24 BEST Things to Do in Merida for Culture, Food & History Nerds

by | May 3, 2024 | Mexico, Travel

Are you looking for a beautiful place to visit with authentic Mexican culture?

Mérida is the perfect untouristy destination for those seeking food, history, architecture, and culture. It’s also a great base for exploring the cenotes, biospheres, and ruins of the Yucatan.

In this guide, I’m going to share with you 24 of my favorite things to do in Merida. At the end of the list, you’ll find a suggested itinerary for 2 to 6 days.

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Cathedral of Merida lit up with colorful lights at night

Best Things to do in Merida – Top 24

Merida is a city full of rich history, fascinating culture, delicious food, and beautiful architecture. To experience all of these things, start your tour of the city in the historic center and then make your way to Paseo Montejo, where you’ll find a street lined with mansions from the end of the 1800s. They have now been turned into museums.

1. Stroll Around Plaza Grande

people, trees, and old building in Parque Grande in Merida

Topping any list of things to do in Merida is a stroll around its main square, the Plaza Grande (the Grand Plaza). Like pretty much all Mexican cities, Merida’s main square is a beautiful park surrounded on all sides by old stately buildings and a grand cathedral from the Spanish colonial era.

Make sure to visit on the weekend. On Sundays locals set up food stalls around the Plaza Grande, making it a great place to sample the street food of Merida. On weekend evenings, locals and tourists come out to wander around the park, eat, play, take photos, chat with friends, and go on dates. On Friday nights, there’s a fantastic light and sound show on the façade of the cathedral telling the history of Merida.

2. Visit the Cathedral of Merida

  • OPEN: 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • COST: Free
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
Cathedral of Merida at night

Every square in Mexico has its grand historic church, and Mérida is no exception. The one in Parque Grande is one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas. Constructed between 1562 and 1598, the cathedral was built on the backs of the Maya laborers (Were they paid, and did they have a choice?) and with the stones from their own temples.

Look for vertical slits on the church’s facade. What are they used for? Supposedly, these small openings were where soldiers would shoot anyone who gave the colonial masters trouble.

On Friday nights, there is a free light and sound show on the outside of the church that tells the history of Merida.

3. Museum of the House of Montejo

  • OPEN: 10 am – 7 pm (Tu – Sa); 10 am – 2 pm (Su); closed on Mondays
  • COST: free
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
Museum of the House of Montejo

The oldest and most beautiful structure around Merida’s central square is the House of Montejo. Built between 1542 and 1549, the house was originally the home of the Montejo family. Today it is a museum and bank.

The Montejo family played an important role in the history of the Yucatan. The King of Spain gave Francisco de Montejo (The Elder) the right to conquer and rule over the Yucatan. He himself wasn’t able to conquer the Maya, but his son, Francisco de Montejo (the younger), did manage to defeat them and establish the city of Merida. The Elder, though, became the governor and captain-general of the Yucatan.

Even if you don’t want to visit the museum, the exterior is well worth a look as its heavy in symbolism. On the façade, you’ll see two reliefs of Spanish conquistadors standing on the heads of natives representing their defeat and subjugation. I suppose back then it was seen as Spain’s heroic triumph and conquest, but today it feels like it represents the oppression of the indigenous people of the Yucatan.

PRO TIP #1: Don’t go to Merida from April to August. It’s really hot. I mean REALLY hot! It gets to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). The heat and humidity can really sap your energy making touring and sightseeing a bit of a slog. Go any time outside of those months.

4. Stroll down Calle 60

old colorful buildings along Calle 60 in Merida

One of my favorite things to do in Mérida is to stroll down Calle 60 starting from Parque Grande to Parque Santa Lucia. In the three blocks it takes to walk from one park to another, you’ll see some of Merida’s most gorgeously ornate and colorful buildings from the turn of the century. You’ll also pass by my favorite park (Parque Hidalgo), the Jose Peon Contreras Theater (built in 1908), a university, and two churches.

On Thursday evenings there is a cultural performance of traditional Mexican music and dance that takes place in Parque Santa Lucia. There are several expensive restaurants that surround Parque Lucia.

