Introduction to Mérida Mexico: When? Where? What?

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My love affair with Mexico began when I worked in the Riviera Maya in 2006. The slower pace, simpler lifestyle and the way people intentionally connected was my magic formula. It was also the beginning of my Introduction to Mérida Mexico. You say Mérida and people’s faces light up like it’s Christmas. It has THAT kind of effect on people.

After visiting Mérida for the first time in September of 2019, it had the same effect on me. When I discovered this amazing city, I found the peace and tranquility I sought for many years.

Within 3 months, I sold everything: my house, my furniture, my art, my car and took the leap to start a new life in Mérida, Mexico. I realized I could not wait any longer to live my life…what was I waiting for?

The magic of Mérida feeds my soul, soothes my spirit and creates a more joyful experience of life.

Now, I’m intent on capturing the essence of this incredible destination so I can share it with YOU! I hope this site gives you inspiration, insight and answers to all things Mérida.

Have you heard of Mérida Mexico? Read on to find out why this colonial city is getting alot of press due to recent articles highlighing safety.

Contents

Mérida Safety Facts

In the words of Mayor Renán Barrera, “Mérida, the safest city in Mexico, has a citizen agenda that is an example to follow in matters of security and public order, thanks in large part to the work of our police corporations. If something distinguishes Mérida in terms of security, it is precisely the prevention actions of the municipal police corporation, as well as the high-quality human capital that integrates it, which forms the first link to build safe cities.”

  • Mexico’s safest city.
  • The safest city in Latin America.
  • The second safest city in North America.
  • Considered as safe as Europe.

The White City

  • Most people will tell you this nickname is because of the white limestone buildings.
  • Others will tell you because it’s one of the cleanest cities in Yucatán.
  • Or you may hear it’s due to the amount of all-white clothing people wear.
  • You will receive a different answer to this question depends upon who you ask.
  • But when you experience the city itself, you will be able to determine why it’s called the White City.

No matter what the reason for this nickname, Mérida is a beautiful destination full of color, culture and cuisine.

Mérida & Yucatan Peninsula Interesting Facts

  • Located in the State of Yucatan, Mexico.
  • Approx 1,300,000 population.
  • The biggest city in the state.
  • Yucatan Peninsula separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea.
  • The Peninsula encompasses 3 Mexican states and parts of Belize and Guatemala.
  • Out of the 3 states found in the Peninsula, Quintana Roo is probably the most popular.
  • Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen are all mega-destinations for thousands of tourists annually.
  • 3 hours west of Quintana Roo, you arrive in the capital of Mérida.

Preparing for Your Trip

The majority of people read information about the weather in Mérida before they travel. But first a warning: it’s imperative to prepare for the sun, heat, humidity, mosquitos, and rain. Your introduction to Mérida Mexico begins with the best preparation!

Families traveling with children and/or elderly can plan their itineraries accordingly to accommodate the weather. Even though there are a vast number of outdoor activities, those might be best left for evenings.

Take advantage of indoor activities such as museums and tours during the day. The air-conditioning will help keep you cool and refreshed.

Trust me, it is better to have it with you than to experience the frustration of trying to find it after your arrival.

Essential Items Packing List

No matter what time of year you visit Mérida, bring these essential items with you:

  • Sunscreen (preferably waterproof with high SPF)
  • Small Umbrella
  • Rain Poncho
  • Mosquito Repellent (year-round must have)
  • Nausea Meds (Emetrol, Pepto Bismol, Tums, etc.)
  • Pain Meds (Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, aspirin, etc.)
  • Saline Nasal Spra
  • Diarrhea (Immodium, etc.)
  • Sunburn Relief
  • Antibiotic Ointment (Neosporin)
  • Cold Remedy (Alka Seltzer, Dayquil, etc.)
  • Swimmer’s Ear Drops (ear drops to minimize infection)
  • Sunhat, Ballcap or other headgear

Best Months for Traveling to Mérida

Coolest months in Mérida are during high-season. Not surprisingly, high-season is mid-November to mid-April. This is the time of year when the snowbirds arrive to escape the cold temperatures of their permanent homes.

Without a doubt, you will see mostly Canadians and Americans at this time. The majority of Europeans including French, Italian, and Spanish visit during their national holidays; January through April.


Average temperatures range from 92F as the high to 66F as the low. The average rainfall during high-season is about 2.5 days.


Warmest months in Mérida are during low-season. Most locals, especially ones that live in the northern part of the city, will escape the heat of the summer and head to the beach. You will find many snowbirds still in Mérida as the heat is a welcome change from the cold they normally experience.

There are some great things about visiting and an introducation to Mérida Mexico during low-season.

  • The constant sea breeze is beneficial to decrease the heat and suffocating feeling of the heat and humidity.
  • Accommodations are a bit cheaper and restaurants are less crowded.

But here’s something really interesting –

You’ll find more Mexican nationals come to Mérida in the summer to savor incredible and delightful Yucatecan food.

Mérida Local Information Sources

When you want to live like a local in Mérida, you’ll need reliable and consistent information. While there are a variety of news outlets here, I want to share the MOST reliable, up-to-date and relevant local information sources.

Most importatly, the last thing you want is to be overwhelmed by information!

