Glimpse into Mexico’s complex past in historically rich La Antigua, thought to be one of the first Spanish towns in Mexico. Highlights include some of the country’s oldest surviving colonial buildings, such as the 16th-century home of Hernán Cortés and what’s thought to be the oldest church in the Americas, Ermita del Rosario.
A convenient half- or full-day trip from Veracruz City, La Antigua is easy to reach both independently and as part of an organized excursion. Once there, you can easily cover the top attractions—including the Edificio del Cabildo and Hernán Cortés’ former house—on foot in less than a day, before taking a short boat tour along the river. If you’ve got limited time in the region, combine a stop in La Antigua with guided tours of Veracruz City or visits to ruins such as Cempoala and Quiahuiztlán.
Things to Know Before You Go
Don’t miss the massive riverside ceiba tree, where it’s rumored that Hernán Cortés once moored his boats.
Thanks to a privileged location on the banks of the La Antigua River, it’s worth sampling the seafood in La Antigua.
La Antigua may not be fully wheelchair accessible, due to narrow sidewalks and an abundance of cobbled streets.
How to Get There
La Antigua is situated 40 minutes north of Veracruz City and Xalapa-bound buses stop just outside the town throughout the day. You can also reach La Antigua by private vehicle by driving north on the Zapata-México 180 highway or opting for an excursion that includes round-trip transportation.
When to Get There
La Antigua is generally hot and humid year-round and suffers from the same summer rainy season as the rest of Veracruz. Visit between November and March for a more pleasant climate or stop by during early October’s Fiesta de la Virgen del Rosario celebrations.
La Antigua may be considered one of the first Spanish towns, but it’s far from the only remnant of the country’s colonization. To admire colonial architecture—while interrogating its complex history—visit hilly Guanajuato, known for multicolored buildings and subterranean streets, or head to humid Mérida where you can tour the city’s many opulent haciendas.