Bustling streets, lively parks, endless cultural activities, and a varied nightlife: Merida is the beating urban heart of Mexico. The hubbub of the city can seem frustrating at times – especially if you’ve just spent a peaceful few days on the coast or visiting the Mayan ruins of Tulum or Chichen Itza – but as the cultural and intellectual hub of the peninsula, Merida is rich in art, history, and tradition, and there are many things to do in Merida, that always aim to surprise.
The city’s main square, the Plaza de la Independencia, is surrounded by many prominent colonial buildings, including the Governor’s Palace. The pretty, forest green building is home to a collection of art depicting the history of the Mayan culture. And the inside walls are lined with murals by the renowned Mexican muralist, Fernando Castro Pacheco. Entrance is free, so even if you’re just interested in a stroll through the beautiful building, it’s worth it.
Good local food is not hard to come by, but if you’re looking for haute Mexican cuisine in the Yucatan Peninsula, Apoala is a must. Located in the historic square of Santa Lucia Park, where a seat on the terrace is one of the most coveted in the city. The menu features Yucatan cuisine with strong Oaxacan influences. The dishes are modern and inventive: steamed sea bass fillet with mezcal, or octopus-and-scallop ceviche with Oaxacan chili paste. The cocktails are just as creative—especially their mezcal options, one of which is served with a fragrant flaming sprig of rosemary.
The chaos of the Lucas de Galvez Market, is perfect for getting lost in. Here you can find fresh vegetables, homemade crafts, local clothing, a new pet, and everything in between. The vibrant and bustling market can get crowded, as it’s packed with locals. But be sure to stop by, weave your way through the hectic maze-like atmosphere, and score a bargain.