things to do in campeche

Best Things to Do in Campeche Mexico in 2022


Looking for Campeche things to do?

From Mayan Ruins in Campeche, to Campeches beaches, pueblos magicos, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Campeche City, this off the beaten path Mexico State in the Yucatan Peninsula offers a lot for visitors. The one thing it doesn’t have — huge crowds!

The closest Mexico travel destination city to Campeche is Merida, but you can also fly to Campeche International Airport, drive to Campeche or take a bus; you’ll find information for all three options in this article.

As a medium sized state, with great beaches on the coast, and amazing Mayan Pyramids further inland, a rental car is perfect to explore all of Campeche State. If you just want to see colorful Campeche City, the state’s capital, visit this Merida to Campeche travel guide for tips.

Ready to discover all the amazing things to do in Campeche, Mexico!? Let’s get to it!

things to do in campeche mexico

Where is Campeche, Mexico?

Campeche City, Mexico, is the capital of Campeche State — one of three states making up the Yucatan Peninsula. As you can see on the Campeche map below, It is located in the southeast part of the country, right on the Gulf of Mexico.

campeche mexico map

How to Get to Campeche: Flights, Driving & Buses

🚙 Drive to Campeche

Many visit Campeche Mexico on a Yucatan Peninsula road trip to all three states, Yucatan State, Quintana Roo State and Campeche State. If you plan on renting a car in Mexico, this is the best way to get to Campeche.

  • Merida to Campeche Distance: 114 miles (184 km) | Drive Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Valladolid to Campeche Distance: 211 miles (340 km) | Drive Time: 4 hours
  • Cancun to Campeche Distance: 300 miles (483 km) | Drive Time: 5.5 hours
  • Tulum to Campeche Distance: 273 miles (439 km) | Drive Time: 5 hours
  • Playa del Carmen to Campeche Distance: 291 miles (468 km) | Drive Time: 5.5 hours

✈️ Flights to Campeche

There is the small, regional Campeche International Airport (code: CPE). Since there are no direct flights from the U.S., you’d have to take a connecting flight through Mexico City Airport (code: MEX), which is why I say Campeche is best accessed via rental car.

🚌 ADO Bus to Campeche

You can get pretty much anywhere in Mexico via bus. ADO is Mexico’s largest bus company, with a fleet off luxury-class buses. You can check their schedule and book your tickets via BusBud, as the ADO website won’t take United States or non-Mexican credit cards.

Travel Everywhere For Less at busbud.com!

things to do in campeche mexico

Best Places in Visit in Campeche, Mexico

Wondering what to do in Campeche? There are essentially three things people visit for: Mayan Ruins, the beaches in Campeche and the Walled City of San Francisco de Campeche (AKA Campeche City). 🏴‍☠️ In case you were wondering, they built the wall to keep pirates out!

You can jump ahead to the Campeche travel info you’re seeking with these links:

historic fort | things to do in campeche mexico
things to do in campeche mexico

10 Best Things to Do in Campeche City Mexico

For your convenience, use the Campeche City map below to find all the things to see in Campeche City mentioned in this article. The Campeche Mexico map will ensure so you don’t miss out on any of the best Campeche things to do in the historic downtown area.

🤔 Just so there’s no confusion, both the city and state are named Campeche — and Campeche City is the capital of Campeche State. Campeche City’s technical name is San Francisco de Campeche, though most people just say Campeche when referring to Campeche City.

Campeche Map


things to do in campeche mexico

1. Visit the San Miguel Fort & Museum

historic yellow fort | things to do in campeche mexico
Fuerte San Miguel, a historic fort in the old city of Campeche.

Campeche City is one of the 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mexico. It received this prestigious designation because of the city walls surrounding Downtown Campeche.

Located right on the Gulf of Mexico, Campeche was vulnerable to pirate attacks in centuries past. Nowadays, as pirates pose less of a threat, you can take a leisurely walk along the rampart walls atop the Fuerte de San Miguel (Saint Michael’s Fort).

historic cannons on top of a fort facing the sea | things to do in campeche mexico
A cannon at San Miguel Fort pointed at the Gulf of Mexico.

