50 Best Things to do in Merida, Mexico + FREE Map

Jun 11, 2021 | 12 comments

looking for the top Merida, Mexico things to do?

Known as the Cultural Capital of the Yucatan Peninsula, and one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Mexico, there’s no shortage of things to do in Merida, Mexico — the capital of Yucatan state.

From historic monuments and buildings, to colorful streets and charming cafes, you’ll never run out of things to see in Merida! If by chance you do, head to 25 Best Merida Day Trips, for more beautiful Yucatan things to do within 1-3 hours of the city.

How do I know all this about Merida, Mexico? I live here!

That’s right, you have the most coveted of travel advice right at your fingertips — Tips from a local! Besides the things to do in Merida listed here, check out my article, 12 Stunning Airbnbs in Merida Mexico [Picked by a Local], when determining where to stay in Merida.

If you’re ready, let’s dive in and explore the 50 best things to do in Merida, Mexico, that you won’t want to miss! As one of the most beautiful cities in the Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, I hope this article helps you find all of my city’s beauty.

BONUS: All Merida things to do have been pinned to the Merida map below, for your convenience 💗

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Best things to do in Merida, Mexico

Things to do in Merida Map

For your convenience, the 50 best things to do in Merida mentioned in this blog have been pinned to the map below. It is the perfect way to plan your Merida sightseeing adventure in Mexico.

You might notice on this map of Merida that many things are quite close to one another — and you’d be right! Merida is not a very big city, and in fact, it makes for the perfect Mexico weekend getaway because you could leisurely explore Merida in 2-3 days.

If you have more time, head to one of the nearby towns like Tulum, Valladolid and Campeche, and all these other 25 Best Merida Day Trips.


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

1. Stay in a Renovated Merida Hacienda

Before we get to all the amazing things to do in Merida, I wouldn’t be a good city guide unless I helped you with picking the best accommodations in Merida!

There are many gorgeous Merida VRBO and Airbnbs you can rent to really soak in those laid back Yucatan, Mexico vibes. For a list of the best Merida rentals, like CasaBlanca seen below, check out my, 12 Stunning Airbnbs in Merida Mexico [Picked by a Local] article.

All photos of CasaBlanca courtesy of VRBO

Things to do in Merida: Paseo Montejo

2. Stroll Paseo de Montejo

There’s no shortage of pretty things to see in Merida! Some of the best parts of the city are located along and around the Paseo de Montejo — AKA the most prime real estate in Merida, Mexico! This walkable, tree-lined street is full of history and some of the most beautiful buildings in Merida.

Paseo Montejo is about 13 city blocks long (2 miles/3.2km), with numerous beautiful buildings, cute cafes and chic shops along the way, so go ahead and walk the whole street — though you’ll find some of the highlights listed below.

The Paseo runs north-to-south, and you can start at either side and walk to the other. It goes from a small park called El Remate on the south side, and ends two-miles north at the Monumento a la Patria. This iconic structure if the most photographed Paseo Montejo monument.

Merida Travel Tip: North of this monument, the street name changes to Prolongacion Paseo de Montejo, and there’s not much to see or do — so you can stop at the monument.


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

3. Photograph the Monumento a la Patria

The Monumento a la Patria (Monument to the Fatherland) is beautiful both during the day and at night, when lit up with different colored lights. Unlike many monuments, you can go right up to this one to check out the details.

Made by Colombian sculptor, Romulo Rozo, it features more than 300 hand-carved figures, chronicling about 700 years of Mexican history. On it, you’ll see artistic representations of the establishment of Tenochtitlan (present-day Mexico City), the Mayan rain god Chaac, and more.


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

4. Eat Brunch at Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel

Not only is Rosas & Xocolate one of the best hotels in Merida, but they’re also one of the best Merida brunch spots. Head there for the Sunday Jazz Brunch to enjoy the live musicians on the outdoor patio; though, the brunch is great any day of the week.

Looking for the best brunch in Merida? Head to Rosas y Xocolate hotel on Paseo Montejo. (Photos: Expedia)

This boutique Merida hotel is located right on Paseo Montejo, and hard to miss with its bright pink color. From the second you walk in, you’re transported to a bohemian jungle meets modern clean lines, complete with resort hotel, luxury spa, outdoor cafe, indoor restaurant/bar and boutique artisan shop.

There are only four rooms in this Rosas & Xocolate Merida, so don’t hesitate on booking this gorgeous and best boutique hotel in Merida.

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

5. Check out Merida’s Restaurant Row

Head to the southern end of Paseo Montejo to Calle 47 (47th Street) AKA Restaurant Row. Here — you guessed it — you’ll find some of the best restaurants in Merida, and the trendiest cafes. Check out these favorites ⤵

RELATED ARTICLE ☕️ 🥐 Eating Alone While Traveling: How to Overcome Solo Dining Fear

The fun mural painted at Cartín Merida, a gastropub with Yucatan-fusion cuisine, innovative cocktails and a fun atmosphere. (Photo: TripAdvisor)

Best merida restaurants on Calle 47

  • Catrin: Hip Yucatecan gastropub with funky artwork.
  • Oliva Enoteca: Upscale Italian food, with a great wine list.
  • Micaela Mar y Leña: Mexican/Yucatecan fusion, with a seafood focus.
  • Amado by The Beer Box: Beautiful indoor/outdoor restaurant with live jazz several nights per week.

