Mérida is the capital of the state of Yucatán in Mexico and is the largest city in the Yucatán Peninsula with a population of over 750,000 people.
The city is a hive of cultural life which also reflects its diversity. There are often free concerts, performances and various other events held in the plazas around this vibrant city.
Mérida is a city of contrasts; in the northern side of the city you will find classy hotels, restaurants and shopping malls. Downtown Merida offers hotels and restaurants catering to every budget and taste. In the main plaza you will find a large market with small shops surrounding it where just about everything is sold.
The city’s flavour is colonial and the climate is tropical. The daytime temperature varies; in January, it is usually around 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 Celsius) and in June, about 95 F (35 C). To avoid the heat, most people are busiest in the mornings, after lunch it’s time for a siesta then back to work for a few hours in the late afternoon.
From Mérida, it is very easy to take day trips to many of the archaeological sites, ecological parks, typical villages, caves, beaches, colonial missions and more. Adopt the laid back style of the locals and take your time to discover the Maya site, stroll along the Gulf of Mexico’s beaches, visit a village festival, photograph the wildlife, go on a cave adventure or swim in a cenote… There’s so much to see and do.
Merida was founded by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1540s on top of a centuries old Maya city called T’ho. The palatial home of the family of Conquistador leader Montejo can still be seen on the south side of the Zócalo or main square.
In 1542 Francisco de Montejo y León named the city after the town of Mérida in Extremadura, Spain. It was built on the site of the Maya city of T’hó (City of Five Hills) in reference to its pyramids. T’ho had been a centre of Mayan culture and activity for centuries: because of this, some historians consider Mérida the oldest continually-occupied city in the Americas.
Carved Mayan stones from ancient T’ho were widely used to build the Spanish colonial buildings that are plentiful in downtown Mérida, and are visible, for instance, in the walls of the main cathedral. Much of Mérida’s architecture from the colonial period through the 18th century and 19th century is still standing in the centro historico of the city. From colonial times through the mid-19th century. Mérida was a walled city intended to protect the Peninsular and Criollo residents from periodic revolts by the indigenous Maya, several of the old Spanish city gates survive, but modern Mérida has expanded well beyond the old city walls.
In the late 19th century and the early 20th Century, the area surrounding Mérida prospered from the production of henequén. For a brief period, around the turn of the 20th century, Mérida was said to house more millionaires than any other city in the world. The result of this concentration of wealth can still be seen today. Many large and elaborate homes still line the main avenue called Paseo de Montejo, though few are occupied today by individual families. Many of these homes have been restored and now serve as office buildings for banks and insurance companies.
Getting to Merida
Merida’s Manual Conscencio Rejon International Airport (IATA: MID), is located 7.5 km south of the city along Hwy 261 and offers services to all types of flights, private and commercial. There are daily flights out of the Airport to México City, Houston, Miami, Belize City, Havana and a few other cities in Mexico.
The following airlines serve Merida:
Aeromexico, Aeromexico Connect, Mexico City, La Havana, Miami, Monterrey & Veracruz
Interjet, Mexico City.
Magni, Mexico City.
Mayair, Cancun, Cozumel, Villahermosa & Veracruz.
TropicAir, Belize City.
Viva Aerobus, Guadalajara & Monterrey.
Volaris, Mexico City, Guadalajara & Monterrey.
To get from the Airport (by ground transport) to your destination locally you have several options:
-You can take an authorized taxi cab or van, at the Airport for M$200-250. Buy the ticket in one of the booths at the exits of the airport. Likewise you can also walk out past the main parking lot in front of the building, along the access road out to the main road (Calle 23) to hail a passing taxi for half the price.
ADO operates regular buses from Merida airport to the main CAME bus station (Calle 70 entre 69 y 71, #555) or up to the Hotel Fiesta Americana (Calle 60 por Avenida Colón).
From the terminal building the bus stop is on the island by the second access road in front of the arrivals
There are more flights with additional tour operators (on charter airlines) and regularly scheduled airlines to Cancun (CUN) from Europe, North America, Central America, South America, Cuba, Russia, and additional cities within Mexico. With the extra competition between tour operators and airlines, it may be more economical to fly to Cancun and then drive or take the bus to Merida.
There are a limited number of direct buses to Merida from the Cancun airport with ADO (Autobuses De Oriente) . Otherwise one can take a more frequent bus to the downtown Cancun bus station from the airport (every :30min – 1hr) and transfer to another bus to Merida.
If coming from Cancun you can either choose to go to Merida’s main terminal (CAME) or to the “Hotel Fiesta Americana” which is a short taxi ride to El Centro.
Note 1:There is a toll highway (Hwy 180D) between Cancun and Merida that is in excellent condition. The ADO Platino and GL Buses do the 380 km trip in just about 3.5 hr; there is a non-toll road (Hwy 180) that parallels the highway that goes through 70+ hamlets and 40+ villages and is both slower and bumpier and, the second class buses go along this route.
Note 2:There are frequent buses between Cancun Bus Terminal and Merida CAME or Fiesta Americana and both destinations are about the same distance from Merida Centro; CAME is in a somewhat industrial area while Fiesta Americana Bus Terminal is right in the top sights area of Merida.
Note 3: There are a few direct buses from Cancun Airport to Merida alternatively you can get the free shuttle bus (every :30min) from the Cancun Airport to the downtown (Cancun) bus station and transfer to another bus to Merida.