A short distance — yet seemingly a world away — from the rowdy, touristy beach resorts of Cancún and Cozumel that make up the Yucatán of cliché, Mérida is the cultural center of southern Mexico, boasting a panoply of excellent museums and attractions, a vibrant street life, and a wealth of historic colonial-era architecture (centered on the Plaza de la Independencia in the center of town) that's second only to Mexico City on the national scene.
The capital and largest city of Yucatán state, Mérida is a city of contrasts. You will find elegant hotels, restaurants and malls in the northern part of the city. Downtown, there are hotels and restaurants to suit every budget. A large central market and numerous small shops are found all around the main plaza. Mérida has a rich cultural life which also reflects its diversity. Many free concerts, performances and other events are held daily.
The city was founded by the Spanish conquistadors in the 1540s on top of a centuries-old Maya city called T'ho. The palatial home of the family of conquistador leader Montejo can still be seen on the south side of the Zócalo or main square. Here and there bits of ancient Maya stonework can be seen reused in Spanish Colonial era buildings in the old part of town.
From the later 1800s to the 1920s, Mérida enjoyed prosperous boom times fueled by the henequen or sisal plant harvest, which made Yucatán the rope maker to the world. Progressive Mérida had electric trams and street lights before Mexico City. The wealthy constructed the grand Pasejo Montejo avenue north of the old town, inspired by the Champs-Élysées in Paris. With the development of artificial twines the sisal boom ended, and Mérida slowed to a more sleepy provincial capital until development picked back up in the late 20th century.
The city's ambiance is colonial and the climate is tropical. The daytime temperature varies; in January, it is about 24°C (75°F) and in June, about 35°C (95°F). To beat the heat, most people are busiest in the mornings. They have lunch and siesta, then go back to work for a few hours in the late afternoon. The cool breezes from the Gulf of Mexico drift into Mérida in the evenings and this is when many of the residents spend their time outdoors. You can see them visiting and talking as they stroll along the streets, sit in the plazas or dine in the many sidewalk restaurants.
From Mérida, it is easy to take day trips to a vast array of destinations: archaeological sites, ecological parks, typical villages, caves, beaches, colonial missions and more. Take your time and really explore the Maya sites, walk for miles along the Gulf of Mexico, attend a village festival, photograph the wildlife, crawl through a cave or swim in a cenote.
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- Tourist Information (Turismo Mérida), ✉ email@example.com. The city maintains several tourist information offices, all of which can offer helpful information on accommodation, free maps, and bus connections. All offices also have free copies of Yucatan Today, a helpful weekly Spanish-English publication listing all events in the city and the surrounding region.
- 1 City Hall Information Center (Módulo de Información Turística Palacio Municipal), Calle 62 between 61 and 63 (inside the Palacio del Gobierno left of the main entrance), ☏ . Daily 08:00-20:00, Su 08:00-14:00.
- 2 Paseo de Montejo Information Module (Módulo de Información Turística Paseo de Montejo), Ave Paseo de Montejo 56A x 33A, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 08:00-20:00.
- 1 Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport (MID IATA) (7.6 km southwest of the central plaza in the city along Hwy 261, direction Umán). Non-stop air service is available from all regions of Mexico including regional flights from Cancun and Cozumel in the Yucatan Peninsula. The only regular international air services offered are from Belize City (Tropic Air); Houston, Havana, Miami and Milan (Blue Panorama). Seasonally from Toronto.
A taxi stand with fixed rates is just outside the baggage claim; pay the fare beforehand at a booth. ADO also have a stop in the island in front of the arrivals doors for a direct bus to Hotel Fiesta Americana and CAME (two separate routes). For a cheaper and frequent option, 79 Aviación (Rt#132) bus makes a round trip from the airport to Calle 60 at 69 in the city center. From the airport you will have to go out to the main road (Calle 23). The bus will be going towards the northwest or the right along Calle 23 and than a right turn or NE on Hwy 261 (Uman-Merida) where the official bus stop is at. You can also hail the bus along Calle 23. From the city center the bus picks up along Calle 69 between 60 & 70 This bus passes by CAME & TAME bus stations and Parque San Juan. The bus departs every 15 - 30 minutes until 21:00, and costs around M$8 (pesos).
Cancun International Airport (CUN IATA) is the next nearest airport for a wider range of domestic and international flights. From Cancun International Airport, Grupo ADO offer direct bus service to Merida 2-4x daily (4 hr) or rent a car and drive over along Hwy 180D (3 hr). At other times take a more frequent bus from Cancun International Airport to the downtown Cancun bus station and transfer to another bus to Merida.
There are several bus stations in Mérida; most visitors will arrive at either the first or second-class stations by an ADO bus. If coming from Cancún (4 hours), Playa del Carmen, the airport (both in Cancun & Merida) and Villahermosa with ADO here are two alternate stations. One at 2 Terminal Hotel Fiesta Americana and the other in 3 Terminal Altabrisa. Of the two, Hotel Fiesta is in a better location next to several major hotels and near the US consulate north of downtown Mérida while the Altabrisa location is further out in the northeastern suburbs of Altabrisa. The Hotel Fiesta Americana and CAME (see below) are the closest bus stations to downtown:
- 4 Mérida Central de Autobuses (CAME) (First Class Station), Calle 70 No 555 btwn 69 & 71, ☏ . Mérida's first class bus station is centrally located, and most regional and long-distance travel buses pass through this station. Longer distance buses travel to Cancun, the airport (both in Cancun & Merida); Mexico City (via Campeche, Palenque, Villahermosa) (with the least expensive ticket costing M$1,592) and Tuxtla_Gutiérrez (via Campeche, Palenque, San Cristobal de las Casas); Chetumal and Belize City (once nightly). If coming from Mexico City's TAPO station you will need to ask to go to the CAME station.
- Lines served include ADO, ADO GL, ADO Platino, and OCC lines. ADO Platino is the highest class of service with free instant coffee packs in the back with hot water along with your choice to choose a single seat by yourself on the left side of the bus, and TVs on the back of every seat allowing you to choose an array of movies and TV shows, some even in English. ADO GL is a step down without the extras but some more legroom than the regular ADO buses.
- 5 Terminal de Autobuses Mérida (TAME) (Second Class Station), Calle 69 No 554 btwn 68 and 70 (around the corner from the CAME station), ☏ . Mérida's main second class bus station has service to/from most of the same destinations as the CAME station, except that buses stop more frequently at many of the small towns midway and anywhere along the road on request. The routes are operated by OCC, Mayab, ATS, Oriente, and TRT bus lines. There are no second class buses from Mexico City, so travelers pinching their centavos will end up making multiple transfers in between Mexico City and Mérida. Clase Europea operates first class service between the second class terminal (TAME) and Chetumal via Jose M. Morelos and Bacalar along Hwy 184 & 293.
