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Mérida in Mexico: Sights, excursions and travel tips for the Yucatán capital

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Mérida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán, is vibrant, lively and colourful. And above all: bigger than expected. We had expected a cozy place like Campeche and were very surprised how big Mérida actually is. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that the colonial charm in the center of Mérida was able to inspire us pretty quickly.

In this blog article we’ll tell you which sights and highlights waiting for you in Mérida. We also show you the most beautiful excursion destinations around Mérida, above all the impressive Mayan ruins of Uxmal.

1. Mérida: Yucatán’s capital at a glance Mérida is the largest city on the Yucatán Peninsula and occupies place no. in the ranking list of the largest cities in Mexico . If someone had told us that beforehand, we would have been able to prepare ourselves for the hustle and bustle a little better.

Public buses, crowds, shopping streets – we had somehow ignored all of this due to poor research. At the Mercado Lucas de Gálvez we squeeze past the stalls. The main square of Mérida (“Plaza Grande”) welcomes us with a traditional dance event around which hundreds of spectators gather. And anyway, the center of Mérida is definitely more touristy than expected.

But we can reassure you: Mérida also has very cozy corners, where you you can let the colonial flair work its magic on you. For example, around one of our favorite cafés, the Latte Quattro Sette (you can find more information further down in this blog article).

How long should I stay in Mérida? The historic center of Mérida can easily be explored in one day, but there are numerous excursion destinations around Mérida. So we stayed three nights in Mérida and had absolutely no problems filling our days with experiences – quite the opposite.

Half a day about you should plan for the impressive Mayan ruins of Uxmal. (We visited the ruins on the way from Campeche to Mérida and would do it again at any time.) Also popular is the trip to Celestún to see the flamingos or to the yellow city Izamal. We will tell you our detailed tips for the most beautiful excursion destinations around Mérida further down in this blog article.

2. Sights to see in Mérida Although Mérida is quite large, we don’t think there are that many must-see sights Must. Or to put it another way: We tended to avoid classic sightseeing in Mérida. Instead, we preferred to spend our time enjoying the lively flair of the city.

Plaza Grande The heart of Mérida is the spacious main square (“Plaza Grande”). Some of the city’s most important buildings are located here, including the Cathedral of Mérida (“Catedral de San Ildefonso”).

On the west side of the square is the rust-red “Palacio Municipal”, the town hall. If, like us, you are lucky enough to be in Mérida on a Monday, then we have a tip for you. In the evening, countless dancers and musicians gather on the square in front of the town hall for the so-called vaqueria. This Mexican dance event is a deafening spectacle and is loved by locals and tourists alike. Just drop by – it’s completely free.

Mercado Lucas de Gálvez What a bustle! The central market of Mérida is called “Mercado Lucas de Gálvez” and is definitely worth a visit. If you like markets, you’ll love it amidst the stalls. But we can well understand that some people find the stimulus overload quite difficult.

In addition to fruit, vegetables and Mexican specialties also include things that are less beautiful than living animals. We couldn’t believe our eyes as the puppies yelped in front of us in the kennel and the birds fluttered about cooped up in the cage. Without words. Incidentally, that was also the moment when we turned around.

Address : Calle 50A (between Calle 66 and 69), 16613 Merida

Paseo de Montejo The Boulevard to the north the old town doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of Mérida. It is wider than all the other streets in the city and is lined on both the left and right hand side by magnificent colonial style buildings.

Once there was the Paseo de Montejo apparently a stately residential area, but meanwhile it has become more and more a business district. This also explains why the Paseo de Montejo seemed a lot more deserted than we had expected when we visited. We therefore believe that a walk along the boulevard is not one of the absolute highlights of Mérida.

If you do end up in the area, then we have a Shopping tip for you: The Casa T’hō is a merger of several boutiques. The architecture alone is worth a visit. Not to mention the assortment. We were blown away and would have loved to have bought the whole store empty. Unfortunately, shopping at Casa T’hō is quite an expensive experience.

Address Casa T’hō: Paseo de Montejo , 16619 Merida

3. Excursions around Mérida We warmly recommend that you don’t spend your time in Mérida only in the center, but also in one or plan another trip. There is so much to see around Mérida. Our tip: If you are traveling by rental car, some destinations can also be combined with the arrival or onward journey.

