A city with a rich colonial and Mayan heritage, Merida is the largest city and capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan. Founded in 1542 and built on the site of the ancient Mayan city T’ho, Merida has become a major commerce center and is both the financial and cultural capital in its region. Despite its modern exterior, there is much history that remains in Merida, including some of its old Spanish city gates. It is home to multiple museums, restaurants, stores, art galleries and more, making it an entertaining and enjoyable place to visit.
Merida is known for having one of the largest historic centers in Mexico outside of Mexico City, and one place to add to your must-see list is the Governor’s Palace, which features huge paintings by Merida-born artist Fernando Castro Pacheco that depict Yucatan’s history. Stop in Casa Montejo, which is a museum and cultural center, and is also the oldest building in Merida. On Saturdays, there is a free show for the city that takes place on 49th Street, which features everything ranging from mariachi to folk dancing. Stroll down Paseo de Montejo, which is where many stunning old mansions are located—among them the Palacio Canton, which is where the Regional Anthropology Museum is located. There are numerous Mayan ruins in the area that offer guided and independent tours, including Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Mayapan and the Ruins of Dzibilchaltun, to name a few. Another fun thing to do is to go swimming, diving or snorkeling in the Cenotes, which are freshwater rivers situated underground. The nearest one is the Cenote San Ignacio located inside a cavern, which is just 20 minutes away from Merida. Plaza Grande is a nice park where many people come to hang out, enjoy the scenery, as well as enjoy a variety of shops and snacks that are in the vicinity.
Merida is in a great and convenient location, which makes it ideal for numerous day trips. Progreso is a beach city that makes for the perfect day trip or weekend getaway, and guests come here to enjoy the pretty beach esplanade, shop at stalls along the beach, and enjoy a nice meal. At only 30 minutes away, Progreso is the perfect getaway and can also be reached by bus. Cancun is another popular destination that is slightly over three hours away from Merida by car, and it is also accessible by a quick flight. There are also buses that run frequently between Merida and Cancun.
There are several interesting and unique neighborhoods in Merida where you can book a nice property rental, be it a spacious home or a smaller apartment, during your visit to Mexico. Santiago is the area most popular with expatriates and is located to the west and north of Plaza Grande. In addition to nice parks, there are churches, markets and shops, as well as a playground, making this a great spot for families with children. The Santa Ana district is a flourishing arts location, with various galleries, museums, banks and businesses. Santa Lucia is another area that has a popular park, restaurants and shops, and it is also home to several newly renovated houses.
On Sundays, certain streets in town are blocked for cars so that bikes can go around, so this is a great opportunity if you’re looking to travel around town on two wheels but feel safe. A majority of the attractions in Merida are located centrally, which makes it easier to get around on foot, but taxis are also abundant throughout town for those looking to travel farther distances. There is an extensive system of buses and vans, and the bus route map is available for sale at most bookstores and newspaper stands, offering detailed information about the different bus stops and routes, A fun and romantic way to get around time is via horse carriage, which offer rides to the center of town as well as through some of the suburbs.
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