1 Veracruz

Salsa with divas wearing outrageous costumes at the city’s exuberant Carnaval. Afterwards, or at any time of year, relax with an ice-cold mint julep and soak up the sounds of marimba in the zócalo, one of Mexico’s most vibrant plazas.

2 Xalapa

Enjoy the café culture in this university town surrounded by coffee plantations. The Museum of Anthropology here is second only to Mexico City’s.

3 Whitewater rafting

There are magnificent rafting opportunities, as well as other adrenaline sports, on the rivers that tumble down the tropical valleys of the Sierra Madre Oriental. Take a tour from one of the cities, or head directly to the riverside towns of Jalcomulco or Tlapacoyan.

4 El Tajín

Explore the unique pyramids and ruins at this magnificent remnant of Classic Veracruz civilization; the awesome voladores perform their aerial dance here too.

5 Catemaco

Take a boat trip across this enchanting lake, surrounded by one of the last remaining tracts of jungle in central Mexico, followed by a relaxing temazcal, a traditional sauna, or a session with a shaman.

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