Your Ultimate Merida Travel Guide 2023
Are you looking for a truly unique and unforgettable vacation experience? Merida, Mexico, is an amazing destination that should be at the top of your list. From its rich colonial-era history to its vibrant culture and modern attractions, Merida has something for everyone. This comprehensive travel guide will provide you with everything you need to know for your next adventure to this beautiful city. Learn about the best things to do in Merida, where to stay, the best restaurants, and other helpful tips and tricks to make the most out of your trip. So what are you waiting for? Check out our Cozumel travel guide if you will be visiting the Yucatan Peninsula for a period of time.
Top 5 Things To See And Do In Merida
- Explore The Historic Center: Merida’s historic center is a charming blend of colonial-era architecture and vibrant culture. Wander the colorful streets, check out the beautiful plazas and cathedrals, and soak in the atmosphere of this amazing city.
- Visit The Mayan Ruins: Merida is the perfect base for exploring some of the region’s incredible Mayan ruins, including Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Dzibilchaltun. Each site offers a unique insight into the ancient civilization that once called this region home.
- Enjoy The Local Cuisine: Merida is known for its incredible food, and no visit would be complete without sampling some of the local specialties. Try dishes like cochinita pibil, sopa de lima, and papadzules at one of the many local restaurants.
- Attend A Cultural Event: Merida is a hub of cultural activity, with events like the Merida International Arts Festival, the Day of the Dead celebrations, and the Paseo de las Animas parade drawing visitors from all over the world. Be sure to check the calendar and attend an event during your visit.
- Take A Day Trip To A Nearby Beach: While Merida itself isn’t located directly on the coast, there are several incredible beaches just a short drive away. Head to destinations like Progreso, Celestun, or Sisal to soak up some sun, swim in the ocean, and relax on the sand.
Best Merida Tours
Tours in Merida are an excellent way to explore the sights and nearby areas. Unless you intend to rent a car in Merida (which we don’t recommend), tours offer the most convenient means of transportation while keeping costs in check. The expenses for getting around can accumulate rapidly, making tours a wise choice for navigating the country.
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Where To Stay In Merida
- Centro Historico: This neighborhood is the heart of Merida’s historic district, with beautiful colonial architecture, museums, galleries, and cultural events. It is also home to many of Merida’s best restaurants and shops.
- Santa Ana: Located just south of the historic center, Santa Ana is known for its vibrant nightlife, trendy bars, and street art. It also has a popular market, Mercado Santa Ana, where you can find fresh produce, artisanal goods, and souvenirs.
- Paseo De Montejo: This tree-lined avenue is one of the most beautiful and upscale neighborhoods in Merida. It is home to many of Merida’s most impressive mansions and museums, including the Palacio Canton and the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Ateneo de Yucatan.
- Santiago: This neighborhood is known for its picturesque park, Plaza Santiago, and its bustling market, Mercado Santiago. It also has several important cultural sites, such as the Casa de la Cultura de Yucatan and the Teatro Jose Peon Contreras.
- Itzimna: Located just north of the historic center, Itzimna is a quiet and residential neighborhood with tree-lined streets and beautiful gardens. It is a great place to stay if you are looking for a peaceful and tranquil escape from the busy city.
No matter where you choose to stay in Merida, you are sure to find plenty of options to suit your budget and travel style. From historic boutique hotels to budget-friendly hostels, there is something for everyone in this vibrant and exciting city.
Top Merida Hotels
- Casa del Balam: This charming hotel is located in the heart of the city, offering easy access to all of Merida’s main attractions. The rooms are decorated in a traditional Mexican style, with bright colors and beautiful furnishings. Guests can enjoy the outdoor pool, spa, and delicious cuisine at the hotel’s restaurant.
- Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel + Spa: For a more luxurious stay, consider this stunning hotel with its own chocolate spa. The rooms are spacious and elegantly designed, with all the modern amenities you could need. The hotel also boasts a rooftop pool and bar with beautiful city views.
- Hotel Hacienda Merida: This historic hotel has been beautifully restored to its former glory and is an excellent choice for those looking for a taste of colonial charm. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, with traditional touches such as wooden beams and exposed brickwork. The hotel also has a beautiful courtyard garden and a refreshing pool.
- Hotel Casa Lucia: This boutique hotel is located in the trendy Santa Ana neighborhood and offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city center. The rooms are stylishly decorated, with a blend of contemporary and traditional design elements. The hotel also has a beautiful rooftop terrace with a pool and jacuzzi.
