Exploring historical Mayan ruins, swimming in cenotes, taking in cultural performances, and indulging in Yucatecan delicacies are just some of the numerous wonderful issues to do in Merida. Learn on for a better have a look at all this Mexican metropolis has to supply.
Regardless of being a state capital and standard vacation spot for nomads, expats, and retirees, Merida lives within the shadow of close by Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. In any case, most vacationers who come to this a part of Mexico head straight to the seashore.
With the closest seashore being 40 km (25 miles) away from Merida, this implies the largest metropolis within the Yucatan Peninsula has lengthy been an afterthought. However, that’s all altering.
15 Greatest Issues to Do in Merida
Conde Nast Traveler lately named Merida the very best small metropolis on the earth. Vacationers are lastly taking discover, and Merida is prepared for its time within the highlight.
Despite the fact that I’ve spent the higher a part of the final three years dwelling in Mexico, I hadn’t travelled to Merida till lately. However then I spent a superb period of time there exploring the very best issues Merida has to supply.
I’m completely satisfied to say that Merida didn’t disappoint, and it’s top-of-the-line locations to go in Mexico. It’s a vibrant metropolis with quite a few sights and locations to go to.
This submit was up to date in 2023 to incorporate new Merida sights and actions.
I’m excited to share a few of the greatest issues to do in Merida with you on this submit. Vamos, chicos!
1. Discover Centro Historico & the Zocalo
Kicking off my listing of issues to do in Merida is a stroll across the metropolis’s Centro Historico. Apparently, solely Mexico Metropolis and Havana, Cuba, have bigger historic facilities than Merida, so there’s quite a bit to see and do right here.
Be part of a Strolling Tour
I like to recommend becoming a member of the free strolling tour for an informative and entertaining introduction to the town. It begins at 10 AM each day in Santa Lucia Park and lasts about two hours.
On this brief tour, you’ll get launched to the historical past, tradition, and traditions of Merida. I’m sure I discovered extra throughout this two hours than I’d have throughout two days by myself.
Whereas the tour is free, it’s customary to tip your information for a job properly executed. tip for a strolling tour like that is 100 pesos (about $5). Head to their web site to enroll in the tour.
There are additionally some nice excursions for exploring Merida’s historic middle. You may bounce on a 3-hour strolling tour with an area skilled in cultural and pure tourism. Click on right here to test it out and guide your spot.
In the event you’re questioning what to do in Merida whenever you first arrive, becoming a member of a strolling tour is an effective wager.
Discover the Zocalo Independently
Even if you happen to join one of many excursions, it’s price it to spend some additional time exploring the Zocalo by yourself. This tree-lined park could be very a lot the center of the town and is the very best place to take in the native tradition.
The park is dwelling to an enormous Mexican flag and the colourful Merida signal, which is a should in your Instagram feed. It’s additionally surrounded by essentially the most well-known and essential landmarks of the town.
These embrace the Merida Cathedral, Municipal Palace, Casa Montejo, and the Governor’s Palace. The latter is dwelling to some unimaginable murals depicting the town’s historical past. They’re all free to go to, so take your time and revel in all of them!
There’s additionally a free strolling tour of the Zocalo given by the town’s tourism board. It begins at 9:30 AM on the bottom flooring of the Municipal Palace. Click on right here for instructions.
2. Swim in Cenotes
One of the vital refreshing issues to do in Merida – a metropolis that’s typically boiling sizzling – is cooling off within the surrounding cenotes. In the event you’re not accustomed to these, they’re mainly pure sinkholes.
These are discovered everywhere in the Yucatan Peninsula and quantity within the hundreds. Through the hottest time of the day, there’s nothing higher than hiding from the solar and swimming in a cenote.
There are quite a few cenotes throughout Merida, so, simply take your choose!
An ideal choice for having fun with a number of cenotes is that this tour that visits three — Cascabel, Chaksikin, and Pool Cocom.
The total-day journey begins at 8:45 AM and consists of swimming in three cenotes, plus lunch, transportation, information, and entrance charges. Click on right here to study extra about this prime Merida attraction.
One other highly-rated tour is that this tour that visits two completely different cenotes together with a ravishing hacienda and a few historic websites. The cenotes aren’t on the common vacationer observe and also you’ll most definitely have them to your self! Once I went, the one different folks within the water had been those on the tour with me.
Alongside the way in which, your native guides will train you about Mayan tradition. Meals, transport, information, and entrance charges are included. Click on right here to study extra.
3. Go Museum Hopping
In and across the Zocalo you’ll discover a number of completely different museums, together with Casa Montejo. Constructed within the 1540s, it was the mansion of the conquistador Francisco de Montejo. Today it’s a museum that’s free to go to, making it some of the standard issues to do in Merida.
