A view of the pyramid and the suite in Uxmal, Yucatan

Things to do in  Merida

Jump into ancient Maya culture

Historic landmarks and elegant architecture lend grace to Merida, a traveler hub and the Yucatán’s cultural capital. Its Gran Museo del Mundo Maya schools on ancient Maya history, while mansions such as Palacio Cantón and Casa de Montejo preserve a bygone era. Throw in shady plazas, Yucatec cuisine, and browsable markets for a city worth lingering in with plenty of things to do. Merida is a jumping-off point for trips to ancient Maya sites, the estuary-lined northern coast, and freshwater cenotes.

Top 15 attractions in Merida

Chichen Itza

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One of the New 7 Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza is among Mexico's most visited and iconic archaeological sites. Known for its main central pyramid, this impressive Maya site—once the ceremonial center of the Yucatán—also features temples, ball courts, and a cenote (freshwater sinkhole).More

Chacchoben

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Mostly unexcavated, the Chacchoben ruins (Zona Arqueológica de Chacchoben) make up the largest and most visited Maya archaeological site in Costa Maya. Here moss-covered temples sprout from a lush jungle, attracting visitors who want to learn about Maya history, including the collapse of the ancient civilization.More

Quintana Roo

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One of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations, Quintana Roo is the gateway to the Mexican Caribbean. Palm-lined beaches, Mayan ruins, and family-friendly nature parks characterize this east coast state where you can snorkel coral reefs, cool off in ancient cenotes, and party in the nightclubs of Cancún and Playa del Carmen.More

Main Square (Plaza Grande)

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Situated at the heart of Mérida’s historic center, bustling Plaza Grande is home to the city’s 16th century San Ildefonso Cathedral, one of the region’s most important contemporary art establishments, and more. Visitors can relax in this leafy plaza—popular among visitors and locals alike—or use it as a jumping-off point for further exploration of the city.More

Merida Cathedral (Catedral de San Ildefonso)

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The second oldest cathedral in the Americas, the Mérida Cathedral (Catedral de San Ildefonso) was built atop a Mayan temple in the 16th century. Notable for its relatively austere façade and surprisingly stark Moorish interior, Mérida Cathedral also houses some of Mérida’s most significant religious artifacts, including the Christ of Blisters statue.More

Mayapan

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This ancient site south of Merida is considered to be among the last of Yucatan’s great Mayan cities, having functioned as the region’s political and cultural capital for over 200 years after the fall of Chichen Itza. The sprawling site is home to some 4,000 structures, including the Temple of Kukulcan and several family dwellings.More

Paseo de Montejo

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Often considered the Champs Elysees of Mexico, tree-lined Paseo de Montejo is one of the few examples of French Colonial architecture in predominantly Spanish Colonial Mérida. Developed in the late 19th century with money from the region’s henequen boom, Paseo de Montejo—one of Mérida’s longest avenues—is nowadays lined by mansions, hotels, and restaurants which retain their elaborate, original facades.More

Kabah

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As one of the lesser-visited Maya ruins on the Yucatán Peninsula, the archaeological site of Kabah offers an escape from the crowds at Uxmal and Chichén Itzá. It's second largest site in the Puuc region after Uxmal, and holds the ornate Palace of the Masks, which is covered in a rare repeating motif of the rain god, Chaac.More

Hacienda Yaxcopoil

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Once one of the Yucatán’s most prominent estates, the remarkably preserved Hacienda Yaxcopoil offers an in-depth insight into the region’s colonial history. Originally built in the 17th century and spread over a vast 22,000-acre (8,900-hectare) agave plantation, Hacienda Yaxcopoil is now preserved as a museum, which showcases the Yucatán’s pre-Colombian, Spanish colonial, and henequen boom years.More

Sotuta de Peón Agave Plantation (Hacienda Sotuta de Peón)

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This 19th-century henequen plantation is a living museum, immersing guests in Merida’s colonial heritage as they explore the site’s working machines, sprawling grounds, and horse-drawn railways. The hacienda is also home to a restaurant and hotel, as well as a traditional Mayan dwelling and private cenote.More

Casa de Montejo

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Originally built in the 16th century, the Montejo House-Museum--one of Mérida’s oldest buildings--is now a bank and free-to-enter museum. There, visitors can explore the permanent, four-room collection of historic furniture and three exhibition halls which typically house artworks. However, the main draw of Casa Museo Montejo is the original and elaborate Spanish Plateresque-style façade, one of a few of its kind in the Americas.More
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Progreso Cruise Port

Progreso Cruise Port

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Located on the Yucatán peninsula where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea, the Progreso Cruise Port is home to one of the longest piers in the world. Regularly frequented by cruise liners, this port is a jumping-off point for tours to the archaeological sites of Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Dzibilchaltun, as well as Mérida city.More

