My Trip to Merida, Yucatan (Travel Guide)
I had travelled to a few parts in the Yucatan Peninsula before: Cancun, Tulum and a quick trip through Valladolid. I remember I loved them all but I was left wanting to explore more. This is an exciting blog post for me to share because I am absolutely in love with this part of Mexico. For years I’d been trying to make this trip happen and I was finally able to rally up two of my girlfriends and make a fun girls trip out of it. By far one of the best trips I have had and I know there is still so much left to explore. For anyone planning to go, here are all the details on my trip. You can see it in action on my Instagram under the highlight “Yucatan“.
Where we stayed:
Merida was the place I wanted to visit the most in all of the Yucatan. I heard it was the safest place in Mexico and full of so much culture, good food and charm. I was told it was tiny, quiet and you could get bored after a few days but I found it to be the opposite. It was full of life at night, there were plenty of restaurants and cute boutique hotels to explore and the town itself was way larger than I had imagined it.
We decided to stay in Airbnbs so we could feel like locals who actually lived there. We divided it into two separate stays simply because the first airbnb (which was absolutely incredible) was a bit too expensive and large for just three girls. I’m sharing where we stayed below, but there are so many beautiful places from cute boutique hotels to renovated haciendas that you should definitely do some research!
Airbnb Maison Azul: We splurged and decided to rent the whole place even though it fit 8 people just because we were so in love with the place. This airbnb had absolutely beautiful details and felt like our own little private oasis. The pool was definitely the best part of the place. The beds were comfortable, the kitchen was super cute and the place felt extremely safe. I highly recommend it for a larger party and not for a smaller one. It felt a little empty without more people and a bit scary simply because of how large the rooms were (but.. we watch too many horror movies). We took a whole day at the airbnb as soon as we landed just to decompress, relax and enjoy the old charm it had.
Airbnb The Hacienda : Although the other spot was truly gorgeous, this one felt a little more like somewhere you could actually live. The decor was more on the modern side and the layout is great. The only thing I didn’t love was that the pool is actually tiny and mostly shady from what I noticed (maybe that depends on time of year). If you don’t plan on spending much time at the spot, this prob won’t bother you. What I did love is how close it was to everything. We walked to restaurants for dinner at night. It had three bedrooms which was perfect for us three gals and decently priced.
Where we ate:
Oh my gosh I could go back just to try all the different spots! There are so many but here is where we ate.
Arcano: This place (shown above) was so gorgeous!! They have both an indoor and backdoor patio, but I found the indoor dining room to be super charming with its ruin-like walls, tiled floors and candlelight hallways. It had that same ruin-like, fixed-up hacienda feel that a lot of spots here have. A mix of Yucatan style with European flair in the decor which I absolutely love. The food was good (nothing out of this world in my opinion but it was still good), the drinks were delish, but I would say I mostly enjoyed the experience of dining in that space more than anything.
Manjar Blanco: This place is famous mostly because it came out in the Netflix show “Taco Chronicles”. We decided to check it out and see if it was worth it and their Cochinita Pibil (slow-roasted suckling pig marinated in achiote paste and sour orange juice) was 100% worth it. It’s a very casual spot perfect for a lunch so you can walk it off the rest of the day or go home and take a nap (I know I did). Pictured on bottom right.
Micaela Mar Y Leña : This place was my absolute favorite of all the restaurants we ate at. Mostly because they had some super fresh seafood (my fave), but they do also have some good meat dishes. The place itself is super lively, decorated super fun and has amazing cocktails. We came here on our first night in Merida and it definitely set the tone for an amazing trip. (Pictured top left)
Casa T’ho: This place (above) is a concept house which has boutiques located inside the Mansion building and a restaurants with drinks and food (Mediterranean) in the inner courtyard. It’s a great place to walk around, shop a little (or just browse as its quite expensive) and take a breather. It’s really beautiful and a great place to check out, if even just to see it. I bought myself some beautiful gold jewelry and linen pants. Merida is known for its linen and I loved the pants so much I bought them in two colors (wearing below).
Picheta: This rooftop restaurant (pictured below) is a perfect place to check out the sunset. They have traditional Yucatan cuisine. I would 100% reserve here ahead of time as it does get booked.
Artista Barista Cafe: Cute, charming little coffee shop we just happened to stumble into. They had great service, yummy healthy eats for breakfast and I really loved my Chai Latte with Oat Milk. If you are nearby, take a peak! (below).
Starbucks: Normally I wouldn’t suggest going to a starbucks as I always love supporting small business, but this building was so beautiful!! I had never seen a Starbucks with more character. (pictured below). Worth at least a drive by.
What to see in and outside of Merida:
Besides the great restaurants, cute small shops and boutique hotels to see, you can also check out the historic mansions. There are plenty like Hotel Casa Azul (national historic monument) that let you tour the inside and see what they look like. Merida is filled with beautiful mansions all over the town and so much history! We ended up touring one of them and didn’t have time for all. You can also go check out their Cathedral (shown above) which is especially beautiful at sunset or at night.
