25 Incredible Things To Do In Merida, Mexico In 2023 (With Videos)

things to do in Merida

Are you wondering if you should add the Yucatan Peninsula’s largest and most vibrant city to your Mexico travel itinerary?

Most people visiting this region stick to iconic beach destinations like Cancun and Tulum. But with its captivating mix of hectic energy and authentic charm, Merida is totally worth checking out. There are so many incredible things to do in Merida that you will wonder why not more people come to check out this underrated destination.

We were lucky to spend almost two weeks visiting Merida. That’s a lot of time! And now we can share all the best ways for you to enjoy this unique and historic city.

Ready to start? This post is the only one you need to discover what to do in Merida. Dive in to learn all about Merida’s highlights. From the unmissable attractions within the city limits to unforgettable day trips, Merida has it all!

Table Of Contents
  1. What To Know About Merida, Mexico Before Visiting
  2. The 25 Best Things to Do In Merida, Mexico
  3. Best Things To Do In Merida In The Historic Downtown
  4. Epic Mayan Cities To Visit From Merida
  5. Best Cenotes Near Merida
  6. Other Perfect Day Trips From Merida
  7. Best Beaches Near Merida

Estimated reading time: 32 minutes

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Incredible things to do in Merida, Mexico

What To Know About Merida, Mexico Before Visiting

What Is Merida Best Known For?

Merida is best known for being the Yucatan Peninsula’s cultural capital. The city is full of vibrant colonial architecture, delicious Yucatecan food and energetic nightlife. And for those interested in art and culture, Merida offers world-class museums, traditional music performances, and bustling local markets.

But that’s not all! The incredible things to do in Merida include some of unforgettable day trips. We consider this city the perfect base to discover the area’s epic Mayan ruins, undiscovered cenotes, pristine beaches and local Mayan villages.

As the provincial capital and largest city in the region, Merida delivers everything that comes along with being a large Mexican city. We loved Merida’s less polished appeal and thriving street life. It didn’t feel as manicured as the neighboring colonial cities of Valladolid and Campeche, and we were totally okay with that!

Can’t Wait To Check Out What To Do In Merida? Just Click Play!

Is Merida, Mexico Safe To Visit?

Merida is known as the safest city in Mexico! Still, the question of safety always comes up when talking about this country. We can tell you this: we made it a point to ask locals whether or not it was safe to wander around the different places we visited in the Yucatan Peninsula. After all, we are always exploring destinations with a ton of camera gear.

We learned that we had nothing to worry about in this beautiful city. Rest assured that you don’t have to worry about your safety when enjoying all the wonderful things to do in Merida.

How Many Days Should I Spend In Merida?

We recommend visiting Merida for a minimum of 4 full days. That said, we think you should stay longer. You can realistically see the most important sites in the city center in two full days. So what will ultimately determine how long you should stay in Merida is your interest in the most popular day trips.

Not sure what to do in Merida beyond exploring the city’s colonial center? Here’s a sneak peek of the best day trips from Merida (we provide much more details on each of these below). We think Uxmal and Homun are unmissable:

  • Uxmal Mayan ruins: an essential stop if you have any interest in ancient Mayan ruins and history whatsoever.
  • Homun cenotes: small town outside of Merida known as ‘The Ring of Cenotes.’ You can spend all day exploring the endless cenotes around Homun.
  • Izamal: one of the Yucatan Peninsula’s beautiful colonial cities.
  • Celestun: nearby nature reserve where you can see flamingos between November – April.

What Is The Best Time To Visit Merida, Mexico?

The best time to visit Merida is between November and February, when the weather is cool(ish) and dry! Merida can get pretty toasty. We visited in April, and the high temperatures were consistently in the low 100s F (over 38 C). Yikes! And while April and May are the hottest months in Merida, June through October brings the rainy season.

That’s why the winter season from November to February is best for making the most of all the amazing things to do in Merida.

How to get to Merida, Mexico?