The following are other (second class) bus companies to the surrounding areas south of downtown with their own terminals at:
- 6 AutoCentro, Calle 46 No 517, por 65 y 67, ☏ . They have buses going towards Valladolid and Cancun with many stops along the way, including Tixkokob, and Izamal. Centro also have buses going to Motul on another route.
- 7 Autobuses del Noreste en Yucatan (Terminal Noreste), Calle 67 No 551 btw 50 and 52, ☏ . Second class buses to various surrounding towns & villages in Yucatan and Campeche states such as Conkal, Ixil, Dzemul, Motul, Dzidzantún, Yobaín, Cansahcab, Suma de Hidalgo, Muxupip, Tekantó, Bokobá, Izamal, and more. They also offer service to Cancun as well.
- 8 Terminal Auto-Progreso, Calle 62 No 524, btw 65 and 67 (Along Calle 62), ☏ . Every 10-15 min from 05:15 to 22:15 daily. Regular and frequent buses up to Progreso along Hwy 261 with additional stops on request to pick up and let off passengers.
- 9 Various taxis and vans, Calle 69a entre 62 y 64 (Parque San Juan southwest of downtown). Various vans & taxis going to/from surrounding villages & towns have stands along the streets surrounding Parque San Juan. In the villages and towns themselves they typically leave from the central plaza rather than a station on the edge of town.
Mérida street signs
Many street corners in the Centro Histórico have, in addition to the standard street signs, whimsical plaques illustrating such diverse subjects as fruits, animals, musical instruments, etc. These signs served as a navigation aid in an era when the majority of the city's residents were illiterate, and frequently reference businesses or buildings which were (and in some cases still are) located there. Most plaques now on display are replicas, but still provide an unusual glimpse into an earlier age.
The streets in most of the parts of interest to visitors are in a rough grid with numbers for street names. Even numbered streets run from north to south, with the numbers increasing as you go further west; odd numbered streets run from east to west, with the numbers increasing as you go further south. This makes it easy to tell how many blocks away from something you are (just remember to divide by two when counting blocks in the same direction). Addresses are commonly given as either intersections of two streets, or stated as on a street between two cross streets. For orientation in the old part of town, remember the Cathedral and Zócalo (main square) are at the corner of 60 and 61 ("Calle 60 x 61").
If staying in the older central part of town, many attractions and restaurants are within walking distance for those who don't much mind walking in the tropical climate.
Mérida is served by a sprawling network of privately-operated buses with service to the outlying suburbs. Most routes radiate outward from a 4-block area east of the Zócalo, on Calles 56 and 58 between Calles 59 and 63. Destinations of routes are painted on the windshields; if in doubt you can always ask the bus driver. For visitors the most useful routes will be those heading up Paseo de Montejo from the centro – these depart from 10 Calle 56, and will have 'Paseo de Montejo' and/or 'Altabrisa' marked on their windshields.
Most bus stops are not marked, but many buses can be hailed from points along the route. To get off, simply say (or yell) 'baja!', and the driver will pull over at the next opportunity. A single ride costs M$7 (no transfers); pay the bus driver directly on entering. Buses generally operate between 05:00-21:30 during the week, with less frequency on Sundays and holidays.
The Municipio de Mérida maintains a helpful webpage with a complete list of public bus stops [dead link] in the Centro. Travelers wanting a more comprehensive route map can purchase a Guía de Transporte Mapa de Mérida from one of the newsstands located at the northwest and the southeast corners of the Zócalo for M$50.
Taxis are numerous and reasonably priced. Most taxis do not use a meter, and it's best to agree on a fare before getting in. Taxis marked 'taximetro' use a meter and tend to cost a bit more – make sure that the driver does not switch the meter to the night ('noche') rate if you are traveling during the day.
Mérida is surprisingly bicycle-friendly outside of the centro. Bicycles can be rented from a number of shops.
On Sunday mornings the city holds the weekly Bici Ruta (literally Bicycle Route), when from 08:00-12:00 the entire lengths of Paseo de Montejo and Calle 60 are closed to motor vehicles. This popular event is open not only to cyclists, but to rollerbladers, skateboarders, runners, and those who simply want to enjoy a pleasant stroll with no noisy traffic. For those who don't own their own bicycles, they can be rented from a temporary 11 bicycle stand (open Sundays only) near the Monumento a la Patria on Paseo de Monteo, as well as from 12 Bici Merida (also on Paseo de Montejo, ☏ , M-Sa 09:00-22:00, Su 08:00-15:00).
By horse-drawn carriage
An especially note-worthy type of transport in Mérida is the calesa, a traditional horse-drawn carriage used continuously since colonial times. Carriages can be picked up along Calle 61 by 58 and 60 (on the north side of the cathedral), and head up Calle 60 and return down Paseo de Montejo. A typical tour lasts about 45 minutes and includes narration, costing about M$350.
By tour bus
- Turibus, Av Colón s/n x 62 (Centro), ☏ (main), (mobile), ✉ email@example.com. Daily 09:00-21:00. With the collaboration of the city of Mérida, Turibus operates a hop-on, hop-off bus service with two routes. The principal route includes sights in the Centro Histórico and heads down the Paseo de Montejo, with buses departing approximately every hour from in front of the cathedral in the Plaza Grande, as well as from the Holiday Inn Merida. A new secondary route passes through a few historic barrios; this bus also departs from the Plaza Grande. The total circuit requires 1 hour 45 minutes, and tickets can be reserved by email. Day pass: M$120 (adults), M$100 (seniors), M$50 (children 3-12).
By rental car
Most major car rental companies maintain counters at the airport, and also have offices on the ground floor of the Hotel Fiesta Americana and/or in the centro. All rentals include mandatory liability insurance, but this may not always be included in quotes and may lead to confusion if you are shopping around.
- 13 Mexico Rent A Car, Calle 57A No 12, between 58 and 60 (Centro), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 08:00-12:30, 18:00-20:00. A family-owned operation. The man and his super-friendly mother will tell you how to get out of town, and throw in some sightseeing tips. Around US$35/day.
There is much to see in Mérida, a city of a million inhabitants that is over 400 years old. Besides the Centro Histórico, where most tourist attractions are located, there are many charming neighborhoods, shopping malls and parks. Progreso and the Yucatán Gulf Coast are only thirty minutes away to the north.
Around the Plaza Grande
- 1 Plaza Grande (Zócalo, Plaza de la Independencia). In pre-Hispanic times the center of the Mayan city of T'Hó, the central square is at the heart of the historic center of the city. It is surrounded by impressive buildings, most of them built from stones from the Mayan temples which originally stood here. The central park is a pleasant place in which to sit and people-watch, as it is a favorite meeting place of locals, tourists, street performers, and vendors.
