Merida to Campeche City: How to Take the Ultimate Day or Weekend Trip

Planning your Merida to Campeche City trip?

At only less than 2.5 hours away from Merida, Campeche City is an easy trip by both rental car and bus. With only about 110 miles distance from Merida to Campeche City, you’ll get there quickly, and then have the whole day to explore this relatively quaint town.

Though Downtown Campeche City is small — think 25 square blocks — there’s still many amazing things to see in the walled city of Campeche, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In this article you’re going to discover the 10 best things to do in Campeche, as well as the best restaurants in Campeche.

🏡 Need a Merida Airbnb? Head here to discover 12 Stunning Airbnbs in Merida Mexico [Picked by a Local]!

This off the beaten path Yucatan Peninsula is one of the most popular and best day trips from Merida. For those who want to make it an overnight trip, you’ll also find the best Campeche Airbnbs in this article, as well as all the Campeche FAQs you need answered so you’ll have an amazing Campeche, Mexico tip.

In short, think of this article as your Ultimate Guide to Campeche City, with everything you need to know for a Merida to Campeche day or weekend trip. Ready to get to it?! Let’s dive in.

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Campeche, Mexico Travel FAQs

Where is Campeche?

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, It is located in the southeast part of the country, right on the Gulf of Mexico.

Campeche is an off the beaten path Mexico destination, and the least-visited of the three Yucatan states. However, thanks to Instagram, YouTube and social media, more and more people are adding colorful Campeche City to their Mexico bucket list.

At about 110 miles from Merida, and 205 miles from Valladolid, travelers in Yucatan state will often visit Campeche. As it’s quite far from the popular Quintana Roo state destinations of Tulum, Cancun and Playa del Carmen — many stay overnight in a Campeche hotel.

woman making a heart shape with her two hands at the pink lakes in mexico - day trips from Merida
underwater sinkhole called a cenote to swim in with blue water and vines going into the water - day trips from Merida
tall old stone church with colorful flags flying in front of it - day trips from Merida

RELATED BLOG 🚗💨 25 Amazing Day Trips From Merida That You Need to Take

merida to campeche

Is Campeche worth visiting?

Campeche City is a smaller town, so for a day or overnight trip, it is absolutely worth visiting. Beyond that, you’ll want to head to other parts of Campeche, the pueblo magico (magic town) of Valladolid, or even back to Merida.

For photographers and history buffs, the colorful streets and historic forts once used to fend off pirates, make the short trip from Merida worthwhile. Anyone doing a Yucatan road trip will love a stopover in Campeche City, a laid back town worth checking out before heading to all the other must see Yucatan destinations.

Best places in visit in Campeche, mexico

The walled city of Campeche is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but for those who rent a car, you can explore the other UNESCO site in Campeche state, the Calakmul Mayan Ruins. There’s also the pueblo magico (magic town) of Isla Aguada, Campeche, as well as Sabancuy and Ciudad del Carmen — three of the best beaches in Campeche, Mexico.

merida to campeche

How to Get from Merida to Campeche

Merida to Campeche Bus

The bus is a great option for your Merida to Campeche day trip! For those unsure about taking the bus, Mexico bus travel is quite popular, especially to the country’s best Mexico off the beaten path destinations, like Campeche. It is also quite economical at only about $25USD for roundtrip bus tickets to Campeche.

There are two options for which Merida bus station you can use: the Terminal de Autobuses de Merida (abbreviated as TAME or CAME) and Paseo 60. As far as what bus company to use, ADO is Mexico’s biggest bus company and will offer the most trip time options. Check the ADO bus schedule for times and to purchase Merida to Campeche tickets.

🚕💨 Campeche Travel Tip: There’s no Uber in Campeche state, so be sure to have pesos to pay for a taxi from the ADO Campeche station to downtown.

Terminal de Autobuses de Merida

The Terminal de Autobuses de Merida (TAME) had a name change in 2019; it used to be called Central de Autobuses de Merida (CAME). For this reason, you’ll sometimes see it as either TAME and CAME, though it’s the same place. TAME is the main Merida bus station, and tends to have the most options for Merida to Campeche bus trip times.

TAME/CAME Address: Calle 70, #555, Centro de Merida, Merida, 97000. It is located on 70th Street, between 69th and 71st Streets, in Downtown Merida

Paseo 60

The second option is the Paseo 60 bus station. Paseo 60 is a smaller station, but more convenient for those staying on or around Paseo de Montejo, the most popular street in Merida.

• Paseo 60 Address: Calle 60, #346, Zona Paseo Montejo, Merida, 97000. It is located on 30th Street, between 35th Street and Avenida Colon

🤔 What do I pack for Merida and Campeche?

Merida, Campeche, and the entire Yucatan Peninsula, have a tropical climate. Common of the tropics, this part of Mexico is hot (and humid) for most of the year, so definitely pack a LifeStraw Filterable Water Bottle.

