A short distance — yet seemingly a world away — from the rowdy, touristy beach resorts of Cancún and Cozumel that make up the Yucatán of cliché, Mérida is the cultural center of southern Mexico, boasting a panoply of excellent museums and attractions, a vibrant street life, and a wealth of historic colonial-era architecture (centered on the Plaza de la Independencia in the center of town) that's second only to Mexico City on the national scene.
The capital and largest city of Yucatán state with a population of just under 900,000 (2015), Mérida is a city of contrasts. You will find elegant hotels, restaurants and malls in the northern part of the city. Downtown, there are hotels and restaurants to suit every budget. A large central market and numerous small shops are found all around the main plaza. Mérida has a rich cultural life which also reflects its diversity. Many free concerts, performances and other events are held daily.
There is much to see in Mérida, a city of a million inhabitants that is over 400 years old. Besides the Centro Histórico, where most tourist attractions are located, there are many charming neighborhoods, shopping malls and parks. Progreso and the Yucatán Gulf Coast are only thirty minutes away to the north.