Mayan Ruins Uxmal You should definitely plan a stopover at the Mayan Ruins of Uxmal. Uxmal is one of the most impressive Mayan sites that we visited on our Yucatán trip.

We ourselves visited Uxmal from approx. 15 in the afternoon (on the way from Campeche to Mérida). . We hesitated for a long time as to whether we should really stay in the parking lot with the fully loaded car, but finally we decided to do so. And what can we say: We haven’t regretted it for a second.

First of all, we had the feeling that comparatively few visitors were out and about in the area. And secondly, the light got better and better as the hour progressed and wasn’t nearly as bright as at midday. We recommend that you allow approximately two hours to visit the Mayan site of Uxmal.

The main ruins of Uxmal Immediately after the entrance to the archaeological zone, the most striking highlight of Uxmal awaits you: the Adivino Pyramid (“
Pirámide del Adivino” ). Due to several construction phases, it has received its slightly oval shape and is therefore quite an eye-catcher. Unfortunately, the Adivino pyramid may not be entered, but you can walk around it more or less completely.

You have a great view of the Adivino pyramid from the governor’s palace (“
Palacio del Gobernador”). The imposing over 75 meter long building is pretty impressive per se. The view over the ruins of Uxmal is, so to speak, just the icing on the cake.

Information about visiting Uxmal Entry: 471 Pesos per person

Parking: 80 Pesos (with barriers)Camera fee: 45 Pesos

Opening hours: 8 to 17 Watch
Arrival from Mérida: about 1 hour away by car

Flamingos in Celestún The lagoon at Celestún in western Mérida is known for its Flamingo colonies known. You can see the fascinating pink animals in the wild almost all year round. The best months for flamingos viewing are November to March. Then there are a lot of animals roaming around in the lagoon. In September and October, on the other hand, fewer flamingos tend to be seen.

To really see the animals you have to use the Boat ride on the lagoon. In the meantime, animal observation has turned into a small business. The boats leave before entering Celestún (after the bridge). Since six people fit in a boat, you have to wait until the boat is full. If you want to go earlier, you have to pay the whole price for the boat (1.800 pesos). Regular (when fully occupied) the boat tour costs 300 Pesos per person.

One boat tour takes about 1.5 hours. First you go directly to the first flamingo colony. From the boat you can watch the flamingos and of course take pictures. The driver then steers the boat through the mangroves. With a bit of luck, you might even see a crocodile here! Finally you visit a kind of spring before you go back.

Information about the boat tour to the flamingos Price: 300 Pesos per person (for a fully occupied boat with 6 people; alternatively 1.800 Pesos for the whole boat)Duration: 1.5 hours

Best Period: November to MarchArriving from Mérida: about 1.5 hours away by car; if you don’t have your own rental car, this tour might be interesting for you: Tour to Celestún

Izamal Izamal is an unusual small colonial town, because the house facades in the center are all completely in yellow. This special coloring is the visit of Pope John Paul II in the 90 to thank. In honor of his arrival, the entire city was painted in the colors of the Vatican: yellow and white. Since then, the city has also been nicknamed the “yellow city”.

Izamal exudes a very special lighting atmosphere and is, in our opinion, very photogenic. However, there are not many sights, so the center can be explored fairly quickly. We would plan about 2 to 3 hours. A stopover is worthwhile at the Franciscan monastery called Convento de San Antonio de Padua.

If you get hungry: We went to the for a lunchtime snack Restaurant Zamna and ate very well. By the way: In order to save travel time, we visited Izamal on the onward journey to Valladolid. Of course, there is nothing wrong with taking a half-day trip from Mérida.

Arrival from Mérida: approx. 1.5 hours drive away

4. Eating & drinking in Mérida: Our tips for restaurants and cafés In Mérida, for the first time after Tulum, we were overwhelmed with the large selection of restaurants and cafes. So that you can find your way around Mérida’s restaurant jungle more quickly, we present our favorites.

Apoala Mexican Cuisine We had an excellent meal at Apoala. creative, Mexican cuisine is served at a very high level. There are not too many vegetarian dishes on the menu, but they are really excellent. We ordered several dishes for two: Our favorite was the “Ensalada verde” – a leaf salad with different vegetables and a very good dressing.

