The colonial city of Mérida, on the Yucatán Peninsula, is interesting enough to spend a good few days in, but what if you only have 24 hours? Here’s our guide to the best bits that you can see and do in one day.
For a unique insight into Mérida – and the rest of the region – you can now book a nine-day tour around the Yucatán Peninsula, organized by Culture Trip.
For breakfast, the best place in town is El Barrio. The menu is varied, the ingredients are top-notch, and the service is wonderful. Suitably fortified, it’s time to go to the Lucas de Galvez Market, where you can find everything from tap dancing shoes to huge religious statues for sale. Sip on a fruit smoothie as you browse the seemingly endless aisles, and experience Mérida shopping as the locals do it.
After the market, take a quick spin around the Macay, a contemporary art museum, which is home to a huge range of impressive works, including pieces by Fernando Castro Pacheco. Just outside is the cathedral, so pop your head in before heading to La Chaya Maya for lunch.
This relaxed restaurant offers traditional Mayan dishes without the pastiche feel of other restaurants in town. You won’t find over-the-top tortilla-making displays here, just traditional food at fair prices. Order the sharing platter to try a selection of specialties. Don’t forget to try a Chaya margarita, too.
Take a digestive stroll around the historic center of the city before jumping in a cab to Hacienda Xcanatun. It’s only a 20-minute drive away, but the colonial plantation house feels like a world away. Take a tour through the garden and settle down on the veranda to watch the sunset with a cocktail.
In the evening, take a cab to Rosa Sur 32 for dinner. Bag an outside table to watch life go by on Parque de Santa Lucia, where there are often free events going on. It’s great for people-watching as you try the international fusion cuisine.
After dinner, get the drinks in at La Pulquerida or La Fundación Mezcalería, where young locals and tourists dance the night away. The music is loud, the drinks are cheap, and you can’t help but join in the dancing, which sometimes goes on until 5am.