Its position as a thriving Mexican Gulf port historically put Campeche in the crosshairs of passing pirates, accounting for its fortified city walls and pair of hilltop fortresses. Today, it’s the beautifully preserved baroque architecture that draws visitors’ attention, together with the daily bustle of a provincial capital. The place lights up after dark, too, with most of the city’s top nightspots lining lively Calle 59. Here’s a rundown of the best.
Low-lit interiors and extravagant pirate-themed decor combine to atmospheric effect at this larger-than-life Calle 59 drinkery. Sharks, rays and other creatures of the deep hang from the high ceilings of this old mansion, much of it decked out like a galleon. An impressive range of bottled beers are available, too, together with a shareable bar menu centered around the sea.
The name says it all at this very colonial, rough-and-ready Cuban-style bar on the edge of Campeche’s center. Its gritty, Havana-esque vibe even saw it chosen as a location for Original Sin, a 2001 film with Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas, set in Cuba. A menu of stomach-lining dishes will set you up for the impressive selection of rums and more sedate local beer.
This Calle 59 bar was named after Jacinto Canek, the Campeche-born Maya rebel who fought against the Spanish in the 18th century. He shares wall space with insurrectionist Emiliano Zapata, adding to the bar’s playfully revolutionary vibe. An emphasis on all things Mexican makes for some spicy micheladas (made with beer, lime and tomato juice), zingy margaritas, and a good range of national beers. If you’re feeling peckish, their burrito fills a big hole – just go easy on their homemade habanero sauce.
Proudly the only bar on Calle 59 offering the delights of karaoke, Ambigú is also known for some of the best draft beer on this liveliest of streets. The food more than holds its own, too, with plenty of hot cheese, fiery wings and creamy guacamole. Swift, friendly service and reasonable prices add to its broad appeal.
Set one street back from Campeche’s malecón (waterfront esplanade), Makech Social Bar is certainly one of the city’s more sophisticated nightspots. The seasoned, smartly attired mixologists take their cocktails seriously, with a fine selection of signature options. The food here is carefully prepared, too, with filling favorites such as pizza and pasta, plus regular happy-hour offers and two-for-one deals.
With an emphasis on inclusivity, Nativo draws a fun, friendly and diverse crowd to its exotic-themed spaces. Kick back amid fake flamingos and jungle decor on a rear terrace, and make the most of an ice bucket of beers and trio of sliders. Regular party nights attract extravagantly dressed revelers, and there’s frequent live music and DJ sessions to get you dancing.
If you’re looking for somewhere with genuine local color, away from the touristy center, Las Brujas is just the place. A big, cantina-style space provides lots of room for drinking and dancing at this popular locals’ bar. Striking Día de los Muertos murals and disco lighting add an unpretentious party vibe, while regular live bands and tasty botanas (Mexican nibbles) will keep you dancing all night.
Need somewhere to stay? Look into one of the best hotels in Campeche, or, for somewhere further afield, a room at one of the best hotels in Merida – bookable on Culture Trip. There are many reasons why you should visit Campeche; inspire your Yucatán itinerary with these unmissable Mayan sites. And don’t miss the best restaurants in Merida, too.
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