Campeche: The Greatest City in Mexico You Haven’t Heard About

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Take other traveler’s opinions with a grain of salt. I heard that Campeche was boring and a mistake to go there.

But a friend of mine, Juan-Carlos grew up there and I wanted to see the city.

While Juan Carlos had given me a list of what to see, do and eat.

I also looked at the guidebooks and discovered the city was a UNESCO World Heritage site and used to be a walled city to defend against pirates.

Campeche is an underrated city in Mexico. Near Merida, very few tourists visit this beautiful city but there are many reasons to go.

As it’s a smaller town, it isn’t much of a tourist attraction and nearly no English is spoken. The climate is tempered with hot days and cool nights, which was welcomed after baking in Merida.

I arrived in the city with a hostel in mind and found myself in a beautiful cobblestone, colonial area in front of a magnificent cathedral.

The streets were impeccably clean with no litter and police regularly patrolled the streets.

Campeche is an underrated city in Mexico. Near Merida, very few tourists visit this beautiful city but there are many reasons to go.

Normally you would think this would be due to crime, but people here are incredibly nice.

Everyone smiles and when I had no idea what I was trying to order to eat.

Sikil Pak

They patiently helped me understand what was available and point out Mexican antojitos (note: no water in the market, it’s tea, cola or orange juice).

But what struck me the most was the city at night.

My hostel looked onto the Plaza Principale and at night the city is aglow.

While many of the places I’ve been so far have the colourful colonial pastels, none of them look so brilliant at night.

Campeche is an underrated city in Mexico. Near Merida, very few tourists visit this beautiful city but there are many reasons to go.

Campeche: A State and a City

A port city on the gulf of Mexico, with beautiful colonial architecture, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Campeche is two hours from Merida, which is much more popular with travelers.

Oddly enough there seems to be a rivalry with nearby Merida that was so bad politically Campeche was once in the Yucatan but split into its own state because of issues.

You can walk nearly everywhere, although it’s so hot many people take the bus and taxis.

Things are more expensive within the historic centre. I stayed at the Monkey Hostel which overlooked the city square although sadly I heard it changed ownership and is getting horrific reviews on TripAdvisor, which is sad.

Campeche is an underrated city in Mexico. Near Merida, very few tourists visit this beautiful city but there are many reasons to go.

What to See in Campeche

Most of the tourism efforts are within the historic centre so understandably prices are higher here at restaurants and shops.

There aren’t a lot of significant sites in Campeche other than the fortified walled historic centre which was created to ward off pirates.

For me this is the perfect city, instead of feeling like you need to go see monuments you can just relax, hang out in cafes, walk down to the docks to see fishermen.

Or go to a market that is actually used by locals instead of selling tourists trinkets.

Take a walk along the malacon (boardwalk) and you’ll hit most of the major things you want to see.

If you’d like to see more you can find the Maya ruins of Ednza less than an hour away.

While they are smaller than those in the Yucatan like Chichen Itza or Tulum in the Mayan Riviera, they are much less crowded.

Being on the water, Campeche is known for great seafood and especially shrimp.

There is no beach but there is a great waterfront with plenty of seafood restaurants. As tourism isn’t a focus for the city prices are very reasonable.

Check out Must Try Street Food in the Yucatan
Campeche is an underrated city in Mexico. Near Merida, very few tourists visit this beautiful city but there are many reasons to go.

How to Get to Campeche

The ADO bus has routes to Campeche from several cities. Merida is a two hour bus ride for 264 pesos ($14 USD).

Although Cancun is much farther away, the six hour bus ride costs 724 pesos ($38 USD).

Pin it: Things to Do in Campeche

Campeche is an underrated city in Mexico. Near Merida, very few tourists visit this beautiful city but there are many reasons to go.

Join the Conversation

  1. Carmie Brogan says:

    The pictures are great…..who wouldn’t want to see that!

  2. Johnny Vagabond says:

    Wow! Some great shots there. Nicely done 🙂

  3. Wow… their electricity bill must suck!

  4. monsiertofu says:

    Great photos!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Monsieur Tofu, so glad you are reading!

  5. Hehe, that first shot of the Cathedral is from inside the Monkey Hostel isn’t it? I stayed there to, what a great view!

  6. I came across your blog through other RTW traveler sites and I really like it. I’ll be continuing to check in. Also had to comment because I got married in Campeche on April 24, a day after your blogpost here. A friend of mine and I had traveled to Campeche 2 years ago and we fell in love while on our trip; we went back this year to get married. Glad you enjoyed it too–a magical city, isn’t it?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes it’s an amazing city and I’d love to return now that I speak Spanish!

  7. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ says:

    Tis quite lovely. Sometimes you just gotta check a place out besides what people tell you about it. Gotta see that for yourself.

  8. Federico says:

    It reminds me a lot of Popayan in Colombia. Super-clean night pictures!

  9. Great night pics Ayngelina!

  10. Gorgeous! These pictures remind me of a town I went to in Guatemala. I love the arcading on the buildings.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      People always say how beautiful Merida is but I think Campeche is so much nicer and there are fewer tourists.

      1. jocelyn demers says:

        yes I agree..Campeche is by far more cute and you have a sea!

  11. Sweet pics! I love night shots, and it does kinda look like Popayan, everything is white there.

  12. Beautiful pictures! Great job capturing just the right amount of light! I especially like all the church pics.

  13. Gorgeous. I love night shots. Dave and I have got to spend more time in Mexico. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      One of my favourite countries and such a short trip from Canada.

  14. Leisdy Cohuo H. says:

    I was doing some research for homework, I´m from campeche and I’m glad I found this blog and happy to read you enjoyed your visit here. I hope you came back or think on coming back you will always be welcome here ! xx

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thank you so much, so kind of you!

  15. Marc Lapierre says:

    We are booked to visit Campeche in the new year, 2023. It is our first time in the Yucatan area but not our first time in Mexico. We chose Campeche randomly but now that we’ve done more research we are wondering if we chose the wrong destination for a two month stay 🤷‍♂️ 😳
    We are not looking to go clubbing, but maybe an early evening cocktail and chat to new friends at a fun spot ….and of course not everynite! We love the morning, an early walk on the beach or along the malecón, outdoor café and people watch. Can someone please tell me we haven’t booked the wrong destination 🤔🫣😳
    Thanks, Markie

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Markie you may want to consider Merida instead. It doesn’t have a beach in the small city but there’s one nearby. There are lots of people out walking, fantastic coffee shops restaurants etc. It’s not a clubbing spot but safe to go out and meet people for a cocktail or two. It also has uber.

  16. Marc Lapierre says:

    Thanks very much for your response! It helps.
    Actually, The more research that I do I’m convinced now that Campeche is the right choice for this adventure. We will take an overnight trip to Merida because it also sounds enchanting but I’m getting the idea that it’s quite a bit larger as well. Have a wonderful weekend!

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