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22 BEST Things to do in Merida, Mexico

22 BEST Things to do in Merida, Mexico

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Mérida is a vibrant city on the Yucatán Peninsula known for its hot, sunny weather and traditional Mexican culture. To many, it’s a welcomed break from the nearby tourist towns and cities of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.

The city of Merida has a wide variety of activities for all types of visitors to enjoy. From beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants, cultural experiences, and music, Merida is the type of Mexican city that makes you feel welcome – with help from the friendly and cheerful locals of course.

If you are planning to travel to Mérida soon, I recommend that you read this article so that you have the opportunity to learn about the best activities you can do in this beautiful city. 

Here are the best activities and things to do in Mérida, Mexico! 

BEST Things to do in Mérida

1. Visit a local market – “Bazares” 

Crafts Bazar García Rejón Merida, Mexico
There is so much to look at!

One of the first things to do in Merida that I absolutely could not miss was visiting a local market. Merida is known for crafting a lot of ceramic items and its folkloric clothing. 

I love going to the city center of Merida to visit a few local markets. One of the best local markets is Bazar Garcia Rejon, where you can also find a lot of ceramic items, clothing, and souvenirs. The Bazar is pretty big and has existed since 1862. It is open from 8 am to 9 pm every day. 

Of course, something we could not miss here was the food! We were hoping to taste the local dish “Cochinita Pibil” that we’d heard so much about. It’s a traditional Mayan slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatan Peninsula, with meat marinated in a blend of spices and lime juice, and prepared in a special clay oven. Yum!

The first time we tried a Cochinita Pibil taco, it was love at first bite! The flavors are rich and complex, with just enough spice to make your mouth tingle without being too overwhelming on the palette or otherwise unpleasant tasting in any way. Definitely a must-try when in Merida!

Of course, you can easily explore markets in Merida on your own, but the experience is always better with a local guide! This particular cooking class and market tour is perfect because not only will you get guided around one of the best food markets in Merida in search of the freshest produce, but you will also get to cook with it after. It’s two activities in one that comes highly rated!

2. Go on a free walking tour

A cute street in Merida on a free walking tour
The walking tour takes you exploring with a guide. It’s the best way to get to know the city!

During my stay, I realized Merida has many historical and archaeological sites. It’s a city rich in culture and traditions just waiting to be explored! A free walking tour is one of the best (and cheapest!) ways to learn some history about the city and its people.

On the tour, a local guide will show you around the “White City” (as Merida is commonly referred to) on foot. You’ll also get time to explore on your own too. We really liked The Great Museum of the Mayan World, a huge museum that shows the history and art of the Mayan culture. We got to see Paseo de Montejo, which is a very famous avenue in Mérida with lots of shops and restaurants, the main square of Plaza Grande, and Uxmal, which is an ancient archaeological area. 

There are free walking tours offered in Merida daily, typically one in the morning and one in the late afternoon, 10 am and 5 pm respectively. You can check tour times online and even book your spot to ensure you don’t miss out.

Note: While “free” walking tours do not have an upfront cost, you should always tip your guide. The guides work on tips alone and rely on your generosity as their wage.

3. Visit Uxmal

The Uxmal pyramid in Mexico
This is one of the most underrated Mayan sites in Mexico!

Uxmal is a Mayan archaeological site located about 163 km (100 miles) from Mérida. There are several ways to get to Uxmal if you’re exploring on your own, you can either take a bus, taxi, or car to Uxmal from Mérida. Each of these will take you around 2.5 hours.

Because of the distance, we preferred to take this guided tour from Merida. Besides having the transport taken care of, we knew that with a guide we would get the most out of the experience since this was our first time in Uxmal. I recommend this for first-timers who just want to enjoy their day trip to Uxmal and not have to worry about the logistics of everything. 

Our tour started with our guide picking us up from the hotel in the morning. He was very friendly and spent the bus ride telling us tons of interesting facts about Uxmal and the history and culture of the Mayans. He told us that Uxmal is believed to have been built in 600 AD, and that the word Uxmal actually means “built three times”. We also learned that Uxmal is one of the largest Mayan archeological sites in the world!

On this tour, we also visited the Choco-Story Museum in Uxmal. It’s a huge chocolate museum and one of the best attractions in the city (and very tasty!). It’s both a store and museum, so visitors can learn about the history and process of making chocolate, as well as buy and taste different types of Mexican chocolate. So good! 