 Yucatan Today

From Yucatan TodayFacebook Page

“Thanks for being part of our journey! Our story begins in 1988 when the husband and wife team, Juan Manuel Mier y Terán and Judy Abbott, decided to combine their love for Yucatán, unifying their skills in photography, graphic design and writing, to create a monthly magazine that would help visitors discover all that this destination has to offer. Their vision was to “take the visitor by the hand”, as if they were personally guiding him through the region.

It was on January 15 of the same year when our magazine saw the light of the streets and shops for the first time with a circulation of 5,000. We currently have a circulation of 12,000 magazines per month.

Yucatán Today is made up of 15 members and we are proud of the teamwork, commitment and dedication that we have made during the evolution of our magazine, always standing firm to our roots and ideals.

Through the years, we have told many stories about wonderful places to visit and see, it has been a long journey, but there is nothing more satisfying than to continue creating content, to serve and enchant our loyal readers.

We want to be the traveler’s company, to be part of each destination, to be the guide of each discovery in Yucatan.
Let’s toast to the next 30 years and beyond!”

What I like about Yucatan Today: 

THE MOST complete information you’ll find about Yucatan. From history to current events, they cover EVERYTHING. You’ll find printed copies of this monthly magazine in tourist areas and hotels. They offer English and Spanish on their website as well.

If you’re researching Mérida from afar, you can also download a copy of their magazine or subscribe to receive monthly issues. The first introduction to Mérida Mexico followed by:

MID City Beat

Started in April of 2018 by Stephanie Carmon, MID City Beat is an online magazine dedicated to reporting on the coolest places and stories in Yucatan. Several specialty writers contribute to an array of articles including Arts & Culture, Food & Drink, and Health & Beauty.

MID City Beat provides quality articles, videos, and recommendations of what to check out from the latest events, what’s hot in the culinary, arts and culture scenes that will give you ideas on how to spend your time when you visit or live Mérida, Yucatan.

Stephanie Carmon states, “This city is alive with cultural traditions, a culinary scene that wows world-renowned food critics, bohemian places to chill and high-end classy clubs to sip on a martini mixed by a professional mixologist. Every day and night of the week you can find something interesting to do. With this website/blog, we can give insight to foreigners and Mexicans alike on things worth doing here in this Ciudad Blanca!”

What I like about MID City Beat:

It is fun, fresh and just the right amount of funky. The photography is beautiful, the information is on point, and well-written articles. Stephanie and her team cover a wide variety of topics that are informative, relevant, and sexy!

My favorite articles? Weekly Columns and Spotlight Sections (most excellent!). Check out their Facebook page too. The editor and founder, Stephanie Carmon does a great job in the way of introduction to Mérida Mexico.

Different Areas of Mérida

Mérida offers vibrant communities, both large and small, where history and culture are important. There is something for everyone!

While you are in Mérida, feel free to move about the city with ease and curiosity. The locals are always willing to help and answer questions. You will find there are no definitive lines between neighborhoods. However, the people who live in them will surely assist you with the boundaries and the colorful stories that make each of them special.

  • No matter if you are in Mérida proper or a surrounding city, there are many one-way streets which will be notated on the street signs or by how the cars are parked.
  • Look for street signs! You will find the neighborhood and the zip code listed. However, Centro which is in the middle of the city will simply say “Centro”. Others will say Col. Garcia Gineres 97070 or Col. Yucatan 97115.
  • Use caution at the gloriettas or roundabouts. Watch how the cars utilize these traffic circles as the rules are slightly different here than in other countries.
  • Become familiar with the traffic lights and street signs. There are many corners where, no matter what color the light is, a car has the ability to turn right without stopping.
  • Lastly, pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way. You will get honked at if you are not following the rules of the road AND give drivers full reign of the streets.

Learn the Layout of Mérida

Let’s start with the basics:

  • Mérida occurs in a grid with mostly numbered streets.
  • Larger through streets have names such as Ave. Cupules, Ave. Itzaes or Ave. Colon.
  • The main boulevard in the center of the city, running north and south, is the Paseo de Montejo.
  • The Periferico is the loop around the city.

Study a map of Mérida to gain an understanding of both the layout of the city and the location of the older colonias, the neighborhoods, and newer fraccionamientos or subdivisions.

Plaza Grande – The Downtown

It’s pretty obvious once you think about it; the center of the city is called The Downtown. The historic city center with Plaza Grande is a beautiful place to experience the heart of Mérida. This central plaza is located between 60 and 62 and between 61 and 63.

People meet in the lovely park, get their shoes shined, buy and sell all kinds of items, read the paper, sing, dance, feed the pigeons, or just sit and relax. There are also newsstands, coffee shops, restaurants, and various retail establishments as an introduction to Mérida Mexico.

On any given day-

  • Listen to music from street musicians
  • Sample delicious bites from food vendors
  • Watch horse-drawn carriages click-clack through the cobblestone streets

Champs-Élysées in Mérida – The Paseo de Montejo

To begin with, the Paseo de Montejo is the main boulevard running north and south. Named after Francisco de Montejo the Spanish conquistador who founded the city in 1542. The southernmost street is Calle 47 and runs parallel to Calles 56 and 58. The Paseo continues north to the Monumento a la Patria at Calle 27A.

Similar to the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City or the Champs-Élysées in Paris, the Paseo de Montejo is the avenue for some of the most beautiful and iconic buildings and monuments in Mérida.

As the city expanded north, so did Paseo de Montejo. Past the Monumento, the Paseo called Prolongation Paseo de Montejo (meaning the extension of the Paseo). The Prolongation continues until it connects in the north with Federal Highway 261.