Dzibilchaltún

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Situated just 17 miles (28 kilometers) outside of Mérida city center, Dzibilchaltún offers a quieter alternative to other Mayan sites such as Uxmal and Chichén Itzá. Here, visitors can explore over 8,000 astronomically and religiously significant archaeological structures, including the Temple of the Seven Dolls, as well as the Cenote Xlacah swimming hole and the Mayan People Museum.More

Uxmal

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The well-preserved Maya ruins at Uxmal are considered some of the most beautiful in the Yucatan. Temple-pyramids, quadrangles, and a large ball court dot the archaeological site. Highlights include the Great Pyramid and the unusually rounded Pyramid of the Magician. A nightly light and sound show brings the magic of Uxmal to life.More

Palacio Municipal

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A landmark of downtown Mérida, the free-to-enter City Hall (Palacio Municipal) spans the west flank of the city’s Plaza Grande and is characterized by its salmon pink façade, arches, and clock tower. Inside, visitors can enjoy murals and paintings on the second floor, cool interior courtyards, and admire sweeping views over the plaza below.More

Top activities in Merida

Chichen Itza Elite Private Tour from Merida
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Chichen Itza, Private Cenote , Food Experience & the magic Izamal
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Mayapan and Homun Town Private Tour
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Bar hopping tour in Merida

Bar hopping tour in Merida

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$65.00
Chichen Itza, the Pink lagoon and Pink flamingos
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Chichen Itza Premium

Chichen Itza Premium

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kayak through mangroves to secret beach
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Chichen Itza, Magic Towns And Cenote

Chichen Itza, Magic Towns And Cenote

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$228.58
per group
Tour Cenotes Santa Bárbara

Tour Cenotes Santa Bárbara

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$110.00
Merida Airport Private Shuttle with WIFI

Merida Airport Private Shuttle with WIFI

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$59.00
per group
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All about Merida

When to visit

Mild, dry weather makes December–April the best time to visit Merida. It’s also the busy season, particularly around Carnival and Easter when you should book ahead. Prebook in January, too, for the weeks-long Merida Fest, a celebration of the city’s founding. Another high season arrives in July and August, when hot weather alternates with cooling showers. For fewer crowds, try May–June and September–November.

Getting around

Merida is great for exploring on foot, especially within the historic center and Paseo Montejo areas. To go farther afield, the most reliable way to get around is by taxi or rideshare, using apps such as Uber, DiDi, and InDrive. There are buses and minivans (called colectivos), too, but their varied routes and schedules can be tricky for visitors to navigate.

Traveler tips

Some of Merida’s best cultural offerings are free, with daily events offered by the city council. On Mondays, a traditional dance called the vaquería takes place in front of the Palacio Municipal. Dancers don elegant white garb embroidered with bright flowers and move to live music from the city’s jarana orchestra. Other free activities include weekly musical performances in Santiago Park and Santa Lucia Park.

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Tours
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People Also Ask

Is Merida worth visiting?

Yes, Merida is worth visiting. Home to the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, the city offers some of the Yucatan’s finest cultural offerings along with an authentic, local feel. Other highlights include art museums, restaurants, nightlife, ample day trips, strollable plazas, and well-preserved architecture from Mexico’s colonial era.

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What is Merida best known for?

Merida is nicknamed the “white city” for the grand, white-stone mansions that flank the walkable Paseo de Montejo. The tree-lined boulevard inspired by the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City is located a short distance north of the historic center. Merida also houses the city’s Anthropology and History Museum.

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Why is Merida so popular?

Merida’s central location and cultural heavyweight status attract travelers who want to experience the Yucatan beyond its east coast beaches. Easy access to ancient Maya sites, such as Chichen Itza, make it a good home base for excursions. The city’s dining scene, museums, and authentic local feel are other draws.

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Is Merida too touristy?

No, it's not too touristy. Merida is a top travel destination, but its thriving culture keeps it feeling authentic. Since most tourism is concentrated within the historic center, it’s easy to avoid crowds by seeking local experiences elsewhere. Start in nearby neighborhoods, such as Santa Lucia and Santiago.

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What is the best month to visit Merida Mexico?

Visit Merida in January to attend the weeks-long Merida Fest, a celebration of the city’s founding featuring performances in dozens of venues. Highlights of Merida Fest include folkloric music, dance shows, theater, visual arts, and literature. It’s popular enough with national and international travelers that January advance bookings are essential.

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What food is Merida Mexico known for?

Merida is known for its distinctive Yucatec cuisine, drawing inspiration and flavors from around the peninsula. The most famous Yucatecan specialty might be cochinita pibil, a flavorful roasted pork dish marinated in a citrusy sauce, wrapped in a banana leaf, and then cooked for hours in a traditional earthen oven.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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