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Day Trips From Merida Mexico: Merida Beaches, Cities, and More

Anyone staying in Merida, Mexico should check out the beautiful Merida beaches and exciting Merida tours available nearby. While there’s no shortage of things to do in Merida, there are also many fun places to take a day trip from Merida. How far is Merida from the beach? Close enough to visit for the day!

Merida’s relatively central location in the Yucatan Peninsula makes it the perfect home base for exploring bustling cities, ancient ruins, and the best beaches near Merida Mexico. From cenotes and Mayan ruins to colonial towns, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, there are countless fun day trips from Merida.

P.S. If you’re considering moving to Merida with children, check out this book my friend Cassie wrote!

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

Traveling Within the Yucatan Peninsula

You have several transportation options for your day trip from Merida, including renting a car, taking the bus, or booking a colectivo (shared van).

Rental Car

The easiest and most convenient way to see everything is with a rental car. Driving in the Yucatan is relatively straightforward, as it’s one of the safest states in Mexico.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t drive at night.
  • Stick to the Couta, or toll roads, and have cash.
  • Download an offline map from Google Maps or Maps.Me, because your signal will go in and out as you travel through more rural areas.
  • Speed limit signs are in kilometers per hour.
  • Don’t use your cell phone while driving—it’s unsafe and illegal.
  • Mexico roads have a lot of topes (speed bumps), and not many signs warning you.
  • When you stop for gas, someone will pump it for you and take your payment. It’s customary to tip at least $10 pesos when they finish.
  • Stop lights go from green to yellow to flashing yellow to red.

If you’re renting a car, consider picking it up directly from the airport. There are a few rental car companies in downtown Merida and Paseo de Montejo. Many Merida Airbnbs hotels and hostels offer parking, but always confirm the policies before booking.

Quick Tip: I highly recommend booking all of your Mexico transportation with GottoGo. You can search for buses, shuttles, ferries, and Flights on their website. What I love most about them is their customer service. I know these guys personally from living in Guatemala, and they look after their customers.

If anything happens and you get delayed and miss your bus, you can just call them, and they are always there to help. If you book through them, you will pay a little more than booking in person at the bus station. But it’s worth it for the ease and security. Click here to search for transportation in Mexico.


Don’t want to drive? No worries! Mexico has an excellent public transportation system, and the country’s biggest bus company is ADO. ADO offers multiple daily trips to and from many places throughout Mexico. These buses feature large, comfortable seats and outlets for all your tech gadgets. You can buy your tickets in advance online or arrive at the bus station 30 to 45 minutes before the trip to buy them in person.

If you find the ADO website stressful and don’t want to buy your ticket at the last minute, you can also book an ADO bus with GuateGo. It will cost a little extra, but this ensures you’ll have a bus seat. GuateGo’s customer service is much better than ADO’s.


Colectivos (shared vans) are the most inexpensive way to get around, though they also take the longest because they make frequent stops. They’re usually 10 to 12-passenger vans, like a Nissan Urvan or Toyota Hiace, with air conditioning, making them almost as comfortable as the bus. Colectivos aren’t available for every destination on this list, but I’ve included detailed travel information for each day trip from Merida.

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 
Best Merida ToursClick here to check out the top Merida tours
Best Merida Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Merida
Best Merida Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Merida

Day Trips From Merida: Must-Visit Merida Mexico Beaches and More

Now that you understand transportation options better let’s jump into the best Merida beaches, cities, and cultural landmarks to visit for a day.

Colonial Cities


The 6 Best Day Trips From Merida Mexico

Izamal is one of Mexico’s 120 famed Pueblos Mágicos (Magic Towns) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it a popular day trip from Merida.

What exactly is a Pueblo Mágico? A “Magic Town” is a prestigious designation the Secretary of Tourism gives. These places have been recognized for their rich cultural history, unique folklore, incredible natural beauty, and more.

Regarding the small colonial town of Izamal, the magico (magic) lies in its monochromatic aesthetic. Known as the “Yellow Town,” all of Izamal’s downtown buildings are painted in a vibrant shade of yellow.

Best Day Trips From Merida Mexico

The small size of downtown Izamal allows you to explore the area in about two hours. Check out the main church, the Convent of San Antonio de Padua, or take a horse-drawn carriage tour. Sample some traditional Yucatecan food at Kinich Restaurant or the mercado (market). I suggest heading to the Mercado Municipal De Izamal to sample dzik de venado (shredded venison), a local delicacy.

Izamal is also home to the small Mayan archaeological sites of the Kinich Kakmó Pyramid and the Zona Arqueológica de Izamal.

Distance from Merida: 68 miles/55 km

Travel time: About one hour by car, one and a half hours by bus, and two hours by colectivo.

Drive: Take the Carretera Costera del Golfo de Mexico (Highway 180) east to Highway 11 North and follow the signs to Izamal.

Bus: Catch an ADO bus from the downtown Merida bus station, Terminal de Autobuses de Merida (TAME). Roundtrip tickets average $300 pesos or $15 USD.

