From Campeche we decided to go directly to Veracruz state, via Tabasco. We didn’t plan to spend a long time in Veracruz as we were determined to arrive to Mexico City – read our Mexico City Bucket List here – but the distances are crazy big in Mexico, so it was definitely a wise idea to spend two nights in Veracruz. This is how we discovered our 2 favourite towns, and spent 1-1 nights in Tlacotalpan & Orizaba. If you are looking for the best experiences in Mexico and also interested to explore around, and visit Veracruz state, read below our recommendations.
- 1 Tlacotalpan
- 2 Orizaba
Founded by Spaniards in the 16th century to develop livestock activities, but above all as a fishing village, it’s a unique destination where its warm climate makes it ideal for long romantic walks while watching sunsets from its boardwalk or letting yourself be enveloped by the buildings full of history. Its historical centre was declared World Cultural Heritage in 1998 due to the unique beauty of the architecture of its buildings, harmoniously blending Caribbean and Spanish styles, but above all because it shelters in perfect condition the facilities of a factory from the late eighteenth century.
How to get to Tlacotalpan
Be prepared, there is not a single normal road – in European terms – to reach Tlacotalpan, we tried all options, and it’s hopeless. But the good thing is that in the end, once you reached the town, you will forget all your disappointments from the road. This town is worth the effort, and it was one of those very few places in Mexico where we were shocked by its beauty. You can reach Tlacotalpan from 3 directions, I’m listing here in order of difficulties:
- Via Santiago Tuxtla – a seriously never-ending road, with many villages & uncountable topes, and even the GPS is getting crazy and showing more and more kilometers to get there, even though you would have thought you are getting closer. But at least it has asphalt everywhere.
- Via Tres Zapotes – a dirty road with a lot of holes, we started on this, but decided not to completely destroy our car and got back to the first option.
- Via Cosamaloapan – that has no connection with the highway 145-D, regardless what your GPS is saying, and after crazy dangerous holes, muddy valleys, rocky bridges, we ended up on an illegally closed road where the owner wanted us to pay for opening a chain in order to reach the proper road. I mean, this was seriously unbelievable.
Read about the road conditions & driving experience in Mexico here! If you want to rent an SUV or a proper 4×4 wheel, check the below options, you will need one for these conditions!
What to see in Tlacotalpan
Without a doubt, one of the favourite places of those who come to Tlacotalpan is this place where the main square of the town is located, Parque or Plaza Zaragoza with beautiful white marble floors that make its golden kiosk that shines during the sunny days of Tlacotalpan stand out even more.
San Cristobal Church
Worth to mention to know the other buildings of interest that surround Plaza Zaragoza as the neoclassical parish church dedicated to San Cristobal, patron saint of the village and that inside you can admire a wonderful altarpiece carved in wood, El Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria (The sanctuary of Our Lady of Candelaria) with its vault and dome made of coral stone and where it shelters the image that leads the most important festival of this population or the Palacio Municipal (Municipal Palace), a mid-nineteenth century building that adorns the historic centre.
The weekends usually become special with the hand-crafted exhibition where you can acquire beautiful crafts or enjoy the rhythm of fandango and danzón that make all its visitors dance.
Where to stay in Tlacotalpan
We have booked our accommodation in the last minute on the go, and even though we were not aiming for the cheapest place, and the options were limited, we ended up at a weird place. The hotel looked super cute, cozy, kind of luxurious on local terms if we take into consideration the reception and the common places, but once we got to the room we were shocked, the room was hardly bigger than our double-bed, with no WI-FI, no properly working air-conditioning & with a gecko in the bathroom. If you would like to avoid our experience, use our search bar and book better!
How to get to Orizaba
Orizaba has a perfect location for a stop-over. The main road 150-D leads you through the town, so you don’t need to struggle on secondary roads to reach it. It has a strategic location, being enough close to Puebla & Ciudad de Mexico and as well as to Heroica Veracruz.
What to see in Orizaba
The Park of Alameda was inaugurated in 1855 and although French troops destroyed it in 1862, it managed to rebuild itself and continue to improve itself to the present day. Here are the statues of General Ignacio de la Llave and Francisco Gabilondo Soler, illustrious people from Orizaba. This place is ideal for exercising, strolling or walking with your pet. Children will be happy in the play areas specially made for them or admiring the characters of Cri-Cri. Francisco Gabilondo Soler was a Mexican composer and performer of children’s songs. He recorded and performed those songs under the name of Cri-Cri: El Grillito Cantor (“Cri-Cri: The Little Singing Cricket”).
You can also admire from here above you the coaches of the local cable-car line (Teleférico de Orizaba) and enjoy the high variety of street food options placed in wooden bodegas all around the park.
Orizaba’s Municipal Palace is an old French-style building built at the beginning of the 20th century under the patronage of the President of Mexico Porfirio Díaz to initially house the Colegio Preparatorio de Orizaba, which was a prestigious institution in the field of arts and science during the 19th century. It is currently the headquarters of the Honorable City Council of the city of Orizaba, Veracruz, being at the same time one of the most attractive buildings and visited by tourists in the historic center of the same city.
One of the most impressive catholic – carmelita churches in Orizaba, that you most likely will be able to spot if you are wandering around in the city center. It is located next to the Parque Lopez, where we can observe the locals enjoying their breaks, sitting on the benches and talking about everyday life.
Where to stay in Orizaba
Once we were looking for accommodations in Orizaba, we discovered a last-minute offer by Grand Hotel de France: for a very reasonable price we could enjoy the luxury of a beautifully renovated, old colonial building. With more than 130 years of history, this hotel became an architectural landmark of the city of Orizaba, and has hosted renowned national and foreign personalities during these years. It is located a few steps from the former convent of San José de Gracia, next to Parque Castillo and the cable-car of the city, three of the most important tourist sites in Orizaba.