Exploring historical Mayan ruins, swimming in cenotes, taking in cultural performances, and indulging in Yucatecan delicacies are just some of the various superb issues to do in Merida. Learn on for a more in-depth take a look at all this Mexican metropolis has to supply.
Regardless of being a state capital and common vacation spot for nomads, expats, and retirees, Merida lives within the shadow of close by Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. In spite of everything, 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 most important 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 an excellent period of time there exploring the very best issues Merida has to supply.
I’m glad to say that Merida didn’t disappoint, and it’s the most effective locations to go in Mexico. It’s a vibrant metropolis with quite a few sights and locations to go to.
This publish was up to date in 2023 to incorporate new Merida sights and actions.
I’m excited to share among the finest issues to do in Merida with you on this publish. Vamos, chicos!
1. Discover Centro Historico & the Zocalo
Kicking off my record 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 loads to see and do right here.
Be a 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 daily 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 nicely achieved. An excellent tip for a strolling tour like that is 100 pesos (about $5). Head to their web site to join 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 knowledgeable in cultural and pure tourism. Click on right here to test it out and guide your spot.
When you’re questioning what to do in Merida once 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 residence to an enormous Mexican flag and the colourful Merida signal, which is a should on your Instagram feed. It’s additionally surrounded by probably the most well-known and necessary landmarks of the town.
These embody the Merida Cathedral, Municipal Palace, Casa Montejo, and the Governor’s Palace. The latter is residence to some unimaginable murals depicting the town’s historical past. They’re all free to go to, so take your time and luxuriate 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 usually boiling scorching – is cooling off within the surrounding cenotes. When you’re not aware of these, they’re mainly pure sinkholes.
These are discovered everywhere in the Yucatan Peninsula and quantity within the 1000’s. Throughout 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 incredible choice for having fun with a number of cenotes is this tour that visits three — Cascabel, Chaksikin, and Pool Cocom.
The complete-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 be taught extra about this prime Merida attraction.
One other highly-rated tour is 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 monitor and also you’ll probably have them to your self! After I went, the one different individuals within the water have 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 be taught 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. Nowadays it’s a museum that’s free to go to, making it one of the crucial common issues to do in Merida.
Earlier than you head in, make sure to take a more in-depth take 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 facet of the cathedral, there’s a coated walkway known as Passage of the Revolution. That is the place you’ll discover one other utterly free museum, this one centered 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 may be taught all in regards to the metropolis’s historical past from the time of the Maya to the current. It’s situated just some blocks from the Zocalo. Click on right here for instructions.
Deal with: Casa Montejo, Calle 63 506, Centro, Merida, Yucatan, 97000
4. Be taught 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 sort of a formidable sight, and it holds an enormous assortment of Mayan artifacts.
A typical false impression amongst guests to Mexico is that there aren’t any Mayan individuals round anymore. I’ll admit that I used to be responsible of pondering this once I first traveled there a few years in the past. Nevertheless, 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 nicely right here, mixing with Spanish, French, British, and modern-day Mexican influences.
The museum is definitely situated fairly a distance from the town middle. You may hop on the bus certain for Progreso and inform them you need to get off on the museum or simply get a cab on the market. Uber can be obtainable right here and works very nicely 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 advocate occurring one other day.
Deal with: Calle 60 Norte No. 299 E, Unidad Revolución, Mérida, Yucatan, 97110
5. Go to Chichen Itza
Unquestionably, probably 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 called El Castillo is an awe-inspiring expertise, to say the least.
Visiting Mayan ruins is indisputably one of many prime issues to do in Mexico. A wonderful thing about touring to Merida is you could simply attain most of the most epic ruins on a day journey.
Being such a well-liked vacation spot, it’s very simple to join a tour to Chichen Itza. It’s a bit removed from Merida (about an hour and a half), however it’s undoubtedly well worth the journey!
One other stable choice is a tour with an area man who’s an authorized 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.
Be aware: you may be pondering that 6 AM departure is early, however the line-ups and crowds could be large at Chichen Itza, and the solar could be intense — it’s finest to go as early as you may.
6. Journey the Ruta Puuc
From Merida, you may journey the Ruta Puuc to see a handful of various Mayan websites. Whereas Chichen Itza is by far probably 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 one of the crucial necessary locations within the Mayan world. Having been to all the large ones, I can truthfully say Uxmal is my favourite Mayan web site I’ve visited.
You may simply catch an area bus there and again, though you might find yourself ready some time on the facet of the highway for the return bus as we did. The bus prices 80 pesos per individual every method.
One technique to see all of those is with a rental automobile. When you’d slightly persist 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 provides you a number of hours to discover Uxmal.
A complete go to could 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 numerous different excursions that go to each Uxmal and Kabah. Click on right here to be taught extra and guide your spot.
7. Hit the Seaside
As a result of it’s an inland metropolis, you may’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 searching for a while on la playa.
Progreso is a significant cruise ship port, so it’s undoubtedly obtained that vacationer vibe. That being stated, the seashore is very nice and it’s a terrific escape from the town to take pleasure in a cerveza or two, and munch on some recent ceviche.
When you get on the market early sufficient and are motivated, you may rent a driver or join a day tour to discover the world. You may go to an ecological park, salt ponds, a pink lake, and a small Mayan web site on a half-day tour.
