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Merida is among the most beautiful colonial cities in Mexico. Located in the Yucatan Peninsula, it's also one of the most up-and-coming travel destinations in the country. Here are 3 Unique Things to Do in Merida Mexico!

3 Unique Things to do in Merida Mexico

by Jeremy B

Merida is among the most beautiful colonial cities in Mexico. Located in the Yucatan Peninsula, it’s also one of the most up-and-coming travel destinations in the country. Here are 3 Unique Things to Do in Merida Mexico!

Though located just a few hours from the popular beach towns of Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Merida feels like it’s a world away.

Known as the cultural capital of the Yucatan Peninsula, Merida is a great home base to explore the less-touristy, more authentic side of the peninsula. It is also considered one of the safest cities in Mexico, and still inexpensive enough that you can rent a gorgeous Airbnb in Merida for little money.

Unique Things to do in Merida Mexico

Best Unique Things to do in Merida Mexico on a trip

While there’s no shortage of amazing things to do in Merida itself, within two hours or less, there’s also an abundance of great Merida day trips. Join a group tour, or hop on a bus or in your rental car, and head to see some of the lesser-visited Yucatan Mayan ruins, beautiful cenotes to swim in, small pueblos magicos (magic towns), and more. Here are 3 truly unique things to do in Merida Mexico.

Izamal Pueblo Magico

Wondering just what is a pueblo magico? They are pueblos, or small towns, in Mexico that the Secretary of Tourism has designated as “magical” for certain special characteristics, like unique history, interesting architecture and natural beauty.

Unique Things to do in Merida Mexico Izamal Pueblo Magico

In the case of Izamal, located about one hour from Merida, it is that the entire town is painted yellow. It is quite a site to see, and being all yellow, there’s no way to walk around this town and not feel happy.

One of the top things to do in Izamal is take a caleza (horse-drawn carriage) tour. You can find tour operators right outside the Convento de San Antonio de Padua. This is the main church in town, and one of the must see places in Izamal.

When you work up an appetite, head to the Mercado Municipal De Izamal (market) to try authentic Yucatecan food, like cochinita pibil (slow-cooked sucking pig) and sopa de lima (lime soup). If you have extra time, there are two Mayan sites just outside of downtown, Kinich Kakmo Pyramid and Zona Arqueologica de Izamal.

Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins & Cenote Xlacah

image of Dzibilchaltun

The Yucatan is home to about 6,000 cenotes (sen-no-tays) — the largest concentration on Earth. If you’re wondering what is a cenote, they are basically swimmable sinkholes with crystal-clear freshwater. As Merida is in the tropics, they are also the perfect places to cool off.

There are different types of cenotes, with some more like a natural swimming pool, and some underground in caves. Xlacah Cenote is an open, above ground, swimming pool style cenote, which also happens to be in the same place as the closest Mayan ruins to Merida, Dzibilchaltun (gee-zee-ball-tune).

This is a smaller Mayan ruins site, but at only 30 minutes from Merida, it is worth the visit to see the Dzibilchaltun ruins and to swim in the cenote. There’s also a small Mayan museum here you can visit.

From here, you’re also only about 20 minutes from the closest beach to Merida, Puerto Progreso. This is a great place to go for a sunset dinner of fresh seafood and a cold beer at Eladios Beach Bar, ranked among the best restaurants in Progreso.

Stroll the Streets of Centro Historico

One of the best things about Merida is that you don’t need a plan to enjoy this city! As it’s quite walkable, you can just stroll around Centro Historico (Historic Downtown) to see the beautiful, colorful colonial architecture and relax in one of Merida’s parks.

Best Unique Things to do in Merida Mexico

If you’d prefer a guided tour, the Merida Tourism Office offers free walking tours of Merida each morning at 9:30am. Reservations aren’t required, and all you have to do is show up to the Palacio Municipal, the pretty pink building on the west side of Plaza Grande (Main Plaza), for this one hour tour.

Plaza Grande is also where you’ll find other beautiful, historic buildings, like the Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace), San Ildefonso Catedral de Merida (Merida Cathedral), one of the oldest cathedral on the Americas Continent, and Museo Casa Montejo, one of the best museums in Merida.

As Mexican food varies greatly throughout the country, Centro Historico Merida is perfect to sample some delicious Yucatan cuisine. For a fun culinary experience, head to the Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca (Yucatan Museum of Gastronomy), which is part museum, part restaurant.


Being in the tropics, Merida weather is hot side year-round, but luckily, there are cantinas to cool down in. These historic, traditional Mexico bars are well preserved in all their old-school cantina glory, and thirsty visitors can do cantina crawls to places like La Negrita, Dzalbay, and El Cardinal, some of the best cantinas in Merida.

Final thoughts on a Merida Trip

This list of unique things to do on a Merida trip barely scratches the surface of this town, easily one of the top travel destinations in the country of Mexico. As it’s easy to visit, with Merida International Airport (code: MID) only 15 short minutes from downtown, come discover everything this colonial city has to offer.

This post was submitted by Shelley from Travel Mexico Solo. Shelley is a former Miami travel magazine editor who ditched the office for the world! After traveling solo to 14 states in Mexico, she decided to live in Merida, Mexico full time. Shelley now helps other women cross Solo Travel and Mexico Travel off their bucket list through her Travel Mexico Solo blog and Dream To Destination podcast.

Be sure to check out all the great destinations in our “Unique Things to Do” Series and take a step out of the ordinary on your next trip.

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Michelle February 27, 2021 - 2:41 pm

We love Merida! Uxmal ruins are also nearby and not too crowded.

Christian February 28, 2021 - 8:59 pm

I’ve considered Merida as a destination and this makes me revisit that idea. Any thoughts on how long would be be good to visit the city?


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