Visit Campeche: Top 20 Things To Do and Must-See Attractions


Things to do in Campeche: The 20 Best Places to Visit

“You’ll see, in one day you will have done everything there is to do in the city of Campeche”.

That’s what someone told me when I left Merida to visit San Francisco de Campeche, a city that doesn’t get much attention and that is the capital of the state of Campeche, next to the state of Yucatan.

But I fell in love with Campeche and stayed there for fifteen days, enjoying the calm and beauty of its old walled city that was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. I want to show you that it deserves more than just a day trip!

Here is my ultimate guide to Campeche, with all the places you can’t miss and the best activities to do, my recommendations for restaurants, hotels for every budget, and of course, my tips to make the most of your stay.

So, what are the best things to do in Campeche? Where to stay?

Campeche: All Must-See Attractions

1. Exploring the city walls

Campeche has a rich and fascinating history. It was once a Mayan city called “Ah Kin Pech”, but the Spaniards destroyed it and turned it into the most important port in Yucatan.

Because of its strategic location, it was often attacked by pirates. To protect it, they built a wall around the city.

Today, you can walk along the wall and see the contrast between the old and the new. The best place to start is Baluarte San Francisco.

There is a small museum there that tells you about the piracy history and shows you some artifacts. But the main attraction is the access to the walls. You can walk from Baluarte San Francisco to Baluarte San Juan and admire the beautiful and colorful city from above.

It’s a great way to see Campeche from a different perspective!

  • Visit to the Baluarte de San Francisco: entrance fee 40 pesos, Monday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm
fortificaciones campeche
fortifications campeche
baluarte san francisco campeche
baluarte san francisco campeche
baluarte campeche
baluarte campeche
The sight of the colonial city of Campeche as seen from the walls

2. The city museum

If you want to learn more about the history and culture of Campeche, you should visit the Museo de la Ciudad. It is located in the Baluarte de San Carlos, which was the first part of the wall to be built.

The museum displays how the city looked like in colonial times, with models, paintings, and artifacts. Don’t miss the chance to see the old prison downstairs and the wall upstairs, although they are not very long.

  • Visit the city museum: Tuesday to Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm. Corner of Calle 63 and Calle 8, Campeche.
baluarte san carlos campeche
baluarte san carlos campeche

3. The Museum of Mayan Architecture

The Museo de la Arquitectura Maya is a great place to see the diversity and beauty of the Maya architectural styles. It is located in the Baluarte de la Soledad, which is part of the wall that surrounds the city.

The museum showcases artifacts (stelae, columns, sculptures, etc.) from many important sites such as Calakmul and Edzna. You can learn about the different styles that the Maya developed over time, such as North Petén, Río Bec, Chenes and Puuc.

  • Visit the Museum of Mayan Architecture: entrance fee 90 pesos, Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm
museo arquitectura maya campeche
museo arquitectura maya campeche

4. Independence Square

You can’t miss it because it is the heart of the city! This is where the locals come to sit on the benches and chat.

Here are some things to see and do in the main plaza of Campeche:

  • Visit the cathedral
  • Explore the El Palacio cultural center
  • Check out the Casa no. 6
  • Have a coffee at the kiosk in the center of town
  • Enjoy the live music on weekend nights
  • Watch the projection “Celebremos Campeche” from Tuesday to Sunday at 8 p.m. on the façade of El Palacio
  • Take the tourist streetcar that offers a 45 minute to 1 hour ride through the main attractions and neighborhoods of Campeche
plaza independencia campeche
plaza independencia campeche

5. The Cathedral

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Campeche is a beautiful building that combines baroque and neoclassical styles. It was built between 1540 and 1760, and it is the oldest cathedral in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Its interior is simple, but elegant. I really liked its inner courtyard, where you can see some paintings and sculptures. It is worth a visit.

catedral campeche mexico
catedral campeche mexico

6. El Palacio Cultural Center

The El Palacio Cultural Center is a museum that you might not notice at first glance. It is right across from the main square, but it blends in with the other buildings.

The museum shows you different aspects of the city of Campeche through four thematic rooms and about 200 objects. You can see projections and models that show how the city changed over time.