Earlier than you head in, make sure you take a better have a look at the facade of the constructing. It depicts the Spanish conquistadores standing on the heads of the native Mayans — a reminder of the horrific realities of colonialism in Mexico.
On the proper aspect of the cathedral, there’s a lined walkway referred to as Passage of the Revolution. That is the place you’ll discover one other fully free museum, this one targeted on the artwork of Fernando Garica Ponce and different Mexican artists.
Finishing the trifecta is the Museum of the Metropolis of Merida, the place you possibly can study all in regards to the metropolis’s historical past from the time of the Maya to the current. It’s positioned just some blocks from the Zocalo. Click on right here for instructions.
Deal with: Casa Montejo, Calle 63 506, Centro, Merida, Yucatan, 97000
4. Study About Mayan Tradition
One of many prime locations to see in Merida is the town’s Nice Museum of the Maya World. The constructing itself is kind of a formidable sight, and it holds an unlimited assortment of Mayan artifacts.
A typical false impression amongst guests to Mexico is that there are not any Mayan folks round anymore. I’ll admit that I used to be responsible of considering this after I first traveled there a few years in the past. Nonetheless, this couldn’t be farther from the reality.
It’s estimated that round 60% of the inhabitants of Merida is of Mayan heritage, and it is a metropolis of practically 1 million. Mayan tradition could be very a lot alive and properly right here, mixing with Spanish, French, British, and modern-day Mexican influences.
The museum is definitely positioned fairly a distance from the town middle. You may hop on the bus sure for Progreso and inform them you need to get off on the museum or simply get a cab on the market. Uber can be accessible right here and works very properly in my expertise.
It’s open from Wednesday to Monday from 9 AM-4:30 PM and prices 150 pesos for foreigners. On Sundays, it’s free for residents of the Yucatan, so I’d suggest occurring one other day.
Deal with: Calle 60 Norte No. 299 E, Unidad Revolución, Mérida, Yucatan, 97110
5. Go to Chichen Itza
Surely, essentially the most well-known Mayan metropolis of all is Chichen Itza. One of many New Seven Wonders of the World, that is an unimaginable place to go to. Trying up on the huge pyramid often known as El Castillo is an awe-inspiring expertise, to say the least.
Visiting Mayan ruins is indubitably one of many prime issues to do in Mexico. A beauty of touring to Merida is which you can simply attain lots of the most epic ruins on a day journey.
Being such a preferred vacation spot, it’s very simple to enroll in a tour to Chichen Itza. It’s a bit removed from Merida (about an hour and a half), nevertheless it’s undoubtedly well worth the journey!
You may hop on this highly-rated small group tour that features transport, a information, a go to to a cenote, lunch, and extra. Click on right here to guide your spot.
One other stable choice is a tour with an area man who’s a licensed tour information in historical past and archaeology. His excursions are extremely rated and I had a good time with him. Click on right here to test it out.
Observe: you may be considering that 6 AM departure is early, however the line-ups and crowds might be enormous at Chichen Itza, and the solar might be intense — it’s greatest to go as early as you possibly can.
6. Journey the Ruta Puuc
From Merida, you possibly can journey the Ruta Puuc to see a handful of various Mayan websites. Whereas Chichen Itza is by far essentially the most well-known, there are tons of different choices for visiting Mayan ruins within the space.
Amongst these, the biggest and hottest is Uxmal. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Web site and some of the essential locations within the Mayan world. Having been to all the massive ones, I can actually say Uxmal is my favourite Mayan website I’ve visited.
You may simply catch an area bus there and again, though you might find yourself ready some time on the aspect of the highway for the return bus as we did. The bus prices 80 pesos per particular person every means.
There are additionally a number of different, smaller ruins within the space like Kabah, Labna, and Xcalak.
One method to see all of those is with a rental automotive. In the event you’d slightly keep on with public transportation, the one choice is catching the bus at 8 AM on Sunday morning. It makes fast stops on the smaller ruins and offers you a number of hours to discover Uxmal.
A complete go to might be loved on this tour the place you additionally go to the Kabah ruins, the Yaxcopoi Hacienda and a cenote. It consists of the information and transport, however you’ll must cowl your entrance tickets. Uxmal prices 418 ($17) pesos for foreigners and the museum is 180.
There are lots of different excursions that go to each Uxmal and Kabah. Click on right here to study extra and guide your spot.
7. Hit the Seaside
As a result of it’s an inland metropolis, you possibly can’t simply stroll to the seashore in Merida. It takes a little bit of effort, however a day journey out to Progreso is price it if you happen to’re on the lookout for a while on la playa.
