There are many things to do in Merida, from admiring the old colonial architecture and trying the delicious Yucatan cuisine and street food to enjoying the night music festivities. However, choosing the best places to visit in a short amount of time is not always easy.
Merida is also the perfect home base for day trips to the Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza or Uxmal and the beautiful Celestun Biosfera. The prices for tours and trips, restaurants, and hotels are much lower than those on Riviera Maya. And the people of Merida, most of Mayan descent, are friendly and welcoming.
Also, the cuisine has a distinctive flavor not found anywhere else in Yucatan. A visit to the colonial city should be on everyone’s list when traveling to Yucatan, so find out from this article the best 10 things to do in Merida!
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Table of Contents
Begin the Day with a Free Walking Tour
For a quick summary of what Merida has to offer, begin your day with a guided walking tour.
There is a free walking tour of Merida every morning at 9.30 am, starting from the Merida Tourism Office on the west side of Plaza Grande. You will learn more about Merida’s history, attractions, and other exciting facts only locals know.
Does a bike ride through the most beautiful avenue in Mérida, its main square, and old streets while stopping at its most important buildings sound good?
Cool on a Bench at Plaza Grande
Surrounded by the Government Palace and the Cathedral, Plaza Grande is the city’s heart and the perfect place for a midday break.
Enjoy an iced coffee and the complimentary free wifi the municipality offers on a shaded bench and watch the locals and the tourists. If it is getting too hot, visit one of the buildings lining the Plaza Grande, which are air-conditioned and free to enter.
While Merida has more plazas, Plaza Grande, located between Calle 60 & 62 and Calle 61 & 63, is the central spot and the place to be on Merida. There is a lovely market with many handicrafts on Sunday mornings if you are looking for souvenirs.
Take the Double Decker Bus and Explore the City
Take the double-decker bus and drive through the historic city for 1.5 hours. It will be a pleasant experience to tour around the town and see places you wouldn’t otherwise.
As we wanted a different perspective, we took the double-decker and explored the city. Although the tour was given only in Spanish and we didn’t understand much, that didn’t bother us too much.
Discover Mérida with a choice of 2 sightseeing tours by panoramic double-decker bus. BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE
Take a Cooking Class for a Taste of Yucatan
One of the best things to do in Merida is try Yucatan Cuisine. The colonial city is home to the best cuisine in Yucatan; therefore, the food is so delicious but, in the meantime, different from anything I’ve tried on Riviera Maya.
Taste the unique Yucatan cuisine at the famous La Chaya Maya Restaurant. Make sure to get a reservation by calling or asking your accommodation to secure one for you. Try some Parrillada Yucateca, grilled Poc-Chuc & chicken fajitas served with beans and homemade tortillas in Yucatan style. Simply delicious!
Immerse yourself in the local culture and take a Yucatan cooking class! This tour will take you to the local market, where after buying all your supplies, you’ll take a bus ride to a local home, where your host will guide you step by step on how to cook a traditional menu. Sounds interesting? You can BOOK FOR YOUR TICKETS HERE.
Watch a Pok Ta Tok Game
Every Saturday night, at 8:30 pm, in Calle 60, you may watch the locals playing an old Maya ball game called Pok Ta Tok.
If you’ve visited one of the Mayan ruins sites, you already know the history: players used a small rubber ball to rebound through stone rings using only their hips, knees, and elbows. Come early to get a good spot and watch the game.
Taste some Street Food
If you want to try Yucatan authentic food, Merida is the right place. Enjoy listening to cumbia music while tasting local street food at Plaza Grande. Merida’s street food is different from the standard Mexican street food you’ve tried already in Quintana Roo.
You can try Elotes (grilled corn on the cob and served in mayonnaise and chili) or maybe Marquesitas (a mix between a waffle and an ice cream cone filled with a topping of your choice).
Or maybe Cochinita Pibil (slow-roasted pork) or Poc Chuc (grilled pork) sounds better for your taste.
Churros, fries, or Papadzules (rolled tacos filled with boiled and chopped eggs) are the ones you’ll bump into the most!
Enjoy the Night Music Festivities
Among the things to do in Merida would be enjoying the night festivities. After dining, you’ll find that Merida’s nightlife is vibrant and entertaining. Especially on weekends when the main streets are closed to traffic, and everything comes alive.
There is always something going on every night. You have to know when and where. Most of the events are free, so check out what happens during your stay.
Explore the Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza or Uxmal
Merida is the ideal base for visiting the Mayan Temple of Chichen Itza or Uxmal.
Rent a car or use the public transport system and head to one of the famous Mayan Ruins. While Chichen Itza is the most famous one, the Uxmal archaeological site is an amazing place not to be missed. The perfect vacation should include a visit to both of them. Easy to do on your own, or choose a guided trip for a stress-free experience.
Find out how to do it independently: EXPLORING CHICHEN ITZA ON YOUR OWN!
For a more local experience, I recommend checking out these guided tours:
Also, check out these Uxmal tours from Merida!
Take a Trip to Celestun to See the Flamingos
Merida makes the perfect home base for a day trip to Celestun. Rent a car, take an Ado bus or Colectivo, and go on a two-hour drive to see the flamingos and the mangroves.
Between November and March, you can see thousands of flamingos in Celestun. Take a boat ride, enjoy some free time at the beach, and taste some delicious fresh fish! Or some ice cream from the street vendor!
If renting a car or spending almost three hours on a bus is not an option, you might consider joining a tour. You will be picked up directly from your hotel in Merida, so you don’t have to stress how to get to Celestun. You’ll get to explore the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve, take a scenic boat ride through the mangroves, swim at the freshwater springs, and enjoy some free time at the beach.
Cool Off in a Cenote
What better way to chill after a hot day exploring the Mayan ruins than swimming and cooling off in a cenote? And in Yucatan, there are plenty of them.
Cuzama Hacienda, a combination of three different cenotes, is a great day out.
Hacienda Mucuyche, a group of two cenotes connected by a human-made channel, makes another great day out. Find out what suits your itinerary and head over there.
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