There are so many things to do in Merida like admiring the colonial architecture, trying the delicious Yucatan cuisine, enjoying the night music festivities. Merida is also the perfect home-base for day trips to the Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza or Uxmal and also the beautiful Celestun Biosfera. Find out from this article which are the 10 things to do in Merida, Mexico.

A visit to Merida should be on everyone’s list travelling to Yucatan, Mexico. The prices for tour excursions, restaurants, hotels are much lower of what you can find on Riviera Maya. And the people of Merida, much Mayan descendest, are friendly and welcoming. Also, the cuisine has a distinctive flavour than anywhere else in Yucatan. 

1. BEGIN YOUR 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 found out more about the Merida’s history, attractions and many other interesting facts that only a local would know. 

the cathedral of merida, 10 things to do in merida
Explore the streets of Merida.

2. COOL ON A BENCH AT PLAZA GRANDE

Plaza Grande is the central spot and also the heart of the city. Surrounded by the Government Palace and the Cathedral, the central plaza makes the perfect place for a midday break. Enjoy an iced coffee, and the complimentary free wifi offered by the municipality on a shaded bench and watch the locals and the tourists as well. If it is getting too hot, visit one of the buildings lining the Plaza Grande. They are free to enter and are air-conditioned. While Merida has more plazas, Plaza Grande, located between Calle 60 & 62 and between Calle 61 & 63, is the place to be on Merida. If you are looking for souvenirs, there is a pretty market with lots of handicrafts on Sunday mornings.

Plaza Grande, 10 things to do in Merida, Mexico
Cool on a bench at Plaza Grande.
the Government Palace, 10 things to do in Merida, Mexico
the Government Palace

3. TAKE THE DOUBLE DECKER BUS AND EXPLORE THE CITY

Take the double-decker bus and drive through the historical city, for one 1.5 hours. It will make a pleasant experience to tour around the town and see places that you will not visit without taking this bus. Although the tour is only in Spanish and we didn’t get much information, we wanted to see Merida from a different perspective, so that didn’t bother us too much.  

4. ENJOY THE YUCATAN CUISINE 

Merida is home to the best cuisine in Yucatan. The food is so delicious and different from Riviera Maya, for example. Taste the unique Yucatan cuisine at the famous La Chaya Maya Restaurant. Make sure to make a reservation, by calling before or asking your accommodation to make one for you. Try some Parrillada Yucateca, which is grilled Poc-Chuc & chicken fajitas served with beans and homemade tortillas in Yucatan style. Delicious!

5. WATCH A POK TA TOK GAME

Every Saturday night, at 8:30 pm, in Calle 60, you can watch the locals playing an old Maya ball game called Pok Ta Tok. If you visited one of the Mayan ruins sites, you already know the history: Players used to rebound a small rubber ball through stone rings using only their hips, knees and elbows. Come early to get a good spot and watch the game.

6. TASTE SOME STREET FOOD 

Merida street food is different than the standard Mexican street food. Enjoy yourself by tasting local street food and listening to cumbia music at Plaza Grande. Walk through the market and try some elotes, marquesitas, churros or fries. Elotes are grilled corns on the cob, served in mayonnaise and chilli. Marquesitas is a mixt between a waffle and an ice cream cone filled with a topping of your choice.  

7. ENJOY THE NIGHT MUSIC FESTIVITIES 

One of the 10 things to do in Merida should be enjoying the night festivities. After dining, you’ll find that Merida 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 just have to know when and where. Most of the events are free so take a look to see what is happening during your stay.

After figuring out what Merida itself has to offer, consider visiting the Mayan Temples, amazing cenotes and the beautiful Celestun Biosfera.

8. 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, Uxmal archaeological site is another beautiful place not to be missed. The perfect vacation should include a visit to both of them. Easy to do on your own, you don’t need an expensive tour to take you there.  

The beautiful pyramid of Uxmal
The beautiful pyramid of Uxmal
And the famous Chichen Itza
And the famous Chichen Itza

RELATED: EXPLORING CHICHEN ITZA ON YOUR OWN, MEXICO

RELATED: EXPLORING COBA RUINS ON YOUR OWN, MEXICO

9. 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 take the two-hour drive trip to see the flamingos and the mangroves. Between November to March, you can see thousands of flamingos. Take a boat ride, enjoy some free time at the beach and taste some delicious fresh fish! And some ice cream from a street vendor! 

Take a boat ride to see the flamingos. 10 things to do in Merida, Mexico
Take a boat ride to see the flamingos.

If you want to know how to visit Celestun on your own, read my complete article: CELESTUN – SELF-GUIDED DAY TRIP FROM MERIDA, MEXICO

10. COOL OFF IN A CENOTE

What better way to chill after a day in the sun visiting 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. Simply find out what suits your itinerary and head over there.

Cool off in a cenote.
Cool off in a cenote.

Want to do something authentic on the other side of Yucatan? Go on a Self-guided Day Trip To Sian Ka’an & Muyil Ruins!

Self-guided Day Trip to Sian Ka'an & Muyil Ruins
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