Mexico Family Travel

Merida Itinerary: 14 Best Family-Friendly Merida Tours To Book

August 2, 2021
Astrid Vinje

The city of Mérida is an underrated treasure. For families looking for a memorable Mexico vacation, these Mérida itinerary ideas with suggestions for Mérida tours are full of fun and family-friendly activities.

Spend a few days, a week, or even a month in Mérida. There is so much for families to experience in this vibrant Yucatecan city. Take a look at our suggestions for your Mérida itinerary.


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Monumento a la Patria in Merida

Table of Contents

Basic information about Mérida

Before filling up your Mérida itinerary with activities and Mérida tours, take some time to learn some basic information about Mérida. The city of Mérida is located in the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico. Mérida is located about 27 miles (44km) south of the coast, and 188 miles (303 km) west of the city of Cancún. 

Mérida is a historic city, and was built on an ancient Mayan city called T'hó. When the Spanish came, they built walls around the city to exclude themselves from the surrounding Maya. The city of Mérida later became known for its production of henequen, an agave fiber used for making rope.

For families asking themselves, “is Mérida safe?”, rest assured that Mérida is a safe city for families. Many of the neighborhoods are easy to walk around. 

With a population of over 890,000 people, and over 1 million in the greater metropolitan area, there are certainly a lot of Mérida activities for families to do. Besides tourism-specific Mérida things to do, travelers to Mérida with kids can also enjoy restaurants, shopping malls, parks, markets, and city-wide activities. 

To learn more about Mérida and what living there is like for foreigners, buy this book by Cassie Pearse:

Moving To Mérida: How to successfully move to Mexico as a family

Click here to read more posts about traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula.

Merida sign taken during a Merida itinerary experience
Merida sign during a Merida itinerary

The best time to visit Mérida

The best time to visit Mérida is between the months November to March, when the temperatures range from the high 60s to high 80s degrees Fahrenheit (high teens to low 30s in Celsius). And the hottest months of the year are April to July, with temperatures reaching the high 90s and low 100s degrees Fahrenheit (high 30s in Celsius). 

The rainiest months in Mérida are the months of June to October. Keep these weather patterns in mind as you’re planning what Mérida tours to add to your Mérida itinerary. 

A vendor selling flowers in Barrio Santiago

Getting to Mérida

As you’re planning your Merida itinerary, consider the different ways you can get your family to Mérida. The city has an airport called Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport. Airlines that fly into Mérida include Aeroméxico, MAYAir, United Airlines, VivaAerobús, and Volaris. If you’re considering flying from Cancún to Mérida, look at flights offered by MAYAir.

For bus options, travelers can get from Cancún to Mérida via the ADO bus or OCC bus. ADO has more schedule options, and the cost ranges from 375 to 600 pesos (roughly $18.75 to $30 USD). If you’re looking for options for the bus from Mérida to Progreso, the coastal city to the north of Mérida, you’ll need to take Autoprogreso. You’ll find the station for this bus from Mérida to Progreso located in downtown Mérida. 

If you decide to book Mérida tours as part of a day trip or excursion from Cancún, the tour will likely be able to arrange transportation for you.

Flight during a Merida itinerary

Where to stay in Merida

With all the Mérida tours you're doing during your trip, you’ll want to find a comfortable place to sleep for the night. In terms of where to stay in Mérida, the most convenient neighborhood for your Mérida itinerary is Centro, the city’s historic center. 

The main part of Centro is the Plaza Grande, also known as the Zocalo. This area will have plenty of options for boutique hotels in Mérida and luxury hotels in Mérida. The area surrounding Paseo Montejo also has many options for hotels in Mérida. 

Here are a few suggestions of boutique hotels in Mérida to book for your Mérida itinerary.

Delfina Boutique Hotel

Fiesta Americana

Merida Santiago Hotel Boutique

The surrounding neighborhoods of the Plaza Grande include: Santa Lucia to the north; Santiago to the northwest; San Juan to the south; San Cristobal to the southeast; and Mejorada to the east. For any of these neighborhoods, you’ll likely find plenty of Airbnb Mérida, Yucatan options for your family.

A church in a neighborhood to stay during a Merida itinerary

Getting around Mérida

In order to experience the best of Mérida during your Mérida itinerary, consider renting a car. Mérida is a large city. The city is surrounded by a ring road which spans between 11 and 13 miles (roughly 18-20km) across. 