Best merida cafes ON CALLE 47

  • Cafe Latte Quattro Sette: One of the prettiest Merida coffee shops, with decadent pastries.
  • Centro Cultural Punto MID: Part book store, part cute cafe with cool art on the walls.
  • Te Extraño, Extraño: Beautiful indoor/outdoor breakfast/lunch cafe; located just off around the corner from Calle 47, in the Lagala Building.

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

6. Have Lunch at Manjar Blanco (As Seen on Netflix)

While it’s not the only Merida Netflix restaurant on the list, Manjar Blanco is the first one! As seen on Netflix’s Taco Chronicles, Season 2, Episode 2 called “Cochinita Pibil,” you’ll meet Señora Miriam Peraza, the restaurant’s owner.

She, along with a team of fellow abuelas (grandmas) cook up traditional Yucatan food by hand — the traditional way. Aiming to preserve this region’s unique culinary traditions and regional flavors, they are doing something right to have caught the eye of this popular Netflix show.

Cochinita pibil tacos at Manjar Blanco Merida, located just off Paseo de Montejo.

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

7. Enjoy a late night meal at Cafe Impala

Cafeteria Impala, a favorite among locals that’s located at the intersection of Calle 47 and Paseo Montejo. This indoor/outdoor old school diner is both instagrammable and has stood the test of time, serving delicious food at one of the best restaurants in Merida since 1958.

This Merida institution is popular day and night, but many love to head there after Sunday morning Merida bike ride along the Paseo Montejo, called the BiciRuta 🚴‍♀️

  • Cafe Impala Address: Calle 56A #500, between Calles 47 and 45, Merida, 97000
  • Cafe Impala Hours: Open daily, 8am-1am
A Yucatan Merida Mexico landmark and locals’ favorite, Cafeteria Impala sidewalk cafe. (Photo: Sharon Hahn Darlin via Flickr)

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

8. Do the (FREE) BiciRuta Merida Bike Ride

Wondering, just what is the BiciRuta in Merida?

The Merida BiciRuta, which means “bike route,” is a city-wide bike ride that takes place several times a week. The most popular ride on Sunday mornings along Paseo Montejo, from about 8am-12pm.

There are both FREE bike rentals (if you get there early enough) and paid bike rentals available for Merida visitors; some renters require a passport, and some only need an ID/driver’s license.


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

9. Shop the Boutiques at Casa Tho

Casa Tho Concept House bears the Mayan name for the city of Merida — T’hō. It is a renovated mansion surrounding a pretty courtyard that has about 10 individual boutique shops with clothing, jewelry, perfume, bath products and more. If you’re hungry or thirsty after shopping, grab a bite to eat and a cocktail of coffee in the Casa Tho cafe.

Casa Tho Concept House has the best boutique shopping in Merida, with post-shopping food and drinks in the outdoor courtyard. (Photo: Casa Tho via Facebook)

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

10. Photograph the Hotel Casa Azul

The Hotel Casa Azul (Blue House Hotel) is super pretty and has actually been declared a national historic monument. Its light blue exterior makes for a beautiful photo, but so does the interior courtyard — just ask nicely and the front desk staff will let you snap some quick photos.

🏨 Book your stay at Hotel Casa Azul, one of the best hotels in Merida Mexico, with near-perfect reviews. | Hotel Casa Azul Address: Calle 60 #343, Merida, 97000


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

11. Go Organic at the Saturday Slow Food Market

Not far from El Pinar, head to the best Merida farmer’s market — the Saturday Slow Food Market — held Saturdays from 9am-1pm. If you’re planning to cook while staying in Merida, you can pick up all your organic meats, produce, fresh-baked bread, olive oils, and more. | Slow Food Market Address: Calle 33 #498, Reparto Dolores Patrón, Merida, 97070 

12. Admire the El Pinar House

El Pinar (The Pine Grove) is one of the most Instagram worthy Merida homes. When you see it, you’ll know why — as it’s basically Barbie’s Dream House!

This French-style mansion is actually privately owned, so you can’t go in. However, you can put your camera through the gate and snap some photos, like I did in the photo below. | El Pinar Address: Calle 60, between Avenida Colon and Calle 35, Merida, 97000


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

13. Visit the Parroquia Santa Ana

Built in 1733, the Parroquia Santa Ana (Parrish/Church of Saint Ana) is one of several photogenic spots in the hip Santa Ana neighborhood.

In the adjoining Santa Ana Park, you’ll find some of Merida’s famous Tu y Yo (You and I) white chairs, and the open-air Mercado Santa Ana (market). At the mercado, be sure to try some traditional Yucatecan cuisine, like cochinita pibil (slow-cooked suckling pig) and sopa de lima (lime soup).

History of the Yucatan Kissing Chairs

These white chairs go by several names: Tu y Yo Chairs (You and I), Sillas Confidantes (Confidant Chairs), and Kissing Chairs. You’ll find them throughout Downtown Merida and Yucatan state, but their true origins remain unknown.

One widely-accepted theory is that hundreds of years ago, an overprotective father created the chairs so his daughter and the young man courting her could sit together and talk — without touching one another — and in the most modest way possible.

