¿WHAT TO VISIT?
Renting an e-bike in Merida-up allows you a much more agile mobility in the city than any other means of transport in addition to fun, so below we give you tips on the points of interest you can visit.
What to do in Mérida? The Top 20!
Mérida, Mexico, is a colonial city with colorful little houses, beautiful period buildings and narrow streets.
Capital of Yucatan , it is a city on a human scale that has a lot to offer travelers.
As a bonus, it is still largely protected from mass tourism – which rather remains on the side of the beautiful beaches of Quintana Roo – and it is the safest city in Mexico!
From Mérida I expected nothing, because I wanted to be surprised. Result? I was supposed to stay there for 3 days, I rather stayed there for 2 weeks.
So, what to do in Mérida and its surroundings ? I offer you a complete guide with the unmissable places of interest , my favorites and my best recommendations for restaurants and hotels to make the most of this city that deserves to be known more!
- 1. La Plaza Grande, the heart of the city
- 2. Casa de Montejo
- 3. Cathedral of San Ildefonso
- 4. Macay Museum
- 5. The Juan Gamboa Pinacoteca
- 6. The charming Santa Lucia Park
- 7. The Palacio Canton
- 8. The Folk Art Museum
- 9. The Visual Arts Center
- 10. The Fundacion de Artistas
- 11. Get lost in its colorful streets
- 12. The city museum
- 13. Take a bus ride
- 14. The Mayan World Museum
- 15. Buy cool souvenirs
- 16. Discover a local market
Visit Merida: the essentials
1. La Plaza Grande, the heart of the city
As with any Latin American city, the main square is a must because there are important buildings. Here are the activities not to be missed:
- The House of Montejo
- The Cathedral of San Ildefonso
- The Macay Museum
- Passage de la Révolution : it is a pedestrian passage covered by a glass roof that connects the main plaza to the street behind the cathedral. There are several works of artists who are installed there.
- Government Palace: you have to go there to admire the 27 murals by painter Fernando Castro. It also offers a beautiful view of the place of the 2 e floor, day and night when everything is illuminated. Every day 8 am-9pm, free entry. Moreover, to enjoy the view, you can also climb to La Casa de mi Tia , a restaurant on the 2 th floor right side. It is rather simple, but there are balconies with tables.
- El Olimpo Cultural Center: it displays all of Mérida’s cultural programming outside with upcoming activities (events, shows, etc.). Take a look there!
And know that Sunday is very lively in the Plaza ! The streets are closed and there are several small food and craft kiosks for families to spend the day there. In the afternoon, you can even discover the ” Jarana ” a typical Yucatan dance .
Speaking of dance, Mondays at 9 pm is also the “Noche de Vaquería” with regional dances in which everyone participates, it’s worth a look. I was there by chance, and I really loved seeing the atmosphere!
2. Casa de Montejo
it is the oldest house in Mérida (1549), built for the family of Francisco de Montejo , the city’s founder.
In reality, only the entrance remains of the original construction, but the visit is worth the detour as there are 4 rooms presenting the interior of a house from the end of the 19th century – beginning of the 20th century, in addition. of rooms for temporary exhibitions .
Tuesday-Sat 10 am-5pm, Sun 10 am-2pm.
On Wednesday at 8 p.m. there is a screening on the facade. Website . Free admission.
3. Cathedral of San Ildefonso
Oldest cathedral in Mexico (1561), built on the remains of a Mayan temple, it was partially demolished and sacked throughout history. The interior is sober, but the building impresses with its imposing side with its large pillars and its statue of Christ which turns out to be the largest indoor statue of Christ in the world.
Daily 6 am-12pm, 4.30pm-8pm. Free admission.
4. Macay Museum
Right next to the cathedral, in a large and magnificent restored house, is the only museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art on the Yucatan Peninsula . People go there to see the temporary and permanent exhibition, but also to enjoy its pretty interior patio, filled with plants. It is one of the most pleasant places in Mérida to rest in the shade.
Every day except Tuesday 10 am-6pm. Free admission
5. The Juan Gamboa Pinacoteca
A stone’s throw from the Plaza Grande , in a 17th century Jesuit building , is this museum which houses works from the time of the viceroyalty through several rooms, in addition to temporary exhibitions and a room dedicated to Juan Gamboa Guzman, the most important 19th century painter in Yucatan .
