View of Pyramid of the Niches and jungles in the background, Veracruz

Things to do in  Veracruz

Mariachi by day, mojitos by night

Nestled on Mexico's eastern coast, Veracruz awaits your arrival with arms wide open—and plenty of things to do. This tropical paradise is the perfect blend of old and new. The city's rich history predates the Aztec Empire, and the cobblestoned streets are evidence of the Spanish colonial past. From the country’s highest peak, Pico de Orizaba, to the bustling local markets, Veracruz has something for everyone. The mouth-watering taste of seafood and golden sand from the neverending beaches will stay with you long after your trip has ended.

Top 14 attractions in Veracruz


While best known for vanilla production, proximity to the El Tajín ruins, and views of the striking Sierra Papanteca mountains, Papantla is also an attractive pueblo mágico (magic town) with a rich indigenous culture. Here, learn about the Totonac people at the Takilhsukut Theme Park and catch a live "Danza de los Voladores" performance.More

El Tajin

One of the most enigmatic yet well-preserved archaeological ruins in the state of Veracruz, the UNESCO-recognized El Tajín is characterized by relief carvings, dozens of ball courts, and unique architectural features not found at other Mesoamerican sites. Highlights of this expansive complex include the 6-story Pyramid of the Niches, the Southern Ball Court, and the regular "Danza de los Voladores" performances.More

San Juan de Ulúa Fortress

Keeping guard over the Port of Veracruz since the 16th century, the imposing San Juan de Ulúa Fortress was once one of the most important strongholds of the Spanish Empire in the Americas. Now preserved as a national historic monument; the long-abandoned fortress stands testament to the city’s colonial past.More

Veracruz Pier (Malecon)

Stretching along the shores of Veracruz harbor, Veracruz Pier (Malecon offers stellar views across the water to the San Juan de Ulúa Fortress, and a place for locals and travelers to congregate. The scenic seafront promenade serves as a tourist attraction, recreational area, and marketplace all rolled into one— it’s always buzzing with activity.More


The so-called "Coffee Capital of Mexico," Coatepec is one of Veracruz’s most alluring pueblos mágicos (magic towns) where coffee, culture, and cloud forests combine. Situated at the foothills of the Cofre de Perote, Coatepec—once a sacred Aztec site now strewn with cafés and an impressive orchid garden—offers a quieter alternative to nearby Xalapa.More

Coatepec Coffee Museum (Museo del Café)

At a cool elevation of 4,000 feet (1,220 meters), the Veracruz uplands have the perfect climate for growing Mexican coffee. At the Coatepec Coffee Museum, you can learn about some of the secrets behind Veracruz’s coffee, from its rich history in this part of Mexico to its production. Plus, you can taste coffee samples and take some local beans home with you.More


In the shadows of the Macuiltépec volcano, Xalapa’s cool climate and highland scenery makes it one of Mexico’s most attractive state capitals. The Veracruz city boasts a large student population and a reputation as a cultural hub, while day-trippers are also drawn to its elegant colonial architecture, lush parks, and impressive anthropological museum.More


One of Mexico’s lesser-visited archaeological ruins, Quiahuiztlán offers a quieter alternative to similar Totonac sites such as El Tajín or Cempoala. Highlights include commanding views over the Gulf of Mexico, numerous tombs, and the remains of both pyramids and a ball court.More


Taking its name—which translates as “the place of twenty waters”—from the aqueducts and irrigation systems that fed its fertile farmlands; Cempoala was once one of the region’s most important pre-Columbian cities. Inhabited by the Totonac, Zapotec, and Chinantecas people, the scattered ruins date back to 1200 AD.More

Veracruz Aquarium (Acuario de Veracruz)

Wonder at the more than 250 native and international species, spread across 10 exhibitions and ranging from ethereal jellyfish to salt-water sharks and even penguins, at the Veracruz Aquarium (Acuario de Veracruz). Considered one of the largest aquariums in Latin America, it's focused on marine conservation and education.More


Impressively preserved and brightly colored colonial architecture characterizes downtown Tlacotalpan, a UNESCO-recognized former river port city. Highlights include the whitewashed San Cristóbal Church, the salmon-pink Church of the Candelaria, and the striking riverside sunsets.More

Catemaco Lake (Laguna Catemaco)

Created by a volcanic eruption millennia ago, Lake Catemaco (Laguna Catemaco) is best known for its non-native population of Stumptail Macaque monkeys. Take a boat to Monkey Island or get spiritual during the annual Witchcraft Festival, before using the lake as a jumping-off point for exploration of the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve.More
Plaza de Armas (Zócalo)