- Hotel El Conquistador: This budget-friendly hotel offers comfortable accommodation in a central location. The rooms are simple but well-equipped, and guests can enjoy the hotel’s outdoor pool and free breakfast. The hotel is also just a short walk from Merida’s main square and other popular attractions.
Where To Eat In Merida
Merida is a food lover’s paradise, with a rich culinary heritage and a vibrant street food scene. Here are our top picks for the best places to eat in Merida:
- La Chaya Maya: If you’re looking to try traditional Yucatan cuisine, head to La Chaya Maya. This cozy restaurant serves up classic dishes like cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork) and sopa de lima (lime soup). Be sure to try their house-made tortillas!
- Los Taquitos De Pibil: For some of the best tacos in Merida, check out Los Taquitos de Pibil. As the name suggests, their specialty is pibil (marinated meat cooked in banana leaves). Their tacos al pastor are also a must-try.
- Apoala: If you’re in the mood for something a bit more upscale, Apoala is the perfect choice. This stylish restaurant serves up contemporary Mexican cuisine, with a focus on Oaxacan flavors. Don’t miss their mezcal cocktails!
- La Negrita Cantina: For a lively night out, head to La Negrita Cantina. This popular spot offers a wide selection of tequilas and mezcals, as well as tasty bar snacks like nachos and guacamole. There’s often live music and dancing, too.
- El Trapiche: If you’re looking for vegetarian or vegan options, El Trapiche is a great choice. This cozy café serves up fresh juices, smoothies, and light bites like salads and sandwiches. Their quinoa burger is especially delicious.
How To Get Around Merida
When it comes to getting around Merida, there are several modes of transportation to choose from. Each of them has its own advantages, depending on where you need to go and what you want to see. Here are some of the ways you can navigate the city:
- Walking: Merida’s city center is compact and pedestrian-friendly, so walking is a great way to explore its narrow streets and charming architecture. The main square, Plaza Grande, and the surrounding streets are car-free, so you can stroll around without worrying about traffic.
- Cycling: If you prefer to cover more ground without getting tired, you can rent a bicycle from one of the many bike shops in town. Merida has several bike-friendly routes, such as the Paseo de Montejo, a grand boulevard lined with elegant mansions and sculptures.
- Public Transportation: Merida has a network of buses that connect the different neighborhoods and attractions of the city. The buses are cheap and frequent, but they can get crowded during rush hour. Alternatively, you can take a colectivo, which is a shared taxi that follows a fixed route.
- Private Transportation: If you prefer more comfort and flexibility, you can hire a taxi or a private car with a driver. Taxis are ubiquitous in Merida, but you should agree on the fare before getting in. Private cars can be arranged through your hotel or a tour operator, and they are ideal for day trips to nearby destinations, such as the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza or Uxmal.
- Uber: Uber is available in Merida, and it’s a convenient and affordable option for getting around the city. The drivers are friendly and knowledgeable, and you can pay with your credit card or PayPal.
Whatever mode of transportation you choose, make sure to carry a map or a smartphone with GPS, as the streets of Merida can be confusing for first-time visitors. Also, keep in mind that the traffic can be heavy during peak hours, so plan your itinerary accordingly.
If you are planning a trip to Merida, it’s important to know what kind of weather you can expect. Here is a breakdown of the weather in Merida during different seasons:
- Spring (March to May): Spring in Merida is usually warm and sunny, with temperatures averaging around 30°C (86°F) during the day. However, it can also be quite humid during this time, so be prepared for some sticky conditions. Evenings are usually cooler, with temperatures dropping to around 20°C (68°F).
- Summer (June to August): The summer months in Merida can be quite hot, with temperatures often reaching over 35°C (95°F) during the day. It’s important to stay hydrated and take precautions against the sun, especially if you plan on spending time outdoors. Evening temperatures are still warm, usually around 25°C (77°F).
- Fall (September to November): Fall in Merida is a bit more temperate than summer, with average temperatures hovering around 28°C (82°F) during the day. However, it can still be quite humid, especially in September. As the season progresses, temperatures begin to drop, and evenings can be cooler, around 18°C (64°F).
- Winter (December to February): Winter in Merida is the driest season, with sunny, clear days and cool evenings. Temperatures during the day are usually around 25°C (77°F), while evenings can get quite chilly, sometimes dropping to around 10°C (50°F). It’s a good idea to pack a light jacket or sweater if you plan on being out at night.
Overall, Merida has a tropical climate, with warm temperatures throughout the year. However, it’s important to take into account the humidity and prepare accordingly, especially during the summer months.
