What to See and Do in Campeche City

By on December 1, 2014

Campeche City, known as the “Hidden Treasure of the Yucatan”, blends Spanish influences with the rich history and culture of the Mayan people, giving travelers an intriguing look at colonial architecture and Mayan traditions.

Today the city of 250,000 has been carefully restored and its historic downtown is ideal for exploring with its historic hotels, museums, architectural character, churches and forts. The 3 mile long “malecon” (boardwalk) along the Gulf coast highlights a beautiful avenue lined with palm trees, gardens and monuments. The city blends the old with the new as you will find many modern buildings and stores mixed in with colonial architecture.

Historic Center (Main Plaza)

The historical center of Campeche

The historical center of Campeche was built for the people of the community, but was used by the town elite such as Spanish royalty and political authorities for parties and ceremonies.

Today it is used as the main business center as well as for cultural and tourist activities. The former City Hall was recently restored and now serves as Campeche’s Library. Los Portales, is another structure with beautifully arched passageways and now home to a restaurant and shops.

The Main Plaza is a great starting point as here you will find tourism offices which offer tours as well as Campeche hotel and restaurant information. If your looking for a coffee and a snack, the gazebo located in the center also has a cafe.

Campeche Trolley: In the Main Square visitors can take a tour of the city daily at 9:00am, 6pm and 8 pm. The trolley holds 40 passengers and departs from the Main Plaza where you may also buy tickets. The guided tour visits the Historic Center as well the boardwalk and the neighborhoods of San Francisco and San Roman. Sometimes the tour is given by a bilingual guide, but even if you don’t understand Spanish well, it’s a great way to see the city and its beautiful charm.

Cathedral

Cathedral

Located in the Main Square, one of the most beautiful attractions is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Conception. It is one of the oldest Christian churches on the Yucatan Peninsula and was constructed between 1540 and 1705.

Land Gate (Puerta de Tierra)

Land Gate

The original entrance to the city, here visitors experience how the forts and walls protected the city. For 10 pesos (about $1 US) you can take a tour on top of the stone walls offering a nice view of the city. Below is a museum with pictures, letters, guns and ammunition of the period.

Sound and Light Show: Each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evening at 8:30 visitors can go back in time with a show of lights, music and drama. The 30-minute show tells of the romance and tragedy of the Indians, pirates and Spaniards. Whether it is historically accurate or not, for $3 US admission, it is worth attending.

Musical Fountains

Musical Fountains

Located next to the Library in the World Patrimony Park, each evening at 7, 8 and 9pm one can enjoy a water fountain show synchronized with music and lights.

Casa #6

Casa #6

Located in the Main Square, House #6 is a fully-furnished replica of a typical colonial style house. The entrance is free and has a restaurant and a bookstore and is also used as an information center.

Fort San Jose

Fort San Jose

Located to the north of the city, Fort San Jose el Alto is one of two forts built to protect the city, complete with cannons and rifle slits. The fort is also home to the Ships and Weapons Museum displaying weapons and boats and items traded during the pirate era. Tuesdays – Sundays.

Fort San Miguel

Fort San Miguel

Located 2.5 kms southwest of town, this 18th-century fort includes a moat and a drawbridge. General Santa Ana captured it when he attacked Campeche City in 1842. Inside is Campeche’s archaeological museum, also known as the Mayan Culture Museum. It contains ceramics and jade masks found at nearby archaeological sites and rooms depicting Maya astrology, war and Gods.

To get to the fort, drive south along the coastal road towards the fishing village of Lerma and follow the signs. Tuesdays – Sundays.

Boardwalk (Malecon)

Boardwalk

Inaugurated in 2000, this 3.5 km road along the waterfront is a beautiful place for families to spend time together, to see the sunset and enjoy the tranquility of the Gulf of Mexico. There are driving roads as well as biking and walking lanes and areas to sit and view the Bay of Campeche. The sunsets from here are amazing.

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