Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

Map of Neighborhoods in Merida

When I arrived in Mérida, the first thing I wanted to do was to get a lay of the land.  As you know, when you are visiting a city for the first time, this can be a challenging task.  I love spending my days exploring the neighborhoods in Mérida; from the beautiful pastel colors to the wrought iron work to the colonial architecture. The city of Mérida is quite magical and I know you’re going to love it!

Best Neighborhoods in Mérida

Notably, Mérida offers:

  • high quality of life
  • low cost of living
  • wonderful tropical climate
  • one of the safest places to visit in Mecxico
  • one of the the safest places to live in Mexico.

Community activities help keep people connected to their heritage and to each other. These are the foundational values of the Mexican culture. Really, who wouldn’t love Mérida?

Without a doubt, one of the most enchanting things about this magical city is the neighborhoods. Each has their own unique personality. Additionally, each neighborhood has a distinct feeling, flavor, and flair.

Mérida was designed as a grid

I know the feeling . . .

It seems hard to understand the layout of Mérida.

So, let’s start with the basics:

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

Therefore, study a map of the neighborhoods in Mérida to gain an understanding of:

  • layout of the city
  • location of the colonias
  • different neighborhoods
  • fraccionamientos (subdivision-type neighborhoods where all the lot sizes are the same)

Neighborhood map for Mérida mexico

Colonias and Fraccionamientos of the Neighborhoods in Mérida

Typically, a church and a park are found in the center of most Colonias. In short, this is the hub for all the activities, celebrations, and gatherings. It’s common for the church, neighborhood, and park to share the same name. However, this is not the case for every single one. To discover the name of the colonia or fraccionameinto, look at the street signs. Normally, each name is listed here to help you navigate your way.

Next, a Fraccionamiento is a division or housing development. In the U.S., we call this a subdivision. Whereas, in Mérida, it is an area where all the lot sizes are exactly the same. Subsequently, in fraccionamientos, you might see similar types of houses.

As you leave Centro, notice how the neighborhood changes the further north you travel.

Heartbeat of Mérida:  Plaza Grande and The Downtown

Ultimately, neighborhoods in Mérida radiate from the center of the city called The Downtown and the Plaza Grande. This historic city center features an elegant park and breathtaking church, Catedral San Ildefonso.

The Zocalo (buildings surrounding the plaza) include:

And, guess what else?

Plaza Grande is a beautiful place to experience the heartbeat of Mérida.

  • Meet in the lovely park
  • Get your shoes shined
  • Buy and sell all kinds of items
  • Read the paper
  • Sing and dance
  • Feed the pigeons
  • Just sit and relax
  • People watch

Additionally, there are also newsstands, coffee shops, restaurants, and various retail establishments.

Plaza Grande Activities

Pok Ta Pok Mayan Ball Game

Location:  Catedral San Ildefonso
Steeped in mysticism, this Maya football game was played for centuries with great ceremony.

Mérida en Domingo

Location:  Between the Plaza Grande and Parque Santa Lucia – Calle 60
Similar to a carnival, this event has food stalls, arts and craft vendors, artists, and folkloric dance performances.

Vaquería Dancing

Location:  Palacio Municipal – Plaza Grande
Importantly, this colorful dance originated in the colonial days of the Yucatán. However, it was one of the only times the Spanish elite allowed villagers to celebrate. Wives of local cowboys called vaqueros organized festivities for this annual event. Without a doubt, women wore their most elaborate dresses while leading their husbands in the dancing and festivities.

Colorful light show displayed on the front of Cathedral San Idelfonso at Plaza Grande in Merida Mexico

Vivid Video Mapping Projections

Location:  San Ildefonso Catedral Facade Front
A high-tech, light and sound show depicts the region’s history and culture. This highly artistic show projects onto the architectural details of the Catedral creating a beautiful backgound for multi-colored lights and images.


Historical Center Walking Tour

Location: Tourism Office
Absolutely, take advantage of these free English and Spanish walking tours. Learn more by visiting the Tourism Office of the Municipal Building on Calle 62 between 61 and 63.

Champs-Élysées of Mérida:  Paseo de Montejo

Named after Francisco de Montejo, the Spanish conquistador who founded the city in 1542, the Paseo de Montejo is the main boulevard running north and south.

