Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

by Kelly

Merida is the capital of the Yucatan and is Center of culture. Called the White City there is plenty to see and do in and around Merida. The city has a unique feel, it is large yet feels relatively calm and small. The historic centre and friendly people really grow on you. This is somewhere I could keep returning to!

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Where is Merida Mexico?

Merida is an easy 2.5 hours from Valladolid or 4 hours from Cancun, you can easily reach it by bus or car. There is an airport in Merida you can fly into and there will soon be the Tren Maya train that will run from Cancun Airport.

Bus Cancun to Merida Mexico

Right now the easiest option and the one we took was to fly into the Cancun Airport and take the ADO bus to Merida. You may have to change buses at the ADO station in Cancun town which is really easy too. You can book your bus tickets ahead of time which is a great idea as while there are multiple buses they do sell out and the time you want may be gone.

Best time to go to Merida Mexico

We visited in March and while it was hot there was a nice breeze and cool evenings. 

Hotels in Merida Mexico?

Best hotel in Merida Mexico:

Before I get into the accommodation options I really have to tell you about the best hotel in Merida Mexico! We stayed at the incredibly perfect Villa Merida Boutique Hotel and honestly it was my dream stay. The hotel is in a hacienda that has been renovated beautifully and the pool area is so dreamy! This is our review on Villa Merida, we couldn’t recommend it more! If you want to go ahead and book it this is the link.

Budget hotels in Merida:

Hostal La Ermita – really popular with breakfast included

Midrange hotels in Merida:

T´úubul K´iin Bed & Breakfast – spacious, clean and good breakfast

Hotel La Catedral Mérida – Incredibly central, value, clean

Hotel HO Merida – really lovely, clean, spacious, pool and great location

Luxury hotels in Merida Mexico:

City Express Plus by Marriott Merida -clean comfortable, stylish

Mansión Mérida Boutique Hotel – Restaurant – the most stunning, luxurious hotel in Merida. It is completely flawless and the epitome of a luxury experience. Grandeur beyond the imagination.

Resorts in Merida Mexico:

Villa Mercedes Curio Collection By Hilton – very beautiful, clean, spacious, pool and friendly staff

Casa Lecanda Boutique Hotel – beautiful, stunning grounds and rooms, great staff, luxurious

Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico:

In Merida you will find lots of beautiful colourful buildings, strong Mayan culture, historical monuments, plazas with festive markets and museums housed in grand mansions! This is a city with a lot to offer, here are the best things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico.

Paseo de Montejo | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

Strolling along the pretty avenue of Paseo de Montejo is one of the best things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico. The famous avenue is often likened to the Champs-Élysées, where the inspiration came from. You will find restaurants, boutique stores, and two great museums, Casa Museo Montes Molina and Palacio Canton. 

There are so many pretty bright coloured houses here look out for Casa Vales, Casa del Minarete, Casa Gemelas, and Casa Peón de Regil. On Sundays the street is full of locals cycling along and enjoying the avenue.

Casa de Montejo | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

Casa de Montejo is another great free museum in Merida! It is housed in a beautifully restored mansion with rooms that are open to walk through and experience the opulence that was part of Merida’s history. Simply sign in at the counter, it is a quiet experience and you will be required to walk in one direction only throughout the museum. There are guards there to help guide you, open between 10-6pm Tues-Saturday, Sun 10-2pm.

Coqui Coqui Merida  | What to do in Merida

Visiting the Coqui Coqui Perfumeries is very high on my must do list for Merida. The perfumery also has a small hotel attached, a day spa and sells food goods, homewares as well as their incredible fragrances. Set in a converted colonial home, the design is a dream. Coqui Coqui Merida is a must visit for a perfect souvenir to treasure and to experience the incredible beauty. The store is open after 11am, ring a buzzer be let in, located at Calle 55 516, Merida, 97000

Palacio Canton | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

Palacio Canton is an example of the best colonial architecture in Mérida. Built in the 1900s and renovated in 2012, the grand mansion is now a museum housing Mayan and Yucatecan artefacts. Costs 60 MXN per person and open Tues-Sun 8am – 5pm

Quinta Montes Molina  | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

Surrounded by stunning garden, Quinta Montes Molina is a grand mansion. The mansion is a great representation of the wealth that came to Yucatán. Visitors are allowed to access the mansion to view by guided tour only. Cost 85 MXNper person, open Mon – Fri 09:00, 11:00, and 15:00, Saturday 09:00, and 11:00, Sunday closed.