Centro – Primary Tourist Area

The city center is Centro, where the action happens! You’d have to say with the number of restaurants, shopping, and establishments, and activity is non-stop. Gorgeous colonial-style homes, favored by ex-pats, are remodeled, in-process of constructions, or are for sale here.

Colonias in Centro

  • Santa Lucia
  • Santa Ana
  • Santiago
  • San Juan
  • San Sebastia
  • Ermita or La Ermita
  • Mejorada
  • Itzimna

These are just a few of the numerous Colonias where you will see locals, expats, and tourists walking around at all times of the day and night.

“The North” of Mérida

Mérida has been growing enormously to the north neighborhoods since the second half of the twentieth century. Referred to as “The North”; some parts are very affluent. People will tell you the richer neighborhoods are here, and to some extent, that is true.

“The North” is the area with the greatest commercial growth along with newer homes, shopping malls, hospitals, department stores, private schools, franchises from all over the world, and car dealerships.

As you continue on Prolongación de Montejo from Centro, get ready to experience culture shock. Some have likened this area to similar ones in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, Phoenix, and other suburbs of cities in the US.

Bottom line –

This area is popular with many locals due to its proximity to the beach, just a quick 20-minute drive.

Summus Catering Service Happy Hour

Colonias in “The North”

  • Montecristo
  • Montebello
  • San Ramón Norte
  • Montes de Amé
  • Monterreal
  • Mexico
  • Altabrisa
  • Francisco de Montejo

Shopping malls are Altabrisa, City Center, La Isla, and The Harbor.

Mérida Orientation Landmarks

Once you have the basics I’ve shared with you, it is easy to get your bearings quickly. The city has a loop that goes around the entire city called the Periferico.

First, do is this –

I recommend finding the city center in relation to the Periferico and the colonias so you can see how the city is laid out.

Then, do this –

Then find the Paseo de Montejo. This is the major avenue that runs North and South.

And, guess what –

Once you have these landmarks, you will be able to find anything.

Mérida Addresses

Each neighborhood has its own set of address numbers. For example, you will have a Calle 41 in several different neighborhoods. To reduce confusion, you will use the additional street numbers along with the zip code.

A typical address can look like this:

Calle 41 559 x 80 y 82
Calle 41 (the street)

559 (the address)

X 80 y 82 (between streets 80 and 82)

97115 (the zip code or C.P.)

Remember, you need to have all three parts of the address to find your destination. Occasionally, you will see addresses with letters as well. If you are unable to find your exact address, keep driving a block or two and I guarantee you will eventually find it.

Mérida Driving Tips

Driving in another country can be particularly daunting and you’ll find driving in Mérida will be quite different than driving in other parts of the Yucatan Peninsula.

If you’ve ever driven in other parts of Mexico, you’ll know driving in the Yucatan is a luxury with well-maintained highways. Not surprisingly, smaller streets can have their share of potholes. While larger potholes seem to appear after periods of harsh rainy storms, they eventually get filled.

You’ve heard this advice a million times –

  • Go slow, watch the streets, and look out for the numerous vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Pay careful attention to cars stopping in front of you to allow their passengers to get out of the car. Uber drivers are notorious for stopping quickly on both the left and the right-hand sides of the street.
  • Most importantly, ensure you arrive into the city limits of Mérida at least one hour before dark. Driving in Mérida can be quite tricky as the streets are difficult to navigate. Many streets are one way and not visibly marked.
  • Street parking can be a challenge as it is very limited. Therefore, you may consider renting a house with off-street parking to alleviate any parking issues.

If you break down, there is a free service called Green Angels. Think about the Mexican equivalent to Triple-A. This helpful bilingual crew patrols federal highways and toll roads throughout Mexico to help stranded motorists. Call the phone number: 01-800-987-8224. If you have an emergency, you can also dial 078. Although this service is free, be sure to tip your helpful crew.

NOW THE FUN STUFF!!!!


****The hours and information contained in this article is updated to the best of my knowledge.****
I ALWAYS recommend calling in advance if you have a specific location you are headed to
(museum, restaurant, shopping, etc.).

Hours can change frequently based on new regulations from the government.
****For restaurants, the hours reflect closing at 10:00 pm.****
Many kitchens close between 8:30 and 8:45 to observe the curfew regulations. 


As of March 1, 2021 Curfew Regulations – No one on the street between 11:30 pm and 5:00 am


Things To Do in Mérida Centro

Family Fun in Mérida Centro

Mérida BiciRuta

A portion of the Paseo de Montejo is closed off every Sunday allowing cyclists to enjoy a morning of bicycling in family-oriented ambiance and safety. Bike rentals are available.
Location: Paseo de Montejo, Centro
Hours: Every Sunday 8:00 am to 1:00 pm

Artists on the Paseo

On the east side of the Paseo de Montejo, artists set up their offerings including original paintings, sculpture, macrame, jewelry, and more.
Location: Paseo de Montejo, Centro
Hours: Daily, Usually in the Evenings, Sundays from 9:00 am

Monumento a la Patria

The work of sculptor Romulo Rozo exhibits part of the history of Mexico from the founding of Tenochtitlán until the middle of the 20th century.
Location: Paseo Montejo x Calle 27A, Centro
Hours: Outdoor Monument