The most cost effective technique to stand up to Progreso is by catching the native bus. The station is situated a number of blocks south of the Zocalo. Click on right here for instructions. It solely prices 19 pesos every method, 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 situated about 100 km out of the town. It’s nicely 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 thought primarily for its pink flamingoes, who flock right here within the winter.
To go to the reserve, you may join a full-day tour that features a boat trip by the mangroves and lunch. It departs at 8:45 AM from Merida. Click on right here to be taught extra and to make your reserving.
Ria Celestun is definitely situated within the State of Campeche. When you’re within the space, a go to right here to see the pink flamingos is without doubt one of the finest issues to do in Campeche as nicely!
9. Eat Scrumptious Meals
Merida actually is a foodie’s paradise. There’s a lot scrumptious meals right here that you might 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 residence to among the finest meals on the earth, with the Yucatecan meals being well-known all throughout Mexico — and for good cause.
Essentially the most well-known native dish is unquestionably 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 method higher, and also you get to make tacos with it!
Different must-try objects right here embody poc chuc (marinated pork), sopa de lima (lime soup), and papadzules — corn tortillas full of hard-boiled eggs and coated in a pumpkin seed sauce. It sounds bizarre however it’s scrumptious!
You should definitely skip breakfast if you happen to join this glorious meals tour. It takes you to a number of markets and plenty of avenue meals stalls. The tour begins at 10:30 AM and lasts three hours for $59 per individual.
There’s additionally this common meals tour the place you go to a market after which pattern a number of dishes in an area’s residence. It runs from 4-7 PM and prices $58 every.
Mexican delicacies is so numerous and scrumptious. Irrespective of the way you select to expertise it (on a tour, avenue stands, eating places, on the seashore…), simply be sure to pattern all of it!
10. Take a Cooking Class (the most effective issues to do in Merida for foodies)
Have you learnt what’s even higher than making an attempt native meals? Making an attempt native meals that you simply 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 obtained numerous choices.
On this half-day tour, you begin by visiting one of many busiest markets in Merida. You’ll study among the commonest components, together with the spicy habanero chile.
Subsequent, you head to the kitchen to whip up some basic native dishes that you simply’ll get to take pleasure in for lunch. Better of all, you may deliver the recipes residence and impress your family and friends! This highly-rated tour begins at 10 AM. Click on right here to be taught extra.
There’s additionally this very talked-about cooking class which takes you thru a market to get all of the components for the cooking class. Then, you’ll take pleasure in 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 have been mansions constructed within the late nineteenth century when the town was experiencing a big increase due to the henequen business.
By no means heard of henequen? Neither had I.
This agave plant that by some means thrives right here in a spot with little water or fertilization can be utilized to make rope. The nice occasions didn’t final perpetually, although — today a lot of the buildings are both museums or industrial areas.
Take a stroll alongside the boulevard and make sure to deliver your digital camera. You’ll spot beautiful buildings just like the Palacio Canton and Quinta Montes Molina, each of that are museums which can be price a go to.
Preserve strolling north till you discover the spectacular Monument to the Fatherland. This beautiful monument depicts the historical past of Mexico and makes for some memorable photographs.
12. Expertise Biciruta
Among the best issues to do in Merida is participating 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 take pleasure in 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 to have an ID on you.
Apparently in addition 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
Unquestionably, one of many prime issues to do in Merida is taking in among the many cultural performances. There’s one thing occurring each evening of the week right here, they usually’re normally free.
A few of the finest occasions to participate in embody the Yucatecan Serenade, which occurs each Thursday evening in Santa Lucia Park at 8 PM. There’s additionally the very festive Noche Mexicana (Mexican Night time) each Saturday with music and dance performances.
Maybe probably the most enjoyable of all, although, is Sundays in Merida. It is a day-long occasion within the Zocalo and a terrific 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 recreation!
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.
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 basic 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 normally skip out on them after we journey in Mexico, as my spouse doesn’t normally really feel snug going into a spot the place she’s not precisely welcome.
That’s all altering, although, and there are many cantinas in Merida which can be open to each women and men. The preferred is unquestionably La Negrita. Providing complimentary botanas (snacks) and reside music in a pleasant courtyard, this place fills up each evening of the week.
FAQs About What to Do in Merida
Beneath are solutions to some ceaselessly requested questions on what to do in Merida.
Completely! It won’t be on the seashore like its extra well-known neighbor Cancun, however Merida gives cultural and historic websites which can be unmatched elsewhere on the Yucatan Peninsula. Plus, the meals is superb.
Because the capital of the state of Yucatan, Merida is legendary for its Spanish-colonial structure, conventional Mayan tradition, distinctive delicacies, close by pyramids, and pure areas comparable to cenotes, sinkholes stuffed with recent water which can be nice for swimming and scuba diving.
Merida is common with vacationers, however 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 without doubt one of the most secure cities in Mexico, each day and evening.
Merida is considerably dearer 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 cause Merida was named the very best small metropolis on the earth. It’s a terrific place to go to with a vibrant tradition, loads of attention-grabbing sights, and limitless alternatives for adventures within the space.
Whereas close by Cancun is extra of a Disney model of Mexico, Merida is the actual deal. When you’re searching 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 glad I lastly obtained 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? Bought any suggestions for issues to do, locations to eat, or day journeys? Go away a remark under and allow us to hear all about it!
Photographs on this article are courtesy of Shutterstock. Click on right here to be taught extra.
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