Things to do in Veracruz and around
Veracruz is among the oldest of all regions in Mexico. The state of Veracruz is famous for its beautiful beaches and Carnaval, an annual celebration featuring music, dance, and spectacular parades.
The city of Veracruz is a harbor town on the Gulf of Mexico, a destination for cultural tourists who like experiencing the local life. Veracruz is steeped in the history of radical change, as it was the harbor where the Spaniard conquistadors first landed.
Today, as well as being a harbor of historic importance, Veracruz is also a place of attractions and amenities of a great tourist destination for all who is interested in the real everydayness, history, and folklore of Mexico.
Take a look at the things you can see and do in Veracruz.
Take a tranvía tour
Start your day with a tour around Veracruz in a tranvía, which is a replica of those trolley buses from days gone by. The tour takes 30 min around the Malecón (boardwalk), Baluarte de Santiago, Zócalo, and other main spots on the harbor.
The departure point is in the Malecón, there are tranvías leaving every few minutes. Hop on board and admire the buildings while listening to a commentary about historical facts and enjoy the view of the local life.
A morning walk around downtown
Locally known as Centro Histórico, downtown is now considered the Old Veracruz, due to how fast the city is growing.
In the morning you should visit the local museums: in Museo de la Ciudad you’ll learn about the city’s historic background, and if you want to know about the local artwork, go to La Fototeca and Casa Principal.
Start your walk with a visit to the Baluarte de Santiago, also known as the bastion of gunpowder. Baluarte de Santiago is a fort built in 1635 to defend from pirate attacks.
Then walk around the Barrio de la Huaca and get a sense of history on the streets of this neighborhood founded by African slaves.
San Juan de Ulúa
San Juan de Ulúa is a fort built in 1565, in the times of the Spanish colonization, to protect the Spanish boats from the strong winds and also from pirate attacks.
With time, San Juan de Ulúa became a jail for the first Mexican revolutionaries as it remained after Mexico achieved independence until the early 1900s.
The walls of San Juan de Ulúa tell the stories of both North American and French battles, and legends of prisoners and the horrendous methods used to torture them.
Nowadays San Juan de Ulúa is a museum that is visited by tourists from all over the world.
Plaza Acuario and the Wax Museum
Plaza Acuario is a popular touristic location that offers some entertainment centers for all the family.
The main attraction is a big aquarium that exhibits the marine life of Veracruz, such as manatees, dolphins, sharks, exotic fish, and micro marine life. There’s also a section with the birds and exotic fauna from the Los Tuxtlas jungle.
Also, visit the Wax Museum to see famous personalities from Mexico and around the world represented as waxwork models, and then make the last stop at Ripley’s museum for some mind-boggling oddities.
Boca del Río
While Veracruz is the Old city, Boca del Río is the new one.
This side of Veracruz has shopping centers, restaurants, bars, and fancy neighborhoods.
In the evening you might like to visit the old Boca del Río town: by the shore, there’s a park called Plaza Banderas, which has a festive, family-friendly ambiance, artistic events, and street performers.
Enjoy the traditional nightlife in downtown
A night downtown will let you feel the folklore of this cheerful harbor.
Start in El Malecón, a long park around the coast where you can take a walk feeling the breeze of the sea. There are boats that take you on a tour under the moonlight.
Make your way to the Zocalo (“Main Plaza”) to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Veracruz night.
Hit Martí Avenue to find cozy cafés, great bars, and restaurants with international cuisine. You can take some local drinks, or if you’d prefer to hit nightclubs along the boulevard.
Mandinga is a charming fishing village where you can experience an afternoon of traditions, folklore, and gastronomy.
Visit the restaurants situated along the shore of the Mandinga Lagoon and try the “filete relleno de mariscos” – a delicious fish filled with diverse seafood covered in a succulent sauce.
Sip a “torito” cocktail (essentially a smoothie with alcohol) and enjoy the traditional “son jarocho” music and the dances performed by locals wearing traditional costumes.
Take a boat tour in the lagoon to feel the fresh breeze and admire the exotic birds resting on the mangroves.
This is a charming small town located by the shore of the Huitzilapan river.
La Antigua is an important spot in the history of Veracruz, as it was the first European village founded in Mexico, in 1519, by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés.
Its inhabitants had evacuated before Cortés arrived, so he found a ghost town with places for worship and sacrifice, human remains, and books that the catholic conquistadors considered satanic.
Visit the Cortés’ house, which was his main residence but is now a picturesque house covered by vines and tree branches.
Find also the first Catholic church built in Mexico.
Try local cuisine by visiting seafood restaurants along the shore.
Besides history, Veracruz also offers eco-tourism.
Jalcomulco is a small town in Veracruz with stunning landscapes where you can take part in extreme sports, or take some quiet time for self-reflection in the forest.
You can do a backpacking tour or stay in the Eco Park Aldea, where you’ll have a guide to take you on eco-touristic activities, such as rafting, rappelling, mountain biking, zip-lining, and trekking.
Enjoy the starry sky, sleep in a tree house or hanging tent, experience a Temazcal ritual and enjoy the local delights in its restaurant.