VeracruzVeracruz in Central Mexico. The locals call their city "Puerto" (port) to differentiate the city from the state of Veracruz. The Port of Veracruz remains the core of its economy. It is also famous for its nightlife, and its spacious downtown area near the harbor (zocalo) comes alive with music and dancing with a strong Cuban influence. Highlights are the annual carnival celebrations around February when the party atmosphere is particularly raucous and hotel rooms become difficult to find.
Veracruz has a rich history. It has been the main gate of the country for sea travelers and products since its foundation. In this region, the Spanish first entered Mexico in the 16th century and remained for three centuries, forever changing the region. About 20 km northwest from Puerto Veracruz, in a town known as La Antingua Veracruz, Hernán Cortés first landed in Mexico. Veracruz would be one of the main ports of the Spanish Treasure Fleets. From its harbor, Mexican silver and the Asian silks, porcelain and spices of the Acapulco-Manila galleon trade were loaded onto galleons for transport to Spain. San Juan de Ulua fortress, located on an island off the city's coast, was built in the 16th century to guard against pirate attacks. It was the scene of the final stand of Spanish colonialism in the New Spain, being occupied by Spanish soldiers for four years after Mexico's War of Independence. Veracruz has witnessed four foreign invasions, earning the city the title 'Cuatro Veces Heroica' "Four times Heroic". Two of these attacks led to full-scale invasions of Mexico which retraced the route of Cortés, by the U.S. in 1847 and France in 1862.
Despite its status as the oldest European settlement on the American mainland, much of the colonial city was destroyed by invasions. The city walls were demolished during the era of Porfirio Diaz. However, there is some significant historic architecture, including two historic fortresses, several museums, and historical buildings in the Malecon.
A few beaches can be found north of Veracruz, but the beaches and water are not very clean; beach lovers might want to go north to Tecolutla or south to Los Tuxtlas.
The local language is Spanish. More than half (but not all) of the hospitality workers speak English.
Local people are known as jarochos. This denomination is not only for the people of the city but for the whole region of the State of Veracruz, known as "Llanuras de Sotavento." The jarochos are friendly people who love to be outdoors. The weather is mild, averaging between 25 and 32°C, but between January and March high winds from the north known as "nortes" can reach up to 120 km/h.
The ADO bus station is located a short distance from the city centre. The bus trip from Mexico City TAPO terminal (located next to the San Lazaro metro station) takes 5 1/2 hours. The bus trip from Puebla takes 3-4 hours.
ADOaddress: Av. Salvador Díaz Mirón No. 1698The central bus station, located south of city centre.
Veracruz used to be a major railway hub, but passenger services were cancelled in 1995. However the historic railway station, offers the occasional tourist excursion and is an minor tourist sight in itself.
TaxisTaxis are very inexpensive. A journey costs between US$2.50 and 5.00 according to the your zone destination. Passengers are advised to agree to the cost before entering a taxi.
WalkingThe cheaper way to know the city is walking in the downtown and after that walk to the Malecon where several boats, historical buildings as well as tourist facilities and stores are located.
By busOne very interesting possibility is to take the Bus "Boca del Rio", its path almost goes across the Boulevard of the City to the downtown of "Boca del Rio", a city joined in fact with Veracruz that has the better hotels, modern building and beaches of the Region. Almost the other public buses are not recommended for tourists, because they are old, in bad conditions and often very crowded and its paths are not easy understandable for new people in the city.
Veracruz uses brightly painted US school buses for city buses. Fares are M$7.50 (pesos).
San Juan de Ulúa Castleaddress: Zona portuariaThe entry fee is M$41 (group or student rates are also available). Last fortress of the Spanish Empire, later used as a prision during Porfirio Díaz' government, known as one of the most cruel prisons of that time, you can hear horror stories of torture. The castle is located near the piers. While it is physically quite close to downtown, it is not possible to access it on foot. You will need to take a tour or get there by taxi (this will cost around M$50).
Baluarte de SantiagoLast standing part from the wall that used to surround the old city.
Casa Museo de Agustín Laraphone: +52 229 937 0209address: Blvrd Adolfo Ruiz CortineThe former house of famous music writer Agustin Lara is now a museum.
DowntownTo watch people dance "danzon" a traditional Cuban music adopted in Veracruz. You can see the cathedral and enjoy a drink at Los Portales.
BoulevardWalk seeing the sea, or run, skate, bike by the boulevard.
- City Museum
- Culture Hause (IVEC)
- Atarasanas Building
- Villa del Mar
phone: +52 229 931-1020address: Boulevard Ávila Camacho 1737This is an impressive collection of different fish and sharks in the Gulf of Mexico. They have a dolphin show at 11AM and 1PM.
