When we told Valerie, the proprietress of the Pickled Onion, that we planned to spend three nights in Campeche after leaving her hotel, she looked at us with the horror and surprise of someone discovering a hidden, profound stupidity in people she had previously assumed to be normal. Even after explaining that we would use the city as a base to explore its surrounding area, we were unable to convince her that there could be any logic in giving the port town more than a day of our precious time.
Although we remained confident in our plans, Valerie’s reaction did succeed in lowering our expectations. We were therefore pleasantly surprised that evening when we arrived in the region’s colorful, well-preserved capital, a city that would soon become our favorite on the peninsula.
For travelers, Campeche offers a pleasant balance of outsider-friendly amenities—including good, reasonably priced hotels; a plethora of restaurants; excellent museums; generously distributed drug stores; and an electronics shop—without the crowds, hectic roads, or unavoidable tourist traps found in the larger centers of Mérida or Cancún. The historic center is also modest enough to be covered on foot, with narrow streets lined by sidewalks and brightly painted buildings, many of which conceal courtyards behind their opaque exteriors. The main square, too, offers a quiet, scenic place to rest and people-watch or feed the pigeons after a day of sightseeing.
While three full days out of a two week vacation would have been a lot to spend in the city itself, Campeche’s many good museums and location near several important but otherwise out-of-the way sites—including monumental Edzná, Chenes-style Hochob, and the island necropolis of Jaina—meant that we left feeling our time there had been too short.
Highly subjective personal rating: 8/10