On a day trip from Veracruz, discover Xalapa and Coatepec, two historically and culturally important cities that lie in the lush, mountainous region that produces much of Mexico’s coffee. There’s plenty to see, from beautiful examples of Spanish Colonial architecture to Xalapa’s Museum of Anthropology, one of the biggest museums of its kind in Mexico. Plus, learn about the region’s coffee production at El Café-tal Apan plantation and museum. You’ll travel more than 4,000 feet in elevation by the time you reach your final stop. Hotel transport included.
After pickup by van at your Veracruz hotel, your day trip begins with the 1.5-hour drive to Xalapa, nestled about 60 miles (100 km) northwest of Veracruz in the hills of one of Mexico’s biggest coffee-producing regions. Before you reach the city, visit the Lencero Museum (aka Museo de Lencero or Ex-Hacienda de Lencero), a Spanish colonial house that was once the home of Juan Lencero, a soldier who fought with Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés. Three hundred years later, in the mid-1800s, the house was bought by General Antonio López de Santa Anna, one of Mexico’s former presidents. Enjoy a brief tour of the home, checking out the period furniture and admiring the serene gardens and lake. Then continue into Xalapa, where you’ll see the city’s main attractions with your guide. The political and cultural capital of the state of Veracruz, Xalapa is home to impressive museums, churches, several universities and lovely green spaces. Highlights of your sightseeing tour include the Baroque- and Gothic-style Xalapa Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana), Government Palace (Palacio de Gobierno), the University of Veracruz (Universidad Veracruzana) and the Paseo de los Lagos, a popular park with lakes and leafy walking paths.Next, visit one of Xalapa’s biggest attractions and one of the most important museums in Mexico — the Museum of Anthropology (Museo de Antropología de Xalapa). With your guide, explore its collection of artifacts from pre-Hispanic cultures such as the Olmecs, Totonacs and Huastecs. The thousands of artifacts in the museum date as far back as 1300 BC and are wonderfully displayed in the airy, modern space. Don’t miss the collection's most impressive pieces, the pair of giant Olmec heads.After your museum tour, head to neighboring Coatepec, just 20 minutes away. At 4,100 feet (1,250 meters) above sea level, Coatepec has an ideal climate and elevation for growing coffee beans. The city’s other claim to fame is its designation as a Pueblo Mágico, or Magic Town, a program developed by Mexico’s tourism board to recognize towns that provide a ‘magical’ experience, meaning they offer an authentic Mexican cultural experience or hold an important place in Mexico’s history.See city sights like 18th-century San Jerónimo Church (Iglesia de San Jerónimo), and shop for crafts at the market, if you wish. Then take a break for lunch (own expense); your guide will give you some tips on where to find the best local food.Finally, enjoy your last attraction of the day, the Museo del Café (coffee museum) at El Café-tal Apan, a small coffee plantation just outside Coatepec where you’ll learn about the region's coffee-making process and history. Admire antique tools, watch a demonstration and see the harvest in action, depending on the time of year. Your tour ends with the drive back to Veracruz, where you’ll be dropped off at your hotel.