We took a few day trips to explore of the Yucatan Peninsula. You can either rent a car or hire a private driver. If you rent a car, its pretty safe driving around there but more of a hassle. We hired a private driver from a company for the whole trip and it was definitely worth it. He helped make sure our belongings were safe while we explored, recommended spots we didn’t know of and helped in general with any questions or confusions we had. We felt super safe and made a new friend. If you need his number please send me a DM on Instagram and I can send it to you! Also, I took a couple outfit changes for the days I would get wet so I could feel fresh and ready for the next adventure. Don’t forget to pack a hat, water, an extra swimsuit (if you want) and a towel.
Day Trip 1 : Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyché + Uxmal Pyramids and Ruins
Two must-sees when you visit this part of Mexico are absolutely Cenotes and Pyramids/Ruins. You can’t miss it.
We planned to visit the Pyramids first thing in the morning and then head to the Cenotes after to cool off after the walk around the ruins in the sun. A lot of people like to go to the most famous Ruins, Chichen Itza, but we decided to head to a less crowded and equally stunning spot (Uxmal). (Shown Below). We arrived as soon as it opened to beat any other tourists and got the place to ourselves for a good 30 min. It was great to beat the heat as well. After, we headed straight to the Macuyche cenote (also shown below) which definitely exceeded my expectations! It was absolutely beautiful. If you aren’t familiar, a Cenote is a under ground cave filled with water. There are so many different kinds of cenotes in this area it’s hard to choose just a few. I really wish I had more time to explore them all.
This spot is very touristy, but trust me, its worth it. The cenote itself is pretty large and you have to go in with a large group and wear life jackets (trust me you will be happy you have them once you are in the cave). There is also a restaurant which is delicious, a pool and a tour of the hacienda itself which is beautiful. I typically stay clear of anything where I have to do things in groups but I think this one was worth it. The tour is fun because they explain to you who owned the hacienda and how they made their money. Super interesting.
Day Trip 2: Cenote Suytun, Valladolid and Izamal
Suytun: You may recognize Cenote Suytun (shown below) because it’s super instagram famous. Luckily we went during down season so it wasnt very crowded, but I bet it gets pretty damn crowded during peak season. There was a line of people waiting to get this exact shot you see shown below. If you are going “for the gram” make sure you are ready to wait and be patient. It’s kind of fun to just people watch though and hang out in there. I knew this would be a touristy spot but I also was dying to see this in person with my own eyes. I think it was definitely worth it in the end just because it is such a magical spot! We spent some time floating around and just enjoying the cenote and people watching while we were there. There is another cenote in this same area but this one is the one thats really worth it.
Pro Tip: If you are there for the photo (which you probably are) head there right at mid day when the sun will be directly above the hole in the cave making for that beautiful light ray that will make the photo look even more magical.
Valladolid: Valladolid is the cutest little town and pretty close to the Cenote which is why we decided to stop by. There are cute boutiques with clothes and accessories, cobblestoned streets, a picturesque church at the center of the plaza and restaurants. As a photographer I was personally excited to revisit the old convent San Bernardino I visited years before and take some photos. It’s a really beautiful building with gorgeous pink arches and all the shapes and shadows you could ask for.
We also stopped by the most adorable boutique (on the walk over to the convent) called ‘Conesencia‘ with boho accessories (hats, jewelry) and home decor. Definitely my style. (Pictured Above)
Izamal: The cutest most picturesque all-yellow town. On the way back from Valladolid we made a quick pit stop here. We were pretty exhausted at this point, but it was worth a quick stop. It’s a fun sight to see. We walked around just to look around, take some photos/ video then drove back to Merida. Not sure what else is there as this was the quickest stop ever but it was definitely a site to see.
Day Trip 3: Celestun
We travelled to Celestun to witness the flamingos that hang out in the mangroves. Unfortunately we went during off season so we could only see them from super far away. Even though they weren’t close, it was still amazing to see thousands of flamingos all together in one place in the wild. I had never seen that before. When we arrived, we saw a family of the cutest raccoons that live there and are taken care of by the people there. Honestly the most polite raccoons I have ever met. They lined up and waited for us to give them crackers and then would politely grab them from you with their little hands. SO CUTE! After that we rented a boat and went to explore. You can go with a group of 6 in one boat but we decided to pay for the whole boat just for us three to have a private tour which takes you through the mangroves and to the flamingos. The mangroves themselves are beautiful and its nice to see all the different kind of birds that are in them. Even without seeing the flamingos close up, the whole experience was a fun day.
There is so much to see in this part of Mexico! Most people just think of Tulum or Cancun, but all of Yucatan has so much to offer. If you have any questions feel free to shoot me a DM on my Instagram. Thanks for reading and hope this helps you plan your future trips!
For more travel posts check out my travel section here.