5. Sample the Food of the Yucatan

queso relleno

The absolute best thing to do in Merida is, in my opinion, to eat. The restaurants and markets in Merida’s historic center make for a convenient and practical place to try authentic Yucatecan food. Unfortunately, many of the menus are not in English, but that can be a sign that the food hasn’t been adapted to the foreign palate.

Before diving into the restaurant scene in Merida, do some research on the cuisine of the Yucatan. Yucatecan dishes are not ones you’d normally find in Mexican restaurants back home or even in other parts of Mexico. Many of the dishes I’d never heard of before: sopa de lima (my favorite), panuchos, queso relleno, rellenos negro, papadzule, poc chuc, and the most famous, cochinita pibil.

6. Visit the Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca

  • OPEN: 10:00 AM to 10:30 PM
  • COST: Free
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca

Along with eating the delicious Yucatecan cuisine, another great foodie thing to do in Merida is to learn about the history of the cuisine. You can do that in the FREE Museum of Yucatecan Gastronomy.

The museum is divided into two parts. The interior front part displays historical artifacts used in the preparation of the cuisine. The second part is in an outdoor garden at the back of the museum. Here you get to watch tortillas being made by hand, see where the cochinita pibil is cooked underground, and learn about different spices and plants used in Yucatecan cuisine.

Attached to the museum is a beautiful but pricey restaurant that is worth the splurge. At 3:00 PM, the chef brings the cochinita pibil out of its underground pit where it’s been cooking all day.

7. Visit Mercado Lucas De Galvez

  • OPEN: 7 am – 7:30 pm
  • COST: free to wander
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
a food stall selling red and green vegetables at Mercado Lucas De Galvez

The Mercado Lucas De Galvez is a must-stop on any food lovers’ visit to Merida. This huge, indoor market is an endless labyrinth of stall after stall selling everything from food to shoe repair services. It’s the perfect place to explore the fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, and spices that locals really eat and to pick up some for yourself.

After you’ve wandered around the interior of the market, make for one of the many (and I mean many) small restaurants (they’re all colored red so you can’t miss them) selling tacos and tortas that line the exterior of the building. Plop yourself down on a red plastic chair and order a taco or torta with cochinita pibil for 18 pesos!

8. Take a Food Tour

red plastic chairs and tables in a outdoor restaurant

One of the first things you need to do when you arrive in Meria is go on a food tour. Do it on the first or second day! Food tour guides usually teach you what to eat, how to eat and order food, and where to eat. You can then spend the rest of your trip eating at all the recommended places.

Merida has two very good food tours to choose from:

Eating With Carmen Food Tours – In this food tour, you get to try some of the most popular dishes of Merida (cochinita pibil, relleno negro, carnitas, pastor, tamal, aguas frescas, and more) and seasonal fruit of the Yucatan as well as visit two markets of the city. Eating with Carmen offers food tours all over the Yucatan. RATING: 4.6/5 | CHECK RATES & BOOK YOUR TOUR: Get Your Guide | Viator

Adventures Mexico Street Food Tour – This fabulous tour starts with a visit to the main market of Merida, where you get to sample exotic fruits and some of the Yucatan’s most popular dishes (panuchos, salbutes, cochinita pibil). Next try some ceviche at a seafood restaurant before ending your tour with a dessert of ice cream made with local flavors. RATING: 4.8/5 | CHECK RATES & BOOK YOUR TOUR: Get Your Guide | Viator

MEXICO PRO TIP: It’s usually safer to book your tours through a third-party website like Get Your Guide or Viator. If the tour company cancels or tries to reschedule your tour or you cancel within the cancellation window, you will usually have an easier time getting a refund from Get Your Guide than a small independent foreign business in Mexico.

If you have a problem finding your tour, you can easily and quickly contact Get Your Guide or Viator. They will help you contact your tour.  I have experienced many issues like the ones I just described while traveling throughout Latin America. You can read about one of my tour problems here.

I’ve also been able to reschedule tours after the deadline due to an emergency via Viator and Get Your Guide (Puerto Vallarta) than tours I booked directly with the local tour agency (Oaxaca).

The only positive thing about booking directly with a local agency is that the price might be cheaper than with Get Your Guide or Viator.

