(PHOTO: Robert Adams)

Campeche takes your breath away.

In the center of this colonial city on the Gulf of Mexico, brightly painted homes, cobblestone streets and well-preserved fortresses remind a visitor of better-known Caribbean tourist destinations like San Juan, Puerto Rico or Cartagena, Colombia.

Let your mind wander while strolling Campeche’s breezy, 8 kilometer malecon and you’re transported to Havana’s more famous seaside walk-along.

Statues of notorious pirates like Sir Francis Drake, who bedeviled Campeche in the 18th century, bring the city’s fascinating history to life.

The city’s charming central park and historic cathedral provide a relaxing spot for watching children play and feed flocks of pigeons.

The quality and value of cuisine in its many seafood restaurants rival anything to be found in pricier destinations. Meanwhile, venture into the city’s lively market and you’re sure to find a souvenir or bargain you didn’t know you were looking for.

A short cab ride from downtown brings you to Fort San Miguel, whose expansive Gulf vistas make it easy to imagine yourself as a Spanish colonial soldier scanning the horizon for crafty pirate ships hunting for treasures of gold and silver.

Accommodation options are varied, from upscale modern waterfront hotels to inns created from historic homes, and even a hostel or two tucked into narrow side streets.

The city of Campeche provides an excellent base for touring the rest of Campeche state, including fishing towns like Champotón and Maya ruins at Edzná and Calakmul, among others.

Mexico’s rich and varied history comes to life in Campeche. From wherever you’re coming, it’s well worth a visit.


Story and photos by Robert Adams for TYT