Are you looking for things to do in Merida, Mexico?
One thing you’ll always notice about going to a place like Merida is not only the sheer amount of heat but the number of things to do.
While some cities can feel overly busy and tourist-trappy, this is a city that manages to find a happy blend of things to do.
Not only is Merida home to the oldest cathedral in the Americas but it’s also the perfect city to walk, eat, drink and dance your way around.
Things to do in Merida, Mexico
Those (like me) that enjoy backpacking in Mexico often find themselves drawn to the Yucatan Peninsula more than other regions in Mexico.
Is Merida worth visiting?
Merida continues to top the list of one of the most popular destinations to visit in Mexico, so that’s half the answer already!
This coastal-lying city is well known for its impressive Mayan ruins, with Chichén Itzá the most popular day trip to take from here.
Other more close-by temples include Uxmal and Sayil. Other great things to do in Merida include visiting the infamous Cenotes and strolling around the colorful streets and plaza in the heart of the city.
If you find yourself in the Yucatan area, Merida will provide a wonderful day out or you can even stay here a few nights like I chose to do.
On top of all that Merida is safe and has been noted as one of the safest cities in all of the Americas, so what are you waiting for?
Best Things to Do in Merida
So aside from all the history know that Merida is a place with a lot of life, and you’ll find entertainment to last you more than one night.
So on your first night make that you head towards the main square also known as plaza grande.
Now, let’s look at some of the best cultural things to do in Merida.
Is history your thing? Then a trip to Plaza Grande is a must. It’s a place to learn about local Mexican traditions and experience the life of locals.
With a spot of people watching and a decent camera, you should have no problem at all in taking in some truly interesting sights.
You will get to snap some amazing photos from the Plaza, and just a short walk north you can find the Parque de Santa Lucia; a great place for eating out and finding a place to mingle with fellow travelers.
Uxmal and Kabah
Suppose you don’t want to go alone, a good way to spend a full day is to take an archaeology trip to both Uxmal and Kabah.
You will find there is much to learn in both spots, making this one of the best things to near Merida.
See the tour details here, it’s definitely one for photographers!
You get to pick up a fair amount of info from your guide, and the shots you can get both inside and outside of the ruins are unforgettable
Best of all is the fact that it isn’t such a huge tourist trap like Chichen Itza because not as many tourists are aware of its existence.
Celestun Biosphere Reserve
Another choice is to go and see the Celestun Biosphere reserve.
For the best part of a full afternoon and evening, you can spend time running around with animals and creatures you usually only see on TV.
Be sure to listen to the guides! They’ll tell you what to look out for and what to avoid; not all the animals here are as friendly as one another!
Take a dip in a cenote
Merida is a wonderful part of Mexico, but boy does it get hot.
Even those that love hot sunshine often find themselves seeking shade from the hot sunshine. This cenote tour stops at 3 different cenotes.
Rather than seeking refuge under a tree, however, a much nicer way of cooling off would be to take a dip in a cenote.
If you didn’t know, cenotes are natural openings in limestone bedrocks, which house cooling and inviting groundwater that looks amazing.
They feel even better!
Basically, think of them as natural swimming pools made by Mother Nature herself. Just remember to pack your finest swimwear.
Ancient Mayan Ruins of Uxmal
Usually, when travelers think of the Ancient Mayans, it’s the ruins of Chichen Itza that get all of the attention most of the time.
However, I learned locals prefer the ruins located in Uxmal, which is located around an hour away from Merida.
There is no need to take a tour here but as I mentioned earlier you can do this special tour which mixes Uxmal and Kabah in the same trip.
The star attraction for me was the ruins of Uxmal which consists of a towering 40-meter high pyramid, though there are countless other ruins scattered around the area.
Relax on Progreso Beach
Really though, what would any travel Mexican travel guide covering the essence of the Yucatán Peninsula be without mentioning a beach?
If you’re tired of exploring and want a day or two to relax and unwind, why not head over to Progreso Beach.