Getting to Merida by bus:

Merida is located almost on the opposite side of the Yucatan Peninsula from popular destinations like Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Luckily Mexico has a great bus system that can easily whiz you to Merida. Here are some of the more popular routes:

Flying to Merida:

Merida has it’s own international airport, but only a handful of US cities have direct flights to get you there. The most convenient option will likely be to fly into Cancun International Airport before driving to Merida.

The 25 Best Things to Do In Merida, Mexico

The post is organized into the following sections to help you easily plan what to do in Merida:

  • Best Things To Do In Merida In The Historic Downtown
  • Epic Mayan Cities To Visit From Merida
  • Beautiful Cenotes To Visit Around Merida
  • Other Perfect Merida Day Trips
  • Best Beaches Near Merida

Best Things To Do In Merida In The Historic Downtown

Let’s start with the best things to do in Merida around the city center. There are so many amazing places to explore in the in the historic downtown!

1. Soak In The Energy Of Plaza Grande: Merida’s Heartbeat

What to do in Merida Plaza Grande
  • Price: free!
  • Hours: there is more activity during the late afternoon.
  • Time needed: 30 – 60 minutes.
  • WOTW rating: 4/5

Plaza Grande – also known as the Zocalo – is the center of action in Merida. Even though Merida has many lovely squares worth checking out, Plaza Grande is the natural starting point for your visit. The plaza is where both locals and tourists go to soak up the atmosphere of this historic city. 

We recommend finding a cozy bench in the shade and enjoying the sights and sounds of everyday life in Merida. Watch the gossiping shoe shiners, kids chasing pigeons, and young couples awkwardly embracing on the famous ‘you & me’ chairs. This simple activity is one of the essential things to do in Merida!

2. Visit Cathedral San Ildefonso & Other Historic Buildings Around Plaza Grande

  • Price: all the wonderful attractions listed below are free to visit!
  • Hours: find opening hours in the bullets below.
  • Time needed: 30 – 45 minutes for each site.
  • WOTW rating: 4/5

Now that you’ve cooled down on one of Plaza Grande’s shaded benches, it’s time to explore more of Merida’s beautiful downtown. These are the historic buildings and cultural sites around Plaza Grande that are worth checking out:

  • Cathedral San Ildefonso (the church doors are open around sunset): proudly recognized as one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas, the San Ildefonso Cathedral is the most imposing building surrounding Plaza Grande. While the interior is relatively bare, it’s worth entering to see the world’s largest crucifix inside a church. How’s that for superlatives?!
  • Casa Montejo Museum (Tuesday through Saturday: 11 am – 6pm ; Sunday: 11 am – 2 pm; closed Mondays): the Casa Montejo Mansion belonged to the Spanish conquistadores who founded Merida. Enter the museum to see the elegant living spaces typical of Merida’s wealthy families of the 16th century.
  • State of Yucatan Government Palace (9 am – 10 pm): this beautiful green building adjacent to the San Ildefonso Cathedral showcases beautiful murals from the famous local artist, Fernando Castro Pacheco.
  • Merida’s Municipal Palace (9 am – 6 pm): the ‘Palacio Municipal’ is one of the most picturesque buildings in Merida. It is especially beautiful at night when it is all lit up!
  • Fernando Garcia Ponce Contemporary Art Museum (10 am – 2 pm; closed Wednesdays & Sundays): located directly next to the Cathedral, this modern-art museum is easy to overlook. Featuring abstract art from Fernando Garcia Ponce, the Contemporary Art Museum is one of the best things to do in Merida for lovers of art.

3. Join A Free Walking Tour To Learn About Merida’s Complicated History

What to do in Merida Go On A Walking Tour
  • Price: free walking tours are tip based. Private walking tours are $26 US.
  • Hours: 5 – 7 pm.
  • Time needed: 2 hours.
  • WOTW rating: 4/5

Merida is one of the oldest cities in the Americas. Before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors, it was the site of a thriving Mayan community. But the Spanish conquest marked a tragic period for the Yucatan’s indigenous populations.

Learning about the city’s complicated history is essential to understanding Merida. And walking tours are a great way to quickly learn about Merida’s history and culture. It’s also a fantastic way to support local guides who are always passionate about their hometowns.

