If you want to know the best things to do in Merida in Mexico, this is the post for you because the very next day, i.e. on our second day in Merida (after our first evening at La Negrita) we started the day poring over our plans to visit the city as we had breakfast.

I realise now that this is one of my favourite things to do when we travel – long leisurely breakfasts while making a list of all the places I want to visit.

There’s just an extra level of excitement that comes from being in the destination while making these plans.

Also, you get the perfect opportunity to double-check your plans with the locals on-ground who can add a lot more context to the plans.

So after a two-hour breakfast (fine, it was more like a 2 and half hour breakfast), we got ready and headed out to explore Merida.

Our first stop was the Museum Palacio de la Musica which was actually not on my list of places to visit but seeing as we were walking past it, we just decided we might as well check it out.

The original place that was due to be our first stop was The Rectory of Jesus of The Third Order (or Rectoría El Jesús Tercera Orden) which is right next to the Museum Palacio de la Musica.

Alas that was actually closed inside so all we could do was appreciate it from the outside.

With that, we carried on to the main area where a lot of the sights you’d want to see are in and that’s the Grand Plaza.

The main cathedral is here, as well as some of the palaces so even if you don’t go anywhere else in Merida, this is one place you have to visit.

We actually started off our visit here with Museo Casa Montejo which is a 16th century palace that’s one of the oldest buildings in the city.

It’s not overly huge inside, at least not the parts you can visit and it’s free to visit.

It has a lot of interesting artwork in here as well as some revealing key parts of Spain’s colonial history in Mexico so it’s really important to visit.

The dining room is arguably one of the most impressive parts of the architecture here as it’s so detailed, especially the ceiling.

Leave Museo Casa Montejo, we decided to go to Palacio Municipal de Mérida which is effectively the town hall.

This was a bit of a mistake in parts, partly because (and I think a lot of this was lost in translation as the man in front of the entrance only spoke Spanish and our Spanish skills aren’t particularly great) but I think the place is only available to be visited at certain times and only on a guided tour.

Also, I realised that I had managed to confuse this place with another palace I wanted to visit on the square which was Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Yucatán because one of the guides I’d been reading before had put the photos of Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Yucatán in the section for Palacio Municipal de Mérida.

Palacio Municipal de Mérida does have a great view over the grand plaza but that’s probably the most impressive thing about it, after how beautiful it looks from the outside.

It’s not as gorgeous inside as some of the other palaces so it’s not the one you have to prioritise visiting when you’re in Merida.

Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Yucatán however, now that’s the impressive one.

I was a bit unsure about if we could visit initially because it’s a local government office and so there’s security in front of it but when we asked them, they just waved us in to go ahead and explore it.

It’s not an important detail per se but just worth knowing in case you weren’t sure if you can visit it or not.

We made our way through the central courtyard and up a grand staircase with some seriously impressive art, into the most important part of the palace that you would want to visit – the grand hall.

This hall is so incredible architecturally and just in the design details but the most important thing about it is how the entire walls tell the story of the indigenous Mayan people and the impact the Spanish colonisers had on them.

Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Yucatán is free to enter. It doesn’t have a guided route to visit per se (unless you’re booked on a certain tour) so you might not necessarily know to look in there for this information on the history of the city but it’s without a doubt one of the most informative places to visit for that information, especially because it’s presented in such a visual manner.

So you know, once you’re done taking your cute photos, be sure to set aside some time to read through all of them.

Right next to Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Yucatán is Merida Cathedral so once we were done there, we headed over to the Cathedral.

It’s so grand and impressive inside but there was actually a service on at the time so we didn’t stay too long there.

It’s not that you can’t visit when there’s a service on at the cathedral but you kinda don’t wanna be that person so you visit respectfully and leave instead of sticking around to explore every single corner of the cathedral.

At this point, you might be wondering to yourself, wait – how come you haven’t had lunch yet?

Well, that’s one of the beauties of a slow and long breakfast.

We were still snacking away at breakfast bits at like 12:30pm so we were honestly not hungry at all for lunch.

We were however absolutely thirsty, but that’s not really of any great interest as it was quickly fixed with an ice-cold bottle of water.

There’s also a really grand passageway next to the cathedral you should check out when you’re there.

It’s called Pasaje de la Revolucion and there’s nothing really special that’s happening in there.

It’s just nice to see while you’re in the vicinity.

Leaving this, one place I really wanted to check out was the market called Mercado Lucas De Galvéz which is just a brilliant hive of activity and a reminder of how nice and comfortable Merida is and feels.

Like, when you’re in the market, you’re very aware of the fact that a lot of what’s here is not geared towards international tourists.

It’s full of shops for the locals, hairdressers and barbers and so much more but most importantly, no one even gives you a second glance or bothers with you.

If you decide to go to their shops then yes, you’ll get the typical attention you would get from a storekeeper but otherwise, you’re treated like you’re like a local which feels miles different from places like Tulum.

By the time we left the market, the sun had started to set and our tummies had started to rumble so we decided to head back to the hotel, freshen up and head out for dinner.

Dinner had to be a bit earlier though because we had the clever idea the day before to book a 2-hour massage at our hotel (Decu Downtown) for 8pm so we had to be done with all of that by 8pm or try looking for dinner at like past 10pm.

On our way back to the hotel, we decided to stop off at La Botilleria which we’d spotted the night before and decided to pick up a bottle of mezcal from.

What was meant to be a quick stop soon turned into a mezcal and tequila tasting session which was handy as we got to pick a bottle we actually liked (instead of just guessing with absolutely no information) and also, it left us nice and merry for our dinner.

For dinner, we went to Holoch which ended up being like a 20-minute walk from the hotel and so we arrived there at 7pm with no reservations and no other options for Plan B for a dinner venue.

You can probably guess where this is going.

They asked if we had a reservation, we said no, they said there weren’t any tables available, we said we could eat pretty fast and weren’t planning a long session, they went to check again and still they had no availability, we insisted and then suggested perhaps we eat at the bar at which point they said yes.

The wildest thing is that for the 45 minutes we were there for, the tables were never filled which means we probably could have eaten at one of them but truth be told eating at the bar was a lot more fun as the bartenders here are fantastic and hilarious to speak to so it made for and even more fun dinner.

The food here is also absolutely incredible and I totally recommend going there for dinner. Every single course we ordered was absolutely delicious and the cocktails were immaculate.

Special shout out to the guacamole and pork belly dish.

With dinner over, we hot-footed it back to our hotel (we showed up like 5 minutes late for that) and promptly proceeded to fall asleep for most of it.

That sleep however though gave us an extra pep in our step and instead of calling it a night, we decided to go check out Vana which we’d wanted to go to for dinner and drinks in advance but fully decided on it when our concierge at the hotel also recommended going there.

The vibe in Vana is very gorgeous rustic-chic and partway through drinks, we realised we hadn’t had any dessert earlier and so decided to share a chocolate brownie.

That decision to share was a blessing in disguise because the brownies here are ginormous.

We definitely would have struggled if we had to have one each. It was also really good so if you’re looking for food and/or drinks in Merida, I’d definitely recommend Vana.

And yeah, that’s how we ended the night on this day in Merida.

Now remember in my first post how I said we couldn’t stay at our hotel the entire time because for some reason it was totally booked out for the third day (and the third day alone) when we looked to book? Well, tomorrow we’d be changing hotels so I’ll show you all of that in this post here.

Also, we’d be venturing out of the city to explore some incredible sites in the Yucatan Peninsula. Catch you in the next post for all of that.

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