- 2 Catedral de San Idelfonso. Daily 06:00-12:00 16:00-19:00. This is the first cathedral built in the Americas and the oldest in Mexico, built on the site of the Mayan temple Xbac-Luum-Chaan. The temple stones were incorporated into the new building, and a number of original Mayan carvings are still visible on the church walls. Construction began in 1561 and was completed in 1599, except for the bell tower, which was finished 200 years later in 1774. The building is rather austere in style, partly due to its Franciscan design, and partly due to looting during the Mexican revolution.
The stations of the cross in the interior on the side naves are particularly noteworthy, as is the painting above a door depicting the baptism of the Mayan ruler of Maní.
An additional item of interest on the left side is the so-called El Cristo de las Ampollas ('The Christ of the Blisters') located in a side chapel. In 1645 this wood carving was brought from the village of Ichmul, after it miraculously survived a fire which had destroyed the village church. The original was destroyed during the revolution, but the devout still come to pray at the replica. Free.
- 3 Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Arteneo de Yucatán (MACAY), Pasaje de la Revolución entre 58 y 60 (E side of the Zócalo, directly to the right of the cathedral), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. Housed in the former bishop's palace, this museum has a permanent collection of sculptures and paintings by the most well-known artists from the state of Yucatán. Rotating exhibits of work by local artists are also on display. Free.
- 4 Casa de los Montejo, Calle 63 No 506 (S side of the Zócalo), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Sa 10:00-19:00, Su 10:00-14:00. The 1549 palace of Montejo the Conquistador – his descendents lived here until as recently as 1978. Although the building was extensively remodeled in 1850, some of the original architectural features remain. The ground floor has been converted to commercial use (a Banamex bank with handy ATMs), but the restored interior of the building is open to visitors during banking hours. If you miss an opportunity to have a look inside, the elaborate facade on the outside is alone worth the visit. Elements of the facade include the Montejo family coat of arms, as well as figures of Spanish Conquistadors standing on the heads of conquered native Maya – a graphic illustration of the new order the Conquest imposed. Free.
- 5 Palacio Municipal (Ayuntamiento, Old City Hall), Calle 62 x 61 y 63 (W side of the Zócalo), ☏ . Mérida's red city hall, easily spotted by its distinctive clock tower, was built in 1735. From this building in 1821 the Republic of Yucatán declared independence from Spain.
- 6 Palacio del Gobierno (Governor's Palace) (N side of the Zócalo). Daily 08:00-22:00. This lovely colonial palace was built in 1892 in the Neoclassical style, with a large couryard and impressive staircase. Upstairs there is a permanent exhibit of paintings by the painter Fernando Castro Pacheco illustrating key events in the history of Mexico and of the Yucatán peninsula. The main balcony upstairs has a good view of the Zócalo and the cathedral. Free.
Museums and galleries
- 7 Museo de la Ciudad de Mérida, Calle 56 No 529a entre 65 y 65a (the old post office building, 3 blocks east and 1 south of the Zócalo), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-F 09:00-18:00, Sa Su 09:00-14:00. The Museum of the City of Mérida provides more evidence of the city's long history and rich culture. Admission is free, with guides who speak Spanish, English, and French. The museum has a very interesting permanent exhibit, as well as changing art exhibits upstairs. An added bonus is that the museum is just across the street from Mérida's central market, Mercado Lucas de Galvéz. Free.
- 8 Museo de Arte Popular de Yucatán (Casa Molina), Calle 50A No 487 x Calle 57 (Col La Mejorada, across from Parque de la Mejorada), ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 10:00-15:00. Housed in an early 20th-century mansion, this museum showcases folk art, textiles, and household objects from Yucatán and across Mexico, with a permanent collection and rotating special exhibits. Highlights includes masks from the states of Guerrero, Morelos, and Oaxaca. There is also a small gift shop. Free.
- 9 Museo de la Canción Yucateca, Calle 57 No 464 x 48 (Col La Mejorada), ☏ . Tu-F 09:00-17:00, Sa Su 09:00-15:00. This museum is dedicated to Yucatecan music and musicians.
- 10 Galería Mérida, Calle 59 No 452A x 54 y 52, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-F 10:00-12:00 14:30-17:30. The largest private art gallery in Mérida, this gallery showcases local Yucatecan artists with rotating exhibits.
- 11 Nahualli Casa de los Artistas, Calle 60 No 405, entre 43 y 45, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Sa 10:00-14:00 16:00-20:00. Owned and operated by two internationally-exhibited Mexican artists, this gallery also offers frequent workshops in painting and sculpture.
- 12 Casa Frederick Catherwood, Calle 59 No 572 entre 72 y 74, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 09:00-14:00, 17:00-21:00. In the 1840s English architect and artist Frederick Catherwood joined American explorer John Lloyd Stephens on an expedition across the Yucatán and Central America in search of Mayan ruins. In addition to illustrating Stephens' subsequently published travel journal, Catherwood published a collection of his remarkable lithographs in an edition of 300. Casa Catherwood does not have a direct historic connection with the artist, but does have the only complete collection of his lithographs on display in Mexico, located in a gallery on the upper floor. The building also houses a bed and breakfast and café. M$50 (lithograph collection).
Religious buildings and architecture
- 13 Iglesia de Jesús (Iglesia de la Tercera Orden), Calle 60 (corner of Calle 59), ☏ . This church was built in 1618 as part of a Jesuit college once covering an entire city block – only the church survives today. It was built with stone from an earlier Mayan temple; these carved stones can be seen on the west wall.
- 14 Iglesia de Santa Lucía, Calle 60 x 55 (across the street from Parque de Santa Lucía). This was built in 1575 by the merchant D. Pedro Garcia. In 1871 the park of the same name was opened to the public, and the door arches embellished. The obelisk dedicated to General Sebastian Molas was added in 1887.
- 15 Iglesia de San Cristóbal. This is the newest church in the centro, with construction begun in 1756 and completed in 1796. Of particular interest is the distinctive scalloped vaulting over the main entrance, as well as a wall-top defensive walkway surrounding the building, used for surveillance in case of revolt. An annual procession takes place here on 12 December in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
- 16 Ermita de Santa Isabel, Calle 66 x 79. Daily 07:00-13:00, 16:00-20:00. This church was built in the 18th century, and although it hasn’t been well maintained it is worth a visit for the baptismal font as well as the painting of St. Anthony, located in a small niche. The charming garden with small chapel is also worth seeing.
- 17 Estación del Ferrocarriles (Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatán), Calle 55 No 435 between 48 and 46. Since passenger rail services had stopped in 1997, this neo-Colonial building has been renovated and now houses an art institute. It is one of the best preserved buildings of its kind and is for this reason worth seeing. The ornate architectural details reflect Moorish influences, and the central tower is especially noteworthy.
- Arches of Mérida. In 1690 a number of arches were built to demarcate the boundaries of the Centro Histórico. All arches share a similar style and are unique in Mexico. Three remain standing today.
- 18 Arco de San Juan (Arch of St. John), Calle 64 x 69. This once marked the beginning of the road from Mérida to Campeche. Of the remaining arches, this is the largest and best preserved.