Progreso is a serious cruise ship port, so it’s undoubtedly bought that vacationer vibe. That being stated, the seashore is very nice and it’s a fantastic escape from the town to get pleasure from a cerveza or two, and munch on some contemporary ceviche.
In the event you get on the market early sufficient and are motivated, you possibly can rent a driver or join a day tour to discover the realm. You may go to an ecological park, salt ponds, a pink lake, and a small Mayan website on a half-day tour.
The most affordable method to stand up to Progreso is by catching the native bus. The station is positioned a number of blocks south of the Zocalo. Click on right here for instructions. It solely prices 19 pesos every means, or about $1.
8. Day Journey to Ria Celestun
One of many prime issues to do in Merida is taking a day journey out to Ria Celestun, a biosphere reserve positioned about 100 km out of the town. It’s properly well worth the journey right here to discover the pristine seashores, mangroves, and low rainforests.
It’s a singular place as its location creates a mix of freshwater from the estuary and saltwater from the ocean. The realm is understood primarily for its pink flamingoes, who flock right here within the winter.
To go to the reserve, you possibly can join a full-day tour that features a boat experience by the mangroves and lunch. It departs at 8:45 AM from Merida. Click on right here to study extra and to make your reserving.
Ria Celestun is definitely positioned within the State of Campeche. In the event you’re within the space, a go to right here to see the pink flamingos is among the greatest issues to do in Campeche as properly!
9. Eat Scrumptious Meals
Merida actually is a foodie’s paradise. There’s a lot scrumptious meals right here that you could possibly plan your complete keep round what you’re consuming. From avenue meals and native markets to fine-dining, it’s all right here.
Mexico is dwelling to a few of the greatest meals on the earth, with the Yucatecan meals being well-known all throughout Mexico — and for good purpose.
Probably the most well-known native dish is certainly cochinita pibil — a dish of pit-cooked pork that’s marinated in an acidic citrus juice and seasoned with annatto. It’s mainly like pulled pork solely means higher, and also you get to make tacos with it!
Different must-try objects right here embrace poc chuc (marinated pork), sopa de lima (lime soup), and papadzules — corn tortillas full of hard-boiled eggs and lined in a pumpkin seed sauce. It sounds bizarre nevertheless it’s scrumptious!
Be sure you skip breakfast if you happen to join this glorious meals tour. It takes you to a number of markets and lots of avenue meals stalls. The tour begins at 10:30 AM and lasts three hours for $59 per particular person.
There’s additionally this standard meals tour the place you go to a market after which pattern a number of dishes in an area’s dwelling. It runs from 4-7 PM and prices $58 every.
Mexican delicacies is so numerous and scrumptious. Regardless of the way you select to expertise it (on a tour, avenue stands, eating places, on the seashore…), simply be sure you pattern all of it!
10. Take a Cooking Class (top-of-the-line issues to do in Merida for foodies)
Have you learnt what’s even higher than making an attempt native meals? Attempting native meals that you just cooked your self! One of the vital rewarding issues you are able to do in Merida is taking a cooking class, and also you’ve bought plenty of choices.
On this half-day tour, you begin by visiting one of many busiest markets in Merida. You’ll study a few of the commonest elements, together with the spicy habanero chile.
Subsequent, you head to the kitchen to whip up some traditional native dishes that you just’ll get to get pleasure from for lunch. Better of all, you possibly can carry the recipes dwelling and impress your family and friends! This highly-rated tour begins at 10 AM. Click on right here to study extra.
There’s additionally this highly regarded cooking class which takes you thru a market to get all of the elements for the cooking class. Then, you’ll get pleasure from your 3-course lunch in one of many nicest courtyards within the metropolis. It begins at 9:30 AM, is 5 hours and prices $85 every.
11. Admire the Structure on Paseo de Montejo
Strolling across the tree-lined boulevard Paseo de Montejo, you’ll discover some fairly spectacular buildings. Most of those had been mansions constructed within the late nineteenth century when the town was experiencing a big growth because of the henequen trade.
By no means heard of henequen? Neither had I.
This agave plant that one way or the other thrives right here in a spot with little water or fertilization can be utilized to make rope. The great occasions didn’t final endlessly, although — as of late many of the buildings are both museums or industrial areas.
Take a stroll alongside the boulevard and make sure you carry your digicam. You’ll spot attractive buildings just like the Palacio Canton and Quinta Montes Molina, each of that are museums which are price a go to.
Maintain strolling north till you discover the spectacular Monument to the Fatherland. This gorgeous monument depicts the historical past of Mexico and makes for some memorable images.
