Veracruz is a large city in the state of Veracruz in Central Mexico. It is known for perhaps the best nightlife in the state, 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.
There is some pretty architecture in the city, including a historic fortess and several marine museums. A few beaches can be found north of Veracruz but the water is not very clean; beach lovers might want to go north to Tecolutla or south to Los Tuxtlas.
Veracruz was the point at which Cortez originally landed in Mexico. The Port of Veracruz remains the core of its economy. The locals call the city "Puerto" (port) to differentiate the city from the state of Veracruz.
Local language is, of course, Spanish. More than half (but not all) of the hospitality workers we encountered spoke English.
Only US city to fly direct is from Houston, Tx via Continental Airlines. There are many options from other Mexican cities, most notably Mexico City. The airport is about 10km west of downtown.
You can drive with a comfortable bus from the bus hub located at the Metro stop San Lazaro in Mexico City. The trip takes around 5 1/2 hours.
When arriving at the bus station, you can buy a voucher for a taxi which then will drive in front of the bus station. The station is located on Tuero de Molina and 20 de Noviembre. You can also take a Bus from Puebla which takes 3-4 hours.
Veracruz brightly painted US school buses are used for city buses. Fares are M$7.50.
San Juan de Ulúa Castle, Zona portuaria. Tu - Su, 9:00am - 5:30pm. 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 near downtown and you can access it walking.
Baluarte de Santiago. Last standing part from the wall that used to sorround the old city.
Museo Agustin Lara. The former house of famous music writer Agustin Lara, now is made a museum.
Downtown. To watch people dance "danzon" a traditional cuban music adopted in Veracruz. You can see the cathedral and enjoy a drink at Los Portales.
Boulevard. Walk seeing the see, or run, skate, bike by the boulevard.
amphibian, Lerdo 117, ☎ (229) 931 0997 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Offer activities like rafting, snorkeling, gotcha. Also offered in English, special prices for groups.
Meals depend on where you eat, you can eat great sea food in Boca del Rio and Mandinga and Alvarado (but for this last one you have to travel about 45 minutes). Look for the Palapas (huts) and you can have a great meal for little money.
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 (FIXME: address? 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 USD 3.00 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 13 USD for a Cosmopolitan, for example. Besides men have to pay at the entrance 5-10 USD, 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. Plus, there's usually a late-night taco cart right outside for a snack when your night's over.
Hotel Amparo, Aquiles Serdan No. 482, Tel/Fax.(229)-932-2738. Excellent location and a great value. Nice clean rooms with private bathrooms two blocks from the Zocalo. Secure attached parking for your vehicle, also.
Hotel Trianon, Nacozari 76, ☎ (229) 931 2121, . Located in downtown near the coast. Private bathroom and air conditioning. Ask for special prices and an cable for internet.
Hotel Bello Veracruz. Great hotel, reasonable prices, swimming pool but no beach.
Hotel Villas Dalí. Also great at reasonable prices.
Fiesta Inn Malecon. Located near downtown in front of the pier and the Venustiano Carranza lighthouse. A good place to stay but no beach or swimming pool. Prices around $100 US.
The Fiesta Americana Veracruz and Fiesta Inn Veracruz are located in front of the beach but more expensive. It has a world class swimming pool, it's modern and clean, and is a nice upscale place to stay with kids. It has wired Internet (no wireless), so bring your own RJ41 cable.