You want to visit the Yucatan peninsula without too much tourist fuzz? Campeche might be a place for you. The city centre with its medieval walls is a beauty, the seaside location pretty. And it’s far away from Cancun international airport. Yes, you have to make a bit of an effort to get here.
It can get awfully hot here. So take a taxi to the old fortress (Fuerte de San Miguel) overlooking the city, 4 kilometres outside the centre. You can walk as well of course, but at your own risk. A perfect compromise is to return by foot. If you stick close to the promenade, it’s even a rather pleasant walk.
Most of the decent restaurants can be found in Calle 59, where they spill onto the streets. For lunch Fresh N Green is highly recommendable. Their neighbors Chocolateria de la Mora at the corner also serve decent coffee and cakes.
Now it’s time to venture around the cobblestone streets. Outside the eastern perimeter is a nice botanical garden called Xmuch’haltun. At the seaside there is a sculpture of a mermaid.
Return to the Plaza de la Independencia to have a look at the cathedral. You can then choose from two museums (or do both): the Centro Cultural Casa Numero 6 (an old mansion decorated in traditional style) and the Museo de la Arquitectura Maya. And if you have some time left, the Galeria y Museo de Arte Popular has some good contemporary art.
After sunset Campeche finally cools down. A bit. The Parroquia in Calle 55 is a local institution for food. But you can of course return again to Calle 59. The Luz de Luna has imaginative dishes at a very decent price. At the corner with Calle 12 is a good Italian restaurant called Scattola.
If your Spanish is good enough, a visit to the theatre (Teatro de la Ciudad, in Calle 12) would top off the Campeche experience. Alternatively, around the central square you can find several places for a goodnight cocktail, including the Casa Vieja on the south side.
Good to know
- you can visit the Uxmal ruins from Valladolid as well. Check travel agencies for tours. It’s more common to do it from Merida, but the distance is similar
- there are more Mayan ruins. Edzna is relatively close. Calakmul is much bigger, but also further away
- transport: there is a small airport with direct flights from amongst others Mexico City. Most people will come by bus though, ADO is the biggest company here and has buses to Cancun and Cancun airport, most with stops in Valladolid and Merida. The ADO terminal is a 30 minute walk outside the walled city centre
- more pictures of Campeche can be found here