Merida charms visitors with its Spanish colonial architecture and has recently become a popular spot for honeymooners and families alike with its diverse range of activities. From ancient Mayan sites to modern museums with plenty of delicious foodie eats in between, you’ll quickly be wanting to swap your Cancun vacation plans for nearby Merida instead.
Our trip was focused on colonial Merida and the nearby Mayan sites of Chichén Itzá and Uxmal. Of course, museums and cenote swims were in our itinerary as well. But there’s plenty more to do that we didn’t have time for, so keep reading below!
ItineraryDay 1 – Arrived in Cancun, picked up rental car, stayed at the Four Points Sheraton
Day 2 – Drove to Chichén Itzá, then on to Mérida, checked into Maison Azul
Day 3 – Walked around downtown, enjoyed the Santa Lucia Park Concert
Day 4 – Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, Museo Casa Montejo, Palacio del Gobernador
Day 5 – Drove the Puuc Route to visit the Mayan sites, watched Pok ta Pok game
Day 6 – Walked Paseo Montejo, visited Hacienda Yaxcopoil, swam in a few cenotes
Day 7 – Drove to Cancun, stayed at the Hyatt Ziva
Day 8 – Flew Home
Merida does has an airport serviced by United Airlines, but we opted to fly into Cancun using our Southwest Airlines Companion Pass and rented a car to explore the sights of the Yucatan on our own time. I know what you’re thinking: drive in Mexico?! And our answer is: YES! The road between Cancun and Merida is new and well kept with calm traffic and plenty of signs for navigation. It’s pretty much a straight shot to Chichén Itzá, then on to Merida. If you wish to explore even more, you could easily drive to Progresso and Celestun from Merida as well. With a total cost of $140 for the week, the car rental was one of our best money saving decisions of the week. We rented a car through Avis, with the insurance provided by our Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.
Merida is known for its colonial homes, so while we typically use points for hotel stays, on this trip we opted to stay in local airbnb homes. We’re always on a tight budget, but we wanted to get the full experience of the glamorous restored colonial homes, so to fit that into our overall trip cost, we broke up our visit into two stays: two nights at a luxurious private casita in a magazine-worthy home, and three nights with a local in a private room at a more affordable home. Our trip was bookended by two nights in Cancun, for which we used credit card points.
Our spending on activities for this week was really limited to the entry fees for each of the Mayan sites ($2-$14 each) and the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya ($8). If you’re sticking around Merida, most of your activities are going to be walking around admiring the architecture, which is free! But if you wish to get outside of Merida and do some day trips, you should definitely budget for other activities like a guided tour in Celestún to see flamingoes in the wild (around $80). Families who may be combining Merida with a trip to Cancún may also want to look into the Xel-Ha or Xcarat parks, which can also be pricey.
Stay tuned to read more about our trip, then grab your travel buddy and start planning your own!
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