While two days in many places across the world would feel like too little time – 2 days in Merida, Mexico is plenty of time to enjoy the city. As long as you know where to go.
Rather than spending hours researching and planning your itinerary, we created a perfect Merida itinerary (with a map) to help guide you.
This itinerary is based on our experience traveling to Merida three times over the last few years. From its amazing food, unique cultural experiences, historical buildings, and colorful buildings this two-day itinerary has you hitting all of the major sites with a few new attractions most other Merida blogs miss.
With only 2 days in Merida, Mexico I couldn’t include some of the cool stuff to do outside of the historic center in this Merida itinerary. Feel free to explore the other things to do in Merida and create your own experience if you have 3 days or longer.
🏨 If you’re curious about things like where to stay, what to bring, and other important things to know about Merida, check out this blog post! We share our top Merida hotel recommendations + more helpful information.
Without further adieu here is how to have the perfect 2 days in Merida, Mexico!
Day 1 Merida itinerary
Day 1 is packed with the main sights, shops, restaurants, and attractions of Merida. While 10 stops may seem like a lot, you’re going to get a great feel for the Centro and see the top sights in a day.
Feel free to stretch this into 2 days if it’s too much walking or grab an Uber to break up the walking. We found with stops at shops or restaurants walking was more than do-able for people of all abilities and ages.
You can also explore some of the popular tours to help you make the most of your trip here. There are things like history tours, hacienda tours, cooking classes, and more.
1. Breakfast and coffee 8:00 am
If you’re coming to Merida on the weekend I highly recommend starting your morning at Maiz, Canela, y Cilantro. This is a quaint cafe that offers amazing traditional Mexican breakfasts. Huevos Motuleños are a specialty of the Yucatan, but our favorite breakfast dishes are Huevos Divorciados or Chilaquiles.
If you are coming during the week try to visit one of the other recommended breakfast spots from our Merida food blog. This shares several amazing spots to start your day from.
2. Merida free walking tour 9:15 am
One of the best ways to get to know a new city (outside of its food) is on a walking history tour. Merida’s tourism board offers free walking tours daily. The tour is around an hour and a half to two hours and takes you through the main Plaza and a few side streets.
To take the tour, go to this tourism board office in the Plaza Grande and put your name on the list. Supposedly they limit tours to 10 people, so you want to get there around 9:00 am or 9:15 am to secure your spot. However, there were at least 25 people in my tour group. The tour starts promptly at 9:30 am.
Our Merida free walking tour guide was bilingual (Spanish and English). He shared a lot of history not just about Merida but about Mexico and the Mayan culture. Despite spending a year and a half traveling Mexico and getting to know a lot of its culture and history, I learned a lot of fun facts on this tour and recommend it.
3. Parque Santa Lucia 11:00
The walking tour will likely end a few blocks from Parque Grande in Parque Santa Lucia. This is a really cute plaza that is home to “sillas gigantes” or giant chairs. These odd-shaped white chairs often called “kissing chairs” are very common in the Yucatan.
They were inspired by France to promote talking and more distance between young lovers who until a few decades ago needed chaperones for dates in this park.
We recommend stopping in Ki’Xocolatl in the square. They are a Mexican-grown coffee shop selling chocolate products and hot chocolate. You’ll also find several great stores for shopping and an awesome ice cream shop Pola just down the block.
There are a ton of great restaurants in this plaza if you are hungry, but we recommend you go to the next stop for a delicious Yucatan meal.
4. Lunch at Manjar Blanco 12:30/1:00
Manjar Blanco was one of two Merida restaurants featured on the Cochinita Pibil episode of Netflix’s Taco Chronicles. This beautiful restaurant near the start of Paseo de Montejo is open for breakfast and lunch only and is a fantastic place to try Yucatan food.
We highly recommend ordering the Queso Relleno, Chaya and Limon agua fresca, and the Sopa de Lima from here. We did try the cochinita. While it was good, we will have you get cochinita at our favorite place tomorrow morning!
5. Walk Paseo de Montejo 3:00
Paseo de Montejo is one of the most famous streets in Merida. This boulevard was designed after the streets in Paris with wide sidewalks lined with mansions from the 19th century. Many of these homes belonged to the hacienda owners who were producing sisal during its heyday.
You can go to three museums inside of these renovated mansions:
- Quinta Montes Molina – Historic home tour for a mansion built at the turn of the century. $60 – $85 MXP depending on age. Open Everyday 10 am – 6 pm.