Plaza de Armas (Zócalo)

Lively dance performances, roaming street vendors, and proximity to some of the city’s top attractions—such as salsa clubs, an 18th-century cathedral, and an imposing fortress—characterize the pedestrianized Veracruz Zócalo. Use the zócalo as a jumping-off point for further exploration of the city or relax in the café-filled arcades which line the square.More
La Antigua

La Antigua

Glimpse into Mexico’s complex past in historically rich La Antigua, thought to be one of the first Spanish towns in Mexico. Highlights include some of the country’s oldest surviving colonial buildings, such as the 16th-century home of Hernán Cortés and what’s thought to be the oldest church in the Americas, Ermita del Rosario.More

Trip ideas

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All about Veracruz

When to visit

Veracruz welcomes visitors all year round with its rich heritage and beautiful beaches, but the best time to visit is in the dry season, from December to May. This is ideal for taking advantage of the coast and moderate weather for outdoor activities. For those who seek a vibrant atmosphere, plan your trip during Carnival, where the streets come alive with music and dance every year before Ash Wednesday.

Getting around

To explore the state of Veracruz, buses link most major cities and towns and are convenient and efficient for travelers. Within Heroica Veracruz, local modes of transportation, like cabs and buses, are certainly reliable options, especially when reaching some of the beaches. However, it's best to fix the price of the taxis before agreeing to the ride. Otherwise, exploring on foot will offer an insight into the city's vibe and culture.

Traveler tips

Take advantage of the local cuisine, particularly the fresh seafood dishes. There's nothing better than indulging in some red snapper Veracruz-style, pulpo a la marinera (octopus), or shrimp tacos while taking in the view of the Gulf of Mexico from the port. Another cultural experience is hanging out in Veracruz's old colonial cafés, a remnant of the past. Always vibrant and especially bustling in the mornings, they're the best places to watch the world go by.


People Also Ask

What is Veracruz Mexico known for?

While it may not be as familiar as some of its nearby counterparts, Veracruz certainly holds its own regarding cultural significance, natural beauty, and culinary prowess. Heroica Veracruz is particularly known for its old port, established in the 16th century by the Spanish. Surrounding the city, you'll find incredible beaches, delicious seafood, a lush volcanic interior, and the colorful festivities of Carnival.

Does Veracruz have nice beaches?

Yes, Veracruz is an underrated jewel in Mexico's coastal crown. With its azure waters, gentle surf, and fine-grained sand, it's no wonder this stretch of shoreline draws visitors worldwide. Whether you're looking to soak up some sun, take a dip in the waves, or simply relax with a good book, Veracruz has everything you need to unwind on the sand. Chachalacas Beach, Costa Esmeralda and Barra Boca de Lima are must visits.

Is Veracruz worth visiting?

Yes, Veracruz is filled with surprises and absolutely worth visiting. From the bustle of the main plaza in Heroica Veracruz, Zocalo, to the serenity of its beaches and breathtaking mountains inland, Veracruz is worth adding to any Mexico itinerary. Explore the vibrant culture, indulge in local cuisine, and embark on excursions to stunning landscapes. As one of Mexico's oldest ports, Veracruz boasts unspoiled beauty that will captivate your heart.

Is Veracruz safe to visit?

Yes, while every city in Mexico has its share of crime, Veracruz remains a relatively safe destination for adventurous globetrotters. It's avoided much of the violence in other regions of Mexico and remains a great place for first-time travelers. It's still worth taking the usual precautions anywhere; keep your valuables close and take taxis at night to avoid walking.

What food is Veracruz famous for?

Veracruz is a food heaven for seafood enthusiasts. Still, the region's gastronomy is about more than just seafood, as some of the most fascinating dishes combine traditional Mexican ingredients like corn, beans, and chili with Spanish and African influences. Be sure to try the famous Veracruz-style red snapper, huachinango a la Veracruzana, or a hearty serving of arroz a la tumbada, a flavorful rice dish enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Veracruz's cuisine is a celebration of full flavors!

Is Veracruz expensive?

No, despite being known for beautiful beaches and seaside resorts, Veracruz remains an affordable destination for travelers on a budget. A wide range of accommodations is available, from upscale, all-inclusive resorts to more affordable options like local guesthouses. You can easily tailor your trip to Veracruz to suit your budget.

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