You can easily explore downtown Papantla, including the tranquil town square, notable museums—such as the Teodoro Cano Museum—and the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Church, on foot in less than a day. However, most visitors combine a visit to this magic town with a tour of the nearby El Tajín ruins. Save the hassle of logistics by visiting both during a full-day excursion from Veracruz City or Boca del Río, which typically include round-trip transportation.
Things to Know Before You Go
Art lovers won’t want to miss unassuming Papantla, which is home to several large-scale Teodoro Cano García murals.
Don’t forget to catch a "Danza de los Voladores" ("Dance of the Flyers") performance—the dance is strongly connected to Totonac culture in Papantla.
Papantla is also known for its vanilla, so make sure to sample some of the local produce during your visit.
Narrow sidewalks and steep curbs may make Papantla tricky to navigate for wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Papantla is situated 141 miles (228 kilometers) north of Veracruz City and 187 miles (302 kilometers) from Mexico City. From Veracruz City, catch a bus to Poza Rica and transfer to Papantla by taxi or arrive by private vehicle. You can also make it easy on yourself and visit Papantla as part of an excursion from Veracruz City that includes round-trip transportation.
When to Get There
Papantla is humid year-round, but don’t let that deter you from combining a visit to Papantla with the nearby El Tajín ruins. To see the city really come to life, visit during one of its annual festivities. Each December sees the arrival of the Vanilla Expo, while June welcomes the Corpus Christi Festival. You can also time your visit to Papantla to coincide with the Festival Cumbre Tajín, which is held at El Tajín in late-March.
"Magic Towns" in Veracruz
While technically a city, Papantla is one of six so-called pueblos mágicos (magic towns) in the state of Veracruz. Coffee lovers should make a beeline for Coatepec, thought to be the coffee capital of Mexico, while adventure seekers will particularly appreciate Coscomatepec and Orizaba. For handicrafts, Zozocolco is the best bet, while Xico is a culinary gem.