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Sights & Lights in Merida, Mexico

by bromptoning
Heather in front of the Merida sign with Christmas lights in the background.
Heather and the Merida sign in Plaza Grande.

The difference between Cancun and Merida is stark! Cancun is big roads, fast traffic and not pedestrian friendly. Merida is the opposite — the heart of the old colonial city is perfectly walkable. Well, at least size-wise. The streets have incredibly narrow sidewalks, and car traffic can be bumper-to-bumper at times, but thankfully Merida closes its downtown to cars quite frequently. When we were there, the main street (Calle 60) was pedestrian-only on Friday and Saturday night, as well as all day Sunday.

Pier on Calle 60 on pedestrian-only Saturday night.
Pier on Calle 60 on a pedestrian-only Saturday night.

Since our hotel was just 1 1/2 km from the heart of Merida (Plaza Grande), we decided to leave the Bromptons in our room and walk. The bikes are incredibly handy for seeing sights that aren’t central (like the Gran Museo Del Mundo Maya and the Zona Arqueológica de Dzibilchaltún – more on that in our next blog post), but otherwise a crowded, cobblestoned city like Merida is best seen on foot.

Pier looking out over the Plaza Grande from the Palacio Municipal 2nd storey balcony.
Pier looking out over the Plaza Grande from the Palacio Municipal 2nd storey balcony.

Merida Walking Tour

Merida’s city tourist office runs free guided walking tours of the historic centre, so we decided to do that one morning and it was well worth it. Don’t forget to tip the guide! The tour leaves from the Palacio Municipal at 9:30am.

Palacio Municipal - meet here for the walking tour.
Meet at Palacio Municipal for the Walking Tour.
Casa Montejo
First stop on the walking tour – Casa Montejo.
Inside the Catedral de San Ildefonso, Merida, Mexico.
Catedral de San Ildefonso
Gran Hotel, Merida, Mexico.
Gran Hotel – the oldest hotel in Merida.
Murals in the Palacio de Gobierno, Merida, Mexico.
Our guide showing us the murals in the Palacio de Gobierno.

Christmas in Merida, Mexico

We were in Mexico during the Christmas holidays, and there were tons of decorations up everywhere! Seeing Christmas decorations when it’s hot outside is weird to us Canadians, so of course we took pictures…

Christmas in Merida, Mexico.
Santa on someone’s balcony.
Christmas tree in the Palacio de Gobierno.
Christmas tree in the Palacio de Gobierno.
Christmas tree in the Centro Cultural Olimp, Merida, Mexico.
Christmas in the Centro Cultural Olimp.
Christmas on Calle 56A in Merida, Mexico.
Christmas lights on Calle 56A
Christmas polar bear on Calle 56A in Merida, Mexico.
Pier hugging a lit-up polar bear in the Christmas village on Calle 56A.

Overall Impression of Merida…

Giant kissing chairs in Merida, Mexico.
Iconic kissing chairs of Merida, the giant version, in Parque de Santa Lucia.

We really enjoyed Merida and would recommend visiting. If we’d been there longer we could have done many more day trips with Merida as our home base. Alas, we were there just three days, one spent walking around the city, the next biking to the Mayan ruins north of Merida (Dzibilchaltun), and the last enjoying Pedestrian Sunday. Oh, and of course we ate lots of yummy food! More on that in Cities & Sights from Mérida to Tulum.

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