Panificadora Montejo

An impressive selection of pan and pan dulce including mil hojas (flaky pastry dough with custard filling and rich black and white icing), vanilla muffins, and croissants.
Location: Paseo de Montejo at Prol. Paseo Montejo, Centro
Hours: Daily 8:00 am to 7:00 pm

Marquesitas la Nueva Tradición

Marquesitas are a mix between a crispy crepe and a waffle cone; rolled up with Edam cheese and filling of your choice such as cajeta (a caramel sauce), honey, chocolate, jam, peanut butter or Nutella.
Location: Paseo de Montejo between Calle 35 y 37, Centro (many carts for independent vendors too!)
Hours: Daily 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Horse & Carriage Ride

This is a magical must-do Mérida tour, particularly in the evening. Feel like you have stepped back into a different era. Be sure to ask your driver for English before you get into the carriage.
Location: Paseo de Montejo, Centro
Hours: Daily Mornings, Afternoons and Evenings

Parque Zoologico del Centenario (Zoological Park of Centenario)

Beautiful arched entrances welcome you into the over 100-year-old park filled with trees and birds, cultural entertainment, and more. A train ride is available around the park.
Location: Av. Itzaes x 59, Centro
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Admission: Free

Museums & Culture in Mérida Centro

Quinta Montes Molina Museum

Admire European furniture, Carrara marble floors, Baccarat and Murano chandeliers, chime clocks, Art Deco pieces, and porcelain and alabaster sculptures. Experience Eclectic architecture and neoclassical influence in this historic house.
Location: Paseo de Montejo #469 x 33 y 35, Centro
Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
Admission: $80 pesos (approx)

Palacio Canton

Once the home of General Francisco Canton Rosada, it is now the Anthropology Museum. One of the rejuvenated palace-style mansions on Paseo de Montejo gives a peek into the lavishness prevalent during the henequen heyday.
Location: Paseo de Montejo #485 x 41 y 43, Centro
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Admission: $60 pesos (approx)

Dome inside the Peón Contreras Theater

The magnificent dome painted by Nicolás Allegretti is adorned with delicate paintings of Greek muses, inspired by the French neoclassical style. Inquire at the box office or in the adjacent restaurant for permission to go inside.
Location: Calle 60 x 57 y 59, Centro
Hours: Daily 9:00 am to 9:00 pm (approx)

Churches in Mérida Centro

Ermita Church

Known as the Hermitage of Our Lady of the Good Journey, travelers stopped here on their way out of the city to ask the Virgin to provide them with a successful journey on their long travels.
Location: Calle 66 x 77, Centro
Hours: Daily 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

Santa Lucia Church

Built-in 1575 by D. Pedro Garcia, the temple was originally intended to house African slaves in Spanish service while the adjacent land was for the Spanish cemetery.
Location: Calle 60 x 55, Centro
Hours: Daily 7:00 am to 9:00 pm

Parks in Mérida Centro

Parque Santa Lucia

Regarded as the third oldest plaza in Mérida, Santa Lucia Park is the location of the only obelisk found in the city.
Location: Calle 60 x 55, Centro
Hours: Outdoor Park (find many children, vendors, pets, locals, visitors and expats in this beautiful park)

Parque San Juan*

The elegant fountain in the middle of the park brought from Paris is the focal point of this small park always bustling with tourists and locals. You’ll also find a plethora of food vendors and trinkets from the many carts around the square.
Location: Calle 67 x 64, Centro
Hours: Outdoor Park

*The most notable thing you will see in this area is the bright egg-yolk yellow arch. There were originally four arches which were the gateways in and out of Mérida. The arch in this area was the exit to Campeche.

The three remaining arches:

  • The San Juan arch on Calle 64 at 69A
  • The Del Puente arch on Calle 63 at 50
  • The Dragones arch on Calle 50 at 61

Parque Santiago

When they first entered the city of T’hó (now Mérida), Spanish conquerors found an indigenous village which they named Santiago after the Patron of Spain.
Location: Calle 59 x 70, Centro
Hours: Outdoor Park

Parque de Las Americas

A wonderful four-block park features columns throughout the park, dedicated to all the nations of the Americas and some Chac Mool sculptures carved in stone with Maya figures.
Location: Av. Colón y 18 x 20, Col. García Ginerés (97070)
Hours: Outdoor Park

Markets in Mérida Centro

Santa Ana Market

One of the busiest markets for traditional food and other local vendors offering a variety of products in front of the Mercado.
Location: Calle 60 x 45, Centro
Hours: Daily 7:00 am to 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm to Midnight

Santiago Market

Known for its cocina economicas (small, tasty food kitchen-style restaurants) as well as fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and eggs, you’ll find beautiful flowers and freshly prepared juices.
Location: Calle 59 x 70, Centro
Hours: Daily 8:00 am to 3:00 pm (approx)

Lucas de Galvez Market

In the maze of stalls, you’ll find just about anything and everything you need as well as things you didn’t even know existed. Don’t get lost!
Location: Calle 56A x 67 y 69, Centro
Hours: Daily 8:00 am to 4:00 pm (approx)

Slow Food Market

This weekly market also offers organic products such as produce, eggs, coffee, artisanal cheeses, baked goods, homemade sauces, dips, honey, and more.
Location: Avenida Colon at Avenida Reforma (Calle 72), Col. García Ginerés (97070)
Hours: Every Saturday 9:00 am to 1:00 pm

