Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico

2 days in Merida – Mexico

Merida, is the capital city of Yucatan, where the Spanish conquerors built their colonial city after destroying the Maya city of T’hó and used the stones of the remains to build their colonial buildings. It must be part of every travel itinerary if you’re touring in Mexico. I spent 2 days in Merida and had the feeling to witness some true Mexican lifestyle. I had the chance to see how they celebrate, how they spend time with their families during holidays and weekends and how they enjoy beach life with their big families.

In this blog post:
 Explore the colonial town of Merida
 Plaza Grande de Mérida
 Catedral de Merida
 Palacio de Gobierno
 Palacio Municipal
 Casa de Montejo
 Things to do around Merida
 How to get to/from Merida
 Where to stay in Merida?
 How to get around in Merida?
 Warnings

What to do and see in Merida?

Explore the colonial town of Merida

Merida is the capital and largest city of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The city is a typical colonial town with colourful buildings. It has strong Mayan and Spanish influences. 60% of all inhabitants in Merida are of the Maya ethnicity.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Fisher in Celestun River
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

Walking around Merida is a highlight enough if you manage to slow down and pay attention to details in the streets. The colours are just beautiful.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Colour of colonial city of Merida

Plaza Grande de Mérida

Well, most of the sights are around this square. During the day, but also in the evening Plaza Grande is the main meeting point for the locals in Merida.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Plaza Grande de Merida - Traditional Eastern Celebrations

I was there during eastern holidays and luckily could watch a traditional Mayan dance show and a spontaneous mini concert of a music band in one of the side streets on my way to the guesthouse.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Street Musicians in Merida

Catedral de Merida

The Spanish conquerors destroyed the Maya city of T’hó here and used the stones of the remains to build their colonial buildings during 16th century. Have a closer look at the walls of the Cathedral de San Ildefonso to spot some of those stones. I couldn’t recognise any though.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Catedral de Merida
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

Not only the interior of the cathedral is a meeting point for the locals of Merida, also outside the cathedral there is a lot going on.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Catedral de Merida - People gathering in front of the cathedral
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

Palacio de Gobierno

On the opposite side of the cathedral you’ll see the green building which was built in 1892 as the government building of the state of Yucatan. Inside there are murals portraying the history of the Maya and the Spanish conquerors.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Palacio de Gobierno- Goverment Building
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

Palacio Municipal

Another cute building around the square is the pinkish one built in 1542 by the Spaniards to govern the city.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Palacio Municipal
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

Casa de Montejo

Casa de Montejo is built in 1549 and as its name reveals the Montejo family lived here. Today it is a museum exhibiting the furniture of the family. More interesting is the old carvings in the facade outside.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Casa de Montejo

Things to do around Merida

Celestun

I made the mistake to leave Merida to stay in Celestun for one night, which was totally unnecessary. Celestun is only 1,5 hours away from Merida and the boat tour on Celestún River to see countless pink flamingos is totally doable as day trip. You will even have enough time to go to the beach for lunch.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Boat tour in Celestun River for bird watching
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

The boat tour on the river and through the mangroves is perfect for bird watching. You pay for the boat, not per person, so look for people around you can share the ride with. The boat tour for a group of 4-6 people is doable for a reasonable price. Me and my partner had to wait for about 30 min. to find people to share the ride with. Finally a Mexican family came. They were 8 and couldn’t fit to one boat, so the two teenagers joined us. And this way I had the chance to practice my Spanish a bit and they were also happy to practice their English 🙂

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Boat tour in Celestun River to observe Pink Flamingos
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

In Celestun there is also a beach where you can have lunch after the boat tour and observe the vivid lifestyle of the locals spending their weekend at beach.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Beach day in Celestun
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

Mostly, big families come all together, gather 5-8 tables, sit and sing together, play with kids, eat and drink. That’s what they call “viva la vida” I guess.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Colourful Streets of Celestun
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza Archeological Site is also only 1,5 hours away from Merida. Tough, I would not recommend to visit Chichen Itza as day trip, unless you don’t mind visiting one of the World Wonders with other thousands of people.

Read next: How to avoid crowds in Chichen Itza
Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - day trip to Chichen Itza from Merida
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

Uxmal

Uxmal, another Maya Archeological Site is only 1 hour away from Merida. But also for Uxmal I chose to stay overnight there to have the chance to visit the site early in the morning before the crowds and the heat arrive. However, next time I would do it as day trip, as Uxmal is not as frequently visited as Chichen Itza so that the crowds are not as disturbing.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - day trip to Uxmal from Merida
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

How to get to/from Merida

From Valladolid to Merida the drive takes about 2 hours with the car. From Riviera Maya you should count about 3-3,5 hours.

Merida is perfectly connected to the highway. The directions are pretty straight forward and easy to find. From Merida you can also take air conditioned buses almost to every direction.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - How to get to Merida
Things to do around Merida

Where to stay in Merida?

I stayed at Casa Alvarez Guesthouse which is totally central and the hosts are lovely people. Of course there are many other options for accommodation in Merida. Check booking.com and agoda.com.

How to get around in Merida?

In the downtown everything is reachable in walking distance. With a bicycle you can also explore other neighbourhoods.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - How to get around in Merida
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

Warnings

There is a souvenir shopping centre, a blue house near to the Plaza Grande. Almost everyone who you start to chat with, recommend you to go to this famous Blue House if you want to buy souvenirs. Well, I thought, ok I’ll have a look. The shop owners were incredibly intrusive and rude after I made clear that I’m not going to buy anything for such crazy high prices for cheap fake products. At the same street, just opposite of the blue building there are other smaller shops with very kind shop owners. So don’t be bothered to go upstairs. It is just another of those tourist traps.

Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Souvenir shopping tourist trap
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens
Read next: 
Travel Guide to Mexico 
2 weeks Mexico Travel Itinerary
Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico - Having lunch at the beach in Celestun
Photo by Ingmar Sörgens

traveler packing listCheck my Pack List for more useful travel items! By buying products or booking accommodation with these links you’ll be supporting my blog without paying anything extra. Thanks already ❤️

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For more insights from real pros I recommend Lonely Planet's Travel Guide for Riviera Maya. For price worthy accommodation check Booking.com or Agoda.com.

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Things to do in 2 days in Merida - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico

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Other blog posts about Mexico

Travel Guide to Mexico Travel Itinerary - 2 weeks in Mexico Yucatan top things to do in mexico city

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Things to do in Valladolid Mexico Yucatan Things to do in Riviera Maya - Mexico Best Ancient Mayan Cities in Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

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