Merida: 10 Things to Do in the Capital of the Yucatán

Merida, the capital of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, certainly has a lot to offer tourists. Are you planning a visit to Merida? We hope you find our guide to Merida inspiring and helpful in your planning.

Merida, the capital of the Yucatán

There’s a reason why Merida was voted North American Capital of Culture in 2000 and 2017. You will literally stumble upon Mexican and Mayan culture around every corner.

Every day, the centre hosts festivals, dance performances, imitations of the Mayan ball game Tlachtli, and projections of light effects onto colonial buildings.

Mexicans are known for their smiles and good mood, and this is doubly true in Merida. Mexicans will smile at you at every corner and so will other tourists, because Merida is relatively cheap.

Compared to purely touristy cities like Tulum or Cancun on the eastern side of the peninsula, you can experience more for less. Tacos can normally be bought here for 10-15 pesos (18 CZK), regular hotels cost around 500 pesos (600 CZK) and you can see a lot of museums and interesting buildings for free.

Are you going to Merida? Let’s take a look at what not to miss there.

1) Walk through the historic centre of Merida

Historic centre of Merida, Mexico

The easiest way to soak up the atmosphere of Merida is to walk through its historic centre. In the heart of the city is Plaza Grande, where, in addition to the iconic white stone seats, you’ll also find the colourful sign that is found in every major city in the Yucatán.

To the north of the Plaza Grande is the Parque de Santa Lucia, which in the evening turns into a sea of tables and chairs brought in from nearby restaurants.

The park and the square are probably the most touristy places in Merida, so we recommend exploring the adjacent streets and the nearby Parque se Santa Ana, Parque de Santiago and Parque de San Juan.

Guided walk through Merida

Every morning, you can join a free guided walking tour of the historic centre, organised by a local group of guides. You will learn interesting information about the history of Merida and get a good orientation in the city.

Whether you’re in town for one day or more, we recommend starting with these walks.

Walking around Merida
  • When: 9:30am, every day
  • Price: free (or as much as you think appropriate)
  • From: the Merida Tourist Office in Plaza Grande

2) Paseo de Montejo promenade

Have you ever been to the Champs-Élysées in Paris? This is exactly how Merida’s Paseo de Montejo promenade looks, built by the colonialists in the city’s heyday.

Along the promenade there are a number of luxury villas and haciendas that still retain their original appearance. Although most of them are now owned by companies, some are still occupied by descendants of the original owners.

As you walk along the boulevard, you’ll come across several small cafés and museums, including the Museo de Montes Molina, which takes you through the house of the founder of Merida.

The promenade is 8 kilometres long and if you don’t set off early in the morning, you may be surprised by unpleasant heat. We therefore recommend that you walk the most interesting part (1.5 km, from the Monumento de Montejo to the Monument to the Fatherland) and take a bus or Uber for the rest. For romantic souls, you can hire a horse-drawn carriage at the beginning of the promenade.

3) Discover the world of the Maya at the Gran Museo de Mundo

Gran Museo del Mundo Maya
Gran Museo del Mundo Maya @art-architech.blogspot.com

If you are as interested in the Mayan civilization as we are, this museum is a must. In the museum you will find over a thousand different Mayan artifacts from all time periods when the Mayans lived in the Yucatán.

If your itinerary permits, go see any pyramids after visiting the museum. You can learn all about Mayan history here, and anyone who likes history will probably spend several hours here.

The museum is about twenty minutes by car from the centre of Merida, like in all big Mexican cities we recommend using Uber, which will cost you 80-100 pesos (120 CZK).

Information on the Museo de Mundo Maya
  • Opening hours: 8:00 – 17:00, except Tuesdays (closed)
  • Admission: 150 pesos (180 CZK)
  • Location: Calle 60 299 E, unmissable, the museum looks like a bird’s nest
  • Website: official museum website in Spanish

4) Visit to the Lucas de Galvez market

Lucas de Galvez is the largest all-day market in Merida. You can find everything from vegetables and fruit to art, clothing and tourist trinkets.

A market has existed at this location since the 18th century. century and it shows. The whole place is an uncluttered jumble of shops and locals carrying bags full of cactus and limes.

If you go to the market, have lunch on site. There’s no better way to experience the local atmosphere than to eat from a small stall in the middle of the market and watch the people milling around.

Market information Lucas de Galvez in Merida
  • Opening hours: every market has different hours, but generally 7:00 – 17:00
  • Price level: fair Mexican prices, the market is more for locals than tourists
  • Location: Center of Merida, at the intersection of 56 and 65 Streets

5) Merida hosts the most festivals in the Yucatán

Merida hosts dozens of festivals and smaller celebrations each year. It’s rare that you don’t come across a performance or light show on the streets in the evening.

In the main square you can see almost every evening a folklore dance performance where children from six to eighteen years old dance.

In January, Merida has Merida Fest, which starts with a spectacular fireworks display from Plaza Grande and lasts for three weeks. In 2022, the festival will definitely be worth it, as Merida will celebrate 500 years since its foundation.

In January and March you’ll find carnival parades, in April Easter is celebrated (parades with crosses, etc.) and in November you won’t want to miss El Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

Christmas is also said to be a great time of year, when it’s still warm in Mexico, but Mexicans love Christmas trees and decorations. Imagine walking around town on a hot day with pickup trucks driving by with decorated trees on the back!

