Why Visit Merida?
Merida is the capital of Yucatan state, one of three states that make up the Yucatan Peninsula. Considered the Cultural Capital of the Yucatan, there’s seemingly no end to the amazing number of things to do in Merida.
Located only a few hours from many big name Mexico Yucatan Peninsula destinations, like Cancun and Tulum, Merida has a smaller town charm and more cultural feel. It’s central location in the peninsula makes it a great homebase to explore all the surrounding Merida day trips.
As one of the more up-and-coming Mexico travel destinations, Merida is known for colorful, colonial architecture, laid back vibes and delicious food. It makes for a great romantic getaway because there are several beaches near Merida to escape to on a day or overnight trip.
Besides all that, Merida is also known as the safest city in Mexico. This makes taking a romantic nighttime stroll through Centro Historico (Historic Downtown) a lovely activity you can do each night of your trip — though that’s just the beginning!
From swimmable cenotes (natural, freshwater pools) in the jungle, to romantic rooftop dinners overlooking historic churches, Merida is an ideal place to make lifelong memories. This guide will direct you to where to stay, eat and play, and everything else you need for a Merida trip.
Things to know before you go to Mexico
How to Get to Merida, Mexico
You can fly directly into Merida International Airport (code: MID), a small, regional airport. For now, there are only direct flights out of Miami, Houston and Oakland in the U.S., but you can always connect through the larger Mexico City or Guadalajara Airports.
If you plan to rent a car in Merida, you’ll want to do so at the airport. If not, you can catch a taxi or Uber for the 20-30 minute ride into Centro Historico (Merida’s Historic Downtown) — the main part of town most visitors will want to stay in.
As Merida is very walkable and there’s Uber and taxis, don’t bother with a rental unless you’re planning for a few day trips to explore the surrounding areas.
Best Time to Visit Merida
Merida and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico have a tropical climate. As with the tropics, you get the best weather from November to March. This is the dry season, and there’s also cooler weather and little to no humidity.
In the summers, Merida can be incredibly hot and also very humid. May is known as the hottest month, but May through September are all quite hot, with temperatures averaging 87-97°F day and night.
Late-October, December and January are fun months to visit, not only for the weather, but for the festive celebrations.
On October 31, enjoy Paseo de Animas (Parada of Souls) for Hanal Pixan, the Mayan Day of the Dead. In December, there’s Noche Blanca (White Night), and in January, there’s Merida Fest. These are both citywide street festivals with live music, theatrical and dance productions.
How to save money in Mexico
Best Merida Neighborhoods & Areas
The best areas in Merida for visitors are Paseo de Montejo and Centro Historico. These two neighborhoods are next to each other, so you should explore both. Centro Historico is home to many historic sites, charming parks, artisan shops and amazing Merida restaurants and bars.
The two-mile-long Paseo de Montejo is the prettiest street in town! The Paseo (walkway) is a tree-lined street where you’ll find European-style mansions from the 1900s like Palacio Canton, boutique shops, sidewalk cafes by day, hip bars at night, and much more.
Most Romantic Hotels in Merida
Even in a great town like Merida, the vibe of your romantic vacation would go downhill quickly without a comfy place to rest and rejuvenate. Fortunately, Merida has several romantic hotel options, like those listed below.
Rosas & Xocolate
The best of Merida’s boutique hotels, Rosas & Xocolate feels like your own private tropical oasis in the city. There are just four rooms in this exclusive hotel, but for guests lucky enough to reserve one, Rosas & Xocolate is an unforgettable stay right on the famous Paseo de Montejo.
Hotel Casa Azul (Blue House Hotel) is a 19th century hacienda-style building, and a National Historic Monument. The rooms, however, have modern amenities set amidst the hotel’s vintage exterior. Located a block off Paseo Montejo, the hotel’s location can’t be beat.