My favorite part is the ship simulator: a very fun activity, where you get to be a sailor on a ship from Campeche to Spain. You have to face different challenges like storms and pirate attacks. It’s a great way to learn about the maritime history of Campeche and have some fun. Kids will love it.

  • Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m
centro cultural el palacio campeche
centro cultural el palacio campeche

7. Cultural Center Casa no. 6

This is a typical house of a wealthy family from the colonial period and you will see the inside as it was in the 19th century with the bedroom, the living room, the study, and its inner courtyard with Moorish arches decorated with beautiful stained glass windows.

  • Visit Casa no. 6: entrance fee 20 pesos, from 9 am to 4 pm. I recommend the guided tour (free, optional) to learn more about the place.
casa no 6 campeche
casa no 6 campeche

8. Strolling through the streets

The old city of Campeche is full of colorful facades that preserve the hues of the past, green, yellow, pink…

It also maintains its very orderly colonial layout, so you won’t get lost.

Here are some highlights that you should not miss:

  • Iglesia del dulce nombre de Jesús: this church is a typical example of Mexican architecture, with its small bell towers and yellow facade❤️. On the corner of 55th and 12th streets.
  • Iglesia San José: it is easy to recognize with its beautiful tile-covered facade. it is a place where artisans come to sell their work. You can visit it from 10 am to 8 pm. On the corner of 10th and 63rd streets.
  • San Roque or San Francisquito Church: this church was built in the 17th century, it is one of the most beautiful churches in Campeche. It has a simple façade, but the interior is impressive with 5 stunning baroque altarpieces. Open daily from 8 am to 7 pm. Corner of Calle 12 and Calle 59.
  • La Mansión Carvajal: this building was constructed in the early 18th century, with a magnificent architecture of Arab influence. You can only enter the lobby to take pictures, as it is now an office building. It is on 10th Street between 51 and 53.
  • Casa San Pablo: this is a cultural center that offers several temporary exhibits throughout the year, featuring artists from Campeche. It is small, but afree to enter, so why not check it out. Calle 59, between 14th and 16th streets.
  • Calle 59: this is the pedestrian street that connects Puerta de Tierra and Puerta de Mar. It is lined with restaurants, bars and cafés.
  • Baluarte Santiago: here you will find the Xmuch-Haltún Botanical Garden. might be a bit exaggerated, as it is very small (you will walk for 5 min), but if you are looking for a place to sit in the shade, surrounded by plants and trees, why not! Admission 15 pesos, Monday to Friday from 8am to 9pm, Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 9pm.
campeche yucatán
campeche yucatán
fachada de campeche
campeche facade
casa colonial campeche
casa colonial campeche
iglesia campeche
iglesia campeche
casa san pablo campeche
casa san pablo campeche
jardín botánico campeche
botanical garden campeche

9. Cuauhtémoc Building

This place is a wonderful discovery in Campeche! Maybe it’s not so secret, but I came across it by accident and couldn’t find much information about it.

It’s a beautiful building (from the mid-18th to 19th century) on the corner of the Plaza de la Independencia. When you walk in, you see a spacious courtyard with a cafe, which is a cozy spot to unwind, but I highly recommend going up to the 2nd floor.

There you’ll find some offices, and also – I believe – a tiny hotel with no staff. Anyway, no one seemed to care that I was there, so I got to explore the building a bit.

edificio cuauhtémoc campeche
edificio cuauhtémoc campeche
cuauhtemoc campeche
cuauhtemoc campeche
cafe edificio cuauhtemoc campeche
cafe edificio cuauhtemoc campeche

10. The Malecon

It is a 2 miles walkway along the Gulf of Mexico that offers the perfect place for walking, biking or jogging with its separate lanes.

But more importantly, it is the best place to watch the sunset.

malecón campeche
malecón campeche

11. Fuerte San Miguel

San Miguel Fort is a fortification built at the end of the 18th century on the Buena Vista hill to protect the city from a possible invasion by England (which never happened).

Today it houses the Museum of Mayan Culture, which displays amazing artifacts such as the Calakmul jade mask.

What to see around Campeche

Besides its historic center, there are many amazing places to see around Campeche. Keep in mind that some sites are nearby and others are several hours away: plan your itinerary wisely!

