Checkout our travel vlog from our time in Mérida, Mexico
Introduction to Mérida, Mexico
Mérida, Mexico is a vibrant city located in the Yucatán Peninsula and is best know for its culture, history, and close proximity to beaches. The city has been around since 1542 when it was founded by Francisco de Montejo y León and today it serves as the capital of the state of Yucatán.
Mérida offers many activities such as visiting nearby archaeological sites like Chichén Itzá or Uxmal, exploring colonial churches and museums or simply relaxing on one of its beautiful beaches. With its rich gastronomy and unique cultural events, this charming Mexican city will offer travelers an unforgettable experience. Whether you're looking for adventure or just want to take in some local sights, Merida's complete travel guide will help you make sure you don't miss out on anything!
Where is Mérida, Mexico?
Mérida is a city located in the state of Yucatán in Mexico. Just a short 30 minute drive from the ocean, this city sits inland enough that it sprawls and has grown quite a lot the last few years, but close enough to the ocean to have a good beach day year around.
How do you pronounce "Mérida"?
You'd think pronouncing "Mérida" would be simple, but it's not. We continually pronounced it "Meh-ri-duh" the entire time we were there, but we were also had locals and expats tell us it's "Meh-di-dah", "Meh-REE-dah", and "Meh-i-dah". Do what you will with that info, but we think we got pretty close.
From a bit more research, it appear most Mexicans say "Mérida" like "Meh-REE-dah".
How big is Mérida?
Mérida is the largest city on the Yucatán Peninsula with ~1.2 million residents in city proper and surrounding areas. 11,000 of those 1.2 million residents are expats from all over the world.
What's the weather like in Mérida, Mexico?
The weather in Mérida, Mexico is generally sunny and warm all year round. The average temperature during the day ranges from 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (21-32 Celsius) throughout the year. It cools off a bit more at night, but never gets too cold for most people's comfort level. Rainfall does occur occasionally throughout the year, often in short bursts of heavy rain followed by long periods of sunshine. However, due to its subtropical climate and low humidity levels, Mérida typically has an enjoyable climate that makes it a great place to visit or live!
How to get to Mérida, Mexico
Getting to Mérida isn't too complicated, but considering their international airport isn't too large, we've got a whole guide for you all about how to get to Mérida, Mexico. Be sure to check that out if you're trying to figure out how to get to the White City from the USA, Cancun, Tulum, or Mexico City.
Mérida has an international airport which welcomes a handful of airlines including United, American, and West Jet. Most people choose to fly into Cancun since it generally offers far cheaper and more direct flight routes. However, if Mérida is your only destination in the Yucatán, saving yourself three hour drive from Cancun might be a good idea.
Driving to Mérida
You can drive to Mérida from Cancun and Tulum quite easily. Rental cars are easily available in Cancun, but they can also be rented in Tulum for a higher fee (due to less availability). If you'd like to get to Mérida by road but don't want to drive yourself, consider taking the Ado bus from just about anywhere in Mexico.
Is Mérida, Mexico safe?
Mérida, Mexico is generally considered to be a safe place for travelers. The city has seen an increase in tourism over the years and as a result, efforts have been made to ensure that visitors feel secure while traveling in the area. Local police forces patrol the streets regularly and most areas of Mérida are well-lit at night. Additionally, there are numerous CCTV cameras throughout the city which help to maintain safety and security. While it's always important to take precautions when visiting any new destination, travelers can rest assured that they will likely experience no problems with crime or other safety issues while visiting Mérida.
Why is Mérida so popular in 2023?
Mérida, Mexico has become a popular destination for travelers in 2023 due to its warm weather and many attractions and amenities. Located on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mérida is home to stunning beaches, ancient Mayan ruins, colonial architecture, and vibrant culture. With its pleasant climate year-round and low cost of living compared to other parts of Mexico, Mérida has become an attractive destination for both short-term visitors looking for a weekend getaway as well as long-term expats seeking new experiences. Additionally, the city's international airport makes it easily accessible from more international locations than ever before. Whether you're looking for relaxation or adventure - or a bit of both - Mérida is sure to provide something memorable.
Do people speak English in Mérida, Mexico?
Yes - but not as widely as many other international destinations. While the official language is Spanish, English is spoken by some of the locals and many expats who now call Mérida home. Considering the large boom in international travelers in Mérida over the last few years, more and more Mérida locals are picking up English. In fact, we found that most locals in Mérida spoke better English than in Mexico City or Tulum.
While it's nice that more and more people speak English, it's very polite to try and speak at least the basics in Spanish when you're visiting. It goes a long way with the locals when you at least make an attempt to communicate with them in their native tongue rather than expecting them to try and speak English with you.
Note: We did find that many Uber drivers and tourism industry professionals didn't want to speak in Spanish because they wanted to practice their English. Always try and speak Spanish at first, but if they'd like to practice their English, go for it! It's a nice way to get to know them and give a small bit back as a thank you to them for sharing their hometown with you.
