If you are spending any amount of time in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, you might be wondering how to get from Merida to Campeche City. Campeche is well worth visiting, and for the time being, at least, this gorgeous colonial city flies largely under the radar and sees a fraction of the tourists seen by other more popular coastal destinations in the region.
Fortunately, getting to Campeche is relatively easy to do. There is a distance of 175 km between Merida and Campeche City and the journey can be made in as little as 2.5 hours depending on which transport method you use.
Arguably, the fastest and most comfortable way to get there is to rent a car and drive independently. However, if you are not comfortable doing so, the ADO buses that run between the two cities are a great, reliable budget choice.
You are in good hands here because I have been living in Merida for the last two years and have made the journey to Campeche multiple times. My partner was working on the Tren Maya project in Campeche, so we have spent many a weekend there.
How to Get from Merida to Campeche
As I mentioned, you have a couple of different options available to you for getting to Campeche but my recommended method would be to drive.
As of December 15th 2023, the Maya train that runs from Cancun to Campeche via Merida will finally be up and running and will make it faster and easier than ever to get to lovely Campeche.
Arguably the “best” method for you personally comes down to your own personal preferences, budget, etc, so we will review all of the various options here.
Rent a car and drive to Campeche
Renting a car in Merida and driving to Campeche is arguably the easiest way to make the journey, and having a car can be a good option for your Yucatan itinerary if you plan on visiting off-the-beaten-path Yucatan Mayan ruins, villages and beaches.
The roads in the Yucatan peninsula are well maintained and signposted and you are likely to find that driving here is not all that different from driving in the US or Canada.
Many reputable rental companies operate in Merida, including Europcar, Avis, Enterprise rent-a-car, and Alamo rent-a-car. I recommend (and personally use) Discover Cars – a rental car comparison website that allows you to compare and contrast the different prices offered by various rental companies so that you can secure the best deal.
You are looking at a total cost of around $30-$40 per day for an economy-sized car rental including full coverage insurance. Since scams are not unheard of, it is typically best to stick to well-known, trusted international rental companies like those listed above.
If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. On the Discover Cars platform, you can filter by suppliers with a rating of 7 or above based on past customer reviews which I highly recommend doing.
Of course, if you are flying into Cancun or elsewhere in Mexico and travelling to Campeche via Merida, there are also plenty of reputable rental companies in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
Driving from Merida to Campeche
Driving in Mexico is not as daunting as it may sound. It also gives you a lot more freedom and flexibility when it comes to managing your schedule.
It is very easy to drive from Merida to Campeche; you essentially just follow the Carretera Federal 180 Campeche-Mérida/Carr. Costera del Golfo all the way to the coast. There are no tolls on this section of the road (unlike on the section from Cancun to Merida where there are two).
Some useful tips for your journey are summarised below.
- In Mexico, you drive on the right-hand side and overtake on the left, like in most of the Americas and the world
- Don’t drive at night – rural Yucatan roads are not well-lit and wild animals and stray dogs pose hazards
- Speed limits in the Yucatan are 110km/h on highways, 70km/h on main roads, 40km/h in towns and 20km/h around schools and hospitals
- There are plenty of gas stations and places to stop for refreshments along the road to Campeche. Do note that gas stations in Mexico are full-service.
Take the ADO bus to Campeche
ADO Buses from Merida to Campeche depart every 30-60 minutes throughout the day and are a comfortable way to make the 2.5 hour journey. All buses have air conditioning, reclining seats and a bathroom on board, and some of the more luxurious classes have USB chargers and complimentary wifi.
There are numerous bus stations in Merida. However the Merida – Campeche bus departs from the ADO Centro Historico TAME station which is Merida’s main bus terminal.
Its street address is Calle 70, #555, Merida, 97000, Yucatan. This is conveniently close to the Paseo de Montejo and the historic centre of Merida, but if you are staying elsewhere in the city during your Merida itinerary, you can also easily take a cab to the station for just a few pesos.
Although the journey by bus should take 2.5 hours, you should note that the bus does make a couple of stops after leaving Merida, and if you are travelling at rush hour (between 4 and 7pm), there can be a bit of traffic.
