You may or may not have heard of this proud town 22 miles off the Gulf of Mexico, but Mérida is a bucket list destination that’s growing in popularity. Especially after being named the American Capital of Culture for the second time in 2017.
In this article, we’re going to explore why Mérida has been gifted this prestigious award and why travellers should think of visiting the town dubbed the ‘White City’.
Let’s kick off with some background knowledge…
Mérida is sometimes called the “White City,” because of its buildings made of white stone and the city’s cleanliness.
Mérida, the vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán, has a rich Mayan and colonial heritage. Mérida’s quiet atmosphere contributes to its obvious architectural aesthetics, this, combined with its peacefulness and stunning-intertwining-streets really give this original town its air of elegance.
Sounds fancy! But, that’s not the only reason why it’s worth visiting.
The city has an original and palatable mix of heritages from the Maya civilization dating back to 2600 B.C. and the Spanish conquistadors who began colonizing the territory in the 16th century. From which they erected the Catholic churches and colonial mansions you can see today.
This town’s mixed values have coexisted for over 500 years and have contributed to the culturally identifiable beauty we can see today.
Mérida holds a conglomerate of museums giving you a window into their culture and the road taken to become the epicentre it is today. The Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Merida is a must-visit. Full of interesting artefacts and information, the museum puts the Yucatán’s ancient history and more recent colonization into context as you explore the region.
We’d recommend getting to know the area and brushing up on your cultural knowledge before visiting any of the historic sites, the context learnt will really enhance your experience when out exploring. Palacio Cantón is another museum must-visit, it’s a shining example of the towns organised and clean-cut nature.
Travellers hailing from all over the globe come to experience the Yucatán’s well-preserved Maya archaeological sites. Mainly Chichén Itzá one of Mexico’s most visited heritage sites due to it being dubbed a ‘new wonder of the world’.
Although, unlike the rest of the town and surrounding sights, the Chichén can be a bit of a tourist trap. An impressive alternative (free from crowds) is Uxmal, another Maya ruin made famous for its unbelievably precise construction and preserved stone carvings.
Despite the winding streets lending this town its peaceful persona, there are thriving markets and events happening just about every day and night.
Mérida has some amazing cuisine and plenty of ways to experience it. We recommend waltzing through some of the famous markets such as Mercado Lucas De Galvéz and Mercado Santiago, they are buzzing with life, smells and original-authentic taste. Grab a rambutan, a red shell fruit with sweet white pulp often sold as “agua fresca” juice and let the experiences come to you.
Many local chefs hold cooking classes if you fancied trying your hand at something new, or you can visit the Mercardo 60 an amazing food hall filled with all the mus try cuisines such as cochinita pibil (marinated pork) and papadzules (traditional enchiladas) to get you started.
You can get a flight from London for around the £640 mark if you do some searching. But, where’s good to stay?
The boutique is the way forward when booking a stay in Mérida, you won’t see any chain hotels in the immediate town or district (where you wanna be). Get authentic and stay in one of these quaint and individual boutiques. All available to book on gomingo.com
Located at the north end of the Santiago neighbourhood of colonial Centro, within an easy walking distance of many of the city’s historic, cultural and culinary attractions. This beautiful bed and breakfast is perfect for a retreat after a busy day exploring and soaking up some truly original culture.
This family-run B&B home is a beautifully restored “casona”, built in the early 1900s, in a quiet, residential area.
This suitably dubbed Urban Bed and Breakfast encompasses traditional styling with modern touches. Popular points of interest around the property include Main Square and Merida Cathedral. Guests can make use of the outdoor pool or the terrace, or enjoy views of the pool and garden a suntrap perfect for enjoying a cocktail after a day of adventures.
Situated in Mérida, Yucatán region, Ya’ax Hotel Boutique is set a 5-minute walk from Merida Cathedral. Boasting an outdoor swimming pool, the hotel is close to several noted attractions including Mundo Maya Museum and the La Mejorada Park both a short walk away from this beautifully modern boutique.
So there you go, all the things that make Mérida a perfect bucket list destination, an entirely new experience for those who have never been before.
We’ll leave you with some further points of Mérida wisdom! Let us know what you think in the comments.
There is a sense of elitism about this Town, it’s too wonderful, and the locals know it. Don’t let this put you off though, tourists are more than welcome.
Mix up the museum and historical site visits with something fun! You can visit one of the provinces 6,000 fresh water spring holes called Cenote Swimming Holes. For centuries, the crystal-clear hidden pools were used as sacred wells by the Maya where they performed offerings and spiritual rituals. Tours and experiences are available and we would highly recommend jumping on board.
Mexico is known for its warm hospitality and faultless service, Mérida is no different. The locals are very helpful and all tour operators follow suit, you’ll feel welcome and be taken care of. No doubt.
So what are you waiting for, book a flight and your accommodation and get exploring!