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posted by Shelley | last updated February 10, 2021
Planning a Merida to Campeche City day 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.
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
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Where is Campeche?
Campeche City, Mexico, is the capital of Campeche state — one of the three states that make up the Yucatan Peninsula. 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 to their Mexico bucket list.
At about 110 miles from Merida, and 205 miles from Valladolid, travelers in Yucatan state will often visit Campeche; though it’s quite far from the popular Quintana Roo destinations of Tulum, Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Is Campeche worth visiting?
Campeche City is a smaller town, so for a day or overnight trip, it is absolutely worth visiting. 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, a laid back pueblo in this part of Mexico with so many must see Yucatan destinations.
Best places in visit in Campeche
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, the best beaches in Campeche Mexico, to explore.
How to Get from Merida to Campeche
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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.
From the Downtown Merida area, there are two options for which 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.
🚕💨 Pro 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.
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.
Driving from Merida to Campeche
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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, 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.
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 Car Rental
The easiest, most convenient way to travel from Merida to Campeche? A rental car, of course. However, not all 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.
10 Best Things to Do In Campeche
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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; the downtown area is technically called San Francisco de Campeche, though you’ll mostly just hear them all referred to as Campeche.
Map: Campeche City, Mexico
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).
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.
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.
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.
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Best Restaurants in Campeche City
• 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 Parrilla/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 (tortilla/shark casserole), camarones al coco (coconut shrimp), pampano en verde (pompano 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.
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.
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.
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 downtown Merida.
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.
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.
💒 Pro tips for visiting Mexico churches: It is usually acceptable to take photos inside the churches, as long as there’s no service going on, and you’re respectful and quiet inside. 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.
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.
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 come to understand 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.
Best Campeche Airbnbs
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Want to make this an overnight trip from Merida to Campeche, instead of a day trip? Campeche is also very pretty by night, when some of its buildings are lit up with colorful lights.
Don’t miss the the video mapping light and music show on the side of the Palacio Centro Cultural building in Independence Square. This Campeche show goes from 8pm-8:30pm, and is free to enjoy.
💡 Pro tip: Consider bringing a blanket 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. La Palapa del Tio Fito and Restaurante Malecon Campeche both offer beautiful views and good food.
Best Airbnbs in Campeche City
Final Thoughts: Merida to Campeche Day Trip
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At less than 2.5 hours from Merida, Campeche City is the perfect day trip. Though downtown is quaint at just 25 square blocks or so, there’s still many fun things to do in Campeche, Mexico. It also makes a nice overnight trip if you rent a Campeche Airbnb, but beyond that, you’ll want to head to other parts of Campeche state like the Calakmul ruins and Isla Aguada pueblo magico.
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. As it’s quite out of the way for some parts of the Yucatan Peninsula, like Tulum, Cancun and Playa del Carmen in Quintana Roo state, coming from Merida or Valladolid in Yucatan state, is the best easier option.
Did we miss anything for a Merida to Campeche day trip?
Please join the conversation in the comments down below and share your knowledge!
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