- Montejo 495 – Historic home tour for a mansion built at the turn of the century. $125 – $250 MXP depending on residency (Yucatan resident or tourist). Open Tuesday – Sunday 9 am – 5 pm.
- Palacio Canton (Museum of Anthropology) – An old mansion turned into the Yucatan Museum of Anthropology. Great history of the Mayan culture and a look into the Sisal industry. $95 MXP. Open Tuesday – Sunday 8 am – 5 pm.
If you’re not up for a museum you can simply walk along the Paseo de Montejo and enjoy the views. There’s wonderful shade under the tree-lined walkways and loads of amazing shops and restaurants to stop at. A few shops we loved on Paseo de Montejo are Happening Merida and Posheria.
6. Mayan statue (Monument to the Fatherland)
At the end of Paseo de Montejo, there is a large Mayan statue called the “Monumento a la Patria” or in English, Monument to the Fatherland. The statue was built in the 1950s in dedication to the Yucatan’s Mayan culture and its ties with Mexico. There are important dates from Mexico’s history surrounding the detailed statue with the rear having a placard for all 32 states of Mexico.
7. Cool off with a drink and botanas at a Cantina 5:00 or 6:00 pm
Cantina’s are really popular in Merida. You’ll find these bars sprinkled all across the city that range from posh drinkers to hole-in-the-wall dive bars. Most evenings you’ll find locals gathering in the Cantinas for a drink and some botanas (like Mexico’s version of Spanish tapas).
The botanas are free if you order a drink and can be anything from chips, salchichas (type of sausage), kibis, empanadas, or chips with a bean dip. We recommend going to Cantina Montejo since it’s near your next stop for the day.
8. Marquesitas 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Marquesitas are a traditional Yucatan snack. You’ll see shops and street stalls all across the city with lines of people. They’re like a crepe and waffle mixed, then stuffed with Edam cheese (queso de bola) and other sweet fillings like nutela, cajeta, cream cheese, strawberries, etc.
Marquesitas Tony is well known for his Marquesitas and is right on Paseo de Montejo! We LOVED the marquesita here and were sad we didn’t eat this every day during our visit.
9. Dinner at 8:00 or 9:00 pm
It may surprise you, but people eat later in Merida. Prime dinner time is from 8:00 to 9:00 pm. We recommend doing as the locals do and grabbing dinner on Calle 47. This is a gastronomic hub with dozens of amazing restaurants with cute outdoor terrazas. You really can’t go wrong on this street, but we recommend Micaela Mar & Leña.
10. Saturday special: Noche Mexicana Dancing 9:00 – 11:00 pm
On Saturdays, Merida’s tourism board puts on a show called Noche Mexicana near the entrance of Paseo de Montejo. This two-hour performance showcases different dances and outfits from Mexico, including the famous Vaqueria dance. These folkloric dances are an amazing glimpse into the culture of the Yucatan!
Day 2 Merida itinerary
Day 2 is going to take you to a different part of the Centro and if desired to the outskirts of the city to visit ancient ruins. You’ll revisit the popular hub, Plaza Grande (a must if you’re visiting on a Sunday), and of course, dive into more delicious food!
1. Coffee at Sempere 8:30 am
Merida has some great coffee shops to help you start your day. We visited several on our last trip, but our favorite was Sempere. This is a small bookstore with a cafe and restaurant inside. It was charming, quirky, and had a fantastic flat white.
If you’re super hungry, you can order one of their toasts, freshly baked goods, or a heartier sandwich for breakfast. However, we recommend a more “traditional” Mexican breakfast since you only have 2-days in Merida.
2. Breakfast at Taqueria La Lupita 9:30 am
One of the best restaurants to eat at in Merida right now is Taqueria La Lupita. Located inside Mercado Santiago this no-frills super authentic taco stall is where you can get fantastic cochinita pibil, lechon, and relleno negro.
These Yucatan specialties are served in tacos, tortas, salbutes, or panchuos along with other specialties from the region, and are absolutely fantastic!
A lot of people don’t venture out of the more “tourist” restaurant scene, but we encourage you to eat like the locals do. We hopped in line at the market and grabbed a numbered ticket. We had to wait nearly 45 minutes before we got a seat, but the wait was worth it!
3. Walk Santiago Park and Stroll Plaza Grande (if it’s Sunday)
Parque Santiago is usually filled with families. This park has a nice playground and often has rotating markets or music. When we were there they had a toy market selling all different types of collectible and antique toys.