The Kissing Chairs in Santa Ana Park.

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

Things to do in Merida: Centro Historico

In general, Centro de Merida (Downtown) never gets old; there are just so many colorful homes, vintage cantinas, beautiful colonial buildings, bougainvillea bushes, charming windows and doors, vintage VW cars and so many more things to see and photograph.

Many of the most Instafamous Merida places are found in Plaza Grande (and all pinned on the FREE Merida Map at the top of this article), including the big, colorful letters spelling out MERIDA. You’ll find letters just like these in popular cities throughout Mexico.

14. Take the Merida FREE Walking Tour

Looking for free things to do in Merida? You’re in luck because the Free Merida Walking Tour is a great way to get to know this historic, colonial city.

Merida Travel Tip: It is customary to tip as payment for these types of city walking tours. Please consider tipping your guide $100-200 pesos ($5-10USD) per person.

The Merida Tourism Office offers free, one-hour, daily walking tours as well. Guides are all bi- or multi-lingual, and do speak English. Tours start at 9:30am, but try to show up by 9:15am. Meet your guide on the first floor of the Palacio Municipal, the pink building on the west side of Plaza Grande.

Palacio Municipal Merida, located in Plaza Grande.

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

15. Visit Plaza Grande

Located in Downtown Merida, Plaza Grande (Main Plaza) is the Town Square. It is also known as the Zocalo, and as old as the city itself. Enjoy some quiet time people-watching in the park, then head to all the sites around the park, including the Merida Cathedral and Casa Montejo Museum.


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

16. Take a photo of the Merida Sign

Throughout major cities and Mexico tourism destinations, you’ll find signs with colorful letters spelling out the town’s name. In Merida, the sign is located in Plaza Grande. It makes for one of the most popular Merida photo spots, especially with the Merida Cathedral in the background.


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

17. Marvel at the Merida Cathedral

The San Ildefonso Cathedral was built throughout the 16th Century, from 1561-1598. It is one of the oldest cathedrals in the entire Americas Continent, and the biggest church in Merida. The outside and inside are both very beautiful — just remember to be quiet and respectful if you take photos inside the church.

18. Have a Rooftop Dinner at Picheta

For the best views of the cathedral, enjoy dinner on the outdoor patio at Picheta. If you don’t want a full meal, opt for tapas, desserts and drinks at what’s undoubtedly the best rooftop bar in Merida.

The menu features traditional Yucatecan cuisine, prepared with a contemporary twist, and fine dining presentation. As one of the best Merida restaurants, you’ll want to make a reservation for both indoor and outdoor dining at this popular spot.  

  • Picheta Address: Calle 61 #501, Merida, 97000
  • Picheta Hours: Monday-Thursday, 5pm-10pm; Friday-Sunday, 2pm-10pm  

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

19. See the Merida Cathedral Video Mapping Show

On Friday nights at 8pm, there’s an impressive video mapping display on the side of the Merida Cathedral. The Piedras Sagradas (Sacred Stones) show tells the history of Merida and the Yucatan in a 20-minute audio/video show.

There is limited seating, and if you want a seat, you’ll want to arrive by 7:30pm. The show is in Spanish, but even if you don’t understand it, you’ll be able to follow along with the pretty images. 


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

20. Catch a Pok Ta Pok Mayan Ball Game

Pok Ta Pok is an ancient Mayan game that’s been played for centuries. In fact, if you’re visiting Chichen Itza, you’ll see the large Pok Ta Pok ball court at this sacred site — one of the Seven Wonders of the World! 

It was said that members of the losing team would be sacrificed to the gods in centuries past, as this was a serious game. Nowadays, you can watch a (peaceful) reenactment of this ballgame on Saturday nights, from about 8:30pm-9pm, in front of the cathedral. 

21. Shop the Merida en Domingo Sunday Market

During the day on Sundays, the streets shut down to cars for a while, and Plaza Grande transforms into a street market and fair. If you’re looking to pick up some Merida souvenirs and traditional Mayan handicrafts, Merida en Domingo (Merida Sunday Market) is the perfect palace.

If you pass by at the right time, you’ll catch the Vaquería folkloric dance show, and the beautiful Boda Mestiza, a recreation of a traditional wedding ceremony.

The Vaquería dancers performing in Plaza Grande during the Merida en Domino Sunday Market. (Photo: Joseph Kiesecker via Flickr)

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

22. Tour the Palacio de Gobierno

Built in 1892, the Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace) houses Yucatan state’s executive government offices. This pretty green building is lovely from the outside, but do head inside if it’s open.

Check out both floors for some pretty Merida photos and to see the beautiful art. Hanging on the walls, there are murals and oil paintings by local artist Fernando Castro Pacheco, depicting the Yucatan Peninsula’s history.

  • Palacio de Gobierno Address: Calle 60, between Calles 61 and 59, Merida, 97000
  • Palacio de Gobierno Hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm
  • Palacio de Gobierno Admission Cost: FREE

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

23. Take a Photo on the Big Chairs in Parque Santa Lucia

In Parque Santa Lucia (Saint Lucia’s Park), you’ll find Merida’s famous and instagrammable giant white chairs. Though they don’t always look like it in photos, these chairs stand at almost 8-feet-tall (2.5m).

