Travel Warning WARNING: Tamaulipas is one of the most crime-ridden states in Mexico. Organised crime activity is rampant, particularly in areas close to the US border and the capital city, Ciudad Victoria. The situation in Southern Tamaulipas is much more stable and there are greater law enforcement capabilities there. While the US advises against all travel to the state, the UK Foreign Office advises against "all but essential travel", which is a lower level warning.
Government travel advisories
(Information last updated 07 Jan 2024)

Tamaulipas, officially known as the Free and Sovereign State of Tamaulipas (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Tamaulipas), is a state in Northern Mexico. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and beautiful natural landscapes, including tropical rainforests, beaches, and lagoons. The state is also home to a number of important historical sites, such as Ciudad Victoria, the first capital of Mexico, and the port town of Tampico, which was once a significant trading centre. Tamaulipas is also renowned for its vibrant music and cuisine, which has influences from the United States.


The area along the Mexican-US border.
  Sierra Madre
Mountainous region along the West of the state.
  Gulf Coast
Tropical region along the coast.
Cultural region beginning at the southern tip of the state.



  • 1 Ciudad Victoria — the state capital is home to universities and museums, and has many parks
  • 2 Ciudad Mier   — historic Rio Grande town with a modern reputation for cartel violence, a designated Pueblo Mágico
  • 3 La Pesca — known for sport fishing town and its beaches
  • 4 Matamoros — an historical city that is a center of maquiladora manufacturing
  • 5 Nuevo Laredo — across the border from the smaller city of Laredo, Texas
  • 6 Nuevo Progreso — this border town is a popular destination for medical tourism
  • 7 Reynosa — an industrial hub for Northern Tamaulipas and the Rio Grande Valley
  • 8 Tampico — known for the quality of its seafood and nightlife

Other destinations

  • 1 El Cielo Biosphere Reserve – protects the northernmost extension of tropical forest and cloud forest in Mexico
  • 2 Zacatón   – Mexico's deepest cenote is also the world's deepest sinkhole


Kemp's Ridley sea turtles lay eggs on Tamaulipas beaches

Tamaulipas lies between Nuevo León and the Gulf of Mexico in the north of the country. It shares a border with the US state of Texas in the north and the states of San Luis Potosí and Veracruz to the south.

Northern Tamaulipas shares its economic culture with that of Texas, and is primarily characterized by agriculture and strong growth in all industrial sectors. This region is home to many of the maquiladoras- factories owned by foreign companies but worked by Mexicans, primarily by women.

Southern Tamaulipas' economy is based primarily on the petrochemical industries. There are petrochemical production plants around Altamira as well as a principal Gulf coast container port, refinery facilities in Ciudad Madero and many oil-industry support service companies in Tampico, as well as a major general and bulk cargo port. Also of importance are the tourism and fishing industries, as well as much commercial shipping, based in Tampico and Altamira. The central zone contains the capital, Ciudad Victoria, and is home to much forestry and farming, as well as some industrial development. About 30% of the population lives in the capital and in Ciudad Mante.

Get in


Most travelers enter Tamaulipas through one of the land border crossings along the Mexico-US border. Major border crossings are Brownsville-Matamoros, McAllen-Reynosa, and Laredo-Nuevo Laredo.

Five commercial airports are in Tamaulipas (Tampico is the largest, with service to Houston, Mexico City, Monterrey and other Mexican destinations. The others are significantly smaller.) The five airports are:

  • Quetzalcóatl International Airport (NLD IATA), Nuevo Laredo
  • General Lucio Blanco International Airport (REX IATA), Reynosa
  • General Pedro José Méndez International Airport (CVM  IATA), Cuidad Victoria
  • General Francisco Javier Mina International Airport (TAM  IATA), Tampico
  • General Servando Canales International Airport (MAM  IATA), Matamoros

Get around


Presa Vicente Guerrero is a large lake about 30 miles northwest of Ciudad Victoria.

The little village of La Pesca, in the municipality of Soto La Marina, about midway between Brownsville, Texas and Tampico, is a rapidly growing tourist area with lovely beaches and excellent fishing both in the Gulf of Mexico and the Rio Soto La Marina.

The coast has many fishing hotels that have their own piers for easy fishing access. The state has a number of lakes as well.



Stay safe


Tamaulipas has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous states in all of Mexico. Tamaulipas has long been associated with drug-related violence and crime, particularly along the U.S.-Mexico border. In the 21st century, the violence has escalated as drug cartels have become more powerful and criminal organisations have become more sophisticated. Those who do travel to Tamaulipas should take extra precautions and be aware of their surroundings at all times.

As tempting as it may be, do not drive across the US border. Much of the crime in the state occurs in areas near the US border, and passing vehicles are routinely targeted by criminal gangs who often take people hostage, rob people at gunpoint, and demand ransom payments. You will immediately stick out like a sore thumb if you're driving a vehicle registered in a foreign country or a different Mexican state. Many criminal gangs operate in border areas with impunity, and very little law enforcement can do to help out; they're far too powerful to deal with. If you absolutely must drive through the border, get a police escort.

As a general rule, the further you are from the border, the safer you'll be.

This region travel guide to Tamaulipas is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!