A quick, relaxing stop in pastel-toned Campeche

Letter 188

After exhausting myself in Merida, Campeche was a welcome break in my travels, and gave me a little bit of time to relax. I decided to add it to the itinerary after hearing lovely things from fellow backpackers and seeing gorgeous photos of the Old Town. It fully exceeded my expectations and I loved my visit to the city. It was beautiful, quirky and very enjoyable.

Key Information:

  • Campeche is only a couple of hours by bus away from Merida. I took a bus mid-afternoon and arrived before sunset. The bus is cheap too.
  • I stayed at Viatger Inn, which was very central to the Old Town and perfectly fine. It was nothing special, but I was only there for one night so it worked. A dorm bed was £8.
  • I would note (and I will continue to from this post on) that in most places west of Quintana Roo, you will need some Spanish. I remember the hostel receptionist didn’t speak a word of English, and neither did people in the restaurants here – so Spanish is essential!
  • You can walk around the Old Town of Campeche easily, it’s tiny. There aren’t many things to do either, but walking around is enough as it’s picture perfect. The bus station however is out of the Old Town so you’ll need to take a cheap taxi.

Arriving for the Sunset

As soon as I was dropped off outside my hostel, I was in a race against time to beat the sun going down. As I only had one night in Campeche – it was my only chance! So I dropped my bag and headed out for a walk. The city is super quiet (at least when I was there) and the pastel-coloured buildings line every street. It’s easy to find your way around the grid layout, and to me it immediately felt safe and familiar. I headed down to the waterside – the Malecon de Campeche, where you will find stunning views across the water, and the most activity. I caught bits of the sunset which illuminated the city.

Campeche by Moonlight

Once I’d accepted the sun had fully gone down, I kept walking around, exploring the main square, and eventually heading for somewhere to eat. I got lucky staying when the full moon was shining, and I really enjoyed the city at night. It kind of came alive. The pedestrian streets were full of locals eating, the main square was bustling and the streets looked even more beautiful at dusk. For dinner I strayed a couple of blocks from my hostel to Parque IV Cenenario, and ate at a very delicious restaurant called Loncheria Conchita Cervera. I had a big meal full of cheese and meat and it was brilliant.

Exploring the Streets

I headed out early the next morning to make the most of my day. I spent the first couple of hours of the day getting lost in the streets and finding a nice spot to have breakfast in. I very much enjoyed both. You can spend endless amounts of time wandering around as every street is slightly different. It was also nice to almost feel like a local as there were so few tourists around. I went for breakfast in the most beautiful cafe called Sotavento, and it was both delicious and a treat for the eyes.

The Malecon

Heading towards the water, you’ll find more people, more life and more modernity, strangely. I remember thinking how normal it felt – people having a morning jog, picking up a coffee or heading to work. Even though it was a picture perfect, pastel-coloured old town, this part felt really lived in. I also loved all of the artwork around the city, which appears more when you edge out of the grid of houses. There are small parks to enjoy and never-ending views across the water.

Walking on the City Walls

A great, and also super cheap thing, to do is go to Baluarte de San Juan and walk on the city walls. It’s interesting because it lifts you out of the bubble of the Old Town, as you can see both the lines of pastel buildings, and on the other side, the more modern metropolis and people going about their lives. The views are spectacular. It opens at 10, so I went after my walk and breakfast, and fit it in before I had to head off to my next destination.

I don’t remember the exact price, but I do remember that they would only take exact money because it was early and deserted, so I guess they had no change. After you’ve paid, the guard unlocks the gate, sends you up, locks you in, and then you have to ring a bell to be let out when you’re done. A weird experience, but very fun.

As I only had a short amount of time, this concluded my visit to Campeche. I have read there are a few other things to do in the city, but I felt I had a good amount of time to enjoy it. It’s definitely a place worth visiting if you’re travelling across Mexico, as it offers something really different to the other cities. I can actually say that for all the cities I visited – which is why I’m so desperate to get back and visit the others!

A final view of colourful Campeche

I then headed off on a long, afternoon bus ride down into the state of Chiapas, so the next post will be all about my visit to the glorious jungle ruins of Palenque. Stay tuned!

From Lou

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