After a few days in Valladolid, we decided to move on to Merida, and I can say this was my favourite place in the Yucatan. With its beautiful architecture and breath-taking cenotes, the backpacking vibe and salsa, it doesn’t take long to fall in love with this city!

Things to see and do in Merida:

Walk through its beautiful streets and Plaza Mayor

It is very hard not to like this city and you will realise it when you walk through its colourful and cute streets. We took a couple of days just to explore its streets and spend some time in Plaza Mayor, with its huge trees and musicians playing at every corner. If you are looking for free activities to kills some time, you can visit Casa de Montejo, on the South side of the square. There is also Parque Santa Lucia, a former stopping point for travellers in past that is now a restaurant area. While I wouldn’t recommend having dinner here if you are on a budget, it is worth paying a visit in the evenings, where you can listen to free weekly concerts.

Visit Cenotes Cuzama

Merida is also the perfect spot for day trips! From here, you can visit some of the most amazing cenotes of the Yucatan, including Cuzama and Xlacah, an open-air cenote located within the Dzibilchaltùn archaeological site.

Cuzama is a complex of three different cenotes, which definitely are my favourite in the Yucatan. Once you arrive in Cuzama, you get on a small truck pulled by horse on a rail through a forest, all the way to the first cenote, Chelentun. Your trip will continue to visit Chacsinicche, and you will end up in cenote Bolonchojol.

📌To find out about how to get here and about costs, check this post out!

Visit the Dzibilchatùn archaeological site and its cenote

The Dzibilchaltun archaeological site is considered one of the oldest Mayan ruins, with some of the buildings dating back to 500 BC. The most important building is the Temple of the Seven Dolls. Here you can find the Xlacah Cenote, an open-air cenote, which is the perfect place for a day trip from Merida. Again, you can find more information on how to visit this cenote and site here.


Stay at Hostel Nomadas

One of the reasons why I liked Merida so much is probably because we met very nice people, who we ended up meeting again in other places during these nine months.

Hostel Nomadas
Making chaytas at Hostel Nomadas

Hostel Nomadas is a great place to meet new people and explore the local culture. This is one of the best (and cleanest) hostels I have stayed in during the whole trip, and it gives you the possibility to take part to a lot of activities, like free salsa and yoga classes, but also traditional Yucatan cuisine cooking classes. For only 30 pesos, you can have fun taking part to the class, but also get your dinner. Not a bad deal!

Have a meal in Amaro and Mercado 60

Mercado 60
Mercado 60

Speaking of dinner, if you feel like treating yourself, you should have a meal at Amaro. Prices are a bit high compared to other restaurants in the city – although still cheaper than eating out in Europe – but the food is incredible and the staff is very nice. If you are looking for something more relaxed, you can head to Mercado 60, a food court with a very chilled atmosphere and full of backpackers. Live music almost every night!

Have a drink in La Negrita o Mayan Pub

Although most of the nights you will happily sit next to the pool if you decide to stay in Nomadas, particularly after a full day of exploring this beautiful city and its surroundings, there are a few bars and pubs nearby.

One of our favourite was Mayan Pub, which has pool tables and live music at the weekend. However, a backpackers’ favourite is La Negrita, a beautiful cantina live salsa music, complimentary botanas (snacks), and local cerveza artisanal (craft beer). A must see in Merida!

Experience Pok Ta Pok

Pok Ta Pok is a representation of the Mayan Ball Game and people from Merida keep the ancient tradition alive every Saturday night. The game consist in players sliding on the streets cobblestones in an attempt to score by hitting the ball with their hips into the post. As you can imagine, scoring is quite hard and players become very competitive.

Pok ta Pok (Source)

Visit all the free building around the main plaza

One of the best things about Merida is that there are a lot of free buildings and museums to visit, if you are interested in learning more about local culture. Plaza Grande is the main place where you can find them!

For example, you can visit Museo Fernando García Ponce-Macay, where you will be able to see a collection of eccentric artwork made by artists from all over the Yucatan. Casa de Montejo is also free and it’s a way to get a glimpse into the old Merida wealthy life.

Palacio de Gobierno and Palacio Municipal are also worth a visit if you have some time here in Merida.

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Take part in the weekly festivals

If you like music and dance, Merida is the place for you. Every night of the week, you can take part in a different festival to discover local culture.

For example, on Monday evenings, you can take part in Vaqueria Night, where you can see the Folkloric Ballet of Merida. On Thursday night we went to see the Yucatecan Serenade in Parque Santa Lucia, an event that has been going for 40 year, and that is a chance to meet and mingle with local people of all ages. On Saturdays you can take part in the Noches Mexicanas, with traditional dances and music on Paseo Montejo, and of course, there are plenty of events on Sundays too, that go under the name of Merida en Domingo. Check with your hostel to find out what else is happening during your stay!


1 thought on “Top 9 things to do in Merida”

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