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Your first stop will probably be Veracruz City. It's a great base for exploring the region, because many of the prettiest colonial-era towns, including La Antigua and Tlacotalpan, are within easy driving distance. There are also a few interesting ruins in the vicinity, such as Cempoala and Tres Zapotes. Veracruz City is about five hours from Mexico City and six hours from Oaxaca, so a trip by car or bus is feasible.
But if you are headed to the fascinating ruins of El Tajín, you might want to choose Xalapa as your base. The state's capital is cool and comfortable throughout the year, unlike most other parts of the region. From here you can also explore atmospheric mountain villages such as Coatepec and Xico and enjoy booming adventure tourism on the rivers of Jalcomulco.