Mérida, the capital of the Yucatán state in Mexico, is a fascinating city known for its rich history, culture, and architecture. But while there is plenty to see and do in Mérida, there are also many exciting day trip destinations within a few hours drive from the city. From ancient Mayan ruins to natural wonders and charming colonial towns, the Yucatán has something for everyone.
1. Chichen Itza (just under 2 hours)
One of the most famous and impressive Mayan archaeological sites in the world, Chichen Itza is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Yucatán. Located just two hours from Mérida, this ancient city is home to the iconic El Castillo pyramid, the Great Ball Court, the Temple of the Warriors, and other stunning structures that offer a glimpse into the fascinating Mayan civilization.
Visitors can also explore the nearby cenote (a natural swimming hole) of Ik Kil, which is located just a short distance from the ruins. With its crystal-clear waters and lush greenery, this natural wonder is the perfect place to cool off after a hot day exploring the ruins.
2. Uxmal and Choco Story (just over 1 hour)
Another impressive Mayan archaeological site near Mérida is Uxmal, which is located about an hour and a half from the city. This ancient city is known for its well-preserved buildings, intricate carvings, and impressive architecture, including the Governor’s Palace and the Pyramid of the Magician.
Choco-Story is a newer museum in the area, essentially across the highway from Uxmal. This is a partially self guided tour where you can learn about the history of chocolate and how it is made. There are demonstrations and taste tests as well.
Visitors can also explore nearby towns, such as Santa Elena, which is known for its colonial architecture, vibrant markets, and delicious food. Here, you can sample traditional Yucatecan dishes like cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork) and papadzules (tortillas filled with boiled eggs and pumpkin seed sauce).
3. Celestun (approx 1.25 hours)
Located about an hour and a half from Mérida, Celestun is a tranquil fishing village known for its pristine beaches and natural beauty. The main attraction here is the Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve, a protected wetland area that is home to a variety of bird species, including the iconic pink flamingos.
Visitors can take a boat tour of the reserve to see the birds up close and explore the mangroves, lagoons, and other ecosystems that make up this unique environment. Celestun is also known for its delicious seafood, with local restaurants serving up fresh catches like ceviche, shrimp tacos, and grilled fish.
4. Izamal (just over 1 hour)
Known as the “Yellow City” due to its distinctive yellow buildings, Izamal is a charming colonial town located just an hour from Mérida. This town is home to several impressive historical landmarks, including the Convent of San Antonio de Padua, which is one of the largest Franciscan convents in the Americas.
Visitors can also explore the nearby Mayan ruins of Kinich Kak Moo, which offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can climb to the top of the Izamal Pyramid for an even more breathtaking view.
5. Valladolid (2 hours 45 minutes)
Located about two hours from Mérida, Valladolid is another charming colonial town that is well worth a day trip. This town is known for its colorful buildings, vibrant markets, and rich cultural heritage. The main attraction here is the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena, which is one of the oldest colonial-era buildings in the Americas.
6. Salinas Rosas Salt Flats (just under 1 hour)
Los Coloradas salt flats are impressive, but quite a distance from Merida (3 hours or more). The Salinas Rosas Salt Flats are under an hour from Merida. And while it is a simple, somewhat small area, it is neat to explore and check out the scenery. It is not only an interesting science behind the pink salt flats, it is also a neat place to take pictures.
7. Raccoon Preserve (just under 1 hour)
Just under an hour is the Reserva Ecológica El Corchito (Raccoon Reserve) Progreso, Mexico, which is a fun place to visit especially if you are looking for family-friendly activities. This area is a nature reserve with pools, cenotes & mangrove swamps, and is home to many animals in addition to raccoons (corchitos), including coatis, turtles & crocodiles.
8. Homun Cenotes (just over 1 hour)
The area of Homun is known for having numerous cenotes to explore. You can spend the day in town, checking out a variety of different cenotes and having a bite to eat. You can hire a guide to bring you to numerous locations and different kinds of interesting cenotes. Many of these are small and unlike the larger more commercial locations you may see in larger towns (such as Tulum or Playa del Carmen). Some of these cenotes include Cenote Canunchen, Cenote Chel-Paak, and Cenote Hool Kosom.