Tue-Sat 9 am-5pm, Sun 10 am-5pm. Entry $ 40 MXN
6. The charming Santa Lucia Park
Having spent my 2 weeks in Mérida in a hotel close to Santa Lucia, I find it the best part of Mérida to stay !
With its good restaurants with terraces and music shows, Santa Lucia is a lively little square, with a nice neighborhood atmosphere.
Thursday evening at 9 p.m. is the traditional Yucateca serenata . This is the opportunity to discover Yucatan folk music while eating or simply sitting on one of the chairs.
Also, on weekends , artisans come to exhibit their products, it’s a good time to take a look.
7. The Palacio Canton
It was while walking randomly through the streets of Mérida that I came to this magnificent building. After pushing a little “wow!” interior (it is that this rich building contrasts with the small houses of the district) and having taken off my headphones, I passed the doors of the building.
It houses the Yucatan Regional Anthropology Museum and during my visit stood “ Mexicas, elegidos del sol ”, with many artefacts and interesting visual elements explaining the importance of the Mexicas (Aztec Empire) and their connection to the Mayan culture.
A very clear and well presented exhibit to keep us interested until the end!
Tue-Sun 8 am-5pm. Entry $ 60 MXN
8. The Folk Art Museum
The Mexican dream with its colors and its characters are returned in the collective imagination, especially with the famous Dia de los Muertos .
This museum allows you to discover Mexican folk art , through magnificent examples of the works of great artists and craftsmen of the country: clothing, textiles, work on stone, clay, wood, glass and miniatures. The whole thing, colorful!
I was really impressed by the thoroughness and attention to detail reflected in these works. For me, this museum is undoubtedly one of my favorites in Mérida !
Address: Calle 50 (corner Calle 57, opposite La Mejorada park ), Tue-Sat 10 am-5pm, Sun 10 am-3pm. Free admission
Besides, if you are interested in Mexican culture in general, a block away is the Yucatec Song Museum (Museo de la Cancion Yucateca) at MXN $ 20 entry.
9. The Visual Arts Center
This is an address that is certainly not touristy, but worth a visit if you are a fan of culture or simply curious to visit a beautiful building in Mérida .
Once through its large doors, you arrive in an impressive house with high ceilings, typical tiling and interior patio, which has been converted into a cultural center .
Several theater, music, etc. events are held here, but there is also an open-access exhibition that changes regularly.
During my visit, I discovered a very beautiful and interesting exhibition presenting each region of Mexico through chests decorated with typical elements.
Address: Calle 60 (between Calle 47 and 45, in front of Parque Santa Ana ). Free admission.
10. The Fundacion de Artistas
Imagine stepping into a large house that has beautifully retained its old world charm, with high ceilings and lovely tiled floors. In its center is a green patio with a small fountain, surrounded by arches and several rooms that have been converted into exhibition space (photography, design objects).
It’s an eclectic place where you are welcome even if you just want to sit in one of the sofas or one of the tables to enjoy the tranquility of the place.
There is also someone seated at a table to offer information about the house and the exhibits and he explained to me with a big smile : “as we want people to feel welcome, we don’t want people to feel welcome. disturb them and we let them come and go as they want. Above all, we don’t want them to feel like they’re in an art gallery, watched out of the corner of their eyes, followed and even less pushed to buy. This is also why there is wifi ! “
You can go during the day, but I advise you to go there in the evening , when the place is lit by a soft light and a pianist completes the experience.
How not to fall in love with this magical place?
Open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Monday closed). Address: calle 55 # 520 (corner calle 64), Website . Free.
11. Get lost in its colorful streets
In addition to being a pretty city with a colonial heritage whose main attractions in its center are easily discovered on foot, I would remind you that Mérida is the safest city in Mexico : it is therefore particularly pleasant to walk there!
Aside from the Mérida must-sees already mentioned, I really recommend that you take a trip to these three places:
- Paseo de Montejo: large avenue built in the idea of the Champs Élysées, it is here that we found the residences of the greatest families of Mérida. Today it is one of the main streets of the city and so there are still some very beautiful buildings, witnesses of the glorious past of the city. You will notice the Casas Gemelas , two identical large houses, which are the only ones in the Paseo that are still private properties today.
- Parque Santa Ana: this is a square located a few blocks from Parque Santa Lucia . In addition to its small church, there is the Visual Arts Center just opposite and nearby, the Casa del Patron .
