Veracruz On a BudgetVeracruz is the name of both a state and city in the country of Mexico. Locals often call the city "Puerto" (port) in order to differentiate the city from the state. The general area runs along the Gulf of Mexico and encompasses ruins, old colonial cities, lush green mountains, and delicious seafood.
SightsThe climate throughout the state of Veracruz is very hot and humid, which makes for a beautiful lush, green landscape, especially in the southern part of the state. The northern stretch of coast, above Veracruz the city, is known as the Emerald Coast and is spotted with fine beaches and opportunities for beach camping. The most popular beach town is Tecolutla, featuring a number of beach resorts and access to fine-sand beaches with gentle surf, like Playa Oriente. There is also a Marine Museum, Aquarium, and a conservation group that hatches and releases sea turtles.
Additional locations throughout the state are known for their history and architecture. Tlacotalpan, for example, was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site for its architecture and colonial-era layout. Another well-known UNESCO World Heritage Site is El Tajin, which encompass ruins of sacred buildings where ceremonies and religious sporting events were once held. The architecture features Maya and Oaxacan influences, boasting several important pyramids, monumental platforms, and ball courts.
A few other popular locations include the cities of Veracruz, Xalapa, and Catemaco. Veracruz is best known for its culture, which is at its peak during the nightlife scene with plenty of music, food, and dancing. Xalapa is a college town with beautiful colonial architecture, and is home to an Archaeological Museum that showcases the cultures of Veracruz. Catemaco is a hub for ecotourism with access to lakes, rivers, waterfalls, the Gulf Coast, mangroves, and opportunities for bird watching. However, it is also famous for being Mexico's capital of witchcraft and sorcery, host to the annual National Congress of Sorcerers each March, and inhabited by people who largely put their faith in ancient rituals and magic. Visitors are likely to find markets here that specialize in the esoteric and occult.
NeighborhoodsVeracruz is one of the larger cities in the state of the same name. The area of the city most frequented by visitors is the downtown, located near the harbor, which especially comes to life at night with Cuban music and dancing at many coastal bars and restaurants. Another significant location in the state of Veracruz is the state capital and beautiful college town of Xalapa, which boasts colonial architecture in the highlands just above the coast. Catemaco is a well-known destination for ecotourism and also the center of witchcraft and sorcery in Mexico. Other popular towns and cities include the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tlacotalpan, the location of the signing of the Mexican Independence Treaty with Spain at Cordoba, Mexico's coffee capital at Coatepec, the city of Orizaba, the El Tajin ruins near Papantla, and the city of Poza Rica de Hidalgo.
ActivitiesVeracruz features a climate that make visitors flock to beaches and hope for the relief of a coastal breeze, but that climate also makes for stunning green landscapes and scenery. There are plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and swimming that can be done all along the Veracruz coast, as well as opportunities for seeing wildlife.
Additionally, Veracruz is a great place to experience a unique blend of cultures-Cuban, Spanish, Afro-Carribbean-prevalent in the region's food, music, architecture, and history. Take advantage of Veracruz's authentic cuisine, enjoy the ethnic music, and spend time exploring each town and city. There are plenty of attractions, from colonial architecture to ancient ruins, worth sight-seeing.
Food and DiningVeracruz, the city, is especially famous throughout Mexico for its seafood feasts. The Cuban and African influences are stronger here than on the Pacific coast and the seafood plates often resemble flavors of Cuban dishes. While the best seafood restaurants are likely in the city, plenty can be found up and down the Gulf coast. Spanish and Afro-Caribbean cuisine are also big influences. Some typical dishes include things like octopus and red snapper (called "huachinango") prepared a la "veracruzana" (in a tomato-olive based sauce), "arroz a la tumbada" (tumbled rice), and "caldo de mariscos" (seafood soup). Other favorites include "pollo encacahuatado" (chicken in peanut sauce), "mondogo" (tripe soup), baked plantains, fresh fruit drinks, and cafe con leche. In Veracruz, whether you order food from a street cart or a fancy restaurant, the food will be full of flavor.
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