These chairs, located all over Merida and the Yucatan, go by a lot of names: Sillas Tú y Yo (You and I Chairs), Sillas Confidentes (Confidants’ Chairs), and Kissing Chairs.

Regardless of the name you call them, you’ll want your photo sitting on these giant white chairs in Merida.

📸 Ready to level up your solo travel photos? Head to this article, How to Get Awesome Solo Travel Photos, and get 5 photo tips and 5 FREE editing presets!


23. Enjoy Dinner & Dancing in Santa Lucia Park at Night

Parque Santa Lucia is pretty during the day, but it really comes alive after the sun goes down. At night there is often live music and folk dancing, and all the restaurants open — transforming this unassuming park into the perfect place to enjoy dinner al fresco, listen to music and people-watch.

RELATED ARTICLE ☕️ 🥐 Eating Alone While Traveling: How to Overcome Solo Dining Fear


24. Learn About Yucatecan Cuisine at Merida Gastronomy Museum

The Museo de la Gastronomía Yucateca, or MUGY, is part restaurant, part museum. Head there to sample all the best Yucatan foods, like cochinita pibil (suckling pig), sopa de lima (lime soup) and poc chuc (grilled pork), and while you’re waiting on your food take the short museum tour. 

Located just outside behind the restaurant, there’s a recreation of a traditional Mayan village with traditional kitchens. In each kitchen, you’ll learn about the three recados (spices mixed into a paste) used throughout traditional Yucatan cuisine to give it a unique taste.

  • Gastronomy Museum Address: Calle 62 #466, Merida, 97000
  • Gastronomy Museum Hours: Monday-Friday, 11am-10:30pm; Saturday-Sunday, 10am-10:30pm  
Making tortillas by hand, to be cooked on a traditional cooking comal at the Gastronomy Museum of Merida. (Photo: TripAdvisor)

25. Catch the Symphony at Teatro Peon Contreras

Teatro Jose Peon Contreras is the oldest and most beautiful theater in Merida. It was designed by Italian architects to look similar to a grand European theater from the 19th Century.

Want to see a live performance in this historic theater? When in season, the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra performs here Friday nights at 9pm, and again on Sundays at noon. Tickets vary, but run about $200 pesos ($10USD) for general performances. | Contreras Theater Address: Calle 60 490, Merida, 97000


26. Create your own Perfume at Coqui Coqui Merida

Located in a converted home, the Coqui Coqui store wears many hats — Perfumeria (perfume store), spa and one-room hotel. In fact, it is one of the best spas in Merida, and also one of the best boutique hotels in Merida, Mexico. Head there for some beautiful photos and to create your own custom perfume scent. | Coqui Coqui Merida Address: Calle 55 516, Merida, 97000

Merida Travel Tip: You must make a reservation to visit Coqui Coqui.

Create your own perfume at the beautiful Coqui Coqui Merida boutique. (Photo: Coqui Coqui)

27. Visit the Historic UADY Campus

The Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan (Autonomous University of the Yucatan), or UADY for short, is a college campus. That being the case, you can’t just roam it freely. However, the Moroccan-inspired courtyard right at the entrance is the most beautiful part of UADY, along with its grand entrance door. | UADY Address: Calle 60 491A, Merida, 97000

28. Shop Fair Trade at Casa de las Artesanias

The Casa de las Artesanias del Estado de Yucatan (House of the Artisans of Yucatan State) is a fair trade store — and one of the best places for shopping in Merida Mexico to purchase authentic handicrafts from local artists.

Merida Travel Tip: Unlike similar artisan shops, prices in the Casa de las Artesanias are non-negotiable and haggling isn’t allowed.

Opened in 1978, the Casa de las Artesanias is operated by the Yucatan state government. It is part of a nonprofit cultural program to support indigenous Mayan artisans. | Casa De Las Artesanias Address: Calle 63, between Calles 64 and 66, Merida, 97000 (next to Monjas Church)


29. Relax at Parque Hidalgo

Of all Downtown Merida parks, Parque Hidalgo (Hidalgo’s Park) tends to be the most relaxing. Get an ice cream at the Santa Clara, or a coffee at Starbucks, then sit on the white Kissing Chairs and people-watch. Bonus: There’s free WiFi in Parque Hidalgo.

Before leaving Parque Hidalgo, head inside El Gran Hotel and Hotel Caribe Merida, to see their beautiful, historic lobbies. Located right across the street, Parque de la Madre (Mother’s Park), Iglesia de Jesus (Jesus’ Church), and the La Bella Epoca building are all quite photo-worthy.


30. Visit Merida Arches: Arco de Dragones, Arco del Puente & Arco de San Juan

The Arco de Dragones (Dragon’s Arch) and Arco del Puente (Bridge Arch) are two of Merida’s three remaining arches that still stand today. There were originally eight, but the others have fallen over the years.

These two of the three are located on both ends of Calle 50 (50th Street), so when you’re standing at one, you can see the other. For photos, the Arco de Dragones is on the less crowded side of the street.

The Arco de Dragones, located at the intersection of Calle 50 and Calle 61, in Downtown Merida.

