Campeche

Travel Guide North America Mexico Yucatan Peninsula Campeche Campeche

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Introduction

Campeche is the capital city of the state of Campeche. It is a surprising and interesting town with little over 240,000 inhabitants, so it's comfortably small-scale. Thanks to major restoration works over the last few years, many of the historic buildings have been restored to their former glory and are beautifully lit at night. The city retains many of the old colonial Spanish city walls and fortifications which protected the city from pirates.

Campeche was founded in 1540 by the Spanish conquistadors as the city of "San Francisco de Campeche" on top of the old Maya town called Ah Can Pech (roughly, "place of snakes and ticks", supposedly for an ancient idol depicting a snake with a tick on its head). Campeche grew into the leading port in the Peninsula in the colonial era. The city's walls and a series of forts were built in the 16th century to guard against frequent pirate attacks. With independence from Spain at the start of the 1800s Campeche was at first part of the state of Yucatán, but separated with the creation of the State of Campeche mid century.

Today Campeche is a fast growing city, but has maintained its history with meticulously preserved walls and historic buildings. Especially outside of the city centre, Campeche is a still fairly laid back place and can feel more like a small town. The city is still relatively compact and easy to get around, although as the city grows even bigger, that is slowly changing.

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Sights and Activities

  • Zocalo is very nice and has a small Cathedral on it.
  • Cathedral is home to two impressive towers.
  • Fort is located along the coast and is one of the most impressive colonial forts in all of Mexico.
  • Beach although not the most stunning beach in Mexico it is a nice place to relax and is not crowded most of the year.
  • Edzná Ruins are located outside of the city and are worth the trip.

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Events and Festivals

Dancers in the Carnaval

Dancers in the Carnaval

© JungleBlog

  • Carnival is held every year and is a wild party! It also hosts local dancers and performers. Held every year in mid to late February.

Day of the Dead

Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries except Mexico (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexciowhere where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.

Other Events and Festivals

Grito de la Independencia - September 15th is Mexican Independence Day! A massive celebration involving plenty of singing, dancing and fireworks takes place in the Zócalo. Everyone here awaits an appearance from Mexico's president who rings a bell from a central balcony of the Palacio Nacional overlooking the Zócalo. The president then shouts out the Grito de Dolores, or the Cry of Dolores which was Father Hidalgo's famous call to arms against Spanish rule in 1810.

  • Dia de la Candelaria. Candlemas is held February 2nd and commemorates Jesus being introduced into the temple 40 days after his birth. This nationwide celebration sees many different ways of celebrating and many towns hold processions, bullfights and dances. Of course, plenty of delicious, traditional foods are served during Dia de la Candelaria as well.
  • Carnaval is held in late February or early March throughout all of Mexico. This big party is meant to celebrate the 40 day penance of Lent. Carnaval always takes place during the week or so prior to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Sunday. Mexicans celebrate this holiday with fireworks, food, dancing, parades, dancing and drinking.
  • Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a huge celebration which starts on Palm Sunday. This is a very popular time for Mexicans to take a short break; as a result, it seems most of the country is on the move, with buses and hotels often booked out. As for the celebration of Semana Santa, expect colorful processions and many masses at churches everywhere.
  • Día de Nuestra Seňora de Guadalupe, or Day of our Lady of Guadalupe, is held December 12th. There is a week-long build up to this religious celebration in honour of the Virgin who appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego in the year 1531. Since then, the Lady of Guadalupe has been Mexico's religious patron and her veneration is very significant. It is traditional for young boys to be dressed as a Juan Diego and for young girls to be dressed in indigenous garb and brought to a special mass, held at many churches throughout the country.

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Weather

Campeche has a tropical savanna climate, with most rain falling in the wet season from June to October.

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Getting There

By Plane

Campeche City has an airport. It is possible to fly from Mexico City with low cost carriers such as Viva Aerobus or Interjet. Ciudad del Carmen, two hours to the south, has flights to Mexico City as well as to Houston Texas. Neither are cheap. The best bet is to fly into the large international airport at Mérida, Yucatan and bus or drive to Campeche. This can also be done from Cancún, although it may take an extra day just to get to the state.

By Bus

From the Autobuses del Oriente (ADO) station in Mérida, buses leave almost every hour for the two hour drive to Campeche, which costs roughly M$144 (pesos). Since it is a short run, second class buses can also be taken, although this offers only small savings (M$10-20).

From Ciudad del Carmen, buses to Campeche are also very frequent and cost roughly M$130. The trip is about two hours and three quarters, longer by second class bus.