Best Time To Visit Merida
Merida is a beautiful destination all year round, but the best time to visit is during the dry season which runs from November to April. During this time, the weather is pleasantly warm and dry, with average temperatures of around 24°C (75°F). This is the perfect weather for exploring the city, its museums, markets and historical sites.
The wet season in Merida is from May to October, and while it can still be a great time to visit, the heat and humidity can be challenging, with temperatures sometimes exceeding 35°C (95°F). The rainy season also sees increased mosquitos, which can be a nuisance to visitors. However, if you don’t mind the rain and prefer a quieter time to visit, the wet season can be an excellent opportunity to take advantage of cheaper rates and smaller crowds.
Merida has several exciting festivals throughout the year, so it’s worth checking the event calendar before you plan your trip. One of the most popular is the Festival de la Ciudad, which takes place in January and features music, dance, and food from around the Yucatan. If you’re a lover of culture and tradition, you won’t want to miss the Day of the Dead celebrations in November.
How To Stay Safe In Merida
As with any city in the world, it’s important to be mindful of safety when visiting Merida. While it is generally a safe city, there are still some precautions that should be taken to ensure a worry-free vacation. Here are some tips to help you stay safe during your Merida adventure:
- Be Aware Of Your Surroundings: This is the most important tip for staying safe in Merida. Pay attention to what’s happening around you and trust your gut instincts if something doesn’t feel right.
- Avoid Unlit Areas: If you’re out at night, stick to well-lit areas and avoid poorly-lit streets. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- Don’t Carry Too Much Cash Or Valuables: Keep your cash and valuables in a secure location, such as a money belt or hidden pouch. This will help prevent pickpocketing or theft.
- Be Cautious Of Street Vendors: While street vendors are a common sight in Merida, be careful when purchasing items from them. Some may try to overcharge or sell counterfeit goods.
- Stay Sober: Like any other city, alcohol can be a contributing factor in unsafe situations. If you plan on drinking, make sure to do so responsibly.
- Keep An Eye On Your Belongings: Don’t leave your bags unattended or hanging off the back of your chair in a restaurant. It’s easy for someone to snatch them when you’re not looking.
By following these tips, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable vacation in Merida.
Merida Customs and Etiquette
When visiting Merida, it is important to understand the customs and etiquette of the local people. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Greetings: It is customary to greet people with a handshake and say “Buenos días” (good morning), “Buenas tardes” (good afternoon) or “Buenas noches” (good evening).
- Clothing: Merida is a hot and humid city, but it is important to dress appropriately when visiting religious sites and government buildings. Wear comfortable clothes, but avoid wearing shorts, sleeveless shirts or flip flops.
- Respect: Merida is a city with a strong Mayan culture. Show respect for the local customs and traditions, including language and religious practices.
- Tipping: Tipping is customary in Merida, especially in restaurants and cafes. A standard tip is around 10% of the total bill.
- Punctuality: Merida has a relaxed and slow-paced lifestyle, but it is still important to be punctual when attending meetings or events.
- Language: Spanish is the official language of Merida, but many people also speak Mayan. Try to learn a few basic Spanish phrases to communicate with locals.
- Personal Space: Personal space is important in Merida, so try not to invade someone’s personal space without their permission.
By following these customs and etiquette, you can show respect for the local culture and have a more enjoyable trip to Merida.
Other Things To Know About Merida
If you’re planning a trip to Merida, there are a few things you should know about this vibrant city before you go. First and foremost, Merida is the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan, located in the southeastern part of the country. The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican peso, and you’ll be able to exchange money at banks, hotels, and currency exchange offices throughout Merida.
Spanish is the official language of Mexico, including Merida, so it’s a good idea to brush up on some basic phrases before you go. English is also spoken in many tourist areas, but it’s always helpful to have some Spanish under your belt. Merida is in the Eastern Standard Time zone, which means it’s one hour ahead of Central Time and two hours ahead of Pacific Time.
In addition to these practicalities, it’s also worth noting that Merida has a rich cultural history that you can experience through its museums, art galleries, and cultural events. The city is known for its traditional music and dance, and you can also learn about the history of the Maya people who have lived in the Yucatan region for thousands of years.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Merida is a city with a relaxed, welcoming vibe. The locals are known for being friendly and helpful, and there are plenty of opportunities to connect with other travelers or make new friends. Whether you’re exploring the city’s historic sites, enjoying the food and nightlife, or simply soaking up the sun, you’re sure to feel at home in Merida.
