Orizaba Veracruz Travel Guide 2023

Traveling to Orizaba Veracruz? In this guide, there’s everything you need to know about visiting this underrated city in Mexico!

Set on the slopes of an active volcano and the tallest peak in Mexico, Orizaba is an incredibly enthralling city to visit.

I have been to Orizaba a couple of times and fell in love with this town and its people. So much so that I extended my stay by a few weeks.

Home to a vibrant downtown lined with colorful colonial buildings, vibes as artsy as it can get, incredibly lush landscapes, and a history that goes back centuries, this beautiful pueblo magico has something to offer no matter the type of adventure you’re after.

Whether you’re exploring its enchanting natural wonders or immersing yourself in the vibrant local culture, this Orizaba Veracruz travel guide will provide you with everything you need to make your visit a magical one.

View of Palacio de Hierro (Iron Palace) in Orizaba Veracruz.
Palacio de Hierro (Iron Palace)

Orizaba Veracruz Travel Guide: Things to Know Before You Go

✔️ Currency: Mexican Pesos 

✔️ Language: Spanish and other minority indigenous languages such as nahua.

✔️ Airports: General Heriberto Jara International Airport (VER) is the closest airport to Orizaba (1.5- to 2-hour drive away) and is well-connected to the rest of Mexico.

If you’re flying from the US or elsewhere, you may be better off flying into Mexico City first, which is about a 4-hour drive away.

✔️ Sim Card: Telcel has the best service in Veracruz. Sim cards can be bought at all airports as well as convenience stores like Oxxo.

✔️ Visas: Many nationalities can enter Mexico without a visa but some need to apply for one before their trip. Make sure to check your country’s requirements.

✔️ Electric Socket: Mexico uses Type A and Type B plugs.

Orizaba Veracruz Overview

👉🏼 Where is Orizaba Mexico?

Orizaba is located in the southeastern state of Veracruz in Mexico.

It lies about 80 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and right on the base of Pico de Orizaba, an active volcano and the highest peak in Mexico.

Nearby cities you may have heard of include Puebla (80 miles away), Xalapa (73 miles away), and Mexico City (165 m)

📍 Orizaba Veracruz Map

👉🏼 Orizaba Veracruz Weather

The weather in Orizaba is quite pleasant thanks to its location in the mountains.

The city experiences an average annual temperature of 21.5°C (70.7°F), which can increase to 22°C (71.6°F) during May and June, and decrease to 16°C (62.6°) during the winter season.

The rainy season takes place during the summer months, with the majority of rainfall occurring between June and September.

In May and October, there is slightly less rainfall, and between November and April, there is very little rain.

All in all, Orizaba doesn’t experience extreme temperatures. The hottest moments of the year rarely exceed 28°C (82.4°F), and the coldest temperatures are around 10 or 11°C (50°F to 51.8°F).

How to Get to Orizaba Veracruz Mexico

✈ By plane

The closes airport to Orizaba is General Heriberto Jara International Airport (VER) in Veracruz City.

Major airlines like Aeromexico, Interjet, and Volaris offer regular flights.

From the airport, you can either rent a car or take a direct bus to Orizaba, which is about a 1.5- to 2-hour drive away.

Another airport that is relatively close to Orizaba is Puebla International Airport, which is 104 (168 km) away and also offers regular flights to and from various cities all over Mexico.

View of a bridge in Orizaba Veracruz on a cloudy day.

🚍 By bus

There are several companies offering routes to Orizaba from Puebla, Mexico City, and Veracruz. 

ADO, AU, and Orizaba Express all have multiple departures daily.

From Mexico City, expect the ride to take about 5 hours, while it takes around 2 hours from Puebla and approximately 1.5 to 2 hours from Veracruz City.

🚗 By car

Orizaba is very well-connected to other cities in Mexico like Mexico City, Veracruz City, Puebla, and several others by highway.

From Mexico City, you can take Highway 150D towards Puebla and then continue south (it should take about 4 hours).

View of a strong current river in Orizaba Veracruz.

Things to Do in Orizaba Veracruz

1. Alameda Francisco Gabilondo Soler Cri-Cri

This beautiful park is filled with lots of greenery and statues dedicated to Cri-Cri.

Cri-Cri is a fictional Mexican character created by Francisco Gabilondo Soler back in the 30s.

He’s an actual grasshopper who got so famous that even Mexican kids today continue to listen to his classic songs!

2. Poliforum Mier y Pesado

Built between 1936 and 1944, Poliforum Mier y Pesado is a stunning castle that, these days, is considered one of the most important cultural centers in the state of Veracruz.

