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.
Calle 61 #2A, between Calle 8 and 10, Centro
Highway 261 at Km 45
Calle 10 no. 319
Calle 10, No. 400 (El Malecon)