,Since we had made the trip to Uxmal to see the ruins we felt we may as well continue on to visit the colorful town of Campeche on the Gulf coast of Mexico. It is an Instagramable Unesco World Heritage Site especially in its Centro where narrow streets are lined with pastel colored facades.
Campeche is a walled city, some of which are still standing, and the Centro is within these walls. This is pretty much where the tourist area lies and most of the restaurants and shops. The wall was created to defend the city from pirate attacks and you can walk on top of a small portion by going to the Baluarte de San Francisco and paying 15pesos per person.
We made our “home” for 3 nights at the Hotel Plaza Campeche which we would not recommend. It was in a very good location but our Junior Suite with king bed was nothing more than a large sterile room with a small table and two chairs on the ground floor backing onto the street. The pool was much smaller than it looked like in the booking.com photos and the common areas were absolutely frigid. It is also a stop for group tours so every day they flooded the hotel. Instead we would suggest Hotel Socaire, a lovely old colonial hotel, which is were we will stay next year as we pass through town on our way to Palenque. If you book please consider using one of our booking.com affiliate links at no extra cost to you.
You can find 147 restaurants in Campeche listed on Trip Advisor, but the actual number in the tourist area is substantially smaller and vary with price and quality. Much of Calle 59 is a pedestrian street lined with restaurants so chances are you will eat on it at least once.
We had a really good pizza and a nice Cesar salad at Patroni’s Bar, this was probably our favorite meal. And our last night we went to La Parilla Colonial also on Calle 59. We had walked by it a couple of times as they passed out cards for a free “welcome” drink for dinner so we each got one of those. The mojito’s mint was rather sad looking though, so get the margarita. For breakfasts we tried Luan, El Bastion and Sotavento Cafe which were all reasonably priced. El Bastion was probably the best value since it offered a nice breakfast package. Sovavento had a nice collection of artwork on it’s walls. Absolutely avoid Casa Vieja Del Rio overlooking the main square. This was one of the worst meals we have had in Mexico and the service was atrocious.
In Campeche the tourist restaurants do the weird practice of automatically adding in a 15% gratuity/propina. We have noticed this happening a lot in the Yucatan. Check your bill when it comes and you can contest this if you desire but we usually let it slide even though the service standard did not always warrant this percentage.
Service in restaurants was typically very strange. They had a tendency, in almost all the restaurants we went to, to do what I call the “onesies,” bringing one item at a time using both hands then going back for a second item. Many times our food came out with a big lag time between our items. Being a former waitress this practice can really drive me crazy. I have to try to have a lot of patience and be prepared for things to take awhile.
For sightseeing there is not a whole lot to do in Campeche. One day we decided to go out to the Fuerte-Museo San Miguel, a fort a little ways out of town. Much to our disappointment it was undergoing renovation and was closed. Unfortunately we had already let our taxi leave so we had to walk down to the main road to try and catch a taxi coming back to town. Luckily a local bus rumbled through within a few minutes of us getting to the road so for 7pesos each we hopped on and were dropped off in front of the city mercado which was in its self worth a wander.
We visited the Centro Cultural Casa No. 6 on the main square but were disappointed since there was very little to actually see in it’s 5 rooms showing how the elite lived in Campeche in Colonial times. Two of the rooms are a gift shop and library. Entry is 20pesos per person and it took us about 5 minutes to skim through this museum.
Everyone has to take a picture of the multi-colored Campeche sign located on the Malecon at the end of Calle 59. The Malecon along the water is actually quite long and is good for some exercise although it is not lined with shops or restaurants. It also provides no shade so plan accordingly.
We had heard that the video mapping in Campeche was worth seeing and even better than Merida’s. Unfortunately we also found out it is only Friday-Sunday and we left Friday morning so were unable to see it for ourselves.
To get to Campeche in the Yucatan take the first class ADO bus from Merida, about 2.5 hours. Or use the SUR second class bus from Uxmal, 4 hours, which is what we did. Stand at the side of the road in Uxmal, across from the Hacienda Uxmal Plantation and Museum to wait for its arrival. SUR buses come through at 7,10 and 11:45am and 1:15 and 2:45 pm. We would not do the trip from Uxmal at night. This was a beautiful drive that we enjoyed a lot passing through a couple of small pueblos and towns. One, Hopelchen, is home to a mennonite community. It is a bit like “Little House on the Prairie” as the Mennonites are dressed in dark colors with the men wearing overalls and the women long sleeve blouses, skirts and big hats. We were unaware of these communities in a few parts of Mexico, so it was interesting to see.
Campeche was a little bit less than what we thought it would be, although so many people seem to be raving about it. There are not many things to do in the town, after a day we had taken all of the pretty pictures of colorful streets. And it was a bit pricey for what it offers in restaurants and hotels. Three nights was more than enough to check out the town and we probably could have done with less. However, we are glad we made the trip as it is always nice to do a bit of exploring and make your own opinion. If you are in the area Campeche is worth a stop but we wouldn’t overstay.