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.
Things to do in Merida, Mexico
Those that enjoy backpacking in Mexico often find themselves drawn to the Yucatan Peninsula more than anywhere.
Not for any reason, other than it is one of the best places to travel in Mexico for the ocean.
If you find yourself in the area, Merida will provide a wonderful day out or you can even stay here a few nights like I chose to do.
Not only is Merida home to the oldest cathedral in the Americas named Catedral de San Ildefonso, but it’s also the perfect city to walk, eat, drink and dance your way around.
Let’s look at some of the cultural things to do in Merida.
Best Things to Do in Merida
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.
If history is your thing, then a trip to the Plaza Grande is a must. It’s a great place to learn about local Mexican traditions and experience the daily life of local people.
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 information from your guide, and the shots you can get both inside and outside of the ruins is something you won’t forget.
Best of all is the fact that it isn’t a tourist trap like Chichen Itza because many tourists aren’t aware that it exists.
Celestun Biosphere Reserve
Another fine choice would be to go and see the Celestun Biosphere Reserve.
For the best part of a full afternoon and evening, you can spend your time running around with animals and creatures you usually only see on TV.
Just be sure to listen to locals and guides who tell you what to look out for and what to avoid doing; not all of the animals in this reserve 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 and feels 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
When we 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 around an hour away from Merida.
There is no need to take a tour here but as I mentioned earlier you can do this 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
What would any travel Mexican traval guide on 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.
Merida is known as “the white city” for various reasons. Many believe it’s to do with Merida being one of the safest places in Mexico due to its 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.
With its ancient Mayan ruins, white sandy beaches, natural swimming pools you’ll be in 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 some 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 just basic Spanish, I met other backpackers who (at that time) had much better Spanish than I did.
Refer to my Travel Bible to learn more about how I connect with people while I’m staying in hostels.
Networking has been the key to having the most rewarding experiences.
There are some great AirBnb options in Merida, which are great if you:
- Prefer to meet locals
- Learn more about local life
- Need a private kitchen
However, if you prefer Hostels in Mexico, here are three simple reasons why I have used hostels in Merida.
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 as I did, hostels are great for building up your social circles and connecting with other travelers along your travels.
Mérida has a wonderful colonial feel to it, and no matter where you decide to stay, you should feel warm and cozy. I like to change where I stay.
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 for every trip, and I like to travel with less whenever possible. Consider traveling ligher 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.
You’ll find lots of 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. I usually go for the healthier option, but I don’t let it slow me down.
Travel Insurance for Mexico
Staying safe whilst traveling in Mexico and the rest of Latin America means ensuring that you have the right insurance cover.
I always recommend backpackers and travelers (no matter who you are) use World Nomads Insurance for fully comprehensive cover.
If you are due to travel soon, you can get a Get A Free Quote by clicking the link or the image above and filling out your details – that way you’ll get instant cover from the exact date that you choose.
On many occasions World Nomads has provided me with reliable insurance cover for travel in Latin America and the rest of the world.
Merida, Mexico: Where will you Start?
With so much to do in the city, I recommend that you try out all of the options above.
It will give you a good idea of what you are looking to find in this amazing city, and help you to grow to love its interesting quirks.
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