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Mérida was built more than 450 years ago on the site of T'ho, an ancient Mayan city, and is the social and economic centre, as well as the capital, of the Yucatán state.

It is also known as the "White City" because of the large use of white limestone and white paint in its old centre. It is an ever-expanding sprawling, bustling city of about one million but it retains its traditions and has a rich cultural life which is reflected in its diversity and many free concerts, performances and other events which are held daily. Despite its modernity Mérida has also managed to retain its colonial charm in its small historic centre which though under constant restoration has a laid-back tempo that is charming and a great place to experience Mexican culture. You can admire the cathedral, old mansions and elegant buildings built in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, which are now used as public office buildings, museums and hotels. Its downtown area features a large, tree-shaded central square with a market and numerous small shops surrounding it.

Jarana is the principal dance in Mexico's Yucatán state — an illustration of the fusion of old and new world culture it enchants viewers with the elegance of its steps. The music is typically provided by a jarana orchestra comprised of two clarinets, two trombones, kettledrums and güiro. If you are in the city on a Sunday half the main avenue is shut to become pedestrianised and there is often music and dancing in the street.

Mérida also makes a good base from which to explore the Mayan archaeological sites of Chichén Itzá and Uxmal. Pink flamingo sanctuaries and swimmable crystal-clear cenotes (sinkholes) are some of the natural attractions of the Yucatán Peninsula that are also easily accessible from the city. Please note museums are closed Sunday and Monday.

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Audley Travel Specialist Tessa

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Mérida by contacting one of our Mexico specialists

Suggested itineraries featuring Mérida

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Mérida, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Mérida

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Mérida

    Our expert guides to exploring Mérida

    Written by our specialists from their own experiences of visiting Mérida, these guides will help you make the most of your time there. We share both our practical recommendations and the best ways to appreciate Mérida at its best.

    • A first-timer's guide to Chichén Itzá
      Chichén Itzá

      A first-timer's guide to Chichén Itzá

      A first-timer's guide to Chichén Itzá

      An ancient Mayan capital and the most famous of all the archaeological sites on the Yucatán Peninsula, Chichén Itzá is not to be missed on a trip to Mexico.

      5 min read

      Read this guide
    • Family holidays in Mexico
      Temple of the Warriors, Chichén Itzá

      Family holidays in Mexico

      Family holidays in Mexico

      Audley travel specialist Anna shares her tips for where to go and what to do on a Mexico family holiday. Focusing on the Yucatán Peninsula, she explains how you can combine beach time with wildlife watching and visiting ancient ruins.

      10 min read

      Read this guide
    • What to do in Mexico: our highlights guide
      Teotihuacán, Mexico

      What to do in Mexico: our highlights guide

      What to do in Mexico: our highlights guide

      Mexico’s character is many-sided. From cosmopolitan colonial cities and vibrant markets to mountain wilderness, sleepy Caribbean islands, vast cacti-covered deserts and a wealth of intriguing ancient ruins, specialist Carolyn shares her highlights.

      10 min read

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    Accommodation choices for Mérida

    We've selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Mérida. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    Ideas for experiencing Mérida

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Mérida, and which use the best local guides.

    • Mérida City Tour
      Catedral de San Ildefonso, Merida

      Mérida City Tour

      Mérida City Tour

      The "White City" title that Mérida has derives from the stately homes and mansions that adorn the sides of Paseo Montejo, about 10 blocks north of the centre, standing opulently in gleaming white stone.

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