What to do in Mérida? The 8 best tips!

Merida is the largest city and capital of the state of Yucatan. Despite being less known among tourists compared to places like Cancun, Tulum, or Playa del Carmen, this colorful city, although not located on the coast, is definitely worth a visit due to its beautiful authentic downtown. Moreover, Merida serves as a great hub for exploring various cenotes and Maya ruins.

How to get to Mérida?

The are various ways to get to Mérida.

From Bacalar

By car, it takes about 4.5 hours to drive from Bacalar to Mérida.

You can also take the bus. The bus journey takes just over 5 hours, and a ticket costs between 40 and 55 USD. You can easily purchase tickets online through Bookaway.

From Cancún

By car, it takes about 3.5 hours to drive from Cancún to Mérida.

You can also take the bus. The bus journey takes about 4 hours, and a ticket costs between 40 and 70 USD. You can easily purchase tickets online via Bookaway.

From Valladolid

By car, it takes about 2 hours to drive from Valladolid to Mérida.

You can also take the bus. The bus journey takes about 2.5 hours, and a ticket costs between 14 and 21 USD. You can easily purchase tickets online via Bookaway.

Note: Mérida and Valladolid are 1 hour ahead of Bacalar and Cancún. This is due to Bacalar and Cancún being located in Quintana Roo, not in the Yucatán province. Due to the time difference, Bookaway may not display the correct travel duration for the bus ride.

What is the best time to travel to Mérida?

The best time to visit the Yucatan Peninsula, where Merida is located, is from November to April. The rainy season lasts from May to October, often with short and heavy showers followed by clear weather.

How to move from place to place in Mérida?

Most sights in Mérida are within walking distance of each other. If you want to get around faster, renting a bike or scooter could be an option. Just keep in mind that traffic can be more chaotic compared to the Netherlands.

Renting a car is beneficial if you plan to explore sights beyond Mérida. Having a car allows you the freedom to go where you want at your own pace.

For longer distances, you can also take a taxi or an Uber in Mérida. Knowing some Spanish can be helpful when communicating with taxi drivers. Uber might be a more convenient option if you're not fluent in Spanish, as you've already indicated your destination.

Local buses are prevalent and offer a cheaper way to explore attractions outside Mérida. It's advisable to inquire at your accommodation about the routes and stops of the local buses as the locals often have the best information.

How safe is Mérida?

Mérida is considered the safest city in Mexico. You can easily walk around alone during the day. It's important to be cautious in the evening and at night and avoid walking alone in quieter parts of the city.

Where to stay in Mérida?

Staying in the center of Mérida is recommended. Here, you'll find colonial buildings, charming restaurants, hotels, and museums. From your accommodation, you can easily walk into the city and reach the different sights quickly.

What to do in Mérida?

In Mérida, there's plenty to see and do to keep you entertained for a few days. There's also plenty to experience in the surroundings of Mérida. We'll provide you with the best tips for this lively and colorful city!

1. Admire Plaza Grande

Plaza Grande is a charming square right in the heart of Mérida. On the square, you'll see many locals chatting amicably, and there are stalls where you can get something to eat and drink. Additionally, the city's letters are displayed on the square, making it a beloved spot for tourists to take photos.

From the square, you have a view of the city's impressive cathedral. The San Ildefonso Cathedral was built between 1562 and 1598. The Spaniards used stones from nearby Mayan pyramids and other pre-Spanish buildings for its construction.

2. Explore the city with a free walking tour

The free walking tour through the city was very enjoyable for us. It's a great way to get to know the city in just a few hours. Doing a free walking tour at the beginning of your stay in Mérida helps you discover the charming spots and navigate around more easily. Throughout the tour, you'll learn about the city's history and local life. Participation in the walking tour is free, but it's customary to tip your guide afterward, typically between 5 and 20 USD.

You can sign up for the free walking tour on this website. The tour is conducted daily at 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM in English. Register in advance to ensure your spot.

3. Take a refreshing dip in the cenotes

Cenotes are among the most impressive natural phenomena in Mexico. A cenote is a deep cave filled with clear water. There are thousands of cenotes on the Yucatán Peninsula. These cenotes were formed due to the impact of a meteorite millions of years ago. The impact was so powerful that it caused the extinction of dinosaurs. It also created deep holes in the ground that subsequently filled with water. The cenotes were essential sacred places for the Mayans, used for offering rituals. Today, they offer a delightful opportunity to cool off in the clear, cool water on a warm day.

In the vicinity of Mérida, there are several cenotes to explore, such as Cenote Ka’Kutsal, Cenote Noc Ac, Cenote Xlacah, and Cenote pool Cocom. You often pay a small entrance fee to visit a cenote.

