2 Days In Merida: Ultimate 48 Hour Mexico Itinerary [2022]


Looking for the best way to spend 48 hours in Merida, Mexico?

You’ve landed on the right blog — because I live in Merida! In this article, I’ll highlight the best things to do in Merida, so you enjoy every second of your 2 days in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.

Called the Cultural Capital of the Yucatan Peninsula, most travelers will want to experience just that — authentic Mexican and Mayan culture. Merida being a smaller-sized city is great, but there are also a lot of amazing day trips from Merida, so we’ll also narrow those down.

Within Merida itself, you don’t need a car because it’s walkable and there’s Uber and taxis. However, for a day trip outside of the city, a rental car is your best option with only 2 days in Merida. If you don’t want to drive, Mexico has a great bus system on the ADO bus.

Since both Merida and its surrounding areas in the Yucatan Peninsula are equally amazing, that’s exactly what this itinerary will cover. Keep reading to discover the best way to spend one day in Merida and the other on a Merida day trip to one of the Seven Wonders of the World!

2 days in Merida Mexico

2 Days In Merida Itinerary: Day 1

On the first of your 2 days in Merida, you’ll want to check out the Historic City Center and Paseo Montejo, the prettiest street in Merida. Make sure your camera/phone is fully charged, as Merida is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico with its colorful colonial architecture and sites.

2 days in Merida Mexico: Day 1

Paseo de Montejo

Start the day with a visit to the Paseo Montejo, a tree-lined street with some of the best cafes, shops, museums and monuments in Merida. The entire street is two-miles-long, and you can head to the Monumento a la Patria, a beautiful monument on the northern end of the street.

This monument is unlike so many others since you can go right up to it and check out the intricate details. Hand-carved by Colombian sculptor Romulo Rozo, there are more than 300 figures depicting Mayan and Mexican history, including a carving of the Mayan rain god, Chaac.

Museo Palacio Canton (Canton Palace Museum), located on the Merida Paseo de Montejo.

From here, take a leisurely stroll down Paseo Montejo, walking by the historic mansions which are now both museums — Palacio Canton Museum and Casa 495 Museum. For breakfast or brunch in Merida, check out Rosas & Xocolate, Casa Chica and Marago Cafe, all located on Paseo Montejo.

For Merida shopping, head to the gorgeous Casa Tho Concept House. This is a renovated mansion surrounding a beautiful courtyard with 10 or so boutique shops selling clothing and jewelry and more by local designers. For unique Mexican art souvenirs, Posheria Merida is the place.

Rosas y Xocolate is one of the best hotels in Merida, but also one of the best places for brunch Merida! (Photo: Expedia)
2 days in Merida Mexico: Day 1

Centro Historico

After walking the Paseo de Montejo, head to historic downtown to see Merida’s grand and historic buildings, noteworthy sites and relaxing parks. 

Start out by visiting Plaza Grande (Main Plaza), the largest park in downtown. The centerpiece of Centro Historico, here you can marvel at the 16th Century Merida Cathedral, take a photo at the large Merida letters sign, visit Casa Montejo Museum, Palacio de Gobierno and more!

The colorful Merida sign in Plaza Grande, and the Cathedral behind it.

Next, check out Parque Santa Lucia to see the “Kissing Chairs,” which are 8-foot-tall, adjoining white chairs. You’ll see these same chairs throughout the Yucatan — though none this large. Just a few streets away, Parque Hidalgo is great for people-watching and relaxing in the shade.

If you want to do some Downtown Merida, head to Casa de las Artesanias (Artisan House). This fair-trade shop is run by the Yucatan government and features crafts made by local artists from small pueblos near Merida. It is the best place to buy authentic souvenirs in Merida.

Making tortillas by hand, to be cooked on a traditional cooking comal at the Gastronomy Museum of Merida. (Photo: TripAdvisor)
2 days in Merida Mexico: Day 1

Dinner & Drinks in Downtown Merida

For traditional Yucatacan cuisine, you have two great options in Centro Historico — La Chaya Maya and Museo de la Gastronomía Yucateca (MUGY). You can’t go wrong with either, as they are known as some of the best restaurants in Merida.

At either, you can try all the most popular Yucatan foods. These include cochinita pibil (slow-cooked suckling pig), sopa de lima (lime and chicken soup), papadzules (egg enchiladas in pepita sauce), poc chuc (grilled pork) and panuchos (tortillas stuffed with black bean paste).