From this vantage point, you’ll see some amazing city views. On the opposite side of the fort, you’ll see the old cannons pointed directly at and the Gulf of Mexico, so you get some beautiful views of the Gulf.

It costs about $25 pesos ($1USD) to walk on the ramparts, but it’s money well-spent. You can pay for your entrance at the Campeche Archaeological Museum, a small museum located at the fort, also worth checking out.


things to do in campeche mexico

2. Enjoy the San Jose Fort & Museum

yellow fort | things to do in campeche mexico
The Fuerte de San José el Alto, located about 10 minutes by car from Downtown Campeche.

The second Campeche fort is the bright yellow Fuerte de San Jose el Alto (Saint Jose’s High Fort). In this case, the “high” in the name means this fort is at a higher elevation than the other Campeche forts.

This one is located outside of Downtown Campeche, so you’ll to take a cab there. Though a little on the outskirts, this fort is definitely the prettier of the two. It actually makes for a gorgeous photography spot if you’re in search of the most Instagram worthy places in Campeche.

While you’re at the fort, don’t miss the Museo de Arqueología Subacuatica (Underwater Archeology Museum). This museum has quite a few interesting artifacts recovered from sunken ships, including swords and other weapons.


things to do in campeche mexico

3. Dine at Campeche Street Cafes

colorful street | things to do in campeche mexico
Colorful Calle 59 in Downtown Campeche; by about 11am, restaurants will put tables in the street so you can eat outdoors.

Besides its forts, Campeche is known as one of the most colorful cities in Mexico. The homes, churches, cafes and shops in Downtown Campeche are painted every color of the rainbow!

At about just 25-30 square blocks, you’ll want to some time just leisurely strolling and photographing downtown to see all the gorgeous streets. Among the best streets in Campeche is Calle 59 (59th Street), with its colorful buildings and outdoor dining options.

Best Restaurants in Campeche City

Campeche Cafes & Outdoor Dining

When you get hungry, grab a snack at Altagracia Cafe or Chocol’Ha Cafe. If you want a full meal, opt for one of the al fresco tables along Calle 59; La Recova Cincuenta y Nueve and La Choperia are popular choices. 

Authentic Campeche Restaurants

Looking for an authentic taste of Campeche foods? Head to El Bastión de Campeche, located in Independence Square (Zocalo), or Marganzo Restaurante for authentic Campechano cuisine.

Some local Campeche food delicacies include pan de cazon (fish and tortilla casserole), camarones al coco (coconut shrimp), pampano en verde (pompano/jack fish in green salsa) and brazo de la reina (tamale with egg and veggies). 

Sunset Dinner in Campeche

If you’re staying for sunset, La Palapa del Tio Fito and Restaurante Malecón Campeche offer beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico while you dine. If you’re staying the night, check out these best hotels in Campeche City.


things to do in campeche mexico

4. Admire Campeche’s Historic Mansions

historic hacienda with orange walls | things to do in campeche mexico
The Mansion Carvajal in Downtown Campeche, Mexico.

Looking for some Campeche history? Head to the Mansion Carvajal and Centro Cultural Casa No. 6, two of the city’s historic mansions, to get a glimpse of the Campeche from centuries-past.

Centro Cultural Casa No. 6

Before the Mexican Revolution, the Cultural Casa No. 6 mansion was occupied by a wealthy Campeche family. Go back in time in this well-preserved home, to get an idea of how the city’s high society lived back in the day.

Mansión Carvajal

Once the home of wealthy landowner, Fernando Carvajal, the Mansion Carvajal now houses Campeche government offices. Take a quick walk inside to see the black and while checkered tile floors, elaborate archways and columns, and vintage wrought iron staircase.


things to do in campeche mexico

5. Visit the Campeche Botanical Garden

botanical garden | things to do in campeche mexico
Xmuch’haltún Campeche Botanical Garden in Campeche City.

