During my trip through Mexico I made a three night visit to Mérida. Mérida is one of the best preserved colonial towns in Mexico, so if you like cobblestone streets, old cars, colorful houses and churches Mérida is the place to be. Mérida is located in Yucatan, so if you are traveling to Yucatan it is only a short ADO bus ride away.
Where to stay
The historic center of Mérida is not that big and because Mérida is not overrun by tourists you can find good hotels for a good value near the historic center. We visited Mérida during the European summer months and that means it is very hot during the day. Therefore we preferred to have a swimming pool, to take a quick dip after a full day of activities. We stayed in Casa Italia Yucatan Boutique Hotel. Boutique hotels are another great thing about Mérida, they are intimate, luxury hotels that often have a cool design. Mérida has many boutique hotels, some located in colorful, renovated houses. Casa Italia Yucatan offered a lovely breakfast menu, has spacious rooms where we were able to watch Netflix and movies and is within walking distance to all the important sights in Mérida. The staff was really kind and helped us book our tour of Chichén Itzá.
Colonial center: We spent a full day roaming around the historical center of Mérida. I loved the small streets with pastel colored houses, the yellow churches and the central square in the city. Mérida is the perfect place to buy some souvenirs, as they are much cheaper than in Tulum for example. I also loved the market building in Mérida as I can appreciate a good graphic building. The restaurant scene in Mérida is really good, it has lots of modern restaurants with beautiful tiling and good design, that serve modern varieties on authentic food. Make sure you reserve sufficient time to enjoy the food! The central square of Mérida has some museums that you can visit for free, they are beautiful historic buildings, so worth visiting for the buildings alone. At night the central square really comes alive, as there are many street artists and locals performing. I did pay attention to my bags, but did feel safe at night in Mérida.
Homeland Monument: One of the must visits in Mérida center is the Homeland Monument. It is located on a roundabout on the Paseo de Montejo and accessible for free. The monument is dedicated to the nation and I was impressed by its construction. We visited it late in the morning and were surprised that it was not busy at all, as I expected lots of Instagrammers photobombing it.
Chichén Itzá and/or Uxmal: As Mérida is located centrally in Yucatan, you can do many daytrips in the area, some of the most beautiful temples of Mexico are located in Yucatan. I already visited Mexico ten years ago, and visited many temples on that trip. As Hielke had not yet visited the Yucatan area, I decided to revisit one of the famous temples as they are a must visit! I doubted between Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, two temples I have already visited but are pretty close to Mérida. We decided to go to Chichén Itzá as this trip offered a combination of visiting the temple and also going to a nearby cenote (Ik Kil). I am not very fond of tours and to be honest some group mates got kind of annoying during the tour (someone brought a baby on the tour which created a lot of hassles). However I did like our guide and her explanations about Chichén Itzá, we received sufficient time to take pictures and we received the opportunity to go swimming in the cenote, which would have been impossible by taking public transport. It also gave you the opportunity to leave your valuables in this bus, so you did not have to take them to the cenote. The downside of taking a tour is that you arrive with all the other tour groups at the same time and it was really crowded at the temple and the cenote. The Ik Kil cenote was super deep and impressive and perfect to cool down after a very hot visit to Chichén Itzá, I really liked this combination. Several tour companies offer this tour, the quality of the tour is highly dependent on the guide that you receive, so you have to be lucky with that.
Campeche: Campeche is about 2,5 hours away from Mérida. Campeche is another lovely colonial town, but has the added bonus that it is also has a beach. I visited Campeche years ago and remember absolutely loving it.
Celestun: Celestun is located in a nature reserve. It can be visited as a daytrip from Mérida. A budget way to travel to Celestun is taking the public bus. From November-April there are flamingos living in Celestun. We visited Mérida in July, which is off season for the flamingos, so we did not go. We were lucky to have seen the flamingos in Isla Holbox, just a few days before we arrived in Mérida. I loved the sights of so many flamingos together, so if you are visiting Mérida in the right season I would recommend doing a daytrip to Celestun.
Parque de Santa Luco’ía: A location with good restaurants is Parque de Santa Lucía. We found this park by accident and had lunch at Rosa Sur 32. The restaurant is super stylish, with lovely authentic Mexican food. All restaurants on this square looked really good and they all had great reviews.
Mercado 60: Mercado 60 is an open air food market, with a contemporary design that offers different types of food. It is a very relaxed place, there are some food stalls where you can order your food and you can take place at one of the long picnic style tables. If you crave sushi after weeks of burritos, this is your place to be. And if your partner wants burritos, they also have burritos. There is a full bar where you can order drinks. Some evenings they also have live entertainment and they also offer yoga events. You can check the website for events: http://mercado60.com/. If you are too lazy to go out, you can also find them on uber eats.