Exploring Merida, the stylish capital of the Yucatan, is one of the most rewarding things that you can do in Mexico. Make sure you get the most out of your trip by making the right choice about where to stay in Merida!
Why You Should Visit Merida in 2023
Most visitors to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula immediately flock to the coastal resort towns of Cancun and Tulum — which means that most people are missing out on the charms of the state’s capital, Merida.
Travelers in the know have long been shouting the charms of this sophisticated city with a remarkable design, culinary, and style scene.
Like many Mexican cities, Merida has a spectacular colonial core that allows you to explore the city’s history within the center. Check out the looming architecture of Catedral de San Ildefonso, which towers over the rest of town.
Learn more about local culture and history at the Museo de Antropologia e Historia — Merida is located in what used to be the core of the Mayan Empire, after all.
Many of Merida’s draws are far more modern. The city has a bustling art, music, and design scene, which is why it was named the American Capital of Culture for two years running. Check out the Contemporary Art Museum or chic galleries such as the one in the Coqui Hotel.
Merida is also a great city to do some shopping and relaxing. It has some of the chicest boutiques in Mexico, such as the world-famous Casa T’HO.
Explore the region’s unique cuisine at street food markets such as Mercado Santiago, or at more upscale establishments such as Ku’uk. Or just walk around town and duck into stylish cafes and check out the street art.
Finally, Merida is a great base to explore the rest of the Yucatan Peninsula. You can easily go swimming — the closest beach is just 45 km north of downtown at Progreso.
Get out of town to see the cenotes or haciendas, ranch houses built by the Spanish colonists. World-famous archeological sites such as Chichen Itza are also an easy day trip away.
With so much to do in Merida, choosing the right place to stay is crucial to helping you get the most out of your vacation.
The 5 Best Parts of Merida
Like any big city, Merida has many different neighborhoods, each with their own character, benefits, and drawbacks. Depending on the type of traveler that you are, you may have different preferences for where you should stay.
Whether you want to be in the center of the action or stay in a quieter, more family-friendly neighborhood, we have the perfect recommendation for you!
Our top picks include:
- Centro Historico/Zocalo: Perfect for history lovers and first-time visitors
- Zona Paseo Montejo: Best for families
- Santa Lucia: Best for nightlife and culture
- Santa Ana: Best for budget travelers
- Santiago: Best for long-term travel
Where to Stay in Merida: Best Areas & Hotels
These are just a few of the neighborhoods in Merida. There are many other unique parts of town, but these areas are the most popular among tourists and visitors.
Merida attracts a diverse set of travelers, from families looking to explore Mexico but wanting to stick to a city with a great safety reputation, to upscale visitors looking for high-end culture. Different parts of the city cater to different travel styles.
The good news is that Merida is a fairly compact city, so even if you prefer to stay in a quieter area, you can still enjoy the amenities of another neighborhood before heading home to your hotel at night.
1. Centro Historico/Zocalo
Merida’s Centro Historico is packed with all of the city’s historical and cultural sights. If you are the type of traveler who lives to visit as many museums as possible when you are in a new place, then Centro Historico is definitely the place for you!
People sometimes call this neighborhood Zocalo, after Plaza Grande.
Most of Merida’s main attractions are concentrated around this area. Plaza Grande alone contains amazing buildings such as the Teatro Merida and the strikingly pink Merida Municipal Palace. The Plaza functions as a focus point for the entire city.
Elsewhere in the Centro Historico, you can check out historic buildings dating back to the Spanish colonial era such as the Catedral de Yucatan and the Catedral de San Ildefonso.
The Centro Historico has some of the city’s best museums, such as MACAY (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Ateneo de Yucatan) and the Museum of the City.
When you need a break from all of that sightseeing, the Centro Historico also has excellent restaurants and cafes. The center also has a thriving café culture, bringing a splash of modernity to the ancient city.
However, if you are in search of a quieter getaway, the Centro Historico/Zocalo area is not the best place to stay. The area is lively at all times of day.
Even more concerning is the traffic — the narrow streets were not made for modern cars, leading to congestion, car fumes, and narrow misses with pedestrians on the small sidewalks.
Things to Do
- Gaze at the beautiful buildings along Plaza Grande.
- Look in awe at the imposing spires of San Ildefonso Catedral, one of the tallest buildings in Merida.
- Visit some of the many museums in the center, from the historic Museo Casa Montejo to the ultra-modern MACAY museum.
- Sip a coffee in one of the center’s many cafes or pull out your laptop and join the growing cohort of remote workers relocating to Merida.