The total tour of the visit to Uxmal was about 8 hours, including hotel pick-up, lunch, tickets, and return.

4. Visit the Pink Lagoons (Las Coloradas) 

Las Coloradas pink lake, Mexico
How cool is the color?!

One of the most popular attractions near Merida is the Pink Lagoons (also called Las Coloradas). These lagoons are unique in the fact that they actually have a beautiful pink coloration of their water, due to a specific type of algae that lives in the water. It’s a really special sight to see and one of the more unique things to do in Merida. 

Although really neat, you should know that Las Coloradas has become quite the tourist trap lately with busloads of tourists visiting from many different cities around the Yucatan. There are lots of security guards there and you are not allowed to enter the water. It is quite commercialized and a 75 peso ($3.75 USD) entrance fee is also charged. 

With that said, they are still special and worth visiting as long as you don’t mind any other tourists around. If you’re lucky, you might even see flamingos around.

Las Coloradas is located 233 km (145 miles) from Merida, and the drive takes about three hours to get there. You can either rent a car and drive yourself to the lakes and pay the entrance fee when you get there, or, join an organized tour. 

We personally recommend going on a tour since it takes care of all of the logistics for you! Book a combination tour, such as this one, that combines a visit to La Coloradas with other popular attractions including Chichen Itza and cenotes! You’ll even visit the flamingo lakes nearby to see these birds too! Sure, it’s a jam-packed day, but you’ll get to see lots all at once on an epic day trip from Merida.

5. Visit Izamal 

A yellow building in Izamal, Mexico
The architecture is impressive!

Izamal is known as the “Yellow City” due to the many brightly-colored yellow buildings everywhere you look. This has made Izamal famous on Instagram with many tourists visiting just to take their own photos in a sea of yellow. 

But there is more to the city of Izamal than yellow buildings. It is a magical town where you can find a mixture of cultures, both Mayan and Yucatecan, as well as many historical sites. In fact, the largest pyramid (by surface area) in the Yucatan is actually located in Izamal, Piramide de Kinich Kak Moo, so you should ensure you climb it while you’re in town for an epic panoramic view!

Izamal is located 72 km (45 miles) from the city of Mérida and takes about an hour to drive there. Like many of the attractions around Merida, you can choose to either drive yourself, navigate the public bus system, or take a guided tour. 

This particular tour would be my top choice because it is a private tour that stops at many of the best attractions in and around Izamal. In addition to exploring the yellow streets with your guide, you’ll also climb Piramide de Kinich Kak Moo, visit Convento de San Antonio de Padua, and even go to a handicraft workshop! It’s a full-day private tour at 8 hours long for just under $200 USD.

6. Visit the museums 

A small carving at the Great Museum of the Mayan World
A mask at the Great Museum of the Mayan World in Merida, Mexico

During my stay in Mérida, I wanted to take some time to see the most notable museums, so I spent an afternoon exploring the Museum of Anthropology and History in Merida

The museum was vast and so beautiful, I was impressed by all the beautiful unique cultural pieces that are stored here. The museum staff explained that they have a large collection of both Mayan and Spanish artifacts, as well as an interesting exhibition of photos and pictures that date back hundreds of years!

This museum is open from Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm. The cost to access this museum is $3 USD and if you want to take videos or photos, you will need to pay an additional copyright fee of around $3 USD more. It’s definitely worth the price for the memories you’ll have to take home with you!

Another museum that you cannot miss in Merida is the Great Museum of the Mayan World (Gran Museo del Mundo Maya). This museum has a sound and lights show with huge screens that project images. The place is huge, and not only are there projection rooms but there are tons of unique art pieces and spectacular figures to marvel at in each room. We were really surprised by all the work that is in each one of them, and how beautiful they are! 

Entry to the Great Museum of the Mayan World is $8 USD. They are open from Wednesday to Monday, 9 am to 5 pm.

Museo Casa Montejo is another museum to learn more about Merida’s history. It has three main showrooms with art expositions, and it is a place used for concerts too. It offers workshops, guided visits, and audiovisual material to educate people about Merida. It is not a very long activity, so you’ll have time afterward to keep visiting other things around Plaza Grande. 

The museum is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 am to 7 pm, and Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm. And if you’re wondering about the fees, well, Museo Casa Montejo is completely free as well as their guided tours (just check their schedule before visiting the museum).

