Veracruz, in the state of Veracruz, is 502 km (311 MI) south of Tampico and 345 km (214 MI) west of Mexico.
Veracruz was the first town founded by the Spanish in 1519. A port was built and it became one of the most important in Mexico. Over the next several centuries, the port was invaded and taken over by pirates, the French, and the US. Ships that landed in the port were ravaged by Dutch, French, and English buccaneers. Soon a fortress was built to protect the city. Part of it still stands today. Veracruz is Mexicos principle port of entry, but is now starting to lose its importance. Music, such as marimba, danzonera, and comparsa, and dancing are very important here. Veracruz is home to the famous song, La Bamba.
Veracruz sees humid and hot weather year round. In the winter months strong north winds attack the city and most locals head inside until they pass.
There are many expensive, moderate, and budget priced hotels in Veracruz. Hotels are located along the beach from Mocambo to Boca del Rio and downtown. During the famous Carnaval hotels are generally booked solid. If you plan to visit during this time, make reservations a few months in advance. Rates generally range from US$38 to US$235. The high seasons are June to August, and December to March. Expect a rate hike during these seasons. You can find a few campgrounds and trailer parks.
There are many restaurants that serve delicious seafood dishes. The Gran Caf?del Portal, located in a former monastery and now a city block long, has been popular since its opening in 1835. Every Mexican president, since Benito Juarez, has dined here. From steak houses, to formal restaurants, to family run establishments theres something for everyone here.
Every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday a local group performs on stage and then wanders through the crowd with a traditional Veracruz dance and marimba music. At the local plaza there is marimba, mariachi, Jarocha, danzonera, and norteno music nightly, longer on the weekends. You will find many discos, video bars, and clubs along the waterfront and in town. Authentic Cuban music is quite popular.
You will find shops and stand that sell items from the sea; black coral jewelery, sea shells and beauty creams made from them, ships-in-a-bottle, and key rings with mini sea-life inside. At the Mercado Hidalgo you will find everything from herbs and spices, to chicken feet and cows eyeballs. Coffee, T-shirts, crucifixes, and tacky souvenirs and gifts are sold in local shops. The Plaza de las Artesanias has quality goods such as jewelery, clothing and leather goods, for higher prices.
Mussels, shark, octopus, grouper, sea bass, and crab are a few of the types of local seafood served. Mexican, regional, and international dished are served in several restaurants.
Banks: The majority of banks have money exchange desks and cash travelers cheques. They are generally open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 4pm. Many banks have ATMs located inside that are open 24 hours.
Transportation: Taxis are inexpensive and plentiful. Public buses pass many of the tourist attractions frequently. Several car rental agencies are located around town and a few hotels offer travel services.
Zempoala: This tiny village located 14 miles from Veracruz in noted for its seafood restaurants. Several miles past town are the ruins of Zempoala.
Xalapa: Located 65 miles northwest of Veracruz, Xalapa is largely a university and music-school town. With many musicians living in town, performances are a frequent event. There is also an important symphony orchestra here. There are several companies that offer white water rafting.