One Day In Merida Mexico: Ultimate 24 Hour Itinerary [2024]

colorful colonial city of merida mexico in the yucatan peninsula | things to do merida mexico blog

Looking for the best way to spend 1 day in Merida, Mexico?

There are so many things to do in Merida, known as the Cultural Capital of the Yucatan Peninsula, and you can see a lot within your one day in Merida.

As it’s not a huge city — and the one I happen to live in! — I’m going to show you how to really enjoy your short time in Merida.

Even with just 24 hours in Merida, its central location in Yucatan, Mexico, even allows you to do a mini Merida day trip.

Located less than an hour from town, this Merida itinerary does include a visit to some Mayan Ruins and even one of the cenotes near Merida (a natural swimming pool).

With just one day in this walkable city, you can skip the rental car. Sticking to the main areas of Merida — Centro Historico (Historic Downtown) and Paseo de Montejo — you can walk or take Uber to get around.

Even for the mini-day trip just mentioned, it’s easier to Uber or take a taxi.

Ready to get into this 24 hours in Merida itinerary? Let’s get started with the first stop in Centro Historico, Merida’s Historic Downtown neighborhood.

One Day in Merida Itinerary

One Day in Merida: Stop #1 Centro Historico

pink colonial building in downtown merida mexico
One day in Merida things to do: visit the pink colonial building in Plaza Grande, Merida.

Start your day in Merida by getting to know the city on the Free Walking Tour of Merida. This tour is the best way to get to know this historic, colonial city in a short amount of time, as you’ll have a guide who’s a local to the area.

The Merida Tourism Office offers one-hour daily walking tours led by English-speaking guides. Tours start promptly at 9:30 am, but you’ll want to show up by 9:15 am.

Reservations on this free walking tour Merida aren’t required; just meet the guide on the first floor of the Palacio Municipal in Plaza Grande, seen above ⤴

Note: This is a free city walking tour, though it is customary to tip your guide to show appreciation. After the Merida free walking tour ends, consider tipping the guide $100-200 pesos ($5-10 USD) per person.

After the tour, grab some lunch before heading out to the Mayan ruins near Merida. If you’re looking to try the best tacos in Merida, head to Wayan’e, but for a sit-down meal, opt for La Chaya Maya, two of the best restaurants in Merida.

Considered one of the best restaurants in Merida Yucatan, check out La Chaya Maya for traditional Yucatan foods like sopa de lima (lime soup), papadzules (egg enchiladas), cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork) and poc chuc (grilled pork).

After eating, call an Uber, grab a taxi, or jump in your rental car (if you got one), and start driving to the Dzibilchaltun Ruins. These are the closest ruins to Merida, located about 45 minutes from downtown.

RELATED ARTICLE 🚗💨 Merida Car Rental: Everything You Need to Know + 10 Driving Tips

One Day in Merida itinerary

One Day in Merida: Stop #2 Dzibilchaltun Ruins & Cenote Xlacah

temple at Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins Mexico
Even with just one day in Merida, you can squeeze in a visit to Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins near Merida, Yucatan.

Dzibilchaltun (pronounced zee-bee-shall-tune) is a smaller Yucatan Mayan Ruins site, but an interesting one that’s just outside Merida. This isn’t the case with all Mexico ruins, but you can climb some of the Dzibilchaltun pyramids.

Though you can’t climb the central structure, Temple of the Seven Dolls (AKA Temple of the Sun), which you’ll see in most Dzibilchaltun photos, there are a few others towards the back of the site where you can.

In total, there are about five structures at Dzibilchaltun.

After climbing the Dzibilchaltun pyramid and structures onsite, you can go for a refreshing swim in Xlacah Cenote.

If you’re not familiar with cenotes, they are basically swimmable sinkholes or natural pools found throughout the Yucatan with cool, freshwater to swim in.

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.
Xlacah cenote near merida mexico
Wondering, what to do in Merida? Take a refreshing swim in Xlacah Cenote near Merida, after exploring the Dzibilchaltun temples, pyramids and ruins.

Cenote Xlacah is the closest cenote to Merida. It is a swimming pool style cenote, so it’s fully open with no covering, and popular with both locals and visitors alike.

To practice sustainable tourism in Mexico, don’t put on any sunscreen or lotion when swimming in the cenotes.

Besides the ruins and cenote, there’s also the Mayan People’s Museum (AKA Dzibilchaltun Museum) on site with a nice collection of Mayan artifacts.

The display items inside were found when excavating the site and also at other ruins sites throughout the Yucatan Peninsula.

After about two hours exploring Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins and Cenote Xlacah, head back to Merida to shower and freshen up — that is, if you’re renting a Merida Airbnb/VRBO, Merida hotel or Merida hostel for the night.

Mexican designed tile flooring

RELATED ARTICLE 🏡 12 Stunning Airbnbs in Merida Mexico [Picked by a Local]

One Day in Merida itinerary

One Day in Merida: Stop #3 Paseo de Montejo

woman at Monumento a la Patria Merida Mexico
A must-see on your one day in Merida: The most grand and beautiful Merida monument on Paseo Montejo, Monumento a la Patria.

Some of the most beautiful things to see in Merida are located along and around the Paseo de Montejo (Montejo Walkway, or Montejo Street).

This walkable, tree-lined street has historic and grand European mansions, cute boutique shops, and great Merida restaurants and bars. You can even do your own self guided walking tour Merida along this street.

It is a two-mile-long street (3.2 km) and worth walking the whole thing from end to end. There are a few monuments along the Paseo de Montejo, but none are as beautiful as the Monumento a la Patria (Monument to the Fatherland).

Made by sculptor Romulo Rozo, the Monumento a la Patria has more than 300 hand-carved figures depicting 700-plus years of Mexican and Mayan history.

