What should we do for New Year’s? I would like to go somewhere warm, but I also don’t want to spend a fortune! How many times have we heard this kind of talk during the holidays? Especially from the latecomers — and sometimes we end up saying that sort of thing too, even if we are usually not disorganized at all: take me, I am one of the most organized and precise people of the century! Still, in 2013, I ended up chatting with Chiara and other members of the TBS Crew about how I would have liked to do something different that New Year’s Eve, maybe out of the country. It was a similar situation, with a limited budget and a wish for warm weather. The destinations we were dreaming of ranged from Sharm El Sheikh to southern Spain, someone even mentioned Australia. Then, suddenly, someone mentioned Mexico, and then Yucatán — and it was an immediate yes, for all of us! We immediately got onto it and, and also thanks to Mexico’s super helpful and attentive tourist board we organized a super interesting trip in no time. We spent about a week in Yucatán and despite the crazy density of sites and monuments, and the unmatched amounts of history, we still managed to visit everything we wanted. So, do you also want to leave at the last minute? Here are all the simple and practical tips you need to follow, if you also don’t want to miss anything!

Where to sleep. Since Yucatán is pretty small, we recommend staying at one of the many hotels in the capital, Mérida, which also has plenty of bars and restaurants. It will be very easy to move around the peninsula if you are based there, everything is close and within easy reach. Since we had very little time on our hands — less than a week — we got a local guide and we recommend you do the same, especially in these areas with rather poor public transport.

Places you shouldn’t miss. First, Chichén Itzá, one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s one of the oldest and most famous Maya sites, and it is a unique feeling to finally really see those places you read about on your geography books as a kid. Everything is very well-preserved and it will make you feel like you are stepping back in time thousands of years. The next stop is Izamal: called “ciudad amarilla” by its inhabitants, it’s an old city with only yellow walls, which are what makes it unique. It’s also a good sample of how locals live, since modernity hasn’t touched it so much. Make sure you also visit a cenote, one of the typical sinkholes of the area, created by the collapse of limestone bedrocks, exposing the water underneath: it might sound a little complicated if we explain it like that, but cenotes are basically clear blue pools of water, immersed in beautiful nature. You will have to dive if you want to swim, as there are no ladders to step in, but don’t be afraid… Just be curious!

Mouthwatering! You’ll be wondering, when do we eat? You’re right, and fear not, Mérida’s city center is packed with restaurants, so many you won’t know which one to choose! We went to Rosa Sur 32, to taste authentic Mexican food; to Kuuk for its chic, refined ambience, and to the Rosas & Xocolate Hotel Restaurant for its healthy, light dishes. At the hotel, we also tried their spa, with a relaxing bath and massage. We really recommend it after your exhausting culture vulture tour! If you would like to taste some local, handmade delicacies, prepared by local women, go to the Hacienda Xocnaceh: you will dine surrounded by Maya ruins, your meal will be delish and you will get the chance to swim in a private pool. It’s been three years, but I remember this place’s special magic very, very well!

After our New Year’s party, we spent New Year’s Day on the beach. The weather wasn’t so good, but the ocean still showed amazing colors I had never seen before. My last tip: look around and look up very often, Yucatán is full of marvels!

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14 Responses to “New Year’s Eve in Yucatán: a last-minute travel guide”

  • It looks like a great place. I always wanted to go there. Are there a lot of insects this time of year?

    Reply to Paul Nieto
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