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

Take note, the Paseo de Montejo begins at Calle 47 at the south end. This area is known as the Remate. Continuing down the Paseo de Montejo, the Monumento a la Patria at Calle 27A is at the north end. As the city expanded, so did the Paseo de Montejo.

Traveling north of the Monumento a la Patria, is the Prolongation Paseo de Montejo. Meaning the “extension of the Paseo”, this boulevard continues until it connects in the north with Federal Highway 261 also known as the Periferico.

One of the large colonial style twin mansions on the Paseo de Montejo in Merida Mexico

Paseo de Montejo Activities

Noches Mexicanas

Location: The Remate
Every Saturday night, locals and tourists alike gather to enjoy artisanal vendors, local food, music, dancing, and entertainment.

Mérida BiciRuta 

Location: Paseo de Montejo
Especially entertaining is the BiciRuta or bicycle route every Sunday morning. One side of the Paseo de Montejo is closed off to allow participants to bike, walk, skateboard, chat, and enjoy community connection.

Artists on the Paseo

Location: East side of the Paseo de Montejo
In addition to the BiciRuta, find a plethora of artists, local products, street food and more on Sunday mornings until early afternoon.

Popular Centro Colonias

Notably, the action happens in the center of the city called Centro.

Without a doubt, the action is non-stop with restaurants, shopping, tourism offices, museums, art galleries, churches, and parks. When in doubt or if you need to hear some English, visit these Colonias where you will see locals, expats, and tourists walking around at all times of the day and night. Additionally, observe gorgeous colonial-style homes in various stages of remodel, construction, and updates in these popular Centro Colonias:

Best Neighborhoods in Mérida: Santa Lucia

It’s no surprise, the closest Colonia to the Plaza Grande, Santa Lucia, plays an important role in the history of the neighborhoods in Mérida. Locals and visitors alike watch beautiful dancers, learn about Yucatecan history, and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Dedicated to General Sebastián Molas, the obelisk was constructed with a broken tip as a way to symbolize his short life. Built-in 1878, its original marker read (English translation), “Here lie the remains of Colonel Sebastián Molas, Hero of the Caste War.”

Santa Lucia Activities:
Yucatecan Serenade
Every Thursday 9:00 pm
Since 1965, an open-air event with live music, local history; exhibiting traditional costumes and dancing.

Santa Lucia park in Merida mexico

Local Vendor Market
Every Sunday 11:00 am
A lively market with food vendors, traditional clothing, hammocks, jewelry, and a variety of other handmade items.

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

Santa Ana Park and Church – Calle 60 y Calle 45

Santa Ana church is easily identified by the pyramidal spires as well as the raised platform foundation,  most likely a former Maya temple platform. The belief is that Santa Ana was the city’s farm where plantations grew food for the city.

Imagine this . . .

In the 1700s, it served the northernmost barrio of colonial Mérida with a large population of indigenous Maya and mulattos.

Several galleries and museums are located in this established and growing art district. Santa Ana also has a lovely small market with vendor stalls, fresh fruits, and vegetables. A popular group of cocina economics (small local kitchens) all serve traditional Yucatecan foods and fresh juices.

Just one block to the south, you will find more restaurants and tourist shops along Calle 47, which connects to the Paseo de Montejo.

Santa Ana Activities:
Vendors set up here frequently – seems to be more of a “pop-up” style market sometimes with no rhyme or reason to the days/times. These vendors set up on evenings and weekends as well as other days of the week. Santa Ana Park is a gorgeous place to visit during Christmas. Fairy lights form a canopy in the plaza over the park’s central area. It is quite magical to visit during the holidays. Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

Santiago Park and Church – Calle 72 y Calle 59

Another of the oldest Colonias in Mérida, the church of Santiago, was founded in 1637. Little remains of the original structure other than a modest sanctuary with a baroque statue of Santiago and a dated inscription at the entry.

Check this out . . .

Approximately 350-400 years ago, Santiago was the area relegated to the indigenous Indios and artisans. Later it was the German district. Before Paseo de Montejo was built around the turn of the century, Santiago was considered the nicest place to live in Mérida.

Calle 59 was the main formal entrance into Mérida after Porfirio Diaz built the Centenario Zoo and Parque de La Paz. The Santiago Market is one of the best in Mérida with a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, flowers, fresh juices (made on the spot), and a meat market.