From Cancun, the trip to Campeche takes six hours and a half to complete and costs roughly M$300. There are four buses to Campeche every day.

From Mexico City, Campeche is a lengthy 17 hour drive and this trip costs from M$800-950. A first class bus is recommended.

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Getting Around

Because Campeche is still a small city, it can be easy to navigate on foot, although the oppressive heat and humidity that dominates most of the year may make this impossible. If you are staying in the historic center, this is the best option.

Otherwise or for visiting attractions away from the old town, it is best to get around the city by taxi or bus. Taxi fares are charged by zone; to go from the ADO bus station to downtown, the cost is roughly M$30. The city runs many public buses. They tend to be small, hot, usually cramped and in varying states of disrepair. The fare, however, is cheap at just M$6, so they're convenient for budget travelers or the adventurous. The bus driver will make change, but don't try to offer large bills as they likely won't be accepted.

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Eat

Campeche is well known for its seafood, especially shrimp (camarón) and shark (cazón) and both are widely available.

The only North American chains in the city are Burger King and Church's Chicken (located north of the cinema), so visitors have extra incentive to eat local. There are many small restaurants located in the historic center, all ranging in price, but try to watch food preparation before you buy. Outside of the historic centre, Avenida Gobernadores offers a plethora of eating establishments, but again, watch the food preparation and then decide.

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Drink

Casa vieja del Rio has the best views over the central plaza and church, excellent for relaxing and people-watching from the balcony. Enter from the stairs in front of the tourist train stop, on the southern side of the plaza.

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Sleep

There are a few hotels on the Malecon (Av. Adolfo Ruiz Cortines), which runs the entire length of the city along the Gulf of Mexico. Most are relatively expensive, but offer clean and comfortable accommodations. There are also a few hotels located in the historic center, particularly near the center square, and they are much cheaper in price. Unfortunately, because Campeche has a very small tourist industry, accommodations can be hard to find.

  • Baluartes Hotel, Av. 16 de Septiembre No. 128 (between calle 59 & 61, on the Bay). Built as a luxury hotel in 1960, it's seen better days, but still offers a convenient location and rooms with a good view of the Gulf.
  • Monkey Hostel. Describes itself as "Mexico's Alternative Destination." It is located in the Centro Histórico, in front of the cathedral on the Plaza Principal. It has dormitories and private rooms, and is not affiliated with any international hosteling organizations.
  • Pirate Hostel, Calle 59, #47 in the Centro Histórico.
  • Hostal La Parroquia, Calle 55, #8 lat= (between Calles 10 and 12). In the Centro Histórico. Pretty cheap but pretty bad.
  • Hotel Plaza Campeche, Calle 10 No. 126 A Colonia Centro C.P.. The hotel is located in the historic centre of the city and port of campeche, in front of San Marttins Park, located in the tourist, cultural and commercial area where every activity of the city is performed.
  • Hotel America. Located one block from the central plaza in the Centro Histórico. Prices range from M$560 for a single to M$683 for a triple, includes continental breakfast and wireless internet.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafe's are widely available and you generally can find one in the direct vicinity. Sometimes photocopy stores or photo processing stores will double as an internet cafe with a couple of computers. Look for signs reading "Acceso a Internet" or "Cibernautica" or "Cibercafe". Charges range from approx. US$1 an hour to US$3 an hour, depending on the location.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Phone cards can be purchased anywhere and are needed for the majority of public phones. To call any number outside your region you have to dial 01 then followed by the area code. If calling a cellphone from a normal phone start with with 044. If calling cellphone to cellphone just dial the 10-digit number. To make an international call dial 00 followed by the country code then the local number. To call to Mexico, also dial 00 (most of the times) followed by the national code 52.

Post

The Mexican postal service is operated by Correos de México. The post service in Mexico is pretty good although not very cheap. It is reliable regarding the sending of postcards, but it takes at least a week to send it to other countries (US/Canada), more so if you send it to Europe or Australia. For packages it is better to use international services like FedEx or UPS. If you are sending a package internationally with the Mexican postal service, take the package OPEN to the post office, they may want to inspect it. Seal it up at the post office. Post offices typically open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 1:00pm Saturday. You will find post offices (Oficina de Correos) is almost any town or city in Mexico. To buy stamps it is best to go to the post office, although you can also get them at stamp machines, located outside the post offices, at bus stations, airports and some commercial establishments.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 19.8404825
  • Longitude: -90.5365357

Accommodation in Campeche

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This is version 25. Last edited at 9:38 on Apr 24, 19 by Utrecht. 9 articles link to this page.

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