Veracruz is Mexico's oldest and busiest port city, in fact, Veracruz is the oldest post-Columbian city on the North American continent. This is a steamy, but lively, port city that dates all the way back to 1519. Veracruz is a city that beats of the tropical sounds coming from the many local marimba bands which can be heard every afternoon and evening. Veracruz is not likely to be described as a glitzy resort but still manages to thrive on tourism, with most of the visitors coming from other parts of Mexico. The central focus of the city is definitely in the areas around the main plaza (zocalo) and the malecon that runs along the waterfront. The sidewalk cafes, coffee shops and colonial buildings that are prominent in the area around the plaza tend to give the city a slightly European flair. Dances, with live music, concerts with local bands and other cultural events are regular occurrences in the main plaza.
Fresh local seafood is available everywhere and is as delicious as you will find anywhere. This part of Mexico is where they grow some very flavorful coffee, so be sure to enjoy some of this local treat. Boat tours of the harbor are available from many locations along the malecon. Fuerte de San Juan is the most prominent landmark and the cities most important historical site, built shortly after the arrival of Cortes in Mexico.
The best local beaches are located to the south of the city, in and around the Boca del Rio area. This is also the center of nightlife in Veracruz and most of popular bars and discos are located here. There is an underwater national park nearby that offers some great diving and white water rafting is another popular activity that takes place on the rapids of several nearby rivers. There are several important archeological sites that are within an easy day trip from Veracruz, inquire locally for tours. Veracruz is proud of their enormous aquarium that houses an amazing variety of marine life and includes a touching table for the kids.
Carnival in Veracruz is when the city really comes to life and the party is endless during the week before lent. Parades, constant music, endless dancing and masquerade parties fill every nook and cranny of the city in what is known as one of the best parties in the country. If you plan to visit Veracruz during carnival, be sure to make your reservations well in advance as the city always fills up for this incredible celebration of life.