Sign-up for your free walking tour here! Or take a look at this private walking tour of Merida if you prefer a more personal experience.

A walking tour is easily one of the best things to do in Merida! The activity takes you around the historic center in two hours. It will help you appreciate all the iconic sights that will become familiar during your visit, and will put into context the city’s difficult history.

4. Enjoy Traditional Music Performance At ‘Serenatas En Santa Lucia’

Things to do in Merida Serenatas en Santa Lucia
  • Price: free!
  • Hours: the serenades start around 8 pm. Thursdays only!
  • Time needed: 1 – 2 hours.
  • WOTW rating: 5/5

Serenatas are one of Merida’s great traditions. These song and dance performances have been happening in the beautiful Santa Lucia Park since 1965! The serenades feature a complete ensemble of musicians and dancers showcasing the traditional Yucatecan dance known as the ‘jarana.’

Listening to the regional music and watching the dancers in their beautiful costumes was one of our favorite things to do in Merida. Be sure to stop by Parque Santa Lucia on a Thursday night to experience the fantastic show. Seriously, don’t miss it!

WOTW Tip: it seemed like access to the seating area was closed after the music started. I’m unsure if this was a Covid-related measure to limit the crowds. In any case, be there a few minutes early to pick the best spot to watch the serenades!

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5. Dance The Night Away At Cantina La Negrita

Cantina La Negrita Merida Mexico
  • Price: local beers are $1.50 US; small margaritas are $3 US.
  • Hours: 12 pm – 10 pm (live music between 6 – 9 pm).
  • Time needed: up to you party animal!
  • WOTW rating: 4/5

Cantinas are traditional Mexican bars where the main draws are ice-cold beverages and live music. And La Negrita just so happens to be the most popular cantina in Merida. This place has been entertaining thirsty customers for over 100 years!

That said, while it is called a ‘cantina,’ La Negrita Cantina doesn’t necessarily feel like a local watering hole. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great place to listen to incredible live music and dance the night away.

There was a full band playing festive Cuban music when we visited this iconic Merida establishment. And while I was hoping for something more along the lines of Mexican mariachi and folk music, I have to say that the band was incredible. Everyone was into the music and having a blast. So really, who cares if this isn’t one of the most authentic things to do in Merida?!

WOTW Tip: most cantinas provide small plates of food with every drink order. These ‘tapas-like’ bar snacks are known locally as ‘botanas.’ La Negrita doesn’t really give them unless you ask, and they add a small charge. But the botanas are still decent value and part of the cantina experience!

6. Get A More Authentic Mexican Cantina Experience

  • Price: local beers are about $1.50 US.
  • Hours: 12 pm – 10 pm.
  • Time needed: 1 – 3 hours.
  • WOTW rating: 4/5

Don’t worry if La Negrita’s party atmosphere doesn’t sound like your kind of place. There are plenty of other cantinas with more hole-in-the-wall vibes, perfect for knocking back a couple of icy cervezas. Look for the swinging doors to find a local spot to cool down from the scorching Yucatan sun.

Cantina El Cardenal was our favorite spot to relax with some cold ones. It is also a little more touristy than other cantinas in town, but it’s still an awesome spot to listen to live music and enjoy the eclectic interior.

7. Take A Stroll Along The Famous Paseo De Montejo

Paseo de Montejo Merida Mexico
  • Price: free!
  • Hours: slightly more lively in the evenings.
  • Time needed: 30 – 60 minutes.
  • WOTW rating: 3/5

One of the most popular things to do in Merida is going for a sunset stroll along Paseo de Montejo. This grand avenue was designed by the famous conquistador, Francisco de Montejo. He had the vision to recreate Paris’ Champs Elyse in Merida, but we didn’t really see the resemblance. Nice try, Francisco.

So while you probably won’t feel like you are in the heart of Paris, Paseo de Montejo is close enough to Merida’s historic center that it’s worth a look. Let’s label this activity as ‘what to do in Merida while killing time before going out for drinks.’