Not a large botanical garden, but a very nice one. The word xmuch’haltun means “water that springs from the Earth” in Mayan, referencing the garden’s central fountain that waters the garden’s plants through an irrigation system.

If you’re just walking through, it’s only about a 5-10 minute walk. However, if you take the time to read the signs, you’ll see that the garden contains a large variety of unique and indigenous tropical plants.

For those into plants, many species in Xmuch’haltún are used in traditional Mayan herbal medicine, and also to make thatched roofs and homes and as fabric dyes, among other things.


things to do in campeche mexico

6. Stroll the Campeche Malecon (Walkway)

waterfront walkway | things to do in campeche mexico
The Campeche Malecon (Walkway) on the Gulf of Mexico.

The Malecon (walkway) is located all along the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a nice place to stroll after eating, but is also the ideal place to watch the sunset. If you’re staying for sunset, La Palapa del Tio Fito and Restaurante Malecón Campeche offer beautiful dinner views.

There are a few parks, sculptures and monuments along the Malecon that are of interest, namely the Campeche sign, Ángel Maya (Mayan Angel) and Novia del Mar (Ocean’s Girlfriend) sculpture, though there are several others along the Malecon.

The Campeche sign, like the name implies, consists of large, colorful letters spelling out the town’s name. These signs are common in notable cities throughout Mexico, including an identical sign in Merida’s Plaza Grande.


things to do in campeche mexico

7. Take the Campeche Tram Tours

The Campeche tranvia (tram) that you’ll take on the City Tram Campeche Tour. You can buy your tickets right by where they are parked in the Zocalo (Town Square).

After eating, hop on the tranvia (tram) tour to see even more of Campeche City. The bright red and green colored trams are parked at, and depart from, Independence Square. This is what’s known as the Zocalo, or main square, in Downtown Campeche City.

Campeche Tour Tickets

Campeche Tram tickets cost $100 pesos ($5USD) each, and you can buy them at the ticket kiosk in Independence Square (Zocalo). The tours have bilingual Spanish and English commentary.

There are two routes offered, though taking both tours is a great way to get to all the best things to see in Campeche. 

  • Tranvia de la Ciudad (City Tram Tour), which takes you by all of the notable sites in downtown.
  • El Guapismo (The Handsome Tour), which goes along the Gulf of Mexico and takes you by the picturesque, yellow Fuerte de San Jose.

things to do in campeche mexico

8. Photograph Campeche’s Colonial Churches

colonial church | things to do in campeche mexico
The Campeche cathedral, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, located in Independence Square.

Much like all of Mexico’s cities and towns, Campeche has quite a few beautiful, Colonial churches. Located in Independence Square (Zocalo), don’t miss Campeche’s main church, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.

Some of the other notable churches include the Ex-Templo de San Jose, Iglesia de el Dulce Nombre de Jesus and Iglesia San Roman.

💒 Tips for visiting Mexico churches

It’s ok to take photos inside the churches, as long as there’s no service going on, and you’re respectful and quiet. If you’re wearing a hat, remove it before entering, and if you have a sweater or scarf, use it to cover your shoulders before entering.


things to do in campeche mexico

9. Walk the Baluartes & Ramparts

stone fort | things to do in campeche mexico
One of Campeche City’s seven baluartes (bastions, or bulwarks). Walk the Avenida Circuito Baluartes Prominente (Avenida 16 de Septiembre) to see all seven of them.

Seven of Campeche’s original eight baluartes (bastions/bulwarks) are still standing. You can do a mini-walking tour along Avenida Circuito Baluartes Prominente (Avenida 16 de Septiembre) to see each of them along the old city walls.

These structures, used as defensive walls, now house different museums, attractions and other things. If you had to pick just one, consider the Baluarte de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, where you’ll find the Museo de Arquitectura Maya (Museum of Mayan Architecture).

The others include: Baluarte de Santiago, Baluarte de San Pedro, Baluarte de San Carlos, Baluarte de San Francisco, Baluarte de San Juan and Baluarte de Santa Rosa.


things to do in campeche mexico

10. Learn Some History at the Cultural Museum

yellow and white colonial building | things to do in campeche mexico
The Palacio Centro Cultural is the best museum in Campeche, Mexico.

