Merida to Campeche: How to Take an Amazing Day Trip


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Planning a Merida to Campeche day trip?

You’re in the right place, because as a Merida local, this is one of the day trips from Merida I recommend most!

👋 Hi, I’m Shelley. I’ve been living in Merida for about 1.5 years now, and have taken quite a few day trips from Merida all around the Yucatan Peninsula. Campeche City is calm, colorful and picturesque, with beautiful colonial buildings and hardly any crowds — basically, perfect!

With only about 110 miles distance from Merida to Campeche, you’ll have enough time to get there quickly, and then explore all the best things to do in Campeche City.

This off the beaten path Yucatan Peninsula travel destination is only about two hours from Merida. Also, the trip is easy and doable by both car and bus.

At only two-hours away from Merida, you’ll get there quickly and then actually have the whole day to explore a relatively small area. 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.

Let’s examine how to get to Campeche by bus, how to drive to Campeche, and all the best things you want to do, see, and eat once you get there.

In case you want to turn this into a weekend trip to Campeche, I’ve added some info on the best Airbnbs in Campeche at the end.

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Buses to Campeche

Merida to Campeche by Bus

Traveling solo to Mexico and Merida? The bus is a great option for your Merida to Campeche day trip!

For those unfamiliar, or maybe skeptical about taking a bus, know that these are more “luxury tour bus,” vibes and less “school bus” vibes! Mexico bus travel is quite popular, especially to the country’s best off the beaten path destinations, like Campeche.

From Merida, 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.

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Merida Bus Stations

Terminal de Autobuses de Merida — Bus Station

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 TAME, and sometimes as CAME. The TAME and CAME are the same place.

The TAME/CAME is the main, largest bus station, and located in Centro de Merida (downtown). As the most used bus station in Merida, this one tends to have the most options for Campeche trip times.

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

Check the ADO bus schedule here for all Merida to Campeche trips.

pink flowers on a tree on a pretty street
The beautiful Paseo de Montejo, where you’ll find the Paseo 60 bus station, as well as a few of the car rental companies in Merida.

Paseo 60 — Bus Station

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. It is also the nicer of the two stations, though offers less trips to Campeche.

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

Check the ADO bus schedule here for all Merida to Campeche trips.

Drivng to Campeche

Driving from Merida to Campeche

Planning for this mini-Yucatan Peninsula road trip is super easy. The total trip time is only about 2 hours, with a distance of about 110 miles/175km.

One of the best reasons to drive versus taking the bus? The freedom to stop wherever and whenever you’d like along the way. Like this one…

One of the prettiest places you can stop is Ecoturismo Ich Ha Lol Xaan, located right off Highway 180, which takes from right from Merida to Campeche. Even if you don’t want to swim, this is such a beautiful park, and makes a nice respite in nature before heading to downtown Campeche.

Merida to Campeche Map

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 a map from an offline site like Google Maps or Maps.Me.

There’s a good chance you will lose cell phone signal at some point in the drive, so consider downloading some podcasts while you’re at it!

Is it safe to drive in the Yucatan Peninsula?

Short answer: Yes — as long as you follow the driving tips below!

Merida consistently ranks as not only one of the safest cities in Mexico, but one of the two safest on the Americas Continent. Yucatan state is considered one of the safest states in Mexico, and driving in it is as well, quite safe.

Scroll down to see some things you’ll want to know before you drive on your Yucatan road trip.

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.

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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.

Mexican monument with Mexico's flag on top
The Monumento a la Patria on the Paseo Montejo, Merida’s most photographed monument.

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 ($0.50-1).

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.

Start your car rental search with Discover Cars. This company has 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.

Campeche City Map

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 it called Campeche.

You can use this Campeche City map to find all the places mentioned in this article, so you don’t miss out on any of the best things to see in Campeche, Mexico.

Things to Do In Campeche

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

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 ($1) 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.

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

San Jose Fort & Museum

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

This one is located outside of downtown Campeche, so you might want to consider taking a cab there. Pro tip: Make sure to negotiate and agree on your taxi fare before getting in the car.

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 instagrammable places in Campeche.

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

Downtown Campeche City

Besides its forts, Campeche is known as one of the country’s most colorful towns. The homes, churches, cafes and shops in downtown Campeche are painted in every color of the rainbow!

At about just 25-30 square blocks, you can spend some time just leisurely strolling downtown and photographing the colorful buildings that catch your eye. Some of Campeche’s most photogenic streets are Calle 59 and Calle 63.

Best Cafes and 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.

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Mansión Carvajal & Cultural Casa No. 6

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

Looking for some Campeche history?

Go back in time at the Mansión Carvajal and Centro Cultural Casa No. 6, two of the city’s historic mansions.

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 Mansión Carvajal now houses 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.

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

Xmuch’haltún Botanical Garden

Not a large botanical garden, but a very nice one. The word Xmuch’haltún 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 plant species.

For those into plants, many species in Xmuch’haltún are used in traditional Mayan herbal medicine. You’ll also learn about the plants used to make thatched roofs and homes, and as fabric dyes.

walkway along the water
The Malecon (Walkway) on the Gulf of Mexico. | Campeche City, Mexico

Malecon

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 other along the Campeche 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.

angel sculpture monument on Malecon in downtown Campeche City, Mexico
The Ángel Maya (Mayan Angel) on Campeche’s Malecon.
red trolly next to a park and near a large colonial church
The Campeche tranvia (tram) that you’ll take on the City Tram Tour. You can buy your tickets right by where they are parked in the zocalo (town square). | Campeche City, Mexico

City 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.

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 Miguel.

The Tranvia de la Ciudad Tour takes you by all of the notable sites in downtown. This one is a great way to make sure you didn’t miss any of Campeche’s best sites. 

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

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

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:

  • Iglesia San Román
  • Iglesia de el Dulce Nombre de Jesús
  • Ex-Templo de San José (seen in my Instagram photo).

Pro tips: It is usually acceptable to take photos inside the churches, as long as there’s no service going on.

Remember to always be respectful and quiet when 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, you might want to consider putting it on before entering a church.

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

The Baluartes

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.

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

El Palacio Centro Cultural

Located inside a beautiful Colonial building in Independence Square/Zocalo, 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.

Campeche Airbnbs

Best Campeche Airbnbs

in downtown Campeche City, Mexico at night

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/Zocalo.

The 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 Malecón Campeche both offer beautiful views and good food.

Here are some great, affordable Airbnbs in Campeche, all located in and around downtown.

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Have any tips for a Merida to Campeche, Mexico day trip?

Please let me know in the comments down below!


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👋 I’m Shelley, a former Miami travel magazine editor who ditched the office for the world! I started this blog & podcast to help women like you cross Solo travel & Mexico travel off your bucket list…

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