Many visitors to Yucatán leave a few days in their schedule to visit the neighboring state of Campeche, and its capital colonial city of the same name, about a two-hour drive southwest from Mérida. The town of Campeche is full of history and romance, with a beautifully renovated Centro Histórico, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will never forget the colorful buildings in this picturesque town, with their Spanish and Moorish influences of the 18th century.
For years after Francisco Montejo founded Campeche in 1541, it was pummeled by pirate attacks. The spirits of those pirates still seem to be present everywhere. There are more than a dozen fortresses, bastions, and ramparts to see; they were essential to defend this strategic shipping port from outside attack. Don’t miss the fort of San Miguel, the bastion of San Juan, Santiago fort and botanical gardens, and the Gate of the Sea and the Gate of the Land. The Gate of the Land (Puerta de Tierra) has a sound and light show called “The Place of the Sun” Thursday through Sunday at 8 pm, 1 hour, 50 pesos.
La Casa 6 is a completely renovated 18th century house of beautiful Moorish architectural design, situated on the main square. Inside, you will find antique furniture, dating from the end of the 19th century. A tour through the house takes around 15 minutes and the entrance is 10 pesos. Open every day from 9 am – 9 pm. You can also try “Con Sabor a Chocolate,” where visitors learn about the transformation of the cacao plant into chocolate, and its significance to the Mayas; Thursday through Sunday at 6 pm, 50 pesos. Also on the main plaza is a beautiful cathedral, next to the Franciscan church.
Campeche is located close to one of the most breathtaking archaeological sites on the peninsula: Edzná. This uncrowded site occupied an area of over 25 km2. Edzná is open from 8 am to 5 pm; entry 41 pesos. If you go in the afternoon when the sun sets, it is worth seeing the light and sound show "The Light of the Itzáes" which recalls the splendor of the site and the customs of the Mayas who inhabited it. You can enjoy the event Thursday through Sunday at 8 pm in summer and at 7 pm in winter. Ticket sales are on the site.
IN CITY OF CAMPECHE
Botanical Garden Xmuch’Haltun
Santiago Bastion, Mon-Sat 9 am- 9 pm, Sun 9 am-4 pm
The Place of the Sun Light & Sound Show
Puerta de Tierra (Land Door), Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun 8 pm
Centro Cultural Casa No. 6 (Cultural Center)
Bookstore, café, crafts, tourism info, Calle 57 x 8 y 10, Daily 9 am-9 pm
Teatro Vivo Recuerdo (Theater)
Centro Cultural Casa No. 6 Cultural Center, Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun 9:30 pm
Con Sabor a Chocolate (With a Taste of Chocolate)
Centro Cultural Casa No. 6 Cultural Center, Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun 6 pm
OTHER PARTS OF THE STATE
Hopelchén, Campeche, Light & Sound Show, Tue-Sun 10 am-5 pm
Calakmul, Campeche, Daily 8 am-4 pm
Zacatal Bridge (the longest bridge in Latin America)
Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, Light & Sound Show Daily 8 pm and 9 pm
La Luz de los Itzáes (The Light of the Itzáes) Light & Sound Show
Edzná Archaeological Site, Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun 8 pm Summer, 7 pm Winter
Recommended reading: Campechan cuisine