Colectivo: Catch a colectivo from downtown Merida’s Terminal Noreste (Northeast Terminal). Roundtrip tickets average $100 pesos or $5 USD.


Day Trips From Merida Mexico

Valladolid (another Pueblo Mágico) is a stunning colonial city that’s one of the best day trips from Merida. Don’t forget to pack your camera!

Valladolid has many gorgeous buildings to photograph and use as backdrops. Some of its prettier streets are the Calle de Los Frailes and Calle 50. Other iconic scenes include the giant, colorful letters spelling out Valladolid and the large Talavera tile fountain in the back of the famous restaurant.

The 6 Best Day Trips From Merida Mexico

Check out the town’s two large colonial churches, and the . The Iglesia de San Servacio is the main church in the zocalo (main square).

See the fantastic art at Casa de Los Venados, the private home of John and Dorianne Venator. They open their home daily at 10:00 a.m. for tours of their impressive collection of over 3,000 folk art pieces.

If you want to buy some art, head to Kuxtal Cafe & Mexican Art. They sell various styles of iconic Mexican folk art made by artisans from all over the country.

Best Day Trips From Merida

Some of the Yucatan Peninsula’s prettiest cenotes are within 30 minutes of Valladolid. These include Cenote Ik-Kil, Zaci, Suytun, and Oxman.

Distance from Merida: 100 miles/160 km

Travel time: About two hours by car and two and a half hours by bus.

Drive: Take the Kantunil-Cancun Highway (Highway 180D) east and follow the signs to Valladolid.

Bus: Catch an ADO bus from the downtown Merida bus station. Roundtrip tickets average $844 pesos or $50 USD.


The 6 Best Day Trips From Merida

Another UNESCO World Heritage site, the walled city of Campeche boasts a rainbow of colored buildings within. Campeche is vulnerable on the Gulf of Mexico, so its citizens built a defensive wall against pirates centuries ago.

Nowadays, you can walk along the walls atop the (Saint Michael’s Fort) to take in the colorful city views and see old canons pointed at the Gulf. You’ll have to pay about $55 pesos or $2 USD to climb to the top, but enjoying one of the best things to do in Campeche Mexico is worth it. There’s also a small museum, Museo de Arqueología Subacuática.

6 Best Day Trips From Merida Mexico

Campeche is one of Mexico’s most colorful cities, and the downtown is painted in every rainbow color. Though only about 20 square blocks, visitors can stroll the city center to admire the gorgeous buildings that double as Instagram-worthy backdrops.

Stop in at the adorable for a sweet snack. For a full meal, grab an outdoor table at La Parrilla Colonial Campeche or an indoor one at . Sample some of Campeche’s local dishes, including pan de cazon, at El Bastión de Campeche, a favorite among locals.

The 6 Best Day Trips From Merida Mexico

After eating, hop on a tranvia (tram) to sit back, relax, and see all the sites you might have missed walking, like the Fuerte de San José and the Ex-Templo de San José. At the end of the day, head west to the malecon (walkway) to catch the sunset on the Gulf of Mexico.

Distance from Merida: 110 miles/177 km

Travel time: About two and a half hours by car or three hours by bus.

Drive: Take the Carretera Costera del Golfo de Mexico (Highway 180) south and follow the signs to Campeche.

Bus: Catch an ADO bus from the downtown Merida bus station. Roundtrip tickets average $600 pesos or $30 USD.

Mayan Ruins

Chichen Itza

Day Trips From Merida

As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza likely needs no introduction! Chichen Itza usually ties Mexico City’s Teotihuacan as the most visited archeological site in the country, with each averaging around 2.75 million annual visitors.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chichen Itza is one of the world’s most significant Mayan archeological sites. When visiting, you’ll see the iconic El Castillo (The Castle, or Temple of Kukulcan), Temple of the Warriors, Wall of the Skulls, Grand Ball Court, Group of a Thousand Columns, and Sacred Cenote.

Chichen Itza

Considering the site’s large size and historical significance, consider hiring a guide. Many guides are waiting at the entrance when you buy your tickets.

Pro Tip: Arrive as close to 8:00 a.m. as possible to beat the crowds and the heat.

As with many Mexican archeological sites, most of the trees at Chichen Itza have been cleared for historical study, so there’s minimal shade. Wear comfortable sneakers, sunscreen, and a hat, and bring your reusable water bottle.

Distance from Merida: 73 miles/118 km

Travel time: About one and a half hours by car or two hours by bus.

Drive: Take the Costera del Golfo de Mexico (Highway 180) east and follow the signs to Chichen Itza.

Bus: Catch an ADO bus from the downtown Merida bus station. Roundtrip tickets average $405 pesos or $24 USD.


Chichen Itza visit

Though lesser known than Chichen Itza, Uxmal is just as impressive. Uxmal sees about 275,000 annual visitors, making it quieter and less touristy. Aside from the smaller crowds, you won’t be approached by hordes of souvenir vendors—just one of the many perks of visiting hidden gems.

