Capital of the state of Yucatan, the colonial city of Merida was founded on the ancient Maya city known as Thó and offers a stark contrast to the seemingly untamed heartland of several ancient civilizations. The narrow streets and shady plazas create a feeling of the old-world, as horses and cars traverse the cobblestone streets lined with centuries-old mansions. Perfect for travelers seeking luxury and culture, Merida offers first class facilities– many of the mansions and haciendas have turned into luxury boutique hotels, gourmet restaurants and cafes, galleries and museums. A stroll down Paseo de Montejo with traditional Yucatecan music leading your way is the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Best of all, Merida is one of the safest cities in Mexico.
When to Visit Merida
Throughout most of the year, Merida has a tropical climate and cool winds that blow in from the nearby coast with temperatures that range between 28ºC(82ºF) and 35º C(95ºF). The rainy season runs from June through October. In reality, any time is a good time to visit Merida. On any of the given 365 days of the year there is a cultural celebration with shows and serenades waiting to entertain you. On Sundays in particular there are a series of activities in the historic center that really bring out Merida’s true colors. For an even deeper immersion, you can try to coordinate your visit with one of the major cultural and festive events throughout the year: January 5 (Merida’s Anniversary and city festival), February 28 to March 4 (carnival celebrations), October (Cultural Autumn), November 1 and 2 (Hanal Pixan).
What to Visit in Merida
Museums: Anthropology and History Museum which exhibits a great sample of Mayan history and anthropology; Museum of the Yucatecan song which is an exhibition of items and words that gave the yucataen style fame; and the Museum of Popular Art which displays different ethic groups of Mexico and strengthens the regional identity.
Barrio de Santiago – One of the oldest neighborhoods in Merida which is anchored by the Santiago Chuch is a must. The church’s construction in the 17th century helped the urbanization of what had previously been a Maya village. Also worth checking out is the Santiago Market and Park
Palacio de Gobierno – A grand government building from the outside, on the inside are beautiful murals that tell the symbolic history of the Mayans and the Spanish takeover.
Paseo de Montejo – Emulating the Champs Elysees in Paris, the famous Paseo de Montejo is is lined with historic colonial mansions that have been converted into restaurants, bar, boutique hotels, galleries, shops and museums.
Where to Eat in Merida
Casa Piedra – Located in the beautiful Hacienda Xcanatun, this restaurants serves up superb service and and Mexican Contemporary gourmet dishes. The chef fuses European techniques with Caribbean and Yucatecan ingredients. Hacienda Xcanatun is also a great hotel option while in Merida!
El Principe Tutul Xiu – This restaurant is legendary for its Yucatecan dishes that combines the history and culture of the area. The food is exquisite and the chef believes the most important ingredient is tradition.
Rosas & Xocolate – The culinary specialties created by master chefs are sure to satisfy. Rosas & Xocolote offers a unique ambiance and beautiful atmosphere, with a menu full of culinary innovation.
Where to Stay in Merida
Casa Azul — This beautiful boutique hotel is located a few steps away from Paseo de Montejo. It was built in the XIX century and declared a Historical Monument. With only 8 rooms, the facilities are a grand mix of luxury and comfort. The backyard has an inviting pool and the terrace is uniquely located in front of the hotel where you can enjoy an exquisite gourmet dinner or just share drinks under the murmur of traditional music performed by great singers.
Casa Lecanda — An elegant Yucatecan home is the backdrop for this 7 room boutique hotel, restored to perfection and infused with exquisite European architecture. Surrounded by swaying palms, magnificent arches, luxurious Spanish tile and the vivid beauty of local Merida, Casa Lecanda is a stunning sanctuary. Guests enjoy a tranquil refuge with historical appeal.
Keep in mind that Merida is a great starting point for discovering the rest of the Yucatan and its archaeological treasurers. When planning your luxury vacation to Merida you can opt for a tranquil experience (Tranquility in the Yucatan), an exploratory journey (Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula), a cultural immersion (Culture of Mexico), an archaeological expedition (The Archaeological Mayan Journey), or an adventurous exploration (Adventures in the Yucatan)!