When we originally landed in Mexico, we had our hearts set on living in Playa Del Carmen. Without ever visiting before, we just knew we would find a gorgeous condo on the beach. We had dreams of eating delicious food and soaking up the Mexican culture, all while living on a budget. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
Once we actually arrived in Quintana Roo, we absolutely hated it. After 2 days we packed up our rental car and drove to Mérida. Once again we were completely in the dark. All we could do was hope and pray that this city was just as amazing as what we read online.
We’re going to be honest, when we initially drove into the Centro area of town we were like.. what on Earth did we get ourselves into.. again!? After sitting in a McDonald’s and researching places to stay, we slowly started to feel like we made the right decision.
We spent the next 6 months living in Montes de Ame, a suburban neighborhood in Northern Mérida. In those 6 months we absolutely fell in love with the city, the people and Mexican culture. We would love to keep this little gem a hidden secret from everyone. However, we simply can’t sit back and watch as everyone heads out to Cabo or Cancun and completely skips over this amazing city. We are going to share with you the 5 reasons you should travel to Mérida, Mexico.
Safety in the City
When we first met with our real estate agent in Mérida he assured us that we had nothing to worry about as far as safety was concerned. He then went on to tell us a story about how all of the big drug lords and cartels made a pact to keep Mérida a safe zone. According to him, everyone’s kids and grandmothers lived in Mérida, making it untouchable. Although we’re not completely sure of the accuracy of that story, it is true that Mérida is the safest place to be in Mexico.
The city is completely family oriented. You will never go out to a restaurant late at night without seeing entire families, kids included… dining, laughing and drinking into the late hours. There’s such a strong community feel here. We had complete strangers go out of their way to help us because of our lack of español. Couples, families and solo travelers should feel completely comfortable venturing through this amazing city.
Whether you’re in the mood for homestyle French food by a Mérida-born chef or want to try out some traditional Yucatecan food, you’ll be pleased with your choice in this booming foodie town. Keeping up in the ranks alongside the delectable food options available in Mexico City, Mérida is making a name for itself in the foodie scene.
If you really want to have a one-of-a-kind dining experience, head out to one of the surrounding haciendas. Haciendas were used as ranches to produce a kind of plastic made out of cactus, way back in the day. Now, these haciendas have been transformed into restaurants, boutique-hotels and gorgeous landscapes where you can spend the day. Our number 1 recommendation is Hacienda Teya. With award-winning flan and the best sopa de lima we’ve ever had, you could easily lose a day on their perfectly manicured grounds.
It’s in the Heart of it All
Mérida sits in a spot with great access to some of the best natural attractions in all of Yucatán. If you’re someone who loves day-trips, this is really the place for you. We would rent a car and plan a whole day packed with sightseeing. All of our trips were to wonderful spots that are only a few hours away from the heart of Mérida.
Yucatán is literally busting at the seams with Mayan ruins, preserved natural areas like cenotes and beautiful beaches. Twenty minutes away from Mérida you will find Progreso Beach, located along the Gulf of Mexico. Only an hour and half away you can explore one of the newest Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza. The possibilities are endless, build your itinerary and make the most out of your time in this rich land.
Although you’ll find modern architecture, restaurants, malls and businesses in the northern part of town, you can not forget about Mérida’s historical Centro area. Between noon and 6pm the streets are packed with buses, tourists and commuters. Everyone is hustling and making their way down the narrow avenues.
Though the pastel paint on the outside of the buildings may seem chipped and old, you would never believe how beautiful the architecture is on the inside of these colonial buildings. Around every corner you will find an endless amount of stunning churches, museums and historical buildings. We don’t consider ourselves to be history buffs by any means. However, when the beautiful history of this city is so easily accessible, we couldn’t help but dive-in.
Mérida, Mexico-Easy on the Wallet
One of our favorite parts of living in Mexico was how far our dollar stretched in pesos. We would dine on extravagant dinners accompanied with copious amounts of alcohol… and still pay a small percentage of what it would cost in Europe or the United States.
Whether you are planning to relocate or just want to find a vacation spot that won’t break the bank, Mérida should be at the top of your list. With frequent flights to the US (most with layovers in Mexico City or Florida), Mérida is pretty easy to get to. Arrive and pay a fraction of the cost for a wonderful Airbnb or hotel… and spend your money on experiencing everything this city has to offer.