Since the Spanish conquest, Mérida has been the cultural capital of the entire peninsula. At times provincial, at others ‘muy cosmopolitano,’ it is a town steeped in colonial history, with narrow streets, broad central plazas and the region’s best museums. It’s also a perfect place from which to kick off your adventure into the rest of Yucatán state. There are cheap eats, good hostels and hotels, thriving markets and other goings-on just about every night somewhere in the downtown area.
Long popular with European travelers looking to go beyond the hubbub of Quintana Roo’s resort towns, Mérida is not an ‘undiscovered Mexican gem’ like some of the tourist brochures claim. Simply put, it’s a tourist town, but a tourist town too big to feel like a tourist trap. And as the capital of Yucatán state, Mérida is also the cultural crossroads of the region, and there’s something just a smidge elitist about Mérida: the people who live here have a beautiful town, and they know it.
Best places to stay in Mérida
Cancún and the Riviera Maya
Yearning for sun, sand and eye-popping natural beauty? A trip to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula – and its crowning resort developments in Cancún and the Riviera Maya – offers something for just about everyone. For bacchanalians and beach lovers, there are the devilish nightclubs and angelic sands of Cancún and Playa del Carmen.
Mérida destination guides
Top 10 sights in Cancún and Yucatán
It's no great secret why Cancún, and to a larger extent the Yucatán Peninsula, has become Mexico's top tourist destination. Some people are lured by the simple pleasures of a white-sand beach, turquoise waters and perhaps a little partying here and there.
Leave the resorts of Cancún behind and explore the authentic Yucatán. From sunny beaches and lush jungles to the highlands of Chiapas, journey through Belize, Guatemala and southern Mexico on this incredible 22-day adventure. Explore the amazing ruins of Chichén Itzá, Palenque and Tikal and walk the cobblestone streets of colonial San Cristóbal de las Casas and Antigua.
Mayan ruins peeking out from verdant jungle, street vendors hawking their wares on colonial streets, pristine white sand beaches sparkling under the Caribbean sun—now this is the real Yucatán. On this unique 15-day journey, you’ll tour the ruins at Chichén Itzá and Palenque, and head deep into the jungle of Guatemala to experience the ruins of Tikal.
Top 8 places to (safely) visit in Mexico now
'Is it safe to go to Mexico?' We hear that question weekly. And the answer is always yes, if you know where to go and do your research. Despite increased reports of grisly drug-war murders that tend to cluster in northern border zones, travel to Mexico did edge back up a bit in 2010.