The city of Tampico, nearly surrounded by water with the Panuco River to the south and the Gulf of Mexico to the east, is one for the better tourist spots the state of Tamaulipas has on offer. This lively city is a major export center and host to a customs station, but the industrial edge to the city doesn't have to distract from its many cultural highlights, superb shopping opportunities, and exciting water sport attractions.
From Tampico’s amazing fine-sand beaches to its historical center, visitors will be amazed and delighted by this beautiful city and all that it has to offer.
To begin with, Tampico is part of the Metropolitan Zone that includes the cities of Altamira and Madero, which is an important tourist area for the state. Between the area’s many beautiful lagoons and rivers, its tropical climate, lush landscape, and soft sea breezes, it’s a perfect place for a beach vacation. Add to that, such highlights as Tampico’s excellent championship golf courses, sport fishing opportunities, cultural sights and interesting museums, you have the makings for an ideal travel destination.
Tampico’s attractions include:
Tampico’s Historical Center – spend a day strolling through this historical area to shop its fine stores, dine on delicious seafood, and explore beautiful architecture, such as the Cathedral, the old Telegraph building, the Municipal Palace and the House of Culture. All of this is centered round the Plaza de Armas, where you can sit and rest your legs, read a book, or listen to music emanating from its gazebo.
Plaza de Armas – the traditional main square around which the historical center of the city stands. It is also the site of cultural celebrations and festivities, street vendors, and where you’ll find a gathering of people, both locals and tourists, relaxing in its ambiance. At the plaza’s center sits the lovely baroque “El Pulpo” gazebo.
Immaculate Conception Cathedral – the 18th century cathedral has a neoclassical design with a façade featuring two Corinthian columns. Inside is a stunning altar constructed of white Carrara marble with an icon of the Immaculate Conception at its center, a large organ donated by a prestigious, local family of German descent, and granite hallways showcasing swastikas.
Municipal Palace – this early 20th century building was designed by Enrique Canseco. Of particular note is a mural painted on the inside wall portraying the history of Tampico.
House of Culture – built in 1923 over an old slaughterhouse, it is now the site for the city’s historical records. It is also host to temporary art and sculpture exhibits and numerous other events of great interest.
Edificio de la Aduana (the Maritime Customs Building) – take a guided tour through this interesting building, which was constructed between 1898 and 1902 while Don Porfirio Diaz was president. An interesting fact about this building is that President Diaz personally ordered it from Europe via a catalog, and it arrived by ship.
METRO Espacio Cultural Metropolitano (aka Metro or Expo-Tampa) – is considered the most important work of Tampico, the structure features 14 thousand square meters of exhibition halls and holds a capacity of 8.500 people. The building is home to the Metropolitan Theater for concerts, a Gallery for temporary exhibits, and the Museum of Huasteca Culture. The Metro has restaurant service and a bar.
Huasteca Culture Museum – exhibits include highlights of the Huasteca people, a nomadic tribe that had settled in Tamaulipas, including such items as statues, pottery, clothing, and archeological relics, among other displays depicting their everyday life.
The Pyramid of Flowers Archeological Site – tour the ancient Huastecas Panuco settlement that had thrived in Tampico between 600 and 1200 AD.
Miramar Beach – one of “The Zones” most exciting attractions. This white-sand beach with its beautiful scenery offers numerous water sport activities and a nicely sloped shoreline that is perfect for swimmers. Here you’ll find shade beneath palapas, a playground, bars and restaurant service, all lined up along the Las Escolleras Malecón. At the end of the Malecón you can view huge ships that are either making an entrance to or making an exit from the harbor. Miramar Beach is located about 30 miles away in Ciudad Madero.
La Laguna del Carpintero – a very popular beach located a mere six blocks from downtown Tampico. Its claim to fame comes from a visit from the late Steve Irwin, the Discovery Channel’s “Crocodile Hunter”, who had this to say about the Lagoon: "This lake is a model for the rest of the world of how humans can live in close harmony with large wild animals." Irwin was referring to the crocodiles that make their home here, and which you can view from the “Crocodile Lookout” Here you can relax under a palapa or rent a boat ride to catch possible sightings of crocodiles, turtles, iguanas and birds that make their home here. There is also a colorful area featuring children’s rides. A great place for a family to spend the day!
Nearby the lagoon is the Parque Metropolitanois, the place to board a tram that’s ready and waiting to take you on a tour of the Historic Center.
The Chairel Lagoon – here you can engage in numerous water sport activities, including: jet skiing, kayaking, canoeing, and sport fishing. It’s the location of several fishing tournaments held throughout the year. Nearby are two parks, the Fray Andres de Olmos and the San Pedro. Fray Andres de Olmos features palapas, a boat ramp, barbeque pits, and a swimming area. San Pedro has walking paths that are ideal for admiring the lagoon’s beautiful surroundings.
Other exciting attractions in Tampico include bullfights that are held by local ranchers several times a year, as well as frequent golf championship tournaments and fishing tournaments.