The capital of the state of Yucatán is Mérida, which is the largest city on the Yucatán peninsula and one of the fastest-growing in Mexico.
Many Quintana Roo residents visit the city due to its proximity and the numerous places of interest both in the city itself and its surroundings. In this blog we’ll be talking about Mérida’s main attractions in case you’re thinking of visiting the White City, as it’s also known.
Mérida residents also call the city center the Plaza Grande, where you can visit the Cathedral of San Ildefonso or Santa Iglesia Catedral –the oldest in Mexico– the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Ateneo de Yucatán (MACAY), the Palacio de Gobierno (City Hall), Casa Montejo, and the Centro Cultural Olimpo.
The city center also features live regional music, such as the Vaquería, both by day and at night, along with other free events at night such as the Ball Game and video mapping. We recommend you check opening days and hours on arrival in Mérida.
This boulevard was inaugurated in 1888 to commemorate the founding of the city by Francisco Montejo. It begins on Calle 49 and extends to the Monumento a la Patria and is well worth a stroll, with numerous cafeterias, restaurants and stately mansions that have been preserved in their original condition. There are also several museums on the Paseo, such as Montejo 495, La Casa Museo Montes Molina, El Minaret and the Palacio Cantón.
PLAZAS, NEIGHBORHOODS AND PARKS
Mérida has lots of open-air spots where you can have a drink or an ice cream, watch life unfold, and do some people watching too. Some parks, such as the Parque Santa Lucía, offer Yucatecan serenades on Thursday evenings. Other neighborhoods of interest include the Barrio de Santa Ana, Barrio de San Sebastián, Barrio de Santiago, Barrio de la Mejorada, among others.
There are two sight-seeing options, depending on your tastes and plans.
The two-decker Turibus leaves the Plaza Grande at different times of every day; you can get off the bus at each of the 7 stations and remain at each point until the next Turibus comes by (service is frequent and we recommend you check bus schedules on the official Turibus Mérida webpage).
The second possibility is the Gua Gua, a single-deck bus that carries out a 90-minute tour with very detailed information on the city’s main landmarks and most emblematic buildings. You can’t get off at the stations on the Gua Gua, but it’s an excellent way of beginning your trip in the White City if you don’t have a clear idea of what you’d like to visit, as the tour provides a good overview of places of interest in Mérida that you might want to visit subsequently.
Yucatecan and Mayan cuisine offer a wealth of culinary options, ranging from regional dishes to international cuisine that draws inspiration from and blends with Yucatecan roots. I recommend you visit local markets such as the Mercado Lucas de Galvez, the Mercado 60, La Chaya Maya casona, the Museo de Gastronomía Yucateca and other excellent restaurants on the Paseo Montejo and the downtown area.
There’s so much to do in Mérida that we should devote a third blog to its surrounding areas of interest, such as tours of local Haciendas you can take, Yucatecan beaches, and visits to Mayan archaeological sites such as Chichen Itzá, Uxmal, Labná, Kabáh, etc.