Mexico is the number one international destination for American travelers, and this underrated city is quickly growing in popularity.
While destinations like Cancun and Los Cabos remain the most-visited places in Mexico, there’s another city that is having a tourist boom right now. It’s one of Mexico’s lesser-visited destinations that’s set to become a new hotspot.
Merida has been an increasingly popular destination, and it’s only going to get busier in the coming months. Last year, there was a 12% increase in visitors compared to the pre-pandemic highs of 2019.
Here’s what makes this city on the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico’s next hotspot:
Maya Train Connection
The long-awaited Maya Train is officially set to open this December, and it will connect destinations across five different states, including Yucatan, Campeche, and Quintana Roo.
Merida will be a stop along the Maya Train route, and it will be easier than ever to visit Quintana Roo beach destinations like Cancun from Merida. Currently, the two destinations are a 4-hour drive apart, but the new train should significantly shorten that travel time.
The Maya Train will also make it easy to visit other popular destinations nearby like the Chichen Itza ruins and the magic town of Valladolid.
Once the train opens, it will create a new tourism network making Merida even more accessible to visitors.
City Life With Nature Nearby
Another reason that Merida is becoming so popular is because it offers the perfect blend of city life combined with easy access to nature.
Merida is known for its beautiful and historic architecture. The city has a long and rich history, and it’s regularly rated as one of the most livable cities in Mexico. With a population of just under 900,000, it’s a large city without being as big or overwhelming as Mexico City.
This makes Merida the perfect destination for travelers who want a mixture of big city life and culture while still having nature close by.
Although Merida is not located on the beach, the nearest beach, Progreso, is only 40 minutes away. Numerous Mayan ruins, including Chichen Itza and Uxmal, are also nearby. And travelers can also discover hidden cenotes (natural swimming holes) in the jungle around Merida.
Mexico’s Safest City
Many travelers coming to Mexico are concerned about safety. Even with recent travel advisories from the U.S. State Department, most of the popular destinations in Mexico remain extremely safe for tourists.
However, Merida is widely considered to be the number one safest place in Mexico.
The state of Yucatan is one of only two Mexican states with a Level 1 travel rating from the U.S. State Department (the lowest on a scale of 1 to 4) and Merida, being the capital of Yucatan, enjoys a high level of safety and security.
This makes it a great destination for solo female travelers in Mexico, as well as any other travelers who are concerned about safety.
New Hotels, Restaurants, And More
As Merida continues to grow in popularity and become a new hotspot in Mexico, it’s bringing more hotels and restaurants to the city.
A profile from Vogue this year shows just how trendy Merida has become, citing numerous new boutique hotels, restaurants and bars, and local shops that have opened in the city. There is a lot going on in Merida, and you’ll never be bored while visiting.
The city has a vibrant atmosphere with something going on at all times.
Right now, Merida is still underrated compared to the more popular destinations in Mexico, but it’s clear that this Yucatan city is poised to become the next big tourist hotspot.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com