There are many things to do in Merida, like admiring the old colonial architecture, trying the delicious Yucatan cuisine and the street food, or 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 the beautiful Celestun Biosfera. The prices for tours and trips, restaurants, and hotels are much lower than those found on Riviera Maya. And the people of Merida, most Mayan descendest, are friendly and welcoming. Also, the cuisine has a distinctive flavor than anywhere else in Yucatan. A visit to the colonial city should be on everyone’s list traveling to Yucatan, so find out from this article the 10 things to do in Merida!
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 find out more about Merida’s history, attractions, and other interesting facts that only locals know.
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 offered by the municipality 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 as those 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 lots of 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 see otherwise.
As we wanted to have 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.
Enjoy the Yucatan Cuisine
One of the best things to do in Merida is trying 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 ask 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!
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
Merida’s street food is different than the standard Mexican street food. Enjoy yourself by listening to cumbia music while tasting local street food 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 chili. Marquesitas is a mixt between a waffle and an ice cream cone filled with a topping of your choice.
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 is happening during your stay.
After figuring out what Merida itself has to offer, consider visiting the Mayan Temples, the amazing cenotes, and the beautiful Celestun Biosfera.
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.
RELATED: EXPLORING CHICHEN ITZA ON YOUR OWN
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 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! Or some ice cream from the street vendor!
Cool Off in a Cenote
What better way to chill after a hot day spent 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. Find out what suits your itinerary and head over there.
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