48 Hours In Merida – 2 Day Itinerary

I’ve spent 48 hours in the Yucatan Peninsula capital of Merida, and it’s a captivating city with rich history, architectural splendour, and a vibrant cultural scene. Also known as the “White City” for its abundance of gleaming limestone buildings, this city is a must-visit for seasoned and first-time Mexico travellers.

To make the most of 48 hours in Merida, our 2-day Merida Itinerary will share how you can enjoy the city. From exploring ancient ruins to discovering new flavours at local markets – there’s plenty to keep you busy.

Merida is seeped in Mayan heritage, colonial charm, and modern sophistication. Some of the most famous sites in the city include Chichen Itza and Uxmal, where visitors can marvel at the magnificent pyramids and immerse themselves in the ancient world. 

Merida San Idefonso cathedral sunrise in Yucatan Mexico

Merida’s historic centre showcases its colonial past, with grand plazas, cobbled streets, ornate churches, and elegant mansions that exude an old-world charm.

The city of Merida also offers a plethora of experiences – wander through the bustling markets of Lucas de Galvez and Santa Ana, and enjoy checking out everything from handcrafted textiles to exotic fruits. 

Ideally, tourists would stay in Merida for two days as part of a Yucatan road trip, and the best time to consider visiting is from November to February when the temperatures are relatively comfortable, especially if you’re going on a walking tour as the scorching heat of the Yucatan summer can be overwhelming.

For where to stay, the Centro Historico (Historical Center) is the ideal area to stay in Merida. This charming neighborhood has boutique hotels, guesthouses, and colonial-style accommodation, all offering easy access to the city’s main attractions. 

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Making last-minute plans for your Merida itinerary. We’ve got you covered. Our recommended hotels and tours for a getaway are listed below.

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Overview Of 2 Days In Merida Itinerary

There’s a lot to do and see in two days in Merida, so here’s our choice to make your 48-hour getaway fun, informative and worthwhile.

Day 1 in Merida:

  • Have breakfast at Rosas & Xocolate
  • Visit the Mayan World Museum of Merida
  • Stroll around Paseo de Montejo 
  • Have Cochinita Pibil for lunch
  • Explore Merida’s Centro Historico
  • Tour the Palacio de Gobierno
  • Take photos at Parroquia Santa Ana Church
  • Dinner at Hacienda Ya-axka
  • Enjoy drinks at Merida’s local cantinas

Day 2 in Merida:

  • Quick taco stop for breakfast  
  • Head to Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins
  • Swim at Cenote Ik Kil 
  • Late lunch at Manjar Blanco
  • Join the Free Walking Tour
  • Relax at Plaza Grande
  • Watch the Merida Cathedral Video Mapping Show
  • Dinner at La Cantina El Porvenir
Merida, Mexico. City hall in the Old Town.

Day 1 in Merida

Have breakfast at Rosas & Xocolate

One of Merida’s most famous breakfast and brunch spots is Rosas & Xocolate, located in the Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel. This charming restaurant offers a Mexican and international culinary experience in a vibrant yet tranquil space. 

From freshly baked pastries to hearty Mexican dishes, Rosas & Xocolate is the first place you must visit on your 48 hours in Merida. Whether checked in at their hotel or not, you’ll  experience an elegant and stylish ambience, making it a perfect to start your day in Merida.

Visit the Mayan World Museum of Merida

Merida is well-known for its rich cultural heritage, including several traces of the Mayan civilisation, so a visit to the Mayan World Museum of Merida is a must. 

This impressive museum showcases over 1,160 pieces of artefacts, textiles, religious elements and exhibits that shed light on the ancient Mayan way of life. Enjoy the interactive displays, historical documents, books as well as artistic paintings, all from the colonial era. 

Open six days a week from 8am. Morning is the best time to visit to avoid the crowds. Closed on Tuesdays.

Stroll around Paseo de Montejo 

A most famous destination in Merida is the Paseo de Montejo – an avenue lined with stately mansions and buildings, reflecting the city’s colonial past and reminiscent of European influences. 

As the main promenade that runs from Calles 56 and 58, many iconic Merida spots are in Paseo de Montejo. Besides neo-classical mansions and buildings that were turned into coffee shops, bars and restaurants, this is also where you can spot the Museo de Antropologia e Historia and Casa Montejo.

There’s also the famous Casa T’oh, a concept shopping and dining centre situated inside a 19th-century mansion, with a courtyard area now serving as a Mediterranean restaurant. 

Your time would not be complete without a visit to the renowned Monument de la Patria. This towering monument of an indigenous man is Merida’s most iconic landmark, and depicts everything from the founding of Tenochtitlan. 