Music in Mérida Centro

La Negrita Cantina

Live music starts around 5:30 or 6:00 so arrive early for a table. The best seats are the ones in the large open-air courtyard.
Location: Calle 62 #415 x 49, Centro
Hours: Daily 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm (call for hours and reservations may be required)

Dzalbay Cantina

This eclectic, cool, neighborhood bar with a mellow and casual atmosphere attracts a well-mixed crowd of young and old, locals and tourists, people from all walks of life.Experience both live and recorded music, wonderful drinks and drink specials and people watch until your heart’s desire. The vibe will remind you of a jazz club in Chicago, Detroit, or Atlanta.While Dzalbay is not considered an official restaurant, they serve really great food.
Location: Calle 64 443A x Esquina 53, Centro
Hours: Monday – Friday 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm, Saturday – Sunday 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm (reservations required)

best-restaurants-in-merida

Restaurants in Mérida Centro

Pola Gelato

Both milk-based and sorbet-style, dairy-free gelato is hand-made with local ingredients. Regional flavors are also the primary focus but also include traditional gelato favorites like stracciatella.
Location: Calle 55 # 467D x 62 y 64, Centro
Hours: Daily 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm

La Chaya Maya

Popular with locals and tourists alike, try the main location in a charming colonial home with an open-air courtyard. A great introduction to classic Yucatecan fare.
Location: Calle 55 x 60 y 62, Centro
Hours: Daily 7:00 am to 9:00 pm

El Barrio

The moment you step into El Barrio, you’ll feel warm and comfortable. This cozy shop has a variety of coffees, fresh juices, traditional breakfast items and sandwiches; all are super yummy.
Location: Corner of 58 y 45, Centro
Hours:  8:30 am to 2:30 pm

Cafetería Impala

An extensive menu with both local and international options. Really good salads and freshly prepared drinks (think Chaya). This is a cafeteria-style restaurant, keep that in mind when you decide to visit. Menu items are reasonable – have a good meal here for a local price.
Location: Calle 56A 500 x 47 y 45, Centro
Hours:  Daily 8:00 am to 9:00 pm

Wayan’e

A taco from this local establishment is a must when you are in Mérida. There are three locations; google for the location closest to you when you are hungry for tacos from this famous stand.
My favorite location: Calle 15 X 18A y 20, Col. Itzimná (97100)
Hours:  Monday – Saturday 7:00 am to 2:30 pm, Sunday 7:30 am to 12:30 pm

Oliva

In this cozy restaurant, where people come for a meal and a glass of wine, you will feel like part of the family. Everything is home-made including three of the pastas: fettuccine, tagliolini, and ravioli. The dried pasta is of the highest quality imported from Italy. Mouthwatering spaghetti carbonara, grilled octopus, and caprese salads are a few favorites.
Location: Calle 56 x 49, Centro
Hours: Monday – Saturday 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Micaela Mar Y Lena

Main courses are preceded by Vuelve a la Vida or Come Back to Life, a hot cup of seafood broth seasoned with chipotle and herbs. Micaela also offers a raw oyster bar with a variety of delicious and fresh oysters not found anywhere else in the best restaurants in Mérida. My favorite dish here is the Pescado Frito, whole fried fish, served with a distinctive herb-infused sauce. Octopus by far is the most popular; experience the wonderful smoky flavor of this succulent dish.
Location: Calle 47 #458 x 52 y 54, Centro
Hours: Daily 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Bryan’s Burger Bar

When you are craving a true American hamburger, this is the ONLY place in Merida that will satisfy your taste buds. Bryan’s is famous for its high-quality gourmet burgers. Popular burgers are the California and the Parisina..
Location: Calle 60 x 55 y 53 (Santa Lucia Park)
Hours: Daily 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Avec Amor (my new favorite restaurant in Centro)

Incredible restaurant features fusion of French and Yucatecan. Fabulous service, incredible food, great location and amazing ambiance. Wonderful wine selection and cocktail list.
Location: Calle 60 x 55 y 53 (Santa Lucia Park)
Hours: Daily 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Things to do in The North of Mérida

“The North” is where you will find most of the stores and chains you recognize from the U.S. Think, Costco, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Office Max, etc. It is quieter, cleaner and more modern. In fact, Angel and I drove around this area extensively. I thought we would need a car if we lived in The North, but that’s not the case.

There are many establishments within a 15 – 20 minute walk from our house in Montes de Ame including Gran Plaza Mall, Home Depot and Office Max! I love living up here and find that I have everything I need within a short distance from the house.

Mérida Malls in The North

  • La Isla
  • The Harbor
  • Galerias
  • Gran Plaza
  • Altabrisa

Mérida Restaurants in The North

Il Rustico

By far, the BEST pizza in all of Merida! I’ve tried at least 20 different pizza establishments and, hands down, Il Rustico is my favorite. Fresh ingredients, true Italian crust and a great variety of choices. Great location at the bottom of the Buyan Apartments with wonderful service.
Location: Calle 39 x 28 y 26, Montes de Amé 97115
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Sunday 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Astro Bistro Spirits

Absolutely incredible food, service and atmosphere. Another top notch restaurant located at the bottom of Buyan Apartments. A combination of modern culinary skill with a traditional twist. Quaint, unique, romantic, great for single diners and a great wine list.
Location: Calle 39 x 28 y 26, Montes de Amé 97115
Hours: Monday – Saturday 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Ostro