Inside, you’ll find a series of beautiful gardens, some of the best restaurants in Orizaba, and a plethora of museums as well!

You could easily spend an entire day here and still not get to see and do everything there is on offer!

Poliforum Mier y Pesado hosts lots of cultural events, exhibitions, and workshops throughout the year, so make sure to check their calendar to see what’s going on during your visit!

As a tip, don’t miss out on visiting the Salón Quijote, which is a wing in the castle where you can listen to an actual ghost playing the piano!

Moreover, if you want to stay at a unique place in Orizaba Veracruz, you can book a night at the same place where nuns used to live in the castle back when it was built.

View of Orizaba Veracruz Magico with the Mexican flag in the middle under a cloudy day.
Orizaba Veracruz Magico

3. Teleférico de Orizaba

The Teleférico de Orizaba is the third-longest cable car in Mexico and the second tallest, taking visitors all the way up to Cerro de Borrego and providing glorious views of the city and surrounding nature along the way.

4. Cerro del Borrego

Cerro del Borrego is an eco-park located on the outskirts of Orizaba (you can reach it easily by taking the cable car mentioned above!).

From here, you’ll get stunning views of Pico de Orizaba, get access to the Museo de Sitio y el Museo Geográfico de Orizaba to peak into a battle against the French, or take on a short hike to appreciate the nature in the area. 

5. Expo Parque de los Dinosaurios

Expo Parque de los Dinosaurios is a park that has life-sized dinosaur replicas, making it a must-visit if you’re visiting Orizaba with children or you just love dinosaurs.

It also has plenty of interesting information about these prehistoric creatures, so it’s a wonderful place to spend a couple of hours. 

View of a strong current river under a cloudy day.

6. Palacio de Hierro (Iron Palace)

Designed by Gustave Eiffel, the Palacio de Hierro is an architectural marvel made entirely of iron.

It was inaugurated back in 1894 and up to today, it is considered the biggest example of Art Nouveau in Mexico and is considered as the only metallic Art Nouveau palace in the world.

From its balconies, you’ll get to see gorgeous views of Orizaba, or you can also choose to head inside and visit a few of the museums it houses (there’s even one dedicated entirely to beer!).

As a fun fact, if you’ve been to major cities in Mexico, Palacio de Hierro is also an upscale chain of department stores and this is what they were named after!

7. Castillo Park

Parque Castillo is one of the main hangout spots in Orizaba and a great place to observe local life.

The park boasts fountains, statues, and a gorgeous kiosk right in the center, not to mention you can find lots of treats and street food around it.

Make sure you visit Parque Castillo on weekends or late afternoons, as this is when the park comes alive with live music and performances.

View of a strong current river under a cloudy day in Orizaba Veracruz.

8. 500 Escalones

Set on the Cañón del Rio Blanco National Park, 500 Escalones translates into “500 stairs” and that should give you a pretty good idea of what this Orizaba attraction is all about!

Even though it’s actually around 300 stairs, this enormous stairway will take you down to a river and several trailheads.

9. BIORI Jardín Botánico de Orizaba

BIORI Jardín Botánico de Orizaba is a lovely botanical garden in the heart of the city where you’ll find a variety of plants from every continent as well as over 100 birds.

The park is divided into different sections, each of which represents a different continent.

View of the train railway in Orizaba Veracruz.

10. Museo de Arte del Estado de Veracruz

The Museo de Arte del Estado de Veracruz is one of the most important and impressive museums in the state, especially for art lovers who also love a little dose of history in their pieces.

During your visit, you’ll be able to enjoy over a hundred years’ worth of art, including works by artists from all over Veracruz.

You’ll find over 700 pieces depicting the history of Orizaba and Mexico, including over 30 works by Diego Rivera and other important figures like Alexander Von Humboldt.

As a fun fact, the museum is set on a building that was occupied by priests during the 18th century and was later used as a hospital and a prison.

View of a strong current river under a cloudy day in Orizaba Veracruz surrounded by colorful walls.

Things to Do Around Orizaba Veracruz

👍🏻 Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba is the main reason most foreigners visit Orizaba, Veracruz.

This humongous volcano is the highest peak in Mexico and the third tallest in North America.

If you’re an experienced mountaineer, you can arrange a hike to conquer Pico de Orizaba, but please note this is a dangerous trek and is only recommended for very skilled hikers.

If you don’t climb it, though, you can still enjoy the mountain views or check out its slopes for beautiful vistas and nature. Lots of wildlife endemic to Mexico can be spotted here, including the Mexican volcano rabbit.