- 19 Arco del Puente (X-Cul Arco, Arch of the Bridge), Calle 63 x 50. Topped by a stone cross, this was named after an earlier bridge situated here, used in times of seasonal flooding. Noteworthy are the doorways on either side of the arch, each of a different height.
- 20 Arco de Dragones (Arch of the Dragons), Calle 61 x 50. Named for the adjoining former barracks of the Spanish regiment, this has a niche on top with a statue of St. Anthony.
Paseo de Montejo
A beautiful, tree-lined street, lined with houses developed by the henequen-industry barons. It's a great place to walk in the evening. Have a dish of ice cream, look at the renovated mansions – an especially interesting villa is the 21 Casa del Minarete (No 473). A romantic treat is renting one of the horse-drawn carriages, called calesas, that will drive you up and down the grand boulevard. You can catch a calesa at the Plaza Grande and take a trip down Paseo de Montejo and back.
- 22 Museo Regional de Antropología (Palacio Cantón), Paseo Montejo No 485 (corner of Calle 43), ☏ . Tu-Su 08:00-17:00; last admission at 16:40. The regional archaeology museum is housed in one of the grandest mansions from Mérida's boom time, showcasing ancient Maya artworks and artifacts, as well as temporary exhibits. Completed in 1914, the building originally served as the governor's mansion and is worth seeing in its own right. M$48 (adults), free (students/children/seniors/disabled/children under 13); free admission on Su for Mexican nationals and foreign residents.
- 23 Quinta Montes Molina (Casa Museo), Paseo de Montejo No 469 entre 33 y 35, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. English tours: M-F 09:00 11:00 15:00, Sa 09:00 11:00; Spanish tours M-F 10:00 12:00 14:00 16:00, Sa 10:00 12:00. Another of the Paseo's grandest old mansions is also a museum, still owned by the original family. 40-minute guided tours of the lavish interior can also be booked by appointment. M$60 (adults), M$40 (children).
- 24 Monumento a la Patria (Monumento a la Bandera). This monument was designed by the Colombian artist Rómulo Rozo and inaugurated in 1956, and is dominated by the 14-meter high stone figure of an indigenous man holding a flame. The structure has 31 columns, representing the 28 states of the Republic of Mexico, the 2 territories and the Federal District.
- 25 Museo de las Ferrocarilles en Yucatán (Railroad Museum), Calle 43 No 429, entre 48 y 46 (5 blocks E of Paseo de Montejo), ☏ . Daily 10:00-14:00. Rail buffs will love this mostly outdoor museum near the train station northeast of the Centro. Old locomotives and lots of quirky old rolling stock.
- 26 Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, Calle 60 Norte No 299 E (Unidad Revolución Cordemex), ☏ . W-M 08:00-17:00. Opened in 2012 and located in a building clearly inspired by the Beijing National Stadium (aka 'Bird's Nest'), the museum has a large permanent collection of Mayan artifacts as well as a number of interactive exhibits. M$150 (foreign nationals), M$100 (Mexicans/residents), M$25 (children/students/seniors).
The ayuntamiento (city hall) sponsors many cultural events during the week, free of charge. Almost every night visitors and residents alike can enjoy outdoor concerts or dances in one of the many downtown parks and squares. Sunday afternoons at the Plaza Grande (at and around the main square) are a particular treat, and perhaps the most charming time in Mérida. The streets around the square are closed to vehicles, and the locals dress up to go for strolls to see and be seen. Brass bands and dance orchestras hold free concerts, and couples dance – if you're not shy, consider joining in, or ask a local to teach you the steps to a local dance like the jarana. Street vendors sell a variety of refreshments.
- 1 Centro Cultural Olimpio, Calle 62 x 61 (directly next to the Palacio Municipal, on the W side of the Zócalo), ☏ . A cultural center where dance performances are staged most evenings. Information on upcoming performances is available in the entrance. These performances are very popular – it is best to arrive early. Shortly before the performance people without tickets gather in a queue stretching sometimes to over 100m, in the hopes that paying audience members leave the performance early and thus vacate a seat.
- 2 Teatro Peón Contreras, Calle 60 s/n (by Calle 57, 2 blocks N of the Zócalo), ☏ . Th-Sa 09:00-18:00. The city's grand opera house. The current structure was designed by a visiting Italian architect and opened in 1908 during the height of the boom times, replacing a less opulent earlier theater of the same name; it is still the largest theater on the Yucatán peninsula. The theater is the center of Mérida's high culture and in 2011 was recently renovated with a new stage and updated air conditioning. If opera, symphonies, and ballets aren't to your taste, the building is still worth a look for the impressive architecture. There is also a sizable art gallery downstairs with changing exhibits.
- 3 Cairo Cinema Café, Calle 20 No 98A x 15 y 17, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-Th 13:00-23:00, F Sa 13:00-24:00. Independent movie theater, coffee shop and DVD rental store. They show movies from Thursday-Sunday at 19:00 and 21:00. You can have a beer or a glass of wine and a baguette while you're enjoying the screening. M$30 per movie, includes popcorn.
- Mérida Fest, ✉ email@example.com. Entire month of January. Sponsored by the city, this annual festival commemorates the founding of Spanish Mérida in January 1542. All arts are included, with many performers coming from across Mexico to participate. Most events are staged in open spaces and free to the public.
- Mérida y Yucatán Film Festival (FICMY), Calle 21 No. 117C por 24 y 24A (office), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Late January. An annual weeklong festival devoted to Mexican as well as international cinema. Films are screened at several venues across Mérida.
- . Date varies, ending at the eve of Ash Wednesday; mid-February through early March. An annual event with a week of celebrations leading to up to Fat Tuesday. Mérida has one of the five most important carnavals in Mexico.
- Festival de Aves Toh (Toh Bird Festival), ☏ . Established in 2001, the festival sponsors a number of birdwatching and photography tours and workshops throughout the year, culminating in a marathon bird-count (Maratón Xoc ch'ich / Bird-a-thon) held in late November. The organization also maintains a list of qualified guides throughout the Yucatán peninsula.
Those who have time to spend several months in Mérida, will also encounter many opportunities to become a volunteer – helping women, children, the disabled, the elderly, the sick and the illiterate. Places to volunteer include PPPN for helping disabled children and AFAD for helping unwanted dogs and cats find health and new homes.
If you are interested in learning Spanish, learning about Latin America and learning more about yourself in the process, Mérida is an excellent place to do so.
- Merida Gay Tours (MGT), Avenida Principal, Industrias No Contaminantes 12613, Hacienda Sodzil Nte., 97110 Mérida, Yuc (In the way to las Americas), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 8:00 - 17:00. Experiences for the Gay Traveler in the Yucatan. Merida Gay Tours offers experiences and tours around Yucatán for the gay community with a mix of nature, culture and fun with a selection of hot spots of the interest for the gay traveler. 100$.