Located above another restaurant, be aware you’ll have to climb a flight of stairs to reach Ostro. The best part is a comfortable outdoor patio where you can enjoy the fresh air late at night and views of the city. They offer Italian, French, and American wines, craft cocktails, and a range of domestic and imported beers.
Location: Av. Andrés García Lavín #290, Montebello 97113
Hours: Daily 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Miyabi

First and foremost, the ambiance of Miyabi is spectacular. Seating is in an open space surrounding a large tree that grows through the roof. Once your order arrives, it is obvious that the chef has experience in the preparation of Japanese food and sushi with the perfect combination of ingredients to rice ratio. The difference with sushi here is that you can order it with or without nori (the seaweed wrap).
Location: Prolongacion Paseo de Montejo #34, Merida (97115)
Hours: Daily 1:00 pm to 9:30 pm

Mérida Beaches

Undoubtedly, the beaches in the Yucatan are some of the most unspoiled and beautiful beaches in Mexico. And relatively speaking, there are quite a few beaches to visit within a short drive from Mérida.

For the most part, these beaches are known by locals and tourists alike. Others are best-kept secrets by locals to ensure the pristine nature of the sand, the water, and the experience.

Progresso

The most popular beach destination among locals and tourists, Progresso is the number one choice for a quick and easy day trip. Progresso is accessible by bus, Uber, taxi, or car.
Location: Approximately 40 minutes from The Downtown

Chelem

A little diamond in the rough, Chelem will give you local flavor while helping you feel at ease with the Mexican culture. Chelem truly provides the feel of a beach town with small markets for fruits, vegetables, bread, staples, and, of course, tortillas.
Location: Approximately 45 minutes from The Downtown

Chuburna

Chuburna has many choices of restaurants with fresh fish as the main course. Like Chelem, you will also find small markets for fruits, vegetables, bread, etc.
Location: Approximately 1 hour from The Downtown

Chicxulub Puerto

Famous for being the epicenter of the crater caused by the meteorite that created many cenotes in the area. It is well developed, a bit more than the other locations, with a larger variety of shops, restaurants, and some modern amenities.
Location: Approximately 45 minutes from The Downtown

Telchac Puerto

The road from Progreso towards Telchac is along a lagoon, rather than the beach. As you approach Telchac, there are a few spots along the way where you can find pink lagoons and even flamingos (although not in abundance as in Celestun). It’s just across from the lagoon at the Xcambo ruins.
Location: Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from The Downtown

Celestun

Located in the biosphere reserve, Celestun is a quaint fishing village best familiar for the flamingos that inhabit its clear waters and mangroves. The best times to see these intriguing birds are in the fall and winter.
Location: Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from The Downtown

Sisal

With most of the locals visiting Progresso, Sisal is quieter and less crowded. The name of the port was due to the exportation of henequen fiber known as sisal.
Location: Approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes from The Downtown

Ruins Close to Mérida

There is no question that one of the most advanced indigenous cultures of the ancient Americas were the Mayans. It should be noted, they migrated into the Yucatán around 2500 B.C and began as hunter-gatherers.

Without a doubt, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala have hundreds of Mayan ruins.

But here’s the interesting thing . . .

The Yucatan Peninsula is the site of some of the most impressive ruins.

More importantly, between 300 and 900, the Mayans built several cities in the Yucatán region. spectacular. You’ll find some that are spectacular and others that are special and significant in their own way

Dzibilchaltún

The site of the famous structure known as the Temple of the Seven Dolls where seven effigies were found during its excavation. A great ruin to visit due to the close proximity to Mérida and the lack of crowds found at some of the more popular sites. Visit the cenote close by.
Location: Approximately 30 minutes from The Downtown

Ek Balam

One of the regions least visited archaeological sites but quite possibly one of the most fascinating. The Acropolis Temple is the most iconic structure at the site. Ek Balam is renowned for its depictions of angels adorning a stucco frieze.
Location: Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes from The Downtown

Uxmal (my favorite)

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, you’ll find the Pirámide del Adivino (Pyramid of the Magician). Before you go, learn about the importance of the Mayan Rain God, Chaac for a frame of reference.
Location: Approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes from The Downtown


Close to Uxmal

Mirador

On the way to Uxmal, I recommend going through Muna and Mirador. Muna is a charming little town with an old church and a traditional feel. Cocina economicas are around the town square but they close early! Mirador overlooks the beautiful jungle of the Yucatan. In the far distance you can also see the Ruta Puuc. Cute gift shop (kids will love it) and the guides are filled with knowledge. I highly recommend!
Location: Approximately 1 hour from The Downtown


Chichén Itzá

Listed as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Chichén Itzá was once a major spiritual and economic center. During the afternoon in the spring and autumn equinoxes, the northwest corner of the structure casts a shadow that creates the appearance of a snake slithering down the pyramid. Visit the cenote close by.
Location: Approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes from The Downtown


Close to Chichén Itzá

Hacienda Chichén Resort

Experience genuine Maya traditions and culture at this boutique hotel. The location provides direct access to Chichén Itzá archaeological zone with an entrance gate within the hotel’s own gardens.
Location: Approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes from The Downtown

Cenote Ik-Kil

Close to Chichén Itzá and meaning “windy place”, vertical walls are lined with vines and flowers leading to crystal-blue waters and populated by catfish; ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

Cenote Yokdzonot

Family friendly cenote located 18 kilometers from Chichen Itza. Cenote Yokdzonot is one of the more beautiful cenotes in the area.

