Drinking dens with music and saloon-style cantinas, serving artisanal mezcals, margaritas and more, make up the after-dark scene in the Yucatán state capital.
While many in-bound revelers to Mexico’s Caribbean coast head straight to the party zones of Cancún or Playa del Carmen, you’ll find plenty of tequila flowing and salsa stirring in the Yucatán state capital, too. Increasingly cosmopolitan Mérida is home to the main university and students aplenty seeking fiestas. A steady stream of backpackers and traveling tourists joins fun-loving locals in the growing number of buzzing bars in the city, too. Read on for a rundown of our favorites.
It’s the easy-going atmosphere and great-value drinks that bring a younger, up-for-it crowd to this buzzing cantina. Interiors are awash with vintage furniture and curios, adding to the hip retro vibe. Oaxacan mezcal is the drink of choice for many of the patrons, so this busy bar soon fills up with people dancing and singing to the regular live bands who grace the stage here. Tacos also flow, filled with everything from zucchini flowers to crunchy crickets.
Over a century since it first opened its saloon-style swing doors, El Cardenal Cantina qualifies as the oldest bar in Mérida. Its semi-updated, old-school vibe balances hip with history, making it a popular haunt for locals and out-of-towners alike. There’s a decent selection of bottled craft beers and artisanal mezcals, too – most take their drink to the pleasant open-air patio. Regular live music and a great pizza menu complete a top-notch nightspot.
Great live music and cheap drinks pack people into this fun and friendly city-center cantina. As the name suggests, pulque (alcohol made from the sap of an agave plant) is available here, including a selection of cocktails made using the millennia-old alcoholic drink. The ancient tipple is not to everyone’s taste, so there’s plenty more on the menu, from mezcals and micheladas (a cocktail of beer, lime, juice and spices) to classic shots and artisan beers. Tasty finger food and Mexican-style snacks keep growling bellies at bay.
This self-dubbed “beer and party room” is among the most atmospheric spots in the city – choc-full of colorful murals, busy tiling and a rough-and-ready charm. It’s known for its great cocktails and some pretty good bar-food staples. But it’s the fiesta that really packs them in every weekend, with thumpingly good live reggaeton, salsa and cumbia (Colombian folk) music that quickly fills the dance floor. There’s a pleasant garden as well when you need a break from the heady scene inside.
This high-ceilinged, down-to-earth establishment is the perfect spot for a no-nonsense evening of drinking, eating and live music. It’s surprisingly big when you step inside, with chatty bartenders, cheap cocktails and generous happy-hour promos. There’s a second bar in the lovely big shady garden out back and belly-filling bar food to keep you going. Entertainment also comes in the form of foosball, vintage video games and one of the best pool tables in town.
Looking for more to do in Mérida? Start your day off with a visit to the most interesting Mayan ruins in the area before settling in for an evening at one of the best restaurants in the city. Book your base for exploring Yucatán’s capital now with Culture Trip. If Mérida takes your fancy, go further, and explore the rest of the area by booking a stay in nearby Campeche and visiting the best markets in not-so-far-away Cancún.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.