From Cocoa to Culture: Villahermosa Tabasco’s Must-See Attractions
Villahermosa Tabasco brings together a set of natural, historical, urban, architectural, and cultural attributes that make it a charming destination for tourism.
Its historic center dates back to the XVI century, and the testimonies of its colonial past are preserved in the Plaza de Armas, the Zona Luz, and the Cathedral of the Lord of Tabasco.
The 19th century was a period of architectural flourishing in Villahermosa, Tabasco.
From that period, you can see beautiful buildings such as the Iglesia de la Concepción, the imposing Casa de Los Azulejos, the Instituto Juárez building, and the Palacio de Gobierno de Tabasco.
Villahermosa is also a modern capital city, propped up by the oil industry.
Its recent urbanism stands out in the Municipal Palace, the Guadalajara University Campus, and the Pemex Pyramid.
There are many other entertaining things to do in Villahermosa, which I will list next.
Where is Villahermosa Tabasco?
Again, Villahermosa is the capital city of the Mexican state of Tabasco, located in the country’s southeastern part.
It is situated near the Gulf of Mexico and is known for its rich history and culture, as well as its natural beauty and resources.
To get to Villahermosa Tabasco, there are several options:
By air: Villahermosa has an international airport called “Carlos Rovirosa Pérez International Airport,” which receives domestic and international flights. You can take a taxi or a shuttle service from the airport to the city center.
By land: Villahermosa is well-connected by road with the rest of the country. Several coach companies operate daily services to Villahermosa from major cities in Mexico, including Mexico City, Cancun, and Merida. Using the country’s highway network, you can also drive to Villahermosa from other parts of Mexico.
By water: Villahermosa is located on the Grijalva River, which is navigable for small boats and canoes. If traveling from nearby areas, you can take a boat to reach Villahermosa.
Regardless of how you get there, take some time to explore the city’s rich history, culture, and beautiful natural surroundings.
15 Top things to do in Villahermosa Tabasco
1. Visit the Yumká Ecological Reserve
This ecological reserve in Interpretation Center and Coexistence with Nature boasts 102 hectares.
It is located in Ranchería Las Barrancas, 17 km from Villahermosa, near the International Airport.
Its goal is to promote environmental education and encourage conservationist behavior and species protection in Tabasco and Mexico.
In Mayan, “yumká” means “elf that takes care of the forest and the animals.” And that is what the promoters of this beautiful ecological initiative do.
Among the animals housed in Yumká are elephants, giraffes, zebras, white rhinos, cockatoos, manatees, peacocks, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, pumas and jaguars.
In Yumká, you can admire nearly 1000 specimens of more than 80 species of fauna.
These species live in the Aviary, Mini-Aviary, Herpetarium, Monkey Island, Jungle, and African and Asian Savannah.
The park’s rich and varied flora comprises 250 species, including huapaques, ferns, orchids, and bromeliads.
The orchidarium has 43 varieties of this beautiful and exotic family of plants.
Tours of Yumká are guided by expert staff to ensure the entertainment and safety of visitors.
2. Visit La Venta Park Museum
Among the things to do in Villahermosa, a visit to this open-air museum is a must.
It houses one of the most valuable collections of pieces of the Olmec culture, rescued from the pre-Columbian city of La Venta.
La Venta is an archaeological site located in the extreme northwest of Tabasco, 15 km from the Gulf of Mexico.
It was the main ceremonial center of the Olmec civilization, during its 500 years of apogee, in the first century B.C.
The museum has more than 60 artistic pieces of great format between colossal heads and other sculptures, stelae, and altars, distributed over 6.8 hectares.
The jewels of Olmec art coexist with 400 animals and species belonging to the biodiversity of Tabasco. This makes this tour an artistic and environmental experience.
Among the most representative pieces of the Park Museum La Venta is the Altar of the Mother and the lithic sculptures La Abuelita, Baby Jaguar, and Monkey Looking at the Sky.
There is a light and sound show at night, with a journey through the Olmec culture.