9. Learn to Cook Yucatecan Food

a bowl of sopa de lima
A bowl of sopa de lima

For those like me who travel to eat, one of the best things to do in Merida is to take a cooking class. Luckily, Merida has a FABULOUS cooking class, probably the BEST one in Mexico, according to a friend of mine who’s taken one in Merida, one in Oaxaca, and one in Mexico City.

My friend did the one through Adventures Mexico. It included a market visit and cooking a 3-course meal. She loves cooking and she raved about how in depth the course was compared to others she’d taken in Mexico.

10. Visit the Mayan World Museum of Merida

  • OPEN: W – M (9:00 am – 5:00 pm)
  • COST: MXN150 for foreigners (US$)
  • TOUR: Sa & Su at 11:00 am (English tour)
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
Mayan World Museum of Merida

Located on the outskirts of the city in a beautiful modern building, the museum displays artifacts on the history and culture of the Mayan people.

There are also displays of the giant meteor that crashed off the coast of Mexico millions of years ago wiping out the dinosaurs and leading to the formation of the cenotes that one finds all over the Yucatan.

The displays have some English explanations, which is rare in museums in Merida. There’s a short 3D movie on the Mayas. Unfortunately, it’s in Spanish.

Admission is free for locals on Sundays, so to avoid the crowds don’t go on that day.

11. Explore the Museum of the City of Merida

  • OPEN: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Tu – F); 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM (Sa & Su); Closed (M)
  • COST: Free
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
a pile of henequen fiber

If you like to know more about Merida’s past, check out the Museum of the City of Merida. It’s located across the street from Mercado Lucaz Galverez. And it’s free!

The first floor is dedicated to the history of Merida. You’ll learn how the conquistadors conquered the Yucatan, the Catholic church converted the Maya, the hacienda owners reaped huge profits off the henequin trade, and Merida’s citizens enjoyed these profits.

Unfortunately, there’s very little information on the Maya’s contributions and the abuse and mistreatment they received and the Caste Wars.

The second floor is dedicated to contemporary local artists, some of whose works are worth a look.

  • OPEN: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (W – Su); closed (M & Tu)
  • COST: free
  • LOCATION: Google Maps

If you’re interested in Mexican folk art, then a fun thing to do in Merida is to visit the Museo de Arte Popular de Yucatan (Museum of Folk Art of the Yucatan).

2 jaguars drinking out of a toilet at the Folk Art Museum in Merida
face of a skeleton dressed in a blue jacket and yellow cap at Folk Art Museum in Merida

If you’re interesting in Mexican folk art, The Museum of Popular Art is worth a visit. It’s within walking distance of Plaza Grande. The museum has exhibits on local textiles like the huipiles (traditional top that Mayan women wear), ceramics, and handicrafts.

The most memorable piece is the art piece of two jaguars in a bathroom.

Unfortunately, there are no English explanations.

13. Visit the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Ateneo de Yucatan

  • OPEN: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (M – F); 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM (Sa); closed (Su)
  • COST: free
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
a series of white statues of male bodies their arms out

Next to the cathedral is the former home of the Bishop of Merida. It’s now a contemporary art museum. The museum is worth visiting if you really like contemporary art and/or you can read Spanish really well or it’s raining out. If none of these things apply to you and you’re short on time, you can skip this museum.

The most interesting piece of art, actually, can be found outside in the courtyard between the cathedral and the museum. It’s a series of sculptures of men in tight shorts with their arms raised at various heights (see photo above).

14. Stroll Down Paseo de Montejo

a roundabout on Paseo Montejo in Merida

Stroll down the tree-lined Paseo de Montejo and get a taste of the grand mansions of the wealthy Yucatecans of the 1800s to early 1900s. This was when Mérida was the most prosperous city in Mexico and people were raking in the dinero from the henequin trade.

You can begin from either end of Paseo Montejo: from the Monument to the Fatherland or Parque Santa on Calle 47. I started out at Parque Santa Ana. Though the park is not exactly on Paseo Montejo, it’s close enough. It also has a beautiful church and some great inexpensive restaurants nearby, so it shouldn’t be missed.

It gets hot in Merida, so do the walk in the morning or after 5:00 PM. When it does get too hot for you, you can stop at one of the many restaurants, cafes, and museums along the street. There’s also a Walmart near one end of the street.

