How To Spend One Day In Merida! Mexico’s Safest City (2024)

A wooden table with a bottle of wine and a wooden plaque.

I and my fellow travel bloggers dived into the wonders of Merida, pooling our insights to create the ultimate one day in Merida guide for you. Ready to check out the Grand Plaza, enjoy a Pok Ta Pok show, and taste the best local eats? Look no further!

Join me on a journey through Merida with my carefully planned day itinerary, highlighting top dining spots and must-see attractions, along with tips on free activities. Concerned about budgets, time constraints, or getting around the city? Don’t worry, we’ll cover it all, including suggestions for day trips beyond Merida.

When I spent my days exploring Yucatan I used Merida as my homebase. I discovered that the city had some hidden gems that exceeded my expectations. Come along and uncover the charm of Merida with us!

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Map For One Day In Merida

Things To Do In Merida, Mexico In 1 Day

Morning- Monument & Breakfast

Monument- Monumento a La Patria

The first stop when entering Merida is the Monumento a La Patria. It stands as a proud symbol of the country’s history and heritage. This iconic monument, located in the heart of the city, pays homage to Mexico’s independence and the heroes who fought for freedom.

Visitors can admire the intricate details of the monument, which depicts some of the significant moments in Mexican history. The surrounding area offers a peaceful retreat to learn about the past while enjoying the vibrant culture of Mérida. A visit to Monumento a La Patria is a must for anyone seeking to delve into the rich history of Mexico’s story.

Breakfast- Manjar Blanco

The restaurant Manjar Blanco is not only one of the best restaurants in Merida but is also one of the best Mexican restaurants in Yucatan. It is located right by Parque Ana and is a 15-minute walk to Plaza Grand. The Netflix show ‘The Taco Chronicles’ featured the chef here, Miriam Peraza.

Her aim is to preserve and celebrate local culinary traditions in her dishes while simultaneously incorporating modern techniques and flavors. That is why this should be included on everyone’s Mexico foodie bucket list. You definitely get an authentic taste of Yucatecan cuisine in Merida here.

On Manjar Blanco’s menu, there are some of the best Yucatecan dishes. Including the most famous and must-try Tacos de Cochinita Pibil. Cochinita Pibil tacos are slow-cooked pork tacos made with corn tortillas, achiote paste, and fresh cilantro sprinkled on top.

Among other Yucatecan foods, you can also try Panuchos, Queso relleno negro, Lomitos de Valladolid, and Sopa de Lima. For drinks try one of their beers or opt in for a refreshing Horchata. The restaurant has a beautiful interior with a tranquil garden. It can get busy during peak hours so if you want to taste some of the best Yucatan classic dishes, you should make a reservation. 

Noon- Free Things To Do In Merida, Mexico

Plaza Grande

Plaza Grande is the main square of Merida, where you can find some of the most important landmarks in the city. Here you can find Mérida Cathedral, Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace), and Casa de Montejo, a colonial mansion where you can learn about the history of Yucatan.

One of the main attractions of Plaza Grande is the Cathedral of Merida, one of the oldest cathedrals in Latin America that was constructed in 1598 by Spanish conquistadors on top of the ancient Mayan city. 

Plaza Grande is a perfect place to learn the city’s history and start your Merida trip because it’s surrounded by several historic monuments. It has plenty of trees where you can hide from the sun and spend some time enjoying the local atmosphere with people-watching.

While here you can take a tour of the Government Palace or take a peek inside Casa Montejo. You can also spot many street vendors in this part of the city, so always carry cash with you. While spending time at the best beaches in Yucatan is great, Merida offers an opportunity to dive into the culture. And you can do it free of charge!

Markets- Mercado Lucas de Galvez

Mercado Lucas de Galvez is the main market in Merida. It is the home to many fruits, vegetables, spices, foods, clothes, and craft stands. It’s conveniently located right outside the main city center. Some of the best food in Merida can be found in this market.

Here you can learn more about native foods from the locals, that you may not find in newer and trendier restaurants in Merida. It is very authentic and people from all over the region come to sell food at this market.

Exploring the market stalls is a fun and inexpensive way to spend your day in Merida. Mercado Lucas de Galvez is large and it’s easy to get lost inside! There aren’t any maps but it’s easy to find your way once you exit to the street. It can also get very crowded during the weekend.

The best way to experience Mercado Lucas de Galvez is on a food tour. Your guide will tell you all about the history, show you the best food stands, and answer questions along the way. Expert foodies here will also share their local opinions on the food scene outside the market.

Evening- Ice Cream, Dinner & A Show

Ice Cream- Dulcería y Sorbetería Colón

If you have a sweet tooth then your next stop in the Grand Plaza is to head to Dulcería and Sorbetería Colón. It has been selling delicious ice creams, sorbets, and cakes since 1907. While they have the flavors that we all love like vanilla and chocolate, they also have more unique ones such as tamarind, which is actually very tasty.

They are also renowned for making a drink called Champola which is ice cream and sorbet with Soursop flavour. Even for those who aren’t massive ice cream or sorbet lovers, it’s still a great place to stop for a refreshment. The outdoor seating is on the edge of the main square and there is plenty there to keep you entertained.

Plus it’s a popular spot for locals to hang out and have their sugary hit of the day. A travel tip is that they don’t always have the same ice cream in stock each day – which is a pro to visiting if you want to be driven to try new flavors, or a problem if you’re a picky eater.

Show- Pok Ta Pok

When visiting Merida you have to check out the Pok Ta Pok show! There aren’t many remains of the Mayan empire within the colonial city, but one of the best is the preserved tradition of playing Pok Ta Pok. The game takes place in front of the cathedral at 8 pm every Saturday.