- Calle 64 : if you like colorful facades like me, I was specifically told that rue 64 de Mérida is the most “colonial” with very beautiful examples. I admit having walked and traversed the old town so far and wide that I could not say if it is true, for you to confirm it to me!
- Parque de Santiago : go there on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ! This is when the whole place comes alive, with music from the 1940s, and you can see lots of dancing couples (mostly adorable little old people).
But anyway, you will find little treasures all over the city. Keep your eyes open , and don’t hesitate to look behind the shutters and the half-open doors , sometimes there are nice surprises.
12. The city museum
The city museum is housed in a superb building that presents the history of Mérida through 4 permanent rooms :
- Pre-Hispanic Merida with Mayan Culture Artifacts
- The colonial era which contains pieces related to the Spanish conquest and the founding of the city
- Merida 19 th – early 20 th s showing the economic and political development of the city
- Merida 20 e s with items related to the city today, its identity, its culture
There are also 6 temporary exhibition halls that display works by local visual artists .
I was sincerely surprised to see that it is not better known to travelers when it offers a rather complete panorama of the city , between art and history, and all for free !
Address: 56, 529ª (between Calle 65 and Calle 65ª). Tue-Fri 9 am-6pm Sat-Sun 9 am-2pm. Free admission.
13. The Mayan World Museum
This is definitely another Mérida must-see to visit , and especially if you are interested in the history of the Mayan culture and its evolution.
It is a large modern structure which presents some 1000 archaeological pieces (textiles, documents, engravings, bas-reliefs, sculptures, ceramics, etc.) through 4 rooms:
- the mayas, nature and culture
- the mayans of today
- the mayans of yesterday
- the ancient mayans
The exhibition is varied, dynamic, and even features a few screening rooms. Don’t hesitate to ask the keepers questions, they are happy to talk about it!
Every day (except Tuesday) 8 am-5pm. Sound and light show at 9 p.m. Address: Calle 60 Norte No. 299 E
Unidad Revolución, Mérida. Website . Entry $ 150 MXN
Getting to the museum : it is located 20 minutes by car from the historic center . After several laps to find a bus in the right direction (street 60) , and then realize after I paid it was not the right bus I had to take one 2 e in another direction. Moral of the story: take a taxi (which won’t cost much more than a bus if you are a 2+) or be sure to ask the driver for the “ Gran museo del mundo maya ” BEFORE boarding .
14. Buy cool souvenirs
The traditional souvenirs are not really my cup of tea, but it is true that we find fine examples of shirts lined the typical Yucatan in Merida .
If you are looking for something less conventional, here are my 4 suggestions for shops to visit in Mérida , each in a very different style:
- La Casa de Donia Way : a big crush on this boutique which presents Yucatan culture with humor and a touch of tenderness through the character of “Donia Way” . Here we find notebooks, coloring books, typical cookery books, a “Yucatec dictionary”, postcards, in short, all kinds of small fun products which are great souvenirs to bring back! Do not hesitate to come back at least to take a look, the reception is super nice and with a little luck they will have an illustrated map of Mérida (free). Address: corner Calle 55 and Calle 64. Facebook page
- Hola Cometa: it is a real Ali Baba cave for lovers of independent local art . Here you can find all kinds of small items, pins, stickers, t-shirts, lighters, jewelry, etc. Address: Calle 55 (between 62 and 64) Facebook page
- Amerindio Hombre: it’s a nice little shop that mainly targets men, with young Mexican brands (ties, shirts, beard care and accessories, caps, etc.). If you are looking to bring back a practical gift made in Mexico that takes out traditional souvenirs, I definitely recommend you check it out. Address: Calle 55, no 510a (between 62 and 64) Facebook page
- La Casa del Patron : here, you almost have the impression of entering the living room of a house . There are furniture and decorations of contemporary design, but also crafts and various and sometimes unusual objects. Address Calle 58, no 435b (between 47 and 49, next to Parque Santa Ana ) Facebook page
15. Discover a local market
Mérida has several culinary specialties: salbud (sometimes written salbut ), polcan , cochinita pibil , tamalitos con carne mechada , papadzules , relleno negro. You can taste it in several local restaurants, but also at the market, for an even more typical experience.
There are several markets in Mérida , such as Santa Ana , Santiago , San Benito and Lucas de Galvez .
And for the complete foodie experience, I suggest a guided tour of a local market followed by a Yucatan cooking class with a family! To book here: