GUIDE TO MERIDA SURROUNDINGS AND DAY TRIPS

VALLADOLID

Magical Town

Valladolid is only two hours away by a modern highway from Mérida or Cancún. Known as the Capital of the Mayan East, it is a colonial city that is characterized by its hospitality. It has among its attractions the San Bernardino Convent, majestic in its dimensions and sober in its Franciscan style and the church of San Gervasio. Valladolid has comfortable hotels and good restaurants.

Things to see in Valladolid

Palacio Municipal

Municipal Palace was built in the sixteenth century, it was restructured at the beginning of the 19th century. On the second floor there are colorful oil paintings that narrate passages of the history of the city.

Catedral de San Gervasio

Cathedral of San Gervasio replaces the one that was erected in 1545 and has a beautiful façade in carved stone veneer.

Museo de San Roque

The San Roque Museum was the site of the first hospital in the town, and it ran from the 16th to the 18th century. Currently, it exhibits archeological pieces, traditional Mayan medicine and crafts from eastern Yucatan.

Iglesia de la Candelaria

Church of La Candelaria - La Virgen de la Candelaria is the patron saint of the city and on February 2 a big party is celebrated in her honor. The set has a beautiful portal supported by arches.

Iglesia de Santa Ana

Church of Santa Ana is a construction of the sixteenth century. On its façade a beautiful stained glass window stands out.

Cenote Zaci

Cenote Zaci is located near the main square, it is one of the largest and most impressive open-air cenotes in the Yucatan. Access is through a tunnel. It has 45 meters (148ft)  in diameter, a depth of 80 meters (262ft) and about 40 meters (131ft) in height from the mouth to the water mirror. At the entrance there is a staircase carved in the rock with railing.

Iglesia de Santa Lucía

Church of Santa Lucia dates from the early seventeenth century and highlights the height of its vaulted ceiling. Opposite there is a nice park that is one of the most visited.

Convento de San Bernardino de Siena

Convent of San Bernardino de Siena was founded in 1552 by the Franciscan Order, it is one of the most emblematic sites of the city. Inside, the main altarpiece is highlighted in wood painted in gold, and some niches with sculptures. In this convent, one of the first Mexican scientific works began, the "Botanical Catalog". In a camera you can admire what remains of a series of large hand-painted murals. The huge courtyards enclosed in a thick wall surround the whole convent and there is located the cenote Sis-Há.

Casa de los Venados

Casa de los Venados is a 1,800-square-meter private house-museum, with a collection of popular and contemporary Mexican art with more than 3,000 works of art. The house belongs to John and Dorianne Venator, and exposes one of the most complete and extensive collections of popular art in private hands. Daily tours are offered at 10:00 am, reservation is recommended.

IZAMAL

Magical Town

Located 72 km (45mi) from Mérida. It is one of the oldest cities in Yucatan. It is currently known as the "City of the Hills", since archaeological remains remain in the center of the city. Almost all of its buildings are painted ocher yellow. The Franciscan Convent, is famous for the splendor of its cloister, the largest in America. Next to the convent is the Community Museum. Izamal has restaurants, craft shops and nice hotels.

Izamal has been named Magical Town and its history, since it was founded until the present, is linked to a strong religious tradition, because this place was once a huge Mayan ceremonial center.

Things to see in Izamal

Cultural and Craft Center Izamal

The museum exhibits magnificent handicrafts. It is located in front of the central square. Pyramid of Kinich Kakmó. It has the largest basement of the Yucatan Peninsula, with a base of 200 meters (656ft) and 34 meters (112ft) in its highest part.

Drawn carriage tours

Tours in calesa (cart pulled by horses) leave the central square, next to the Convent of San Antonio de Padua, every day, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Convent of San Antonio de Padua

With the largest atrium in the world, after St. Peter's in the Vatican, it is a colonial masterpiece dating from 1561. It has a museum inside and a shrine. It offers a magnificent light and sound show that tells the history of the place. Schedule, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, beginning at 8:30 p.m.

PROGRESO

Located 36 km (22mi) north of Merida, it is the first and most important port on the Yucatan coast, making it the point of arrival for luxury tourist cruises.

Progreso has a good hotel infrastructure. Its beaches have a gentle swell and white sand, so they are unbeatable for the practice of various water sports such as diving, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, kite surfing and sailing.

Its main attraction is the old building that occupied the maritime customs, which was built in the 19th century. Other interesting places are: the Municipal Palace; the Lighthouse, which dates from 1891 and rises 40 meters (131ft); the Chapel of San Antonio Uaxactún; and the Customs Quay considered with 6 Km (3.7mi) is the longest in the country. 

At the end of the pier there is an area to fish. In Progreso you can walk along the boardwalk, enjoy the breeze and savor delicious regional food in the many restaurants that line the harbor's boardwalk.

Costa Esmeralda Scenic Route

Progreso has a wide coastline for water sports and there is a wide variety of restaurants on the boardwalk. Uaymitún ideal for water sports and relaxation. It has a three-level viewpoint to observe the beautiful flamingos and birds of the local fauna that inhabit the estuary.

Dzilam de Bravo, in addition to the natural beauties and beautiful beaches perfect for water sports, you can visit the churches of San Antonio de Padua (sixteenth century), the Purísima Concepción and San Pedro (seventeenth century), as well as the Municipal Palace (century XIX).

Telchac Puerto is ideal for swimming and resting. The small boardwalk and the lighthouse give it a very peculiar flavor. Nearby is the Laguna Rosada, home of migratory birds.

El Cuyo is a protected area with a fascinating flora and fauna, a jewel for lovers of tranquility and nature. It offers boat rides, restaurants, cabins and ATV rental.

Sisal is a legendary cabotage port where almost all henequen was exported in the 19th century. Nowadays, it is a quiet fishing village with white sand beaches and exotic natural scenery. You can visit the Fort of Santiago, the former Maritime Customs and the Lighthouse. The pier is the ideal place to contemplate a beautiful sunset.

CELESTUN

Celestun is a natural paradise with extensive beaches planted with coconut trees and mangroves where a large number of migratory birds live. In the area, more than 400 species have been identified; in addition, it is one of the two places in Mexico where pink flamingo nests, feeds and reproduces. The best season to visit is during the winter when migratory birds abound and the number of flamingos is greater.

Celestún has beautiful places of fresh water hidden in the natural tunnels that are formed with the branches of the mangrove, where you can swim. It is worth noting the "Tampetén" or petrified forest with a unique landscape.

There is a beach of incomparable beauty that extends throughout the town, with pleasant establishments that offer an exquisite variety of seafood and fresh fish.