A quiet town, rich in history, which has been able to preserve its pearls by winning the title of American Capital of Culture for 2017. A small jewel with large colonial neighborhoods, wide tree-lined avenues rich in museums, art galleries, restaurants and boutiques for shopping; Merida also boasts the second largest historical center of the country, surpassed only by Mexico City. Mérida is the beating heart of Yucatan and it is definitely a place to visit! If you want to know the top ten things to do in Merida Mexico for a Mexico vacation read this post and you will just have to pack your bags and go for it!
1. Book a strategic hotel in Mérida Mexico
Most of the hotels, hostels, and accommodation in Mérida are in the historic center and along the Paseo de Montejo, a very modern Avenida with offices, bars, and restaurants. If you find accommodation in this area you can safely walk in about 15/20 minutes (depending on the location) to reach the Plaza Grande and the historic center.
2. Explore the historic center
The first thing to see once you get to Mérida is its historic center. Walking through its streets between colonial buildings of many colors, churches, museums, and squares where the locals pour into small restaurants to enjoy the comida of Yucatan, the typical dishes of this region of Mexico, is a fascinating experience.
3. Marveling at the cathedral
The Cathedral de San Ildefonso the oldest in the whole continent and, of course, one of Mérida’s main attractions. The Cathedral of Mérida was built in the late 1500s with stones from the ruins of the pyramids and the very numerous Mayan temples in this part of Mexico
4. Main buildings and highlights
Casa de Montejo, a 16th-century building, the residence of the Montejo family featuring a very elaborate stone facade and the Fernando García Ponce-Macay Museum dedicated to contemporary art. Mérida’s Plaza Mayor is always very crowded, especially on certain days of the week or when festivals are held, such as the “Mérida en Domingo”, with music and dancing, and tasting of traditional products including marquesitas, crêpes stuffed with cheese , or the tasty champolas, a sort of ice cream shake. Palacio Municipal, where you can admire the murals by the Yucatec artist Fernando Castro Pacheco, representing scenes taken from the city’s history
5. Visit Museums
Notable are the Quinta Montes Molina, which exhibits a vast collection of sculptures, carpets, paintings and pottery, and the Palacio Cantón Rosa, one of the largest and most beautiful colonial buildings that overlook this course and which houses the Museo de Antropología and Historia with an amazing collection of Mayan art.
6. Stroll at Paseo de Montejo
Paseo de Montejo is the main street of the city, elegant and tree-lined and its most glamorous district, inspired by the French boulevards. Amazing to explore by walk, once considered the residential area of the city but in recent years has been transformed into a commercial area. Many of its historic homes have been transformed into restaurants, nightclubs, boutique hotels, shops and buildings that house offices and museums.
7. Buy some local handicraft
In addition to being the cultural capital, Mérida is also important for the typical Mexican craftsmanship. Several shops scattered around the city try to preserve tradition and strong cultural identity by selling the many items created by the Mayan communities, such as handmade clothing but also bags and hammocks.
8. Renting a bike
Rent a bike and go around the center: On Sunday mornings, the streets of the center close to the traffic and the locals, tourists, and travelers pour into the streets with bikes to make a nice group ride! You don’t have to worry if you do not have a bike available, with a few pesos you can rent one near the Parque de Santa Ana.
9. Eat local cuisine at the best restaurants in Mérida
Mérida is also famous for its cuisine, which is slightly different from the usual Mexican because it has undergone the Caribbean, European and indigenous influences by fusing many of the ingredients used in traditional Mayan cuisine. If you are looking for restaurants in Mérida Mexico you can taste it at La Chaya Maya, a local institution of Mérida, famous for lime soup and recado negro, the stewed turkey, while the tastiest mezcal can be eaten at Fundación Mezcalería, a curious retro-style restaurant. The city of Mérida also has a wide choice of hotels, hostels, and accommodation that offer low-cost offers and are mainly located in the historic center and along the Paseo de Montejo.
10. Exploring nearby areas
The beautiful colonial city of Mérida is also the ideal starting point for many excursions in the vicinity. For example, you could reach Cuzama’s cenote by bus or by taxi. The cenote is underground caves crossed by rivers, often connected to each other, with small lakes more or less deep swimming. Or you could take a trip to the Ría Celestún or Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve to admire the many pink flamingos. Fans of the mysterious history of the Maya can move to the ruins of Uxmal or to Chichen Itza, not far from Mérida, the most famous Mayan archaeological site of Yucatán and probably all of Mexico, nominated UNESCO World Heritage Site and included among the “New Seven Wonders of the World”.