Visitor Information -- Go to the tourist information booth in front of the Ayuntamiento (city hall), across from the Plaza Juárez. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm.
City Layout -- 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); east is the Palacio del Gobierno (state capitol). The cathedral is across (north) from this.
Being Alert -- I regard Xalapa as a generally safe place to visit, but there was a prolonged gun battle here in January 2011 between the army and drug cartel members. Xalapa hasn't seen much violence before this, and though information is hard to come by, it seems that kidnappings are uncommon here. On the other hand, other parts of the state not far from Xalapa have seen violence. The police chiefs of three small towns of central Veracruz have been killed, and there have been shootouts, kidnappings, and assassinations in the port city of Veracruz. Before you plan a visit, check the U.S. Department of State website (www.travel.state.gov) for travel warning updates.