Ticket prices range between 300 and 452 pesos each way depending on the specific service you are travelling on. (Between $15 and $25 USD).
Purchasing your ADO bus tickets
You can buy your bus ticket to Campeche online via the ADO official website or app, in-person at the ticket office or through third-party booking sites like Busbud. Honestly, since there are so many departures every day, you are usually fine to just go to the station 30 minutes before your bus scheduled departure and buy the ticket there and then.
The ADO website is fairly self-explanatory despite only being available in Spanish. The only problem is that sometimes it glitches, crashes and doesnt accept international bank cards.
Busbud is a good site for reserving your bus tickets in Mexico in advance, although it does charge a small admin fee. (Usually only like $1 or so).
ADO bus classes
There are different classes of buses that run between Merida and Campeche. The standard ADO and OCC buses are fine and perfectly comfortable.
- ADO Conecta – Small shuttle-style bus that runs between Merida and Campeche.
- ADO Primera – Basic class of ADO buses that is still very comfortable
- ADO GL – Deluxe ADO bus that is slightly more spacious and luxurious than ADO Primera
ADO bus times
Buses depart very regularly between Merida and Campeche. The current departure times across all bus providers and classes are detailed below.
This was last updated on the 10th November 2023, although it is potentially subject to change. You can easily check the ADO bus website to check the latest schedules and route information.
Daily at 00:45, 02:40, 03:30, 06:15, 07:45, 08:15, 08:30, 08:55, 10:00, 10:30, 10:55, 11:45, 11:55, 12:30, 12:55, 13:15, 13:45, 15:00, 15:37, 16:15, 17:00, 17:05, 17:30, 17:45, 17:50, 18:30, 18:40, 19:31, 20:15, 20:20, 20:25, 20:50, 21:00, 21:05, 21:30, 22:00, 23:15, 23:30, 23:59.
Take the Maya tren to Campeche
After years of construction and anticipation, the Cancun to Campeche (via Merida) leg of the Maya train will be completed and up and running on the 15th December 2023. The high speed train aims to make it easier for tourists to make their way around various places of interest in the Yucatan.
The journey from Merida to Campeche via rail is likely to take just over an hour. Tickets will be available to purchase online, however the official Tren Maya website has not yet been launched.
It is believed that travellers will be able to purchase tickets from the 1st December 2023, which is exciting news if you will be travelling to the Yucatan this winter as you will be one of the very first people to ride this new train. (As soon as the website is up and ready, I will update this article accordingly).
Organise a taxi or a private transfer
Ride apps like Uber and Didi operate in Mexico and locals tend to prefer them to using official taxis. (Not only is Uber cheaper in Merida, but there is more accountability via the app as you have the drivers name, vehicle information, reviews and references).
Uber lists the price for the journey from Merida to Campeche as being between MX$1,843 and MX$2,484, although this rate may be higher at peak times.
You should note that it may be difficult to find a driver that is willing to take you to Campeche, just because of the distance between the two cities and the fact that they may not be able to get a return fare back to Merida.
Take an organised tour
Since Campeche is still relatively off the beaten path, there are only a handful of tour operators that offer day trips here. (When I first moved here a few years ago, there were none!)
Some of the most reputable small-group excursions and private tours available on Viator are detailed below for your consideration. The great thing about doing a tour is that you dont need to worry about the logistics of getting from A to B, and hotel pick-up and drop off is included.
Not to mention, exploring Campeche with a local Yucatecan guide means that you have an expert on hand to ask any questions that you have, and you can gain more information and context than you would if you travelled here independently.
- Private tour to Campeche City from Merida
- Visit The Walled City of Campeche: City Highlights + Museums + a Workshop
- Half-day private tour of Campeche: the walled city
Is Campeche worth visiting?
Campeche City is well worth visiting and warrants at least an overnight stay, but you could easily while away an entire weekend here. The gorgeous port city is perched on the Gulf of Mexico and is locally renowned for offering some of the very best sunset views in the country.
Campeche City is characterised by its exquisite and well-preserved baroque colonial architecture, its UNESCO-protected old town, and its historic hilltop fortresses which have now been converted into museums.
