There are so many incredible things to see and unique things to do in Veracruz Mexico.
From its beautiful beaches and the diversity of its picturesque landscapes to historic sites, delicious cuisine, and traditional festivals, Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, is a great destination for a vacation or a weekend getaway.
What also makes Veracruz truly special is the warmth and friendliness of its people and the richness of its history and culture.
Veracruz is a must-see destination for any traveler that has something for everyone. This colonial city boasts a blend of architectural styles, a lively town plaza, and an expansive boardwalk along one of the busiest ports in Mexico.
Veracruz Mexico Is Included in our Caravan Mexico Ancient Civilizations Tour!
Top Things to See & Do in Veracruz
Come for the culture. Stay for the people. Here are some of the top things to do in Veracruz Mexico:
• The Zocalo (main square)
• Castle San Juan de Ulúa (fortress)
• Museo Histórico Naval (Navy Museum)
• Acuario de Veracruz (aquarium)
• Museo de la Ciudad de Veracruz (history & culture)
• Centro Cultural La Atarazana (art & culture)
No visit to a Mexican city would be complete without setting foot in the Zocalo, or main square.
Visit the Zocalo at night to see it come alive with souvenir sellers, musical entertainers, and so much more. Prepare to be entertained as you enter the city’s unofficial outdoor stage, where regular events and daily improv are common.
The Zocalo is in the historic center of the city, which is home to many important landmarks including the 17th-century Palacio Municipal and the Castle San Juan de Ulúa, which dates back to the 16th century.
Castle San Juan de Ulúa
This fortress is one of the more unique things to do in Veracruz Mexico. It is a great place to learn about the history of Veracruz and is a must-see for history buffs.
Castle of San Juan de Ulúa, was built in the 16th century to protect the city from pirate attacks.
It was strategically located on an island just off the coast, making it a formidable defense against invaders.
The fortress was used for many years to protect the city’s valuable trade routes and was also used as a prison for political prisoners during the colonial period between 1,500 and the late 1700s.
A city cannot be under siege as often as Veracruz throughout history without building an impressive fortress to safeguard its ranks.
Today, the fortress is open to visitors and offers a glimpse into the past. Visitors can explore the many exhibits and displays that cover a wide range of topics, from the fortress’s construction and history to the daily life of the soldiers and prisoners who lived there.
The central part of the fortress used to be a notoriously savage prison during the regime of Porfirio Díaz. The building is now empty so you to wander through the abandoned passageways, battlements, and bridges.
Visitors can also explore the fortress’s many fortifications, including the walls, towers, and moat that protected the castle from invaders.
One of the highlights of the fortress is the collection of artifacts from the fortress’s history. Visitors can see old weapons, uniforms, and equipment that were used by the soldiers who defended the fortress.
They can also learn about the daily life of the prisoners who were held there, including the kinds of crimes they were accused of and the conditions they lived in.
Be sure to take in the panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico and the city of Veracruz from the fortress’s walls. The view is breathtaking and offers a great perspective on the city’s strategic location on the Gulf of Mexico.
Museo Historico Naval
You couldn’t visit a port city without visiting its naval history museum. The Museo Histórico Naval in Veracruz, Mexico is a must-see attraction for history buffs and maritime enthusiasts.
Housed in what was formerly a naval academy, Museo Histórico Naval is one of those absolute must things to do in Veracruz MX.
Discover the heritage story of Veracruz, the pre-Colombian navigation, and Columbus’ discovery of the New World within the attractive layout and interactive exhibits.
The museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the rich naval history of Mexico, with a particular focus on the role that the port of Veracruz has played in the country’s maritime history.
Former Mexican Navy Headquarters – The museum is housed in a beautiful 19th-century building that was once the headquarters of the Mexican Navy. The building has been beautifully restored and now serves as a fascinating glimpse into the past.
You can explore the many exhibits and displays that cover a wide range of topics, from the early history of seafaring in Mexico to the country’s naval battles and achievements.