Parroquia Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

Parroquia Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is a little park and church area. It is really pretty and a lovely cool place to sit and relax away from the city on a hot day.

Calle 64 | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

This is Mérida’s most colourful and colonial street in the white city. Walking down here is a great place to get pics with the pretty colourful buildings.

 Monumento a la Patria | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

At the end of the Paseo de Montejo avenue lies Monumento a la Patria. The monument has more than 300 hand-carved figures that reflect the story of Mexico from the creation of Tenochtitlán all the way to the mid 20th century.

Plaza Grande | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico 

Relaxing in one of the beautiful plazas is one of the best things to do in Merida Yucatán Mexico. Plaza Grande is also one of the prettiest plazas in Mexico. It is also home to historical buildings that house museums. Here you will find the Catedral de Mérida, Casa de Montejo, Palacio Municipal, and El Palacio de Gobierno. These museums are all completely free to visit, so make sure to get to as many as you can. There are always people here, wandering around or relaxing, it is a great people watching spot.

Palacio de Gobierno | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

Built in 1892, the Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace) his home to the Yucatan state’s executive government offices. This pretty green building is lovely from the outside, but it is also open for visitors to wander through. Check out both floors for some pretty Merida photos and to see the beautiful art. In the open rooms there are huge artworks on display and the rooms have views out over Merida

Hanging on the interior walls, there are murals and oil paintings by local artist Fernando Castro Pacheco, showing the Yucatan Peninsula’s history. Address: Calle 60, between Calles 61 and 59, open: Mon-Fri 9am-9pm entry is free.

 Mercado dos Lavradores

Visiting markets is one of the best ways to experience a new destination. You mix with the locals, see their produce and get a sense of the place. The best market in Merida to visit is the Mercado dos Lavradores, an average-sized covered market where you find stores selling local fruits, vegetables and fish. The prices can be expensive so you can always check out the market and head to a shop to buy the items a little more reasonably if you prefer.

Parque Hidalgo, Rectoría El Jesús Tercera Orden and Parque de La Madre | What to do in Merida

Parque Hidalgo is located right next to the Rectoría El Jesús Tercera Orden Church and Parque de La Madre making it easy to visit all three locations at the same time. You will also find the El Gran Hotel and Hotel Caribe Merida here. These are two of the older hotels in Merida and the lobbies are worth checking out. You can walk inside to see their historic lobbies filled with antiques, if asked just say you are taking a photo of the area and it should be fine.

Historic homes 

El Pinar (The Pine Grove) is one of the most famous and Instagram worthy Merida homes. It is a privately owned  French-style mansion so while you can’t go in; you can admire from the outside and snap a photo through the gate if the right moment appears! You will find it at: Calle 60, between Avenida Colon and Calle 35, Merida

Hotel Casa Azul (Blue House Hotel) is super pretty and is national historic monument. The light blue building makes for a beautiful photos as does the interior courtyard. If you ask nicely and the front desk staff may let you snap some quick photos. Find it at Calle 60 #343, Colonia Centro, Merida


Ok, so a Costco may not sound like the most exciting of things to do but there is a cenote in the carpark! It may not be worthwhile heading there if you don’t need to as it is a little far out, however if you do find yourself nearby you may as well check it out! It is free to take a look and is guarded so no-one enters Cenote Ka’ Kutsal.

Catedral de Mérida

The Catedral de Mérida sits on one side of the Plaza and is an impressive building. It is free to enter and look at the interior or to experience a service. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings the street out front of the church is closed off and the area is left free for pedestrians to wander. There are free shows put on by the city on these nights which are well worth checking out (details below).

