It’s time to pack our bags and get ready for another weekend getaway! This time we’ll be travelling to a place that may seem straight out of a fairytale with its beautiful mansions, old-world forts and pirates! Campeche is the capital and the largest city in the state of Campeche in Mexico. While you won’t find the sparkling beaches and turquoise seas here that you might be familiar with in the Riviera Maya, you are sure to be blown away by the rugged beauty of Mexico’s western coastline of the Yucatan peninsula.
How to get to Campeche
While not home to an international airport Campeche is still surprisingly easy to get to by motor vehicle.
Those with their own cars or rentals will be able to make use of the comfortable highway drive from Cancun (7 hours) or Playa del Carmen (8.5 hours) by following the freeway to Merida where you will route onto Mexico 180 O that will lead you straight to Campeche.
For those who would rather not drive there are daily buses through ADO or OCC from Cancun or Playa del Carmen to Merida where you can transfer to a short 2.5 hour bus straight to Campeche.
Where to Stay
There are a number of quaint and luxurious hotels and rentals in the area, ranging from modern luxury to ex-haciendas. Most hotels are located along the Malecon which runs the entire length of the city, however there are also a few more budget-friendly hotels in the historic center. With the lack of azure beaches in Campeche you will definitely want to ensure that you find a place to stay with a pool.
What to do
Campeche is home to some incredible historical sites, which are responsible for its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Just wandering the streets of the city will leave you in awe. Within the old town every building has been restored. Rainbow pastel homes line the cobblestone streets and will surely inspire you to have your camera out and ready with every step you take!
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Campeche was a key port in the Caribbean which meant it was a prime spot for pirates – this is the reason for the historic old town’s outer walls and fortifications which acted as protection against the omnipresent attacks.
There are also a number of ancient Mayan ruins in the area. Ednza is the closest major site and is about 45 minutes away. They are smaller than many of the other major ruins, but they allow more intimate sightseeing than more popular and larger sites like Chichen-Itza.
You also won’t want to miss the food and drink in Campeche which is known for its seafood. Cazón (shark) is a local delicacy and widely available. There are many small restaurants located around the city, including many in the historic center that range in price. There are also some groceries stores in the city for those on a budget who would prefer to make some meals themselves.
Whatever you decide to do when you’re in Campeche, you’ll want to make sure you bring your walking shoes. There is a lot to see and explore during your exciting weekend away!
Shopping and Eating
It’s fair to say that this once colonial city offers some amazing gastronomical delicacies. You can find eateries from small cafés to extravagant restaurants and everything in between. Seafood is quite popular with both locals and tourists. Local dishes are plentiful throughout. Try some pan de cazón (shark bread), coconut shrimp, poc chuc, and others.
When it comes to shopping, you’ll be surprised at the many options found in Campeche. You can buy some textiles, clothing, hammocks and more at one of the many artisanal craft shops. Or you find gems, magnets and jewelry inspired by nature. There are, of course, a handful of shopping centers and malls, as well for a more Americanized experience.
Be prepared for a long road trip. Getting to Campeche can take up to 8 hours, so make sure you have plenty of activities if you’re taking the ADO bus, or things to do if you’re driving.
Most of Campeche’s larger places accept credit card. However, it is highly recommended to always carry enough cash around.
Come with an open mind. Local foods, drinks and traditions may be very different to what you’re used to. So, make sure you come with an open mind and embrace the culture of Campeche.
Learn some phrases in Spanish. Campeche is far from the English-speaking community in the Riviera Maya. Not many locals speak English like they would in Tulum or Playa del Carmen. That is not to say you won’t find someone who does and is willing to help. But it definitely helps if you can pick up some Spanish beforehand for the best experience possible.
What are you waiting for? Pack your bags. We’re going on a road trip. Enjoy the colonial vibes of Campeche, soak in the culture and engulf the delicious food. When the weekend is over, head back home to your beautiful home in Playa del Carmen. But get pen and paper out. It’s time so start planning next weekend’s getaway!