Enjoy your time at Paseo de Montejo, admiring the architectural beauty, with French and Italian styles prevalent throughout.

Tour Pick
Merida, Mexico - Cathedral of San Gervasio, a historic Church in Valladolid in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico.

Mike&Duck Walking Tour

  • 1.5 hours 
  • Affordable Private Tour
  • Fantastic Guides
MERIDA, MEXICO - Statue of Yucatans conquerors, father and son, both named Francisco de Montejo, in Merida, Mexico

Have Cochinita Pibil for Lunch

Indulge in Cochinita Pibil, a traditional Yucatecan dish featuring slow-roasted marinated pork, typically served with tortillas, pickled onions, and fiery habanero salsa. 

You can find Cochinita Pibil in almost all local restaurants and food stalls. Check out La Lupita and La Chaya Maya for two of the best in town. If you want to immerse yourself in local culture, head to local mercados (markets) to get a good taste of this delicious dish. 

Explore Merida’s Centro Historico

As mentioned, one of the best places to stay in Merida is at the Historical Center. Why? Because it’s convenient and accessible to bustling plazas, lively markets and iconic historical landmarks. 

After lunch, explore the historical centre of Merida by first stopping by the Zocalo. Also known as the Plaza Grande, you’ll find almost all the main buildings in the city, such as the Casa de Montejo, Palacio de Gobierno, Cathedral of San Idelfonso, Passage Pichet and Olimpo Cultural Center. 

Admire these magnificent buildings from the outside, with their neo-classical architectural style, as you wander through the streets of Merida’s Centro Historico.

Aerial view of Plaza Grande in Merida

Tour the Palacio de Gobierno

While at Merida’s Historical Center, we suggest you take a self-guided walking tour to the Palacio de Gobierno, the Government Palace of Merida. This historic building showcases impressive murals depicting the history and culture of the Yucatan Peninsula. 

Learn about the region’s political and cultural significance as you explore the various rooms and corridors adorned with beautiful artwork. The palace also offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past and present. 

MERIDA, MEXICO - Inner courtyard of Palacio de Gobierno Government Palace in Merida, Mexico.

Take photos at Parroquia Santa Ana Church

Another famous landmark in the city, and probably the most photographed structure in Merida, is the Parroquia Santa Ana Church.  This picturesque church boasts stunning architecture with intricate detail, and the pastel-coloured facade and charming bell tower make it a favourite spot for photography enthusiasts.

Santa Ana park and church with tropical trees with sunny blue sky, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Dinner at Hacienda Ya-axka

To end off your first day in Merida, try Hacienda Ya-axka – a renowned restaurant set within a traditional Yucatecan hacienda, offering authentic Yucatecan cuisine prepared with local ingredients and flavours. 

Apart from its extensive menu, the hacienda’s beautiful surroundings and warm hospitality create a different atmosphere – the perfect place to end the day! 

Enjoy drinks at Merida’s Local Cantinas

Time to immerse yourself in the local night culture at Merida’s local cantinas. The city’s many traditional bars offer a vibrant and authentic atmosphere to enjoy drinks, including regional favourites like mezcal and Yucatecan craft beers. 

Hop from one place to another as you listen to live music, mingle with locals, and savour the lively ambience. A fantastic way to unwind and experience Merida’s vibrant nightlife.

Merica, Yucatan, Mexico - Colonial blue building with typical cantina painted text

Day 2 in Merida

Quick Taco Stop for Breakfast

Start the day with a quick breakfast run before heading out. There are numerous street food stalls and small taquerias where you can grab an early bite. We suggest some tacos filled with a variety of fillings – pastor (marinated pork), carne asada (grilled beef), or cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork). And don’t forget the coffee and agua frescas which are a must with your taco.

Head to Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins – a UNESCO World Heritage site – is one of the most important Mayan centres in the Yucatan Peninsula, with more than 1,000 years of history.   

The Mayan ruin is renowned for its impressive pyramid, El Castillo (the Temple of Kukulkan), and how it was made, given the relatively simple technology available at the time.

Other ancient structures you can explore here are Las Monjas, the Great Ball Court, the North Temple, the Steam Bath, the Temple of Warriors, the Group of a Thousand Columns, and much more! Enjoy admiring the intricate carvings, and learn about this ancient Mayan city’s fascinating history and astronomical significance.

Located a few kilometres from Merida, either rent a car and leave early to get there, or, if you’re joining a tour, you’ll most likely leave early with your tour group. 