Located on the outermost edge of downtown, the Arco de San Juan (Saint John’s Arch) is little bit of a walk — but also the prettiest of the three arches, so it’s worth it. If you do want to see it, there is also the Iglesia de San Juan Bautista (Church of Saint John the Baptist) and Parque de San Juan (Saint John’s Park) right next to the arch.

Merida Travel Tip: Walk under the arch, hearing southwest on Calle 64 (64th Street) to see a whole street full of cute, colorful buildings.

  • Arco de Dragones: Calle 50 and Calle 61
  • Arco del Puente: Calle 50 and Calle 63
  • Arco de San Juan: Calle 64 and Calle 69A
The Arco de San Juan, located at the intersection of Calle 64 and Calle 69A, on the outskirts of Downtown Merida.

31. Eat at Taqueria La Lupita (As Seen on Netflix)

Located a Parque Santiago, inside the Mercado de Santiago (Santiago Market), you’ll find La Lupita Taquería. This no-frills taco shop was featured on Netflix’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, in Episode 3 called “Acid.”

While there, sample some traditional panuchos and salbutes, and wash it all down with a piña con chaya drink. This is a great place for cheap eats in Merida, as you can have three tacos and a drink for about $7USD. | Mercado de Santiago Address: On Calle 57, Between Calles 50 and 52, Merida, 97000

Taquería La Lupita Merida serves up traditional Yucatecan cuisine, like the salbutes (puffy fried tacos) and panuchos (tacos with black beans in the tortillas) seen here.

32. Check out Lucas de Galvez Market

If you want to see a traditional Mexican market, head to Mercado Lucas de Galves. This is the largest market in Merida, where you can shop for produce, spices, flowers and souvenirs. It’s great for photos, but can be a bit hectic, so pay extra attention to your belongings here. | Lucas de Galvez Address: Calle 56 and Calle 65A, Merida, 97000

33. Enjoy Dinner & Live Music at Mercado 60

Mercado 60 is a trendy food hall, with several vendors selling everything from tacos to pizza. There’s live music on weekends, but it’s just a fun, outdoor spot any day of the week with a lot of food options to satisfy everyone in your group. | Mercado 60 Address: Calle 60 #461, Merida, 97000


34. Have Botanas & Drinks at the Merida Cantinas

In Merida, cantinas are a big part of the culture. There are the ones that seem to cater more towards visitors, like Dzalbay Cantina and La Negrita Cantina (which many consider the best cantina in Merida), and others frequented more by locals. 

Some of the more locals’ spots include El Cardenal and Lucero de Alba. At the latter, enjoy some day drinking and botanas, which are basically Yucatan tapas. Similar to in many parts of Spain, when drinking in a traditional Merida cantina, you’ll be offered free botanas, small plates. 

35. Go Bar Hopping at Merida Bars

While many of the traditional cantinas close by 8pm, some stay open later — like Dzalbay Cantina and La Negrita. To check out some of the other best bars in Merida, head to Casa Chica on Paseo Montejo, Malahat, La Fundación Mezcaleria, Pipiripau and Mayan Pub.

La Negrita Cantina is among the most popular and best bars in Merida. (Photo: Travel4Brews via Flickr)

Visit the Best Merida Museums

36. Mayan World Museum of Merida

The Gran Museo del Mundo Maya (Mayan World Museum) houses the largest collection of Mayan art and artifacts in Merida. Though located about 20 minutes by taxi or Uber outside of downtown, this is known as the best museum in Merida, so it’s worth a trip for art and history lovers.

Merida Travel Tip: Mayan World Museum is closed Tuesdays.

  • Mayan World Museum Address: Calle 60 Norte #299, Merida, 97110
  • Mayan World Museum Hours: Open Wednesday-Monday, 9am-5pm
  • Mayan World Museum Admission Cost: $150 pesos ($8USD)
The Merida Mayan World Museum houses the largest collection of Mayan artifacts in Merida. (Photo: Howard Francisco Dratch via Flickr)

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

37. Casa Montejo 495 (Casas Gemelas)

Casa 495, one of the two Casas Gemelas (Twin Houses), is like stepping back in time. The other house is privately owned, but Casa 495 opened its doors to the public in early-2021.

Merida Travel Tip: Casa 495, and most Merida museums, are closed Mondays.

The inside of this European Renaissance-style mansion has been well preserved and reflects the esthetic style popular in Merida during the early-1900s, when Casa 495 was built. Within this picturesque home, you’ll see tapestries from all over the world, sculptures, paintings, stained glass windows and more.

  • Casa 495 Address: Paseo de Montejo #495, Merida, 97000
  • Casa 495 Hours: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 9am-5pm
  • Casa 495 Admission Cost: $250 pesos ($13USD)
classical european decor inside a historic mansion in Instagrammable Merida, Mexico
Step back in time inside Casa Montejo 495, one of the Casas Gemelas, or Twin Houses. (Photos: Casa Montejo 495 via Facebook)

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

38. Museo Palacio Canton

Museo Palacio Canton (Canton Palace Museum) is undeniably the most photographed building in Merida! This museum is also the biggest and most iconic of Paseo de Montejo’s grand European-style buildings, with its stunning Old World design, both inside and out.

Recently, the museum’s name changed to Museo Regional de Antropología de Yucatán, Palacio Canton (Regional Museum of Anthropology of Yucatán, Canton Palace), as it now houses a small collection of Mayan artifacts. Locally, however, everyone still knows it as Palacio Canton or Palacio Canton Museum.