Model Ship Collection – One of the highlights of the museum is the collection of ship models. The collection features a wide range of ships, from ancient canoes to modern warships. The models are incredibly detailed and provide a great insight into the design and construction of ships throughout history.
Naval Artifacts – Another highlight of the museum is the collection of artifacts from Mexico’s naval history. The museum has a large collection of weapons, uniforms, maps, and other items that tell the story of Mexico’s naval history. You will see cannons, swords, and muskets that were used in battle, as well as the uniforms and other equipment worn by sailors and officers.
Artwork – The museum also has a collection of paintings and other artwork that illustrate the history of the Mexican Navy. Many of the paintings depict famous naval battles and famous naval heroes. Visitors can also see a collection of nautical charts and maps that were used by sailors to navigate the seas.
Acuario de Veracruz
Another one of those must things to do in Veracruz Mexico is the aquarium. It is famed to be one of the best in Latin America.
Get to know the fishier locals with species from around the Gulf of Mexico.
Don’t miss out on the central feature of the aquarium: a large doughnut-shaped tank filled with barracuda, and eagle rays, along with tiger, reef, and nurse sharks that swim all around you.
The Acuario de Veracruz, or Veracruz Aquarium, is a popular attraction and home to a wide variety of marine life, including fish, sharks, rays, and sea turtles, making it a great destination for families and visitors of all ages.
The aquarium is divided into several different sections, each dedicated to a different type of marine life.
Shark Tank – Explore the shark tank, which is home to several different species of sharks, including the sand tiger shark and the bull shark.
Ray Pool – The ray pool is also a popular attraction, where you can see these gentle creatures up close and even touch them if you want.
Tropical Fish – The aquarium also has a wide variety of fish on display, including tropical fish, eels, and even sea horses.
Sea Turtles – Visitors can also see sea turtles, which are kept in a large tank that simulates their natural habitat.
Marine Mammals – The aquarium also has a section dedicated to marine mammals, such as dolphins, which visitors can watch as they swim and perform tricks.
Interactive Touch Tank – One of the highlights of the aquarium is the interactive touch tank, where visitors can touch and learn about different marine creatures like starfish, sea urchins and other invertebrates.
Swimming with Dolphins – The aquarium also offers visitors the opportunity to snorkel and swim with the dolphins, which is a unique and exciting experience.
Conservation – The aquarium also has a section dedicated to the conservation and protection of marine life. Here, you will learn about the many threats that marine life faces, including pollution and overfishing. Find out what can be done to help protect these creatures. The aquarium also participates in breeding programs for threatened and endangered species, helping to ensure their survival for future generations.
Educational Programs – In addition, the aquarium offers various educational programs for children and adults on marine life and conservation. These programs are designed to educate visitors about the importance of marine ecosystems and the role they play in our planet’s health.
Museo de la Ciudad de Veracruz
The museum of Veracruz’s history can be found in a lovely building built during the colonial era. This is one of those things to do in Veracruz that history buffs will love as this museum is all about the city’s heritage dating back to the pre-Hispanic era.
Indigenous exhibits include some very unique pieces by the Totonaca and Huastec that help round out the retelling of Veracruz through all stages of its history. The museum’s courtyard is also utilized for many cultural and dance events.
The Museo de la Ciudad de Veracruz, or Veracruz City Museum, is also a must-see attraction for anyone interested in the history and culture of the Mexican port city of Veracruz. They are dedicated to preserving and showcasing the rich history of the city, from its early days as a major port and trading center to its role in the country’s political and cultural development.
This museum is housed in a beautiful 19th-century building that was once the residence of a wealthy merchant. The building has been beautifully restored and now serves as a fascinating glimpse into the past. Explore the many exhibits and displays that cover a wide range of topics, from the early history of Veracruz to the city’s role in the Mexican Revolution.
