included Tepeticpac, Ocotelulco, Quiahuixtlan and Tizaatlan sat in the heart of the Aztec Empire but refused to succumb to the Mexica (Aztec), and later the Spanish. After an initial alliance with Cortez and his army where they conquered the Aztec, Cortez founded Tlaxcala in 1525 and dubbed the state “the very noble and loyal city of Tlaxcala”.

Tlaxcala, with its archeological sites, museums, botanic gardens, swimming recreational parks, a zoo and bullrings, is a wonderful choice for a family vacation!

Spanish version of this page: Tlaxcala