Unlike some monuments, you can go right up to it and see all the beautiful figures, including the carving of the Mayan rain god, Chaac.

The monument is located on the northern end of Paseo de Montejo, so from there, you can head south to Calle 47.

This cute street is often called Restaurant Row because it has some of the best restaurants in Merida, and it makes the perfect dinner spot (see dining options above ⤴).

Casa Tho Concept House in Merida
Not sure what to buy in Merida? Head to Casa Tho Concept House for the best shopping in Merida. (Photo: Casa Tho via Facebook)

When walking the Paseo Montejo, admire the beautiful mansions like Palacio Canton, Casas Gemelas (Twin Houses, AKA Casa 495 Museum) and Quinta Montes Molina.

For some Merida shopping, Casa Tho and Happening Mérida are both great for clothing and jewelry. If you want some amazing Mexican art pieces and unique souvenirs, head to Posheria Merida for ethically sourced pieces.

One Day in Merida itinerary

Best restaurants in Merida for Dinner

plate of three tacos at Catrin Merida restaurant
Tacos at Catrín Merida, a Yucatan food gastropub with innovative cocktails and a hip atmosphere.

When it’s time for dinner, head to any of these great restaurants on Calle 47 (47th Street), only about one or two blocks off Paseo de Montejo:

  • Catrín: A hip Yucatecan-fusion gastropub with fun artwork on the walls outside.
  • Oliva Enoteca: A more upscale Italian restaurant that has a great wine list.
  • Micaela Mar y Leña: A Yucatecan-fusion gastropub-style restaurant, with a focus on fresh seafood.
  • Amado By The Beer Box: A beautiful indoor/outdoor restaurant that has live jazz music several nights per week.
  • 130° Steakhouse: Chic steakhouse has amazing desserts and a large scotch selection.
  • Hon Merida: Hip pan-Asian eatery with fun cocktails and a nice outdoor space.

All Merida restaurants have both great food and drinks, but if you’d want a nightcap, head back to the bars on Paseo de Montejo.

There, you have options, including Casa Chica for cocktails, Hennessey’s Irish Pub for beer and La Bottega for wine (though you might want to Uber here).

One Day in Merida itinerary

Where to Stay in Merida

If your one day in Merida will also include staying for the night, you have great options at all price ranges. Below are three great Merida hotel options, and two of the best hostels in Merida.

Prefer a Merida Airbnb/VRBO? Head here for the 12 best home and apartment rentals.

Rosas y Xocolate Merida

Rosas y Xocolate Merida pool area
For your travel to Merida Mexico, book Rosas y Xocolate Merida — one of Merida’s Instagrammable hostel. (Photo: Expedia)

Rosas y Xocolate Merida ($$$$): There are only four rooms at what’s considered the best Merida boutique hotel, but if you want to splurge for the night, there’s no better place than Rosas & Xocolate!

Located right on Paseo de Montejo, this is also the perfect place to enjoy breakfast or brunch in the morning before leaving town.

One Day in Merida itinerary

Diplomat Boutique Hotel Merida

Diplomat Boutique Hotel Merida pool area
If you’re looking for a boutique hotel with a pool, book Diplomat Boutique Hotel Merida. (Photo: Expedia)

Diplomat Boutique Hotel Merida ($$$): Situated on a quiet street in the Santiago neighborhood of Centro Historico (Historic Downtown), the Diplomat Boutique Hotel VIP is hip and chic.

It is centrally located in downtown Merida, near restaurants, bars, sites, museums, boutique shops and more.

One Day in Merida itinerary

NH Collection Merida

NH Collection Merida exterior
Book NH Collection Merida — a luxurious Merida Hotel. (Photo: Expedia)

NH Collection Merida ($$): This hotel is located at hip Paseo 60, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, meaning that everything you’d need is in the same building.

The NH Collection Hotel is on Paseo de Montejo, the best street in Merida, and it has great amenities, including 24-hour room service, a rooftop pool and gym.

One Day in Merida itinerary

Nomadas Hostel

Nomadas Hostel interior
For a more budget-friendly option, book Nomadas Hostel. (Photo: Hostel World)

Nomadas Hostel ($): There aren’t many Merida hostels, but even if there were, Nomadas might still be the best one of the bunch!

Nomadas has that quintessential bohemian-colonial look Merida is known for, a gorgeous lounge area with a swimming pool and hammocks, and a great location in Centro Historico (Historic Downtown). If they are full, try Casa Garza.

One Day In Merida FAQ

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.

merida mexico weather chart
Merida Mexico average weather. (Photo: Weather and Climate)
One Day in Merida itinerary

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

Final Thoughts: One Day in Merida, Mexico

How long to stay in Merida: Is 1 Day enough?

How long to stay in Merida: Is 1 Day enough?

While Merida is an amazing city to spend any amount of time in, also makes for a great one day trip. The itinerary in this article is action-packed, but it will really give you a taste of both Merida, the city, and some of the amazing things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula, located just outside Merida.

With Merida International Airport (code: MID) about 20 minutes from downtown, it’s easy to travel in and out of Merida. If you’re planning to visit other places to see in Yucatan, you have many options located within a few hours of Merida, Mexico.

The top Mexico vacation destinations of Tulum, Cancun and Playa del Carmen are about three hours away by rental car or bus.

For a more relaxed vibe, head to the colorful colonial cities of Valladolid or Campeche City, both located about two hours from Merida.

Merida Travel Planning Guide

Should I buy Mexico travel insurance?

100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10 USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from Travel Insurance Master, one of the biggest names in travel insurance. (Read more)

Can you drink the water in Merida?

No — You’ll want to buy this 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, 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 always 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 or passport stamp upon arrival.

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one day in merida mexico