Mérida

Bustling streets, lively parks, a tropical version of the Champs-Elysées, endless cultural activities, and a varied nightlife: Mérida is the beating urban heart of the Yucatán. The hubbub of the city can seem frustrating—especially if you've just spent a peaceful few days on the coast or visiting Mayan sites—but as the cultural and intellectual hub of the peninsula, Mérida is rich in art, history, and tradition.

Most streets here are one-way and the bus routes are not all that direct, so you’re better off parking your car downtown and walking to the local sites and attractions. Most are located around Plaza Grande (the zócalo or main square), bordered by calles 60–63. Using this as your starting point is a great way to get to know the layout of the city. If you need extra help getting oriented, stop by the tourism offices on the square; the friendly, helpful staff have loads of information.

Plaza Grande itself is in the oldest part of town, the Centro Histórico. On Saturday night and Sunday, practically the entire population of the city gather in the parks and plazas surrounding it to socialize and watch live entertainment. Calle 60 between Parque Santa Lucía and Plaza Grande gets especially lively. Restaurants set out tables in the streets, which quickly fill with patrons enjoying the free tango, salsa, or jazz performances. On Sunday mornings, downtown streets are closed for pedestrians and cyclists from Parque de la Ermita through Plaza Grande to Paseo Montejo.

Most streets in Mérida are numbered, not named, and most run one-way. North–south streets have even numbers, which descend from west to east; east–west streets have odd numbers, which ascend from north to south. Street addresses are confusing because they don't progress in even increments by blocks, for example, the 600s may occupy two or more blocks. A particular location is therefore usually identified by indicating the street number and the nearest cross street, as in "Calle 64 and Calle 61," or "Calle 64 between calles 61 and 63," which is written "Calle 64 x 61 y 63."

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