- 1 Mercado Lucas de Galvez, Between Calle 65-67 at the intersection with Calle 54-56 (Centro). Daily until about 17:00 or 18:00. Large, crazy indoor market, with small stalls that sell everything from shoes to clothes to fruit and dead turkeys. The Lucas de Galvez market is on the north side with entrances on calle 65/65a with seafood, fruits, vegetables, candy and pets.
- 2 Mercado San Benito, Calle 69 x 54. Adjoining Mercado Lucas de Galvez on the south size with entrances on Calle 54 is the newer San Benito market housing the meat hall, flowers, jewelry, and some spices. Truly a different experience for most travelers.
- 3 Mercado Domingo (Sunday Market), Plaza Grande (Zócalo). Su 09:00-21:00. Held every Sunday in the main square, this weekly market is a good place to pick up traditional crafts and clothing, as well as local food items.
There are hundreds of stores in downtown Mérida. In and around the Plaza Grande, the large plaza in the Centro directly across from the cathedral, it is common for street salesmen to engage passersby in friendly small talk, by telling them some historical facts about the surroundings. The conversation will quickly turn to recommendations of shops selling hammocks, guayaberas, handcrafts, jewelry, etc. The items sold in stores that use street salesmen to find customers tend to be highly overpriced. While there are honest and hardworking street salesmen, as a general rule, the best shopping strategy is to browse stores without the assistance of any street salesmen and to never allow a street salesman to bring you to a store. Since street salesmen work on commission, tourists are usually charged higher prices if they are brought into a store by a street salesman or other street guide.
Mérida is a great place to pick up a good quality hammock. However, be aware that many people selling hammocks in and around Mérida will try to get the highest price they can from a tourist. A good hammock costs between 300 and 800 pesos, not dollars. The tighter the weave, the better the hammock. You should always insist on unfolding and viewing a hammock before buying it.
There are plenty of hand-crafted things to buy in the shops along Calle 56A.
- 4 Artesanias Bazar García Rejón, Calle 65 (at the corner of Calle 60). Daily. A collection of shops with Yucatecan handicrafts.
- 5 Alma Mexicana, Calle 54 No 476 x 55 y 57 (corner of Calle 55), ☏ . M-Sa 09:30-18:30, Su 11:00-15:00. Mexican folk art and crafts. Lighting & furniture, home decor items, Day of the Dead art, retablos and ex-votos, saints and angels, beautiful jewelry, hand-woven bedspreads, designer leather handbags, cards and stationary, curios and unusual gifts.
- 6 Casa de las Artesanías, Calle 63 No 503 entre 64 y 66 (by the Iglesia de las Monjas), ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-20:00, Su 09:00-13:00. This is a government-operated shop selling a wide-range of handicrafts. If you are looking for high-quality, locally-made items, this is a good place to find them. Prices are fixed, no bargaining possible.
The Yucatán is also famous for its guayaberas, to the point that the shirts are also known as the camisa de Yucatán (the shirt of the Yucatán). Locally-made huipils, the traditional garment worn by Yucatecan women, and jipijapa hats (aka Panama hats) are also popular items for sale. As with hammocks, quality varies widely.
The street salesmen who offer to bring tourists to stores that sell traditional clothing almost always accompany or direct people to stores that offer the double whammy of low-quality guayaberas and huipils at high prices. (Most such salesmen work on commission, which explains their aggressiveness.)
- 7 Guayaberas Presuel, Pasaje Picheta, Calle 61 x 60 y 62 (Centro, across the street from the Plaza Grande and next door to the governor's palace; store is located on the right side of Pasaje Picheta right inside the main doors), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 09:00-21:00. Family-owned and one of the oldest and most respected outlets on the Yucatán — one that does not employ street salesmen. Known in Mérida for its own brand of high-quality guayaberas and huipils, it has three locations and counts members of the Mexican Supreme Court, telenovela actors, and other prominent people among its clientele. All outlets also sell Mexican handcrafts, jewelry, T-shirts, and other items. The owner of the store, Cristina, is the daughter of the company's founders and speaks fluent English. Prices are reasonable and clearly marked, from M$30 for small handcrafts to over M$1,000 for high-quality guayaberas (for men) and huipils (for women).
- 8 Camisería Canul, Calle 62 No 484, ☏ . M-Sa 08:30-21:00, Su 10:00-13:00. This shop sells high-quality custom-tailored guayaberas and huipiles.
Cuban cigars are also a common item being sold by street vendors, but beware: many if not most 'Cuban' cigars sold on the streets of Mérida are excellent fakes that are manufactured elsewhere in Mexico. True Cuban cigars can be found in Mérida, but they are sold mostly in non-tourist areas.
A range of street food is available, especially at 1 Mercado Lucas De Galvéz, the central food market. This is also a good place to shop for local specialties, including queso mennonito, an unpasteurized cheese made in the nearby Mennonite community.
Near the Monumento a la Patria on Paseo de Montejo, a family sells tamales every evening (and has been for decades). The tamales are cheap, fresh and absolutely delicious.
On Sunday afternoons the streets around the Plaza de la Independencia (Zócalo) are closed to vehicles, and the square comes alive with craft vendors as well as street food stands serving traditional Yucatecan dishes. Those vendors offering full meals have their own shaded outdoor seating available. Snacks can be enjoyed on the many benches in the plaza, which is also a great place for people-watching.
During the rest of the week, the 2 Mercado de Santa Ana has a good range of food stalls serving Yucatecan food, with shaded seating.
- 3 Café Pop, 57 x 60 y 62, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. 07:00-24:00. Small and clean but with personality, a favorite of the students of the University of Yucatan just around the corner as well as knowing visitors for generations. The menu offers a curious combination of Yucatecan specialties along with old style diner & soda-fountain treats. Breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner. In the same building as the larger and more upscale Portal del Peregrino. Inexpensive.
- 4 Casa Savia Vegetariano, Calle 59 #451 x 52 x 54 (Centro), ☏ . M-F 08:30-16:30. This restaurant specializes in vegetarian and vegan cuisine, with creative twists on traditional Yucatecan and Mexican dishes. All ingredients are organic and locally-sourced. Comidas M$55-65.
- 5 El Cangrejito, Calle 57 #523 between 64 and 66, ☏ . Daily 08:00-15:30.
- 6 D'Al, Calle 54 No. 454 (on the corner of Calle 53), ☏ . A wonderful local hangout for lunch, menu includes very inexpensive tasty fare, specialties are seafood & local cuisine. Try the shrimp cocktail, delicious. Great specials and soups.
- 7 El Origen, Calle 64 No. 557 x 69 y 71 (Barrio San Juan), ☏ . M-F 09:00-16:00. A small restaurant offering tasty, healthy comidas with vegetarian options, at a very economical price.