As far as Merida and Campeche outfits, think flowy, tropical, breathable, cotton, and light-colored clothing; bonus points for anything that doesn’t show sweat! Besides all your summer-wear, you may use a light cardigan at night, but these are the place for sundresses, sun hats and sunglasses.

🧳 Need more Mexico packing tips? Head to this article, Packing List for Mexico: Outfit Ideas & FREE Printable Download, or just grab the freebie below.

Driving from Merida to Campeche

Merida to Campeche Map

Planning for this mini-Yucatan Peninsula road trip is super easy. The total trip time is less than 2.5 hours, with a distance of about 110 miles (175km).

This is a pretty straightforward drive, as you just take Highway 180 (Costera del Golfo) the whole way down.

However, you should make sure to download an offline map from Google Maps or Maps.Me, as there’s a good chance you’ll lose cell phone signal at some point in the drive. While you’re at it, go ahead and download some podcasts!

One of the best reasons to drive versus taking the bus?

The freedom to stop wherever and whenever you’d like along the way, of course.

Located near Campeche City, consider a stop at Ecoturismo Ich Ha Lol Xaan (also called Hampolol), located right off Highway 180. Even if you don’t want to swim, this is such a beautiful park, and makes a nice respite in nature before arriving to Campeche City.

merida to campeche

Merida Car Rental

The easiest, most convenient way to travel from Merida to Campeche? A rental car, of course.

However, not all Mexico rental car companies are created equal.

Discover Cars has competitive rates and several Merida locations, including at Merida International Airport, and in the areas most people stay in while visiting Merida — Centro Historico (historic downtown) and Paseo Montejo.

Is it safe to drive in Yucatan?

Short answer: Yes!

Longer answer: As a general rule, the Yucatan Peninsula is considered safe for both locals and visitors, and the drive from Merida to Campeche is also safe. However, there’s the obvious caveat to that…

Since you’ll be driving in another country, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with Mexico driving laws, or ask the agent at your car rental for advice. For your convenience, there are 12 Useful Mexico Driving Tips below to help you with how to drive in Mexico.

12 Useful Tips for Driving in Mexico
Tips for Driving in Yucatan, Mexico

1. Rent with a reputable company! I’ve tried cutting corners with rental car costs, but as they say, “you get what you pay for.” For a reliable Merida rental car, I recommend Discover Cars.

2. Avoid driving at night. After several years traveling and living in Mexico, and hearing this same warning over and over, I’ve had to accept that there’s truth to it. If you do drive at night, stick to only main roads and highways.

3. Always use the couta, or toll, roads. Yes, they cost money, but they are much better maintained and generally considered safer. Pro tip: Bring cash for the tolls.

4. Download any offline map you’d need for travel. I recommend Google Maps or Maps.Me’s offline maps. You’ll also want to download some podcasts and music while you’re at it! Pro tip: Your signal will go in and out as you travel through rural areas.

5. Mexico’s speed limit signs are in kilometers per hour, not miles per hour. You don’t have to worry about conversion math here; just make sure the speed limit sign number matches your speedometer number.

6. Do not use your cell phone while you’re driving! Not only is this unsafe, it is also illegal. In fact, even having your phone in your hand is a ticket-able offense, so try not to even hold your phone while driving.

7. The rumors are true about the cops expecting bribes! If the cops pull you over, and they only will if you give them a reason to, they will expect a cash “payment” in exchange for not ticketing you.

8. Mexican roads are notorious for their abundant amount of topes (speed bumps). Pro tips: Keep your eyes on the road, as topes don’t always have signs alerting you to them.

9. Mexico’s gas stations are not self-serve. When you stop for gas, an attendant will pump it for you and take your payment. These people don’t actually work for the gas station, and rely on tips. When they finish, it’s customary to tip them at least $10-20 pesos ($0.50-1USD).

10. Mexico’s traffic lights go from green to yellow, to flashing yellow for a few seconds, to finally, a red light.

11. Make sure you purchase Mexican car insurance. You are generally not covered in any way through your U.S. company when you drive in another country.

12. Most travel insurance policies cover driving. In case you’re wondering Should I get Travel Insurance?… For me, this answer is a wholehearted hell yes! I even have a whole page of this website dedicated to travel insurance, because it’s just that important, or you can get a FREE quote below.

merida to campeche

10 Best Things to Do In Campeche City, Mexico

For your convenience, use this Campeche City map below to find all the places mentioned in this article, so you don’t miss out on any of the best Campeche things to do and see.

Just so there’s no confusion, both the city and state are named Campeche — as in Campeche City is the capital of Campeche state. Campeche City’s downtown area is technically called San Francisco de Campeche, though you’ll most will jut say Campeche.

Campeche Map

merida to campeche

1. Visit the San Miguel Fort & Museum

Campeche City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of 35 throughout Mexico.

It received this prestigious designation because of the walls surrounding downtown Campeche. 

Centuries ago, Campeche was vulnerable to pirate attacks, with its location right on the Gulf of Mexico.

