The stunning colonial city of Merida is located in the Yucatan. This city is rich in both culture and architecture. What captures you most about Merida is the people. Unlike some of Mexico’s more popular vacation destinations the pace is slow and the smiles are big. Merida is also widely considered to be Mexico’s safest city for years now.
Narrowing the list down just 10 things to do in Merida is tricky. That becomes increasingly difficult when you realize just how many amazing day trips from Merida there are. This list is a starting place but by no means all there is to do in this thriving Mexican city.
1. Wander the Historic City Center
The historic city center better know as Centro is the beating heart of Merida. You’ll find shops, restaurants, markets and entertainment everywhere you look. The stunning colonial architecture and brightly painted homes come with right stories. This is undoubtedly the number one thing to do while you’re in Merida. If you want to take a deeper dive into the the homes and gardens check out this great walking tour.
2. Climb Uxmal
While a day trip to the famous Chichen Itza is totally possible we are going to recommend visiting Uxmal. This set of ruins is equally as impressive as it’s more famous cousin and boasts some incredible perks. There are two major reasons Uxmal gets our vote, the first being you can climb the ruins. Climb up, take some pictures or just marvel in the moment. The second reason is there are far less tourists. The crowds at Uxmal are small so you won’t waste time waiting at the entrance.
3. Relax at the Beach in Progreso
There is a bus called AutoProgreso that take you directly from Centro to Progreso Beach. The beach is lined with restaurants and bars to enjoy while you take in the view. If you make a purchase for any of the restaurants they will allow you to use one of their beach chairs. Progreso is alo a cruise port, on days the the ship is in town you’ll see lots of street vendors pop up as well.
4. Browse the Markets
At the root of all cultures there is food. To find the most authentic, fresh ingredients you have to visit the market. Merida’s biggest market is the Lucas de Galvez market, located in Centro. The tip here is to go in the mornings before the crowds and the heat pick up. You also get your pick of all the freshest produce and food.
5. Swim in a Cenote
If swimming in a freshwater, underground cenote is on your bucket list the Yucatan is perfect for you. Within a short drive of Merida you can swim in all cenotes of all shapes and sizes. The hidden gems can be tricky to find so linking up with a great local guide for a cenote tour means you’ll get the most of the experience.
6. Visit the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya
To truly understand this region of the world you need to make a stop at the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya. The museum focuses on the history and culture of the Mayan World. You’ll have a chance to learn about the way of life and see what aspects are still present in everyday life. The beautiful modern building is air conditioned making it a great option for a hot afternoon.
7. Taste Yucatecan Food
When most people think Mexican food they think taco. While you will find plenty of tacos they are not the main event. The Yucatan has its own unique dishes including cochinita pibil, huevas motuleños, panuchos and chilaquiles. Eat your fill of Yucatecan food at some of these amazing spots. Also,don’t forget to use that salsas found on the table at each meal
8. Experience a Street Festival
Merida is one of those cities where there is always something going on. Every Sunday there is a street festival in Plaza Grande. Vendors selling food and handcrafts line the park paths and streets. If you time is right you’ll hear music and see people flocking to the streets to dance. It really is the best way to spend a Sunday.
9. Ride Bikes
In Merida there is a strong focus on families. Family friendly activities are common and easy to find. One of the most popular is Bici-Ruta, a Sunday morning bike ride. Every Sunday morning between 8:30 and 12:30 half off Paseo de Montejo is closed for the ride. You’ll find bike rentals near the Walmart.
10. Visit the Churches
The churches and cathedrals are pillars of each neighborhood in Merida. Each is backed with history and its own story of how that community has grown and changed. Create your own walking tour, popping in and out of these beautiful spaces.