Mérida is the cultural superstar of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, and a true colonial gem. It’s the place to come for museums and live performances, fine regional cuisine and a vibrant nightlife.
It also serves as a good base for exploring the spectacular Mayan ruins along the Ruta Puuc, the Celestún flamingo reserve and countless cenotes. Being inland, prices are relatively affordable year-round, though they spike during high season, when the weather is ideal and the holidays are in full swing. If you can take the heat and don’t mind some rain, the low season brings fewer crowds, and the best deals of the year.
Visit between December and April for perfect weather
Weather-wise, there’s no better time to visit Mérida than high season. It’s dry and balmy – optimal for sightseeing, outdoor dining and attending live performances around town. Expect higher prices and bigger crowds; book your hotel early if your visit falls during the winter holidays, Carnaval or Easter. Occasional nortes (storms bringing northerly winds) bring cooler evening temperatures, but nothing a light sweater won’t remedy.
Explore the city during shoulder season
During July and August, the height of summer vacation brings a bump in tourism and hotel rates. The weather is hot and humid, and while rain showers are a daily occurrence, the sun almost always peeks out. On weekends, locals head to the Gulf coast to cool off, leaving Mérida half-empty – a great time to explore the city sights.
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Find the best deals during low season
From May to June and September to November, heat and rain slow the stream of travelers, and prices drop accordingly, though live performances and celebrations continue unabated, and restaurants and bars bustle with locals. Nearby Mayan ruins and cenotes see fewer visitors, making it feel like you have them all to yourself. November marks the return of cooler, drier weather, but traveler numbers remain low – the best of both worlds.
Here’s a monthly guide to what you can expect throughout the year in Mérida.
Celebrate Merida’s founding in January
January is one of busiest times of year, with the last of the Christmas-related festivities and the blowout celebration of Mérida’s founding. The weather brings balmy days and cool nights. Hotel rates are high, and the city is crowded.
Key events: Día de los Reyes Magos, Mérida Fest
Celebrate Carnaval in February
The weather holds steady, but the city empties out until Carnaval, when parades with colorful floats and bedazzled dancers fill the streets and vibrant neighborhood parties pop up around the city. Prices stay high.
Key events: Carnaval
Check out the Yucatecan music festival in March
Spring brings a month-long Yucatecan music festival featuring trova (troubadour-type folk music). Day trips to the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá and Dzibilchaltún increase with the promise of seeing serpent formations and glowing temple doors on and around the spring equinox. The temperature rises but remains comfortable.
Key events: Festival Primavera Cultural, Vernal Equinox
April is alternatively solemn and rambunctious
The temperature kicks up as Mérida celebrates the Easter holidays, with solemn street processions and dramatic reenactments of Jesus’ crucifixion. Street fairs and fireworks add revelry to the holy celebrations. Hotels fill up and rates remain high.
Key events: Semana Santa, Easter
The temperatures – and the deals – are hot in May
May brings the heat Mérida is notorious for, with temperatures pushing 100°F. Tourism slows to a trickle, and there are great deals to be had. Cinco de Mayo means drink specials in the historic center but not much else.
Key events: Cinco de Mayo
Good deals continue in June
June marks the beginning of hurricane season, which, in Mérida, mostly means afternoon rain showers. The heat combined with the rain make it muggy – if you can handle the sauna-like conditions, there are sweet deals on lodging and tours. Just be sure to book a place with air-con!
The city empties out on weekends in July
The height of summer vacation marks the return of travelers to Mérida, and prices jump, so book hotels early. Don’t forget an umbrella – the warm and wet weather continues. On weekends, locals head to the beaches of Progreso to cool off, making sightseeing in the city that much easier.
August is hot, humid and rainy – perfect for visiting cenotes
The summer holiday season continues, as do the afternoon rains. Mérida is hot and sticky, but prices stay high-ish until the end of the month. Consider touring the area cenotes, which are easily visited rain or shine (and the cool waters are a plus).
Attend the visual and performing arts festival in September
September is the height of the hurricane season, with longer lasting rains and occasional tropical storms. But that doesn’t stop Mérida from celebrating Mexican Independence Day, with street parties and the sound of El Grito in the main plaza. A three-week-long visual and performance art fest rounds out the month. Hotel prices drop considerably.
Key events: Independence Day, Otoño Cultural
Cooler and drier with lower prices make October a great time to visit
The city begins to cool off, and the rain lets up. Prices stay low. Toward the end of the month, Méridianos begin their Día de Muertos celebrations, with a candle-lit procession through the streets, faces painted like skeletons and altars lining the sidewalks; artistic performances liven up the plazas.
Key events: Paseo de Ánimas
Witness Día de Muertos in early November
November marks the end of the rain and the return of temperate weather. Tourist numbers remain low and so do prices – a perfect month to visit. Day of the Dead celebrations reach their peak early in the month. Later, music enthusiasts descend for Mérida’s annual jazz fest. In nearby Celestún, thousands of flamingos begin to congregate for mating season, which runs until March.
Key events: Día de Muertos, Día de los Inocentes, Hanal Pixan Festival, Festival de Jazz
December welcomes a festive atmosphere
The weather is beautiful, and tourism spikes by mid-month, along with the prices. Christmas and New Years festivities dominate the events scene, and a city-wide arts celebration means galleries, museums and theaters stay open late into the night.
Key events: La Noche Blanca, Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe, Christmas, New Year’s Eve
Safety recommendations and restrictions during a pandemic can change rapidly. Lonely Planet recommends that travelers always check with local authorities for up-to-date guidance before traveling during COVID-19.
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