Cenote Lol-Ha

Lol-Ha, one of the best cenotes in the Yucatan, is also one of the least visited. Birds, jungle and gorgeous clear waters, it is perfect for swimming and snorkeling.


Mexico’s Southern Plantations – Haciendas

Luxurious haciendas were built by wealthy Yucatecos and became symbols of affluence and culture; adorned with furnishings and art from around the world. Sounds impressive, right?

For this reason, you’ll find large mansions on Paseo de Montejo and Avenida Colón. Consequently, the same owners built haciendas in the countryside where henequén called green gold was grown.

It’s worth noting that a trip to Mérida would be incomplete without visiting some of the many haciendas within a short drive.

Hacienda Xcanatun

18th-century henequen hacienda transformed into an exclusive small luxury hotel. Visit the Casa de Piedra restaurant overlooking the extensive Palmas Reales garden.
Location: Approximately 10 minutes from The Downtown

Hacienda Santa Cruz

Immerse yourself in colonial opulence at its finest. The Valentina Restaurant located on the terrace of the old machine house overlooks the exotic garden featuring palms, orange trees, flamboyant, and other ancient tropical plants.
Location: Approximately 25 minutes from The Downtown

Hacienda San Ildefonso Teya

Hacienda Teya is a restaurant, hotel, and popular wedding venue known for its quality Yucatecan cuisine and live trova acts on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. During the seventeenth century, it was one of the largest and most profitable cattle ranches in Yucatan.
Location: Approximately 25 minutes from The Downtown

Hacienda Yaxcopoil

Experience the grandeur of one of the most important and authentic haciendas known for its size and magnificence. Mayan artifacts are displayed in the museum and its name means place of the green aspens.
Location: Approximately 40 minutes from The Downtown

Towns Close to Mérida

Campeche

A two-mile wall was built in the 1600s to protect the city from invading pirates. Portions of the walls are used by visitors to admire beautiful views of the city. Lots of pirate history makes this a great destination for adults and kids alike.
Location: Approximately 2.5 hours from The Downtown

Izamal

With almost all the buildings painted an egg-yolk yellow, Izamal is one of Yucatán’s two magical towns (the other is Valladolid). Cobblestone streets and colonial lamp posts complete the scenery on the clean and peaceful streets. One of Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Cities).
Location: Approximately 1 hour from The Downtown

Valladolid

Perfect design and old mansions painted in the colors of its skies pull you into an ethereal bubble where time barely passes and the past melds with the present. Relive the Pre-Hispanic past, with temples, brave warriors, and gastronomic morsels for the gods. Valladolid was called the capital of the Maya east and is another Pueblo Mágico.
Location: Approximately 2 hours from The Downtown


Close to Valladolid

Cenote Zaci

Descend into a cenote, a large sinkhole filled with fresh, clean, and cool water. Prevalent in the Yucatan Peninsula, these sinkholes played an important role in Mayan cosmogony. What makes Cenote Zaci unique is the location, accessibility, and ingress to the water. You will also find a restaurant where, if you have a meal, your entrance to the cenote is free.

Cenote Oxmal

Meaning “three times built”, this beautiful and tranquil cenote is a less well-known cenote in the Valladolid area and comes with few amenities.


Yucatan Peninsula Cenotes

Sixty-six million years ago, the Yucatan Peninsula was the site of a powerful asteroid impact. The Yucatan Asteroid Theory is a scientific explanation of how the Yucatan Peninsula was formed. This theory has been studied for years to explain why the geological makeup of the Yucatan Peninsula is so different from the rest of Mexico.

The impact of the asteriod created underwater caves with freshwater pools are called cenotes. The Maya believed the cenotes were a gateway to Xibalba, the underworld. The rain god Chaac was believed to live at the bottom of these sacred wells. Used for rituals and ceremonies, thousands of sacred cenotes dot Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Further research supported that at the point of impact, entire ecosystems were destroyed worldwide. Interrupted photosynthesis with over 70% of the world’s species dying on impact, the planet experienced the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event.

The impact also created cenotes or water deposits in underground caves that are considered one of the most beautiful natural formations on planet Earth.

San Ignacio Cenote

This cenote features water with a year-round temperature of 26 degrees Celsius; deep and shallow pools with the option to swim at night.
Location: Approximately 45 minutes from The Downtown

Yaal Utzil

Meaning “good son”, this semi-open cenote has many options for jumping, swimming, and relaxing.
Location: Approximately 1 hour from The Downtown

Kankirixche

Meaning “yellow fruit tree”, this cenote is said to be one of the most beautiful in its area. Clear water for snorkeling or scuba with stalactites and roof-to-water formations.
Location: Approximately 1 hour from The Downtown

 

This cenote is located in the parking lot of Costco!

Mérida Mosquito Tips

For the most part, mosquito bites in Mexico are just plain annoying. While the risk of contracting a disease is low, it is still something to be aware of. When a mosquito bites, they mix the blood of the host with the saliva in their mouth which can carry diseases.

Mosquito-borne diseases for Mosquitos in Mérida include:

  • Malaria
  • Yellow Fever
  • Chikungunya
  • Dengue Fever
  • Zika Virus

The most common way to prevent bites is wearing insect repellent on your skin. Traditional synthetic repellents typically use DEET as the active ingredient. There are also repellents made with natural oils. I have tried a variety of both traditional and natural and have found them to have some effectiveness.

