The White City, as Merida is known, offers you culture, cuisine and entertainment. It is rich in so many aspects that it begs the question: what should you do while visiting Merida? To make the most of your vacation in this spectacular destination, we recommend you start by booking at any of our hotels in Merida: Hampton Inn by Hilton Merida or Hilton Garden Inn Merida. In addition, we have compiled the must-see tourist stops in Merida and Yucatan so you can plan your visit and make the most of your time.
Merida Historical Center
Your first day in this charming city must be spent getting to know the Plaza Grande, the heart of the city. You can’t miss stopping by House of Francisco Montejo, founder of the city and the Cathedral of San Ildelfonso, the oldest in America. At the Olimpo Cultural Center, you can enjoy shows and the planetarium. Be sure to try the delights of Dulcería y Sorbetería Colón founded at the beginning of the 20th century. Try a Yucatan marquesita from one of the street vendors or enjoy a handmade mezcal at La Fundación. Go to Vacador Yucatecaloss where you can watch a Mayan ball game, called ‘Pok Ta Pok,’ on Friday nights and on Sundays you can enjoy shows suitable for the whole family.
Merida boasts numerous museums, so we chose the best ones to save you time. Come and admire Yucatan’s Mayan archeological remains at the Yucatan Regional Museum of Anthropology, Canton Palace. The Museum of Athenaeum Contemporary Art of Yucatan (MACAY) exhibits the work of Fernando García Ponce, Fernando Castro Pacheco and Gabriel Ramírez Aznar. You can enchant yourself with the history and melodies of the Yucatecan trova (song) in the Museum of the Yucatecan Song. At the Museum of Popular Art of Yucatan “Casa Molina” you can enjoy the colors and details reminiscent of the artisan work in the region. But if what you want is to know more about the history of Merida, the Museum of the City of Merida is where you should go. You cannot miss the Great Museum of the Mayan World of Mérida, which give you a taste of this ancient civilization and culture, as you see its settlements with your own eyes.
Merida offers dishes for all palates, but we want to highlight the restaurants serving typical Yucatecan fare that will make you lick your fingers. You will find the best tacos in Wayan’e, and for a whole Mexican experience we recommend Hacienda Teya. In Kuuk, the chef only uses local ingredients, and if you are looking for a place that works for the whole family, La Tradición will not disappoint you. But if you are looking for Yucatecan fare with a modern and innovative flair, Nectar will surely surprise you. La Negrita Cantina and La Chaya Maya are authentic and delectable Yucatecan experiences.
Neighborhood and park stroll
Its picturesque, colonial and beautiful neighborhoods are best experienced on foot. Wander through the Itzimná neighborhood, which means “house of the lizard,” a ceremonial center in ancient times. In the Barrio de San Juan make sure you stop at the church of San Juan and admire La Negrita fountain as you get to know the old bullring. In San Cristóbal neighborhood you can find the church of San Cristóbal and the sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The neighborhoods of Santiago, San Sebastián, Santa Ana and La Mejorada should not be missed along your tour. In Santa Ana, you will find the famous Paseo de Montejo, which you can explore by bicycle, and every Saturday is Mexican Night. These neighborhoods offer beautiful parks and cathedrals. Tuesday nights in Santiago are a special treat, with people going out to dance on the streets to the music of the 40’s around 9 pm in what is known as “Musical Remembrance”. While a little spooky and a tad exciting, a tour of the Merida Cemetery at night is one experience you’ll never forget. In Santa Lucía Park, every Thursday there are troubadours ready to give an impromptu serenade to any passerby.