What to know about money in Mérida
When traveling to Mérida, Mexico it is important to be aware of the local currency and payment methods. Credit cards are accepted in many establishments; However, some smaller businesses may only accept cash payments so make sure you have enough pesos on hand at all times.
You'll for sure want to keep cash on hand for tipping and street and market vendors. ATMs can be found throughout Mérida where you can withdraw Mexican pesos from your bank account or credit card at a reasonable exchange rate with minimal fees.
Cell service in Mérida, Mexico
Cell service in Mérida, Mexico is readily available and many travelers have found that setting up a SIM card upon arrival is an easy way to stay connected. Major carriers such as Movistar and Telcel are all options for data plans that offer coverage throughout the city. Depending on your needs you can choose from any of these providers to get the best deal. Additionally, many convenience stores like Oxxo offer pre-paid SIM cards with varying data plans that are convenient and cost-effective. It’s important to note that it may require some additional paperwork if you’re not a Mexican resident or don't have a Mexican passport; however, it's relatively straight forward to setup your plan after providing the necessary documents (be sure to bring your passport!). With a SIM card in hand, travelers can enjoy staying connected while exploring Mérida without worrying about costly roaming charges or relying on Wi-Fi networks.
Because we travel regularly travel internationally, we use Google Fi as our cell phone network provider back home. Google Fi is affordable, comes with unlimited data, and works both domestically and internationally. We've traveled through several countries with Google Fi and have always been impressed by the consistent coverage. If you travel a good bit, I would definitely consider getting Google Fi!
How to get around Mérida
Getting around Mérida, Mexico is easy and convenient with many transportation options available. The city's bus system offers an inexpensive way to get around town with buses running frequently along major routes. Ubers and taxis are also widely available throughout Mérida and can be hailed on the street or booked in advance through the Uber app. For those looking for a more unique experience, there are even horse-drawn carriages that provide tours of the historical center.
Personally we relied on our rental car and Uber to get around town. Driving is certainly a bit more difficult when heading to Centro where most of the popular tourist spots are, so we'd recommend Ubering or hailing a taxi rather than driving.
Always be sure to check with your hotel to see if/when they offer free shuttle services. Our hotel offered a free shuttle up to 10 km away which got us to many of the places we wanted to go.
Where to stay in Mérida, Mexico
When it comes to finding accommodation in Mérida, Mexico, visitors have a wide array of options available. From luxury boutique accommodations to cozy bed and breakfasts, there is something for every traveler’s budget and taste. Most hotels in Mérida fall in the mid-range price point given that Mexico is a relatively affordable place to travel, so for most American travelers, you're going to have a lot of options to choose from.
High-end and mid-range hotels
The most expensive hotels in Mérida are still considered relatively affordable, so I'm lumping together mid-range and high-end all together in one section.
Rosas & Xocolate is a luxurious hotel located in the heart of Mérida, Mexico. This high-end hotel offers guests an unforgettable experience with its unique blend of modern amenities and Mexican charm. Guests can take advantage of the onsite spa services, enjoy delicious local cuisine at one of three restaurants, or relax by the pool with a refreshing cocktail in hand.
The property features spacious suites that come equipped with all the comforts of home, as well as a variety of onsite services to ensure your stay is both comfortable and convenient. Guests can take advantage of the relaxing spa treatments, savor delicious local cuisine at their onsite restaurant, or enjoy some rest and relaxation by taking a dip in their outdoor pool. With its unbeatable location near many popular attractions in Mérida, Diez Diez Collection is sure to provide an unforgettable vacation experience.
Decu Downtown is a great hotel option for those looking to explore Mérida, Mexico. Located in the heart of the city, guests can relax by their outdoor pool or enjoy some spa time. The property also has one restaurant serving up delicious local cuisine that will tantalize your taste buds, plus a full bar. With its unbeatable location near many popular attractions in Mérida, Decu Downtown is sure to provide an unforgettable vacation experience.
Residence Inn Mérida is the perfect destination for budget-conscious travelers looking to explore all that Mérida. This hotel offers comfortable accommodations and modern amenities while still being 15 minutes from Centro, 25 minutes from Pregreso Beach, and in the same neighborhood as Mérida's famous Mayan World Museum. The property features spacious suites with full kitchens, as well as a variety of onsite services and amenities including a heated pool and fitness center.
Hotel Caribe is a great mid-priced option for travelers looking to explore Mérida, Mexico. Located in the heart of the city, this hotel offers guests comfortable accommodations and modern amenities while still being close to all the attractions that make Mérida so special. Guests can relax by their outdoor pool or walk to one of Mérida's many wonderful spots nearby.
Must visit places in Mérida
Mér, Mexico is a vibrant and culturally rich city that offers visitors an array of activities and attractions. From exploring the ancient Mayan ruins to enjoying traditional Mexican cuisine, there's something for everyone in Mérida. Whether you're looking for adventure or relaxation, Mérida has it all! For those wanting to explore the city’s history, take a stroll through Paseo de Montejo or visit one of the many historic churches in town. Nature lovers can enjoy hiking through lush jungles or swimming in crystal clear cenotes (natural sinkholes). And don't forget about sampling some delicious local dishes like cochinita pibil and salbutes! With so much to do and see in Mérida, you'll never run out of things to do during your stay here.