For a nightcap or after dinner drink, head to any of the best bars in Merida, all of which are located right in downtown. Among them, La Negrita Cantina, Rosa Sur 32, Pipiripau, La Fundación Mezcaleria, Malahat and Mayan Pub, frequented by locals and visitors alike.

PLAN TO PARTY? 🍾 Don’t forget your Anti-Hangover Meds, so you enjoy Day 2 as much as Day 1!

The Temple of Kukulkan (AKA El Castillo/The Castle) at Chichen Itza Ruins near Merida.
2 days in Merida Mexico

2 Days In Merida Itinerary: Day 2

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins

One of the Seven Wonders of the World, seeing the Chichen Itza Ruins is a Mexico bucket list item for many. Located less than two hours from Merida, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered among the best Mayan ruins in Yucatan, Mexico.

You can take the ADO bus to Chichen Itza; though a rental car is of course quicker and much more convenient. There are also some tours from Merida to Chichen Itza tour options listed below — though to see the next place on this itinerary, Cenote Ik-Kil, you’ll have to go on your own.

However you plan to get to Chichen Itza, you’ll want to stay at this historic site for about 2-4 hours. Wear your most comfy shoes, as it’s a big place with about 10 buildings, Mayan Ruins complexes, the Sacred Cenote and even more things to see at Chichen Itza.

If you’d like to hire a Chichen Itza tour guide, you can do so right at the entrance for about $1,000 pesos ($50USD). As there’s so much historical significance here, do consider a guide to explain it all and enhance your overall understanding of the Mayan people.

Merida to Chichen Itza Tours

2 days in Merida Mexico: Day 2

Cenote Ik Kil

After a couple of hours at Chichen Itza, what better way to cool down than with a swim in one of the refreshing Yucatan cenotes — Cenote Ik Kil, located just minutes from Chichen Itza. Never heard of a cenote (pronounced sen-no-tay)? There’s an explanation below for you ⤵

What is a cenote? Underwater sinkholes containing clear, freshwater, that are found in only a few places on Earth. The largest concentration of about 6,000 cenotes is in Yucatan, Mexico.

Considered one of the most beautiful cenotes in Mexico, Ik Kil Cenote stands out among the thousands. Given its proximity to Chichen Itza, many combine the two on a Merida day trip. As the water is about 75°F year-round, it’s so nice to end the day here after visiting Chichen Itza.

Mexico Cenotes FAQs
  • Cost: Cenotes have entry fees, though they are minimal. The more popular ones that provide amenities like restrooms, on-site restaurants, etc., should still cost no more than $300 pesos ($15USD) to enter. Most are closer in price to about $50-100 pesos ($2.50-5USD).
  • Cash Only: Bring cash to cover both your entry and food. Most cenotes are in rural areas, and won’t have WiFi or the ability to take credit cards.
  • Accessibility: Different cenotes have different levels of accessibility. Many will have well-maintained stairs with handrails, especially the more popular ones. Some have make-shift stairs, and some have ladders.
  • Water shoes: Water shoes really help! As cenotes are natural pools, most have slippery rocks, muddy ground, etc. Water shoes also help you not slip in general, especially when walking down any staircase entryways. (I see this a lot!)
  • Waterproof Phone Holder: If you want to take photos in the cenotes, and don’t have a GoPro, you’ll want to bring your waterproof phone holder.
  • Life Jackets: I have never been to a cenote that didn’t provide or rent life jackets; but if you can’t swim, you might want to do additional research on the cenote(s) you’re visiting.
  • Sunscreens and lotions: Don’t apply sunscreen, lotion, insect repellent — anything — before getting in a cenote. Many require you to rinse off before entering, so even putting anything on will be a waste. If you need sunscreen for after you get out of the water, this Anti-Bug Sunscreen offers protection from the sun — and also from mosquitoes!
  • Photos: Want those people-free Instagram worthy cenotes photos? Go on a weekday, and arrive early! You’ll also want to bring a waterproof phone holder to keep your phone dry and safe.
The outdoor mural at Cartín Merida, a Yucatan food gastropub with innovative cocktails and a hip atmosphere. (Photo: TripAdvisor)
2 days in Merida Mexico: Day 2

Final Dinner in Merida

After freshening up, it’s time for a farewell dinner at one of the best restaurants in Merida!

If you want to splurge, there’s Ku’uk, an upscale, fine dining restaurant in Merida, serving elevated Yucatan cuisine. For dinner with a view, head to Picheta, which overlooks the Merida Cathedral from their rooftop patio. Both restaurants serve traditional Yucatan food, wit a twist.

