Planning a Trip
Veracruz, 1 1/2 hours away, has the closest major airport, although some charter flights use the small Xalapa airport. If you're driving from Veracruz, take Hwy. 180 to Cardel, and then go west on Hwy. 140. From Papantla, you can avoid the mountains by taking Hwy. 180 south to Cardel. From Mexico City and Puebla, there's a turnoff for Hwy. 140 on the toll highway to Veracruz (Hwy. 150D). Fog is common and dangerous between Perote and Xalapa. The trip by bus to or from Papantla takes 4 hours.
The bus station (CAXA) is 2.5km (1 1/2 miles) east of the town center just off Calle 20 de Noviembre. Taxis are downstairs, and prices are controlled. Tickets to downtown cost around 35 pesos. Buses run to Veracruz every 20 to 30 minutes and to Puebla 15 times a day. You can buy tickets downtown at the Ticket Bus agency, Allende 110 (tel. 01-800/702-8000). The office is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 8:30pm. Several travel agencies sell bus tickets as well.
Go to the tourist information booth at the Ayuntamiento (city hall), across from the Plaza Juárez. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm and 4 to 7pm.
Xalapa is a hilly town with streets that defy order. In the center of town is the large Plaza Juárez, where on a clear day the Pico de Orizaba is visible to the southwest. Across the street (north) from the plaza is the Ayuntamiento (city hall); just east is the Palacio del Gobierno (state capitol). The cathedral is across (north) from this.
Most of the recommended hotels and restaurants are within easy walking distance of the central Plaza Juárez. Taxis in Xalapa are inexpensive, as are city buses. Because streets in the center of town are busy and narrow, cabs aren't allowed to stop just anywhere. Sometimes you have to look for a TAXI sign.
The telephone area code is tel. 228. The city is 1,430m (4,690 ft.) above sea level. The climate is humid and cool, for the most part. It can be warm from March to early May. The light chipi chipi rain comes and goes at any time of year. The rainy season is May through July and can bring strong downpours.