Mérida may be one of the most under-the-radar destinations in Mexico, but it’s one of the most beloved secrets of travelers and expats alike. This charming city in the Yucatan boasts rich history, vibrant culture and a terrific food scene, which is why it’s a great destination for a vacation, whether you’re solo, traveling with a significant other or with your entire family. Before my recent trip to Mérida, I knew relatively little about the city, but I found a great deal on a last-minute flight, so I decided to say yes to adventure and head to Mérida.
To make my impromptu Mexican getaway possible, I relied on HotelTonight to book a last-minute hotel in Mérida. Within a few minutes, I had a beautiful hotel room waiting for me in the heart of Mérida, and I was just hours away from starting my Mérida adventure. For travelers who like to take spontaneous trips and explore new cities like locals, HotelTonight is one of the most useful services available, which is why I always use HotelTonight when planning a last-minute getaway.
As soon as I arrived in Mérida, I wanted to explore the city on foot and get a feel for the culture and the atmosphere, so I walked over to Plaza Grande. Let me start by saying that I’ve been to many city squares during my travels, but Mérida’s Plaza Grande is easily one of my very favorites. This expansive, green square offers plenty of seating, shade and views of some of Mérida’s most famous sights. Surrounding the square, you can find great cafes and restaurants, as well as historic buildings like the Catedral de San Ildefonso, the Casa de Montejo and the Palacio de Gobierno. There’s so much to do in and around the Plaza, you could easily spend an entire day in the area.
If you’re feeling like a nice, leisurely stroll during your stay in Mérida, you’ll definitely want to head to the Paseo de Montejo, which is like Mérida’s equivalent of the Champs Elysees. This grand boulevard has wide sidewalks and bike paths that make it the perfect avenue to stretch your legs and take in the sights. Plus, along the way you’ll pass countless historic buildings, cafes and shops. Since it was a warm day in Mérida during my visit, I hopped off The Paseo and ducked into a nearby cafe to enjoy an ice-cold beer and some people watching before continuing on with my adventure.
While I love experiencing cities the way locals experience their cities, I also know that there are some sights and attractions I can’t miss – even if they are considered tourist spots. Chichen Itza was definitely one of those sights for me, and I simply couldn’t travel to the Yucatan without visiting this world-famous sight. So the next day, I woke up early and headed out to Chichen Itza on a day trip, and I spent hours wandering the ancient Mayan ruins and learning about the fascinating history of this civilization. If you’re going to use Mérida as your home base to tour Chichen Itza, be sure to leave early in the morning so you can avoid the busy afternoon crowds.
After exploring the colorful city of Mérida and the historic sight of Chichen Itza, I had a craving for some sand, some sea, and some peace. So I asked some locals about nearby beaches, and I was happy to hear that there are a number of great beaches within an hour from Mérida. I was in the Yucatan Peninsula, after all, which is known for some of the best beaches in the world, and I certainly wanted to experience one in person before I headed back home to my land-locked city. So I drove about 30 minutes out of Mérida to the coastal town of Progreso, which boasts gorgeous white-sand beaches that are lined with palm trees and cabanas. Escaping to this quiet beach was just what I needed to refuel and recharge before heading back home, and it allowed me to explore a whole new community in the Yucatan.
I was surprised by how much I loved the city of Mérida. Although Mérida is the largest city in the Yucatan, it feels almost like a small European town, and it boasts the flavor and excitement of a popular expat city which so many creative, young people from around the world have made their home. While I wasn’t able to see all that Mérida had to offer in just three days, I was able to get a great beat on the city. In just a few days, I had fallen in love with Mérida, and I could see why so many Americans have relocated to Mérida in recent years. While I probably won’t be moving there anytime soon, I just may take another spontaneous trip and book a last-minute hotel in Mérida in the near future.