University of Merida

The Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan (Autonomous University of the Yucatan, or UADY), is a college campus. The Moroccan-inspired courtyard right at the entrance is beautiful, as is its grand entrance door. You can walk in to take a picture but best leave the rest of the campus to the students! Find it at Calle 60 491A, Merida


Arc 1: Stroll down to walk under the Arco de San Juan. You will find a whole street full of cute, colorful buildings. You will also find the Iglesia de San Juan Bautista (Church of Saint John the Baptist) and Parque de San Juan right next to the arch and both are worth taking a look at while there.

Arc 2: Arco de Dragones Colonial sytle arc from the 1700s, it beautifully frames the street. While there visit Parque de La Mejorada which has lots of lovely statues in the park.

Arco del Puente dated to 1690, it is located in a very out of town location but the building is a great example of one of the oldest surviving architecture.

Artistic handicraft shops

Merida is full of lovely handicraft stores. You will see them everywhere and some will showcase Mayan craft specifically. Some of my favourite stores include:

Merida en Domingo (Merida Sunday Market) – this is held every Sunday in the main plaza, the square is filled with local ladies selling handicrafts and food stalls around the outside.

Artesanías Mitnal – for creative, arty souvenirs, postcards and t-shirts at Calle 55 510A, Parque Santa Lucia

TEJON ROJO – custom t-shirts instead of the usually tourist ones! P.º de Montejo 496, Zona Paseo Montejo

Happening Mérida – a trendy concept store that sells unique clothing, accessories, and home decoration at Paseo de Montejo 468, Mérida

Palacio de la Música | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

Palacio de la Música is an excellent museum to learn about the history of Mexican music. There are interactive displays and musicians to listen to. Most people spend about 1.5 hours here. Cost 200MXN Wed – Sun 10-4pm.

Cathedral Show | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

Every Friday at 8pm the city of Merida lights up the Cathedral’s facade with vibrant colors in a dazzling light show. I really wasn’t sure what to expect but it was really impressive! The light show has a commentary and you will learn about the rich history of the people. The light show creates a captivating visual spectacle narrating the tale of the Cathedral, a building constructed using stones from the ancient Mayan city of Tho.

This audiovisual experience is enhanced by a specially crafted 12-verse narrative and musical composition accompaniment featuring sacred songs performed by the Choir of the City of Mérida. It is a free event and seats are erected for visitors to sit and watch the show. No tickets are required I would however recommend arriving by 7-7:30pm if you would like to get a seat.

“Mexican Night” at the Remate Montejo | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

Set up on the grand stage every Sunday in the Remate de Montejo, you can see an exciting show of folk dances from across Mexico. Let yourself be lost in the rich culture of Mexico by the rhythms and colors of Mexican music and folklore dances in front of you. It is a celebration of traditional music, dance, and artistry from various regions of the country.

After the folk dances you will witness a beautiful Boda Mestiza, a recreation of a traditional wedding ceremony. This incredible display is something that everyone should witness if possible. These events are free and begin in the afternoon however the time can change. The markets in the plaza are on Sunday morning, I suggest wandering over to the Remate Montejo and asking the guards there what time it will begin that day to make sure not to miss out! This free event also has seats provided and fills up.

Watch Pok Ta Pok (ancient Mayan game) | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

Pok Ta Pok is an exciting ancient Mayan ball game which you can see played live right in front of the Cathedral. Every Saturday night at 8pm you will find the game field set up with seats around for visitors to take in the event! It really is an incredible spectacle and one we really recommend you make it to if possible.

First played over thousands of years ago in early 1400BC by ancestral Mayan citizens, Pok Ta Pok was part of a sacred ritual, pitting good against evil. The game begins with a narrated ceremony explaining the history of the game as the players assemble and the chief blesses the game. Two teams consisting of male players dressed in traditional costumes, are faced against each other. The aim of the game is to manoeuvre a five-pound ball through a stone hoop, using only their hip or thigh. The crowd really gets in to it , cheering and gasping at every near miss or goal. It really creates a community like experience.

