The city was built by the conquistadors on the site of the Mayan city An-Kin-Pech, the name of which was Hispanisised to become Campeche. An-Kin-Pech unfortunately means “place of snakes and ticks”.
In the colonial era Campeche was the most important port on the Yucatan Peninsula, and had thick city walls to defend against attacks by pirates. These walls are still very well preserved, but today protect works of art against the elements.
Exhibitions of paintings and large sculptures add more shades to the already multicoloured historic buildings.
Campeche Visitor Tips
The historic town centre is small and easily walkable. It centres around the Independence Park and the adjacent Cathedral. The park is also where to find the friendly tourist office.
We stayed in the Hotel Plaza Colonial. There are two hotels of the same name on the same street, so check which one you’re in. Ours was on Calle 10, and very easy to recommend. Built in an old manor house, the rooms are massive, comfortable and cool – even without the air conditioning. Our room had a small balcony giving us a view toward the main cathedral.
The further north we travelled on the Yucatan Peninsula, the more varied the food became. Campeche has far more international options, as well as vegetarian restaurants and a very beige Burger King. We opted for a nearby restaurant called Marganzo that had won the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence a few days earlier. Unfortunately it was pretty dire, with stale bread and soggy ceviche. I never do learn to avoid anything on Tripadvisor…
Does anyone know of a decent restaurant review website in Mexico? The usually excellent Urbanspoon doesn’t really have much coverage this far south.