Veracruz is a large port city located on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. The state has the same name. While not typically a tourist hot-spot, there is plenty to see.
I was in town for the Adventure Travel Mexico Summit to speak on behalf of the ATTA. After a joint presentation with Kraig Becker & Kristin Gill on how destinations, brands, & travel bloggers can work together, I stuck around for an extra week to explore.
Boasting about half a million people, Veracruz is a nice place to spend a few days watching how working-class Mexicans live. There is a lot of interesting history & culture to be found here as well.
Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés founded the old city when he first landed in Mexico back in 1519, before he helped destroy the Aztec Empire that is. But these days Veracruz is a hub for international trade. The export of oil, automobiles, and other goods keeps Mexico’s biggest port very busy.
Breakfast at Samborcito
While staying along the beach at Hotel Playa Veracruz, the owner Juan let me in on a local secret. The best place to eat breakfast in town is a little family-run joint called Samborcito. A typical order? Delicious huevos tirados with gorda negras and some freshly squeezed orange juice. Definitely hit the spot.
La Huaca Neighborhood
The ultra colorful & crumbling neighborhood of La Huaca is located right outside the old city walls of Veracruz. Built to house immigrant workers in the 17th century, many of the structures are falling into disrepair. But in my opinion this helps give the area it’s character. There are some great little family-run food stands & restaurants here too.
The Recycling Octopus
What an odd sight! I spotted this octopus on the surface of the water holding onto a plastic bottle. Apparently, this is a homemade buoy. But octopuses (octopi?) just love to climb into bottles, and that’s what he’s trying to do. I thought he was attempting to clean a bit of trash from the ocean.
Mexican Military & Police
The port city of Veracruz is home to the Mexican Navy, and they’ll often be seen patrolling city streets alongside the National or State Police. This happy crew is providing some extra security as a large Navy ship docks in the harbor.
Paseo del Malecón
Paseo del Malecón is the waterfront boardwalk in Veracruz that winds it’s way along the port. Here you can find snacks, excellent local coffee, and gaze with wonder as massive cargo or Navy ships float by. Scuba Pedro here is diving for colorful shells & sea creatures at the bottom of the harbor.
Fort Baluarte de Santiago
This 17th Century fort was built to protect the city of Veracruz against invasion by pirates. Inside the massive stone structure you’ll find a collection of well-preserved cannon, as well as a small stash of beautiful pre-Hispanic gold jewelry. Unfortunately cameras are not allowed inside. But the flowers outside are nice, don’t you think?
Back Alley Goose!
When traveling in a new city like Veracruz, I really enjoy getting lost on purpose. You just never know what you’ll find off the main streets — and it’s bound to be interesting. Like this guy for example. A goose that didn’t like me very much. But I managed to snag his photo anyway. In your face, goose!
La Parroquia Coffee
A visit to Veracruz City would not be complete without stopping at the famous Gran Café de La Parroquia! A bit more milk than coffee here though. After ordering, you hit your glass of coffee with a spoon to signal you are ready for milk. The proportion is something like 20% coffee, 80% milk. In fact, you’re pretty much drinking coffee-flavored milk. I normally like my coffee black-as-hell; but I couldn’t leave without trying the local style.
What better way to end this photo essay from Veracruz than with a sunrise from my room at Hotel Playa! The port city surprised me with some interesting sights and plenty of friendly people. Like all of Mexico, Veracruz has been hit hard by the negative media surrounding its drug war. While not great for tourism, it was nice for me, because it meant I pretty much had Veracruz all to myself.
Definitely worth a visit. ★
What About You?
Would you consider traveling to Veracruz? Which photo was your favorite & why?