If you have visited the eastern part of Mexico, you may be familiar with the beach towns of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. Inland the state of Yucatan, is a magical city called, Mérida. With a population of 828,000 (2010 census), Merida is the capital of Yucatán, and a cosmopolitan hub of the region. It is relatively easy to get to (only 2 hours from southeast US) and offers a very different vibe than the rest of Mexico.
Here are 5 reasons to go to Merida, right now…
1. Merida is the safest place in Mexico. The country has developed a negative reputation for safety, but just like any other place in the world, there are good and bad areas. The state of Yucatan is open to educated, wealthy, and open minded people. Merida has a very strong culture that has historically been cut off and well preserved. Therefore, the people have maintained integrity when it comes to neighborly friendliness.
2. It’s like Europe, only cheaper. The cobblestone streets of the old town are surrounded by Spanish architecture. Street artists, ongoing exhibitions, families walking in the park square, lovers dining al fresco listening to live music – all gives the feeling that you are in a romantic city in Europe. But you are just south of US, where the Mexican Peso goes a lot further than the Euro.
3. There’s lots of culture. The famous avenue, Paseo de Montejo, is dotted with sculptures that are commission to artists around the world. Walking down the street you will also pass by museums, restaurants, boutiques, theaters and lovely mansions. Jarana orchestras and vaquero dances can be enjoyed at some restaurants. Listen to Yucatan Symphony Orchestra, watch a live performance at Teatro José Peón Contreras, or spend an afternoon at Gran Museo del Mundo Maya. It is noted that there is at least one free cultural event happening every day in Merida and weekends are dedicated entirely to the enjoyment of arts.
Click here to see list of cultural events happening in Merida.
4. This isn’t the Mexican food you know of. Yucatecan food is its own genre of cuisine and very different from what most people consider “Mexican” food. It includes influences from the local Mayan culture, as well as Caribbean, Mexican, European and Middle Eastern cultures. Try local dishes such as Sopa de Lima, Queso Relleno, Poc-Chuc, Papadzules and Panuchos. In Merida, you can find traditional restaurant, hole in the wall taco joint, as well as international bars and restaurants.
Click here to read more about the food from Yucatan.
5. It is is saturated with Mayan history. Mérida has the highest percentage of indigenous persons of any large city in Mexico with approximately 60% of all inhabitants being of the Maya ethnicity. The ancient Mayas left behind many cities with buildings, pyramids, and temples, and new discoveries are being made all the time. Located nearby is Chichen Itzá, Mayan pyramid known as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.