First thing to do when visiting Campeche is to check out the fortified walls. Then, of course, you have to find a good place to eat. But what’s next? Are there things to do outside of the city walls? You bet! In fact, we enjoyed some of our day trips around Campeche much more than anticipated.
There are many things to do in Campeche Mexico. The archeological ruins at Edzna are incredible. Two forts on the outskirts of town will transport you back in time. And a nice row of palapas on the water is a great place to spend an afternoon relaxing. This sleepy seaside city can be full of lasting memories if you know where to look.
We’re covering Campeche Mexico in a three-part series. The first post covered the fortified walls and museums. After that, we wrote all about the best Campeche restaurants and plazas. And in this final part, we’re going to cover the best things to do in Campeche Mexico outside of the city walls.
Top Thing to Do In Campeche: Edzna Ruins
The archeological ruin site at Ednza is well worth the trip out to. And outside of the city walls, it is the absolute best thing to do in Campeche. The ruin site is located about an hour south of the city in a remote area. You can easily drive there or hop on the colectivo headed toward Pich or Bonfil for $50 pesos. These leave regularly from behind the Oxxo located near Baluarte de San Pedro.
We were pleasantly surprised by the size of Edzna ruins. They rivaled one of our favorite sites: Monte Alban in Oaxaca. But there was a major difference: a shockingly low number of tourists were at Edzna! Made for quite the visit. The site is comprised of one very large plaza with buildings on all four sides. Then a raised plaza for the elites and leaders of the time adjoins the eastern side. A ball court and a few other smaller sites are in the surrounding area.
The tallest structure is Piramide de los Cinco Pisos (Pyramid of the Five Floors). It’s unique because the stairway (which you cannot climb, unfortunately) has multiple pathways underneath it and many rooms all throughout. More of a living quarter than a religious temple. The architecture on top of this pyramid is also different than most; rather than a large altar or platform with a view, there is a row of columns running along the top. All of it is spectacularly maintained and we spent a lot of time taking in the view from below.
You can walk along pathways that are in a dense forest to explore the other sites. The trees here were awe-inspiring.
Fuerte de San Miguel & Museo Arqueológico de Campeche
The Spanish constructed multiple forts around Campeche to serve as additional lookout points and defensive structures. And now they have turned into a couple of the best things to do in Campeche. One of the forts is located along the coastline to the southwest of the city center: Fort of San Miguel. It is perched on top of a small hill with a moat around it and bastions at the corners. The museum was closed for renovation when we visited in early 2019, but it is highly reviewed.
You can get here on public transportation by grabbing a bus headed to Lerma (white bus with Lerma sign in the windshield). It passes stops close to the city center, just between Puerta de Tierra and Buarte de San Juan (which you can find the location of in this post). It costs $7 pesos per person. Ask the driver to stop at Fuerte de San Miguel. If you have a car, a small parking lot is just outside the fort.
There is also a small park with a jungle gym and a lot of grassy areas near the fort. Plus, there’s even a small zoo down the street. The houses along the road were very nice and likely some of the most expensive we saw in all of Campeche. Seemed to be a very family-friendly friendly area if you’re looking for things to do in Campeche Mexico.
Fuerte de San Jose & Museo Histórico de San José el Alto
Head the other direction on the coastline, northeast from the city center, and you’ll find a nice group of activities. First is the Fort of San Jose, which is also perched on top of a large hillside like Fort San Miguel. It has an excellent view of the ocean below from the bastions on the roof. The Historic Museum has a lot of information about the aquatic landscapes and a few Maya pieces as well. The jewelry collection is beautiful.
Unfortunately, this one is a bit of a challenge to get to on public transportation, so you might need to take a cab. It will cost somewhere around $200 pesos. The fort is within walking distance (about 45 minutes) and most of it can be done via the ocean-front boardwalk. However, if you want to walk, I’d recommend taking the turn inland at the mall: Centro Comercial Galerias Campeche.
We ended up walking to Paradores de Cocktelores (which we loved, keep reading to see why). However, we realized that the only way to get to the fort was backtracking to the mall or hiking through a sketchy neighborhood behind Estadio Nelson Barrera. We ended up being bold and going through the “rustic” neighborhood and up an undeveloped trail to the Fort. Not the most comfortable walk in the world.
We grabbed a bus from Estadio Nelson Barrera to get back to the city center. It was $8 pesos per person and will take you to the second class bus station by Mercado Pedro Saínz de Baranda. This is a great adventure and was a great thing to do in Campeche Mexico.
Paradores de Cockteleros
This is an Off Path gem. Right on the coast in the same area as Fort San Jose is a great group of palapa-style restaurants on the water. This is known as Paradores de Cockteleros (cocktail stop) and is the perfect place to enjoy a couple of drinks by the water. It reminded me a bit of Lagos de Colon in Chiapas; great locals spot to spend an afternoon.
There are about 6 restaurants here, all serving fresh seafood and cold drinks. The prices vary. We settled on a place called Calakmul mainly because their drink prices were the best we could find (beer and tequila options for under $30 pesos).
There are no beaches and you can’t swim here, but the restaurants are right up against a boardwalk that is on the water. Great views and a relaxed environment. Definitely one of the best things to do in Campeche Mexico.
Centro Comercial Galerías Campeche & Crown City Campeche Casino
Between Campeche City and Paradores de Cockteleros is a nice mall. Not really our cup of tea, but we saw a lot of restaurants with great views out over the water. A small casino is nearby. You can come here if you’re looking for more upscale things to do in Campeche Mexico than the Paradores de Cockteleros. Or if your gambling itch is dying to be scratched.
Cenotes de Miguel Colorado
This group of cenotes is located about 2 hours south of the city. If you make your way out there, you’ll find a large pool-like area with a dock and kayaks for rent. You can simply hop in for a swim or rent a kayak to explore in more detail. We love cenotes!
It is surprising that there aren’t more tourist crowds with all of the great things to do in Campeche Mexico. The Edzna ruins are a must-see if you make your way here and it’s definitely worth it to venture outside of town to at least one of the forts. Don’t forget to grab a bite or a drink at Paradores de Cockteleros.
If you haven’t already, don’t miss out on the other two parts to our guide to Campeche Mexico:
Part 1: History & Exploring the Defensive Walls & Bastions
Part 2: Other Things to Do in the City Center: Restaurants & Parks
Have you seen any archeological ruins like Edzna? Where at?! Leave us a comment below to share the information.