7 Unique Things to do in Villahermosa

by Paul Joseph  |  Published April 12, 2024

Home to wide rivers, serene lakeside walks, and archaeological riches, the Mexican city of Villahermosa packs in plenty of unique things to see and do.

(Photo: Sachavir via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

The capital city of Tabasco State in southeast Mexico, Villahermosa may be a little off the country’s well-trodden tourist trail, but those who do come here will quickly discover its distinct character and appeal. A riverside setting lends the city scenic charm while man-made attractions include a liberal sprinkling of cultural venues and several notable historic landmarks. We’ve picked out 7 of the city’s most unique highlights for visitors.

Traverse a trail lined with ancient sculptures 

Back in the 1950s, petroleum exploration threatened the ancient Olmec settlement of La Venta in western Tabasco. In an effort to preserve the settlement’s most important artefacts, many of them were moved to Villahermosa, where today they form part of a sculpture trail at the Parque Museo La Venta. The trail, which includes a trio of colossal stone heads and rare Olmec heads displayed along labyrinthine jungle pathways, draws huge numbers of visitors each year who also come to enjoy the almost-nightly sound and light shows.

Boulevard Adolfo Ruiz Cortines S/N, Jesus Garcia / Mon-Sun 8am-7pm

You can visit the Parque Museo La Venta as part of a half-day tour, bookable via GetYourGuide

Join a historic centre walking tour

The historic centre of Villahermosa is dotted with cultural gems. While it’s quite possible to explore them independently, for the most enriching experience you might consider joining a guided walking tour of the area. Hosted by knowledgeable young guides, you’ll visit notable landmarks including the Torre del Caballero (Knight’s Tower), where you can ascend  to the observation deck for stunning views over the river and city. Other stop-offs include the Casa Museo Carlos Pellicer, a museum dedicated to the eponymous poet and politician; the Edificio de Gobierno (government palace); and the Awakened Jaguar art gallery (Galería de Arte El Jaguar Despertado). The tour concludes at one of the city’s oldest ice cream parlors, where you’ll enjoy a complimentary treat.

You can book a guided tour of the historic centre via Viator

(Photo: GRACE Viajes y Eventos / Courtesy Viator)

Escape the city by visiting a scenic lagoon

Drive a couple of miles northwest of central Villahermosa and you’ll reach the Laguna de Las Ilusiones, a picture-postcard lagoon where a steady stream of visitors come to enjoy lakeside walks, street food, picnics and playparks. The lake itself is also a magnet for ‘twitchers’ – aka bird-waters – with the area boasting an abundance of birdlife including great egrets, herons, and cormorants. Prime time for visiting is late afternoon, when the temperatures ease and the golden light shimmers on the water.

(Photo: David Cabrera via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

Visit a colonial cathedral

Set on a picturesque plaza in Nueva Villahermosa, the newer section of the city, the Lord of Tabasco Cathedral (Catedral del Señor de Tabasco) – as with any Catholic edifice in Mexico – is a legacy of Spanish colonialism. Built in the mid-20th century, its spires can be seen throughout the city, making it a beacon on the landscape and a useful point of orientation for visitors. Inside, there is relatively little by way of religious iconography, but stained glass windows do catch the eye by painting the interiors in vibrant hues.

 Av Paseo Tabasco 606, centro

(Photo: Catedrales e Iglesias/Cathedrals and Churches via Flickr / CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Delve into Tabasco’s history at a museum

Located in the in the Zona Luz, the dazzling blue-tiled Casa de los Azulejos is one of Villahermosa’s most distinctive landmarks. But its appeal extends beyond its striking façade, with the building also home to the Tabasco History Museum. Packed full of exhibits, documents and historical records that tell the story of the state’s history from the 14th century to the current day, the museum is a veritable goldmine of information. Collection highlights includes include chests, paintings, altarpieces, weapons, photographs, household objects, prints, coins and medals.

Juarez s/n corner 27 de Feberro, Centro / Tues-Sun 9am-5pm Closed Mon

Home to a huge collection of anthropological artefacts the Regional Museum of Anthropology (Museo Regional de Antropología Carlos Pellicer Cámara) is one of Villahermosa’s most important cultural institutions. Set within a large, modern building, the museum offers a fascinating insight into the ancient Olmec civilisation, as well as the Maya, Zoque and Nahua cultures that have been prevalent in Tabasco down the ages. Among the museum’s most renowned exhibits is the Tortuguero Monument 6 – a stone tablet that gave rise to the myth that the Mayans had predicted the end of the world for 2012.

Perif. Carlos Pellicer Cámara 511, Guayabal / Tues-Fri 9am-5pm Sat-Sun 9am-6.30pm Closed Mon

Take a riverside stroll 

In a city not short of beautiful walking spots, the Grijalva River’s eastern bank perhaps stands out above all others. Named after Spanish conquistador, Juan de Grijalva who visited the area in 1518, the river can be explored via two wide esplanades, a cycle trail and a long area of parkland with a gravel path winding between lush tropical trees and flowers. For a change of perspective, you can cross the river via the Puente Peatonal Manuel Pérez Merino bridge near the Plaza de Armas – and for fun you can try saying its full name before reaching the other side.