Merida Travel Costs
Merida, the capital of Yucatan in Mexico, offers an array of experiences to tourists, from exploring its rich history to indulging in delicious food. While planning your trip, you may be curious about the travel costs involved in visiting Merida. Here is a breakdown of the various expenses you may encounter:
- Accommodation: You can find budget-friendly options for accommodation in Merida, with hostels and guesthouses charging as little as $10-$20 a night. Mid-range hotels and Airbnbs are also available for $50-$100 per night, while high-end luxury resorts can cost $200 and above.
- Transportation: Merida’s public transportation system is inexpensive, with bus rides costing around $0.50 and taxis charging $5-$10 for short trips. If you prefer renting a car, you can expect to pay around $30-$50 a day.
- Food And Drink: Food in Merida is affordable and delicious, with street food and local restaurants offering traditional Yucatan dishes for around $5-$10 per meal. Mid-range restaurants and cafes may cost $15-$25 per meal, while high-end restaurants can charge $50 and above.
- Activities And Sightseeing: Many of Merida’s museums and historical sites offer free admission, while others may charge a nominal fee of around $3-$5. Tours and activities can vary in price, with day tours starting from $30 and private tours costing up to $150 or more.
Overall, traveling to Merida can be budget-friendly if you plan ahead and look for affordable options. By choosing budget-friendly accommodation, local food, and public transportation, you can keep your expenses low and enjoy everything Merida has to offer without breaking the bank.
Finding Affordable Flights To Merida
If you’re planning a trip to Merida, the first step is to find affordable flights. Fortunately, there are many options to choose from.
One of the best ways to find affordable flights is to use travel search engines such as Kayak, Expedia or Skyscanner. These sites allow you to compare prices from different airlines, as well as see the cheapest flights available. Be sure to search for flights well in advance to get the best deal.
Another tip is to be flexible with your travel dates. Flying on a weekday instead of a weekend can save you a lot of money. Also, consider traveling during the off-peak season when flights are generally cheaper. If you’re planning a backpacking trip, consider taking advantage of discount airlines such as Volaris, AeroMexico or Interjet. These airlines offer lower fares for budget travelers and often have promotions or discounts for frequent travelers.
Lastly, don’t forget to sign up for airline newsletters and frequent flyer programs. You can often receive discounts, special promotions, and early access to deals by signing up for these programs. By following these tips, you can find affordable flights to Merida and make your travel dreams a reality.
Backpacking Merida Suggested Budgets
If you’re planning to backpack in Merida, you’ll be happy to know that it’s a very affordable destination. You can experience all the highlights of the city without breaking the bank. Here are some suggested budgets for backpacking in Merida:
- Stay in a hostel dorm room ($6-$10 per night)
- Cook your own meals using local ingredients from markets ($5-$10 per day)
- Use public transportation or walk to get around ($2-$3 per day)
- Visit free attractions like parks and museums
- Stay in a private room in a budget hotel ($20-$30 per night)
- Eat at local restaurants for most meals ($15-$20 per day)
- Take guided tours or book activities ($10-$20 per day)
- Use public transportation or taxis to get around ($5-$10 per day)
- Stay in a mid-range hotel or Airbnb ($40-$60 per night)
- Eat at a mix of local and tourist restaurants ($30-$50 per day)
- Take guided tours or book activities with premium providers ($30-$50 per day)
- Use taxis or rental cars to get around ($20-$30 per day)
Note that these budgets are just a guide, and your actual costs may vary depending on your travel style and preferences. It’s always a good idea to plan ahead and budget accordingly to make the most of your backpacking experience in Merida.
Merida Money Saving Tips
Traveling to Merida can be a costly affair, but there are a few ways you can save money during your trip. Here are some Merida money-saving tips:
- Eat At Local Food Joints: Merida is famous for its food culture, and there are several local food joints that serve delicious food at affordable prices. You can try out Yucatecan specialties such as panuchos, salbutes, and cochinita pibil at these places.
- Travel By Bus: Merida has an excellent public transportation system, and traveling by bus is the cheapest way to get around the city. You can also opt for a colectivo, which is a shared taxi, to save some money.
- Bargain At The Markets: Merida has several markets where you can buy souvenirs, handicrafts, and local produce. Make sure you bargain hard to get the best prices.
- Visit Museums And Attractions On Sundays: Many museums and attractions in Merida offer free or discounted entry on Sundays. Take advantage of this to save some money on your sightseeing.
- Book Your Accommodation In Advance: Booking your accommodation in advance can save you a lot of money. Look for budget hotels and hostels in Merida, and book them well in advance to get the best deals.
- Use A Travel Rewards Credit Card: If you have a travel rewards credit card, you can earn points on your Merida trip. You can use these points to save money on flights, accommodation, and other expenses.
