Are you thinking about taking in a different part of Mexico? Curious about other parts of Mexico? If you are comfortable in the Riviera Maya but want to explore a little more, take a step just to the west and experience a different kind of Mexico close to the Riviera Maya.
Merida is the capital city of the Yucatan Peninsula, so it has all things most capital cities have. Vibrant neighborhoods, rich history, thriving arts and culture scene and of course, some great food. But like any large city it takes time to explore all the unique places and sites it has to offer. What we suggest and have done ourselves is to pick an interest, one, and research all the places you can go that will have you dig a little bit deeper.
If you are there for one day, you will get a feel for the city. If you spend two days you will begin the understand the depth of the city. If you decide to spend three days or more, you will have an opportunity to get a nice overview of some of Merida’s core neighborhoods
People go to Merida for theater, the arts, architecture, markets, and culture. We have picked places and restaurants that can be seen in one trip or spread out on various trips. What we will guarantee you is that you will not be bored nor leave Merida thinking you have done it all. After 20 years we are still discovering interesting place and new neighborhoods.
Lucas de Galvez Market – located near the main town square, this is a huge market that has just about anything anyone would want. Live chickens and pigs, fresh mole, regional clothing, folk art, spices and lots and lots of food. This can take a half day minimum to get through. Make sure to have some cochinita pibil sold at one of many food stalls.
Historic Zocalo – the town square is filled with things to see and explore. Buildings located around the square are packed with treasures and stories. Go and see three floors of murals painted by a local Yucatecan Artist that explains the history of the Yucatan in the Municipal Offices. Have a look at the home of the founders of Merida, the Montejo Family. Take a break in the town square and watch daily life happen right in front of you.
Modern Art Museum and Galleries – In 2000 Merida was named the Cultural Capital of the Americas by the Cultural Capital of the Americas Organization. This title is held for one year and has been awarded since to Guadalajara, Cuzco in Pero and Panama City in Panama. This designation fueled the continual emphasis on arts in culture in the city. Today you will find art galleries, weekly cultural events, and incredible museums that contribute to Merida’s reputation as a world class arts center. Our suggestions for gallery visits are MACAY The El Museo Fernando García Ponce-Macay which promotes modern and contemporary art in the Yucatan for both national and international artists. Located in the Historic Zocalo this museum is easy to fit into your day. Galeria Merida is the largest private collection of local artists with ever-changing expositions coming to the gallery. SoHo Galleries in the Santa Ana neighborhood is another great gallery to visit.
This overview of Merida just scratches the surface of things to do and places to see. The abundance of museums, the rich history, the stunning architecture could keep you busy for days, weeks if not months. Pick your focus, make a plan and then pick your ideal hotel.
Hotel Casa San Angel – excellent downtown hotel with all amenities. If you want to be within walking distance to the local attractions in the Historic Center this is the place for you. The building has been restored and the service is excellent.
Hacienda Xcanatun – Be close to the city but live it up in pure historical luxury. Haciendas are large private properties that ruled the area in the mid 19th century. You will be pampered outside the city while surrounded by history but still have easy access to everything Merida offers.
Koox Hotels – Koox hotels have a variety of properties at different price points and different areas of the city. If you are taking our advice and picking one focus for your Merida trip, the Koox properties are worth looking into. They could be in the neighborhood you want to explore.
Hmm this is always a tough one as there are so many places to choose from. Where you eat will depend on your budget and your trip focus. What we are going to do is just suggest some our favorite and iconic places in Merida with hopes that you will share your favorite places.
Helados Colon – This ice cream and dessert place is our iconic choice for Merida. With over 100 years of service to local residents this Dulceria y Sorbeteria has two locations, in the historic town square and on Paseo Montejo.
Apaolo Mexican Cuisine – This newish- restaurant has modernized Mexican Cuisine without taking away the flavors and history that makes it so very special. This is a more upscale restaurant but worth a try.
Chaya Maya – Middle of the road prices, great service, popular and wonderful flavors.