8. Admire The Stunning Mansions From Merida’s Glamorous Past

Mansions along Paseo de Montejo Merida
  • Price: 100 MXP ($5 US).
  • Hours: 9 am – 6 pm (Monday – Friday); 9 am – 1 pm (Saturday).
  • Time needed: 1 – 2 hours to visit the old mansions.
  • WOTW rating: 3.5/5

Merida was once the wealthiest city in Mexico. And several gorgeous mansions dating back to Merida’s glory days line the famous Paseo de Montejo. There’s even a mansion with a minaret, which reminded us of our unforgettable visit to Turkey!

Many of Merida’s iconic mansions have been converted into museums and galleries, the most popular being Quinta Montes Molina. A 40-minute guided tour of this 1902 mansion will give you a sense of the splendid lives of Merida’s rich and famous.

Save This Things To Do In Merida, Mexico Post For Later!

25 reasons to visit Merida

9. Explore Merida’s Massive Local Markets

What to do in Merida Local Market
Image Source: Canva
  • Price: free to explore.
  • Hours: 6 am – 7 pm.
  • Time needed: 1 – 2 hours.
  • WOTW rating: 5/5

Looking for the most authentic experience in Merida? Look no further than Mercado San Benito – the most impressive and chaotic local market in Merida.

Get lost in the maze of vendors selling everything from fresh produce to kitchen supplies to leather shoes. All mixed in with each other in a disorganized mess of shops. Observing everyday life in this sprawling complex is hands down one of the coolest things to do in Merida.

We explored our favorite Mexican markets (so far) while visiting colorful Oaxaca and beautiful Guadalajara! Check out the links to learn more two of our favorite cities in Mexico.

Make sure to plop down at one of the restaurants around the market and rub shoulders with hungry locals. You will find some MASSIVE towers of tacos al pastor directly outside the Mercado San Benito. We can’t vouch for their quality, but tacos al pastor have never let us down. Ever!

WOTW tip #1: the meals we had in the market were good but not great. But they were extraordinarily cheap. Ask some locals for their favorite spots if there is a particular dish that you want to try.

WOTW tip #2: we never got sick from eating at a market during our 2.5 months in the Yucatan Peninsula. Pick a restaurant that is busy to be extra sure that the food is fresh.

10. Go On A Merida Food Tour To Try Some Yucatecan Cuisine

Things to do in Merida Food Tour
  • Price: $55 for a street-food tour.
  • Hours: 10:30 am – 1:30 pm.
  • Time needed: 3 hours for an organized food tour.
  • WOTW rating: 5/5

Merida is known as the Yucatan Peninsula’s cultural capital. And while that means that it’s a great place to explore the region’s history, it also means that it is a great place to savor the Yucatan’s incredible regional foods!

To be very clear, the traditional dishes from the Yucatan are much different than more familiar Mexican foods. Tasting the area’s fantastic cuisine is one of the best things to do in Merida!

We think that our DIY food tour (video included below) is great inspiration for discovering Merida’s delicious foods on your own. That said, consider going on an official food tour if you prefer something more organized. You’ll get to try cochinita pibil, panuchos, tacos and more!

  • Location: the organized food tour starts at Parque Hidalgo. Check out the video below to see our favorite spots for local foods!

WOTW Tip: many Mexican street foods are enjoyed for breakfast. Even all the rich and hearty traditional foods like cochinita pibil. Don’t test your luck if you have had your eye on a particular food cart. Get there early to make sure you don’t go hungry!

Our Delicious DIY Food Tour In Merida!

11. Sign-up For A Cooking Class For Another Excuse To Eat Local Foods

Image source: Canva
  • Price: $87
  • Hours: vary.
  • Time needed: 4 – 5 hours.
  • WOTW rating: N/A

A cooking class is a great way to learn about Merida’s culture through food. You’ll have the opportunity to shop for fresh ingredients at the market and cook traditional dishes using the best local flavors. And of course, you’ll get to enjoy eating them when it’s all done.

What a great deal!

This extremely highly-rated cooking class takes you to the markets where local chefs buy their produce. And you’ll prepare some of the region’s best dishes. Get ready to try some of our favorite dishes, like panuchos, cochinita pibil and sopa de lima!