The Apoala is located in the center of Mérida and seems under to be very popular with tourists. At least on the evening of our visit, all tables were taken without exception – most of them to non-Spanish-speaking guests. By Mexican standards, the restaurant is rather more expensive, but considering the high quality, we think the prices are absolutely fine.

Address: Calle 62 471 Local 2 X 55 (next to Parque de Santa Lucía), 97000 Merida
Prices: Dinner for two including drinks 600 Peso

Manifesto We had our daily dose of caffeine at Manifesto, which was just a few steps from our hotel – more on that in a moment. The Manifesto is one of the hipper cafes in Mérida. Thanks to the lots of wood and the high ceilings, you feel very comfortable here.

The atmosphere is very relaxed and quiet. So we understand all too well that many people come to Manifesto with their laptops to do a little work. The café is a great place for that – not least because there is also fast, free internet.

The espresso macchiato tastes very good and the cookie we tried was also very good yummy. However, there is no extensive breakfast. Conclusion: If you want to relax with an espresso from the hustle and bustle of Mérida, you’ve come to the right place at Manifesto.

Address: Calle 56 (between Calle 60 and 68), Merida

Prices: Espresso Macchiato approx. 40 Pesos

Latte Quattro Sette The Latte Quattro Sette is one of our favorite cafes in Mérida. With the light marble tables and the white wooden chairs, the sweet café is more reminiscent of Paris than of Mexico. But sometimes a little variety is good, isn’t it?

You sit very comfortably and feel good from the first moment. The avocado toast tastes delicious here (but you have to like sweet bread) and the selection of cakes also convinced us. We had a small tart which was really excellent. Conclusion: Any time again!

Address: Calle 47 (between Calle 50 and 59), 16613 Merida

Prices: Espresso Macchiato 45 Pesos, Avocado Toast pesos

POLA Gelato Shop If you fancy an ice cream, then there is no way around the POLA Gelato Shop. Quite possibly the best ice cream in all of Mérida.

The vast majority of ice cream flavors is rather unusual. During our visit, the following flavors were on the ice cream table: “yucatean sweet pumpkin”, “coconut cream pie”, “eggnog” or “sour orange with cherries”. If you prefer something classic, there was also chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

The ice cream parlor itself is really pretty. Above all, the beautiful floor tiles have done it to us. The staff is also very accommodating. Great recommendation!

Address: Calle 54 (in between Calle 62 and 64), 97000 Mérida (There is also a second shop just north of the center.)

Prizes: 1 ball 30 Pesos, 2 bullets 54 pesos

Lo Que Hay Cafe A vegan restaurant in the middle of Mérida – of course we had to stop by . In the Lo Que Hay Cafe, two different multi-course vegan menus are served every evening. The menu is a little confusing at first (you can either choose one of the two menus as a whole or just certain dishes). But the very friendly staff are happy to help. The restaurant is now also open for breakfast and lunch.

You can definitely tell that the food is cooked with a lot of love. We found all of the food to be very good, although Lo Que Hay Cafe doesn’t quite rank at the top of our list of favorite restaurants in Mérida. However, it is definitely recommended. In the courtyard or in the arcades of the building you can sit really comfortably.

Address: Calle 55 (between Calle 64 and 66), 16615 Merida

Prices: 90 Pesos for a 4-course meal

5. Hotel tip: Our accommodation in Mérida We spent three nights in the Hotel Viva Merida, which we can highly recommend. It is located in an old colonial house. The architecture is accordingly really something special. The inner courtyard alone (where you also have breakfast) is a dream.

The rooms (in total there are only 10) are entered via the inner courtyard. They are two floors: In our room, the bed and sofa were on the ground floor and the bathroom was on the upper floor. Light fell in our room only through the skylight and the door into the room. At first we were worried that it would be dark, but in the end it didn’t bother us as much as we thought. There are also rooms with windows facing the street, but these are said to be a bit noisy. It was really quiet in our room. The bed was a bit narrow for both of us, but we still slept very well.

The breakfast is served in the inner courtyard. You choose from several dishes the day before and get a few extras such as fruit, sweets, juice and of course coffee or tea. The staff was extremely accommodating. We felt very comfortable.

You can book the hotel here: Viva Merida

97000Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Have you ever been to Mérida? We look forward to hearing about your experience! And if you have a tip or a recommendation, we would also be very grateful for your comment. Thanks so much!