Located inside a beautiful Colonial building in Independence Square, the Palacio Centro Cultural (Central Cultural Palace) museum has several rooms with various historical exhibits.

In the Sala de Fortificaciones (Fortifications Room), you’ll learn about the need for all of Campeches forts and baluartes, used as defensive structures against pirate attacks.

The Sala de Comercio (Commercial Room) depicts how prominent Campechano families acquired their riches through palo de Campeche, a natural textile dye, and sisal, the Yucatan Peninsula plant used to make rope twine.

There are also other rooms and rotating exhibits that all explain why Campeche is such an important city, worthy of the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.


things to do in campeche mexico

Best Campeche Hotels

The Hacienda Puerta Campeche Resort is the best hotel in Campeche City, Mexico! (Photo: Expedia)

Planning to spend the night in Campeche City? There are plenty of great Yucatan Haciendas and hotels in Campeche, all located in or right around downtown.

Check out the list of best hotels in Campeche below — all located right in walkable Downtown Campeche. As there’s not much to see outside of downtown, and Campeche is relatively inexpensive, don’t expand your hotel search too far from the City Center.

colorful colonial city at dusk | things to do in campeche mexico
Rent a hotel in Campeche to enjoy the nighttime activities.

Campeche Video Mapping at Night

Campeche is also very pretty by night, when many buildings in downtown are lit up with colorful lights. Don’t miss the the Celebremos Campeche (Celebrate Campeche) video mapping light and music show on the side of the Palacio Centro Cultural, as seen in this video.

The free show takes place Tuesdays to Sundays, from 8pm to 8:30pm, and is free. Consider bringing something to sit on, as there’s only ground seating for the show.

Sunset dinner at the best restaurants in campeche

If you’re staying the night, enjoy a sunset dinner overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at one of the best Campeche restaurants! La Palapa del Tio Fito and Restaurante Malecon Campeche offer beautiful Gulf views, with excellent options for traditional Yucatan food and fresh seafood.


things to do in campeche mexico

Best Mayan Ruins in Campeche

Calakmul Mayan Ruins

woman sitting on top of Calakmul mayan ruins in Yucatan jungle | things to do in campeche mexico
mayan ruins in the jungle of yucatan peninsula | things to do in campeche mexico
  • Calakmul Hours: Open daily, 8am-5pm
  • Calakmul Admission: $55 pesos ($3USD)

Calakmul Mayan Ruins (pronounced cah-lack-mool) is among the best off the beaten path Mexico Mayan Ruins, and worth a visit, though it’s not easy to get to. It is about five hours by rental car from the closest major city, Campeche City, deep in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve.

While lengthy, the trip is worth it for lovers of Mayan Ruins and history. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Calakmul Ruins have two very large pyramids; one which you can climb! The largest one, Structure 2, is about 150-feet-tall (45 m) — the tallest Mayan pyramid ever discovered.

Structure 1 is the Calakmul pyramid you can climb. It’s slightly smaller than Structure 2, but offers incredible views of the surrounding jungle from the top. From there, you’ll see the entire Yucatan jungle canopy, with sweeping vistas you could never have imagined from the ground.


Edzna Mayan Ruins

tall mayan ruins pyramid of Edzna | things to do in campeche mexico
  • Edzna Hours: Open daily, 8am-5pm
  • Edzna Admission: $55 pesos ($3USD)

Of all the ruins in Campeche State, Edzna is one of the most beautiful! The central structure at Edzna, called the Grand Acropolis, has five levels and towers at 131-feet-tall (40 m). Though you can’t climb it, you can climb other Edzna pyramids, like the Palace and the Small Acropolis.

The Temple of the Masks at Edzna Ruins, only just excavated in 1988, is a must-see. This pyramid has two large masks at the base — one representing the Mayan Sunrise God, and is located on the east side, and another other mask for the Sunset God on the west side of the temple.