12. Learn To Make Chocolate The Mayan Way

things to do in Merida make traditional Mayan chocolate
Image source: Canva
  • Price: $30
  • Hours: 6 pm – 8 pm.
  • Time needed: 2 hours.

Did you know that the Mayans were some of the world’s first chocolate lovers? They adopted the habit from other indigenous people in the region that invented chocolate. Cool!

Luckily the traditional way of producing chocolate has been passed down from generation to generation. And now you can also make artisanal chocolate using these traditional methods! Experience everything from roasting, grinding, and eating the delicious and unique version of the world’s favorite treat.

13. Shop For Traditional Yucatecan Clothes And Handicrafts

what to do in Merida shop for handicrafts
  • Hours: 9 am – 9 pm.
  • Time needed: N/A
  • WOTW rating: 3.5/5

Merida has many stores selling beautiful clothing, jewelry, folk art and other items representative of the local culture. You’ll find many boutique shops selling beautiful hand-crafted garments, ceramics and handicrafts. It will be hard to leave Merida without buying something. They are everywhere!

We are telling you from experience. We splurged and bought a fancy handmade coffee cup at a super cool store called ‘Caracol Purpura.’ Definitely check that one out, along with the hundreds of shops dispersed around the town center. They are hard to miss!

  • Location: the streets north of Plaza Grande are the best for shopping.

14. Dive Into The Region’s Mayan History At The Mayan World Museum

  • Price: 150 MXP ($7.25 US).
  • Hours: 9 am – 5 pm. Closed Tuesdays!
  • Time needed: 1 – 2 hours.
  • WOTW rating: N/A

Merida is a great place to discover the Yucatan Peninsula’s Mayan history and culture. The Mayans were the dominant civilization in this part of Mexico for centuries. Learning about their advanced and unique society is absolutely fascinating.

The Mayan World Museum (Museo Mundo Maya) is the best of its kind. There are many different exhibits, ranging from objects used in everyday life to artifacts that tell the stories of Mayan religion and customs.

The Mayan influence in the Yucatan is still strong today, and digging deeper into their history and traditions will help you better appreciate the region’s distinct culture.

WOTW Tip: do you love museums? Merida also boasts a highly-rated Palacio Canton Anthropology & History Museum. The museum is located inside a restored mansion located along the famous Paseo Montejo. It features rotating exhibitions showcasing the region’s heritage.

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Epic Mayan Cities To Visit From Merida

Merida is one of the best places in the Yucatan Peninsula to explore the area’s fascinating Mayan ruins. No visit to this colonial city is complete without adding at least one ancient Mayan ruin to your list of things to do in Merida.

15. Explore The Beautiful Mayan City Of Uxmal

  • Price: 461 MXP entrance fee ($23 US); 80 MXP for parking ($4 US); 1,000 MXP ($50 US) for a guided tour in English.
  • Hours: 8 am – 5 pm.
  • Time needed: 2 – 4 hours.
  • WOTW rating: 5/5

Uxmal is one of the most impressive Mayan cities in the Yucatan Peninsula. And we think it’s totally worth the time and money to make the one-hour trek from Merida to see these mind-blowing ruins. Visiting Uxmal is one of the things to do in Merida that you simply should not miss.

The Mayan city of Uxmal is notable for its massive size and intricate carvings. There are also several vantage points where you have incredible views of the main temple, ball court and enormous courtyard below. And while the guides are definitely expensive, we highly recommend getting one to make the most of your experience at Uxmal.

Skip the hassle of figuring out your transportation by joining a guided tour of Uxmal from Merida (the fee excludes ticket price). You can also choose a private tour of the ruins for a more exclusive experience (the fee includes ticket price, guide and transport).

16. Add The Famous Chichen Itza To Your Merida Itinerary

visit Chichen Itza from Merida
  • Price: 571 MXP ($29 US); 1000 MXP ($50) for the tour in English.
  • Hours: 8 am – 4:30 pm.
  • Time needed: 2 – 4 hours.
  • WOTW rating: 3.5/5

Did you know that you can visit Chichen Itza from Merida? While it’s more convenient to explore Chichen Itza while visiting Valladolid or the Riviera Maya, it is totally possible to make the 1.5 hour journey from Merida.