Santiago fruit and vegetable market in Mérida mexico

A host of excellent cocina economics, clothing, sundries, and a tortilleria are found here. The center of the park has a beautiful water fountain with many trees where you will find people relaxing in the shade.

Santiago Activities:
Remembranzas Musicales
Every Tuesday 8:30 pm
This event brings residents and tourists together to dance the cha-cha, the mambo, salsa, and other Latin dances to live, Big Band music under the stars.

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

San Juan Park and Church – Calle 69 y 62

Located just four blocks south of the Plaza Grande, the church of San Juan is my favorite in Mérida. This church, dating back to 1770, is breathtaking with its magnificent yellow color, architectural details, and magnificent presence in the park.

The San Juan arch marks the most significant gate to the city. It was rebuilt in 1790 during the government of Lucas de Gálvez y Montes de Oca. He’s the same Lucas de Galvez that started the Lucas de Galvez Mercado – the largest market in Mérida.

san juan arch in Mérida mexico

The text on the plaque of the arch states, “The Year 1790. Owing to the personal intervention, zeal, and prudent policy of the Governor Captain General of this Province, the lord don Lucas de Gálvez was able to inspire the generous stimulus of the Pueblo, lovers of the common benefits of liberty, in whose name were provided the funds for the opening and construction.”

There is a garden and fountain in the park adorned by a bronze statue, known as the “Little Black Girl of San Juan.” During this time, lantern bearers were entrusted with keeping the peace and would announce, “It’s twelve o’clock, and all is serene.” (I just ADORE all these little bits of history!)

In 1810, the chaplain of the church don Vicente María Velásquex y Alvarado was the spirit of the “San Juanistas” and is attributed to the first movements for Independence.

San Juan Activities:
Paseo de las Ánimas
Annually – last week in October
The Paseo de las Ánimas is part of the Dia de Muertos celebrations. People meet in the General Graveyard (Calle 81A x 90, Centro) and join in a type of parade as they walk to San Juan Park. Everyone dresses in Yucatecan traditional clothes with painted skulls on their faces. Upon arrival at the park, enjoy traditional snacks and sweets sold by vendors, and watch cultural shows and presentations.

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

San Sebastian Park and Church – Calle 75 y 72

In colonial times, San Sebastian was part of an area given by the senior Francisco de Montejo to his son. Wanting large estates to be built, he removed the Indigenous Maya and relocated them into the area now known as San Sebastian.

For hundreds of years, this was the area where the disenfranchised local Maya and lower class immigrants lived. As account from history stated, “passing their days outside the city walls, living in homes of stone and straw, or in the dark and dusty streets and plazas.”

Get this . . .

In the early 20th Century, San Sebastian was a dangerous area known as Barrio Bravo, where young men fought amongst themselves and other barrios. For what it’s worth, rumor says the metal fence surrounding the courtyard of the government offices on Calle 75 was built with the muzzles of rifles repurposed after the Mexican Revolution.

A small food market with fruit and vegetable stalls, butchers and cocina economicas, popular with locals, are quite busy on weekend nights.

San Sebastian Activities:
Invocation of Our Lady of the Assumption
Annually August 3 to 15
Enjoy San Sebastian’s famous fería, complete with voladores (homemade bottle rockets), papier maché bulls, and music.

San Sebastian is known for its fairs. Throughout much of the year, booths with penny arcades are ready around the park, sometimes with Ferris-wheels and merry-go-rounds. Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

La Ermita de Santa Isabel Park and Church – Calle 66 y 77

The names La Ermita or Ermita are interchangeable. Dedicated to Nuestra Señora del Buen Viaje or Our Lady of the Good Journey, the Ermita Church was originally built in the 1700s as a wayfarer’s shrine. This was the last place to say your prayers before you set out to Campeche, a dangerous trip west at that particular time.

Our Lady of the Good Journey is Mérida’s equivalent of Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travelers.

There’s a small, interesting, beautiful garden and patio with access through a wooden door just across from the park. The garden containes medicinal and ornamental plants and trees along with with with a variety of flowers, ferns, and shrubs; all native Yucatecan species. Entry is free but access is limited. If the door is open, peek your head in and ask to see the garden. Some say the garden has ghosts . . .