If you are really short on time, you can do Campeche as a day trip from Merida but it would be a long day of travel and you would barely have time to scratch beneath the surface. Since Campeche is so often overlooked (this is the least visited state in the Yucatan tri-state area), it is a lot more affordable and less crowded than destinations like Cancun, Tulum and even Merida.
- Take the bus to Edzna, House of Itzas – one of the most impressive, yet forgotten Mayan ruins
- Hike up to the hilltop fortresses of San José and San Miguel and explore the museums within them
- Check out the fascinating exhibits at the Museo de Arqueología Subacuática (Underwater Archeology Museum) – including the oldest human remains in America
- Take a trip to the Calakmul archaeological site – a UNESCO world heritage site and part of the largest tropical rainforest in Mexico
- Dine at wonderful Campeche restaurants along Calle 59
- Stroll along the Malecon and sip pina coladas as you watch the sunset
- Indulge in beloved Campeche and Yucatan food specialities such as shrimp with coconut, or garlic octopus
- Meander through the walled UNESCO-protected old town, designed as such to defend from pirate attacks
- Hire a local photographer and take incredible photos in front of the brightly coloured colonial buildings
- Learn more about Campeche’s history at the Museo De La Ciudad
Accommodation Options in Campeche
There are ample accommodation and hotel options in Campeche to suit every budget and travel style. You will find everything here from cheap and cheerful hostels to quaint independent guesthouses, and grand renovated Yucatan haciendas. A few suggestions are detailed below for your consideration.
Hacienda Puerta Campeche, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Where: Calle 59. 71 Por 16 & 18, 24000 Campeche
Staying in an old Hacienda is an absolute must at some point during your time in Mexico. The Hacienda Puerta Campeche in Campeche is a gorgeous 16th-century hacienda in the historic district of downtown Campeche.
It has been lovingly restored to its former glory and is now one of several hacienda hotels managed by Marriott in Mexico. The property features a luxury spa where you can indulge in a relaxing massage or facial treatment.
Several of the city’s main highlights and attractions are located within a short walking distance of the property. Take a stroll through the nearby X’much Haltún Botanical Garden before visiting the Museum of Mayan Architecture to see impressive ancient Mayan art.
After a long day of sightseeing, unwind with a swim in one of the hotel’s indoor or outdoor pools. Click here to see the latest room rates and availability at Hacienda Puerta Campeche.
Hotel Maya Ah Kim Pech
Where: Calle 55, #4 Colonia Centro, 24000 Campeche, Mexico
Hotel Maya Ah Kim Pech is an excellent budget choice, right in the heart of downtown Campeche. Rooms are available here for as little as $25 a night, without compromising on comfort or quality in any way.
The property, housed in a quaint historic building, boasts an indoor pool and a charming courtyard area. Rooms feature flat-screen cable TVs, minibars, and iron, along with private bathrooms complete with toiletries and fluffy towels.
Final thoughts on travelling from Merida to Campeche
It is definitely worth making the effort to travel from Merida to Campeche and I would recommend spending at least a couple of nights in this coastal city. If your schedule allows, you can also use Campeche City as a jump-off point for a wider exploration of the state.
From here, you can continue onwards to Yucatan pueblo magicos like Isla Aguada and Palizada, or to more remote ruins like Edzna, Chicanna, Becan, and Calakmul.
If you are doing a round trip and plan on heading back to Merida after exploring Campeche, you can also take a detour on the way back to stop by Celestun and see the wild flamingos, or visit Hecelchakán – a city that supposedly serves some of the best cochinita pibil (Yucatecan slow-cooked pork) in the region.
If you have any other questions or queries, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. As I mentioned, I live in Merida and I have been to Campeche a bunch of times. (We have spent four weekends there in the last year alone so we have gotten to know it quite well.)
If you are traveling to Southern Mexico for the first time, you might also enjoy reading this post on the best time to travel to the Yucatan, or this suggested Yucatan itinerary.
I hope you have a safe and wonderful time in the Yucatan! Buen Viaje! Melissa xo
Safe travels and enjoy Mexico! Buen Viaje! xo