Of course, there are plenty of other museums in Merida, and for history buffs, this city will be a dream! Some of the other museums in Merida you can explore include:

  • Museum at Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins
  • Palacio de la Música (Merida Music Museum)
  • Casa Museo Montes Molina
  • Museo de Arte Popular
  • Museo Fernando García Ponce Macay
  • Museo del Pueblo Maya de Dzibilchaltún

7. Visit Monumento a la Patria

Monumento a la Patria in Merida, Mexico
Monumento a la Patria in Merida, Mexico!

Monumento a la Patria is a very easy place to visit in Merida, Mexico. You just need to walk by Paseo de Montejo, and you’ll find this mesmerizing stone sculpture at the end of the avenue. What particularly caught my attention was the level of detail of this piece of art and the fact that it was hand-made!

When you visit Monumento a la Patria, keep in mind its history and what it represents. First of all, this sculpture is a representation of Mexico’s history from the pre-Hispanic period to modern times. Sculptures of important characters and key historical events (such as their independence and the Mexican Revolution) were carved by the Colombian sculptor, Romulo Rozo, who took 11 years to finish.

If you’re a fan of history and visiting sites with historical value, then you can’t miss Monumento a la Patria. 

You don’t need to save a specific spot on your calendar for this activity, as you can visit the monument any time and any day. Plus, it’s free! And it’s even a great option if you’re stopping in Merida for only a few hours. 

8. Explore the Zocalo (Plaza Grande)

Plaza Grande in Merida, Mexico on a beautiful day
Plaza Grande is a beautiful place to people watch!

If you ask a Mexican to take you to the “zocalo,” you will end up in the city’s main square. If you ask for the zocalo in Merida, Mexico, you will end up in Plaza Grande, which is located in the city center. This fantastic place is the center of Merida’s history and culture. In a few words: it’s a MUST when visiting Merida.

Plaza Grande offers a lovely environment to walk by, you will have many options of sites to visit, and it even provides a variety of cultural events. If you’re saving a day to spend on Plaza Grande (which I encourage you to do if you want the full cultural experience), then make sure you put on your to-visit list the Catedral San Ildefonso and Casa Montejo. For an even more extensive experience, then go to the Palacio Municipal and Palacio de Gobierno

Depending on the day of the week, you can enjoy a different traditional event taking place in Plaza Grande. For example, Mondays at 9 pm, there’s a Vaqueria dance presentation. On Tuesdays, you will enjoy a compilation of traditional Mexican music. Wednesdays at 8 pm are for the typical Mayan game, Pok Ta Pok (which is amazing, by the way).

These events are constantly changing dates and times, so I recommend you to ask before adding this to your calendar. They can also be canceled at any time without any previous notification, and there are limited seats (so schedule it ahead and be there on time). 

9. Visit Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza, Mexico main temple
How cool is Chichen Itza, Mexico?

One of the most popular things to do in Merida is to visit Chichen Itza. This ancient Mayan city is 75 miles (121 km) away from Merida, Mexico. You can take a bus to get there by paying around $8 USD a person, and it only takes 1 hour. This bus offers three departing times (6:30 am, 8:30 am, and 9:30 am) and only one return time (5:20 pm). 

Chichen Itza opens at 8 am, and foreigners have to pay a $28 USD entrance fee (price as of October 2022). You will find all you need inside: restrooms, food, drink, and souvenir shops. But I do recommend you to take a snack and some water just in case. There’s honestly a lot of walking, so avoid any fancy shoes (prioritize comfort) and make sure you put on sunscreen (there’s not much shade). 

While you can plan to visit Chichen Itza on your own, I do recommend you visit it on a tour. This way, you won’t have to deal with the language barrier, and you’ll make the most out of this amazing experience. 

As one of the most popular attractions in Mexico, Chichen Itza can get quite crowded. So we decided to take an early-morning day tour to avoid this. Honestly, best decision ever!

You can book the tour in advance to ensure its availability on your traveling dates. It includes transportation from your hotel in Merida, Mexico, to Chichen Itza and back to your hotel. And you will not have to worry about lunch as they provide this for you (though drinks are not included, so take at least a bottle of water with you). It costs $90 USD per person.  

The pickup time is at 8 am, but you’ll have to be ready at least 20 minutes before. In Chichen Itza, you will enjoy a guided tour, and lunch will be at a selected local restaurant. After lunch, you will go to Yokdzonot Cenote, where you are allowed to go for a swim and then finish the day walking through the beautiful streets of Valladolid. You’ll be back at your hotel at around 5:30 pm after an adventure-filled day of exploring! 

