Last updated: 10:00 PM ET, Sat December 26 2015

Opinion Home | Notes from the Goats

  • Nick and Dariece | December 26, 2015 10:00 PM ET

    5 Exciting Day Trips From Merida, Mexico

    5 Exciting Day Trips From Merida, Mexico

    Photos by Goats on the Road

    The Yucatan in Mexico is often thought of as being a beach destination for travelers. Although it's true that a portion of the peninsula is home to vacation hotspots such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen, there are also some colonial cities inland that are definitely worth visiting.

    If you can peel yourself away from the coast long enough to spend a few days in and around Merida, we think it'll be the highlight of your trip. Merida is a bustling city rich in Mayan and colonial history. The architecture here is colorful and exquisite, with many of the buildings dating as far back as the 1500s! Spend a few days exploring all of the museums, theaters, cathedrals, parks and back streets on offer, before taking a break from the populated city to visit some of the surrounding areas.

    Teatro Peón Contreras merida


    The ancient Mayan city of Uxmal is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason. The ruins are in immaculate condition and differ from the other Mayan sites in the country. The architecture here is Puuc Style, with the most noticeable difference in construction being the use of rounded edges as opposed to square ones. Masks of the Rain God, Chaac, can be found carved out of stone around the site. The entrance fee here is 203 pesos ($12), and out of all of the ruins we've visited during our various trips to Mexico, this is still one of our favorites.

    uxmal ruins mexico

    Chichen Itza

    You can't go to the Yucatan and not visit this Wonder Of The World! Many people actually confuse the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza as being the Wonder, when in fact, just the El Castillo Pyramid holds that title.

    At 98 feet high, this pyramid dominates the northern platform of the city — you can't miss it. Apart from gazing in awe at the Wonder, you can explore the Ball Court, the Temple of the Warriors, the Sacred Cenote and the Skull Platform, among many other things.

    Though they may not have Wonder Of The World status, we personally think that the ruins at Uxmal are just as impressive! Make sure to arrive early in the day to avoid the crowds of tourists, not to mention the intense afternoon sun. The site is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the entrance fee is 204 pesos ($12) for foreigners.

    travel mexico chichen itza


    The section of the Government responsible for tourism in Mexico (SECTUR) has a list of cities that are considered "Magical." In order to make the list, the city must be rich in history, have natural beauty along with natural and historical relevance. There are 83 towns and villages with this title, with the yellow city of Izamal receiving Magical status in 2002!

    Located just 43 miles from Merida, this is an excellent town to spend a few hours. Practically all of the buildings here are painted yellow — the convent, colonial buildings and the market. This locale is also known as the City of Hills, but in reality, the hills that we saw were actually piles of rubble left over from the ancient Mayan temples that used to stand here. You can hike up to the top of Kinich Kokmo for great views over the city. Make sure to eat lunch at Kinich El Sabor de Izamal, a great restaurant serving traditional dishes from the Yucatan.

    izamal mexico


    The ruins here are located far away from the busy roads, and are quite off the beaten path. It is said that there were over 40,000 inhabitants of this city during its heyday, making it one of the largest urban centers of Mesoamerica. The Temple of The Seven Dolls is the main temple at this site and is named this due to the seven small, stone carved dolls found here during excavation. The Mayan people were very knowledgeable about seasonal change, and here at the Temple during the spring and autumn equinox, the sun shines perfectly through the doorways. These beams of sunlight were used to represent the beginning and ending of the harvest.

    temple of the seven dolls mexico

    Another interesting feature of Dzibilchaltun is the Spanish Franciscan Church, which was built by the Spaniards in the 1600s. It's not often that you see Spanish and Mayan architecture coexisting. To cool off after wandering around the site, you can jump in the cenote here, which is where many urns, pottery shards and human bones were found in 1957. Dzibilchaltun is located just nine miles from Merida and the entrance fee is 122 pesos ($7.30).

    Progreso Beach

    I know we said to peel yourself away from the coastline to do something other than laze on the beach, but after visiting numerous sites in and around the city, you'll want to escape the noise and the heat. Plus, this beach is unique in that it's located on the Gulf of Mexico, meaning the water here is more of an emerald-green color, as opposed to turquoise blue.

    progreso beach mexico

    This little fishing town is just a 30-minute drive from Merida and is the hotspot for both locals and tourists. Stroll down the waterfront promenade, lounge in a beach chair and enjoy the views. Catch a local bus here from Merida for only 12 pesos ($0.71) a person per way.

    Have you been to any of these cities/ruins? Share with us in the comments below!


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Nick and Dariece Notes from the Goats

Nick and Dariece Nick and Dariece are the couple behind Goats On The Road, a website designed to inspire others to live a financially sustainable, location independent lifestyle. Masters at making money abroad and turning their travels into a way of life, they've been on the road since 2008 and have explored some of the least visited places on earth, finding adventure wherever they go. They are also full time contributors at Credit Walk where they share their expertise of making money and travelling forever. Check them out at Goats On The and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
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