12. Expertise Biciruta
Top-of-the-line issues to do in Merida is collaborating within the weekly Biciruta occasion. Each Sunday morning, the Paseo de Montejo is closed to motorized autos for a number of hours.
Locals, expats, and vacationers alike all come out to get pleasure from strolling, skating, or biking alongside the scenic boulevard.
It’s attainable to hire a motorcycle for a couple of dollars an hour. You’ll simply must be sure you have an ID on you.
Apparently additionally they do a particular nighttime Biciruta on the primary Saturday of each month now, in order that’s undoubtedly price trying out if you happen to occur to be within the metropolis at the moment.
Don’t miss this vehicle-free time in Merida!
13. See Cultural Performances
Surely, one of many prime issues to do in Merida is taking in a few of the many cultural performances. There’s one thing occurring each night time of the week right here, they usually’re often free.
A few of the greatest occasions to participate in embrace the Yucatecan Serenade, which occurs each Thursday night time in Santa Lucia Park at 8 PM. There’s additionally the very festive Noche Mexicana (Mexican Night time) each Saturday with tune and dance performances.
Maybe essentially the most enjoyable of all, although, is Sundays in Merida. It is a day-long occasion within the Zocalo and a fantastic cultural expertise. There are meals stalls arrange all day lengthy and performances start later within the day.
There’s no denying the significance of soccer in Mexican tradition. It’s extra like a faith right here than a sport as persons are very passionate in regards to the sport!
That’s why one of many prime issues to do in Merida is cheering on the native soccer membership. Venados FC performs within the Liga de Ascenso, which is the 2nd tier league within the nation.
They play over at Estadio Carlos Iturralde with video games happening between January and April. Try their schedule to see if there’s a house sport whenever you’re on the town.
Deal with: Estadio de Futbol Carlos Iturralde Rivero, Unidad Deportiva Kukulcan, Calle 77 S/N por Circuito Colonias, Colonia Morelos Oriente, Merida, Yucatan, 97174
15. Go Cantina Hopping
Final however not least, it’s time for some cantina hopping. For the uninitiated, a cantina is a traditional Mexican bar. Assume swinging doorways, loud music, and loads of tequila.
Historically, a cantina has been considerably of a boys membership. That’s why I often skip out on them once we journey in Mexico, as my spouse doesn’t often really feel comfy going into a spot the place she’s not precisely welcome.
That’s all altering, although, and there are many cantinas in Merida which are open to each women and men. The most well-liked is certainly La Negrita. Providing complimentary botanas (snacks) and stay music in a pleasant courtyard, this place fills up each night time of the week.
FAQs About What to Do in Merida
Under are solutions to some continuously requested questions on what to do in Merida.
Completely! It may not be on the seashore like its extra well-known neighbor Cancun, however Merida affords cultural and historic websites which are unmatched elsewhere on the Yucatan Peninsula. Plus, the meals is wonderful.
Because the capital of the state of Yucatan, Merida is known for its Spanish-colonial structure, conventional Mayan tradition, distinctive delicacies, close by pyramids, and pure areas similar to cenotes, sinkholes filled with contemporary water which are nice for swimming and scuba diving.
Merida is standard with vacationers, nevertheless it doesn’t really feel like a vacationer lure for a number of causes. Vacationers come from many locations, together with North America, Europe, and elsewhere in Mexico, and the town has an undeniably genuine vibe.
Merida is among the most secure cities in Mexico, each day and night time.
Merida is considerably costlier than different components of Mexico, however vacationers from different components of the world, particularly North America and Europe, will discover it extraordinarily low-cost. This consists of lodging, transportation, and meals.
Now You Know What to Do in Merida
There’s a purpose Merida was named the very best small metropolis on the earth. It’s a fantastic place to go to with a vibrant tradition, loads of fascinating sights, and countless alternatives for adventures within the space.
Whereas close by Cancun is extra of a Disney model of Mexico, Merida is the true deal. In the event you’re on the lookout for an genuine Mexican metropolis with pleasant locals, scrumptious meals, and raucous nightlife, look no additional.
After years of individuals telling me how cool Merida is, I’m completely satisfied I lastly bought to spend a while there. A 2-week digital nomad stint was simply sufficient to scratch the floor of all of the enjoyable issues to do in Merida and I’m undoubtedly planning on going again quickly.
Have you ever ever been to Merida? Received any suggestions for issues to do, locations to eat, or day journeys? Depart a remark beneath and allow us to hear all about it!
Photos on this article are courtesy of Shutterstock. Click on right here to study extra.
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