The citizens of centuries past had to wall in the city to prevent pillaging.

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).

view from San Miguel fort in downtown Campeche City, Mexico
The view of downtown Campeche City, Mexico, from the Fuerte de San Miguel ramparts.

From this vantage point, you’ll see some amazing city views, as well as the old cannons pointed directly at and the Gulf of Mexico, and the beautiful Gulf views.

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.

old cannon pointed at the sea - day trips from Merida
A cannon at San Miguel Fort pointed at the Gulf of Mexico.

merida to campeche

2. Enjoy the San Jose Fort & Museum

The second 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.

yellow wall surrounding a fort
The Fuerte de San José el Alto (Saint Jose’s Fort), located about 10 minutes by car from downtown Campeche.

merida to campeche

3. Dine at Campeche Street Cafes

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, spend some time just leisurely strolling downtown, especially Calle 59, and photographing the colorful buildings, before enjoying a meal outdoors.

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? Head to El Bastión de Campeche, located in Independence Square/Zocalo, or Marganzo Restaurante for authentic Campechano cuisine.

Traditional Campeche Foods: Some local Campeche cuisine 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: 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.

RELATED BLOG 🍷🍽 Eating Alone While Traveling: How to Overcome Your Fear

merida to campeche

4. Admire Campeche’s Historic Mansions

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.

vintage mansion in downtown Campeche City, Mexico
The Mansion Carvajal in downtown Campeche, Mexico.

merida to campeche

5. Visit the Campeche Botanical Garden

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.

botanical garden in downtown Campeche City, Mexico
Xmuch’haltún Campeche Botanical Garden in Campeche City.

merida to campeche

6. Stroll the Campeche Malecon (Walkway)

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, Angel 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.

walkway along the water - day trips from Merida
The Campeche Malecon (Walkway) on the Gulf of Mexico.

merida to campeche

7. Take the Campeche Tram Tours

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.

There are two routes offered: Tranvia de la Ciudad (City Tram Tour) and El Guapismo (The Handsome Tour), which goes along the Gulf of Mexico and takes you by the picturesque, yellow Fuerte de San Jose. The Tranvia de la Ciudad Tour takes you by all of the notable sites in downtown. Taking both tours is a great way to get to all the best things to see in Campeche. 

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/English commentary.

red trolly next to a park and near a large colonial church
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).

merida to campeche

8. Photograph Campeche’s Colonial Churches

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 is usually considered 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, you should remove it before entering any church. If you have a sweater or something to cover your shoulders, put it on before entering a church.

colonial church in downtown Campeche City, Mexico
Campeche’s main church, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, located in Independence Square/Zocalo.

merida to campeche

9. Walk the Baluartes & Ramparts

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 them all.

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.

bularte fort in downtown Campeche City, Mexico
One of Campeche City’s seven baluartes (bastions/bulwarks). Walk the Avenida Circuito Baluartes Prominente (Avenida 16 de Septiembre) to see all seven of them.

merida to campeche

10. Learn Some History at the Cultural Museum

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.

Yellow building in downtown Campeche
The Palacio Centro Cultural museum, located in Independence Square (Zocalo) in downtown Campeche City, Mexico.

merida to campeche

Best Campeche Hotels

Planning to spend the night in Campeche City? You have plenty of really great Campeche hotel options all located in or right around downtown.

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

in downtown Campeche City, Mexico at night
Rent a hotel in Campeche to enjoy the nighttime activities.

campeche city 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. The free show takes places Tuesdays-Sundays, from 8pm-8:30pm, and is free.

💡 Campeche Travel Tip: Consider bringing something to sit on, as there’s only ground seating for the show.

If you’re staying overnight, you might also want to plan for a sunset dinner overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at one of the best restaurants in Campeche. La Palapa del Tio Fito and Restaurante Malecon Campeche both offer beautiful views of the Gulf and good food.

merida to campeche

Final Thoughts: Merida to Campeche Trip

At less than 2.5 hours from Merida, Campeche City is the perfect day trip. From further places in Yucatan Peninsula, like Tulum, Cancun, Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen and Valladolid, you’ll want to rent a hotel in Campeche — or even this cool Campeche Hacienda!

RELATED BLOG 🚗💨 25 Amazing Day Trips From Merida That You Need to Take

Though downtown is quaint at just 25 (or so) square blocks, there are still many fun things to do in Campeche City, Mexico. After 1-2 days, however, you’ll want to head to other parts of Campeche state, like the Calakmul Mayan Ruins and Isla Aguada, one of the best Campeche beaches and also a pueblo magico (magic town).

As more and more people discover Campeche’s colorful streets and adorable sidewalk cafes via social media and YouTube, this is fast becoming a part of many a Yucatan Mexico bucket list.

Have any Merida to Campeche trip questions?

Drop your questions in the comments section down below and I’ll try to help as best as I can!

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I’m Shelley, a former Miami travel magazine editor who ditched the office for the world!

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