Keep in mind that this tour does not include entrance fees for Chichen Itza of the cente.

10. Swim in Cenotes 

Three people float down a river at Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyché
This place is spectacular! Photo credit: Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyché

While in Merida, you just have to take advantage of the many cenotes nearby. The Yucatan Peninsula is full of them -there’s an estimation of about 6,000 cenotes over the span of the entire Peninsula! And the reason why these are very popular tourist attractions is that they are gorgeous and perfect for swimming. You simply can’t make a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula without visiting a cenote – it truly is one of the best things to do in Mexico!

From Merida, you have access to many cenotes that will most likely blow your mind when you get there. The feeling when you’re at the bottom is beyond words. I still remember getting goosebumps when looking up through the collapsed ceiling and looking down at the crystal-clear water below! Compared to the rest of the sea, the water in the cenotes becomes an even more intense blue color due to the limited sunlight. It’s such a cool sight to experience!

If you’re in Merida, here are a few cenotes you should consider visiting: Cenote Kankirixche, Cenote San Ignacio, Cenote Dzombakal, Cenote Hacienda Mucuyche, and Cenote Nah Yah

My general recommendation with cenotes is to book a tour or rent a car. There are so many good options, and you’ll want to visit more than one. By hiring a tour, you’ll be taken to different destinations in a day, which I guarantee will be a much more pleasant experience than just spending an afternoon in one single cenote. 

There’s this one awesome tour that will take you to 5 different cenotes, 3 of which are off the beaten path so you’ll need to head to a farm to discover them. You can book the private tour here for a cost of $230 USD per person. The tour starts at 8 am so make sure you are ready to be picked up by your tour guide. It includes drinks and the fees to access the cenotes but also stops at a traditional restaurant for lunch (so bring some cash)!

If you want to visit the Santa Barbara Cenotes, then you should book this other tour, where you’ll visit three nearby cenotes by either a bike or on a truck ride if you’re not feeling adventurous. I recommend getting the bike as you will have more freedom and contact with your surroundings. It does not include lunch or snacks, but at the end of the tour, you will be taken to a restaurant that actually borders the Cenote. Pretty cool! Tickets for this tour are $95 USD per person.

Related Read: Many of the best cenotes are located near Tulum, so if you’re heading that way be sure to visit a couple of them!

11. Enjoy a beach day

Progreso Beach near Merida, Mexico
Progreso Beach near Merida, Mexico

Another thing to do in Merida is to spend the day on a beach. Merida is not on the beach per se, but it does have a lot of nearby beaches since it’s located in the Yucatan Peninsula. The nearest beach to Merida is Progreso Beach. It will take you about 30-45 min to drive there from Merida (you can either rent a car or take a taxi/Uber).

To spend a day in Progreso Beach, you don’t really have to spend a lot of money as the beach has public access. However, if you’re looking for a more exclusive experience, there are beach clubs that offer a day pass that allows you to use their facilities on the beach. There are many ranges of prices, but you will be spending approximately $30-$40 USD a day per person. 

Other amazing beaches near Merida, you may want to consider visiting are: Playa Norte Celestun, El Cuyo, and San Benito. 

12. Eat authentic Mexican food at Manjarblanco

huevos motuleños at Manjarblanco in Merida
Huevos Motuleños is delicious!

You would think that everything you eat in Mexico is authentic Mexican food, but the truth is that many restaurants have had to adapt their menu to the international audience. In regions like Merida, where they receive a large influx of tourists every year, even the most traditional-looking places serve non-traditional food. 

Manjarblanco is something else entirely. Even the locals claim this restaurant tastes like the Yucatan! It is quite popular, and the place is kinda small, so I recommend you make a reservation. Otherwise, you are probably going to have to wait. It’s worth mentioning that if you have to wait in line for a table, the delicious smells coming from the restaurant will drive you crazy (good crazy!)

Manjarblanco is open from 8 am to 6 pm every day. The first time I went was for breakfast, and I had such a lovely meal that I decided to go back for lunch the next day. The cozy atmosphere and nice service were nothing compared to the presentation of every plate we ordered, almost like a high-end restaurant: good prices and portions.

With a great location at Paseo Montejo, you can ask anyone on the street about the restaurant, and they will give you the exact address and put a good word for it, which is always a good sign.