Although many of the Mérida, Mexico things to do are located in or around Centro, there are still plenty of Mérida tours and activities that take you outside of the central area. If you’re looking to rent a car in Mérida, you can do so through Yucatán Vacations.

Most of the city of Mérida is laid out on a grid. Even numbered streets, known as calles, run north and south. Odd numbered calles run east and west. There are many one-way streets in Mérida, so be sure to check which direction the traffic is going before turning onto a calle.

Bikes at Paseo Montejo

Best restaurants in Mérida

Yucatecan cuisine is a highlight of Mexican cuisine. And no Mérida itinerary is complete without sampling at least one of the dishes from the many of the best restaurants in Mérida. There are also a number of Mérida tours you can take to get a taste of Yucatecan cuisine.

If you’re looking to get a taste of Mexican street food from a local’s perspective, book this tour:

Mérida Street Food Walking Tour

To dive deeper into Yucatecan cuisine, book this cooking class:

Taste of the Yucatan: Merida Cooking Class and Market Visit

There are a variety of restaurants to choose from in Mérida that serve Yucatecan cuisine. Many of them are located around the central area of Mérida. Here are several of the best restaurants in Mérida to visit as part of your Mérida tours experience.

Salbutes meal during a Merida itinerary

Chaya Maya

Located on Calle 55, between Calle 62 and 60, La Chaya Maya serves a variety of Yucatecan dishes.

Museo de la Gastronomía

Located on Calle 62, between Calle 55 and Calle 57 is the Museo de la Gastronomía. This restaurant also serves a sampling of Yucatecan dishes. There is also a small food museum at this restaurant, where families can learn about how many of the Yucatecan dishes are made. If you don’t have enough time in your Mérida itinerary to take any food related Mérida tours, visit the Museo de la Gastronomía for an abridged learning experience.

Manjar Blanco

Located on Calle 47, between Calle 60 and Calle 58, Manjar Blanco is best known for its cochinita pibil. This dish is made of pork that has been slow-cooked in an underground pit.

Mercado Santiago

This market, located on the corner of Calle 57 and Calle 70. Taqueria La Lupita at Mercado Santiago offers salbutes and panuchos with cochinita pibil or relleno negro, made with slow-cooked turkey stewed in a spiced blend of charred chilies and herbs. You can also eat similar dishes at Panucho Yucateco, also located at Mercado Santiago.

Mercado 60

Another family-friendly food court in Mérida is Mercado 60, located on Calle 60, between Calle 51 and Calle 53. Families can find a variety of cuisine besides Yucatecan cuisine. Occasionally, there are also live events and music that happen at Mercado 60. So this is a perfect place to take families for a night out in Mérida.

Pueblo Pibil

If you’re looking for a food excursion to build into your Mérida itinerary, head to Pueblo Pibil. Located in the small town of Tixkokob, approximately 15 miles (or 24km) east of Mérida. Pueblo Pibil has a delicious selection of Yucatecan food, such as cochinita pibil, relleno negro, and papadzules, a Mayan dish made with corn tortillas stuffed with hard-boiled egg. Reservations are recommended if you want to eat at Pueblo Pibil.

Yucatecan cuisine during a Merida itinerary

Money and costs

When it comes to budgeting for your Mérida itinerary, expect to pay between $185 to $435 USD per day. These daily costs include hotel ($60-$180), food ($35-$55), and car rental ($40-$80). You’ll also want to budget for activities like museum entrance fees, Mérida tours, and fees to archaeological sites and cenotes. These costs generally range between $50 to $120 USD per day.

Mexico uses the peso as their currency. The general exchange rate is around 20 pesos per $1 USD. You’ll be able to pay with credit or debit card for many of the things to do in Mérida, Mexico. But Mérida, like all places in Mexico, still generally operates on cash. 

There are several banks in Mérida with ATMs where you can withdraw money. The best banks in Mérida that have the lowest withdrawal fees are Santander (as long as you decline the bank conversion) and Banorte. 

Get a handle on your Mexico travel budget by reading some helpful budgeting tips here.

Money

The best Merida tours for your family’s Merida itinerary

When planning for things to do in Mérida to include in your Mérida itinerary, look for Mérida tours that are family-friendly and fun for kids of all ages. Here are some ideas for things to do in Mérida with kids.

Getting to know the city with some Merida city tours

As you first get to Mérida, build in time in your Mérida itinerary to get to know the layout of the city. Here are a few Mérida city tours that you can take with your family.