Then they set the ball on fire…

Once this game is won the ball is then set on fire and the game resumes. This is quite extraordinary, I had never seen anyone playing a game with a flaming ball before! It is said that the winners were sacrificed to gratify the gods, this was seen as a great honour to Mayan people. The game is still played with pride by the participants without sacrifices luckily! It is very important to the people of the Yucatán and their captivating culture.

Watching this unique ball game is in my opinion, one of the best things to do in Mérida Yucatan Mexico. No tickets are needed it is free to attend, we recommend getting there around 7pm to get a good seat up the front as it fills up and by 8pm the street is packed! If you are sitting up the front there is a chance that you may get asked to join the ceremony. During the blessing some women are selected to enter and take part (it is not difficult!)

Where to eat in Merida | Things to do in Merida Yucatan Mexico

Merida is a city full of great places to eat and we loved trying as many as we could. These were our favourites.

Taqueria La Lupita

Taqueria La Lupita is the top of our list! IT is the best place we ate in all of the Yucatan, Mexico! They have a great menu but we couldn’t go past the local delicacy of cochinita pibil. This dish consists of pork slow cooked underground for over 24 hours in local spices and herbs. It is tender, delicious and we couldn’t get enough! You will find the best here at Lupitas, we ate it in tacos, polcanes and tortas.

Be aware they have specific opening hours of 7am-1:30pm everyday. It is almost always busy and honestly on Sunday at around 12pm we waited in a line up for about an hour to get a table…that’s how good it is! Located at Parque Santiago, inside the Mercado de Santiago (Santiago Market) Calle 57, Between Calles 50 and 52, Merida, 97000

Taqueria Los Chupas

Taqueria Los Chupas is a local favourite, I don’t think they have too many tourists but they were so lovely we went back a couple of days in a row! They serve really good al pastor spit meat tacos for really great pricing at 20MXN each. They also have regular specials and on Friday and Saturday tacos are 2 for 1!

Drink at the cantinas

Cantina’s in Merida are a traditional part of the culture! We loved visiting Cantinas in Valladolid and the ones in Merida were fun as well.

La Negrita Cantina is a great cantina, they have live bands and an open garden to enjoy a drink. Please note there was no botanes (free bites) served on Saturday when we visited. This cantina has a cult following and is one of the best for fun vibes.

Other cantinas to check out are El Cardenal and El Dzalbay.

Best tours from Merida Yucatan Mexico

From Mérida: Chichén Itzá, Izamal, Valladolid, & Cenote Trip – guided day trip from Mérida to Chichén Itzá. Swim at Cenote Chichikan, visit Valladolid and Izamal, and enjoy a cooking demonstration and buffet lunch

From Merida: Uxmal and Kabah Archaeological Sites Tour – Explore the ancient Mayan cities of Uxmal and Kabah, and learn about their heritage in the company of an expert

Chichen Itza, Private Cenote , Food Experience & the magic Izamal – Embark on an early morning trip to Chichén Itzá, and explore ancient Mayan ruins without the heat and crowds. See even more Mayan architecture at your next stop, Izamal, before ending the day with a nice dip in a local cenote.

Read more about Chichen Itza, Private Cenote , Food Experience & the magic Izamal –

Mérida Cooking Class, taste of Yucatan – go to a local market where after buying all your supplies you’ll take an exciting bus ride to the local home where your host and guide will guide you step by step to cook a traditional menu.

Mérida: 3-Hour Walking Food Tour – Taste your way through Mérida on a 3-hour food tour. Explore the downtown areas of the city and savor authentic Mexican specialities.

Merida Walking Food Tour. Authentic & Local Cuisine – Eat and drink your way through Merida on a small-group walking tour exploring the city’s vibrant gastronomy

Celestun Beach and Mangrove Boat Ride from Merida – a guided boat ride throughout the Celestun mangrove. Pass the point where the sea and the river meet then relax at the gorgeous Celestun beach. At the beach head to the restaurant for the meal.

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