Quick Guide to Merida, Sightseeing Made Simple

Merida is a big city, a very big city, but thankfully it does not feel like a big city. It is this small city feel to Merida that has us venturing to the Yucatan for a break, albeit a weekend or even 2 days out of the week. This colonial city is close to the Riviera Maya and adds some cultural flavors to our oh so Mexico life.

We have put together a list of things we think would make a great trip to Merida. You do not need to do all of these activities in one trip. Merida is a city to be explored over and over again. Our intention is to make your visit easier to plan as you take advantage of the colonial highlights.

Merida Historic Sites

Merida Montejo House National heritage of Yucatan Mexico

Merida is full of historic sites, llenisimo. Here are some key areas that the first time visitor should cruise through. Plaza Grande is in center of what Merida calls the historic district. Surrounding the Plaza is the Governors Palace, a municipal building filled with murals painted by Yucatecan Artist Fernando Castro Pacheco, the cathedral, Casa Montejo and its museum, and a historic ice cream parlor, Dulceria y Sorbeteria Colon.

Other recommendations include:

  • Paseo de Montejo – Using the Champ de Elysee for inspiration, urban planners created this historic street in the 1800s. The street is lined with enormous estates, palaces, and museums.
  • Lucas de Galvez Market – A huge local market that has food, clothes, arts, souvenirs and more! If you are looking for Yucatecan food, this is the place to find it!
  • Casa Frederick Catherwood – A treasure tucked away on Calle 59 between Calle 108 and 110. Original Catherwood lithographs can be viewed as you take a walk through the Mayan ruins as they were originally found!

Merida Weekend Markets – Indigenous and Vintage 

  • Grand Plaza is full of indigenous arts and crafts, music, and food! Not to be missed
  • Parque Santa Lucia – This local vintage Market sells small items and antique furniture

Merida Museums and Art Galleries

The list of Merida Museums and Art Galleries is way too big to publish here. Dig around for specific themes and artists but we do suggest that there are few that should be first on your list:

  • MACAY– Merida’s Contemporary Art Gallery located off the Grand Plaza – Exhibitions change throughout the year so check their website.
  • Anthropology and History Museum – Located in one of the original estates on Paseo de Montejo you get a great museum and a look at the interior of these houses.
  • Gran Museo del Mundo Maya – This museum is spectacular but don’t expect to get through all of it in one visit! We return again and again and get through the museum poco a poco.
  • City of Merida Museum
  • Museo de Arte Popular -A Folk Art Museum that is small but worth the visit.

Mayan Ruins and Cenotes near Merida

Getting out of the city is part of the Merida experience. Visit the following Mayan ruins and cenotes that can be accessed by local transportation. These sites are under 20 minutes from the city center.

  • Dzibilchaltun Ruins and Museum – The ruins, cenote and museum are great! Easy to get to and a fun day.
  • Mayapan Ruins – a little bit further out but worth the trip.
  • Cenotes of Cuzama – There is a group of three cenotes in one area and accessed by horse and buggy at the entrance. A great half day experience.

Take it Slow and Steady in Merida

Merida residents have not seen all the sights and sounds of this city. Expecting to see it all in two days or even a week would be doing yourself and the city an injustice. Like Paris, Toronto, or even New York, Merida is a city to discover slowly and over time.

Check out our vacation rentals in the Yucatan to make your trip planning even easier.

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