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Things to do in Merida for free

Looking for things to do in Merida that won’t cost you a dime? Check out our list of activities that you can enjoy for free!

Merida is a beautiful city in Mexico with many things to do. Although it has many activities, it also has many free things to do. The price we like the most: FREE. At Merida, you can find many things to do without paying, a perfect option for when you are not visiting the pyramids or cenotes. In this article, we are going to show you the things you can do in Merida for free, the best price.

Merida, a city where it is pleasant to walk

Merida is the capital of the state of Yucatan. It was founded on January 6, 1542, on the remains of the Mayan city called T’Ho, which was uninhabited when the Europeans arrived. Today it is a city that is a pleasure to visit, even with the heat it was nice to walk through its streets and see its colorful buildings. We also find some picturesque cars (yes, the Beetle today is picturesque).

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Things to do in Merida for free

It turns out that when we arrived, the first thing we did was go to the tourist office to collect maps and information. We did well as we saw that activities are organized during the afternoons in the city.

In this building is the tourist office

Plaza de Armas

It is right in front of the tourist office, very lively, it is difficult to find a bench at certain hours, and you have to make the line to take a photo with the huge letters that bear the name of the city. It’s worth it, it’s very nice.

The vaquería

It is a party that comes from the times of the Spaniards, in which they had a party before “the ironing” of their cows (hence the name of the party). Although today, only the name remained because it is celebrated in all parts of the state. In this party dances are made, and traditional costumes are dressed and this would be what we would see.

The dance group that was responsible for the show was made up of elderly people, I loved seeing them do all kinds of Yucatecan dance steps. I have to admit that I had a preference for the ladies as their dresses were so pretty. The men’s suit was much simpler.

(I promise to bring you later a video of the dances I recorded, for now, I’ll just leave you the photos. See what beautiful dresses)

Tour of the Historic Center by the Tourist Office

Every day, the Merida tourist office offers free tours to visitors, you just have to arrive 15 minutes before the starting time. It lasts about 1 hour and a half. The tour that we did was in the afternoon, my recommendation is that you go and ask the day you arrive in the city about the schedules that will be during the week, so you can take it. Some of the places on the tour are the Cathedral of San Ildefonoso and the Government Palace, among others. Very interesting. At the end of the tour, people tip the guide as much as they like, but it is not mandatory.

The best price: FREE

The Republic of Yucatan

During the tour, we found out that Yucatan was an independent country. The Republic of Yucatan was made up of what are now the states of Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatán. In fact, they joined Mexico in 1823 and later became independent again in 1840 since they did not agree that the country would go from federalist to centralist, with which the states lost autonomy. But in 1847 the “caste war” broke out in Yucatan, pitting the Mayans against the “whites”, the war was fierce and in that the Mexican Republic took the opportunity to “offer support” to the “whites” and in return, they turned to annex to Mexico definitively. With this, the division of the states as they are now known in the peninsula was made.

The flag of the Republic of Yucatan was this: (it can be seen in many places in the city)

Flag of the Republic of Yucatan

One place we visited was the Cathedral of San Ildefonoso, it is the oldest in all of Mexico and was built between 1562 and 1598. Next to the cathedral, there is a covered walkway that reminded me of the galleries in Milan.

We also visited the Government Palace, which was inaugurated on September 15, 1892. In this place are the Governor’s office, the General Secretariat of Government, the Mayor’s Office and the Legal and Press Directorates. On the upper floor is the Assembly Hall, where we could see several paintings by Fernando Castro Pacheco that portray the history of the state.

In summary: a very interesting tour, even though they are places that we can visit on our own, the guide gave us very useful information to understand several things (that we could have overlooked).

El juego de pelota

Another of the evening shows that we were able to see was a ball game demonstration. In many archaeological sites, you can see the ball game stadiums, for example we saw it in Tula, in Monte Alban, etc. Although it is not clear if the losers were sacrificed (or the winners since it was an honor) what is known is that two teams faced each other.

In the Popol Vuh, the Mayan Bible, the twin gods came down from hell to play the ball game against the demons. They came down to collect the bones of people to create a new race of humans. The twins won the match and the demons gave them the bones. According to legend, this is how the Mayans were created.

The ball weighed about 3 kilos, it was made of rubber. The game consisted of playing with a permitted part of the body: butt, glove, hip, hand, forearm. If it was possible to make the opposing team touch the ball with an unauthorized part of the body, points were scored or when the ball was lost. In case of kicking the ball, then the points were given to the opposing team. Passing the ball through the hoop that you see in archaeological sites was so, so rare that it meant winning the game.

After the demonstration, the illuminated cathedral facade deserved a photo.

Cathedral by night

Another activity that is not related to monuments but is very colorful is to shop around. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s very entertaining to see those prints, colored embroidery. Well, I admit it, you will probably end up buying something.

Yucatecan clothes

The Mayan World Museum

Ok, this activity is not free, but it is worth visiting this museum to soak up even more of everything Mayan.

Ticket cost: foreigners $150.00 pesos and Mexicans $100.00

Hours: from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM

So now you know, among all the visits to archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza, Uxmal or the cenotes, etc., you have in Mérida a perfect base city with much to offer totally free (or almost).

Clouds over Merida

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Olga Grijalva

Olga is a traveler and travel content creator with 17 years of experience. Her goal is to share useful information to help you plan your adventures. She has visited more than 40 countries and is excited to share her experience with you.