- 8 Pizzeria La Fogatta, Calle 59 No. 504 x 60 y 62 (Centro), ☏ . Tu-Su 18:00-23:00. One of the better pizza places in Mérida, this tiny place offers wood-fired thin-crust pizzas with creative Mexican twists on standard classics, with such toppings as jalapeños and avocados. They also serve sandwiches and salads.
- 9 Restaurante El Trapiche, Calle 62 No 491 (between Calle 59 and 61), ☏ . M-F 08:00-23:00, Sa 08:00-01:00. Good and cheap Mexican food, nice atmosphere, friendly staff. The daily comida is an especially good value.
- 10 Taqueria Herrera, Calle 65 between 54 and 56. Excellent tortas, priced mostly at M$13.
- 11 Wayan'e, Circuito Colonias por 4-A 57-C (Col Itzimna), ☏ . A simple taqueria, extremely popular with locals.
- 12 Cafetería Impala, Paseo de Montejo 497, ☏ . Daily 17:30-02:00. A local institution since 1958, this is a great spot for late night dinners and drinks. Outdoor seating only.
- La Chaya Maya, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This restaurant serves up traditional Yucatecan dishes, and is justifiably popular with both locals and tourists, with even several vegetarian options on the menu.
- 13 La Chaya Maya Centro, Calle 62 x 57, ☏ . Daily 07:00-23:00. The original location, and usually very busy, especially for Sunday comida.
- 14 La Chaya Maya Casona, Calle 55 x 60 y 62 (one block away from the older branch), ☏ . Daily 13:00-22:00. The newer, larger branch, located in a historic colonial mansion. The food is the same excellent quality, but the setting is more atmospheric with more tables available.
- 15 La Parrilla Mexican Grill, Calle 30 No 87x17, Prolongación Montejo, ☏ . Daily 12:00-02:00. A great outdoor restaurant. Be sure to have the Sopa de Lima, which is a chicken soup flavored with lime, a Yucatecan specialty.
- 16 Marlin Azul (Blue Marlin), Calle 62 (between Calle 57 and 59), ☏ . M-Sa 11:00-20:00.
- 17 Restaurante Amaro, Calle 59 No 507 x 62, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 11:00-01:00. Andrés Quintana Roo, the attorney and politician who helped draft Mexico's declaration of independence, was born in this colonial house in 1787. Today the building functions as a restaurant, with pleasant ambience in the courtyard and nightly live music. On offer are local specialities, crepes, and pizza, as well as a good selection of vegetarian dishes. Mains around M$100.
- 18 [dead link] Restaurante Los Almendros, Parque de la Mejorada, ☏ . M-Sa 11:00-23:00, Su 11:00-21:00. This restaurant serves traditional Yucatecan dishes in an informal setting.
- 19 Pancho's, Calle 59 No. 504 (between Calles 60 and 62, in the Centro Histórico), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 18:00-02:00. A steakhouse owned by the same father-son partners as Trotter's.
- 20 Portal del Peregrino, Calle 57 No 501 x 60 y 62, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. European and Yucatecan fare in the historic centro. Mid-range.
- 21 Rosas y Xocolate, Calle Paseo de Montejo 480 (by Calle 41), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 07:30-12:00, 13:00-24:00. Serves fusion food with impeccable service. Mains M$200-750.
- 22 Slavia Bar-Restaurant, Calle 29 x 58 (by Paseo de Montejo), ☏ . Daily 17:30-. Serves fusion food.
- 23 [dead link] Trotter's, Circuito Colonias (between Paseo Montejo and Calle 60 Norte), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Sa 13:00-03:00, Su 13:00-18:00. An upscale steakhouse with English-speaking staff, owned by the same father-son duo as Pancho's.
Bakeries and desserts
- 24 Dulcería y Sorbetería Colón, Calle 61 No. 500 (facing the Zócalo), ☏ . Daily 08:00-23:00. Established in 1907, this family-run establishment specializes in delicious sorbets and meringue-filled pastries, perfect on a hot afternoon. Sorbets are in a slew of exotic flavors, including perennial favorites coconut, mango, pineapple, and limón. Outdoor seating is in a prime spot for people-watching.
- 25 Dulcería y Sorbetería Colón Sucursal Montejo, Calle 56A #474 x 41 y 39 (off of Paseo de Montejo), ☏ . Daily 09:00-23:00. This second branch of the popular sorbetería offers the same array of flavors and has ample outdoor seating.
- 26 Panificadora Montejo, Prolongacion Paseo de Montejo s/n (across from the Monumento a la Patria and McDonald's). M-Sa until 21:00. If you are walking along the Paseo de Montejo during the day, make sure to go to this traditional bakery. The baked goods are delicious.
Look for a drink called agua de chaya, often simply called 'chaya'. It's a cool, green, mildly sweet and very refreshing juice made by pressing a spinach-like vegetable.
- 1 La Bierhaus, Calle 62 No 487 x 57 x 59, ☏ . Daily 07:00-03:00. Serves a wide assortment of imported German and European beers as well as local Mexican brews, along with traditional German food. Patrons can sit indoors or outdoors in a Biergarten-style setting.
- 2 El Gallito, Calle 45 No 511-A x 62 y 60 (Centro), ☏ . Daily 12:00-22:00. The long-established cantina serves a good selection of beers and very generous botanas (snacks), along with full meals. M$25 beer.
- 3 Hennessy's Irish Pub, Paseo de Montejo at Calle 41, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily. A favorite with locals, expats and tourists. The restaurant has good food at reasonable prices, a full bar and, of course, Guinness beer. The two impossibly handsome owners are almost always on site and greeting customers. There are various distinct rooms, smoking and non-smoking, outdoors and air-conditioned. Something for everyone, and no need to dress up or make reservations. Mains M$95 and up.
- 4 Mayan Pub, Calle 62 No 473 x 55 y 57, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. W-Su 19:00-03:00. Located in a former colonial home, the pub is popular with backpackers and has a beer garden, pool tables, and live music on weekends.
- 5 [dead link] La Negrita Cantina, Calle 49 No 415 x 62 y 60 (Centro), ☏ . Daily 12:00-22:00, daily happy hour 17:00-19:00. Operating since 1917, this classic place is popular with both locals and tourists. Drinks are inexpensive, and include a good selection of tequilas, mezcal, craft beers, and mojitos. They serve standard but tasty cantina food, and there is live music during the week. It gets exceptionally busy on weekends.
- 1 Aventura Hotel, Calle 61 No 580 between Calle 74 and 76, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A clean, American-owned budget hotel. Each room has a private bathroom. Located a few blocks from Santiago Park.
- 2 Casa Nico, Calle 63 No 517 btw 66A and 68, ☏ . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Quiet, clean and cheap hostel with free wifi and good breakfast. Private rooms and 6 bed dorms. Enough common space to meet others. M$100-180.
