Welcome to Northern Veracruz
The northern half of Veracruz state, between the coast and southern fringes of the Sierra Madre Oriental, mainly consists of lush rolling pastureland. Laguna de Tamiahua is the region’s largest wetland, while the Gulf's Costa Esmeralda has some fine isolated (though sometimes polluted) beaches, which are popular with local holidaymakers. The major attraction is El Tajín archaeological site; it's reachable from the historic town of Papantla and is refreshingly untouristed compared to some of Mexico's more renowned archaeological sites. Just north of Papantla is busy, unattractive Poza Rica, which can be a useful pit stop. Tecolutla is a quintessential Mexican beach resort with black sand and some very good seafood, while Tuxpan is a worthwhile stopover if you're heading north to Tampico and beyond.