Merida. What a fantastic place. I first discovered Merida, Mexico via the late Rachel Jones from Hippie in Heels. Having moved there from America (via India), she painted the picture of a colourful city, vibrant and rich in colour, culture and food. In perfectly serendipitous timing, Rachel released a blog post on the 50 Unmissable Things to do in Merida. I basically used this as my travel guide and checklist to have the most awesome time in Merida. So rather than repeat and recycle the amazing Hippie in Heels post, I’ve created an itinerary for you, based on some of the great suggestions from Rachel! So let’s get crackin’.
Get in to Merida Mexico by bus
Check into a Hacienda
… or similar! Generally hacienda’s come with a high price tag, but we found a place with a hacienda vibe without the hacienda bill. Check in with Hotel Gran Centenario here.
Oh man, I love cantinas. The swinging doors, the relaxed but busy vibe…. the free snacks! We walked into La Negrita and didn’t want to leave… So we didn’t! The snacks were fun, and the food was divine. Matt had to drag me out to get me to leave.
Plaza Grande Sunday Market
Every Sunday the main plaza comes alive with the Plaza Grande Sunday Markets. Head down for a cheap breakfast, and then stay for the clothes, jewellery and various other stalls offering a wide range of fares.
Wander down the streets lined with colourful houses. Spot out old buildings amongst the new. Visit the many parks and gardens around the city. Explore the beautiful little shops on every corner. Merida, Mexico itself is a beautiful place, make sure you make time for it!
They sure do know how to cook in this part of the world! Check out the side street vendors or pop into a restaurant, either way you wont be disappointed. A quick Google will bring up some popular places, or check out those on the Hippie in Heels blog.
Yes, we went back for another Cantina experience. This time Eladios Bar, and let me tell you, they sure do like to feed you there. The snacks were more like meals! Merida, Mexico knows how to do cantinas!
Time to get out of town and see what the Yucatan has to offer. Celestun, about 3 hours outside of Merida, is home to giant flocks of flamingos! Don’t worry about booking a tour, just rent a car and head on out there. You can’t miss the signs. You’ll jump on a boat, and they’ll ferry you out for a look.
Something a little bit more traditional heading your way. Get back to Merida in time to check out the Mexican ballet in Plaza Grande. It starts around 9pm, but rock up a bit earlier to make sure you get a good spot. It’s quite popular.
Today is a big day! Hire a car and set off early to Chicken Itza. It’s only a few hours drive from Merida Mexico! One of the 7 wonders of the world, so it’s incredibly popular. You’ll not only want to beat the crowds, but also the sun. The Mexican sunshine is very unforgiving and the isn’t a whole heap of shade at Chichen Itza. There are signs every where explaining the ruins and the history, so I would say forgo the expensive tour guide. Oh, and hot tip; there will be people trying to stop you on the way in to convince you to hire them as a tour guide. Don’t even bother stopping.
Take the long way home and stop at Izamal – Mexico’s beautiful yellow city! An incredible sight to see, every building in the town is painted a shade of yellow. Grab yourself a cold beverage and a mango from the main square, and bask in the glory of my favourite colour. Who could ever be sad surrounded by happy-sunshine-yellow?
Dance at Santiago Park Tuesday Nights
Now I feel like this activity can be hit or miss. Texting a video to Hippie in Heels of an older generation waltzing around the square, wondering if I was in the right place. Apparently it was just a slow night. It was fun to watch and a lovely relaxed vibe, but Matt and I didn’t hang around for long. I’d give it another chance though. It would be fun if the crowd was younger.
Check out the Cafe Scene
A big day yesterday calls for a cafe breakfast today. Turns out they know how to do coffee in Merida! Our favourite spot was Bengala Kaffeehaus – the coffee was good and the toasted sandwiches delicious!
Lucas Galvez Market
I love a good farmers market, and Lucas Galvez Market didn’t disappointed. Matt and I stocked up on fresh fruit and veg juices and other interesting Mexican beverages (cold hibiscus tea?) and wandered the area scoping out where to go for lunch.
Archeological Zone of Xcambo
Didn’t get your fill of ruins at Chichen Itza? Well the Merida Mexico region is well stocked with ruins! We found this one on our way out to Laguna Rosada. Cheap as chips and well kept, we were also allowed to fly the drone around for some sky high views. Only down side was ONE MILLION MOSQUITOES. Seriously, take some repellent.
The famous pink lakes of Los Coloradas are SO FAR from Merida, Matt and I just couldn’t justify going that far for a pink lake. Fortunately, Laguna Rosada was pretty much on the way to Progreso, so we made a pit stop there. Not only were the lakes super pink, but unlike Los Coloradas we could fly the drone to get some epic footage. AND you could buy pink salt from a little stall there.
We thought we’d get in a relaxing beach afternoon, but it was blowing a gale! Apparently that was pretty typical for that time of year, but the town had a lovely beach side path that was lined with seafood restaurants. So Matt and I sat down to a seafood late lunch and enjoyed the view before driving back to Merida. No complaints from us!
Head on to your next destination
Grab your last Merida coffee and jump on the ADO bus to your next Mexican adventure! We went straight to Playa del Carmen for more scuba adventures…