Xalapa Mexico – the vibrant capital city of the Veracruz state, also known as the Athens of Veracruz, for its cultural fervor is a beautiful city that you should include in your Mexico itinerary.
It has a young population due to the presence of important Universities. I came here just because I was told it was a pretty city and it was close to my next destination, with no particular expectations, Little did I know that I would be literally infatuated by the great vibes, the people, the number of coffee shops and vegan restaurants and last but not least its incredible amount of parks. I love it when I get positively surprised by a destination! I have to confess though, that I stayed in my Airbnb for 4 days, going out only to run early morning, and then rushed back to work on my blog writing like there was no tomorrow. I felt so comfortable and I didn’t feel the urge to explore the city.
At day 5th, embarrassed with myself, I decided to take a walk around town and explore, at least for some nice shots, as I was running out of photos.
I was literally dumbfounded and I wanted to explore more and more. I felt silly for staying enclosed into my room for so long while out there there was a beautiful “movie” going on. Obviously, as I usually do, I thought immediately: “Oh I wish I could move here.. maybe when I finish my trip.. or maybe now”. A friend of mine reminded me that I fall in love with every place I go.. that’s true. I always find beauty all around me.. or almost always.
WHAT TO DO IN XALAPA
WALK AROUND THE BEAUTIFUL PARK OF UNIVERSTIDAD VERACRUZANA USBI
It’s incredible how such huge green carpet and bamboo forest is situated right in the middle of the city and it’s not the only one. You can spend there the entire day walking around, running or sitting on one of the available chairs in contemplation of mother nature or reading.
Right close to it at about 500 mt there is another beautiful park which was actually close to my airbnb place, camino de los lagos. A pleasant walk around artificial lakes. Beautiful for pictures. I was told not to walk in the night because there has been safety issue although I have to say every time I passed by I have always seen it full of people.
GO TO THE ECOLOGICAL PARK MACUILTEPETL
This was my favorite spot. It’s a hill (Cerro in Spanish) in the middle of the city with stunning views on the city and beyond, if you are lucky and it’s a clear sky day you can see the Pico the Orizaba, the tallest mountain in Mexico. The entrance is guarded by the police who will have you register on the way in and out so they know if somebody got lost, which is improbable. There are so many people of any age, exercising and running, it’s such a pleasure to see it. To reach the top you can either walk around in a circle on a mild inclination or take a well market shortcut and climb all the way up to the top. I took the shortcut as I didn’t have much time and I arrived on top in 15 minutes, I believe. It’s not a long hike but once you get there it’s all worth it. In order to enjoy the view, you need to get there when the bar is open as they give you access to a tower from which you will have a view like this one here below.
However the surprises are not finished. After you have admired the amazing views you can proceed onto your return but not without stopping by the bird nursery. You can visit this shelter where they actually look after predators birds in need of assistance. Some of them actually live there because they won’t be able to return into the wild life. They are extremely cute to look at and you can actually take pictures as I did for 16 pesos. The same with reptiles, kept inside the shelter for healing and observations. Please note that I am not a supporter of animals kept in captivity and I would never go to a zoo, but here they actually look for hurt or sick one and in some cases they are able to heal them and put them back to their environment. I spent there a couple of hours talking to the biologist in charge and taking picture. That was the highlight of my day.
VISIT THE XALAPA ANTHROPOLOGY MUSEUM
If you are interested in the precolombian civilization you will find it very interesting. It’s a small area but full of gold information and most of all olmecan tools, ornamental objects and sculptures found in the Veracruz region. Cost 50 pesos, open every day from 9am to 5 pm.
TAKE A WALK AT PARQUE LOS TECAJETES
Another green Oasis in Xalapa. It’s a relatively small park suitable for families and friends to hang out. There is also a small reptile house of which I am not exactly fond of, a basketball court, and fish ponds.
TAKE A WALK IN THE HISTORICAL CENTER
- Stop by the lovely cafes and restaurants or check out the libraries and bookshops, so many! If you are a history and book fan, you should go to the Bookstore Los Argonautas. The owner Maduk and his collaborator are so knowledgeable you’ll be fascinated and the amount of books you will find there is mindblowing, besides they are specially selected. Yes, you will find also English books.
- Visit the Casa Museo of Xalapa with historical pieces found in the city.
- Visit the museum Diego de Rivera which has a temporary art exposition that changes every couple of months.
- Admire the beautiful view, especially at sunset from the panoramic terrace in Parque Juarez in the heart of the city. Over there you can have also a quick local snack at one of the stands in the park and also check out for any events that may take place.
Right beside the Parque Juarez is the governmental building and the austere cathedral.
SOME MORE REASONS WHILE I FELL IN LOVE WITH XALAPA
- One day I needed to research Christmas in Xalapas for a guest post I was writing. I really had no idea where to seek and I decided to stop two ladies in their 70s talking to each other. In the beginning, they were a bit annoyed that I had interrupted their conversation but when I asked them about their Christmas and why I was asking, they immediately started to explain enthusiastically about their Christmas traditions. They were asking about me and invited me to visit their original home town, close to Xalapa. One of them even told me that if I didn’t have a place to stay I could go and stay with her. I was so humbled by their kindness and loving attitude.
- Another day I was walking around the city trying to catch some good moments through my camera and two girls stopped me and asked me if I did photography sessions. I didn’t understand at the beginning but then I realized that they wanted to be taken some photographs. So I told them I was not a pro but I would have loved to take them some pictures even though I couldn’t guarantee the results. I just edited them yesterday and sent them and they were extremely grateful. I have to say I was flattered and I was even more grateful for having my moment of glory acting like a professional photographer.
In general, the open-minded and kindness of the people was really overwhelming, like I haven’t found in another part of Mexico.
HOW TO GET TO XALAPA
The capital city of Veracruz is very well served with many lines of Autobuses depending on where you are coming from, you can check out ADO, ETN, ASTRO, if you are coming from Orizaba and Coscomatepec, Pueblos Magicos as well. Also from Veracruz Puerto, it’s at about 2 hour ADO bus
WHAT TO DO IN THE SURROUNDINGS OF XALAPA
- Visit the Pueblo Magico of Xico
- Visit the Pueblo Magico of Coatepec.
FOR FURTHER READING
- Book your transfers between destinations on the trusted booking platform Bookaway
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- Book hotels with Booking.com or Hotels.com
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- Check out my travel planning guide if you are planning your trip and feeling overwhelmed