12. Edzná

Founded in 600 BC, Edzná was a powerful capital and the most important Maya city in eastern Yucatán.

The site is much smaller than Chichén Itzá, Calakmul or Uxmal, but it was still one of my favorite archaeological sites in Mexico.

In fact, since the buildings are only partially restored and it is not very popular with tourists, I found it very intriguing to explore!

Also, its main pyramid is fascinating with its vaulted rooms, a rare Mayan architectural style.

edzna Temple of Five Stories
Main temple of Edzna

13. Hacienda Uayamon

Hacienda Uayamon was built in the 17th century, near Edzná.

It became one of the most important haciendas in the state of Campeche thanks to the variety of its products (cattle, sugar cane, corn, “palo de tinte” a wood used as dye, and henequen).

Today it is a wonderful luxury hotel, but if you don’t want to stay at Hacienda Uayamón, you can also visit the well-preserved facilities and imagine life in colonial times. It is worth a visit.

hacienda uayamon
La Hacienda Uayamon. Photo from the website.

14. The Rio Bec Route

This is an important archaeological route in Mexico of 167 miles connecting Escárcega and Chetumal in Quintana Roo, where you can find many Mayan sites that are not very well-known to tourists, such as:

Becan: it is a must-see on the Rio Bec road, with many secret passages inside Structure VIII that were probably used for religious ceremonies. It’s fun to explore them! Also, the site is surrounded by one of the oldest defensive systems in Mesoamerica. Admission 75 pesos, free for children under 13 years old

Xpujil: the highlight of the site is its great temple with 50 ft high towers, inside the Calakmul reserve. Staying in Xpujil (click here to check out the hotels!) is the best option to explore the surroundings.

Chicanná: it means the “House of the snake’s mouth” in Maya. This site is characterized by the richness of detail of its structures, which makes it, according to some researchers, a place reserved for the elite. There are seven structures, including Structure II, which is richly decorated with a huge mask of Itzamná, the creator god. Admission 70 pesos, Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm

Balamkú (or Balan Ku): “temple of the jaguar” in Maya, is a small site famous for its large frieze 17 m long and 2.5 m high, representing the order of the universe. Unforgettable. Admission 70 pesos, open from 8 am to 5 pm

Hormiguero: its main attraction is Structure II, with a magnificent carved mask on the façade representing a jaguar with its jaw open, surrounded by two warriors. The site is quite small, but impressive and free. Also, the caretaker is happy to chat with visitors about the site. Open from 9 am to 5 pm every day

Visit to the Rio Bec Route
As there are no local buses, it is best to rent a car.

The most convenient is probably to stay in Xpujil, where there are some interesting accommodation options.

15. Calakmul

Calakmul is one of my favorite places in Mexico.

It’s a bit of a challenge to get there, but it’s totally worth it: it’s located in the biosphere reserve that shares its name, on the border with Guatemala, and it takes 5 hours to drive there from Campeche.

Calakmul was one of the biggest and most influential cities of the Maya civilization, along with Tikal and Palenque. It’s now a UNESCO protected site and an amazing destination for anyone who loves archaeology and history.

The site is very well preserved, there are hardly any tourists, and the numerous structures are hidden in the forest, making you feel like a real adventurer.

Also, unlike other archaeological sites that are now very restricted, you can climb to the top of the pyramids of Calakmul. Structures 1 and 2 are the highlights of Calakmul and the most impressive ones.

Structure II is one of the tallest pyramids in the Maya world, at 160 ft m high.😍

Ancient Maya City of Calakmul

16. Santa Rosa Xtampac

There are more than 30 “Chenes” sites, an architectural style similar to the Bec River. One of the most important is Santa Rosa Xtampac, which means “old walls” in Maya. It was the regional capital for 850 years.

There are several elements that are quite unusual for the area, such as altars, stelae with important events and dates carved on them, and pyramid-shaped buildings connected by a road.

  • Visit Santa Rosa Xtampac: open from 8 am to 5 pm from Monday to Saturday, entrance fee 75 pesos
santa rosa xtampac
Santa Rosa Xtampac. Photo INAH

17. Becal

This is a Mayan community located 2 hours from Campeche (on the way to Merida in Yucatan) where most of the people make a living from their handicrafts.