👍🏻 Coscomatepec de Bravo

Coscomatepec de Bravo Experience is a lesser-known pueblo magico in Veracruz where you’ll get to see beautiful Baroque architecture, local markets, and plenty of historical sites.

Coscomatepec is also known for its cigar production, and you can tour a workshop or even take a class to learn how to prepare one if you wish to!

View of the river under the bridge in Orizaba Veracruz.

👍🏻 Papantla

Papantla is a bit further away but definitely worth waking up for.

This town in Veracruz is home to El Tajin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the ruins of what was once an important pre-Columbian city.

Moreover, Papantla is known for being the place where the dance of the flyers originates.

This is one of the few ancient rituals that remain in modern Mexico and a truly incredible sight to witness.

You may have seen this acrobatic dance in Chapultepec in Mexico City, but if you want to dive deeper into its origin and meaning, Papantla in Veracruz is definitely a must-visit.

Major Festivities in Orizaba Veracruz

Orizaba is famous for hosting the annual Orizaba Carnival between February and March.

Much like other carnivals around the world, this lively event is all about taking up the streets in vibrant costumes while music plays and everyone dances!

This is a great alternative to other carnivals that take place around the same time (think Rio the Janeiro)  as it’s not very touristy and has a more local feel to it.

Aside from the Carnival, Orizaba also hosts other events throughout the year, including the Feria de Orizaba (an annual fair held in July that celebrates the city’s culture and food) and the Día de la Candelaria, which is more religious-focused and hosts a procession on the streets.

Where to Stay in Orizaba Veracruz

🛌🏻 Budget Accommodation

👍🏻 Hotel Catalina

This lovely 3-star hotel has everything you need for a comfy yet budget-friendly stay in Orizaba Veracruz. Rooms come equipped with everything you may need, not to mention they also offer beautiful views of the city.

Great location and good price.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Merrill, may 2023

👉 Check availability and rates on Booking.com

🛌🏻 Mid-ranged Accommodation

👍🏻 Gamma Orizaba Grand Hotel de France

Gamma Orizaba Grand Hotel de France – Photo © Expedia

This incredibly centric hotel has comfortable rooms as well as great amenities for your stay, including a restaurant, room service, a bar, and a rooftop pool with views of the volcano.

It was an amazing experience at the best hotel in Orizaba.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Isaias, april 2023

👉 Check availability and rates on Booking.com | Expedia | Hotels.com

🛌🏻 Luxury Accommodation

👍🏻 TRES79 Hotel Boutique Orizaba

TRES79 Hotel Boutique Orizaba – Photo © Expedia

This lovely boutique hotel is located in the center of the city and has a ton of character! You’ll love the garden, terrace, and bar areas, not to mention each room is decorated to showcase different Mexican characters. The hotel also has a great restaurant offering contemporary cuisine.

We loved the attention to detail. Breakfast was very nice. The hotel has its own shampoo, lotion and conditioner.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Acamapichtli, august 2022

👉 Check availability and rates on Booking.com | Expedia | Hotels.com

Where to Eat in Orizaba Veracruz

🍽 Madison Grill – This is one of the most popular restaurants in Orizaba where you’ll see locals and tourists alike enjoying hamburgers, tacos, and steaks that hail from the northern state of Sonora.

🍽 Asadero Argentino – While it’s not typical food, Asadero Argentino offers delicious steaks and a wide wine menu to pair them with.

🍽 Restaurante Romantxu – This restaurant is an absolute classic as it dates back to 1948. Their menu offers international food as well as a wide variety of international dishes and a few Mexicans as well. 

🍽 Restaurante El Epazote Orizaba – This is a wonderful option if you’re looking for a more traditional restaurant that serves Mexican food.

Moreover, if you’re into street food, make sure not to miss out on trying picadita, a quintessential Orizabeño dish made out of a medium-thick tortilla with cheese, onion, pork, and salsa.

Fried gorditas are another popular food here, which are filled with beans and served with cream, cheese, and red or green sauce.

How to Get Around Orizaba Veracruz

👉 Do you need a car in Orizaba Veracruz?

No, you don’t necessarily need a car in Orizaba, Veracruz.

While Uber is not available, Orizaba has a wide public transportation network as well as taxi services that are pretty safe and affordable.

Moreover, if you want to visit places further away from the city center and don’t necessarily want to use public transportation, there are plenty of tour options available.

View of a road in Veracruz during night with flashing neon lights.

Is Orizaba Veracruz worth visiting?