Where to Eat
- Try traditional Yucatan cuisine at ultra-popular La Chaya Maya, a local institution.
- Catch some live music while eating local food at Amaro, a popular local restaurant with a lively courtyard.
- Check out traditional food from other parts of Mexico at Calle Frida, just off of the Plaza Grande.
Centro Historico/Zocalo Budget Hotels
- Hotel Reforma has a perfect location, just one block away from Plaza Grande, and comfortable amenities such as air-conditioning, wifi, TVs, and an outdoor pool.
- Hotel La Nacional by Kavia has private bathrooms and air-conditioning for each room, plus a colorful outdoor pool for cooling off after a long day exploring.
Centro Historico/Zocalo Mid-Range Hotels
- El Gran Hotel is perfect for living out your telenovela fantasies thanks to its grand colonial architecture, tasteful décor, and modern amenities such as wifi and air conditioning.
- Kuxtal Hotel Boutique is one of Merida’s best boutique hotels (which is saying something since the city has so many of them). Enjoy amenities such as stylish décor, an outdoor swimming pool, and delicious daily breakfast.
Centro Historico/Zocalo Luxury Hotels
- Casona 66 Merida Boutique Hotel. This spectacular boutique hotel has amazing design touches such as a plant-filled courtyard and colorful interiors. Enjoy other amenities such as outdoor pool access and great service.
- Mansion Merida Boutique Hotel – Restaurant is located right in the town center, but once you see the elegant French-style mansion’s architecture and check out all the amenities, including plush décor, a bar, pool, and even a spa, you’ll have a hard time leaving.
2. Zona Paseo Montejo
Located just outside of the Centro Historico around Paseo Montejo, Merida’s main street, Zona Paseo Montejo is just a short walk away from many of the city’s most famous attractions.
However, the neighborhood feels like a world away thanks to the quieter, relaxed atmosphere. The Paseo Montejo contains many beautiful attractions along its way.
It was built in the 19th century to try and reform the city planning, and quickly became a zone for the city’s elite. Walk along the boulevard and find mansions that used to belong to famous residents of the city, some of which were converted to historic house museums.
One of the best things you can do along the Paseo Montejo is rub elbows with the locals. Many of Merida’s local families love to stroll in the evenings along the tree-lined boulevard.
You can also visit some of the city’s trendiest boutiques, restaurants, and cafes and check out where Merida’s most stylish locals spend their time.
Within Merida, Zona Paseo Montejo has a reputation as a neighborhood for the city’s elite. Apartments in the neighborhood tend to be expensive — which means that accommodation for tourists tends to be expensive as well.
This is not a good neighborhood for budget travelers, although you can always stay elsewhere and come here for a stroll to soak in the atmosphere.
Things to Do
- Stroll along the Paseo Montejo, the central boulevard of the city. Try to come by on a Sunday morning during the Ciclovia, weekly events where vehicle traffic is banned, and the boulevard becomes a haven for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Check out the imposing Monumento a la Patria, an imposing sculpture on a traffic circle that commemorates Mexican history.
- Admire the historic mansions — and get an opportunity to see one of their interiors by visiting a historic house museum such as Palacio Canton, which hosts the Museo de Antropologia e Historia.
Where to Eat
- Have brunch at the trendy Rosas & Xocolate boutique hotel’s restaurant, voted one of the best brunches in Merida.
- Check out snacks, street food, and best local produce at the Mercado de Santa Ana, where many locals do their shopping.
- Have dessert, including “champola,” a popular local frozen fruit dessert, at Dulceria Colon.
Zona Paseo Montejo Budget Hotels
- Hotel Casa Palomino is located a bit away from the main street of Paseo Montejo, but still conveniently located. Enjoy comforting amenities such as free wifi, cable TV, and air-conditioned rooms.
- The Ibis Merida is one of the few budget options close to the Paseo Montejo. Amenities include a shared lounge, private bathrooms, and comfortable rooms with air-conditioning.
Zona Paseo Montejo Mid-Range Hotels
- The NH Collection Merida Paseo Montejo allows guests to relax and enjoy many amenities such as an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a great terrace to enjoy an outdoor breeze. It’s also a great place to stay for vegetarians as it offers vegetarian breakfast each morning.
- The Hotel Plaza by Kavia includes comfortable rooms, a rooftop terrace, and an outdoor pool. A designated tour desk can help you arrange day trips out of Merida.
Zona Paseo Montejo Luxury Hotels
- Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel & Spa is one of Merida’s most famous hotels thanks to its distinctive, stylish décor, excellent service and complimentary toiletries, and award-winning restaurant.