The park in front of Ermita’s church was also renovated a few years ago with a new playground, Wi-Fi connections, and computer docking stations. The streets around Ermita have been reset and repaved with the original bricks. Most people will tell you the bricks were imported from Europe. Actually, they were made and brought to the city from Cincinnati, Ohio!

Ermita Activities:
Mostly centered around local celebrations and events. Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

Mejorada Park and Church – Calle 50 y 57

The very first hospital in Mérida was built in Mejorada in 1562. Between 1688-1694, the Franciscans built two sets of churches and convents. One disappeared. The other still in existence today is called La Mejorada.

This building had many different uses before becoming home to the Faculty of Architecture UADY. This building adjoins another important Franciscan colonial building, the Dragon Cavalry, the former headquarters of the military garrison of Mérida.

In this tranquil park, look for a large, bronze sculpture commemorating the Niños Heroes de Chapultepec. Local youth sometimes use it for dance or parade practice. There is no market in the neighborhood, but the central Mercado Lucas de Galvez is only a few blocks to the south. Believe me when I say you must visit this vast market full of everything you can imagine.

Hotel Mejorada Merida in Neighborhoods in Mérida

If you need help moving furniture or a task to see the need for a truck, go to the east side of the square to find men and crews to help you. On the west side of the park is the famous Los Almendros restaurant and the Museo del Arte Popular, the museum of Mexican popular arts and crafts.

Mejorada Activities:
Mostly centered around local celebrations and events. Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

San Cristóbal – Calle 50 y 69

In the 1540s, Francisco Montejo and his conquistadores set aside this area to house the Indians from Central Mexico who helped them conquer the Maya. San Cristóbal Church, called Our Lady of Guadalupe, was the last one that Spaniards built in the Yucatán with its foundation stone laid in 1757.

An interesting fact . . .

During the rapid growth of the city, it was difficult to travel to San Cristobal because of a high hill and a street called “The Street of the Impossible.” This extraordinary neighborhood gave shelter to five cultures: Maya, Mexican, Spanish, Mestizo, and Arab. A natural choice, Lebanese immigrants established their businesses and homes in San Cristobal.

Undoubtedly, histories assure us San Cristóbal appeared, for a time, to be like a suburb of Beirut or Damascus. From this cultural Colonia, two institutions of Yucatecan cuisine originated: the tortilla and the kibi.

The church is reminiscent of the Cathedral in the Plaza Grande. It also shares its recessed shell archway with the church in Uman. Take some time to enjoy the magnificent Moorish choir window featuring the Virgin.

A stairway of 129 steps takes you to the nave’s interior gallery with a neoclassical stone retablo, reportedly sculpted by an imported European sculptor. The inscription in Latin above the entrance reads, “This is the House of God and the Gate of Heaven.”

San Cristobal Activities:
Annually – December 12th
Virgin of Guadalupe Celebration

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

Garcia Gineres Las Americas Park and Our Lady of Fatima Church – Calle 20 y 23

Originally the land of the Hacienda Datil y Limon meaning date and lemon, Señor Don Joaquín García Ginerés purchased this part of Mérida and is his namesake. On wide streets, you’ll see a variety of house styles from art deco to colonial to European to modern, most less than 50 years old.

You won’t want to miss this . . .

Maya Art Deco style (also seen in the Monumento a la Patria on Paseo de Montejo) influenced the Parque de Las Americas. Monuments throughout the park pay homage to all the different countries of North and South America, built to represent the unity of the American people, pre-Hispanic cultures, and socialist ideals.

The park features a large fountain, a performance half-shell or concha open-air auditorium, the Jose Martí cultural center, and an enclosed section reserved exclusively as a children’s play area.

Believe it or not –

Rumor says a cenote lies underneath the concha. Many cultural and athletic events, award ceremonies, and celebrations happen in the park on the weekends. Our Lady of Fatima church reflects an enchanting art deco style and gorgeous stained glass windows.

Garcia Gineres Activities:
Slow Food Market
Every Saturday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Part of the worldwide Slow Food network (the opposite of fast food), the goals preserve culinary traditions, focus on regional organic produce, and encourage healthy eating. Arrive early for the best selections as vendors tend to run out of their products closer to noon. Bring shopping bags.

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

Centenario Peace Park and Parque Zoológico del Centenario – Av. Itzaes y 59

The area around the Parque Centenario Zoo is the Centenario. Originally the Barrio de Santa Catarina, this area was part of Santiago. Initially, a poor neighborhood, unwanted members of the population, including the sick, the crazy, and the criminal lived here.