Absolutely! Orizaba Veracruz is home to a rich cultural heritage, plenty of picturesque streets, and gorgeous nature all around it.

I would say Orizaba has two faces: an artsy and incredibly cultural one and one for avid nature lovers, so it’s the best of both worlds!

Moreover, because Orizaba isn’t really a popular tourist destination, it’s a wonderful place to see a lesser-visited side of Mexico, not to mention the 3rd tallest peak in North America is located here (even if you don’t climb it, getting to see it and stand on its slopes is an experience magical enough!)

What is the best time to visit Orizaba Veracruz?

The best time to visit Orizaba, Veracruz is usually between October and May, which is the dry season and temperatures range from 68°F to 82°F (20°C to 28°C).

If you’re planning on summiting Pico de Orizaba, make sure to visit at this time as well as these are the only months when climbing is relatively safe. 

View of a small bridge and a strong current river under a cloudy day in Orizaba Veracruz.

Is Orizaba Veracruz safe for solo travelers?

Yes, Orizaba is very safe for solo travelers as long as you exercise the same caution you would at any destination. 

Statistically, Orizaba is the most peaceful city out of the 76 metropolitan areas in Mexico and has the lowest homicide rate and one of the lowest crime rates.

How much does it cost to visit Orizaba Veracruz?

Like any destination, the cost of visiting Orizaba will vary depending on your budget and travel style. 

Hotel prices range from 350 MXN to 2000 MXN and food usually costs between 100 MXN to 300 MXN.

Many activities and things to do in Orizaba are free, but you definitely want to consider booking a few day trips and tours to nearby destinations as well if you have the time (most of them don’t cost over 1000 MXN).

How long should I stay in Orizaba Veracruz?

At least two days are recommended in Orizaba in order to be able to check out its top attractions, but if you have a couple of more days, you will also be able to visit other nearby destinations on day trips.

If you plan on climbing Pico de Orizaba, make sure to plan at least 5 days, as you will need time to acclimatize before your hike and rest after it.

View from the hallway of Orizaba Veracruz Magico with the Mexican flag in the middle under a cloudy day.

Tips to enjoy your visit in Orizaba Veracruz

💡 Orizaba is located at an altitude of 4,000 feet above sea level, so it’s important to acclimate yourself before engaging in strenuous activities and to drink lots of water.

💡 The weather in Orizaba is generally very mild, but it can get chilly during the evenings and hot during the day. Make sure to make your packing list and pack a few sweaters to keep you warm.

💡 Even though Pico de Orizaba is the most famous natural landmark near Orizaba, there are plenty of other nature spots around worth including on your itinerary.

💡 Orizaba is pretty touristic, but it doesn’t have the infrastructure of more popular destinations in Mexico. Learning a few Spanish phrases will go a long way.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Orizaba Veracruz known for?

Orizaba Veracruz is known for being located on the slopes of Pico de Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico and the third highest in North America at 18,491 feet (5,636 meters) above sea level (it’s also the highest volcanic summit on the continent).

This active volcano is a very sought-after climb for avid peak collectors from all over the world.

Aside from that, Orizaba is also known for its history, beautiful architecture, and vibrant culture.

Historically, Orizaba was one of the most important sites for commerce during the Colonial Period, as it was an obligatory stop between Mexico City and Puerto de Veracruz. 

View of Orizaba Veracruz Magico with the Mexican flag in the middle under a cloudy day.

What does Orizaba mean in Spanish?

Orizaba doesn’t mean anything in Spanish.

The name actually comes from the náhuatl dialect and it translates into “the place of happy waters”. 

What is the closest airport to Orizaba Veracruz?

The closest airport to Orizaba, Veracruz, is the General Heriberto Jara International Airport (VER), which is also known as Veracruz International Airport.

This airport is located in Veracruz City, which is approximately 80 miles (130 km) away from Orizaba.

Another nearby airport is El Lancero Airport in Xalapa, which is 134 miles (215 km) away and Puebla International Airport, which is 104 miles (168 km) away.

View of a stair in Orizaba Veracruz with murals on the wall.

Wrapping Up: Orizaba Veracruz Travel Guide

While most people who visit Orizaba, Veracruz do so to climb the volcano, this beautiful city is worth visiting on its own even if you don’t plan on summiting.

With such a rich history, stunning architecture, and gorgeous natural views, there is something for everyone in Orziaba, not to mention that spending a few days here will give you the chance to experience a different side of Mexico.

I hope this Orizaba Mexico travel guide was helpful to plan the perfect trip to this wonderful Mexican city!