For somewhere more fun and casual, El Catrin gastropub is a great option. It’s located a few blocks off Paseo Montejo on Calle 47 (47th Street). This street is often called Restaurant Row, so you’ll find other options there as well, like Oliva Enoteca, 130° Steakhouse and Micaela Mar y Leña.

For the best views of the Cathedral in Merida, dine al fresco at Picheta on their rooftop patio.

2 Days In Merida: City Info & FAQ

Where to Stay in Merida: Hotels, Hostels & Airbnbs

You have many options for Merida accommodations. There are great Merida VRBO/Airbnb home and apartment rentals you can check out here, 12 Stunning Airbnbs in Merida Mexico [Picked by a Local]. For Merida hostels, you can’t go wrong with Nomadas and Casa Garza.

If you’re more of a hotel traveler, here are some of the best hotels in Merida, with options in every price range.

CLICK TO BOOK ➡️ Rosas y Xocolate Merida (Photo: Expedia)
BOOK ➡️ NH Collection Merida (Photo: Expedia)
BOOK ➡️ Casa del Balam Hotel (Photo: Expedia)
2 days in Merida Mexico

What’s the best time to visit Merida?

The best time to visit Merida is from about November to March. With Merida’s tropical location, the weather is warm to hot (and humid!) nearly all year long — though winters are cooler at about 68-75°F day and night. By contrast, summer temperatures hover around 85-100°F.

The most fun time in the city is Hanal Pixan, the Mayan celebration of Day of the Dead in Merida. It takes place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, with altars set up around town and the annual Paseo de las Animas (Parade of Souls). December is also nice, as the city’s decorated with festive lights.

Merida Weather

Check out the Merida temperature yearly averages below, and for a detailed explanation, check out Merida Weather: A Month By Month Guide to Merida, Mexico Weather.

2 days in Merida Mexico

How to get from Merida Airport to the City Center

Merida International Airport (code: MID) is located 20-30 minutes from downtown. From there, you can rent a car, take a taxi or Uber, or use a private transportation service (see options below ⤵).

A Few Things to Note: Sadly, taxis often price-gouge tourists at the airport. With Uber, you may have to walk a few minutes out to the main road, as they won’t always do curbside airport pickup. If you’re someone who likes to have things planned, opt for the transfer service.

Merida Airport transfer

2 days in Merida Mexico

Final Thoughts: 2 Days In Merida Itinerary

Merida, Mexico, is a very special city — and I’m not just saying that because I live in it! From gorgeous colorful colonial architecture, to amazing Yucatan food, Mayan culture, boutique shopping, and amazing day trips from Merida, it’s hard not to fall for Merida’s charm.

Is Merida worth visiting?

Short answer: YES!

Long answer: As the Cultural Capital of the Yucatan, those who love Mayan history and Mexican culture will enjoy Merida. It provides a wonderful alternative to the big-name Yucatan Peninsula travel destinations like Cancun and Tulum, both located about 3.5 hours away. 

It is still an up-and-coming Mexico travel destination, though appearing more peoples’ radars thanks to press like this 2020 Conde Nast Traveller poll naming Merida the #3 “Best City in the World” 😳 However, for now, Merida remains approachable and appeals to a variety of travelers.

So what are you waiting for?! Book your Merida flight below

Merida Travel Planning Guide

🚑 Should I buy Mexico travel insurance? 100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from World Nomads, the biggest name in travel insurance. (Read more)

💧Can you drink the water in Merida? No — You’ll want to buy a Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Mexico, and helps keep you hydrated while traveling Mexico. (Read more)

🚙💨 Is it safe to rent a car in Merida? Yes — Renting a car in Mexico is one of the best ways to see the country! I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Mexican companies, so you get the best rates. (Read more)

📲 Will my phone work in Merida? Maybe — It depends on your company, so check with your provider. If you don’t have free Mexico service, buy a Telcel SIM Card. As Mexico’s largest carrier, Telcel has the best coverage of any Mexico SIM Cards. (Read more)

🏩 What’s the best way to book my Merida accommodation? For Mexico hotels and hostels, Booking is the best site. If you’re considering a Mexico Airbnb, don’t forget to also check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb! (Read more)

✈️ What’s the best site to buy Mexico flights? For finding cheap Mexico flights, I recommend Skyscanner.

🎫 Do I need a visa for Mexico? Likely Not — U.S., Canadian and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Mexico; but check here to see if you do need a Mexico travel visa. The majority of travelers will receive a 180-Day FMM Tourist Visa upon arrival.

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