What is the top reason to opt for Uxmal over Chichen Itza? You can climb the structures and one of the pyramids!

Visit Chichen Itza

Though you can’t climb the large El Adivino (Pyramid of the Magician), you can climb the adjacent pyramid, which is nearly as tall. You’ll get amazing views of the entire site from atop this pyramid, the tallest vantage point at Uxmal.

You can also get up close and personal with Uxmal’s intricate stone carvings at the Nunnery Quadrangle building and see some of the beautiful Mayan design aesthetics the Puuc sites are famous for.

The 6 Best Day Trips From Merida Mexico

Uxmal is the most famous of the five archaeological sites along the Ruta Puuc (Puuc Route), a 19-mile/30 km drive. However, Labna, Kabah, Sayil, and Xlapak buildings feature similar stone carvings and impressive Puuc-style design elements. As these are lesser known, there’s a chance you’ll have them to yourself.

Distance from Merida: 53 miles/84 km

Travel time: About one and a half hours by car or two hours by bus
Drive: Take the Costera del Golfo de Mexico (Highway 180) southwest to Highway 261 South and follow the signs to Uxmal.

Bus: Catch an ADO bus from the downtown Merida bus station. Roundtrip tickets average $400 pesos or $20 USD.

Quick Tip: View my full Mexico packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Mexico Essentials shopping list here.

Merida Beaches and Beach Towns


Progreso Mexico

How far is Merida from the beach? Not far at all! Puerto Progreso, a cruise port, is the closest beach town and home to one of the best Merida beaches. On days when the ships dock, expect thousands more people than usual in this beach town. If you want Progreso to yourself, check for a cruise docking before making the day trip from Merida.

Once you arrive in Progreso, walk around to find a bite to eat before renting a chair for the day on the beach (around $100 pesos or $5 USD) or at a beach club. Two of the best-known clubs for enjoying Merida Mexico beaches are and

Beaches at El Progreso Mexico

is located right next to the giant, colorful Progreso letters on the beach’s eastern end. They let you have a complimentary beach chair for the day if you order food and drinks. For a sunset dinner, head to the other end of the beach to eat at Progreso’s famous Eladio’s Bar. Check out Crabster Seafood & Grill and Almadia for a more upscale atmosphere.

Distance from Merida: 24 miles/38 km

Travel time: About 45 minutes by car and bus and one hour by colectivo.

Drive: Take the Carretera Merida-Progreso (Highway 261) north to Progreso.

Bus: Catch the Auto Progreso from their private terminal downtown. Roundtrip tickets average $50 pesos or $2.50 USD.

Colectivo: Head to the Terminal Combis Progreso downtown. Roundtrip tickets average $40 pesos or $2 USD. You can also purchase your tickets ahead of time with GuateGo.

Best Beaches Near Merida Mexico

Are you looking for quieter beaches? Head to Celestun, Chelem, Sisal, San Crisanto, Puerto Telchac, Chuburna, and Chicxulub. These are home to restaurants, bars, and significantly smaller crowds than Progreso.

The 6 Best Day Trips From Merida Mexico

Fun Fact: The Chicxulub Crater, located only a few miles/km from the beach, is believed to be where the crater hit that wiped out the dinosaurs!

Looking for somewhere to stay? Check out these options!
Fiesta Americana Merida
TreeHouse Boutique Hotel
Viva Merida Hotel Boutique

Merida Travel Guide Planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Merida?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Merida which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Merida on Amazon here.

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Merida?

I strongly recommend using GottoGo. You can book almost all transport in the major Mexican tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Merida?

First and foremost check out all of the amazing Mexico tours Where Sidewalks End has. They are a small local company and they have some really special experiences.

For everything else I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide

If you are traveling to Cancun you can use GoCity and save up to 55% of the initial cost of entrance tickets to various museums, tours, and attractions!

If you are traveling to Playa del Carmen then I recommend booking through my friend Vanessa at Turismo Channel. You can check out their tours by clicking here and using the following discount codes for the best prices clairecaroff (car rental), claire10off (for 10% off group tours), claireprivate (for a discount on private tours). You can also send her a WhatsApp message quoting the above codes to receive the discount.

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

Day Trips from Merida: Final Thoughts

Merida is the perfect starting point to explore nearby beaches, Mayan ruins, and colonial cities. There are many fun and convenient options to take a day trip from Merida, whether you enjoy food, history, or the outdoors.

6 Popular Day Trips From Merida Mexico

Author Bio

Shelley Headshot

Hi, I’m Shelley! I’m a former Miami travel magazine editor who ditched the office for the world! After traveling solo to 14 states in Mexico, I decided to live in Mérida. I created the Travel Mexico Solo blog and the Dream To Destination podcast to inspire women who have always dreamt of solo travel and Mexico travel but haven’t (yet!) accomplished either goal.

I hope we can continue this conversation on the socials: InstagramFacebook | Pinterest | Twitter