Merida is located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, which is one of the hottest travel destinations in South America. It is between 3-4 hours from the more popular destinations of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen.
It’s a cultural hub — with a vibrant historic center, street food culture, colorful architecture, and impressive art scene. There’s a lot to do and see here and to give you an idea, here are some of the best things to do in Merida, Mexico.
10 Things To Do in Merida, Mexico
1. Stroll Through the Historic Centre
Easily one of the most popular things to do in Merida is to wander through its huge historical center. Start with the very center which is the Plaza Grande, where the sign bearing the city name is located.
Walk along the Parque de Santa Lucia, with its tourist-targeted restaurants. Within the area, you can also visit churches and plazas at the Parque de Santa Ana, Parque de Santiago, and Parque de San Juan.
You may also join a free walking tour here for a bit of fun local commentary about each place.
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2. Check Out the Events at Plaza Grande
As mentioned previously, Plaza Grande is in Merida’s historical center and it is where you’ll get to see some of Merida’s best attractions such as the impressive Catedral de Merida which dates back to the 16th century.
This church was built using stones taken from the Mayan ruins. Aside from the church, Pkaza Grande also hosts a variety of events daily.
These events are among the best things to see in Merida, as they offer a great insight into local culture as well as the rest of Mexico. These events range from light shows on the cathedral, football games, dance concerts, or the massive Plaza Grande Market every Sunday.
3. See the Paneton Florido Cemetery
A visit to a cemetery while traveling in a new country always sounds a bit strange. However, the Paneton Florido Cemetery is apparently one of Merida’s attractions that you must visit.
Here, you can see colorful mausoleums, and the roots of old trees taking over some of the tombs.
As you wander through Paneton Florido Cemetery, you’ll find that the stroll becomes less strange by the minute as you enjoy looking around.
4. Visit All the Churches
A visit to a mostly Christian country isn’t complete without seeing the churches. In Merida, you must visit one of the oldest churches in the Americas, the Catedral de Merida which is in Plaza Grande.
Most of the churches in Merida has both a stunning interior as well as its own mini-park or garden. Some of the most beautiful churches in Merida that you must visit are the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, and the Saint John the Baptist Cathedral.
5. Stroll Along the Streets
There is an abundance of stunning colonial homes in Merida. One of the best things to do while here is to stroll the streets lined with these colorful turn of the century houses.
These brightly colored houses – in pink, turquoise or any other non-neutral shade is one of the best things to see in Merida.
They’re picture perfect and anyone would have a great time just looking at them. A relaxing stroll through Merida’s neighborhoods is also a great way to spend free time before you head to another adventure during your visit.
6. Try a Street Food Tour
Mexico is more than just fajitas and tacos, that’s why if you find yourself in any part of this country, you must go on a food tour. Merida, apart from the usual Mexican fare, has a street food culture that showcases Yucatecan food such as papadzules, chilaquiles, and marquesitas.
Discover all of the sweet, savory, and spicy delights that this place has to
offer in a fun, colorful food tour that lasts for three hours.
This is one of Merida’s best attractions and a definite must-try if you want to learn more about their culture through their food.
7. Visit the Art Galleries
Another interesting way to get to know a locale is through their art, and Merida doesn’t just support it, it’s an integral part of their town life.
They even have a gallery tour and it’s one of the best things to do in Merida. In this activity, you get to visit one gallery after another, admire paintings and sculptures and local craft.
Check out the galleries near Parque de Santa Ana, or the Nahualli Casa de Los Artistas for some unique paintings and intricate bronze sculptures. There’s already a lot to see there but be sure to visit La Sala Art Design Gallery and Galeria Tataya as well if you can’t get enough of Merida’s art scene.
8. Explore the Cenotes
If you happen to be in Merida on a weekend and want to try something more outdoorsy, then head on to the underground caves — and take a dip in the cenotes. Cenotes are sinkholes in limestone with a clear water pool at the bottom.
You can swim in these waters and they’re quite refreshing, a perfect activity to beat Merida’s hot weather.
Cenotes are unique to the Yucatan and there are thousands of these natural wonders in the peninsula. A trip down the caves for these pools is one of the best activities to do in Merida on weekends.
9. See the Haciendas
During the 18th century, a good percentage of the world’s rope was made in Merida using fiber (or henequin) made from a local cactus. This became a major industry when and made some locals very rich.
They bought lands and set up vast plantations for cactus cultivation and henequin production. These massive areas are called haciendas, and these are among the fascinating places to visit in Merida.
Rent a car or hire a local guide to take you to these places, and hear about local history. A lot of these places closed over the past decades and some were turned into resorts, restaurants or hotels. A visit is still good though, especially if you’re into history, architecture, and design.
10. See the Mayan Ruins at Uxmal
Merida may have so much to offer when it comes to sightseeing and fun activities, but it’s also a good starting to explore other places in the Yucatan peninsula. Just an hour away in Uxmal, you’ll see sone of the best Mayan ruins.
Check out the 40 meter-high Pyramid of the Magician, which is definitely the most striking as it towers over other ruins in this site.
What sets this place apart from the other places where you can see Mayan ruins is that you can actually climb some of the structures here. This site is also not that touristy yet so you don’t have to line up and enjoy it at a leisurely pace.
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