By following these Merida money-saving tips, you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank.
What To Pack For Merida
Merida is a beautiful and vibrant city that offers a mix of colonial architecture, cultural attractions, and delicious food. As you plan your trip, you may be wondering what to pack to make your visit more enjoyable. Here are some tips on what to pack for your Merida adventure:
- Comfortable Clothes: Merida can be hot and humid, especially during the summer months. Bring lightweight and breathable clothing to keep yourself cool and comfortable. You may also want to pack a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
- Walking Shoes: Merida is a city that is best explored on foot, so be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes. Sneakers or hiking shoes are good choices, as they provide support and grip on uneven surfaces.
- Insect Repellent: As with any tropical destination, Merida has its share of mosquitoes and other biting insects. Pack insect repellent to keep these pesky creatures at bay.
- Sunscreen: With temperatures regularly exceeding 90°F, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s rays. Pack sunscreen with a high SPF rating to ensure you don’t get burned.
- Lightweight Backpack: Carry a small, lightweight backpack or garment bag to keep your essentials close at hand. This is particularly useful when exploring the city’s markets, as you can easily stow any purchases you make.
- Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is key when traveling in a hot and humid environment. Bring a reusable water bottle and refill it as needed to avoid buying plastic bottles.
- Spanish Phrasebook: While many locals speak English, having a basic knowledge of Spanish can come in handy when traveling in Merida. Bring a Spanish phrasebook or download a translation app to help you communicate more effectively.
By packing these items, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy all that Merida has to offer. Have a great trip!
Can You Drink Tap Water In Merida?
It is not recommended to drink tap water in Merida, or in most parts of Mexico. While the tap water may be treated, there is still a high chance of contamination, which can lead to stomach problems and illness. To ensure your health and safety, it is best to stick to bottled water, which is readily available at most stores and restaurants. Some hotels may also provide filtered water for guests, but it is always best to double-check with the staff first. Additionally, be sure to use bottled water when brushing your teeth, and avoid putting ice made from tap water in your drinks. Staying hydrated is important while traveling, so be sure to stock up on bottled water and stay safe while enjoying all that Merida has to offer.
Other Things To See And Do In Merida
Aside from the top five attractions in Merida, there are other places to visit and activities to try. Here are some of them:
- Casa Museo Montes Molina: This historic house showcases traditional Yucatecan architecture, furnishings, and artwork from the 19th century. It also has a beautiful garden and hosts cultural events.
- Paseo de Montejo: Known as the Champs-Élysées of Merida, this avenue boasts of elegant mansions, monuments, and shops. Take a stroll or rent a bike to see its beauty.
- Gran Museo del Mundo Maya: Learn more about the Maya civilization and culture in this modern museum that has interactive exhibits, artifacts, and multimedia presentations.
- Uxmal: If you want to explore more Maya ruins outside of Chichen Itza, Uxmal is a great choice. It is known for its intricate facades, pyramids, and ballcourts.
- Cancun: Cancun has amazing beaches and a vibrant culinary scene, and there are plenty of restaurants to choose from.
- Haciendas: These former plantations offer a glimpse of Merida’s colonial and agricultural past. Some of them have been turned into hotels or event venues, while others offer guided tours.
- Cenotes: These natural swimming holes are abundant in the Yucatan peninsula, and some of them are accessible from Merida. You can swim, snorkel, or dive in crystal-clear waters surrounded by lush vegetation.
- Merida Market: If you want to immerse in local culture and cuisine, head to one of Merida’s markets, such as Lucas de Galvez, Santiago, or Santa Ana. You can buy fresh produce, souvenirs, and street food.
- Festivals: Merida is known for its lively and colorful festivals throughout the year. Some of them are the Day of the Dead, the Grito de Independencia, the Carnaval, and the Merida International Festival of Contemporary Dance.
Whether you have a few days or weeks to spend in Merida, you’ll never run out of things to see and do. Don’t forget to bring a camera, sunscreen, and a sense of adventure.
The Bottom Line
Merida is a charming city that is full of rich culture, history, and unique experiences. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to have an unforgettable adventure in Merida. From exploring ancient Mayan ruins to sampling the city’s delicious cuisine, there are countless things to see and do in Merida. The city’s hotels and accommodations range from budget-friendly to luxurious, so you’ll be able to find the perfect place to stay regardless of your budget. Overall, Merida is a wonderful place to visit, and there are plenty of things to see and do. With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can have an amazing adventure in this beautiful city without breaking the bank.