Sunday’s, Plaza Grande transforms into a food and goods market. Dozens of vendors pop up along the street and throughout the plaza selling anything and everything you could want. We enjoyed haggling with the different vendors and got some fantastic pastor tacos for just $20 MXP each.
4. Walk and shop in Centro
We loved just perusing the streets of Centro. There are so many amazing shops selling traditional guayaberas, clothing made from the Sisal fibers blended with cotton.
The men’s shirts are considered formal wear and can have small embroidery to more ornate geometric patterns. The women’s dresses are more detailed with colorful flowers and a beautiful white flowy fabric.
You can find beautiful sisal woven hammocks and textiles (like pillowcases, rugs, and placemats) in these stores too. Also, keep an eye out for the Panama hat. Made famous in Panama, they use the sisal strands to make these lightweight and breathable hats.
5. Lunch at El Apapacho
There are a ton of great spots you could eat at for lunch, but we recommend El Apapacho. They specialize in Oaxacan cuisine and have the most incredible mole! Serving lunch and dinner most days this is a delicious treat that is sure to leave you happy.
6. Visit the ruins of Dzibilchaltun or the new El Parque de la Plancha
Most people visiting Merida make the day trip to visit Chichen Itza or Uxmal. While both are incredibly impressive and fascinating, a lot of people don’t realize there are archeological ruins just 30 minutes outside of Merida at Dzibilchaltun.
You can take an Uber to Dzibilchaltun for around USD 15 with an entrance fee costing $95 MXP. Or you can drive yourself if you have a rental car.
If you’re a national or resident (like us) you can get in for free on Sundays. The site has several large ruins, an old monastery, and a cenote (no swimming in the cenote currently) which you can explore with or without a guide. Expect to spend around an hour and a half to two hours there in total.
When you’re visiting check to see if they are offering a special light show in the evening. In January of 2024, they had a special “Paseos de Luz” at Dzibilchaltun. The tickets were a bit spendy nearly $700 MPX per person (non-resident) but it was worth it to us and was a really unique experience (Spanish only).
If you aren’t up for the longer drive or are planning to see ruins elsewhere, you can visit Merida’s newest park El Parque de la Plancha.
This park opened in late 2023 and is the hip new spot to be – especially on the weekends. Costing roughly $75 billion to build it has everything. Two museums, a 5,000-seat amphitheater, a food court (not quite filled in yet), several fountains, a train car perfect for kids, walking paths, and a skate park.
Merida is proudly boasting it as their “Central Park”. Sadly we didn’t visit on our last trip but we did drive by it and it was impressive!
7. Dinner at Mercado 60
One of the hottest new restaurants in Merida right now is Mercado 60. It’s not necessarily a restaurant but more of an outdoor market with several different food vendors selling all types of foods.
We enjoyed our Tlayudas, but what we loved the most was the experiences they offered daily. Most nights they have live music and the place gets packed with people dancing.
On Sundays starting at 8:00 pm they have dancers perform traditional folkloric dances from the 32 different Mexican states. We got to see the different outfits, music, and dancing from the regions which was fascinating!
This experience was honestly a highlight of my trip to Merida and a must if you’ll be in Merida on Sunday.
Got more time? Day trips from Merida
If you have more time in Merida, consider taking a day trip from Merida (or two, or three)! There is so much to do and see around the city of Merida that warrants a lot more than 2 or 3 days here. Below are the top tours from Get Your Guide (our favorite tour guide provider).
If you want to know more, we wrote an entire blog post about the best day trips from Merida including visiting ancient ruins, hanging out with flamingos and crocodiles, swimming in cenotes, and visiting a Mayan village.
Hopefully, this Merida 2-day itinerary has given you some great ideas of how to make the most of your short time in the city. Let me know what you loved about Merida and any spots you felt we missed here in the comments below.
Don’t forget to check out our other Merida posts:
- Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Merida Mexico: Get the low down on things like safety, cost, weather, and traveling to Merida here.
- 17 Best Restaurants in Merida You Can’t Miss: See the best places to eat in Merida for breakfast, lunch, dinner (and botanas).
- 18 Essential Merida, Mexico Things To Do – A complete roundup of the top 18 things to do in Merida (in the city).
- Is Merida, Mexico Safe to Visit? Yes! Here’s Why: A deep dive into Merida’s safety and why visitors shouldn’t be concerned about traveling here.
- 17 Delicious Yucatan Dishes You Have to Try: This post shares 17 of the most delicious traditional Yucatan foods to try on your trip.
- 11 Amazing Merida Day Trips You Don’t Want to Miss – Check out the top 11 Merida day trips to take just a few hours drive from the city.