The Centro Trolley Tour with Carnavalita leaves from Parque Santa Lucia and takes you through the streets of Mérida. Tickets cost 120 pesos for adults and 70 pesos for children.

Another option for exploring the Centro neighborhood is to take a horse-drawn carriage ride. You can find carriages along Paseo Montejo. Each 45 minute ride costs 500 pesos.

For a faster paced tour, book a ride with Turibus Mérida. These open top bus Mérida city tours take you through the many neighborhoods of Mérida. Tickets cost 120 pesos for adults and 50 pesos for kids. You can hop off at any of the various stops along the route to explore, and then hop back on again.

On Sundays morning between 9am and 12pm, take a self-guided bike tour along Paseo Montejo. During this time, one side of Paseo Montejo becomes a bike lane, from Calle 49 up to the Monumento A la Patria. Families can rent bikes by the hour.

If you’re interested in a guided tour, book one of these Mérida city tours for your family:

Guided Walking Tour in Merida

Mike&Duck Walking Tour Merida

Turibus giving a tour during a Merida itinerary

Self-guided museum and crafts tour

The city of Mérida is full of amazing museums to learn about Mérida history and Mayan culture. Here are some ideas of places to visit, if you want to do some self-guided Mérida tours during your Mérida itinerary.

Mayan Market

Located on Calle 59 between Calle 62 and Calle 60, the Mayan Artisan Market is full of beautiful hand-made crafts made from local Mayan artists. The Mayan Artisan Market doesn’t have official open hours, as it’s open based on the artists’ availability. So it’s helpful to have a back-up plan in case it’s closed on the day you want to visit.

Museum of Anthropology and History

To learn more about Mayan history, head to the Museum of Anthropology and History, located on Calle 43 and Paseo Montejo. The museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, from 8am to 5pm. Entrance fee to the museum costs 65 pesos for adults over 12 years old.

Montejo 495

Just south of the Museum of Anthropology and History is Montejo 495, a historic house that is open to the public. Guided tours are available from Thursdays to Sundays, from 9am to 5pm.

Museum of Anthropology and History

Self-guided plazas and parks tour

For families looking for low key activities for their Mérida itinerary, consider visiting these parks and plazas around Mérida.

The Plaza Grande is the central plaza, located in Mérida’s downtown neighborhood. There are shops and restaurants surrounding the plaza, and the plaza itself has many benches and seats for relaxing and lounging.

After visiting the Plaza Grande, head west to Zoológico Centenario. This free zoo has a small selection of animals on exhibit. There are also small games and rides that families can do.

End your day in Mérida by heading  north to Plaza Las Americas. This park has beautiful statues and sculptures that are stylized renditions of Mayan art.

Practice your Spanish language communication skills with these 22 basic Spanish phrases for travel.

Amphitheater at Plaza Las Animas

Explore the Merida cenotes

One of the most unique Mérida tours experiences you’ll need to include in your Mérida itinerary is a visit to the Mérida cenotes. These are limestone spring water sink holes that dot the landscape of the Yucatán peninsula.

Some of the cenotes are underground caves, while others are relatively shallow. Many of the best cenotes near Mérida are within less than an hour’s drive from the city. Here are a few Mérida tours you can book to see cenotes:

Cuzama Cenotes Adventure Day Trip from Merida

Haciendas and Cenotes Cultural and Outdoor Adventure from Merida

Cenote Dzonbacal, a place to swim during a Merida itinerary

If you’re looking to do your own cenotes Mérida experience, without doing a formal Mérida cenotes tour, take a visit to one of these cenotes:

Cenote Dzonbacal and Cenote X’batun

These two cenotes are relatively off the beaten path. Cenote Dzonbacal is semi-covered by a cave. And Cenote X’batun is surrounded by lush trees and lily pads. The cost to visit the two cenotes is 100 pesos. Both Cenote Dzonbacal and Cenote X’batun are located 30 miles (49km) away from Mérida.

Cenote Sambulá

Cenote Sambulá is located 27 miles (44km) west of Mérida in the town of Motul. A very small and underground cenote, Cenote Sambulá is a cheap one to visit. Entrance to the cenote costs 20 pesos.

Cenote Xlacah

This cenote is located 17 miles (28km) away from Mérida. The cenote is wide and open, and is adjacent to the Dzibilchaltun archaeological site. 