Coexistence and gastronomy are two words that characterize the markets of Merida. Come and embark on this experience which will fascinate all of your senses. In Lucas de Gálvez market you can pick up an empanadita or turnover while you stroll and take in the sights and smells, or a tamale at the San Benito Market. You will surely find what you’re looking for at Santa Ana market, Chen Bech or “bird’s nest.” If you are one of those people who are always looking for the right spot to buy souvenirs, we recommend you go to Plaza Grande on Sunday mornings where you will find handcrafts, hammocks and handbags among other things. Other authentic local souvenirs for your consideration are the embroideries on blankets and rugs, the carvings in stone and wood, guayaberas, the traditional huipil dress of the Yucatecan women or even handmade drinks.
For the kids
The kids will absolutely fall in love with the Centennial Zoological Park, especially the train and cable car. It also has an area for skating, isn’t that amazing? And if your little ones love the water, the Acuaparque will entertain them for hours. They can also take advantage of their visit to admire and learn about plants and animals while they are away from the city. If you are looking for something more adventurous for the family, the Bicenteneraio Animaya Zoo offers a safari-style tour. Be sure to stop at Piccolo Mondo for even more fun and the best pizza. Your kids are in for countless treats.
A good time and tequila are Mexican traditions that go hand-in-hand and are not to be missed while visiting Merida, which has countless bars and clubs. At Más de 30, you can enjoy live music, and at Pancho’s, there a 2-for-1 happy hour available every day from 5 to 9 pm. La Hora Loca, Mambo Café and the Pipiri Bar are great spots for good drinks, great atmosphere and lively décor that will deliver endless fun. You can find the top discos at Paseo Montejo.
Celestún Ecotourism Reserve
This flamingo sanctuary is a mandatory stop for ecotourism lovers. You can swim and dive, do some bird-watching and even take a bath in a freshwater hole. You can also take the opportunity to connect with nature, when entering the Tampetán forest and Punta Ninum. If you are lucky, you can spot some ocelots, jaguars and tigers that inhabit this reserve. You will also be surprised by the salt flats still in operation to this day.
Hacienda Sotuta de Peón
This hacienda offers a journey through the history of henequen thread production. Henequen was referred to as green gold in the pre-Hispanic era and is used to make ropes and sacks, among other items. The Mayans called it Ki. You can also bathe in the Dzul-ha cenote, which means “gentleman of the water,” so do not forget to bring your swimsuit.
For lovers of cenotes
In the municipality of Homún you will find countless cenotes to explore: the Tza Ujun Cat Cenote, Santa Rosa, Santa María, Yaxbacaltun, Blamil and Oches, among others. These mysterious and magical underground worlds of crystalline waters will bewitch you and remain in your memory for the rest of your life. You will discover colors that can only be created through the perfect combination of water and sunlight, which you didn’t think were possible. It is a rainbow hidden underground.
The most popular cenotes are those of Cuzamá. These three cenotes are as diverse as they are beautiful and unique. Take a horse-drawn rail wagon to the Chelentún Cenote, the Chak-Zinik-Ché Cenote or “home of the red ant,” and Bolom-Chojol, which means “nine mouse holes.” It will not only be an unforgettable experience, it will be a magical one for you and your family. The mysteries of these cenotes are waiting for you to discover them.
Cenotes are what you will find in the magical town of Valladolid. We recommend the Zaci, X’kekén, Oxman and Samulá cenotes. We also suggest you stop and walk around the town. The convent of San Bernardino de Siena, the cathedral of San Servasio and the Church of Candelaria will help restore your faith. Walking along Calzada de los Frailes and enjoying its architecture and atmosphere is a unique vacation experience.
The beaches of Merida are as special as they are unique. You can find a summary of the best beaches in Merida here. To give you a preview, we recommend Las Coloradas Beach. Also, the excavations and archaeological restorations in Yucatán are a must-see, so visit to learn more about the most impressive sites, starting with the Puuc Route.
Book now at Hampton Inn by Hilton Merida or Hilton Garden Inn Merida and make your dream vacation come true. Merida invites you to discover a new world where history, traditions, Mayan culture, relaxation, natural beauty and fun come together creating a magical place. It is a vacation destination as memorable as it is unique. Come enjoy it.