- Casa Lecanda Boutique Hotel will make you feel like a Mexican aristocrat of old thanks to the elegant colonnaded architecture, tiled pool, and upscale amenities including a rain-effect shower.
3. Santa Lucia
The lively neighborhood of Santa Lucia, just north of the historic center, is a popular neighborhood among locals and tourists alike. It is also a hub for Merida’s expat community, featuring great cafes, co-working spaces, and restaurants.
The Parque Santa Lucia is the focal point of the neighborhood. During the day, you can enjoy its leafy shade and check out the beautiful colonial architecture of the church.
At night, all thoughts of churchgoing are forgotten as the park turns into a lively hub for music and dancing. There is usually something going on every day, but the highlight is the weekly Yucatan Serenade festival.
Santa Lucia is one of the best places to stay in Merida for the hedonist on vacation. The area around the park is surrounded by restaurants for all budgets and palates, bars, and clubs.
This is not a street of tourist traps — it is a great place to come visit and mingle with the locals. The lively nightlife has a bit of a downside. Santa Lucia is the neighborhood that never sleeps, which is not a good place to stay if sleep is important to you.
If you prefer a quieter neighborhood to stay in, or you are traveling with small children that have an early bedtime, try to stay somewhere else.
Things to Do
- Check out the colonial church of Santa Lucia, built on the square which used to be the place where the city’s slaves worshiped.
- Catch some local music on Thursdays during the Yucatan Serenade festival (and join the locals dancing if you are feeling brave enough).
- Go shopping for unique souvenirs at boutiques owned by local artisans such as Ki’Xocolatl chocolate shop, or at the weekly Bici Ruta market.
Where to Eat
- La Recova serves Argentinian cuisine in an elegant arched location. Be sure to check out the steak.
- Apoala is one of the few good Mexican places around international Santa Lucia. Many locals recommend the unique crab tacos.
- 500 Noches is a lively tapas bar where the party lasts late into the night, perfect for kicking off your nightlife tour of Santa Lucia.
Santa Lucia Budget Hotels
- The colorful Hotel Santa Lucia has a great central location, stylish décor in a traditional-style house, and amenities such as a swimming pool, garden, air conditioning, and wifi.
- Hotel Real Toledo by Kavia is a surprisingly spacious hotel close to Santa Lucia featuring gorgeous traditional-style architecture, an outdoor pool, and a very friendly staff.
Santa Lucia Mid-Range Hotels
- Hotel Luz en Yucatan is a homey location that will let you feel as if you are staying with a (very stylish) local family. Enjoy amenities such as a shared kitchen, an on-site restaurant, and a garden.
- Ultra-modern ACQUA IN BOCCA is a great hotel if you are looking for something different. Enjoy sleek décor, a swimming pool, and friendly, multilingual staff.
Santa Lucia Luxury Hotels
- Hotel Hacienda Merida VIP will truly make you feel like Very Important People when you stay there. Enjoy an outdoor pool, hot tubs in some of the suites, and amazing rooms, all in a colonial-style building.
- Casa Lucia Hotel Boutique is one of the most stylish places to stay around Santa Lucia. The spacious rooms are full of tasteful décor, and you can relax by the pool in a hammock.
4. Santa Ana
The up-and-coming neighborhood of Santa Ana is where many of Merida’s young, artsy people flock nowadays. It is home to some of the city’s best galleries and boutiques that thrive thanks to the (relatively) affordable rent.
The lively neighborhood is full of restaurants, bars, and markets, perfect for rubbing elbows with locals and fellow travelers. Although it is fairly easy to get to the center via Paseo Montejo, keep in mind that Santa Ana is a bit further away from the center than other neighborhoods.
It may take you longer to get to main attractions than if you were staying in a more centrally-located neighborhood. It also isn’t the most family-friendly neighborhood in Merida.
Things to Do
- Check out the Parroquia de Santa Ana, the historic 18th century church that, along with the park that surrounds it, gave the neighborhood its name.
- Visit the Mercado de Santa Ana for traditional Yucatan snacks, agua frescas, and souvenirs.
- Explore the many galleries that make the neighborhood of Santa Ana one of the most cosmopolitan parts of the city, such as the Galeria Terracota, which highlights Oaxacan artists.
Where to Eat
- Make the trip north to Ku’uk, one of Merida’s most famous high-end restaurants.
- Head to VEGAN INC for delicious plant-based food in a trendy location.
- Check out tradition with a twist at La Santanita, a self-described modern cantina.