15. Wander Around Parque de Santa Ana

  • OPEN: I recommend going in the morning or in the evening
  • COST: free
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
side view of the Church of Santa Ana in Merida with palm trees and blue sky

Start your walk along Paseo Montejo at Parque Santa Ana (Santa Ana Park) on Calle 47.

The two best things about this park are the colorful and simple Church of Santa Ana and the restaurants at the outdoor food court. I had the best sopa de lima at Restaurant Castillo. Another great restaurant, albeit much pricier than the food court, is Manjar Blanco. The restaurant was featured in Rick Bayless’s cooking show.

16. Stop by Montejo 495 House Museum (Twin Houses)

  • OPEN: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Tu – Su)
  • COST: MXN$250 (US$15)
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
old and beautiful mansion on Paseo Montejo

If you want to see how the rich lived at the turn of the century, then visit the Montejo 495 House Museum (a.k.a. Twin Houses)

The French-style mansion was built in 1911 at the end of the Porfirio Era and the beginning of the Mexican Revolution.

The outside and inside are both stunning. However, the price of $250 pesos is exorbitant considering you only get to tour the rooms on the first floor.

Reviews are mixed – some love it while others walk away disappointed.

17. Visit the Museum of Anthropology and History (Palacio Canton)

Palacio Canton in Merida

Located in another drop-dead-gorgeous mansion on Paseo de Montejo is the Museum of Anthropology and History (also called Palacio Canton). If you are a history buff or archaeology enthusiast, this museum is 100% worth it!

The museum is also a great excuse for escaping from Merida’s heat and humidity.

The first floor contains the permanent archaeological exhibits on the Maya and the second floor is dedicated to temporary exhibits focusing on contemporary Maya culture. There are lots of explanations on the Maya calendar and the writing system in Spanish but unfortunately nothing in English.

MEXICO PRO TIP: Before your trip to the Yucatan, read up on the fascinating culture of the ancient Maya. How did they build those magnificent temples? What caused their collapse? I have a list of the best books on the ancient Maya to get you started.

18. Visit Quinta Montes Molina Mansión

  • OPEN: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (M-Su)
  • COST: MXN$120 (US$7)
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
Quinta Moleno Mansion

Visiting the living history house of Quinta Montes Molina (Quinta means mansion or property) is like stepping back in time to the beginning of the twentieth century.

Originally built in 1902 by a Cuban businessman and eventually bought by the Montes Molina family in 1915, the mansion is a great opportunity for history buffs to see how the wealthy lived during the Porfirio era. Everything from the décor to the furniture has been preserved from that period. Don’t skip the basement where the servants worked and lived—the most interesting part of the house.

Like Montejo 495 Museum, this house museum also has guided tours, but they are less expensive.

19. Stop by Monumento a La Patria (Monument to the Fatherland)

Monument to the Fatherland

At the end of your tour of Paseo de Montejo, you’ll come to the Monument to the Fatherland. Sculpted completely by hand by Colombian artist, Romulo Rozo, this huge stone sculpture took eleven years to finish (1945 – 1956).

The monument represents the history of Mexico starting from the height of the Maya civilization until the Mexican revolution. It’s fun trying to figure out what all the different figures and symbols mean.

Located near the monument is one of Merida’s swankiest restaurants, Kuuk. If you still look presentable after walking in Merida’s heat and humidity, the restaurant can make for a nice end to your tour. Another possibility is the less swanky but still delicious restaurant, La Terreza Amarilla Todo Esquisito.

20. Take a Free Walking Tour of the Central Historic District

  • START TIME: varies by tour (9:00 am, 9:30 am, 10:00 am)
  • COST: free but tipping is encouraged
  • WEBSITE: Free Tours
a statue in Parque Hidalgo in Merida Mexico

One of the BEST things to do in Merida is to do a walking tour. Do it on the first day of your stay in Merida! Sometimes I do a guided tour in the morning and spend the afternoon going back to places I visited in the morning or places skipped on the tour. Other times, I wander around the city in the morning and then in the afternoon do a guided walking tour.

I usually find good free walking tours on the Free Tours website. Usually, you get enthusiastic tour guides who go above and beyond a normal guide because they work for tips. I usually leave a tip of between MXN$100 and MXN$200.