Chichen Itza is a beautiful and exciting place to visit. But please don’t replace a visit to Uxmal with this more famous option. We found Uxmal to be more impressive and much less crowded than Chichen Itza.

Watch our video to get a sense of what Chichen Itza is like.

In summary, going to Chichen Itza from Merida is a good idea if you’ve already explored Uxmal and simply can’t leave the Yucatan without seeing this Wonder of the World.

Bus service from Merida to Chichen Itza is complicated, and car rentals can be expensive. Check out these tours that take the hassle out of visiting Chichen Itza from Merida:

17. Go Beyond Uxmal To Visit The Rest Of The Ruta Puuc

Ruta Puuc near Merida
Image source: Canva
  • Price: the smaller sites average 65 MXP ($3.25 US). As noted above, Uxmal is 461 MXP ($23 US).
  • Hours: 8 am – 5 pm.
  • Time needed: 1 – 2 hours, each (excluding Uxmal which is also part of the Ruta Puuc).

Ruta Puuc refers to a group of Mayan sites that showcase the traditional Puuc style of architecture. And while Uxmal is the most famous Mayan site, the other cities that are part of the Ruta Puuc are perfect for those who want to explore lesser-known Mayan ruins.

Visit the Ruta Puuc on a guided tour!

These UNESCO World Heritige Sites are the most famous Mayan ruins along the Ruta Puuc:

Best Cenotes Near Merida

Spending a day to visit the best cenotes near Merida is a great way to mix up your itinerary and beat the intense Yucatecan heat!

18. Hire A Moto-Taxi To Explore Homun And The Ring Of Cenotes

Things to do in Merida visit ring of cenotes
  • Price: entrance to most cenotes is around $2.50 US.
  • Hours: 9 am – 5 pm.
  • Time needed: 2 – 4 hours.
  • WOTW rating: 5/5

Visiting Homun and the ‘Ring of Cenotes’ was a highlight of our trip to the Yucatan. There is no better way to cool down from the intense Mexican heat than jumping in these refreshing and magnificent natural wonders.

Check out this guided tour of undiscovered cenotes with over 1,000 5-star reviews! Note that this experience is not in Homun.

The area known as ‘the ring of cenotes’ boasts over 300 cenotes! And you could visit all sorts of different cenotes, from completely enclosed caves to the more familiar semi-open cenotes. Each has such a different vibe that you won’t get tired of going from one to another.

We had so much fun exploring the area’s cenotes that we think this day trip should be at the top of your list of things to do in Merida!

WOTW Tip: many of the more popular cenotes will have showers for you to rinse off any lotions or sunscreen. However, the smaller family-operated cenotes won’t. Please don’t wear sunscreen or lotions when visiting these places! It damages the cenotes’ sensitive ecosystems.

Click Play To See What Homun’s Ring Of Cenotes Is Like!

19. Combine Beautiful Cenotes With A Historic Hacienda

Merida Mexico Hacienda
Image source: Canva
  • Price: 590 MXP for Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyché ($30 US)
  • Hours: 9 am – 3 pm.
  • Time needed: 2 – 3 hours.

The Yucatan Peninsula is filled with amazing cenotes. But in Merida you will also find historic haciendas with cenotes inside the property!

Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyché is the most popular of the bunch. The experience includes a tour of the 18th-century hacienda and access to the cave cenote and semi-open cenote located on the property.

Part of what makes the experience at Hacienda Mucuyché unique is the channel that takes you from one cenote to the other through a part of the property.

Other Perfect Day Trips From Merida

Mayan ruins and cenotes aren’t the only day trips from Merida worth taking. Take a look at these other sights to add to your Merida itinerary.

20. Visit Izamal – The Yucatan’s Famous Yellow City

day trip from Merida to Izamal

Izamal is the smallest of the Yucatan’s famous colonial cities, but this special place is definitely worth a visit during your time in Merida. Known as the yellow city, all the buildings in Izamal’s historic center are all painted – you guessed it – yellow!