One of the highlights of the museum is the collection of artifacts from the city’s history. The museum has a large collection of items that tell the story of Veracruz, from pottery and ceramics to weapons and tools. There’s also a collection of photographs and paintings that illustrate the city’s history and culture.
The museum also has a large collection of manuscripts and documents that provide a glimpse into the city’s past. Visitors can see old maps, letters, and other documents that tell the story of Veracruz, from its early days as a port to its role in the Mexican Revolution.
The museum also has a section dedicated to the city’s cultural heritage. You can learn about the city’s traditional music, dance, and art, and see examples of traditional crafts and clothing. Learn about the city’s festivals and celebrations, which are an important part of Veracruz’s cultural heritage.
Centro Cultural La Atarazana
Experience the art and culture of Veracruz in this converted colonial warehouse exhibition space.
You’ll find a striking mural by Melchor Peredo, the Mexican muralist, along with rotating exhibitions of ceramics, modern installations, and contemporary art.
The Centro Cultural La Atarazana is a historic and cultural center housed in a beautifully restored 19th-century building that was once used as a shipyard, known as the Atarazana.
The building has been converted into a cultural center, offering visitors a glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture.
The Centro Cultural La Atarazana is home to a wide variety of exhibits and displays that cover a wide range of topics, from the city’s early history to its role in the country’s political and cultural development. You can see a collection of photographs and paintings plus old maps, letters, and other documents that tell the story of Veracruz, from its early days as a port to its role in the Mexican Revolution.
More About Veracruz
There is a myriad of other things to do in Veracruz Mexico as well. This city is a colonial port city surrounded by lush jungles and mangroves. This unique combination of coastal and jungle environments makes for a diverse and beautiful landscape that is perfect for exploring.
Location – Its strategic position, however, made it the primary link between colonial Mexico and Spain. This mix of influences is responsible for the Spanish and Caribbean creole blend that can be seen in everything from the architecture to the culture and cuisine.
Where Veracruz is located did have one major downside.
The city’s easy connection to Puebla and Mexico City made it a target throughout history, and Veracruz has been attacked and taken over multiple times. The streets are littered with the resulting hybrid architecture and patchwork of working docks.
While not as uniform as other colonial cities, Veracruz still has a lot to offer!
Cuisine – Veracruz is also known for its delicious cuisine. The city is famous for its seafood, and there are many great restaurants to choose from. Some of the most popular seafood dishes in Veracruz include huachinango a la talla, which is a grilled red snapper, and camarones al coco, which is shrimp cooked in coconut milk.
For those looking for a more traditional Mexican experience, there are also many great street food vendors in the city.
Festivals & Celebrations – Veracruz is also famous for its traditional festivals and celebrations.
One of the most popular festivals is the Day of the Dead, which is celebrated every November 1st and 2nd. During this festival, the city comes alive with colorful parades, traditional music, and delicious food.
Another popular festival is the Feria de Veracruz, which is held every year in February. The festival features traditional music, dance, and food and is a great way to experience the local culture.
Visit Veracruz Mexico with Caravan Tours!
Make sure you visit this unique colonial city next time you want to visit Mexico.
With all the museums, the fortress, the cuisine, the aquarium, and the many festivals, there is no shortage of things to do in Veracruz Mexico. You can experience Veracruz as part of our Caravan Mexico Ancient Civilizations tour, which also includes visits to:
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Veracruz Mexico FAQs
What time is it in Veracruz Mexico?
Veracruz Mexico is in Central Standard Time.
Where is the city of Veracruz Mexico?
Veracruz is a centrally located port city on the Gulf of Mexico.
How far is the city of Veracruz from Mexico City?
The city of Veracruz is 263 miles (423km) from Mexico City.
How far is the city of Veracruz from Puebla Mexico?
Veracruz City is 175 miles (281km) from Puebla Mexico.
What is the population of Veracruz Mexico?
The state of Veracruz Mexico has over 8 million people and the port city of Herioca Veracruz has just under 608,000.