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Your guide to Mérida
All About Mérida
Sprawling plazas, jewel toned turn-of-the century architecture, vibrant music scenes, and mouthwatering dishes are just a few of the things that await you in the historic city of Mérida. Located roughly 3.5 hours west of Cancún, Yucatán’s capital city immerses you in the peninsula’s rich culture by giving you a peek into life beyond its quintessential white sand beaches.
Enjoy the peace provided by shady palm trees and cool stone benches in the many plazas splattered across town. Take in the sights, smells, and unforgettable tastes of Lucas de Galvéz market, with its stalls piled high with fresh tropical fruits and the aroma of fried panuchos (tortillas with beans, pulled meat, and pickled cabbage). The food scene here is different from anything you’ll find in the rest of the country, due to its strong Spanish, Mayan, and Caribbean influences.
And if you’re looking for day trip ideas, neighboring UNESCO World Heritage sites Chichen Itza and Uxmal make Mérida the perfect base for exploring the abundance of culture Yucatán has to offer.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Mérida?
Your best bet to enjoy everything Mérida has to offer without worrying about rainy weather would be to book your apartment rental from October to March, with January being considered the high season. June to September boasts warm weather as well, but be warned it can be relatively humid during this time. Planning your trip for January will give you the chance to take part in Mérida Fest. A lively festival lasting several weeks, the city’s eponymous celebration commemorates its founding by reveling in local art, music, and theatre. It’s also worth taking a look at whichever dates Carnaval happens to fall (typically right before Lent), as Yucatan’s capital promises to be one of the most popular in Latin America.
What are the top things to do in Mérida?
Coming from the Mayan word dzenot meaning “sacred well”, these spellbinding pools are a refreshing respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. No two cenotes are alike, with some providing a fully open-air experience surrounded by greenery while others have a closed top, creating a more cave-like or grotto feel. With over 6,000 cenotes across the peninsula, you are sure to find one that feels just right.
Pok Ta Pok
Every Saturday, locals gather to watch one of the oldest sporting games in the province for free. Pok Ta Pok — an ancient ritual of the Maya people to honor their gods and give thanks — consists of getting a 9-pound rubber ball through a hoop on the wall using only your thighs or hips. The sport has gained popularity in recent years and pays homage to the city’s history.
Contemporary Yucatecan cooking combines Mayan flavors with Spanish and Cuban influences, creating mouthwateringly unique dishes that will stay with you long after your tan has faded. While you’re here, try cochinita pibil, a dish that encapsulates this fusion of flavors — pork is marinated in fresh orange juice with annatto seeds and achiote paste, then wrapped in banana leaves and slow-cooked in a fire pit until the meat becomes fall-off-the-bone tender.