Izamal is a comfortable place to walk around and enjoy its unique aesthetic. Consider popping into Izamal before or after splashing around the cenotes of Homun for a perfect day trip from Merida. Izamal is located about 45 minutes from Homun, but they are worth tackling on the same day if traveling with your own car.

21. Go Flamingo Spotting In The Celestun Nature Reserve

Merida Day Trips To Celestun
Image source: Canva
  • Price: 1,800 MXP ($90 US) for boat tours through nature reserve; this fee can be divided among a maximum of 8 passengers.
  • Hours: boats are first come, first served. They generally the operate from 8 am to sunset.
  • Time needed: 1.5 hour drive from Merida; the boat tours last 2 hours.

Visiting Celestun on a day trip is one of the lesser-known things to do in Merida. Still, it is definitely great to check this place out. Especially if you are a nature lover!

Celestun is only a 1.5-hour drive from the center of Merida, but you will be entering an entirely different world. The main attraction is the boat tour through the Celestun nature reserve. In the spring, migrating flamingoes flock to this area by the thousands. It is a spectacle that should not be missed if you are visiting the Yucatan during this period.

Check out this flamingo tour of Celestun from Merida. The tour includes transportation, guided boat tour of the nature reserve and a stop at Celestun beach.

The beach in Celestun won’t be mistaken for one of the most epic beaches near Merida. But there are some nice restaurants where you can grab a meal next to the water after the flamingo tour.

22. Head To Becal To Witness Local Hats Being Made In Caves

Visiting Becal From Merida
Image source: Canva
  • Price: the hats can range in price from $30 – $300 US, depending on what type of fiber is used.
  • Hours: N/A
  • Time needed: 1 – 3 hours.

There’s a town called Becal, located near Merida, where local Mayan people make traditional Panama hats (Jipi hats) inside caves. ‘Why,’ you ask. Well, the cool temperature inside the caves makes the fiber less brittle and easier to work with.

The town of Becal is famous for its Panama hats. The fibers – known as jipijapa – are soft, flexible, and light, and the highest quality hats take over two weeks to make. If you’re visiting Merida, be sure to stop by Becal to see these hats being made and pick up one for yourself! It’s one of the most memorable souvenirs you can take home with you, and you’ll be directly supporting the local Mayan community at the same time.

23. Step Back In Time At One Of Merida’s Historic Haciendas

  • Price: between $8 – $40 depending on the hacienda.
  • Hours: typically from 9 am – 5 pm, and closed on Sundays.
  • Time needed: 2 – 3 hours.
  • WOTW rating: 4/5

Didn’t get your hacienda fix at Hacienda Mucuyché? Not to worry. The haciendas dotted around the city are sure to give you more hacienda action than you can possibly handle.

The sprawling estates were owned by upper-class families who gained their astronomical wealth through the henequen trade. These historic homes are a big part of the city’s identity, and they offer visitors a chance to see how the wealthy lived in another era.

One of the most popular haciendas to visit is the Hacienda Sotuta de Peon (book ahead). This hacienda was built in the 17th century and is known for its massive size and beautiful gardens. Visitors can tour the grounds and learn how henequen was produced and harvested on the plantation.

Best Beaches Near Merida

Not sure what to do in Merida after visiting the most famous attractions around town? Well, there’s never a bad time to head to the Yucatan’s beautiful beaches! Here are a couple of perfect day-trip beaches near Merida.

24. Head To Progreso For The Closest Beach To Merida

Beaches Near Merida Progreso
Image source: Canva
  • Price: free to visit.
  • Time needed: 45 minute drive from Merida.
  • Hours: up to you.

If you’re looking for more things to do in Merida, one option is to visit the beaches in Progreso. This town is located on the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s known for being the closest beach to Merida.

The sandy beaches and generally calm waters are great for taking a refreshing dip in the sea. Progreso also has a number of restaurants, cafes, and shops along a lovely beachfront promenade.

