Neighboring the state of Quintana Roo - which is home to Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum in the Riviera Maya - Mexico’s Yucatan State and the capital city of Merida offer some of Latin America’s most exciting tourism offerings. Merida lies just over three hours west of downtown Playa del Carmen and Cancun near the beach town of Progreso on the northern coast of Mexico’s amazing Yucatan Peninsula. This is an excellent choice if you want to enjoy an overnight excursion or long weekend getaway while visiting Cancun or the Riviera Maya, offering the chance to experience the charm of Mexico’s colonial cities and also take in some of the country’s most impressive ancient Mayan ruins!
“Merida is one of those dream destinations where ‘something for everyone’ is not just a tourism-board platitude”, wrote CNN Travel. “One of the best things about Merida is how many different kinds of activities are packed into a small area”.
In fact, Merida is an attractive destination for its architecture and historic sites, including its many colonial and pre-Hispanic structures, as well as its thriving art scene and the picturesque coastline, which is known for its sleepy, low-key atmosphere. Not surprisingly, there’s a great beach culture nearby in Progreso, which lies about 40 minutes north of downtown, where you will find fresh seafood and a lively malecón (beachfront boardwalk).
If you’re visiting the Yucatan from Cancun or the Riviera Maya, be sure to stop for lunch in the picturesque colonial town of Valladolid, which has a wonderful historic square and is also situated close to the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, one of the two major archaeological sites that lie within about an hour’s drive of Merida. The other site is Uxmal (pronounced oosh-mahl), which lies 50 miles southeast of downtown and is considered one of the most important ancient Mayan sites.
There are a variety of vacation home rentals available in this part of Yucatan State, including boutique hotels, beautiful spacious condos and houses in Merida, Mexico, as well as in the nearby beach town of Progreso. Keep in mind that many of the former colonial haciendas that were originally built by wealthy Spaniards are situated a considerable distance outside of downtown Merida, but are well worth the journey.
Visitors should also definitely make time to sample the signature culinary flavors of Mayan cuisine while vacationing in Merida, including sour orange, hot habanero chilies and roasted meats, but chefs in the Yucatan also incorporate a wide range of other local ingredients, including tropical fruits and fresh fish, into mouthwatering modern culinary creations that are sure to delight even the most sophisticated palate.
So, the next time you come to enjoy the Riviera Maya’s beaches, remember that Merida is also a popular vacation destination for visitors from across North America, Latin America and Europe, with a growing community of expats who come to enjoy the city’s fantastic climate and booming arts scene. Plan a few days to explore Mexico’s Yucatan State and discover a wealth of exciting activities that will take your next vacation to a whole new level!
Do you have questions about vacationing in Mexico? Tell us in the comments!
Want to see more about Mexico’s Yucatan State? Check out our blog, Exploring Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, from Tulum to Merida and Beyond and see why the Riviera Maya remains one of the world’s top vacation destinations!