The best things to do in Merida

Merida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan, is a city rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient Mayan ruins, wandering through charming colonial streets, or immersing yourself in the local food and culture, there’s something for everyone in Merida.

Explore ancient Mayan ruins

One of the top things to do in Merida is to visit the ancient Mayan ruins that surround the city. The most famous of these is the archaeological site of Uxmal, which is located about an hour’s drive from Merida. This ancient city is considered to be one of the most important Mayan sites in the Yucatan and is known for its impressive pyramids and palaces. Other nearby ruins to visit include those at Chichen Itza, Kabah, and Sayil.

Stroll through colonial streets

Merida’s historic center is home to a charming collection of colonial-era buildings, many of which have been beautifully preserved. Take a stroll through the picturesque streets and admire the colorful architecture of the city’s many colonial-era churches, government buildings, and private homes. Be sure to stop by the main square, the Plaza Grande, which is the heart of the city and a great place to people watch.

Experience local food and culture

Merida is known for its delicious Yucatecan cuisine, which is a fusion of traditional Mayan and Mexican flavors. Be sure to try some of the local specialties such as cochinita pibil (slow-cooked pork), panuchos (tortillas filled with beans and topped with meat and salsa), and papadzules (tortillas filled with boiled eggs and topped with a tomato and pumpkin seed sauce).

Visit the local markets

Merida’s markets are a must-see for any visitor. The city’s main market, Mercado Lucas de Gálvez, is a great place to find traditional Yucatecan crafts, such as hammocks, textiles, and pottery. The market is also a great place to try local street food and find a bargain on clothing and other goods.

Relax on white sandy beaches

When you’re looking for a change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the city, head to one of the many white sandy beaches that are located just a short drive from Merida. Some popular options include Progreso, a small town located just 30 minutes from Merida, and Telchac Puerto, a small fishing village located an hour’s drive from the city. Both towns offer a range of beach activities, including swimming, sunbathing, and fishing.

Take a bike tour

Another great way to see the city is by bike. Merida has a growing network of bike lanes and bike rental shops, making it easy to explore the city on two wheels. Take a guided bike tour to discover the city’s history, culture, and architecture, and get a feel for the local way of life.

Visit the art museums

Merida is home to several excellent art museums, including the Museum of the City of Merida, the Museum of Anthropology of Yucatan, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Each of these museums offers a unique perspective on the history and culture of the region, and are a great way to learn more about the area’s art and history.


Take a day trip to the cenotes

Cenotes are natural swimming holes that are found throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and are a must-see for any visitor to Merida. These crystal-clear swimming holes are formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock and are filled with cool, refreshing water. Some popular cenotes to visit include Cenote Xkeken, Cenote Samula, and Cenote Dzitnup.

Visit the Haciendas

The Haciendas were once the center of the Yucatecan economy and are now open to the public as museums and hotels. These grand estates were built by wealthy landowners and were used to grow henequen, a type of agave used to make rope. Haciendas such as Hacienda Sotuta de Peon and Hacienda Yaxcopoil are open for tours, and offer a glimpse into the past of the Yucatan.

Learn about the city’s history

Merida has a rich history, and there are several museums and historical sites throughout the city that offer an in-depth look at the city’s past. The Casa de Montejo is a 16th-century mansion that was built by the city’s founder, Francisco de Montejo. The Museum of the Revolution is another must-see, which tells the story of the Mexican Revolution through photographs and artifacts.

Take a cooking class

If you’re interested in learning more about Yucatecan cuisine, consider taking a cooking class. Many local chefs offer classes that teach you how to prepare traditional dishes such as cochinita pibil, panuchos, and papadzules. These classes are a great way to learn about the local food culture and to pick up some new cooking skills.

Attend a traditional dance performance

Merida is known for its traditional dance performances, which are a great way to experience the city’s rich cultural heritage. Many local dance companies offer regular performances that showcase traditional dances such as the jarana, the cha cha cha, and the son. These performances are a great way to experience the local music and dance culture.

In conclusion, Merida is a city that offers a wide variety of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. From ancient Mayan ruins to charming colonial streets, delicious local cuisine, and beautiful beaches, there is something for everyone in this vibrant and historic city. Whether you’re looking for adventure, culture, or relaxation, Merida has it all.