I did Chitchen Itza and that swimming hole and it was amazing. I would love to bring the family there 🙂
How fun. We’re not far from Mexico so we might have to make a trip one day.
Mexico has so much to offer for a trip. I really want to check out those swimming caves.
I would love to go see the raccoons.
I would love to see these sites in person. I’ll have to plan a trip to Mexico with my son.
Oh woooow! Every picture was beautiful. I can see why traveling to Mexico is so appealing to people.
As someone who loves exploring new places, this is definitely going on my bucket list. The detailed information and beautiful pictures are truly inspiring. Can’t wait to experience the rich culture and history of Merida for myself. Muchas gracias for the awesome recommendations! 🇲🇽✨🌴
Mexico is truly a wonderful and amazing place to visit! It would be a really great experience to be here
WOw, there is a lot to explore in Mexico. This place has a lot to offer to tourists!
These photos are so lovely! I’d love to visit Mexico someday 🙂
Oh my goodness, I could spend a whole day at the Raccoon preserve and not even feel bad about it if that was all I had time for!
You’ve found some great places there. I really want to go see some salt flats one day. The raccoon reserve sounds like fun too!!
So many new and interesting thing to visit! Mexic is an amazing country to discover!
Mexico is really an amazing place, theirs a lot of things to do and the view is just so amazing and mesmerizing! Loving this post and love to see this all in person!
Choco-Story is the first place I would visit if I have the chance. It sounds like a wonderful “first-stop” in my itinerary. I’d also love to see the Racoon Preserves.
Those tourists staying in Mérida for a few days can certainly visit these nearby beautiful places! I have never been to Mexico, hope to visit this place someday soon with my family. I’d love to see the choco story museum, looks great 😍.
I have done Chichen Itza on a bus tour when I was in Cancun, and that was about 15 years ago. I need to visit one more time. Houston is a short flight from there, so there really is no excuse.
Thank you for highlighting so many great day trip options from Mérida, Mexico. I would love to see the raccoons, but the Salinas Rosas Salt Flats sound so cool as well!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article on day trips to Merida, Mexico! Your writing style is engaging and descriptive, making me feel like I’m right there experiencing it all with you. The suggestions and tips you provided are helpful and I appreciate the personal touch you added.
Thanks for sharing your experience of visiting Mérida. It sounds like a fantastic place to explore with its rich cultural heritage and beautiful architecture. I have never been to Mexico, but your description of the Yucatán region has piqued my interest. It’s great to hear that many exciting day trip destinations are within a few hours’ drive from the city. From ancient Mayan ruins to natural wonders and charming colonial towns, it seems like there’s something for everyone to discover in Yucatán.
I was just looking for the best day trips from Merida! Ive come to the right place. Thank you.
Wow, looks like there’s no end to the number of amazing Merida day trips.
So many things to do. I feel like you won’t run out of day trips from Merida Mexico!
Hhhhmmm…it is my first time seeing all these places. They sound amazing and I want to visit them, when I am in Mexico!
As someone who loves to explore new places, I appreciated learning about the different historical and cultural sites to visit in the city and surrounding areas. The food recommendations also sound delicious, and I’m definitely adding some of these spots to my must-try list.
oh wow!!!! Take me there now! I would love to spend a couple of weeks in Merida, it seems very authentic.
These are such great day trips! And who can resist a chocolate museum, right?!?
The weather there looks so nice and beautiful! What a relaxing trip…I would love to travel there 😀
Very interesting, never been to Merida before but it looks pretty. I will keep this on the list to visit it one day in the future. Thank you for sharing!
So many wonderful and educational places to visit in Merida. I love to read about the Mayans so the Chichen Itza would be a site I would want to go in person to visit
I have an upcoming trip to Mexico and was considering Cancun. But the Chichen Itza is tempting me so it could now be Merida.
Trying traditional food would be on my to-do list if I was traveling to mexico! Thank you for all of these highlights – there is a really good variety in this post.
I so want to visit Mexico soon 😉 I have never been and the architecture looks beautiful here! This place looks like it is rich in history which I absolutely love!