I did my tour through the Go to the City Tourism Office (Modulo de Informacion Turistica), but I don’t recommend it. It wasn’t very good.

The free tour guides usually take you to a combination of popular attractions and more off-the-beaten-path places that tourists usually don’t get to.

HOWEVER! One caveat with free walking tours: The guide can cancel, reschedule at the last minute, or not show up! And there’s nothing you can do about it. So, you might want to sign up for a paid walking tour. Here are some walking tour ideas:

Historic Center Walking Tour – This affordable and highly rated tour covers a lot of ground. It goes from Museo Casa Montejo to Plaza Grande before ending at the lovely Parque de Santa Lucia! BOOK YOUR TOUR: Get Your Guide | Viator

21. Take a Bus Tour of Merida

  • OPEN: times vary throughout the day (2:00 PM, 4:00 PM)
  • COST: US$8 – $9
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
a red double-decker hop on hop off bus in Merida

If you’re short on time or if you’re someone who wants to see as much as you can in the shortest time possible, join the double-decker bus tour of Merida with Turitransmerida Tour Operators. You can book their tour in several ways:

  • At their office
  • At the Cathedral – Where the tours starts
  • Book online – Get Your Guide

The double-decker bus tour offers two circuits:

  • North Circuit – Cathedral, Peon Contreras Theater, Santa Ana Park, G. Canton Palace, Flag Monument, Itzimna Church, Las Americas Park, and Plaza Paseo 60
  • Barrios Circuit – Cathedral, the San Juan neighborhood, Ermita, San Sebastian, the Merida Zoo, the Santiago neighborhood, Paseo Montejo Avenue, and the Flag Monument.

WARNING: The tour might still be ONLY in Spanish–a very common Mexico obstacle for those not fluent in Spanish.

Mexico Pro Money Tips: Things can go wrong when you’re in Mexico. Your credit or debit card number could get stolen like what happened to me in Oaxaca. Always bring 2 debit cards (different accounts) and 2 credit cards. If one gets stolen or lost or an ATM eats one, you ALWAYS have a backup. 

If you plan to take the bus in Mexico, get a PayPal account and link a credit card to your account. Many bus company websites do not accept foreign credit cards but they do allow you to pay via PayPal. 

22. Take a Carriage Ride Around Merida

  • OPEN: any time  – 45 minute-ride
  • COST: MXN$400 total for up to 4 people (US$20)
  • LOCATION: Google Maps (on Calle 61 (closest cross street is Calle 60)
a horse and carriage in front of an old building with clock tower at night

One of the most unique things to do in Merida is a carriage ride around Centro Historico. I didn’t do it as it seemed odd doing it as a solo traveler.

You’ll see the horse-drawn carriages lined up across from the cathedral along Calle 61. You can take one just about any time even in the evenings.

23. Learn Spanish at La Calle Spanish School

  • OPEN: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM (M – F); closed (Sa & Su)
  • COST: $3,550 pesos for 20 hours per week (US$178)
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
a classroom with four colorful chairs around a red table and a white board in the background

I think learning a language is not something many people think of when they plan a trip. But actually, it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the culture.

Having never studied Spanish before except from YouTube videos, I studied the language for two weeks at La Calle Spanish School in Merida. I did a group lesson and paid MXN$3,550 (US$179) for 20 hours of lessons per week. During my first week, I had one other classmate and during my second week, I was the only student. When you’re the only one, you only get 15 hours of classes for the group price. The minimum duration for group lessons is one week. You don’t need to sign up for classes before you arrive in Mexico. I contacted them by email on a Friday and started classes the next Monday. They also have private one-on-one lessons. However, that was all during the pandemic. I’m sure nowadays their classes are fuller than when I studied there.

