Mérida is the capital of the Yucatán in Mexico with central plazas, cathedrals, narrow streets and pastel colored buildings. Its rich Mayan heritage dating back to 2,600 B.C. combined with colonial influences under Spanish rule 500 years ago is evident throughout the town.
You’ll find fantastic values where your pesos can buy more compared to the popular beach towns along the Riviera Maya. While visiting Merida, you can order tacos for only 50 cents, and get some bargains on textiles, hats, and local goods. Many visitors stay outside Merida in restored haciendas and visit nearby towns, ruins and cenote pools.
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THINGS TO DO
What to Do? Stroll the Plaza Grande, the central square in town, and visit the Mérida Cathedral and Iglesia de la Tercera Orden. Admire the colonial architecture at the 16th century Casa de Montejo Mansion. Tip! Check the town schedule for traditional dancing at Plaza Grande on some nights – great, free entertainment.
Shop at the local markets Mercado Santiago or Mercado Lucas De Galvez. Take day trips to explore UNESCO-listed Mayan temples and ruins like Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, Mayapán and Dzibilchaltun, or swim in Cenote Xlacah, one of the thousands of natural limestone pools in the region. Take a dance class or cooking class. Celebrate at annual festivals – January’s Merida Fest or early Spring’s Carnival or November Day of the Dead.
Book an archaeological & cultural tour with Catherwood Travels to arrange a private tour of the 17th-19th century historic haciendas or Pueblos Magicos (magic towns) nearby. There are some haciendas that have been converted into hotels. Our guide Humberto Gomez is a historian who has led tours through the Yucatan for more than 50 years with guests including Ambassadors, Former Ministers, personalities and passionate travelers from all over the world.
His knowledge and passion of the Mayan history and civilization are fascinating. In fact, in 1959 National Geographic acknowledged his ancient Mayan discovery of a ceremonial cave in Balankanche, near Chichen Itza.
Humberto took us to two haciendas – the Yaxcopoil Hacienda which is in the process of being restored, and the Xocnaceh Hacienda ruins with an ancient Mayan pyramid. Catherwood Travels surprised us with a lovely private catered lunch in the ruins amidst painted frescoes. This was a highlight of our travels in the Merida area!
WHERE TO STAY & DINE
Where to Stay?
Chable Resort is an AMAZING luxury wellness resort on the outskirts of town. We enjoyed meeting Rocco Bova, the General Manager of this award-winning Chable Resort who shared, “this spectacular resort is centered around a natural spring fed cenote hidden in the Mayan world and its only 30 minutes from Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.”
After a full day of touring Merida and the haciendas in the Yucatan, it was a delight to return to the peaceful Chable Resort, and relax at our spacious casita amid the lush Mayan gardens. Each casita has a contemporary design with local rich woods, stone and glass walls allowing guests to be in contact with nature while maintaining all the comforts.
We loved waking up to the “eye opener” delivery of fresh local coffee and tea with a basket of an assortment of traditional breads on our terrace, while listening to the birds in our garden.
While staying at Chable Resort, guests pamper themselves at the spacious spa in private treatment rooms. The activities and wellness treatments offered are extensive including yoga at the cenote to tea time at the Main House. Don’t Miss! The freshly squeezed juice of the day. Our favorite was the “Green” Juice with cucumber, celery, parsley, nopal, spinach, orange, grapefruit and pineapple.
Chable’s culinary team has been trained by the world acclaimed Chef Jorge Vallejo, awarded #11 Chef in the World, whose Quintonil restaurant in Mexico City is on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. We savored our breakfasts at Ki’ol with freshly cut fruit and a range of traditional and international dishes. Tip! Be sure to order the avocado toast for breakfast…yummy.
Dinner at Ixi’im Restaurant was impressive where we were presented a medley of local ingredients and dishes with a modern twist.
Hungry/Thirsty? Order the local Yucatan dish Cochinita Pibil, pork marinated in achiote and spices, and Sopa de Lima soup. Buy exotic fruits at the market and try the hot habanero peppers, chaya greens, and fresca juices.
HOW TO GET THERE
How to Get There?
When we checked for flights in January, we found a flight from LAX to Mérida starting at $87. If you are planning a vacation in Cancun or Tulum, add 2-3 more days to your itinerary, and drive 3 hours to Mérida.
Take Daytrips! Be sure to take a day to visit the famous “yellow town” called Izamal, and stop along the towns between Merida and Valladolid to see the local squares and churches like this one in Uayma.
Global Adventuress thanks Catherwood Travels and Chable Resort for hosting us during our stay in Merida.