Campeche Travel Guide

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Campeche is a "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie set come to life: the 1,600 restored colonial buildings that line the city's cobblestone streets paint an urban canvas in delicate shades of blue, yellow and pink. Campeche's main tourist attraction is its historic defensive wall – 2,560 meters long, eight meters high, and three meters thick (8,400 feet, 26 feet, and 9 feet, respectively) – which surrounds the Historic Center and once deterred such legendary pirates as Jean Lafitte and Francis Drake.

The city is capitalizing on this little known part of its history, with a pirate ship offering sailing tours on the Bay of Campeche, a hostel named del Pirata, nighttime "Legends and Ghosts" walking tours led by a costumed town crier, and a minor league baseball team called the Pirates. While this marketing offensive might seem crass, don't worry: Campeche was also named a World Heritage Site in 1999. Charming and relaxed, this is a small coastal city loaded with excellent museums, great places to stay and eat, and lots to do on both sea and sand. Best of all, it's the gateway to some of Mexico's finest Mayan ruins.

Along the wall, former bastions, called baluartes, have been renovated as museums. Nearby, a seaside promenade attracts joggers and bicyclists. Residents lounge in the shady plazas of the San Francisco, Guadalupe and San Román neighborhoods, where previously indigenous people, mestizos and mulattos were forced to live. Only the futuristic government buildings on Calle 8 disturb Campeche's harmonious architecture: locals call them the "flying saucer" and "jukebox."

Campeche is a city made for walking. When you climb the massive wall and look across the pastel city to the Gulf waters, it is easy to imagine a time when pirates coveted Campeche, its great wealth and leisurely colonial lifestyle.

Where to Go in Campeche

TOP PICKS BY OUR LOCAL EXPERTS

Hotel Castelmar

expert pick

Calle 61 #2A, between Calle 8 and 10, Centro

Hotel Castelmar is one of Campeche's most popular moderately priced hotels, selected for its charm, value, quality, and prime location near the oceanfront Malecon and downtown's Main Square.

Edzna

expert pick

Highway 261 at Km 45

The most important thing to do in Campeche is take a day trip to Edzná, a spectacular Mayan archeological site, where on weekend evenings you can watch the impressive Sound and Light show, The Light of The Itzáes.

Casa Vieja

Calle 10 no. 319

Sole

Calle 10, No. 400 (El Malecon)

For the friendly nightlife in Campeche, head to the seaside boulevard called the Malecón and visit Sole, a favorite bar and restaurant for locals.

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