  • Casa 495 Address: Paseo de Montejo #485, Merida, 97000
  • Casa 495 Hours: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 8am-5pm
  • Casa 495 Admission Cost: $65 pesos ($3)

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

39. Museo Casa Montejo

The outside of the Museo Casa Montejo (Montejo House Museum) is itself a work of art. It is one of only a few examples seen in Mexico of the architecture style called Plateresque, which is found mostly in Europe.

As the name implies, the Casa Montejo Museum is also a house, and the inside is like going back in time. Head there to see what’s on display in the gallery, as there’s rotating exhibits throughout the year.

  • Museo Casa Montejo Address: Calle 63 506, Merida, 97000
  • Museo Casa Montejo Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-7pm
  • Museo Casa Montejo Admission Cost: FREE

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

40. Pasaje a la Revolucion

The Pasaje a la Revolución (Revolution Passageway) isn’t a museum per say, but it does always have a FREE public art display. It sits between the Merida Cathedral and the Fernando Garcia Ponce-Macay Museum. Inside, you’ll find a rotating lineup of art installations from both Mexican and international artists.


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

41. Fundacion de Artistas

You won’t see this place on any other Merida travel lists, because the Fundación de Artistas (Artist’s Foundation) is one of the true Merida hidden gems. This unique space is an art gallery with a boutique store and café outside in a beautiful courtyard. | Fundacion de Artistas Address: Calle 55 520, Merida, 97000

Vintage decor at a art gallery/cafe, one of the things to do in Merida, Mexico
The Merida Artist’s Foundation is part art gallery, part museum, part boutique shop and part cafe! (Photo: Fundacion de Artistas via Facebook)

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

Best Merida Day Trips: Beaches, Ruins, Cenotes

All of the places listed above are located within Merida city limits, but if you want to venture outside of the city, there’s also a ton of options. Given its central location in the Yucatan Peninsula, Merida is the ideal home base for exploring Yucatan.

There are nine great day trips from Merida listed below, but for even more options check out these articles:


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

42. Progreso Beach

Puerto Progreso is the closest beach to Merida, and considered one of the best Gulf of Mexico  beach towns. Located about 30-45 minutes away, the easiest way to get from Merida to Progreso is on the AutoProgreso bus, which costs just $25 pesos ($2USD) each way.

Once you get to Progreso, stroll down the oceanfront Malecon (Walkway) for a bite to eat and souvenir shopping. Pick a spot to rent a beach chair, or head to one of the best Progreso beach clubs, Silcer Beach Club and El HaGuay, which is just next to the PROGRESO letters sign.

For a sunset dinner before returning to Merida, head to the western end of the beach to eat at one of the best restaurants in Progreso — Eladio’s Bar, a locals’ favorite. For a more upscale atmosphere, there’s Almadia and Crabster Seafood & Grill.

The Progreso Malecon, or beachfront walkway, makes for a lovely stroll in Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico. (Photo: Thomas Andersen via Flickr)

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

43. Chichen Itza Ruins & Cenote Ik Kil

As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza likely needs no introduction! It is one of the best Mayan Ruins in Yucatan and all Mexico, located about two hours from Merida by rental car or bus.

If you aren’t renting a car, consider one of the Merida to Chichen Itza tours listed below. If you do have your own car, combine your Chichen Itza visit with a swim in Cenote Ik-Kil, located less than 15 minutes away. This is one of the most beautiful and best cenotes in Yucatan!


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

44. Celestun to See the Flamingoes

Located in the small fishing village of Celestun, about 2.5 hours from Merida, you’ll find the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve. There are some nice Celestun beaches, but the main reason to visit is because Celestun is the best place to see flamingos near Merida.

To see Celestun flamingos, do a kayaking tour in the mangroves, where as many as 35,000 flamingos live during their November to February mating season. Besides the flamingos, this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is one of the best places for bird watching in Yucatan. 


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

45. Uxmal Mayan Ruins & the Ruta Puuc

Beside Chichen Itza, the second-most important Mayan Ruins in Mexico is Uxmal — a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For those who have been to both, many seem to prefer Uxmal as it’s less crowded, less touristy, and you can actually climb the Uxmal pyramids.

If you’re driving your rental car to Uxmal, located 1.5 hours from Merida, consider doing the entire Ruta Puuc (Puuc Route). Along this 36-mile-long (58km) drive, there’s also the Kabah, Sayil, Xlapak and Labna, some of the best off the beaten path Mexico ruins.


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

46. Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins & Cenote Xlach

The closest ruins to Merida at only about 45 minutes away are the Dzibilchaltun Ruins (pronounced zee-bee-shall-tune). This is a small site compared to Chichen Itza and Uxmal, but you can climb many of the structures and there’s a nice museum on-site.

After visiting the ruins, you can go for a swim in Xlach Cenote, the closest cenote to Merida which is located right at the Dzibilchaltun site. This is a fully-open swimming pool style cenote which you will love jumping in after a long day of climbing pyramids!  