Santa Ana Budget Hotels
- The colorful T’uubul K’iin Bed & Breakfast is a great place to stay if you want a local touch. Enjoy a private bathroom, comfortable rooms, and a daily free breakfast.
- Stay in Hotel Santa Ana for a surprisingly affordable elegant hotel with an outdoor pool, garden, 24-hour service desk, and comfortable rooms.
Santa Ana Mid-Range Hotels
- Casa Tavera is an elegant hotel in a traditional-style building, but with many modern amenities such as air-conditioning, wifi and a pool, plus an allergy-free guarantee.
- Hotel Kavia Premium is a spacious hotel close to Santa Ana with gorgeous rooms, A-C, and a glorious rooftop pool.
Santa Ana Luxury Hotels
- Luxurious Boutique by the Museo offers spacious suites, a garden complete with a pool, and elegant décor, all within a historic building.
- TreeHouse Boutique Hotel is perfect for couples as it is a luxurious adults-only hotel. Enjoy the elegant courtyard, which sometimes features live classical music, gorgeous rooms with private bathrooms, and easy access to facilities at the Boutique by the Museo.
The elegant neighborhood of Santiago is a quiet, residential area that is still close to the center. Although it doesn’t have many attractions, you can get to the Centro Historico easily.
It is also the center of Merida’s expat community, leading to the nickname “Gringo Gulch.” The quiet residential atmosphere makes it a great place to stay if you are in Santiago for a little longer and want to spend your time mingling with the locals.
The neighborhood has plenty of greenery, restaurants, and grocery stores, also making it ideal for traveling with your family and providing a quiet getaway for the kids.
Santiago has a lot to offer, but it doesn’t have much in the way of nightlife. Travelers in search of a lively experience should stay in Santa Lucia or Santa Ana as they may find this neighborhood boring.
Things to Do
- Enjoy the leafy Parque de Santiago, which becomes the center of the neighborhood during its many events and festivals, including the famous early August fair.
- Explore the market along Calle 70, popular among locals and expats for its delicious street food.
- Go dancing in Parque de Santiago every Tuesday night during the live music performances.
Where to Eat
- Check out delicious fusion of French and Mexican cooking close to the market at Bistro Cultural Santiago.
- Grab authentic street food at the Doraditas Santiago stand in the park.
- Grab a late-night bite after a night on the town at the food stand La Reina Itzalena, where locals recommend the sopa de lima.
Santiago Budget Hotels
- Affordable Hotel Las Monjas has plenty of amenities, including colorful décor, a terrace, and some rooms that even have jacuzzis.
- The Hotel Maria Jose is simple yet elegant, with a beautiful outdoor pool, elegant rooms, and an in-hotel café.
Santiago Mid-Range Hotels
- The adults-only Art 57 hotel is perfect for couples on a getaway, with amenities including colorful décor, an outdoor pool, and an on-site gallery featuring local artists.
- Hotel Unknown isn’t unknown to savvy Merida travelers, thanks to its gorgeous garden complete with a pool, soothing atmosphere, and comfortable rooms.
Santiago Luxury Hotels
- Ya’ax Hotel Boutique features a luxurious, earthy decoration theme, and amenities such as a pool, plush bed linens, and a balcony for some rooms.
- Merida Santiago Hotel Boutique is a great upscale hotel with elegant rooms, a pool, and nice touches from the attentive staff such as free water in the room fridge.
So, Where Should You Stay in Merida?
|🏆 Best for First-Time Visitors||Centro Historico/Zocalo|
|👪 Best for Families||Zona Paseo Montejo|
|🍺 Best Area for Nightlife||Santa Lucia|
|💸 Most Budget-Friendly area||Santa Ana|
|🚂 Best for Long-term Travel||Santiago|
Merida is one of Mexico’s most sophisticated cities, with a lively arts, culture, and restaurant scene. It also has many historic sites thanks to its location on the Yucatan Peninsula.
If it is your first time in town, you should stay in the Centro Historico/Zocalo to be close to all of the sights. This area has the main attractions, including museums and historic sites.
If you’ve been to Merida before or just want a quieter getaway, then Zona Paseo Montejo is a great place to stay. This quiet, leafy neighborhood is especially comfortable for families.
Merida is a popular city among young travelers who are drawn to its art and culture. Many stay around Santa Lucia thanks to its lively nightlife. Other young travelers congregate around Santa Ana, which is the most affordable area of the center.
Besides travelers, Merida is also home to a big expat and digital nomad community.
If you want to stay in the city for longer, the neighborhood of Santiago is a great place to base yourself. No matter where you stay in Merida, you should have a great experience. Happy travels!