For breakfast, the waiter recommended “huevos motuleños,” a fried tortilla with black beans, fried eggs, and a delightful tomato sauce made with jam and peas, plus some empanadas. When we left the restaurant around noon, we smelled a plate coming out of the kitchen, and I had to ask the waiter because the smell was fantastic. “Escabeche oriental,” he replied, that’s when we looked at each other, and in unison, we said, “we have to come back tomorrow for lunch!”.

Related Read: Be sure to visit Cancun and eat at some of the amazing restaurants – inlcuding authentic Mexican ones!

13. Enjoy the nightlife

One of the best things about the nightlife in Merida is that you will find options for all ages, tastes, and budgets – you’ll easily find a fun place that fits your style. The center of Merida has a few great bars and nightclubs where you can have a drink and even some nice food.

You will find a few different bars located in the center of Merida, surrounding the main square. I’m not a “still” person, so I like to try more than two places in one night to enjoy the different atmospheres, drinks, cocktails, and music. From the ones I visited, I can definitely tell you that Pipiripau Bar was my favorite! They served some of the best mezcal cocktails I’ve ever tried!

Other great options to go out by night in Merida are La Negrita (a cantina that offers live music), Malahat (a dark-themed speakeasy with decently-priced cocktails and live music after 10 pm), and Bar La Ruina (a relaxing place that offers craft beers). They all open at around 5 pm but have different closing hours starting at 9 pm until 2 am. 

However, to get the best out of Merida’s nightlife, you can join a bar-hopping tour to try three different places. It costs $60 USD per person, and it includes drinks, snacks, and a local tour guide. You won’t have to struggle with the language, and you’ll have someone to recommend to you what to order.

14. See flamingos at Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve

Flamingoes at Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve near Merida, Mexico
Pink flamingoes are so unique!

In Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve, you will find one of the best Merida attractions – flamingos! The bright pink-colored feathers of 18,000 flamingos contrasting with the blue water and very green flora had me hypnotized from the moment I arrived. 

You only need to take a 60-min car ride from Merida to Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve. Once there, you’ll have the option to walk around and enjoy the view, or you can have a more interesting experience by kayaking, hiring a boat ride, or renting a bike to explore the place even further. 

For a full experience ending in Ria Celestun, you can join this tour that starts in Chichen Itza. For $113 USD/person, you will be taken to Chichen Itza, then to a beautiful cenote where you’ll have time to take a swim, and your day will end in the biosphere reserve where you will be able to observe the flamingos. The tour includes water, stops to grab food, and a tour guide. 

But if you’re looking for a tour that just takes you directly to Ria Celestun, then you can consider this tour here. For $124 USD/per person, you will spend a full day on flamingo watching, a boat tour through the biosphere reserve, and enjoying the beach. It includes pick up and drop off at your hotel, a tour guide, and a boat ride. Food and drinks are not included, but you’ll have time to have a relaxing lunch and snacks at any restaurant.

15. Visit a Hacienda 

A man works at Sotuta de Peon Hacienda
Learning about the old ways of farming is pretty cool! Photo credit: Mfmegevand Depositphotos

There are lots of haciendas around Mexico. Haciendas are these huge places that were once (back in the Spanish colonization) plantations, mines, or factories. They have beautiful architecture as they were owned by the wealthiest people in Mexico. You can easily visit Haciendas near Merida (most are about 30-minutes away.)

Some haciendas have pyramids and cenotes, others have the option to enjoy a great day spa, and others offer a luxurious place to have lunch. It’s an unbelievably relaxing experience and you’ll also get to learn lots about traditional farming techniques.

For a private day trip with a very historical vibe, you will want to book this tour to Sotuta de Peon Hacienda. Starting at $121 USD/person, you will enjoy the hacienda’s historical value, its cenote, and a great lunch. Food and transportation from and to your hotel are included (but not drinks). 

16. Attend an event

day of the dead in mexico make up
Myself, Bailey, and a friend of ours showing off our Day of the Dead make-up!

If you’re looking for traditional things to do in Merida, there are several events you can attend. The most popular one is Day of the Dead, or “Dia de Los Muertos”, which takes place on a specific date: from October 28th to November 2nd. If you’re in Merida between those dates, believe me, you will not want to miss this festival. The Day of the Dead activities take place at night, so you can use the daytime to explore Merida and its surroundings.

