Forbes magazine named Merida the American Capital of Culture in 2017 for the second year in a row. This makes it the only city to hold the title twice. Located in the Yucatan Peninsula, this colonial city is just a three-hour drive from Playa del Carmen by car. Merida is one of the oldest cities in Mexico and has been occupied fully throughout the years. Because of this, it holds many traditions. You will notice the old stonework and architecture as you take a stroll through the city.
Culture, History and Gastronomy
Visitors know the Yucatan Peninsual for its gastronomy. Merida has an abundance of small markets scattered throughout the city with all the gastronomical delicacies your palate can imagine. If you’re more hands-on, you can try one of the many cooking classes offered by Mayan chefs. It makes for an interesting day spent in the kitchen and a good switch up from walking and hanging on the beach.
Because it is a colonial city there are many museums around to tell the story of its past. The Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Merida is the best one. Here, you will find interesting information about the Yucatan’s history and its many fascinating artifacts. If you enjoy photography, you may also want to visit the Museum of Anthropology and History. It is found within a mansion on the large Paseo Montejo. The museum features stunning photography.
The Mayan connection with the underworld
Besides walking around the city and visiting the museums and markets, there are many fun activities for nature lovers. There are plenty of cenotes around the outskirts of Merida. The Mayans used the cenotes as consecrated wells to connect with the gods. They would perform offerings and mystical ceremonies. Many of the cenotes surrounding Merida can surprise you with hidden artifacts, or even skulls of the sacrifices they made.
You will find a lively city full of culture. The squares in Merida often feature musicians and food in the parks. They are great places to spend the day, having a picnic and enjoying the beautiful scenery that Merida provides. People from Mexico are very friendly and welcoming, and they will welcome you into the city with a warm smile and open arms. They love speaking with foreigners, opening up their shops and even their homes to share an afternoon. Don’t forget to visit the many historical churches in the city. They are worth visiting and make for great photo opportunities.
a sacrifice to please your stomach
If by the afternoon your stomach is claiming a sacrifice for itself, visit one of the many ice cream parlors. The Soberteria Colon is perhaps the most famous one, followed by Pola. Locals and tourists know these ice cream shops for their delicious desserts and cool ice creams for a hot day. Speaking of which, beware of the heat! Merida can reach high temperatures and given that it is half an hour from the coast, there is not much ocean breeze to cool off with. Stay hydrated throughout the day to avoid a heat stroke!
Merida is a great place to visit during the holidays due to its many fun parades, markets and festivals. Day of the Dead is an especially neat time to visit the city. Locals make quite a celebration of the life of those who have passed. It is a sight to be seen. In the end, it doesn’t matter when you visit, Merida will have something to offer. A weekend getaway may result in you wanting to spend more time there. Retirees living in Playa del Carmen can visit Merida easily. It makes for fun weekend trips throughout the year.
merida: the best getaway
Unlike the Riviera Maya, Merida is not lined with five-star resorts, which means accommodation is focused more towards small boutique hotels and apartments. This allows for a more intimate and authentic experience, far from the Americanized one you might be used to in Playa del Carmen. And if you are eager to keep coming back, you might want to consider purchasing a vacation home.