How to get there? Cenotes are usually located slightly outside the city. You can visit them independently by car or scooter. Another option is to book a tour, where you can visit several cenotes and other attractions in a day.

4. Spend a day at Sisal Beach

Feeling like a day of pure relaxation? Sisal Beach is a prime destination to escape the city's hustle and bustle. Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Sisal boasts a sandy beach with wonderfully clear blue waters. It's a tranquil coastal town with a few shops and restaurants. Sisal was once a significant port during the Spanish colonization, and you can still spot remnants from that era here and there.

During our visit to Sisal, we took a boat tour through the mangroves, which was fantastic. It was wonderfully serene on the water, giving us a feeling of being immersed in nature alone. In Sisal, there are various stalls where you can easily book a tour for the same day.

How to get there?
It's about a 1-hour drive from Mérida by car. If you're on a scooter, it might take a bit longer.

You can also take a bus from Mérida to Sisal and vice versa. Ask your accommodation about the bus station and schedules; locals usually have the best information on where to catch a bus.

Tip: If you're taking the bus, there's a chance of a stop in Hunucmá. This is a quiet town that hasn't seen many tourists yet. If you have some time during the bus stop, it's worth strolling around here to experience authentic Mexico.

5. Walk around the local market

The local market is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in Mexican culture. We visited this market, an area less frequented by tourists but bustling with locals. There are numerous stalls offering affordable local delicacies. Take a stroll around and indulge in the regional specialties!

6. Discover one of the Seven Wonders of the World: Chichén Itzá

A visit to Chichén Itzá is a must during your stay on the Yucatán Peninsula. It's actually one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Chichén Itzá is one of the most impressive cities from the ancient Maya empire. The ancient city hosts a stunning, towering Maya temple.

Chichén Itzá is highly popular among tourists, so expect some waiting time for tickets at the entrance. A ticket costs around 35 USD. On Sundays, the park is free for Mexicans, making it much busier. Chichén Itzá is open every day from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

At the park entrance, you can arrange for a guide for an extra fee. We walked through Chichén Itzá without a guide and found it manageable. There are many signs with explanations in English, but if you want more detailed information, a guide is recommended.

How to get there?
It's a 1.5-hour drive by car from Mérida to Chichén Itzá. If you're also visiting Valladolid, it's better to travel from there to Chichén Itzá, which takes about 45 minutes.

You can also opt for an organized tour to visit Chichén Itzá. This way, you don't have to worry about transportation and a guide since it's all arranged for you. However, your entrance ticket to Chichén Itzá might be an additional cost on top of the tour price.

7. Discover the ancient Maya city of Uxmal

Another relic from the time of the Mayans is the beautiful Uxmal. This is one of the best-preserved ancient Maya cities. It's much less known than Chichén-Itzá, making it a lot quieter. Uxmal flourished between the 6th and 10th centuries, with approximately 25,000 people living here at its peak. There are several magnificent ruins, and one of the striking structures in the city is the 35-meter-high (115 feet) Pyramid of the Magician. According to local legend, the pyramid was built overnight by a dwarf aided by his mother, a witch.

An entrance ticket for Uxmal costs around 26 USD. You can arrange for a guide at the entrance if you want to learn more about Uxmal. There are also information boards in the old city, allowing you to explore on your own. Uxmal is open every day from 8 AM to 5 PM.

How to get there?
By car, it takes a little over 1 hour from Mérida to Uxmal. You can also choose to join a guided tour.

8. Learn more about the Maya in the Mayan World Museum of Mérida

Would you like to learn more about the Mayans? Then the Mayan World Museum of Mérida is a great recommendation! The museum provides information about the history of the Mayans and displays archaeological findings.

From the outside, the museum looks quite spectacular, but its interior is slightly less impressive. It's an informative museum, especially interesting if you want to delve deeper into the Mayan culture.

The museum is closed on Tuesdays and open from 9 AM  to 5 PM on other days. An entrance ticket costs 8 USD.

How to get there?
The museum is located in a suburb of Mérida, which is too far to walk from the city center. By car, scooter, taxi, or Uber, it's about a 15-minute drive. If you prefer cycling, it will take you approximately 30 minutes to get there.

Do you want to read more about Mexico

See all our articles with the best tips to discover all beautiful places in Mexico.

Do you want to read more about Mexico?

See all our articles with the best tips to discover all beautiful places in Mexico.

About the authors

How nice that you are on our website and that you have read this article! We are Mirte and Matthew, two Dutch adventurers with a passion for traveling, discovering cultures, and gaining new experiences. We've translated our love for the world into this website. We hope our articles inspire you to go on adventures! You can learn more about us through the button below.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram