Merida was the first Mexican city to be 'founded' by the Spanish conquistadors. Thankfully, the city is vocal in reclaiming its Mayan ancestry with numerous exhibits paying homage to its rich heritage (for example, most city signs noting the original moniker of Th'o).
The architectural landscape still reflects Spanish influences, albeit with a sprinkling of Latino flair. However, unlike the rest of Yucatan, central Merida's tight streets overly congested with traffic can feel claustrophobic.
A couple of days only. Most guidebooks rank Merida as a top-pick for Mexico, but all that it delivers can be better experienced in other cities (see Valladolid). Perhaps because of the more frenetic pace of life, Merida unfortunately loses elements of its charm.
It is a worthwhile stop-over and cultural visit (especially on a moonlit Sunday night) but anymore than a couple of days will likely leave you fingering your guidebook, planning your next stop.
Although a visit to Merida will not be a waste, those who are time-poor will likely regret over-staying at the expense of other options.
There are enjoyable exhibits around the Plaza Grande, with the most compelling being Fernando Castro Pacheco's Mayan murals depicting the evolution of one race's attempts to conquer, exploit and eliminate another.These can be found in the Palacio de Gobierno.
Getting there and away
Merida hosts two bus stations; one for 1st class travel and another for 2nd class travel. They are close to each other, around 10 minutes walk from Plaza Grande.
2nd class bus Merida - Valladolid: $102 pesos per person, 3-4 hours.
1st class bus Merida – Chetumal: $480 pesos per person, 5-6 hours.
2nd class bus Merida – Chetumal: $300 pesos per person, 7+ hours.
Budget-breaker or maker?
Maker. Merida's convenient location and range of affordable hostels will allow you to afford that extra bottle of Sol.