The big star is the “Jipi” hat, woven with the fiber of the jipijapa palm tree, imported from Guatemala.

These hats are exported all over Mexico and internationally: today, Becal produces 68% of the Panama hats sold in the world!

becal campeche
becal campeche

18. Isla Aguada

This is a small fishing village located between the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna de Términos, a protected area. There are pristine beaches, perfect for relaxing in the sun and the sea.

But people also come to see the dolphins with a boat tour (usually 2h). The tour also takes you to El Arenal, a small island where you can find various sea birds such as pelicans, herons, etc. In fact, there are no less than 279 species of birds in the reserve!

You can try some delicious seafood dishes, such as ceviche, shrimp cocktail, or fish soup. You can also visit the local market, where you can buy some souvenirs, such as hats, hammocks, or pottery.

  • Visit Isla Aguada: it is located 2h from Campeche. Don’t forget your sunglasses and sun protection.
isla aguada campeche
Isla Aguada Campeche

19. Caves of Xtacumbilxunaán

Caves have been very important for the Maya, either as places of ceremony or as sources of natural water. One of the most impressive ones to visit in Campeche is Xtacumbilxunaán.

It’s actually a group of caves that is one of the most important in the Yucatan Peninsula!

You have to go through the entrance, which is about 65 ft high, and up a stairway for about 1150 ft. Inside you will find a fascinating world: temples, ceremonial centers, ponds, stalactites, stalagmites and Mayan remains.

You can explore the site on three levels in about an hour and a half. If you want to go deeper, you can visit other parts of the cave with a guide and even rappel or climb.

  • Visit Xtacumbilxunaán: It is located on the border between Campeche and Yucatán, just under two hours from the city of Campeche. The best way to get there is to rent a car or take a tour from Campeche, as there is no public transportation there.

20. Ich Ha Lol Xaan Ecotourism Center

Ich Ha Lol Xaan is an ecotourism center managed by the community of Hampolol, only 15 miles from the city of Campeche. Their goal is to promote sustainable tourism and environmental protection.

You can enjoy various activities here, such as observing local species (turtles, fish, iguanas, raccoons), swimming in a cenote, kayaking in its clear river, exploring the jungle by walking along its suspension bridge or experiencing the thrill of rappelling and zip-lining.

ich ha lol xaan
ich ha lol xaan

How much time do you need to visit Campeche?

You can visit the attractions of Campeche’s historic center in one day, but there are also many places to discover in the area.

Here are my suggested itineraries in Campeche to see the most in 1, 2 or 3 days:

What to do in Campeche in 1 day

The advantage is that the center is easy to visit on foot, as it is relatively small, but you need to pace yourself if you want to see the most in one day in Campeche.

  • In the morning, head to Baluarte San Francisco to tour the city walls
  • Continue to Baluarte San Carlos to visit the city museum
  • Visit the Museum of Mayan Architecture
  • Discover the attractions of the main square: the cathedral, the cultural center El Palacio and the Casa no6
  • In the afternoon, after lunch, discover the archaeological site of Edzná

Day Trip
It’s also easy to visit Campeche from Merida in 1 day!

Visit Campeche in 2 days

In two days in Campeche, follow the same programme on the first day.

For the second day, you have several options, but I highly recommend going to Calakmul: not only is it a site of great historical importance, but it is simply mind-blowing.

You will have to spend a full day, leaving very early in the morning (5-6am) and returning in the evening (8-9pm).

Visiting Campeche in 3 days

In three days in Campeche, you will have time to see a good part of the region.

After Calakmul, which will be a very busy day, you are sure to be a bit tired (but I insist: it’s worth it!).

To the above itinerary, add this program for the third day:

  • Go to Ich Ha Lool Xaan for swimming, relaxing and walking around the place
  • In the afternoon, back in Campeche, you can take the opportunity to walk through its colorful streets and take pictures, without forgetting the Cuauhtémoc building
  • Finish your walk on the Malecon to watch the sunset

If you are more motivated and looking for a more active visit, you can also go to Isla Aguada, the Xtacumbilxunaán caves or Santa Rosa Xtampak.

