Veracruz, the nation’s most important port, is located in Mexico’s Gulf coast region, 140 km (87 mi) southeast of state capital Xalapa (on Highway 140), and 390 km (242 mi) from Mexico City (on Highway 150). The climate is tropical and the average temperature is 25 C (77º F).

This destination is famous for the music, dancing and festive atmosphere at its Carnival, the state’s most important event of the year. Here you’ll find beaches with calm waters that are ideal for doing all kinds of aquatic sports, particularly scuba diving along the coral reefs at the Parque Nacional Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano, which is inhabited by a wide variety of fish, coral and other marine species.

Also of interest are the important historic buildings: El Faro (The Lighthouse), el Edificio de Correo (The Post Office), el Baluarte de Santiago (The Santiago Bastion), and the San Juan de Ulua Fort, which was built on the sea and is now an interesting museum that chronicles the history of the port, from the pre-Hispanic era to present day.

You can also visit the incredible Acaurio, which is Latin America’s largest saltwater aquarium. Along the boardwalk, you’ll find a wide array of shops selling all kinds of souvenirs. At night, near the boardwalk, you can dance to the music of harps and marimbas in the city’s squares, or you can drink a cup of delicious café con leche at one of the traditional cafes.

In Veracruz’s surrounding areas you can visit the Cempoala archaeological zone; the town of La Antigua, where you can see the first Christian construction in Latin America and the first house of conquistador Hernan Cortes; Pico de Orizaba National Park, which has the highest volcano in the nation; and the picturesque town of Tlacotalpan, declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.