Hacienda Santa Cruz
Located a bit outside of downtown, Hacienda Santa Cruz is worth it because you get to stay in an authentic Mexican hacienda! The sprawling, lush grounds here feel like you’re stepping back in time, with top notch pool and spa facilities to boot.
Top 5 Romantic Things to do in Merida, Mexico
1. Stroll Paseo de Montejo & Centro Histórico
One of the best ways to discover the charm of Merida, is by casually strolling around with no particular agenda whatsoever!
If you’re into history, the Merida Tourism Office offers free, daily walking tours of the city led by English-speaking guides. These one-hour tours depart at 9:30am from Palacio Municipal in Plaza Grande, everyday except Sunday.
Merida’s Plaza Grande (Main Plaza or Town Square) has a beautiful park and several beautiful and historic buildings like the San Ildefonso Catedral de Merida, one of the oldest churches on the continent. There’s also some museums, cafes and vendors selling street food.
Before leaving Plaza Grande, don’t miss the bright green Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace) and bright pink Palacio Municipal (Municipal Palace). Right across the street, there’s Museo Casa Montejo (Montejo House Museum), among the best museums in Merida.
From Centro Historico, head towards the Paseo Montejo. As this beautiful street is just two-miles-long (3.2km), it’s nice to walk the whole thing since there are several things to see along the way.
At the northern end, there’s Monumento a la Patria (Monument to the Fatherland), a large monument with 300 hand-carved figures. Head south to pass by all the European mansions, Palacio Canton, Casa Montejo 495 and Quinta Montes Molina, which are all now museums.
2. Take a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride
At night, enjoy a romantic calesa (kah-less-uhs), or horse-drawn carriage ride. While riding through the best parts of Merida, you’ll get to see anything you might have missed when you were walking around during the day.
To hire a calesa, head to the Merida Cathedral in Plaza Grande. The tours are about 45-minutes and usually cost $20USD.
Tours starting in Plaza Grande, will end on the other side of town at the Monumento a la Patria. From there, head to Ku’uk Restaurant, located right across from the monument. This is one of Merida’s top restaurants for a romantic dinner and creative cocktails.
3. Have a Beach Day in Puerto Progreso
The closest beach to Merida is Progreso, located just 30-40 minutes north of Merida by car or bus. This quaint Mexico beach town makes a nice full day trip, both to enjoy the beach during the day, for a romantic sunset dinner at night.
Once you arrive, take a leisurely stroll along the Progreso Malecon (walkway). Stop in anywhere that catches your eye for some fish tacos or fresh ceviche. After eating, find an inviting spot on the beach to rent a chair for the day, or head to a Progreso beach club like El HaGuay or Silcer.
For travelers who like a bit of adventure with their romance, Progreso is one of the best kitesurfing and windsurfing in the world. On the western side of the beach, there are several schools that give lessons.
4. Swim in the Cenotes at Hacienda Mucuyché
Beyond the swimmable cenotes (cen-no-tays), Merida is also known for its gorgeous haciendas.
These sprawling estates, found all over Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula, are no longer used as single family homes. In fact, many were abandoned centuries ago, and some have been left in ruin. Others have been restored, and are now used for parties, weddings and private events.
Among the most beautiful and best cenotes in Merida, is the popular Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyché. Located about one hour from Merida, this popular destination will give you the chance to tour a hacienda and swim in its two cenotes after your tour.
Hacienda Mucuyché has only been partially restored, so it is welcoming to visitors, but also left a bit untouched to give it a vintage charm. You must go with a guided tour, so make sure to plan ahead for your visit.
5. Enjoy a Rooftop Dinner at Picheta
A great option for a final dinner in Merida is Picheta, one of the most romantic and best restaurants in the city. Though the inside is gorgeous, make a reservation to sit outside on the terrace overlooking Plaza Grande and the Merida Cathedral.
At Picheta, you’ll enjoy traditional Yucatan cuisine with an innovative twist, creative cocktails and a great wine selection. Their desserts are really great too, so make sure to save room.