3. Enjoy the gastronomy of La Cuna del Pozol (The Cradle of Pozol)
Villahermosa is called the Cradle of Pozol. It is a delicious, powerful, thick pre-Hispanic drink made from cocoa and corn.
The Mayas called it “pochotl.” This was their main energizing drink for traveling long distances and performing the most physically demanding jobs.
One of the city’s typical dishes is the pejelagarto (a type of fish) roasted on a wood fire and seasoned with chile amashito and lemon.
Chirmol is a kind of mole. It is used to sauce meats, fish, and poultry. It is prepared with chiles mulatos, corn tortillas, and pumpkin seeds as the main ingredients.
Another local delicacy is calabacitas with pork and tender corn, a rich stew, quick to prepare.
A tour through the festival of Villahermosino flavors cannot end without trying the chipilín tamales, a local plant that gives the dough a unique taste and appearance.
You can also try the stuffed plantains. This dish is made from ripe plantain croquettes with a filling of spicy pork mince.
4. Enjoy the nightlife in Villahermosa Tabasco
Villahermosa offers exciting nightlife. It has several places to have a good drink and a fun time after a busy day exploring the natural and urban attractions of the city.
At 1206 Adolfo Ruiz Cortínez Boulevard on Paseo Tabasco is Escaparate Karaoke Bar.
If you are up for it, you can take the microphone and perform whatever you want in front of the public. A well-known local D.J provides the music.
In Escaparate Karaoke Bar, they prepare any drink you feel like, and the attention of the bartender and the rest of the staff is first class.
Another cozy place is Barezzito, located on Prolongación 27 de Febrero, on the corner of Paseo Tabasco. You can also have a great time at Bar La Doña, at Ernesto Malda St. 726.
In Villahermosa, four days a week, some evenings are presented to entertain locals and visitors.
They are verbenas and shows that take place on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and include:
- Romantic Wednesdays at the Plaza de Los Tríos
- Zapateados in La Corregidora Park
- Danzón at Plaza Bicentenario
- Mariachis at J. Claro Garcia Park
5. Tour the Museum of Anthropology
Writer and museographer Carlos Pellicer Cámara was born in Villahermosa in 1897 when the city was still called San Juan Bautista.
This artist dedicated much of his life to collecting the country’s ignored and abandoned pre-Hispanic objects.
The museum bears his name on the banks of the Grijalva River in Villahermosa. It contains more than 10,000 pieces of pre-Hispanic art and culture.
It is the second most important collection in the country after being housed in the National Museum of Anthropology.
The exhibition includes objects from the Olmec, Maya, Nahua and Zoque cultures.
The most famous piece of the precinct, exhibited in the Mayan Room, is the Stela of Time or Stela of Tortuguero.
This piece is the one that indicates the date 126.96.36.199.0.0 -4 Ahau 3 Kankin, which is equivalent to 12/21/2012 in the Gregorian calendar.
According to the Mayan calendar, this date became famous recently when interpreted as signaling the world’s end.
In the Olmec Hall, the colossal head Smiling Face (taken from the Park Museum La Venta to protect it from the weather), the basaltic sculpture Monster Jaguar, and axes made of basalt and serpentine are distinguished.
6. Visit the Papagayo Interactive Museum in Villahermosa Tabasco
In this museum, children have fun while learning important things to strengthen their education.
It has the Cuida, Imagina, Piensa, Vive, y Juega rooms; each focused on reinforcing the best behaviors.
These rooms have the following purposes:
- Cuida: Learning about the importance of the natural environment and its preservation
- Imagine: Expression of feelings through music and the arts
- Think: Understanding the world through science and technology
- Live: Understanding how the body works and the importance of health and nutrition
- Play: Bringing babies and children (up to 5 years old) closer to science, technology, and art
Among the lessons that children will learn is Braille writing.
The challenge is to perceive with their fingers (eyes closed) the origin of electricity, the shapes of matter, chemical reactions, and the functioning of the heart.
The Museo Interactivo Papagayo is located at Avenida Paseo Usumacinta 2005, Parque Tabasco. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 to 5.
