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5 Reasons Travelers Are Flocking To This Underrated Destination Near Cancun

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Just a four-hour drive away from Cancun, a hidden gem awaits travelers seeking an authentic Mexican experience: Merida.

This underrated destination offers a refreshing alternative, combining vibrant culture, colonial architecture, mouth-watering cuisine, and warm hospitality that is sure to leave visitors wanting more. 


Throughout the first half of the year, Merida’s International Airport reported a record-breaking 1.5 million passengers – an impressive 35.77% increase from last year.

These numbers only go to show that travelers can’t get enough of this vibrant city. So, what is it about Merida that so many visitors from all corners of the world love?

Keep reading to find out:

Merida center

Rich History & Colonial Architecture

With its historical landmarks and alluring colonial architecture, visiting Merida feels like being transported back in time.

Experience the colonial beauty of the city as you stroll through the Centro Historico’s gorgeous streets and endearing plazas. 

Admire the architectural splendor of the Cathedral of Yucatan, also known as San Ildefonso Cathedral. Completed in 1598, it’s the first cathedral to be built in mainland North America and the oldest active church in Mexico.

This magnificent building, which was constructed using materials from the ancient pyramids of the Mayan city of T’hó, is a tangible example of the convergence of indigenous and Spanish influences.

The Paseo de Montejo, lined with elegant mansions reminiscent of the city’s golden age, offers a glimpse into Merida’s prosperous past. 

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Cochinita pibil dish

Unforgettable Culinary Experiences

Prepare your taste buds for a culinary adventure in Merida. The city’s gastronomy is a tantalizing fusion of flavors, blending Mayan, Spanish, and Caribbean influences. 

Don’t miss out on trying cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork dish marinated in aromatic spices), a prime example of the exquisite flavors that make Yucatecan cuisine truly exceptional. 

In fact, cochinita tacos consistently rank among the top ten best tacos in Mexico!

Of course, no Yucatecan dish is complete without its fair share of delicious habanero chili sauce. Watch out, this spicy sauce packs a punch!

Kabah ruins

Gateway To Ancient Mysteries & Natural Wonders

Merida serves as a gateway to the mystical world of ancient Mayan civilization. Explore the nearby Mayan archaeological sites, where you’ll marvel at the intricate stonework and learn about the fascinating history of this ancient civilization. 

If you feel like embarking on a comprehensive archeological exploration of this ancient culture, the renowned Ruta Puuc is the way to go. This fascinating tour will transport you to the awe-inspiring archeological sites of Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, X-Lapac and Labná.

A swimmer inside a large cenote

Discover the natural wonders of the region by visiting the captivating cenotes, underground sinkholes filled with crystal-clear waters that offer a refreshing escape from the tropical heat.

For a delightful beach getaway, head to the nearby coastal town of Progreso. 

While Progreso’s beaches may not boast the pristine beauty of Cancun’s world-class shores, its laid-back vibe and charming beachfront promenade make it a perfect escape from the bustling city life of Merida.

woman in mexico

Cultural Delights & Vibrant Traditions

Known as the cultural capital of the Yucatan Peninsula, Merida boasts a collection of prestigious museums and cultural centers.

Visit the MACAY Museum, a cultural hub that highlights the creative legacy of the area, or go to the Mayan World Museum to discover the origins of the mystifying civilization.

Explore the city’s main square, the Gran Plaza, where you can witness colorful cultural events, live music performances, and traditional dances.

sunset view of merida cathedral

Family-Friendly & Safe

Merida is the perfect destination for family trips, offering a wealth of activities and attractions for all ages. Travelers can feel secure knowing that it is one of Mexico’s safest cities

Merida’s ranking as the 12th greatest city in the world in 2022 is evidence of its welcoming nature and dedication to giving guests an outstanding travel experience.

There’s no doubt that Merida’s rich history, cultural vibrancy, architectural wonders, delectable cuisine, and warm hospitality create an irresistible blend that appeals to travelers seeking an authentic and immersive experience. 

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