"Friendly Mérida" Top 5 Page for this destination Mérida by Redlats

Mérida Travel Guide: 319 reviews and 633 photos

Mérida is a city of almost one million people in the north-west corner of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is a great place to base a holiday from. From Mérida you can visit Mayan ruins and museums, haciendas, cenotes and Catholic churches. You will find tour buses to the various attractions, car rental companies and easy public transportation. There are not a huge number of attractions to see in the city itself.

Mérida was laid out by the Spanish in the 16th century -- with narrow streets downtown and many plazas interspersed among the buildings. It is a very atmospheric town -- especially on weekends when the central streets are closed off and there is music and dancing in the main square. The whole city seems to move downtown to celebrate!

We also went on a city tour -- driving down Paseo Montejo passing restored Spanish and French colonial mansions and throughout the city. If architecture is of interest to you, the city tour is a good idea.

Mérida was founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1542. They conquered the existing Mayan town (T'ho), dismantled the pyramids and used the stones to build the Cathedral of San Idelfonso -- which Merida claims as the oldest cathedral on the American continent (Campeche says their Cathedral is the oldest as well - started in 1541).

The site of one pyramid is now Mérida's main town square. This town square or Plaza is now ringed by this cathedral as well as the town hall, the governor's palace and the Casa de Montejo, the former home of the conqueror of Yucatan.

We have visited in February and March, and found the weather quite satisfactory -- warm but not stifling. We have been told that this changes and that from June to September the weather gets very HOT and humid -- very uncomfortable. When the kids are out of school, Méridan families move en-masse to summer homes along the coast where at least there are breezes coming off the ocean. We spent the bulk of our time in the area at the beach town of Progreso -- 45 minutes north of Mérida.

I read in some Méridan advertising that Mérida is known as the White City -- because limestone is the predominant building material, and because the city is cleaned daily. We saw evidence of that -- Mérida was much cleaner than Progreso.

We found that we could function with our lack of understanding Spanish. There are English descriptions at some of the Mayan ruins and museums. This was in contrast to vacations in Uruguay and Argentina where we really felt limited by our lack of Spanish.

Most of our touring was done from Mérida. If you are planning a holiday from this area, here are some of the destinations you could choose:

- Progreso is a nearby beach town that has many monthly visitors from Canada and the USA. That is where we spent quite a bit of our time, and is where we will vacation again in February 2006.

- Uxmal is an outstanding Mayan ruin we visited. It is approximately the same size as Chichén-Itzá, but less crowded.

- We ran out of time and never visited Chichén-Itzá, but here is the link to VT's general Chichén-Itzá's page.

- Celestùn is in a nature reserve where you will see many different birds including flamingos.

- Dzibilchaltùn is a smaller ruin we visited -- interesting as it has remnants from not only Mayans but other natives as well as the Spanish ranchers.

- Campeche is a city on the west coast of the Yucatan Peninsula -- in the neighbouring state of Estado de Campeche. It is one of the lesser-visited parts of Mexico.

- Chetumal is a city on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:Friendly colonial city -- more Mexican than Cancun
  • Last visit to Mérida: Feb 2006
  • Intro Updated Apr 7, 2006
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Reviews (29)

Comments (19)

  • ciaobella55's Profile Photo
    Oct 17, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    Hola thanks for your comments on my Dzibil page. I'm staying in Merida for 6 weeks but just been to Campeche and read your tips. Cheers

  • Michael_D's Profile Photo
    Jan 28, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    I enjoyed your Merida pages MIKE

  • schmechi's Profile Photo
    Feb 28, 2008 at 2:52 PM

    Thank you for all your tips on my questions during the last couple of days! They were very helpful!

  • GenuinelyCurious's Profile Photo
    Oct 24, 2007 at 11:00 PM

    Really nice tip of the redlat hat to Merida. I went there several years ago... but you got better pics.

  • madamx's Profile Photo
    Jan 30, 2007 at 5:39 PM

    Hi Lats, thanks for some great info on Merida. We may be heading down that way in November; will have to stop by that crazy store! ~ Helen

  • AltDelete's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2006 at 12:59 PM

    Wonderful page. Always disturbing to hear native structures destroyed by conquerors, but that cathedral sounds worth seeing for its piece of history.

  • mikelisaanna's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2006 at 7:34 AM

    We enjoyed your Merida page. It's a city that we didn't know much about, but sounds like a place to put on our list of places to visit. Thanks for the info.

  • cbeaujean's Profile Photo
    Aug 23, 2006 at 3:11 AM

    thks for visiting my merida page!!!it looks as if your merida was seen with other eyes!where are roman ruins???

  • Sue08080's Profile Photo
    Jun 16, 2006 at 2:33 PM

    Enjoyed your tips, gracias!

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    May 16, 2006 at 4:30 AM

    We too really enjoyed Merida. I'd forgotten about the vanilla! Good advice about driving. Great Celestun sunset. leyle

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