Pok Ta Pok is an ancient Mesoamerican ball game and one of the best things to see when in Merida. Hailing back to Mayan times, Pok Ta Pok consists of two teams and a rubber ball. Each team aims to get the ball through a circular hoop, using only their elbows, knees, and hips.

The game is highly ritualistic and, in the latter part of the game, the ball is even set on fire. One advantage of watching Pok Ta Pok in Merida is that it’s near several archaeological sites, including Uxmal, where you can actually see an ancient ball court.

Pok Ta Pok draws in a large crowd so arrive at least half an hour early to secure a seat on the bleachers. These provide the best view of the match but fill up quickly. Merida is one of the only places in the world you can watch a game of Pok Ta Pok so it’s an experience not to miss on your Mexican bucket list.

  • Price: Free
  • Location: Cathedral Mérida
  • Recommended by: Lucy and Dan of Thoroughly Travel

Dinner- La Negrita Cantina

End your trip to Merida by spending a few hours in a traditional cantina. There are a few to choose from but we keep coming back to La Negrita for the great ambiance, the strong drinks, and live music! 

The colonial building that houses La Negrita was built in 1917 and was once a private residence. Over the past century, the structure has been completely transformed into an inviting bar and restaurant. The big draw is the airy interior courtyard decorated with bright bold murals and colored lights. 

If you are a fan of Latin music, this is the place to be. The stage at La Negrita hosts some of the best bands in the city, some with a heavy Cuban influence. As the sun goes down and the music heats up, the colorful patio space transforms. The atmosphere becomes absolutely electric. Join the party on the dance floor or simply enjoy the scene from your table.

Like any traditional cantina, each round of drinks is accompanied by a small plate of snacks or “botanas” to nibble on as you drink. Charritos, polcanes, kibis, flautas and spicy salchichas are common offerings. If you are looking for a more substantial meal, the menu has a nice assortment of authentic Yucatan bucket list foods. Wash it all down with a locally brewed artisanal beer or one of their famous mojitos.

How To Get To Merida

To get to Merida, you have a few travel options. If you prefer flying, you can book a flight to Mérida International Airport (MID) which is on the south side of the city. Another option is to take a bus from major cities like Cancun or Mexico City. The ADO bus company offers comfortable and affordable rides to Merida from various locations.

For those who enjoy road trips, driving to Merida is also a popular choice, as it allows you to explore the scenic routes and towns along the way. Whichever mode of transportation you choose, make sure to check for any travel restrictions or requirements before embarking on your journey to this vibrant city in Mexico.

How To Get Around Merida

To get around in Merida, Mexico, there are several convenient options for transportation. One popular choice is to use the city’s public buses, which are affordable and cover a wide area. Taxis are also readily available and can be hailed on the street or called in advance.

For those looking for a more adventurous mode of transport, renting a bike is a great way to explore the city at your own pace. Additionally, walking can get you where you to need to go in the city center and is a fantastic way to soak in the local culture. Whichever mode of transportation you choose, navigating Merida is relatively easy and allows you to experience the city’s vibrant atmosphere to the fullest.

Day Trips From Merida Mexico

Merida is the perfect hub for exploring everything Yucatan has to offer. Taking day trips outside of the city can give you the chance to see a lot the region has to offer. When staying in Merida, I recommend Hotel Maria del Carmen for its convenient location, comfortable rooms, and excellent value, providing an affordable yet pleasant stay in the heart of the city.

  • Chichen Itza: Explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site and marvel at one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the iconic El Castillo pyramid, with only a short ride from Merida to Chichen Itza.
  • Las Coloradas: Visit the pink lakes known for their stunning color caused by high salt content and microorganisms, offering a unique and picturesque sight.
  • Cancunito Beach: Enjoy a relaxing beach day at this hidden gem boasting pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters, ideal for swimming and sunbathing.
  • Cenote Exploration: Discover the enchanting cenotes like Cenote Suytun and Cenote Yokdzonot for a refreshing swim in these natural sinkholes surrounded by lush jungle scenery.
  • Valladolid: Experience traditional Mexican culture and architecture in this charming colonial town, offering a glimpse into the region’s heritage and beauty.


Is Merida worth visiting?

Yes, Merida is definitely worth visiting! This charming city in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico offers a unique blend of colonial architecture, vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and natural wonders.

How long to stay in Merida?

When planning a visit to Merida, Mexico, I recommend staying for at least 4 days to fully explore both the city and the state of Yucatan. This duration allows visitors to immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of the region, visit historical sites such as Chichen Itza and Uxmal, indulge in local cuisine, and experience the vibrant atmosphere of Merida’s markets and streets.

Is Merida on the beach?

No, Merida is not on the beach, but the nearest city, Progreso, has nice beaches and is only 45 minutes away. Progreso is a great option for those looking to enjoy the beach within close proximity to Merida. The city offers beautiful coastlines and a relaxing atmosphere for visitors to unwind and soak up the sun.

Final Thoughts-

When only having one day in Merida you can visit the Grand Plaza, catch a Pok Ta Pok show, and savor local delights. As seasoned bloggers who have immersed ourselves in this city, our firsthand experiences bring the vibrant culture of Merida to life. Share in the comments if you’re planning a trip to Merida and what you plan to see!

Happy exploring!

Kaylee Janell's signature

Read More on Yucatan Mexico!

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How To Spend One Day In Merida! Mexico’s Safest City

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Find Your Next Vacation Destination Here!

What Are My Recommended Resources For Planning A Trip?

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Together, these platforms make trip planning convenient, cost-effective, and fun. They ensure you have everything you need, from flights and accommodations to activities – at your fingertips.

Check Out My Resources Page For All My Recommended Travel Tools!


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