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

47. Izamal “The Yellow City”

Izamal pueblo magico (magic town) is only about 1.5 hours from Merida. The entire downtown is painted yellow, and it’s one of just a handful of monochromatic cities on Earth. No one knows for sure why it’s yellow, but some say it’s an homage to the Mayan Sun God, Kinichkakmo.

Izamal is the perfect Merida day trip because it’s quite small. You can walk all of downtown in about two hours, or take a caleza (horse-drawn carriage) tour if it’s too hot. When you’re hungry, head to the Mercado Municipal De Izamal (market) to try some authentic Yucatecan food.


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

48. Cenotes Haciendas Muchucye

The grounds of this traditional 18th Century hacienda have been left in semi-ruin, but that’s all part of the esthetic effect. Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche is a popular Merida day trip, so you must book a tour in advance to visit. They are only offered Monday-Sunday, 9am-3pm.

In addition to the picturesque hacienda itself, there are two cenotes onsite — Cenote Carlota and Cenote Azul Maya — which look like a mix of the Garden of Eden and the Blue Lagoon. These cenotes are super refreshing to swim in after your guided tour of the grounds.

The beautiful Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche, built in the 18th Century. (Photos: Doug S. via Flickr)

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

49. Valladolid & Cenote Zaci 

Another one of the gorgeous pueblos magicos near Merida, is Valladolid, located about 2.5 hours away. To truly appreciate this colorful colonial city, book a Valladolid hotel and make it an overnight or weekend trip, but if you don’t have time, you’ll still enjoy a Valladolid day trip.

Head there early for the Casa de los Venados folk art gallery tour at 10am, then head to Kuxtal Galería de Arte Popular Mexicano & Café to buy some Mexican folk art and have a coffee. This fun boutique shop is located on Calzada de los Frailes, the most beautiful street in Valladolid.

Walk to the end of the street to see the San Bernardino Convent and VALLADOLID letters sign. Next, head to Parque Principal (Main Park), where you’ll find the iconic Iglesia de San Servacio Valladolid church. End your day with a swim in Cenote Zaci, just five minutes from downtown.


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

50. Cenotes Santa Barbara

The three Santa Barbara cenotes are in the pueblo (small town) of Homun, where you’ll find many of the best cenotes near Merida. Located about 1.5 hours from Merida, you’ll be able to enjoy three cenotes at Santa Barbara — Cenote Chaksikin, Cenote Cascabel and Cenote Xoch. 

When you enter, you can take a rental bike (included in the cost), or a horse-drawn cart to the first cenote, Cenote Chaksikin. After that, you’ll walk to Cenote Cascabel and Cenote Xoch, the most beautiful of the three, and then ride your bike or take the horse cart back.

Cenote Xoch is one of the three cenotes you’ll see at Santa Barbara — sometimes called the Homun Cenotes, as they are located in Homun, Mexico.

THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

Merida Travel FAQ

Is Merida, Mexico Safe?

Short answer: Yes

Longer answer: This question is tricky, as no place is 100% safe. I do my best to address the Mexico safety question in this article, Is Mexico Safe for Women: 20 Mexico Solo Travel Tips You Need. But, in short, the answer to Is Merida safe? — is Yes!

Merida has been ranked as not only the safest city in Mexico, but one of the safest on the entire Americas Continent by CEOWorld magazine. In 2019, Conde Nast Traveler magazine named it the best small city in the world.

Though Merida is considered safe, you’ll still want to follow the 10 General Travel Safety Tips below to err on the side of caution. These safety measures — like taking Uber home at night — are the same ones you’d follow when traveling anywhere, and they should suffice in Merida.

Mexico Travel Insurance

Want an added level of security and peace of mind during these strange travel times? Smart choice!

Just as you insure your car, home and body, you can also insure your luggage, belongings and health while traveling. If Mexico and Merida travel safety are on your mind, World Nomads is a great option for more adventurous travelers, and Safety Wing provides affordable, basic travel policies.

10 General travel safety tips
  1. Always listen to your intuition — because your intuition is always right.
  2. If you get a sketchy or uneasy feeling about a person or place, get away from that person or place asap. Don’t worry about making a kind, nice or politically correct exit from a creepy person or bad situation — Just get away fast.
  3. Don’t walk home alone at night.
  4. Don’t keep your phone, keys, wallet, passport, or anything valuable in your back pocket.
  5. Learn some basic Spanish. If you can’t learn it, save this infographic as an image on your phone so you have something to use even if you’re off-WiFi.
  6. Take all of your belongings into the bathroom with you, rather than asking a cafe/bar neighbor to watch your things. This is annoying, for sure, but it works to not get your stuff stolen.
  7. Speaking of bar neighbors… don’t take drinks from strangers and/or leave your drink unattended.
  8. Don’t wear flashy clothes, expensive jewelry, designer sunglasses, etc.
  9. Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
  10. When in doubt: Get Travel Insurance!
Register for the STEP Program

Make sure you enroll in the free STEP Program before your trip. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, allows U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico to document your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

After you’ve registered, the U.S. Consulate in Merida can contact you in the event of an emergency, including natural disasters, civil unrest, etc. STEP can also put you in touch with your family and friends back home in the event of an emergency while abroad.


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

Where is Merida, Mexico?

Merida is the capital of Yucatan state, one of three states that make up the Yucatan Peninsula — along with Quintana Roo and Campeche states. Merida is located in in southeastern Mexico, about 160 miles west of Tulum, 190 miles west of Cancun, and 180 miles west of Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya.

