Any Tom, Dick or MexicoCassie can tell you what to do in Mérida but can they give you a quick and dirty ‘Bring’, ‘Visit’, ‘Do’, ‘Taste’ and ‘Buy’ list?
Ditch Tom and Dick because Mexico Cassie can! So, without further ado, I offer you my top tips for visitors to this amazing city.
- Mosquito repellent. True, you can buy it here but you’ll probably be happy to have it to hand immediately. The mosquitos can be brutal here.
- Water bottle. This place is hot and you’ll need to drink a lot!
- Sun Glasses. Seriously people, it’s hot and sunny.
- Sandals or shoes with some grip: the pavements are, in many places, bizarrely shiny and slippy. Cheap flip flops often don’t cut it, unless you’re as sure footed as a mountain goat.
- A free walking tour. Personally, I loved Pink Cactus for this.
- Stroll the length of Paseo de Montejo, exploring the shops, cafes and museums.
- Visit the Cementerio General.
- Take time to check out some of the less famous plazas.
- Walk my favourite road; calle 6464a. Take it slow, feel the heat, enjoy the colours and the ambiance.
- Explore on line before you arrive to check out if there are interesting festivals while you’re in town. There often are. I recommend using Yucatan Today as your starting point.
- Luis de Galvez market (maybe take a tour. I enjoyed my tour with adventures-mexico.com*)
- Quinta Molina on Paseo de Montejo.
- Ki Xocolatl – a true hidden gem of a chocolate shop. It’s in the corner behind the stage on Santa Lucia.
- Have a drink or lunch at Casa San Angel at the base of Paseo de Montejo. Make sure you stick your head inside and check out the incredible decoration.
- Chilaquiles. This is an incredible breakfast food. It possibly isn’t for the faint hearted but it is well worth the effort. Basically, it’s a plate of totopos (nacho chips to the Brits) covered in either red or green salsa (I prefer green), simmered a bit and then served with a selection of cheese, cream, eggs, beans, chicken guacamole. Wow is basically all I can say.
- Ice Cream. It’s true that Mexico does ice cream very well and Merida is no exception. My personal favourites are Pola, a pretty trendy store on Calle 55 and the original sorbet stop in Merida, Dulceria Y Sorbetaria Colon (one on Montejo and one on the Plaza Grande.
- Michelada. Again, this is a Mexican drink rather than a local speciality but if it’s your first time in Mexico you won’t have tried this little beauty. Basically, it’s a beer with lime squeezed in the bottom, and then salt and chili wiped around the glass rim. It is stunning. You can get a non spicy version, called the chelada.
- Tacos at Wayan’e. This small ‘restaurant’ is something of an institution in Merida. We held of going for a while and then really regretted it all the time we’d wasted not eating there! Get there early to enjoy tacos of choice at this small, totally chilled out hole in the wall style restaurant. Find it in Itzimna neighbourhood.
- Marquesitas. I wasn’t sure if I should add this to the list or not. It isn’t the best quality food you’re ever going to eat. Hell, you may not even think it sounds tasty at all but it’s a traditional Meridano food and it’s interesting, to say the least! Basically, it’s a street food that combines a pancake with an ice cream cone and then stuffs it full of random sweet fillings. My personal favourite is queso de bola (cheese that looks like edam) and peanut butter. My kids love cajeta (a local toffee type sauce made from goat milk).
- Hammocks. Obviously. I recommend getting them from Hamacas Merida on Calle 65 just off Plaza Grande (only because we bought ours from there and found the staff to be helpful, knowledgeable and the hammocks to be of great quality).
- Guayaberas – it’s a shirt. For men. They’re a Yucatecan thing. Cubans think they invented this shirt and Yucatecans think they did. Whatever, it’s just a shirt but they’re pretty nice, they’re good for hot weather and people really do wear them here. You can get cheap ones or spend literally hundreds of dollars on one. There are also nice women’s clothes here that actually don’t look weird and horrendous when you get them home too. Do check out the local shops.
- Interesting foods: a) Yucatecan honey. It’s delicious and I don’t even like honey. b) Amaranth. This is an ancient grain that seems to have its origins in Yucatan. It’s delicious and good for you. It can be made in to healthy sweets (for Day of the Dead) or added to salads, cereals and baked goods. c) My son would suggest taking cajeta home. See above. Basically a dulce de leche.
- Tags. Tags are awesome shoes made by local artisans. They’re a sort of espidrille I guess. I loved mine to death and now need a new pair. Find their cool shop on the corner of calle 58 and 49.
So there you have it. My top tips for getting the most out of trip to Mérida (Mexican Mérida, that is. I don’t know about other Méridas!). However, if you have more time in the region and fancy some out of town trips, why not consider: a day trip or two or a visit to a ruin or two?
*This tour was offered in exchange for a review on my blog.