- 3 Faby Hostel, Calle 44 No 501-B x 61 y 63, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: after 15:00, check-out: until 10:00. US$13-20 (dorms).
- 4 Hotel Aragon, Calle 57 No 474 entre 52 y 54 (Colonia Mejorada), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Placed in a neighbourhood house, 200 meters from the Carmen Church and Park of Mejorada or "Ninos Heroes". 18 rooms with bath, air conditioning, telephone, cable TV and detailed decoration. M$400 and up.
- 5 Hotel del Peregrino, Calle 51 No 488 x 54 y 56, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 13:00-24:00, check-out: 05:00-11:00. A colonial house that has been renovated into a comfortable and clean hotel. M$600-890 (doubles).
- 6 Hostel Zócalo, Calle 63 No 508 x 60 y 62 (in front of the Zócalo), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M$120 and up (dorms), breakfast included.
- 7 Nomadas Hostel, Calle 62 No 433 x Calle 51, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Dorm accommodation. Internet and simple breakfast included. Kitchen use. Nice large pool. M$175 and up.
- 8 Casa del Balam, Calle 60 No 488 X 57 (across from the Teatro Peón Contreras), ☏ , toll-free: 01 800 838 0204, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. An elegant colonial boutique hotel. M$798+.
- 9 Cascadas de Mérida, Calle 57 No 593C x 74A y 76, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A unique bed and breakfast, consisting of four casitas built for maximum privacy around waterfalls and a filtered swimming pool. US$85-92.
- 10 Holiday Inn Merida, Av Colon No 498 (btw Paseo Montejo and Calle 60), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: after 15:00, check-out: before 13:00. Has an outdoor pool and fitness, and onsite restaurant and bar. Free wi-fi throughout the hotel. US$75 and up.
- 11 Hotel Boutique Mérida Santiago, Calle 74-A No 499, x 57 y 59-A (Colonia Santiago), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. A small hotel near the center of Mérida. Six spacious suites with big bathrooms. The filtered swimming pool with LED lights is open 24 hours. Restaurant with parking space is available exclusive for clients of the hotel. US$99+.
- 12 Hotel El Español, Calle 69 No 543c, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Accommodations come in double, triple, standard king, and standard twin types. All guestrooms are air-conditioned and fitted with a deck/balcony. Rooms also come with a refrigerator, IDD telephone, and cable television. Room service is available.
- 13 Hotel Las Arecas, Calle 59 No 541 between Calle 66 and Calle 68, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A small 5-room hotelito in the historical center. Modest, clean and run by a local Yucatecan. US$35, breakfast included.
- 14 Hotel Los Aluxes, Calle 60 No 444 entre 49 y 51, ☏ , toll-free: 01 800 712 0444. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. A great, clean, and friendly place to stay that is only a few blocks to the main plaza. Off-street, secured parking is a big help if you have a rental car. Make sure to have the cafe con leche in the cafe. M$630 and up.
- 15 Hotel Luz en Yucatán, Calle 55 No 499 x 60 y 58 (3 blocks from the Zócalo), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Has fully furnished apartments, complete with kitchen and private bath, in a former nunnery. Rates vary from US$54-150, depending on facilities.
- 16 Hotel Marionetas, Calle 49 No 516 x 62 y 64, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A small charming hotel with colonial style. Every room is different, with unique furnishings, mosaic floor tiles and views of the inner courtyard with pool. Wi-fi, phones and A/C in the rooms. US$80-130 (doubles).
- 17 Hotel Piedra de Agua, Calle 60 No 498 x 59 y 61, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Rooms fitted with a private toilet and bath with shower, internet and DVD player. M$850 and up.
- 18 Hotel Hacienda, Calle 62 No 439 x 51 y 63, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. US$129-179 (doubles).
- 19 Hyatt Regency Mérida, Av Colon esq Calle 60 (100m from Paseo Montejo), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 289 rooms and suites. The hotel is five minutes from the city's convention centre. US$84 and up.
- 20 Rosas y Xocolate, Calle Paseo de Montejo 480 (by Calle 41), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 17 rooms and suites. The hotel is five minutes from the Hotel Zone (Hyatt and Fiesta Americana). US$245 and up.
- 21 Fiesta Americana (Hotel Fiesta), Paseo Montejo No.451 (Intersection of avenues Colon and Paseo Montejo, north of downtown.), ☏ .
Free wi-fi is available in all plazas, including the Zócalo (Plaza Mayor). Additionally, many hostels, hotels, restaurants and cafés now offer free wi-fi for their patrons. Otherwise internet cafes are ubiquitous and typically charge around MX$20 pesos per hour (USD$1).
Mérida is a relatively safe city; however visitors should beware of pickpockets and keep their bags secure. If in spite of these precautions you fall victim to theft your best course of action will be to contact the Policía Turística (Tourist Police), ☏. Tourist police officers wear blue and white uniforms, and many speak English. They can be easily found in the center around the Plaza Grande, and along the Paseo Montejo.
The tourist police also maintain two assistance booths in the centro: one in 3 Hidalgo Park (corner of Calle 60 and 59), and one in 4 Santa Lucia Park (corner of Calle 60 and 55). Both stands are open daily 08:00-20:00.
Mérida has one of the best hospital networks in Mexico, and receives patients not only from Mexico but from neighboring Guatemala and Belize as well as from the United States. Cooperation with the medical establishment in cities like Houston has helped to develop a comprehensive network for medical care, with many private clinics meeting and even exceeding standards in Europe and the US.
Public hospitals can provide urgent care, but facilities are basic and staff are unlikely to speak English. For visitors who are not confident with their Spanish, private hospitals and clinics offer a good alternative. Many doctors can speak some English, but nursing staff and receptionists will likely not.
- 5 Clínica de Mérida, Av Itzáes No 242 (Colonia García Ginerés), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This all-inclusive hospital is the closest to the center, and has experience in dealing with non-Spanish speakers. It operates its own ambulance service.
- 6 Star Médica, Calle 26 No 199 (Colonia Altabrisa, near the Altabrisa mall), ☏ , (emergencies). Part of a chain of hospitals throughout Mexico, and probably the most modern hospital in Mérida.
- 7 Mérida English Library, Calle 53 #524 x 66 y 68, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M 09:00-13:00 and 18:30-21:30, Tu-F 09:00-13:00, Sa 10:00-13:00. Although only members can check out books, the library can be helpful for visitors with listings of short- and long-term apartments for rent. The library hosts tours of private historic homes, art studios, and the like, all of which are open to nonmembers for a fee. Free weekly lectures about local and regional topics are also open to the public, and there are public computers with internet access as well as a selection of books for sale.
- Belize, Calle 58 n° 450 con 35, Apartado Postal 89, Col Centro, ☏ .
- 8 Cuba, Calle 1ᴰ 320, Campestre (Calle 1ᴰ and Call 42a)), toll-free: 01 800 994 4415.