Tour Pick
Chichen-Itza, Mexico - Pyramid of Kukulcan El Castillo in Yucatan peninsula

Chichen Itza, Cenote and Izamal

  • 9 hours 
  • Max of 10 people 
  • Local Guide
Chichen-Itza, Mexico - Pyramid of Kukulcan El Castillo in Yucatan peninsula

Swim at Cenote Ik Kil 

Before returning to Merida, visit the famous Cenote Ik Kil, located on the highway you’ll pass by on your way back to Merida. 

Cenote Ik Kil is most famous for its unique terrain, deep down the natural sinkhole and surrounded by lush greens. As you wind down the stairs, you’ll be welcomed by clear turquoise waters – perfect for a refreshing dip. 

Ik-Kil Cenote, Chichen Itza, Mexico

Late Lunch at Manjar Blanco

Back in Merida, treat yourself to a late lunch at Manjar Blanco – a traditional Merida Yucatan restaurant offering regional dishes, including favorites like sopa de lima, poc chuc, and panuchos. With a casual and homely vibe, not only is their food homecooked and well-prepared, but their service is attentive and friendly too.  

Join a Free Walking Tour

Explore more of Merida with this free walking tour. The local government of Merida offers a free walking tour almost every day to tourists who want to explore Merida in just a short period. There are different walking tours depending on your interests. 

Led by a professional tour guide, you just need to meet with the group at a particular place in the city, and from there, you’ll visit one landmark after the next. You can check out schedules of free walking tours in Merida online, and book ahead if you want to. Usually the tours last between two and three hours. 

MERIDA, MEXICO -  Aerial view of a street traffic in Merida, Mexico

Relax at Plaza Grande

You might have been to Plaza Grande yesterday, but today it’s all about taking things slow.  After a long day, relax on a bench under the shade of a tree, watch the people go by, and admire the surrounding colonial buildings. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the street performers.

MERIDA, MEXICO-Plaza de la independencia the street festival merida en domingo, merida, mexico

Watch the Merida Cathedral Video Mapping Show

As evening falls, visit the Merida Cathedral and witness the mesmerising video mapping show. Not many tourists know about this, but locals love it.

Videos are projected on to the cathedral’s façade. The exhibition brings the historic building to life with stunning visuals and animations that tell the story of Merida’s past. Although this only happens every Friday at 8pm, it would be great to plan your 48 hours in  Merida to coincide with a show.  

Merida, Mexico -  Cathedral of San Gervasio, a historic Church in Valladolid in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico.

Dinner at La Cantina El Porvenir

Capping off your 48 hours in Merida, head to La Cantina El Porvenir to soak up more of Merida’s local culture. This popular restaurant offers an authentic cantina experience with a lively atmosphere and traditional Yucatecan dishes. 

Sample many specialities like salutes, relleno negro, or pollo pibil (marinated and roasted chicken). They also offer drinks like local beer and agua frescas, which you can pair with your meal. 

Tours in Merida

Street Food Tour

Merida is a well-known city for having one of the best Yucatan specialities. If you are a foodie who wants to enjoy what the region offers, this street food tour is something you will enjoy. 

Walk with a local guide to Merida’s primary market and visit a seafood restaurant and gelato shop for dessert. Get to sample plenty of local dishes, including, but not limited to, empanadas, tamales and seafood tacos. This three-hour street food tour will familiarise you with Yucatan cuisine and Merida’s local culture. 

Merida, Mexico - An unidentified man sells snacks in a Yucatan street. Yucatan is the safest State in Mexico and Merida was awarded City of Peace in 2011.

Cooking Class 

In this Merida Cooking Class, you’ll get help from a local chef who will teach you the basics of Yucatec cooking and the ingredients usually used for their dishes. 

This tour will start with a market visit, where you’ll shop for fresh ingredients. Once done, you’ll head to the class kitchen where you’ll prepare – guided by the local chef – a three-course Yucatan meal.  This tour is also available for those with special dietary restrictions as they offer vegetarian meal options. 

 Pastor taco vendor preparing food with fire at a taco stand at night, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Final Thoughts: 2 days in merida

Whether planning a weekend in Merida, or a road trip around the Yucatan Peninsula, this 48 hours in Merida Itinerary will help you plan your vacation ahead of time and make the most of this vibrant and magical city called Merida. 

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Author

  • Angelica Peralta

    Meet Angelica, who at 22, boldly pivoted from a legal career to pursue her passions in travel and writing. With a focus on sustainable travel, she has explored Asia and Europe, emphasizing local cultural engagement along the way | Specializing in digital nomad travel, crafting comprehensive itineraries, identifying top tour guides, sharing regional insights on Asia, The Americas, and Europe, and advising on eco-friendly travel practices.

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