Day of the Dead is a 5-night event that offers a different festivity every night. Starting with a procession of locals wearing catrina makeup on their faces (pretty visually attractive, to be completely honest), followed by a theatrical presentation, the traditional Vaqueria dance at Plaza Grande, and a flower exhibition at Parque de la Mejorada. 

If you’re going to Merida around February-March, then a great event to participate in is the Carnaval Merida in Plaza Carnaval. In early November, you can attend the Feria Yucatan Xmatkuil. And in early January, you can enjoy the Merida Fest, which you should definitely attend if you’re a music lover. 

17. Watch Pok ta Pok

If you have a chance to go to the Pok Ta Pok presentation, please don’t miss it! Even if you’re not a sports fan, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where you will fully enjoy Mexican culture and history. This is not offered in many parts of Mexico (despite being the “Mayan ball game”), but it’s gaining more and more popularity.

The event takes place in Plaza Grande every Saturday at 8 pm. Please know this is free, but space is limited, so make sure you’re there ahead of time to be able to view the game. 

My recommendation is that you go at around 6 pm, get some food or a drink at one of the local bars around Plaza Grande, and keep an eye out on your surroundings while everything is being set up. This way, you can make sure you get there before it gets too busy.

As dates and times may change make sure to double-check the official website here.

18. Wander Paseo de Montejo

Quinta Montes Molina on Paseo de Montejo in Merida, Mexico
Quinta Montes Molina on Paseo de Montejo in Merida, Mexico. Photo credit: Esky Studio Depositphotos

As one of the most important avenues in Merida, you will find a great variety of things to do on Paseo de Montejo. From historical buildings to museums, cafes, bars, and restaurants, Paseo de Montejo has it all to spend a great day in the city. My recommendation is that you plan ahead since it’s a long walk, and you’ll want to know exactly where you’re heading.

A wonderful thing about Merida is that it’s considered safe, so you can walk at night on Paseo de Montejo. However, if you want to visit the museums, you might want to start your walk in the daytime since they mostly close at around 7 pm. 

You can either start or end your walk through Paseo de Montejo at the Monumento a la Patria; I like it more to start there. For great coffee, go to Cafeteria Impala. For delicious ice cream, go to Heladeria El Colon. And to feed your cultural craving, visit the old Palacio Canton (which is now the Anthropology and History Museum of Merida).

19. Shop ’til you drop!

A good trip always includes some shopping! Either if it’s for you or souvenirs for your loved ones, shopping is a “must” on most of my trips. And I found great places in Merida to go shopping!

I adore buying local art as I feel it’s an object that back home will have the cultural weight of what the country/city/region is, and it’ll have more meaning than an “I love Mexico” t-shirt. If you’re into taking home a local piece of art with real value, then Nahualli Gallery is the place for you. You can find it north of Santa Ana.

For those of you who are just looking for a mall to get some stuff home, you can go to Plaza Altabrisa, which is a newer mall. Or you can go to La Isla Merida, which is a huge mall with a bunch of different stores. And for a more “souvenir-ish” experience, then Mercado Garcia Rejon is the right place. It’s very near to Plaza Grande (only 5 min away), and you will find souvenirs and great local food.

20. Go on a food tour!

al pastor tacos
Delicious tacos are just the tip of the iceberg on a food tour in Merida!

There’s no way you can fully enjoy a place’s culture without knowing about its food. This was one of my favorite Merida activities during my trip! I felt like I got to know the people and their culture through their food’s flavors, textures, and spiciness (we are in Mexico, of course). 

To get a full grasp of Merida’s typical food, you should definitely take a food walking tour, where you’ll spend the next 3 hours of your day enjoying great local food. You’ll get to go to a seafood restaurant, try unimaginable fruit juices, get some fantastic ice cream, and taste local food that goes beyond the usual tamales and tacos. 

Yucatec food is totally worth it! But you definitely have to go with someone who knows and can guide you based on your taste. This tour includes a local guide, of course, food tasting, and beverages for $55 USD per person. It starts at 10:30 am, and the meeting point is in Hidalgo Park, which is at the center of Merida (a pretty easy and accessible area).

21. Do a cooking class 

After you visit Mexico for the very first time, I guarantee you you will fall in love with their gastronomy. And if you’re a foodie like myself, you’ll want to learn some tips on how to make their delicious plates back home. 

