A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Campeche, Mexico
You’re one of the lucky few if Campeche is on your bucket list. Those who venture there will be greeted by colorful buildings, an extensive oceanfront promenade, and welcoming locals. Furthermore, history lovers will swoon over Campeche’s past, which was home to pre-Mayans in 3,000 B.C. and a target of pirate attacks over the years.
Despite having such an old historical center, many areas of Campeche are better developed for wheelchair users than other parts of the Yucatan Peninsula. So, if you’re planning an accessible trip there, I hope this post helps with your planning.
Note: The information here is based on my observation as a non-wheelchair user. If you have firsthand experience as a wheelchair user in Campeche, I’d love to hear about your time there and your recommendations in the comments section. I appreciate it and I’m sure that our future readers will too!
Accessible Parking in Campeche
There are a number of wheelchair accessible parking spots throughout Campeche.
A couple of the most notable include periodic accessible parking along the oceanfront promenade and an accessible parking space across from the cannon inside the walled city (more on that shortly).
When you drive around inside Campeche’s walled historical center, you’ll come across several “accessible” parking spaces on side streets. The photo below is an example:
And here’s yet another example, making the photo above look relatively better.
The good news is that you can easily park along the promenade and explore the historical center’s accessible streets from there.
Sidewalks in Campeche
The sidewalks in Campeche’s historical center are hit and miss for wheelchair users due to their size and availability of drop-down curbs.
From my experience exploring the center, the following streets have the widest sidewalks:
- Calle 8
- Calle 10
- Calle 12
- Calle 59
- Portions of Calle 18
These streets run horizontal with the ocean. You should also be able to relatively easily explore the odd-numbered streets that cut perpendicularly through them.
Once you get past Calle 12 within the historical center (heading away from the ocean), most of the sidewalks start to narrow, and drop curbs are less common. Below is an example:
Once you get outside the city walls, there are several parts of Campeche that are more modern. I came across a number of areas marked for accessibility:
I encountered one accessible public restroom during my time in Campeche. Unfortunately, it was closed because of the pandemic, so I can’t comment on whether they keep the door locked or if there’s a fee to enter.
Since Campeche is small, your hotel will likely be a short distance from the main attractions. You can book your stay at an American chain like the Holiday Inn on the oceanfront to ensure you’ll have access to an ADA complying restroom.
Renting a vehicle will give you the best flexibility for exploring Campeche.
You can visit this website for details on accessible vans in Campeche. The website is in Spanish, so you may need to use Google Translate. However, they have a tourism section, so if you contact them in English they’ll likely have an English-speaking staff member who can assist you.
9 Wheelchair Accessible Things to do in Campeche
Now let’s get to the fun stuff—all the beautiful places you can explore in Campeche! Make sure to have your camera on hand. The city brims with colorful architecture.
1. Explore the Promenade
The Malecón de Campeche is the city’s pride and joy. It opened to the public in the year 2000 and is about 3.5 kilometers long, bordering the ocean from the Justo Sierra Mendez monument to Joaquin Musel Avenue.
The promenade is an excellent place for wheelchair users to explore since it offers a wide, flat surface and a low railing to enjoy views over the ocean.
You’ll also encounter several statues and pieces of art along the way.
The only downside is that the promenade has essentially no shade. In case you haven’t done your due diligence yet, Campeche gets incredibly hot. So, it’s usually best to do this activity in the morning or evening.
2. Visit the Main Square
Like any true Mexican town, Campeche has a main square where the pulse of the city (or, at least, the pulse of the tourist side of the city) revolves around.
The main plaza sits in the heart of the historical center’s accessible streets and has a flat entrance.
You can stroll around and support some of the local vendors selling souvenirs or grab an ice cream to cool down mid-day.
You might even get to catch a tip-based cultural performance. These often happen at night because of the heat.
3. Enter the Cathedral
Campeche’s main plaza is pretty, but in my opinion, it’s the cathedral that really steals its landscape show.
When I first laid eyes on the Campeche Cathedral, its stairs drew my attention. But then I noticed a beautiful built-in cement ramp that started about 30-feet or so to the left of those stairs.
In not-always-so-common Mexican fashion, the Campeche Cathedral followed through on its wheelchair accessibility endeavors by having a ramp leading inside the church.
The church is free to enter and is open to the public during and outside of mass hours.
4. Meander Along Calle 59
Calle 59 is Campeche’s most famous tourist street since they turned it into a pedestrian zone where restaurants can set up tables in the street.
Because Calle 59 was formerly a through-way street, the sidewalk on either side of the street is raised.
Furthermore, the restaurants pack their tables close together. So, if you want to dine there, it’ll likely be easiest for you to choose restaurants that intersect with through-way streets so you can have an outer table.
Nevertheless, even if you decide not to eat on Calle 59, I recommend taking some time to explore it via the sidewalk.
To avoid crowds and restaurant signs that take up sidewalk space, consider visiting in the morning. As long as you visit before 10:00 am, you should have Calle 59 practically to yourself, as seen in the photo above.
5. Hang Out at the Plaza & Park
Plaza de la Republica and Parque de Las Banderas are technically two separate areas with a Mayan architectural museum between them. However, they run into each other, creating a long wheelchair accessible area along the inside of the old town wall that faces the ocean.
Like the promenade, you won’t find too much shade here (and thus people hanging out) during the day.
However, it’s a great place to explore in the mornings and evenings, offering a wonderful opportunity to enjoy Campeche’s stunning architecture.
6. Explore the Old Wall
The plaza and park are excellent places to admire Campeche’s old wall, but they aren’t the only accessible area you can do so.
Therefore, once you explore the center, grab a vehicle and head to the far end of Campeche’s old wall near the Baluarte de San Juan entrance.
There, you can roam around a wide, flat area where you’ll encounter some vendors and accessible benches beneath the small shade of palm trees. There’s also a church that has a questionable small metal step to get into, but you can roll up to it and get a decent view of the inside from there.
7. Drive Around
Although the streets towards the ocean side of Campeche’s walled city are quite accessible, the further back you go, the less accessible the city gets.
So, to enjoy more of the architecture and countless balconies, I recommend driving around.
Campeche is super small. Therefore, you can easily drive up and down every street in the historical center in less than an hour.
8. Watch a Theater Show
The Francisco de Paula Toro Theater was built in the early 1800s so that the city could finally say it had a cultural center.
Nowadays, they run several theater performances for reasonable prices, and the theater offers an accessible area for wheelchair users.
9. Visit the Canon
When you’re driving around Campeche’s historical center, consider making a stop at the canon. It’s located at the far end of the wall, on the opposite end from the ocean.
You can either admire the canon from your vehicle (the photo above is about all there is to see). Alternatively, there’s an accessible parking space across from it where you can stop and get out.
Are You Ready to Pack Your Bags?
Between its beautiful promenade and decent accessibility in the most touristy areas of the city, I think Campeche is worth the visit for wheelchair users.
If you have questions about traveling to Campeche, leave a question and I’ll do my best to help. I’d also love to hear from you after you travel—any comments you leave about your experience will surely help future readers.
Hey! Will you be Wheeling Around the Yucatan?
If so, good news!
We’ve put together several other accessible blog posts on destinations around Mexico’s Caribbean peninsula. Check them out below:
Laura’s love for traveling started with a trip to Jamaica. Since then, she’s spent over five years living in Latin America and four years wandering the globe. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.