El Corchito

Located to the north of Mérida, just south of the town of Progreso, is El Corchito. This nature reserve is a very family-friendly cenote to visit. There are actually three cenotes at El Corchito, and the depth ranges from 3-7 feet (roughly 1-2 meters). Entrance to El Corchito costs 90 pesos for adults and 35 pesos for kids.

Exploring Cenote X'batun during a Merida itinerary

Visit Mérida ruins

Visiting Mérida ruins and archaeological sites around Mérida is also an essential part of a Mérida itinerary. There are a few small archaeological sites that are within an hour drive of Mérida. 

Book one of these Mérida tours to Mayan archaeological sites to get a glimpse of Mérida’s rich Mayan history and heritage.

Chichen Itza, Cenote and magic town of Izamal

Private Tour: Archeological Site Of Uxmal and the Chocolate Museum Day Trip

Ek Balam, Valladolid and Cenote Private Tour

Chichen Itza, a must see sight during a Merida itinerary

If you want to visit Mérida ruins on your own, here are a few that family-friendly archaeological sites to visit:

Uxmal

One of the Mérida ruins that families need to visit during their Mérida itinerary is Uxmal. This site has one of the most representative architectures of the Puuc region. Uxmal is located 52 miles (84km) from Mérida and is open every day from 8am to 5pm. The fee to enter is 418 pesos per person. While visiting Uxmal, be sure to incorporate a visit to ChocoStory as well.

Dzibilchaltun

A lesser known, though still as beautiful, archaeological site is Dzibilchaltun. This site is open Mondays through Sundays from 8am to 5pm. The entrance fee is 227 pesos per person. After a walk through the ruins, head over to the nearby Cenote Xlacah for a quick swim.

Xcambo

If you’re in the mood to visit a smaller site, head to Xcambo, located 37 miles (60km) northeast of Mérida. This site is very small, and costs 75 pesos to visit. Xcambo is open to the public every day from 8am to 5pm. There is also a small salt farm nearby where you can buy freshly harvested pink sea salt from Laguna Rosada.

Chichen Itza

One of the most famous Mérida ruins is Chichén Itzá. This site is 78 miles (125 km) from Mérida and is open every day from 8am to 5pm. The drive takes up to 2 hours. Entrance fee to Chichén Itzá is 498 pesos. While at Chichén Itzá, be sure to visit nearby cenotes: Sagrado, Xtoloc, and Ik Kil.

Ek Balam

Ek Balam is 126 miles (202 km) from Mérida. The drive takes approximately 2-3 hours. Entrance fee to Ek Balam is 413 pesos. The site is open every day from 8am to 5pm. While at Ek Balam, be sure to visit Cenote Xcanche.

A pyramid at Uxmal

Ideas for day trips from Merida

Taking day trips from Mérida is a great way to get to know the Yucatán peninsula better. There are several excursion-related Mérida tours you can incorporate into your Mérida itinerary. 

Here are a few Mérida excursions that you can book:

Private Tour in Izamal Magic Town and the Ancient Mayan City

Private Tour: Sotuta de Peon Hacieda Day Trip

Private Tour to Campeche city from Merida by Yucatan Concierge

The beach at Progreso

If you want to arrange your own Mérida excursions, here are ideas for cities and towns to visit:

Progreso

The beach town of Progreso is located north of Mérida. The town is a new cruise ship stop, so there are plenty of shops and restaurants along the boardwalk, known as the malecón.

Celestún

To the west of Mérida is the beach town of Celestún. This town is the gateway to seeing flamingos along the Ria Celestún.

ChocoStory

For families who want to learn about the history of chocolate and the role of cacao in Mayan culture, take a visit to ChocoStory. This outdoor museum is located near the Mérida ruins of Uxmal.

Valladolid

Another idea for Mérida excursions is to visit the historic city of Valladolid. This city is about two hours away from Mérida.

ChocoStory Museum, a part of a Merida itinerary

Making the most of your family’s Merida itinerary

Families have an abundance of options for Mérida tours to incorporate into the Mérida itinerary. From walking through historic streets to sampling local Yucatecan cuisine, families will have plenty to do while visiting the beautiful city of Mérida.

Have you had a chance to visit Mérida? Head to our Facebook page and send us your pictures of your trip!

If you like visiting historical cities, take a look at this post of things to do with kids in the historical city of San Miguel de Allende.

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