A Weekend in Campeche, Mexico
Calm and colourful are the two words I’d choose to describe the city of Campeche, Mexico. With a charming colonial town and the most beautifully coloured buildings, I’m glad we chose to make a stop here as part of our 99 Days in Mexico series. During our weekend in the city, we were among the relatively small number of international tourists so it would seem that many visiting the peninsula stick to the more popular states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo. Today we’re sharing photos of our weekend and a quick guide to Campeche to inspire your visit to the most colourful city in Mexico.
San Francisco de Campeche (or Campeche) is the capital city of the state with the same name. The iconic colourful facades of the buildings throughout the old town are likely the main draw for visitors and I can see why. Every building in the city is painted and no two neighbouring walls are the same colour. We saw lots of pastels, some vibrant colours and even our Airbnb in Campeche matched the colonial style of the old town. As of 1999, Campeche is also listed as a UNESCO world heritage site because of the well-preserved architecture. If colourful cities in Mexico are your thing, you might also enjoy nearby Valladolid, Izamal and Guanajuanto (not nearby but too colourful to leave out!).
Where we stayed in Campeche, Mexico
One downside of travelling on a whim is that we’re often left booking accommodations last minute. If early bird gets the worm, then Fel and Wes get the bottom of the barrel for trying to make same-day reservations. We completely lucked out in Campeche with a lovely Airbnb that had 3 days available on an almost-full calendar. We were greeted by our local hosts who made sure we had everything we needed and gave us great tips. As much as we enjoyed the comfy bed, local neighbourhood and company of 3 well-behaved family dogs, the pool won us over and saved us from the heat. Look up the forecast for Campeche, Mexico and you’ll likely see a week of highs over 30°C. For a couple of Canadians, that’s 10 degrees too many. After lunch, we would head back to the guest house, take a dip in the pool and then make our way into town for more sightseeing.
We’ve stayed at some great Airbnbs here in Mexico and we even have a discount code available to new users. You can get up to $40 off on your first qualifying stay with this link and we get a credit toward our next stay :) Our room in Campeche was about 15 minutes away from the town walls which may be a bit too far from the action for some but we enjoyed the walk. For more central accommodations in Campeche, look for a place in the old town, within the fortified walls and near the Parque Principal.
Where to Eat in Campeche, Mexico
Thanks to our host's recommendation, we made our way to La Pagoda for a traditional Mexican lunch. We like to keep our eyes peeled for the Cocina Economica and Comida Corrida signs here in Mexico. This is where you'll find a fixed menu with daily specials that include a drink, soup to start and sometimes even dessert for around $7 CAD (or less). You wouldn't expect to get much for the price but La Pagoda felt like anything but a budget restaurant. We were greeted by waiters in uniform and seated in a lovely restaurant setting. No plastic chairs here! Despite the hundreds of orders the restaurant takes over the phone for office lunches (they even have a call center), our food came quickly and the service was top-notch. The dishes were delicious and we'd definitely recommend it if you're looking for good local restaurants in Campeche, Mexico.
Campeche, Mexico City Tour
With a bit of hesitation at the $100 peso price tag, we boarded a trolley at the main square and ended up having a great tour of the city. The Campeche trolley tour is a good introduction to the city if you've got a few days to explore but I'd also recommend it if you're pressed for time and still want to see the colourful streets and surroundings. Because of timing, we opted for the Spanish tour and there was only one brief stop for anyone who wanted to take a look inside a nearby church or have an ice-cream break (told ya, it gets hot!). Tours are available in English as well and tickets are sold at the kiosk in the Parque Principal.
Things to do in Campeche, Mexico
We found Campeche to be pretty calm, especially if you're spending most of your time in the old town. The streets didn't seem as loud or crowded as in neighbouring Merida but there's still enough to fill a weekend. Fight the urge to spend all day taking Instagram photos in front of the colourful walls and have a go at some of these things to do in Campeche:
- Visit the two forts of Campeche to learn about the city's pirate-defending past: Fuerte San Miguel and Fuerte San Jose el Alto.
- Enjoy a dinner al fresco at one of the many restaurants along the main pedestrian street, Calle 59.
- Walk along the city's fortified walls like at Baluarte San Francisco.
- Take in the sunset from the malecon (boardwalk).
- Stop for a selfie by the iconic Campeche city sign.
- Take a trolley tour around the city.
- Try local Campechan specialties like panuchos (tortilla-based street food), camarones al coco (coconut shrimp) and chicozapote (a local fruit dessert).
- Experience the atmosphere at the town square where locals (and pigeons) gather every day.