Information about festivals in Merida
  • Price: most festivals are free
  • Location: All over the city, main events in the centre
  • Calendar: Here you can find all the events that might interest you

6) Explore the public buildings of Plaza Grande

There are a total of five public buildings in the Plaza Grande that offer great views of the surrounding area and admission is free. Some even have air conditioning!

View from the balcony of Palacio Municipal

Armed guards stand at the entrance of most of the buildings we are about to mention. Don’t be afraid to walk past them normally. If in doubt, ask them to let you in. They won’t say no. You can explore these buildings:

  • Palacio Municipal (view from the second floor balcony)
  • Catedral de San Ildefonso
  • Casa de Montejo (Victorian Museum)
  • Museo Fernando García Ponce-Macay (art)
  • Palacio de Gobierno
Information on public buildings in Plaza Grande
  • Admission: free
  • Opening hours: in the morning until 19:00
  • Location: Plaza Grande

7) Experience the game of Tlachtli

Although we missed this Mayan ball game, you don’t want to miss it! Every Saturday night, the ball game Tlachtli is played in the main squares, which for the Maya was more of a religious ritual than entertainment.

After the match, one of the teams, or at least the captain, was sacrificed to the gods. No one sacrifices today and the game is just a fun spectacle. Players have the task to throw the ball through the hoop, but they must not use their hands or feet.

According to posts on social media, we recommend arriving at least twenty minutes before the game starts, otherwise you may not be able to see the game despite the crowds watching.

Information about the performance Tlachtli
  • When: every Saturday 20:30 – 21:30
  • Admission: free
  • Location: By the Cathedral on the Plaza Grande

8) Day trip to the fishing town of Progreso

Fifty minutes by bus north of Merida is the relatively quiet fishing town of Progreso, where you can relax on the large beach.

Fishing town of Progreso
Progreso – fishing town near Merida

Although the water here is not as clear as on the east coast along the Riviera Maya, the sand is white and incredibly fine. It’s often windy here, though, so it’s not for lounging around for long, although a sunbed, umbrella and alcohol will cost a fraction of the price of purely tourist beaches.

We recommend Progreso especially for seafood lovers and for pleasant walks on the beach. After the chaos of Merida, a day listening to the sounds of the sea will surely come in handy.

9) An experience for every evening – dance!

Every night there is at least one regular event in Merida where you can go. We’ve borrowed the following list from Roamingaroundtheworld because we couldn’t have put it together better ourselves.

Where to go in Merida in the evening?

  • Monday: 21:00 – 22:00 Vaqueria Night at Plaza Grande, folkloric dances accompanied by the Janarera Orchestra
  • Tuesday: Musical Memories at Parque Santiago, 8:30-10pm, live music and locals coming to dance
  • Wednesday: Screening at Casa de Montejo at 20:30 (summer) or 20:00 (winter)
  • Thursday: the Yucatecan Serenade at Parque Santa Lucia from 21:00
  • Friday: Screening at the Cathedral at 8:30 p.m.
  • Saturday: noche Mexicana, from 20:00 at Remate Paseo Montejo, traditional songs and dances
  • Sunday: Merida en Domingo, 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. at Plaza Grande, all-day food stalls and live music in the evening

10) Visit the ruins of the Mayan city of Uxmal

Thanks to its location, Merida is an excellent base for day trips to the surrounding area. Our favorite is a visit to the Mayan city of Uxmal, one of the most important and well-preserved Mayan cities in Mexico.

The town experienced its heyday at the end of the 10th century. century AD, and at the time of its greatest glory, about 25,000 people lived here. The strategic location of the town allowed the use of the surrounding natural water reservoirs, which were filled during the rainy season.

Ruins of Uxmal near Merida
Giant Pyramid of the Magician at Merida

Where to stay in Merida

Accommodation in Merida is one of the cheaper ones, so it’s no problem to stay right in the centre. We recommend staying in one of these neighbourhoods:

  • Plaza Americana
  • Merida Centro

Both are within walking distance of all major buildings and sites in the city centre, although Merida Centro is slightly more conveniently located.

[lgc_column grid=”33″ tablet_grid=”33″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”false”]Hostel in the centre

Hostel Nomadas in the centre of Merida


Top rated hostel in Merida. For an average price of 450 CZK / night you can stay in the very centre of Merid, breakfast and a large swimming pool are also included.

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Medium variant

Casa Continental hotel in Merida

Casa Continental

Three star clean hotel with good WiFi connection and simple but excellent breakfast.

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Luxury variant

Hotel Luz en Yucatan

Luz en Yucatán

A boutique hotel with 15 rooms, recommended by many printed guides and Tripadvisor as the best accommodation in Merida.


Tips and tricks for travelling in the Yucatán

What to pack

Take a look at our
travel packing guide
to help you prepare. Choose the right travel backpack, check out the travel gadgets and don’t forget anything important at home.

Where to get tickets

Search for cheap airline tickets at
, they’re our favourite portal. Be sure to read our instructions how to get cheap airline tickets.

Car rental

We commonly use a grader
to help us choose a car provider.

Reservation of accommodation

is our most popular hotel search engine. We always compare hotels with local apartments and rooms on Airbnb (
725 CZK discount
). Read,
how we find cheap accommodation

Don’t forget about insurance

Travel insurance is an absolute must. For shorter journeys, choose AXA (
50% discount
) and for longer journeys the British insurer
True Traveller
. Take a look at
comparison of all insurance companies
and choose the one that suits you best.

Recommended Lonely Planet Yucatanguide



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