Many of Mérida's most popular spots are located near Plaza Grande. This plaza truly feels like the heart of the city! Just north of the plaza in Centro is where many tourists enjoy spending their trips, while just south of the plaza is where you'll see the hustle and bustle of the locals. Our advice: start at Plaza Grande and walk to explore all the area has to offer!
Getting there: C. 60 S/N, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yuc., Mexico | Google Maps
Mayan World Museum
Not only is the Mayan World Museum full of art, hand crafts, and history, the building itself is striking and very impressive. The Yucatán is full of Mayan history, so if you can squeeze a visit to the museum into your schedule, we'd highly recommend it.
Getting there: C. 60 299 E, Unidad Revolución, 97110 Mérida, Yuc., Mexico | Google Maps
Montejo Avenue is beautiful any day of the week, but we recommend going on Sunday when they close one side of the road down to cars and keep it open only for pedestrias. You'll be able to enjoy the beautiful colonial style buildings and eat at one of the many restaurants and cafes along the road.
Getting there: P.º de Montejo, Zona Paseo Montejo, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yuc., Mexico | Google Maps
Palacio Municipal in Merida, Mexico is a grand historical building that offers visitors an insight into the city's rich cultural and architectural history. Located in the heart of Mérida, it features a beautiful Baroque-style facade with intricate stone carvings surrounding the entranceway.
Getting there: Calle 62 s/n Palacio Municipal Colonia, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yuc., Mexico | Google Maps
Catedral de Mérida
Visiting Catedral de Mérida is a must-do while in Merida, Mexico. The impressive baroque façade and ornate interior reflect the city's colonial history, with its intricate craftsmanship making it one of the finest examples of Mexican architecture.
Getting there: C. 60, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yuc., Mexico | Google Maps
Visiting Teatro Mérida in Merida, Mexico is a cultural experience like no other. A stunning piece of architecture with its intricate design and beautiful interiors, the theatre hosts a variety of live performances ranging from opera to traditional Mexican dances that provide an unforgettable experience.
Getting there: C. 62 495, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yuc., Mexico | Google Maps
Playa de Progreso
Mérida is a quick 25 minute drive to Playa de Progreso, a popular destination for many visitors to Mérida. The small town of Progreso also hosts a lot of cruise ships so there is a large number of tourists in the town at times. Playa de Progreso isn't the best beach in the area (that's what the locals told us), but it is the closest beach to Mérida. We spent one day at the beach in Progreso and had a lot of fun. Because of the time of year we were there, the water and beach did have a lot of seaweed so we didn't really get in past our ankles. We did have the beach almost entirely to ourselves! We asked a city employee working at the beach if dogs were allowed on the beach and he said that they absolutely were! We saw one other family playing with their dog on the beach, but they were so far from us our dog never even noticed theirs. When we were leaving the beach we did notice a sign that said "no pets," but considering the locals told us we were okay and there were street dogs all over town, I'm not too sure they enforce that rule.
We've heard these famous chairs a couple of different names, but all the names we've heard make it clear that these chairs were designed for couples in love. The shortened story of the you and me chair's origin is that a very protective father wanted a way to keep his daughter separated from the boy she was dating while they were "just talking", which led him to creating this chair. You can find these chairs all over town, but if you'd like to see the giant version of the chair, head to Saint Lucia Park.
Getting there: C. 60 476A, Parque Santa Lucia, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yuc., Mexico | Google Maps
Where to eat in Mérida, Mexico
When it comes to dining in Mérida, Mexico, visitors are spoiled with options. From traditional Mexican cuisine to classic international dishes, there is something for every palate and budget. Whether you’re looking for a casual lunch on the go or an elegant dinner experience, there are plenty of restaurants throughout the city that will satisfy your cravings. You can find everything from street food stalls serving up tacos and tamales to upscale eateries offering locally-sourced ingredients in inventive dishes. No matter what type of cuisine you're craving, Mérida has something special just waiting for you.
Mérida is a beautiful city with plenty of cultural attractions and delicious food. With its colonial architecture, the Mayan World Museum, Montejo Avenue, Palacio Municipal, Catedral de Mérida and Teatro Mérida are all must-see spots for any traveler looking to explore this Mexican gem. There are also many restaurants serving up traditional Mexican cuisine as well as international dishes that will suit every taste bud. Whether you’re planning on visiting Merida for a few days or an extended stay, there's no doubt it'll be worth your while! So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get ready to experience one of Mexico’s most vibrant cities – Mérida awaits!
Like this article? Checkout some of our other Mexico travel guides!
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We're Chris and Sara
A creative husband and wife duo from a small-town in Tennessee with passion for all things travel. Checkout the links below to join us on our past, present, and future adventures!