Unfortunately, the servers in Progreso beach have a reputation for scamming travelers. So make sure you manage your expectations before visiting. Progreso is perhaps best for a stroll along the waterfront promenade and enjoying one of the beachfront restaurants (make sure to check the reviews first).

25. Kick Back And Relax On The Idyllic Beaches In Sisal

Beaches Near Merida
Image source: Canva
  • Price: free to visit the beach.
  • Time needed: 75 minute drive from Merida.
  • Hours: up to you.

While Progreso is the closest beach to Merida, Sisal might be the best. Located just over one hour from Merida’s center is the sleepy little beach town of Sisal. Unlike Progreso, there is no cruise port, minimal development, and definitely fewer beach vendors. Sisal is a paradise for people who like their beaches rustic, quiet and pristine.

Visiting Sisal on a day trip is one of the best things to do in Merida after you’ve explored the area’s main attractions and want to just kick back on a sandy beach. Not that you ever need an excuse to visit a tropical beach in Mexico.

Looking back, Sisal is the place I wish we visited instead of the disappointing Isla Holbox. Oh well, there’s always next time!

Where To Stay In Merida?

There are many awesome places to stay in Merida that will help you make the most of your vacation. Check out these highly-rated options perfect for kicking back after exploring all the best things to do in Merida:

Merida’s Luxurious High-End Hotels:

  • Hacienda Xcanatun by Angsana: luxurious and historic hacienda located outside Merida’s center. The hotel features a beautiful outdoor swimming pool, gourmet restaurant and wellness spa.
  • Decu Downtown: beautifully designed boutique hotel with a modern aesthetic located in the heart of Merida.
  • El Palacito Luxury Boutique Hotel & Spa: elegant and luxurious boutique hotel featuring 19th-century French architecture.

Beautiful Mid-range Hotels In Merida, Mexico:

  • Hotel Boutique Casa Flor de Maya: charming and colorful colonial-style hotel within walking distance from central Merida.
  • Hotel Unknown: friendly and beautifully designed hotel with a swimming pool in the inner courtyard.
  • Hotel Zamna Boutique: cozy hotel near Merida’s historic center. Lounge on hammocks around the hotel’s swimming pool after long days exploring the city.

Best Lodging Options In Merida For Budget Travelers:

  • Kuka y Naranja: eco-friendly bed & breakfast packed with Mexican flair and with an outdoor swimming pool.
  • Hotel Santa Ana: affordable and comfortable oasis in the center of Merida.
  • Hotelito Yum Kaax: comfortable and charming little hotel with a swimming pool in a beautiful garden.

WOTW Note: we travel for extended periods, so we look for apartments with kitchens and working spaces. This helps us save money on the road. However, we would love to stay in one of the many beautiful hotels if visiting Merida on vacation!

Take a look at our lovely Airbnb in Merida, Mexico – we loved our stay here. We also splurged on this house with a private pool. See more in the video below!

Want to see what $145 per night gets you in Merida, Mexico? Click play!

Final Thoughts: Is Merida Worth Visiting?

We had an unforgettable time experiencing all the wonderful things to do in Merida. This bustling city in the middle of the Peninsula is the best base for exploring the region’s diverse attractions. It ticks so many boxes important to most people visiting the Yucatan: incredible food, great atmosphere, epic Mayan ruins and undiscovered cenotes. Really, what more could you ask for in a destination!?

And maybe the colonial center isn’t as picture-perfect as Campeche or Valladolid, but that’s just part of Merida’s charm. Don’t hesitate to add this authentic city to your Yucatan itinerary!

Thanks for reading!


Which one of these activities are you most excited to experience? Have any questions about what to do in Merida? Reach out in the comments or DM us on Instagram!

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Home » Mexico » 25 Incredible Things To Do In Merida, Mexico In 2023 (With Videos)

1 thought on “25 Incredible Things To Do In Merida, Mexico In 2023 (With Videos)”

  1. Hello
    we are an older couple who are visiting mexico end of April for two weeks. We are hiring a car and would like advise regarding what areas best recommend. Really would appreciate the advise. X
    Jules and Clive

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