The zoo, constructed as part of a nationwide building project by Porfirio Diaz in the early 1960s, connects to  Parque de la Paz (Peace Park). The neighborhood behind and around the Zoo remains a humble and authentic neighborhood. There is no local market here. However, there are several larger grocery stores and a few smaller ones nearby.


Centenario Park and Zoo in Neighborhoods in Mérida

Colonial History in Mérida

To wrap up this article about the neighborhoods in Mérida, here are a few more with a brief, interesting fact about each. The zip code is in parentheses for better directions when you visit!

Itzimna – Calle 15 y 20 (97100)

Originally, Itzimna was a separate Maya village on the northeastern outskirts of the original city limits of Mérida. The first colonial building here was the church built as a chapel for the resident Indian population. The church is a favorite of locals and the site of many weddings due to its charm and beauty. Visit the famous Wayan’e Taco Stand!

Alemán or Miguel Aleman – Calle 21 y 26 (97148)

Built-in 1957 as one of the first planned developments in Mérida, Aleman is named after Mexico’s president at the time. A federally funded development designated for workers was the only Colonia with a sewer system at that time. Believe it or not, it is STILL the only Colonia with a sewer system. It was also the first Colonia in the city to get city water.

Jesus Carranza – Calle 41 y 28 (97109)

A very small Colonia next to Itzimna and Aleman. Every Wednesday night, there are tianguis (traditional markets) in existence since pre-Hispanic times. It is the equivalent of an American flea market.

Chen Bech – Calle 57 y 42 (97000)

Chen Bech means “birds nest” and is the site of the original Yucatecan brewery built-in 1900. Eventually sold to Grupo Modelo, it closed in 2002. Chen Bech Mercado is one of the best in Mérida that locals and ex-pats visit it. Look for the tianguis here too.

Chuburná – Calle 29 y 14 (97205)

The history of Chuburná is fascinating (the Colonia NOT the beach town). Chuburná translates as “the house of yellow cotton.” In its own government in the 1940s, it was the largest ejido in Mérida. An ejido is a community-owned property designated after the Mexican Revolution) Chuburná has one of the oldest churches in Mérida, with a fantastic flea market every Sunday.

Chuminopolis – Calle 27 y 20 (97158)

According to local tradition, the name is a combination of Chumin (a nickname for Domingo) and Polis (the Greek root word for city). This was the Chinese district.  Chinese migrants who worked on the railroad lived here. One of the most beautiful buildings in the area is the Quinta el Olvido (House of Forgetting). It was built at the end of the 19th century by the engineer who paved the streets of Mérida, Rafael Quintero.

La Plancha – Calle 43 y 48 (97000)

If you follow the economic development of Mérida, you will surely come across information regarding La Plancha Park. Since 1995, unsuccessful attempts at the transformation to the abandoned railway station and surrounding area into a “public park of metropolitan character.” However, transformation has started and is in full swing to be one of the stops for Tren Maya. La Plancha is part of the Tren Maya infrastructure project to connect five peninsular states by rail, ultimately giving Cancun tourists easier access to historical sites in the Yucatán.

Mérida – “The North”

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.

montes de ame Neighborhoods in Mérida

“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.

Best Neighborhoods in North Mérida

The Best Neighborhoods are Montecristo, Montebello, San Ramón Norte, Montes de Amé, Altabrisa, Benito Juarez Norte, Francisco de Montejo and Campestre just to name a few. Shopping malls are Altabrisa, City Center, La Isla, Galerias, and The Harbor, located in various parts of The North.

Final Thoughts on Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

The Best Neighborhoods in Mérida make it a unique city. Numerous Colonias and Fraccionamientos in Mérida have their own unique style and personality.

Want to know the best part?

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 and to explore the Best neighborhoods. The locals are always willing to help and answer questions. You will find there are no definitive lines between these Colonias and Fraccionamientos. However, the people who live in them will surely assist you with the boundaries and the colorful stories that make each of them special.

For more information about Merida, please visit here:

21 Surprising Things to Have on Your Mérida Mexico Itinerary

If you book an Airbnb, read this important information 5 Secrets to the Best Airbnb Stay in Mérida