7. Stroll through Tomás Garrido Canabal Park
Visiting this park is one of Villahermosa Tabasco’s most relaxing activities.
It was built in 1929 in front of the Laguna de las Ilusiones by Governor Tomás Garrido Canabal to host the state’s annual cattle and commercial fair.
In 1982 the fair was moved to La Choca Park, and Garrido Canabal Park underwent a remodeling project.
Since then, it has become a beautiful space for strolling and developing diverse entertainment activities in Villahermosa.
The park’s main attraction is the lagoon, a body of water inside Villahermosa and one of the city’s emblems.
Although its area has been reduced, it still conserves an extension of 230 hectares.
The lagoon’s name was given by Governor Garrido himself, a ladies’ man who had it as his favorite place to make conquests.
Nearby are attractions such as the La Venta Park Museum, the José N. Rovirosa Natural History Museum, and the Villahermosa Elevated Museum.
The park has a pedestrian boardwalk and the Mirador de la Águilas, a 50-meter-high space with beautiful views of Villahermosa and its surroundings.
8. Admire the Casa de los Azulejos in Villahermosa
This beautiful 19th-century mansion is in the historic center, on Avenida 27 de Febrero and Calle Benito Juárez. It is home to the Tabasco History Museum.
It was built in the 1880s and was successively the residence of millionaire José María Graham McGregor, a business, government house, and hotel. In 1985 it became a museum.
Among its commercial uses, it is worth mentioning that it was the seat of the Manuel Ponz y Adrill pharmacy, the first one in Villahermosa.
The Casa de Los Azulejos is a varied mixture of artistic styles. It has Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Mozarabic, and Mudejar details.
It got the name for the magnificent ornamentation of its facades with Catalan ceramics.
The Museum of History of Tabasco has nine rooms on two house floors.
It exhibits a collection of 400 pieces, including furniture and antique objects, weapons, paintings, engravings, altarpieces, coins, medals, and documents.
The collection is an outstanding document in which Cortés’ order for the execution of Cuauhtémoc and the Lord of Tacuba.
9. Take a tour of the Villa Luz Ecological Reserve
This reserve is located in the community of Tapijulapa, a short distance from Villahermosa, and is one of the most splendid corners of Tabasco.
It is crossed by the Oxolotán River, which in its course, forms beautiful waterfalls and natural pools where you can enjoy a refreshing swim.
There are also sulfurous waters, excellent for relaxing the body and toning the skin.
At Villa Luz, you can be in intimate contact with nature. You can also practice adventure activities such as hiking, trekking, and speleology in the Villa Luz Cavern.
10. Board the Capitán Beuló II
In the past, a boat sailed the Grijalva River and was the first means of transportation for the governor of Tabasco.
It became a floating dispensary under El Mensajero de la Salud (The Health Messenger).
Now out of service, El Mensajero de la Salud was installed at the Museo Interactivo Papagayo to teach children from Villahermosa and Tabasco about their city and state’s past to raise awareness of health and hygiene issues.
A replica of the boat was built, called Captain Beuló II, which makes two-hour tours along the river in gastronomic and tourist routes.
The tourist route takes you to visit the most beautiful spots along the banks of the Grijalva river, including the Majahua Swamps and the bridges (1 and 2), a tour in which it is possible to admire representative species of the regional fauna and flora.
The gastronomic route stops at several picturesque restaurants on the river banks to enjoy the best local gastronomy.
These are ideal places to enjoy grilled pejelagarto fish, freshly caught in the Grijalva river.
11. Comalcalco archaeological site near Villahermosa Tabasco
Comalcalco, the third-largest city in Tabasco, is located 56 km northwest of Villahermosa. On the outskirts of Comalcalco, there is a Mayan archaeological site.
Some admirable ruins from the first century A.D. from this site are preserved, belonging to the classical period of that civilization.
One of the most relevant things in the construction of Comalcalco Tabasco was the use of bricks and stucco made with oyster shells, a resource the Mayan builders resorted due to the lack of stones in the area.
Many bricks have engravings and decorations, evidencing the talent of Mayan artists.