24. Take Some Day Trips from Merida

Cenote Chacksikin

Make sure to make time in your Merida itinerary for some day trips. Just an hour or two by bus from Merida, you’ll find:

  • Cenotes – Check out my Homun Cenote guide!
  • Beaches
  • Haciendas
  • Biospheres with flamingoes!
  • Mayan ruins

You can read my article on day trips from Merida for 15 ideas on what to do around the Yucatan. I describe how you can get to each place by public transportation.

a woman crossing a street in front of a yellow building and blue sky

Suggested Merida Itinerary

Day 1

  1. Walking Tour
  2. Walk to Mercado Lucas de Galvaz and get some late breakfast or early lunch (you’ll pass by some of the same places you saw on the walking tour; at this time you can spend more time at the sights)
  3. City Museum of Merida
  4. Dinner at and a tour of Museo de Yucatecan Gastronomía
  5. Evening – Stroll around Parque Grande

Day 2

  1. Food Tour – Try the one through Adventures Mexico or Eating with Carmen

Day 3

  1. Day Trip: The cenotes of Homun

Day 4

  1. Uxmal ruins
  2. Chocolate Museum

Day 5

  1. Day trip to Progreso for some beach time and fresh seafood or to Celestun for a tour of the Celestun Biosphere Reserve—maybe you can see some flamingos (If it’s not the season (December to March, don’t bother going! I didn’t see any flamingos when I went in June.)

Day 6

  1. Day trip to ancient ruins of Chichen Itza (if you’re planning on visiting Valladolid, then see Chichen Itza from there as it’s closer and instead visit the ruins of Mayapan)
  2. Cenote Ik’ Kil (if you have your own car) or Cenote Yokdzonot (more doable by bus, but still pretty hard)

Day 7

  1. Cooking Class with Adventures Mexico.

Merida Travel Guide & FAQs

  • How to Get to Merida
  • Where to Stay in Merida
  • How to Get Data for Your Phone in Merida

How to Get to Merida

You can get to Merida in 3 ways (not including by a private vehicle):

  • By Plane
  • By Bus
  • By the Maya Train

By Plane

Merida has a small international airport on the city’s outskirts. You might want to consider flying into and out of Merida than Cancun.

You can check flight schedules for Merida using Skyscanner.

By Bus

You can also get to Merida from other parts of Mexico by taking an ADO Bus. ADO is the biggest bus company in Mexico and they cover routes south of Mexico City and all over the Yucatan.

There are 3 ADO Bus Terminals in Merida:

  • ADO Centro Historico TAME is an ADO Bus Terminal that’s in the historic center.
  • ADO Terminal Alterna Paseo 60 is another ADO Bus Terminal that’s further from the historic center near Paseo de Montejo and Walmart.
  • ADO Fiesta Americana is a small terminal near ADO Terminal Alterna Paseo 60.

There are several second class bus terminals throughout the city as well.

When you buy your ticket to or from Merida, check to see which terminal your bus is leaving from or arriving at.

You can buy bus tickets in several different ways:

  • At the bus station – lines might be long, so arrive early!
  • On the ADO Bus Company website. I am only able to buy tickets from their App (download from the Apple or Google Play store). I cannot use their website for some reason. They can be very picky about accepting foreign credit cards. They have always accepted mine, but a friend from Denmark was never able to use her card. However, you can pay using PayPal. Link your credit card to your PayPal account.
  • ReservamosReservamos is a website that sells bus tickets for all of Mexico. It has the largest number of bus routes and bus schedules of all transportation websites in Mexico. However, it charges a high service fee and often doesn’t allow you to choose your seat. You also have to wait 15 to 30 minutes to receive your ticket in your email account. I have always had to use PayPal to buy tickets because Reservamos doesn’t accept foreign credit cards.
  • Bus BudBus Bud accepts foreign credit cards, but it doesn’t list all buses, bus companies, and routes.

By the Maya Train

You can get to Merida using the Maya Train. Go to this website to buy tickets. The train station is inconveniently located far outside of the city of Merida at Train Maya Estacion Teya.

You are actually better off taking the bus than the train. The train station is far outside of the city of Merida and tickets are much more expensive than the bus.

Where to Stay in Merida

I stayed in Merida for about 2 months. For the first 6 weeks, I stayed at an Airbnb. During the last 2 weeks, I stayed at Hotel Las Monjas. It’s a decent hotel located within walking distance from the ADO Bus Station and Plaza Grande.