It is also not far from other top Yucatan Peninsula destinations, including Bacalar Lagoon, AKA “Maldives of Mexico,” and the pueblo magicos (magic towns) of Valladolid, and the “Yellow City” of Izamal.

Map of Merida, Mexico


THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA MEXICO

Flights to Merida, Mexico

Wondering what’s the best way to get to Merida? There’s actually an airport about 20 minutes from downtown — Merida International Airport (code: MID).

There are direct flights to Merida from only a few U.S. cities, like Miami, Houston and sometimes Oakland. If you can’t get a direct flight from the U.S., you can also fly into the Mexico City or Guadalajara International Airport. From either of those, you can take a short, connecting flight into MID.

From the airport, you can take a rental car, Uber, taxi, or private transport service to your accommodation. Depending on where you’re staying and traffic, the drive is usually no more than 30 minutes.

Merida, Mexico Car Rental

If you are looking to rent a car in Merida, the airport is the best place to do so.

For travelers mostly staying in the city limits, you might want to skip a rental car, but if you’re planning to take a few of the 25 Best Merida Day Trips, you’ll want a car.

As Merida isn’t a big city, can rental options can be limited… so do book in advance. Click the image to book with Discover Cars, a reputable company for a rental car in Merida.

RELATED ARTICLE 🚗💨 Renting A Car in Mexico: Everything You Need to Know


things to do in merida mexico

Final Thoughts: Things to do in Merida, Mexico

Merida’s central location — in the near-dead center of the Yucatan Peninsula — makes it a great place to use as a home base to explore the region. As a place that’s not at the top of everyone’s bucket list (yet!) Merida is still affordable.

Besides the city itself, which is a cultural hub full of beautiful places and yummy food, there’s also great Merida, Mexico beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, Mayan ruins, swimmable cenotes, historic haciendas, and more. In short, Merida is an ideal travel destination for so many types of travelers.

Need more Merida travel info? Check out this Merida, Mexico Podcast!

Is Merida worth visiting?

As someone who lives in Merida, of course I think Merida is worth visiting 💁‍♀️ I have been to half the states in Mexico now, and a good amount of the cities and top travel destinations, and there really is something special about Merida, Mexico.

Merida, Mexico Weather: As no place is perfect, the months of May-October are quite hot and humid, to the point that it turns many off. If you “can’t even” with tropical weather, make sure to plan your Merida trip for November-April, when the weather’s coolest and the humidity’s at bay.

Have questions about things to do in Merida?

Drop me a line in the comments below, and I’ll get you the info you need.

¡Hola from Mérida!

Hi, I’m Shelley — and I’ve been living in Merida, Mexico, since July 2019. Not only is Merida beautiful, histroric and the safest city in Mexico, but it’s also the Cultural Capital of Yucatan. For the discerning traveler, Merida is the perfect place for you! Allow me to show you around…

Affiliate Disclosure

This page may contain affiliate links, meaning when you make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Affiliate links cost you nothing to use, and help to keep my content free! It’s a win-win for us both 👯‍♀️

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12 Comments
  1. vanessa

    My bags are packed and i’m ready to go! Thanks for this comprehensive post with smart travel tips.

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Vanessa: I’m so happy to provide Merida travel inspo! I live in an amazing city, and love when others get to experience it as well.

      Reply
  2. Denise

    Restaurant row and a slow food market–I’m in! I will get there!!!

    Reply
  3. Hannah

    It looks like there are so many incredible things to do in Merida! I want to do all of them! I’d love to see Monumento a la Patria and Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche. They both look magical! And a stay at Rosas & Xocolate looks like a dream! Thanks for the great guide, I hope I get a chance to visit!

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Hannah: Rosas & Xocolate is so gorgeous! They only have 4 rooms, so not always easy to book, but staying there is like a dream.

      Reply
  4. Barbara Farfan

    I got “Stuck” in Campeche at the beginning of the pandemic-monium after my entire 2020 petsitting calendar was wiped clean by cancellations. It wasn’t the best time for sightseeing. 🙂 I vowed to go back to that part of the yucatan and now that I read your article, I definitely will… Wow! I had no idea just how much I was missing. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
  5. Kate

    sign me up for a trip To merida! The food looks absolutely amazing, and I love all of the beautiful, colorful buildings. it looks like the perfect place for a weekend adventure.

    Reply
  6. Puloma Banerjee

    What an awesome journey to Merida, Mexico. It’s inspiring to see how you have covered every tiny details of the city. Really enjoyed reading it!

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Puloma! Living here in Merida helps to be able to make thorough content! I hope it helps you enjoy Merida.

      Reply
  7. Claire

    wow i love how close to everything merida is – you can really explore alot of mexico by staying here, plus merida looks so cute!!

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Claire: Yes, Merida is basically in the dead center of the Yucatan Peninsula, so you have access to A LOT!

      Reply
  8. Ana De-Jesus

    WOW GORGEOUS PHOTOS! i WOULD ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO Eat Brunch at Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel, BECAUSE IT IS SUPER COLOURFUL JUST LIKE ME. i HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO TO MEXICO IT IS STUNNING X

    Reply

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