Not only will you thank yourself for learning how to cook some Yucatan food, but this is also a very entertaining activity to do in Merida. You can take this cooking class where you’ll learn how to make a typical Yucatec 3-course meal with foods like papadzules, tamales, empanadas, panuchos, etc.

This 5-hour class costs $79 USD per person, and it includes shopping in a local market, a class with a local chef, cooking and tasting a 3-course meal, drinks, snacks, and lunch. An awesome thing about this class is that it also offers a vegetarian option too. 

22. Temazcal Healing Ceremony

A Temazcal in Mexico
You do rituals outside before entering the Temazcal

If you feel like purifying your entire body in less than 2 hours, a Temazcal Ceremony is a great way to start. It’s a unique and guided experience inside a sweat lodge where heated volcanic rocks, water, and herbs create powerful steam. The fumes will quickly enter your body to begin the healing process.

I thought I could breathe fine all my life, but after the ritual ended, it felt like I was breathing in high definition for the first time. The whole experience was both intense and relaxing, and I couldn’t believe how great my skin felt for the next couple of days.

The ceremony is about connecting with mother earth through the four elements. It’s also a spiritual encounter with yourself that will open your mind (and pores!) through meditation and breathing.

This Merida attraction is a great option if you’re tired from your trip or if you have been very physically active. You can book a Temazcal healing session for $190 USD per person. This includes pickup (at specific hotels, so make sure you ask if yours is included), a 1.5-hour Temazcal ceremony, and 3 hours of full access to the sanctuary. My recommendation is to take a bottle of water with you as you will probably be thirsty after the ceremony.

Where to Stay in Merida

The pool at Che Nomadas Merida
Che Nomadas Merida is one beautiful hostel! Photo credit: Che Nomadas Merida

As far as where to stay while visiting Merida, you really can’t go wrong with any place you choose. Merida is home to many different types of accommodations, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Here are a few of our top choices:

Hostels in Merida

Che Nomadas Merida – This hostel located in downtown Merida is a great option for budget travelers. It’s clean, comfortable, and has everything you need – it’s even been proclaimed the most popular and most-reviewed hostel in Mexico! Che Nomadas is centrally located so you can walk to all the best sights and attractions. It has a pool, full kitchen, free wifi, and the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful. A bed in a shared dorm here starts at just $16 USD per night!

You can check availability on Hostelworld or Booking.com.

Hostal La Ermita Merida – Hostal La Ermita Merida is a beautiful XIX century house recently renewed and located in the heart of one of the two oldest neighborhoods of downtown Merida. They provide clean, spacious rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, and a large garden surrounded by trees. They even have a game room and a pool table where you can relax after a long day of exploring the city. A bed in a shared dorm starts at $8 USD per night.

You can check availability on Hostelworld or Booking.com.

Budget-friendly hotels in Merida

Casa Lucia Hotel Boutique – This boutique hotel is located in central Mérida, just 5 minutes walk from the city’s famous cathedral. It includes an outdoor pool and elegant, air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi and cable TV. The hotel also has an on-site restaurant that features a mix of both Mexican and international dishes. They even have lounge chairs, chair swings, and hammocks by the pool! A room here starts at just $104 USD per night.

You can check up-to-date availability on Booking.com.

Viva Merida Hotel Boutique – Viva Merida Hotel is located on Calle 59 Centro, in the heart of the city. It offers guests an outdoor swimming pool, spa, bar, and lounge area for guests to enjoy. There’s also sun terrace rooms available with great views of the city! Viva Merida even offers on-site laundry and childcare services for an additional fee, so it’s perfect for families or those on an extended trip to Merida. A double room at this hotel starts at $85 USD per night.

You can check availability on Booking.com.

Renting a Car in Mexico

Bailey and Daniel in a rental car in Mexico
Bailey had to drive at first because Daniel is used to driving on the other side!

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car. 

I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Mexico in 2019, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically. 

I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend. 

The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too. 

Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit. 

Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your renal will be much cheaper! 

Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!

If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!

SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.  

We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)

It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie in Mexico
Thanks for reading!

We hope that this guide to some of our favorite things to do in Mérida has given you some inspiration for your next trip! If you have any other recommendations, please feel free to share them in the comments below and let us know what was your favorite part of your Mérida trip.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out some of our other Mexico posts for more travel inspiration:

Things to do in Puerto Vallarta

BEST things to do in Mexico City

Best Palenque Waterfalls guide

ULTIMATE Guide to the Cancun Hotel Zone +26 Fun Things to do!
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