Unfortunately, I am one of the types of people mosquitos love. I have to apply and reapply throughout the day otherwise I walk around with red bites all over. In any case, I have searched high and low for something that works for me and my final conclusion is Vicks Vapor Rub.

Yes, that’s right. Who knew?

I dab a tiny bit on my ankles, knees, shoulders, and behind my ears. The secret is Cedarleaf oil which is a natural insect repellent. I reapply every couple of hours for maximum protection for mosquitos in Mérida.

Mérida Pharmacy Tips

For the most part, today’s pharmacies in Mexico have come along way. With the increase in medical tourism, you’ll find a variety of pharmacies all over Mérida. In any given area, you can find three or four pharmacies within a short distance of each other. Some pharmacies are open 24 hours and, notably, some are better than others.

During my introduction to Mérida Mexico, I was surprised at how pharmacies actually work.

  • Sometimes, a prescription is not required.
  • Show the name of the medication you want to the pharmacist.
  • The pharmacist will tell you if you need a prescription or not.
  • If a prescription is not required, they will give you the medication on the spot, if they have it in stock.
  • A doctor, who can do a quick exam and write a prescription is usually in the store or nearby.
  • Just because one pharmacy carries the medication you need does not mean another pharmacy will carry it.
  • For example, you may find your medication at the Farmacias Ahorra at the Plaza Grande location but the same pharmacy in the Garcia Gineres neighborhood does not carry it.
  • Always ask to look at the box of the medication. Is the name the same with similar packaging? Is the packaging damaged? Don’t be afraid to ask for another box if the one you are given is damaged.

Mérida Hospital Tips

Mérida offers world-class medical services because of its superior infrastructure of facilities and professionals. Hospitals and clinics in Mérida provide a range of specialties comparable to Europe and North America. Doctors, consultants, highly-trained staff, surgery facilities, recovery rooms, clinical analysis laboratories, and additional dedicated treatment facilities are generally quite affordable compared to many other countries.

If you need to go to the hospital, keep these tips in mind:

  • It is ALWAYS recommended to have your medical history with you. More often than not, it takes time for doctors or facilities here to obtain records from your practitioners back home. It is also better to be safe than sorry, especially if there is an existing issue.
  • Conduct due diligence and be prepared prior to your arrival. Research and locate the hospitals in Mérida, Mexico, and clinics close to where your accommodations are located.

You’ll also find private hospitals in Mérida, Mexico like StarMedica and Clinica Mérida will accept anyone who can pay. Don’t take it for granted that your medical insurance will also cover emergencies or procedures while you are out of the country. You may also want to explore travel insurance as well.

If you do end up needing emergency services during your introduction to Mérida Mexico, don’t panic. More than likely the prices are also probably less than what you would pay out of pocket for the same services back home. Unlike in the USA, you do not necessarily have to go to a hospital for surgery. At the current time in Mérida, you’ll find close to twenty different clinics that also provide surgical and recovery services.

Mérida Water Tips

Most locals don’t drink water. Actually, they don’t drink a lot of water, period. When in Rome, or in this case when in Mexico, do as the locals do and don’t drink the tap water.

To stay as healthy as possible, consider the following recommendations:

  • Use bottled water to brush teeth.
  • Avoid swallowing water in the shower.
  • Avoid eating lettuce or salads in a restaurant (even the best restaurants).
  • Use a food-safe cleaning product for washing fruits and vegetables (research the best one for you).
  • Avoid putting your water into a ceramic or pottery container (called a garrafone).
  • Do not reuse/refill plastic bottles.
  • For large water bottles, ensure the cap is a seal with protective plastic.

Final Thoughts on Introduction to Mérida Mexico

While I’ve provided just a quick overview of the wonderful things to see and do in Mérida, this list is FAR from complete. For me, one of the most charming parts of Mérida is exploring. There is a Hansel and Gretel bread crumb trail all over the city. I’ve found I will reach a destination only to find something else that piques my curiousity.

In fact, one day I spent 8 hours wandering around Centro from one interesting location to the next. It was magical!

Finally, I want to share the following information which is, in my opinion, quite important.

3 MOST Dangerous Things in Mérida

  • Heat – Plan accordingly with sunscreen, hat, or umbrella. You’ll be grateful to have a light wrap or sweater with you due to the change between the outside heat and the inside air-conditioning.
  • Mosquitos – Always carry repellent with you. A great trick I found is that hand-sanitizer takes the sting out of bites.
  • Sidewalks – Wear comfortable shoes, watch when stepping on and off of curbs. Don’t multitask or look down. Be aware of where you place your feet at all times.

General Safety Tips for Mérida Mexico

  • Don’t leave valuables in sight in your home or car where anyone might be tempted.
  • Don’t give keys to your housekeeper, gardener or pool man.
  • Always be home when any service provider is at your home.
  • Pay attention to your gut instinct – it is always right.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and who is around you.
  • If you are walking at night, keep an eye and ear out for unusual activity around you.
  • Avoid dark streets is one of the most important safety tips for Mérida Mexico.
  • Don’t bring anything to Mérida you can’t afford to lose.
  • Never keep all of your money in one place. Keep a little bit in your wallet for easy access and the majority of it in another part of your wallet, purse, or bag.
  • Keep copies of passports and FMM card (unless directed by authorities to keep your original documents on you – normally this only happens in times of emergency – similar to COVID).
  • Do not ever allow the police to take your ID, passport, or license tags.

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