Just before leaving our almost three-month stay in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula we found the most adorable and colorful city in Mexico, Campeche. A small city located on the Gulf of Mexico rich with history with Mayan culture, colonialism, Buccaneers, and pirates. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must see and it will most likely charm your pants off. Even though the state of Campeche is the least popular to visit among tourists in the Yucatan Peninsula, it still has alot to offer. Check out why you don’t want to miss Mexico’s most colorful city with all the amazing things to do in Campeche.
Check out all the colorful streets
The preservation of the architecture here is what earned Campeche the status of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Besides being another cool UNESCO site to knock off your list the city is also filled to the brim with gorgeous colonial architecture with colorful pastel facades.
One of the best things to do in Campeche is stroll through the cobblestone streets and be amazed with the gorgeous streets one building after another. Each street is as picture perfect as the next.
Dine on Calle 59
Throughout the small fortified colorful city there is one street that is blocked off by cars where visitors can dine on the streets. Dining Calle 59 is one of the best things to do in Campeche. With tons of little restaurants to choose from that have seating on the cobblestone streets this spot wins for the best atmosphere. Better yet, many of the places have great deals and happy hours that go on throughout the day from giant mugs of local beer for 32 pesos to food specials.
Check out the Fortress Walls
The entire little city of Campeche is surrounded by fortress walls that were meant to keep out pirates and buccaneers from invading the inside of the city walls which worked for the most part but not always. The walls were built after two devastating attacks and massacres, the worst being in 1663 the worst attack from pirates happened where they the city walls and destroyed just about everything and killed everyone in sight. The Spanish colonizers built the fortification walls and nine bastions which warded off most attacks.
Today you can walk along the walls and even visit five of the seven bastions as well as the museums built within the bastions like the Museum of Mayan Culture and the pirate museum to name a few. You can fill an entire day just visiting all the museums within the city of Campeche.
Visit both Forts
Another one of the best things to do in Campeche is visit the outlying forts of the city that were a part of the city’s ancient fortification. Both Fuerte de San Miguel and Fuerte San Jose Alto can be visited by car as they are located on the hills overlooking the city and the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
Fuerte de San Miguel offers a bit of a better view and includes a cool drawbridge, moat, and view of the coastline through the top of the fort. Dating back to the end of the 18th century you can admire the yellow architecture and old canons on display here. It’s definitely worth the small admission it costs to enter.
Fuerte San Jose Alto is also a not to be missed thing to do in Campeche. While the view isn’t as nice as Fuerte San Miguel, it still offers a peek at the coastline and cool museum exhibits including treasures and jewelry found at sea!
Both forts are closed on Mondays, both forts close by 5 pm on the rest of the days.
Shop for Handicrafts
One of the best things to do in Campeche is to shop through the adorable little shops that fills the streets and look for handicrafts. There were many little stores selling local handicrafts from local woodwork to hammocks. We only left with a turquoise fan to cool us off on the incredibly hot day but it was fun to do some window shopping. There are tons of spots around town, check them all out and take home a gift to remember the amazing colorful city by.
Go down the Malecon
Another one of the best things to do in Campeche is go down the promenade, or Malecon that runs parallel with the coast. There are walking paths that cover the 2 mile stretch of the Malecon. You can rent bicycles or enjoy part of it by foot. There are even little stops with workout equipment or on the opposite side of the street tons of restaurants to choose from that have a waterfront view. Soon, the new renovation of sculptures and fountains will be in place and draw more people to the impressive new makeover to the Malecon. During our visit we could only see baracdes through this small stretch with photos of what the completed project will look like, we’d love to come back and see it when it’s done.
Check out the Night Show
If you’re sticking around until night or spending a night in the city you don’t want to miss the nighttime illumination show on Puerta de la Tierra on Thursday nights through Saturday nights. We thought it was only Friday and Saturdays (we came on a Thursday) and missed pretty much the entire show except the last 30 seconds, whoops. The show starts at 8 pm and runs for 30 minutes.
Where to stay in Campeche
We recommend spending the night so you can leisurely enjoy all the amazing things to do in Campeche like check out all the museums, forts, and just enjoy the slower life the locals enjoy in Campeche. The perfect spot to stay in town is Hacienda Puerta Campeche. Not a true hacienda but still as magical as one, this property by The Luxury Collection is swoon-worthy. Located in a restored 17th-century building, the interior of the hotel is incredible. The rooms are decorated with Mayan touches and the entire property makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The best feature might be the incredible indoor/outdoor pool with connecting chambers, open windows, and hammocks over water for the most picture perfect setting.