💡Smart Travel Tip
Merida is known as “the white city”. Many believe it’s to do with Merida being one of the safest places in Mexico due to the low crime rate.
With white sand, turquoise waters, and blue skies as far as the eye can see, Progreso Beach really is a tropical paradise.
Merida, which has places like Celestun and other surrounding villages, really does have something for everyone.
Best of all is the fact that it is located in a fishing village, so the seafood here is really fresh and tastes simply divine.
Where to Stay in Merida
Expect great picks when looking for places to stay in Merida online.
I managed to find a great hostel with a pool. It can get so hot that a dip in the hostel pool quickly became my daily ritual.
Getting by on some basic Spanish can work. I met other backpackers and travelers who (at that time) had much better Spanish than I did.
There are some AirBnb options which are great if you:
- Prefer to meet locals
- Learn more about local life
- Need a private kitchen
However, if you prefer Hostels, here are three simple reasons why I have used hostels in Merida during my travels.
Hostels are a great choice if you want to be more social, but you can chop and change throughout your trip.
- Get involved with activites
- Like to drink lots of alcohol
- Backpacking on a tight budget
If you’re thinking of traveling solo in Merida, hostels are great for building up your social circles and connecting with other travelers.
Mérida has a wonderful colonial feel to it, and no matter where you decide to stay, you should feel warm and cozy.
Changing my stays helps me to gain a richer experience of each place I visit, and I’ll sample all three of the above modes of accommodation.
Traveling light is a goal of mine, and I like to travel with less whenever possible. Consider traveling lighter than you usually would to Mexico.
Where to Eat in Merida
It’s not named the Latin American Capital of Culture twice for nothing. The food is rather unique in Merida. In fact, most of the cuisine in the Yucatan area seems to have a unique twist.
Think seafood, and if that’s your flavor, you won’t be disappointed. Below I’ll leave you a couple of suggestions to whet your appetite.
- Wayan’e:Calle 15 X 18A y 20, Itzimná, 97100
- Merida en Domingo:Plaza Grande on Calle 60
- Las Vigas:503 x 62 y 64 63#, Centro, 97000
What I loved about the restaurants in Merida is that they’re not shy to play music and, in most cases, live music.
Depending on where you eat, the restaurants even offer you some complimentary food – definitely not to be sniffed at if you’re managing to travel on a backpacker’s budget.
So, depending on whether you prefer fine restaurants, or snack on the best Botanas in a local cantina, I assure you that you won’t go hungry.
You may just need a few barrels of water (or cerveza) to wash it all down prefer the healthier option, but I don’t let it slow me down.
Merida Travel Tips
See these travel tips for Merida to ensure you have the best stay whether you’re on vacation, backpacking, or traveling with friends.
⤵️ Dan’s Travel Tips For Merida:
Got Travel Insurance for Merida?
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Best time to visit Merida?
Similar to other major destinations along the Caribbean coast of Mexico, Merida has a clear dry and wet season. The dry season runs from mid-November until April.
Daily average temperatures range from between 78-80°F, with highs of up to 95°F, and lows of 65°F (January is the coolest month of the year).
Rainfall ranges from 0.5-2 inches per month, which is a nice break from the heavy showers of the summer. March is on average the driest month to visit Merida.
The wet season runs from May until November and is known for its scorching temperatures and unpredictable weather.
Average temperatures range from 78-84°F, with highs of up 97°F (May being the hottest month of the year), and lows of 72°F.
Rainfall is a lot heavier this time of year, and it’s important to note there’s a higher chance of hurricane weather during this season, especially towards September and October.
4-6 inches usually falls throughout each of these summer months, with September being the wettest overall.
With so much to do in the city, I recommend that you try out all of the options above and venture even further out if you can.
By doing all this it will give you an idea of what to look our for in this amazing city, and help you to grow to love its interesting quirks.
Are you feeling inspired yet? See this extremely useful guide to planning a trip to Mexico if you are currently still deciding where to go.
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