Hotel Las Monjas – (Booking.com | Agoda) I highly, highly recommend this hotel. Friendly and helpful staff. Comfortable, clean, and modern rooms. Excellent WiFi. Very good price for what you get. Includes swimming pool. And it’s located a few blocks from Parque Grande and three blocks from the ADO bus station.

double bed in hotel room
toilet, sink with mirror, and shower

How to Get Data for Your Phone in Merida

To get data on your phone, I recommend doing either of these options:

  • Buy a physical SIM card from Telcel
  • Buy an eSIM. I’ve only used Airalo in Mexico and had a positive experience.

Buying a Physical SIM card

The cheapest option is a physical SIM card. However, this means you might need to take out your country’s SIM card replacing it with a Mexico SIM card. To use your home phone number, you need to reinsert your SIM card.

You can buy a Telcel SIM card from a Telcel store in the historic center. That’s where I bought mine. I always buy a 30-day plan with 3 GB of data for MXN$200, but you can also buy shorter and cheaper plans.

If you need more data, you can buy on the Telcel website or recharge at an OXXO store. I always did the former.

Buying an eSIM

Buying an eSIM can be very convenient. I’ve only used Airalo in Mexico and had a positive experience. I bought 7 days worth of data for US$8.

However, I have found their instructions for initially using the eSIM to be confusing.

PRO TIP: No one likes to think about insurance, but accidents do happen. I highly recommend getting travel insurance. During my travels over the past 2 years, I’ve been using SafetyWing for my insurance. They’re very affordable for all ages, and digital nomads can use their insurance long-term.

Final Thoughts on Merida Travel Guide

So, there you have it–24 of the BEST things to do in Merida, Mexico! Perfect for anyone who’s into food, culture, and history. And if you’re looking for a place that’s not overrun with tour buses and hipsters, Merida is the ideal city.

If you want to jump back to any of these specific Merida attractions and activities, here you go!

What are you most looking forward to doing in Merida?

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    Best Resources for Planning Your Trip to Mexico

    Book Your Flight to Mexico

    Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Mexico. They will turn up results for all airlines including major ones and local airlines. You’re going to find EVERYTHING that’s available and thus get the cheapest price.

    Book Your Accommodations for Mexico:

    The best hotel booking sites for Japan are Booking.com. They have the biggest selection, and they consistently churn out hotels and hostels at the lowest prices of any other booking site. Another website for backpackers and budget travelers is Hostel World.

    Book Your Tours for Mexico:

    The three best tour booking sites for Mexico are Viator and Get Your Guide. Viator has the biggest selection. Get Your Guide has terrific customer service. They will help you if you have trouble with your tour, especially if the tour company cancels on you or doesn’t show up.

    Stay Connected When in Mexico:

    To have access to the internet and not spend a lot of money while you’re out and about in Mexico, get a physical SIM card or an eSIM. I used Airalo eSIM in Mexico. While setting up can seem overwhelming at first, the SIM card has worked well for me in Mexico.

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    things to do in Merida Mexico
    things to do in Merida Mexico


    1. When I started reading this post, I was looking forward to reminiscing about places I had been. Turns out, it looks like I missed a lot! The architecture is beautiful and the Monumento a La Patria is amazing. I guess most of my time there was spend seeing the ruins like Chichen Itza.

    2. I read this with interest as I have a friend who has been recommending Merida & now I can see why! I agree with you about the walking tours – the perfect way to get an intro into a new city but also your suggestions about taking Spanish lessons & a cooking class appealed. Thanks for the info!

    3. I definintely would be drawn to a place that is not overrun with tourists. Cancun is not my favourite spot so good to know that Merida is a great option just 4 hours away. I love all the things there is to see was you stroll around the streets. And a food tour sounds like an awesome way to learn about local foods and traditions. I can see why you stayed so long. So much to discover.

    4. I have to admit I have never been to Mexico though it is a country that I want to visit. Your post has shown me a place away from the touristy areas that looks like a great alternative. I would love the contemporary art museum and the food tour – a great way of eating local and finding out about the area.


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    About the Bamboo Traveler

    The Bamboo Traveler

    Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel blog dedicated to helping those travelers who want to dig deeply into the history, heritage, and culture of a place. Whether it’s through the pages of your passport or the pages of a book, I’ll help you travel the world and uncover the history, culture, food, architecture, and natural beauty of some of the world’s most fascinating places.

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