Where to stay in Campeche

In fifteen days, I had the opportunity to try different accommodations in the area. Here are my 3 favorite hotels in Campeche for different budgets, offering excellent value for money:

  • Melisa Hostal: very well located hostel in a beautiful typical house in the center of Campeche, friendly staff, with a small pool, access to a kitchen, and very clean and comfortable mattresses. Bed in shared room, from only 20 $usd per night
  • Casa Serena Beautiful Colonial Loft: a spacious apartment in the center of Campeche that offers excellent value for money. With air conditioning, a living room, kitchen, terrace, good wifi with breakfast included. Sleeps 2 to 4 people, starting at 125 $usd per night
  • Boutique Hotel Casa Don Gustavo: an elegant 18th century manor house completely restored on a pedestrian street in downtown Campeche. A beautiful blend of modernity and colonial decor, with comfortable air-conditioned rooms. Wifi, outdoor pool, jacuzzi and a very tasty à la carte breakfast await guests. Starting at 65 $usd!

Where to eat in Campeche

  • For breakfast: good wifi and power outlets, and a very nice colonial setting, Luan (corner of Calle 14 and 59) and Sotavento (corner of Calle 55 and 14) are my two favorite places in Campeche for a delicious breakfast and a chance to work on my laptop.
restaurante luan campeche
Restaurante Luan in Campeche
sotavento campeche
sotavento campeche
  • Chocol’Ha: if you are a chocolate lover, you can’t miss this place! The space is very cozy, with its little tables and its typical Mexican atmosphere, and you can find many options of chocolate, dark, milk or with chili, cake, tamales, pancakes, etc.

But, above all, take the opportunity to try one of the many Mexican chocolates in the store– I made some very good discoveries there! It’s on corner of 59th and 14th Street. Facebook page

chocol ha campeche
chocol ha campeche
  • For a treat $$$: there are two places that are worth visiting in Campeche for a gourmet experience.

La Parrilla Colonial (Calle 59, between 10 and 8) is a very elegant place, with a refined decor, and a superb service, ideal if you go with your partner.

They have several traditional Mexican dishes, I tried the arrachera de Monterrey (245 pesos), a high quality meat, very tender and juicy.

If you are a fan of seafood and fish, you should visit La Pigua (Av. Miguel Alemán #179-A).

It is definitely less touristy, and you will meet the more wealthy Campechanos. I enjoyed the octopus with garlic (230 pesos), topped with thin slices of crunchy garlic. Their margarita is also delicious!

parrilla colonial campeche
parrilla colonial campeche
la pigua campeche
la pigua campeche

Tourist map of Campeche

To make your visit to Campeche easier and more enjoyable, I have created a map for you. It shows you all the must-see attractions, restaurants and cafes in the city.

You can use it to plan your itinerary and find the best places to go. 😊

How to get to Campeche

By bus (ADO):

  • From Merida: the trip takes 2h30, departure every hour
  • From Cancun: the trip takes 6h30, 4 departures a day
  • From Mexico City: the trip takes 17 hours

By plane:

The international airport “Alberto Acuña Ongay” is only 10 minutes way from the city center. You can find flights to and from Mexico City (1h50) with Aeromexico, Interjet and Vivaaerobus.

To find a cheap flight to Campeche, as well as your international flight to Mexico, I recommend you to use our flight comparator in collaboration with Skyscanner. It’s the best way to get the lowest price!

Rent a car in Mexico

Renting a car is for sure the best way to explore Campeche and make the most of your stay!

To rent a car, personally, I always use, for a few reasons:

  • You can easily compare the rental cars prices between all the agencies: for sure the easiest way to find the best rate!
  • Cancellation is often offered free of charge: no need to worry if you change your mind
  • Rentalcars offers full insurance coverage at a lower price than the rental companies, so it’s an instant saving with no effort

Simply click on the green button to find your rental car at the best price:

Book your trip now and save money!

You’re traveling in Mexico? These articles will help you!

Discover all my articles about Mexico: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Mexico are listed there.

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visit Campeche Mexico
visit Campeche Mexico

I have created this blog to give you all my best tips to plan your next trip to Mexico, regardless of your budget. I share detailed itineraries, advice about places to visit as well as recommendations for transportation, hotels and restaurants. I hope I will also help you to discover amazing off the beaten path destinations in Mexico!

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