The site is integrated by the North Plaza Complex, the Great Acropolis, the Southwest Plaza, the East Acropolis and the Cemetery.
On this site was found the so-called “Brick of Comalcalco,” a second inscription with the famous Mayan “date of the end of the world,” whose first source was the Stele of Time preserved in the Carlos Pellicer Cámara Regional Museum of Anthropology.
Four temples form the North Plaza Complex, and in the Great Acropolis, there are The Palace, The Popol Naah, several temples, and other structures.
12. Enjoy the beach near Villahermosa Tabasco
The city has no beaches, but some are nearby, so visiting Villahermosa could also be an opportunity to spend some time on a sandy beach.
71 km north is Playa Paraiso, an area that is considered the best tropical environment in Tabasco.
The beach has temperate water with spectacular sunsets. Nearby, lagoons and mangroves are inhabited by an interesting fauna of herons, crocodiles, crustaceans, and other species.
Learn more about the Mexican Gulf side.
This sandy area operates the El Paraíso Tourist Center, with lodging, a restaurant, a swimming pool, palapas, and other services.
Playa Miramar is 70 km from Villahermosa, a place of calm and welcoming water with warm and glowing days.
The atmosphere in Miramar is relaxed and cheerful, and there you can enjoy the simple and delicious Tabasco seafood cuisine, accompanied by a good cocktail or an ice-cold beer.
Other beaches near the capital of Tabasco are Pico de Oro and Playa Azul, with clean, calm waters and sands shaded by coconut palm trees.
13. Learn all about cocoa in the Interactive Chocolate Museum
Tabasco is the leading cocoa-producing state in Mexico, and cocoa is one of the fundamental ingredients of pozol, the typical regional drink.
Few things to do in Villahermosa are more delicious and charming than visiting the DRUPA Interactive Chocolate Museum.
It is located in the middle of a cocoa and banana plantation belonging to the DRUPA group in Cunduacán, 33 km from Villahermosa.
The museum offers tours of the cocoa plantations, and visitors can participate in harvesting the fruit used to make the exquisite chocolate.
You will also learn about the history of cocoa in Tabasco and the process to which the cocoa drupe is subjected until it becomes chocolate.
The hacienda tours and the Interactive Chocolate Museum end with tasting products made from cocoa.
Other cocoa haciendas near Villahermosa that offer tours are Hacienda La Luz, Finca Cholula, and Hacienda Jesús María.
14. Admire the Cathedral of the Lord of Tabasco
The current cathedral is a reconstruction made between 1945 and 1970 of an old 18th-century temple where the Lord of Esquipulas was venerated, which had been remodeled in the 1880s and looted during the Cristero War at the end of the 1930s.
The church has two imposing twin towers over 80 meters high, a topographic reference in Villahermosa. The facade of the three bodies and the cupular top is of baroque style.
It is distinguished by its sobriety, standing out the image of the Lord of Tabasco, a Christ on a bronze cross that presides over the main altar, some altarpieces, and other paintings of saints.
In the temple’s atrium in the historical center of Villahermosa are statues of Pope John Paul II and Bishop José de Jesús del Valle y Navarro, promoter of the cathedral reconstruction.
15. Attend an incredible movie show at the Tabasco 2000 Planetarium
This attraction was opened in 1981 in a building with a design inspired by pre-Hispanic architecture.
It was materialized in a modern construction that harmoniously combines aluminum, glass, and concrete in its façade.
Its main activity is the projection of films with the Omnimax system, a format that projects images of larger size and much better resolution than conventional media.
The projections are of varied content, including topics such as the origin of the Earth, the planet’s ecosystems, and the atmosphere and outer space.
In the main lobby is the Magic and History of the Pre-Columbian Maya Universe mural by Tabasco artist Daniel Ponce Montuy.
The 300-seat auditorium is also used for workshops and courses related to Maya sciences, mainly mathematics, astronomy, and other cultural facets of this brilliant pre-Hispanic civilization.
If you ever have the chance to explore the south of Mexico, don’t hesitate to stop by Villahermosa; it will be worth your while. See you next time. Vamonos!