Becan Mayan Ruins

mayan pyramid in mexico | things to do in campeche mexico
  • Becan Hours: Open daily, 8am-5pm
  • Becan Admission: $65 pesos ($3.50USD)

Located not far from Calakmul Ruins, Becan is much easier to get to! Though located in Campeche State, it’s makes for a popular day trip from other parts of the Yucatan Peninsula, like Mérida and Lake Bacalar, the famed Lagoon of Seven Colors.

Becan Mayan Ruins is a larger site, with about 20 structures. The biggest pyramid stands at 90-feet-tall (27m), and you can climb it. From the top, you’ll get an amazing view of the entire site. There are other pyramids and plazas at Becan, with rooms you can walk in and explore.

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Chicanna Mayan Ruins

mayan ruins | things to do in campeche mexico
  • Chicanna Hours: Open daily, 8am-5pm
  • Chicanna Admission: $55 pesos ($3USD)

Chicanná is the least-visited of all the Campeche Mayan Ruins on this list, but worth visiting for those headed to the nearby Becán Ruins. There are actually about 45 Mayan Ruins in this area, the Rio Bec Region, though most are small and completely off the beaten track.

The most important and beautiful building at Chicanna Mayan Ruins is Structure II, also called The House of the Serpent. When entering this unique structure, you’ll walk through a doorway that resembles a serpent’s open mouth.


things to do in campeche mexico

Best Beaches in Campeche

Isla Aguada, Campeche

blue boat in the water near a dock | things to do in campeche mexico
Isla Aguada is one of only two Campeche pueblo magico towns. (Photo: Fernand Repond via Flickr)

Isla Aguada is one of the 135 Mexico pueblos magicos, or magic towns. There’s a wide range of fun things to do in Isla Aguada, including just laying on the beach and exploring the mangroves on the Laguna de Terminos, a protected nature sanctuary of about 2,700-square-miles (7,000 km²).

This Campeche lagoon has also been declared a Natural Dolphin Sanctuary so you can take a boat tour within it to see huge pods of dolphins in the wild! There’s also the Isla Aguada Museum of Underwater Archeology, located inside a historic lighthouse.

Playa Bonita, Campeche

Playa Bonita is a manmade beach located only about 15 minutes from Downtown Campeche City. It is the closest beach to the city, and very popular with locals because there’s calm waters to swim in, soft sand, restaurants, shaded palapas to relax under, and more.

Playa Sabancuy (Santa Rosalía, Campeche)

beach | things to do in campeche mexico
Beautiful Sabancuy Beach in Campeche, Mexico. (Photo: Chantal Martinez via Flickr)

Playa Sabancuy is my favorite of all Campeche beaches! Now, there’s not much here besides beautiful nature, soft sand and the sound of the waves. However, those looking for a quiet day to swim in calm, blue waters with (likely) no one around — head to Playa Sabancuy Beach.

🐢 This virgin beach is also one of the biggest nesting grounds for the hawksbill turtle in Mexico.

Isla Arena, Campeche

Isla Arena (Sand Island) has beautiful beaches, but it’s also popular for fishing. There is a long pier on the main beach, popular with locals and visitors going after a big catch. You can also visit Balneario El Remate, a tourism facility with crystal-clear freshwater you can swim in.

Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico

Ciudad del Carmen is located about 45 minutes southwest of Isla Aguada. Though quaint, it is one of the only proper Campeche beach towns because it does have several hotel and restaurant options. The beaches here are quite nice, especially Playa Punta San Julian.

The Ciudad del Carmen Malcon, or beachfront walkway. (Photo: descubro.mx)

Final Thoughts: Things to Do in Campeche Mexico

As I live in nearby Merida, the Merida to Campeche trip is an easy one for me. I recommend either visiting Campeche City and some of the Campeche Ruins (Edzna, Becan and Chicanna) on a day trip from Merida — or you’ll want to rent a car in Merirda and explore all of Campeche State.

Is Campeche worth visiting?

Travelers who love venturing off the beaten path will love Campeche State. You will get a much more authentic Mexico cultural experience in Campeche, without the large tourist crowds, and without the high tourist-town price tags.