- France (Honorary), Calle 60 n° 385 entre las calles 41 y 43, Col Centro, ☏ .
- Germany (Honorary), Calle 51 n° 329 entre las calles 52 y 54Av, Fracc. Francisco de Montejo.
- 9 Greece, Anillo Periferico 12512 (Pacatbun Oriente), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Spain (Honorary), Calle 50 n° 402D x 33, Col Jesus Carranza, ☏ . M-F 08:30-13:30.
- 10 United States, Calle 60 No. 338-K x 29 y 31, Col Alala Martin, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com.
Several important archaeological sites are close to Mérida. Many moderate sized sites, such as Dzibilchaltun and Mayapán, are an easy day trip. The largest, Chichen Itza, is somewhat further and much more extensive – while a day trip visit from Mérida can be (and often is) done, if you want to see the whole site without being rushed, Chichen is better visited in two days with an overnight stay. Fans of ancient Maya architecture can also find staying overnight at Uxmal worthwhile, since it has a night-time light & sound show, and the following day one can visit the nearby smaller ruined cities of Kabah, Sayil and Labna.
- Chichen Itza is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization, located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula, present-day Mexico. The main edifice, the Castillo or Pyramid of Kukulcan, was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
- Cuzamá is one of the interesting sites on the Ruta de los Cenotes itinerary, with prominent cenotes (sinkholes leading to significant caves). Buses to Cuzamá depart from Terminal Noreste (Calle 67 btw 50 and 52, listed above under 'Get in'). Buses from this station also head to Mayapán, Izamal, and Rio Lagartos.
- 27 Dzibilchaltún (15km N of Mérida), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 08:00-17:00 (site), Tu-Su 09:00-16:00 (museum). The site has been continuously occupied for thousands of years. Its most famous structure is the Temple Of The Seven Dolls (El Templo de las Siete Muñecas), so named because of seven small effigies found at the site when the temple was discovered under the ruins of a later temple pyramid by archaeologists in the 1950s. On the spring equinox the sun rises so that it shines directly through one window of the temple and out the other. The temple is connected to the rest of the site by a long sacbé. The other major feature of Dzibilchaltún is its cenote, which is used as a swimming hole by local residents year round; it is the first stop on the Ruta de los Cenotes. Also on the site are the ruins of a 16th-century Spanish church, as well as a museum displaying Mayan artifacts from the site and the region. M$68 (adults), M$39 Mexican adults, non-Mexican children under 12).
- 28 Mayapán (about 40km SE of Mérida and 100km W of Chichen Itza), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 08:00-17:00. A compact, well-preserved pre-Columbian site, Mayapán was the political capital of the Maya in the Yucatán Peninsula from about the late 1220s until 1440s. Unlike at other Mayan sites, climbing of pyramids is permitted, and worth the effort. Hourly buses to Mayapán can be picked up at Terminal Noreste (listed above). Tell the driver you'd like to go to the 'ruinas', and he will drop you off at the beginning of the dirt road; from here it's a 5-minute walk to the entrance. There are toilet facilities but no amenities, so bring your own water. M$39.
- Uxmal is a large pre-Columbian ruined city of the Maya civilization in the state of Yucatán, Mexico. It is 78 km south of Mérida, Yucatán, or 110 km from that city on Highway 261 towards Campeche, Campeche). ADO (Autobuses de Oriente) offers buses to Uxmal that leave at 06:00, 9:05, and 10:40, and come back at 15:20 and 17:00 (also one around 12:00). Buses depart from Terminal de Autobuses Mérida (the main 2nd class bus station described under 'Get in'), M$55 one-way.
Other attractions near Mérida
- Progreso is the port city directly north of Mérida. The beaches aren't quite as nice as the famous ones on the peninsula's east coast in Quintana Roo, but have the advantage of being only 40km (30 miles) north of Mérida. Progresso also has restaurants specializing in fresh local seafood. If you don't want to spend your whole day at the beach, you can combine a visit to the ruins of Dzibilchaltun in your day trip, since it's just off the highway between Mérida and Progreso. Buses to Progreso depart from the Terminal Auto-Progreso (Calle 62 No 524 between 65 and 67, listed above under 'Get in') daily every 10 minutes from 05:15-22:15, with a journey lasting 55 minutes.
- Celestún Wildlife Refuge. The coastal town of Celestún is 90km west of Mérida. Almost 90% of the world's wild pink flamingos spend the winter in Yucatán, and the largest group of these are in the mangrove marshes around Celestún. Take a boat tour in the park for to see great flocks of pink in the trees and flying in the air! The town of Celestún has a couple of restaurants serving fresh seafood.
- 29 Hacienda Sotuta de Peón, Municipio de Tecoh (30 min S of Mérida), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily tours at 10:00, 13:00. A former sisal plantation which has been restored and opened up to the public. Sisal, the rope made from the fibers of the henequen plant, put Mérida on the map in the 1900s and made millionaires out of many landowners of that time. The rope came to be known by the name of the port town, Sisal, where it was shipped from to places around the world. Henequen was (and still is) planted throughout the Yucatán Peninsula. The industry crumbled after about 30 years for various reasons, leaving many haciendas in ruin. Today many of those haciendas have been restored, and Sotuta de Peón is an example of one which can be visited without spending the night. Tour only M$430/215 (adults/children), Combo (transport, tour and lunch) M$870/460 (adults/children).
- 30 Hacienda Yaxcopoil, Carretera Federal 261 Km 186, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Sa 08:00-18:00, Su 09:00-17:00; by appt. Another good example of a hacienda kept in a state of arrested decay as a museum. M$75 (adults), free (children).
- Izamal is a small city about 70km east of Mérida. In ancient Maya times and the Spanish colonial era it was one of the largest cities in Yucatán, leaving impressive historic architecture. Buses to Izamal can be picked up at Terminal Noreste (listed above).
- Oxkintok and the Calcehtok Caves are only 43 miles away. The oldest and most well known building of Oxkintok is the Tzat Tun Tzat, Mayan for labyrinth or place in which one may be lost. Built in three levels on top of each other, its interior forms a maze of long, narrow rooms, connected by small gates and narrow stairs. The Calcehtok served as shelter for the Mayan people during the Caste War. You must have a guide to enter the cave. Rates generally run about M$200 an hour. This large complex of over 30 connected caves offers 4 different tours of varying lengths. Walking and climbing through the cave can be rough, so be sure you are wearing good shoes and are willing to work a bit to see the stalactites, stalagmites, natural formations, and Mayan artifacts.
|Routes through Mérida|
|Campeche ←||S E||→ Valladolid → Cancun|
|END ←||NW SE||→ Jose Maria Morelos → Felipe Carrillo Puerto|
|Progreso ←||N S||→ Uxmal → Dzibilchaltún|
|Celestún ← Hunucma ←||W E||→ END|
|END ←||W E||→ Motul → Tizimin|