Jarocho cuisine is unique among Mexico's regional cuisines in its pronounced Spanish and Afro-Caribbean influences. The long coastlines make Veracruz a seafood paradise. Seafood dishes include octopus and red snapper (huachinango) prepared a la veracruzana (a tomato-olive based sauce), arroz a la tumbada (tumbled rice) and caldo de mariscos. Baked plantains are a ubiquitous side. Other foods of Afro-Caribbean origin are pollo encacahuatado (chicken in peanut sauce) and mondogo (tripe soup). Veracruz is famous for its café con leche. Visit the city's famous coffee houses, El Gran Cafe de la Parroquia and El Gran Cafe del Portal.
In Veracruz, as in most Mexican cities, you won't notice much difference in taste between tacos from a fancy restaurant on the plaza and tacos from a street cart, it all more or less tastes fantastic. If you're on a budget, it's best to stay away from restaurants on the plaza, where you'll pay a premium for location. Street carts are definitely the cheapest option, but if you like to sit down and eat, a good compromise that's still dirt-cheap is any of lunch counters at the Mercado Hidalgo.
- Helados El Malecón, Güero Güero Güera Güera - good ice cream sorbets. If you are very hungry, or have a companion, try a champola de guanábana, a huge milkshake of guanabana ice cream and condensed milk.
- Gran Café de la Parroquia - Try the lechero, or espresso with fresh and creamy milk. The picadas y gorditas con huevo (fried, handmade tortillas topped with salsa and scrambled eggs) make a good breakfast. The rest of the food is overpriced.
- El Bayo - (It's on the road to Xalapa, by the exit to San Juan de Ulúa). Excellent seafood, especially the seafood cocktails and arroz a la tumbada (red rice with seafood).
- Rio de la Plata - It is a traditional Mexican cantina, where you can find delicious and fresh fish. Waiters usually make "rifas" of sea food salads. The ticket costs about US$3 and it is really funny. It is located two blocks away from "Plaza de Armas".
Night clubs are the most expensive places. They will ask you to buy a bottle (whiskey, rum, vodka, whatever) in order to give you a table to seat. If you don't mind standing you can drink single drinks around US$13 for a Cosmopolitan, for example. Men have to pay at the entrance US$5-10, women enter for free.
- Bar Titos, on the corner of Aquiles Serdan and José Ma. Morelos. A great local bar, but be prepared for an awkward silence if you're a gringo walking in the door. Relax and be polite and the regulars will undoubtedly warm to you and try to get you to salsa dance with them. Beer and drinks are much less expensive than in more touristy bars. Also, unlike many Mexican dive bars, the clientele is coed and well-mixed. And, there's usually a late-night taco cart right outside for a snack when your night's over.
Hotel Amparophone: +52 229 932-2738address: Aquiles Serdan No. 482Clean rooms with private bathrooms, secure attached vehicle parking, two blocks from the Zocalo.
phone: +52 229 931 2121address: Nacozari 76Located in downtown near the coast. Private bathroom and air conditioning. Ask for special prices and an cable for internet.
phone: +52 229 931 8380address: Av. Ricardo Flores MagónNear waterfront, outdoor pool.
Hotel Bello VeracruzGreat hotel, reasonable prices, swimming pool but no beach.
Hotel Villas DalíAlso great at reasonable prices.
Hotel Veracruz Centro HistoricoIs located just around the corner from the Zocalo. Rooms are clean, comfortable and reasonably priced.
NH VeracruzLuxurious hotel offering a spa, swimming pools and a fantastic view of the ocean.
phone: +52 229 923 1500address: General Figueroa 68Located near downtown in front of the pier and the Venustiano Carranza lighthouse. A great hotel, but unlike most other hotels in town it does not have a swimming pool or direct beach access.
phone: +52 229 989 8989address: Blvd. Manuel Ávila CamachoUpscale beachfront hotel with world class swimming pool.
phone: +52 229 923 5500address: Blvd. Manuel Ávila Camacho 3650Great hotel, but expensive.
phone: +52 229 923 0280address: Calle Independencia 1115Is in a great location right on the Zocalo. It has large rooms and free internet.
Although Veracruz was once a safe haven from drug related crime prevalent in Northern Mexico, as of 2011 violence is steadily increasing.
The Italian Coffee Companyaddress: Costa VerdeSSID: ITALIAN COFFEE. No power available
Carl's Jraddress: Soriana parking lotSSID: linksys. No power available
VIPS Acuarioaddress: Waterfront by the AquariumSSID: VIPS ACUARIO. No power available