Mérida may be small and have only one truly important aspect to come and see - its Roman ruins - but there are so many ancient remains here in Mérida that you'll be kept very busy during your stay!
Mérida is very small, meaning that the walk to from ruin to ruin is very short.
The bus and train stations are at opposite ends of the town. If coming by bus, you will come into Mérida from the west. After crossing the River Guadiana, you will come across the Zona Arqueológica de Morería.
Turn right from here and you'll come to the Alcazaba, a post-Roman fortress, and the Puente Romano, one of the longest bridges in the Roman world. Not far from the Alcazaba is Plaza de España, a lively square with open-air bars and cafes as well as nesting storks on the roofs.
Heading east along c/Santa Eulalia, you come across the Templo de Diana. A little further is Mérida's twin masterpieces - the Roman theater and amphitheater, as well as the National Museum of Roman Art and the 'Casa de Anfiteatro'. From here, you have a choice of continuing north to the old hippodrome (the Circo Romano) or south to the Roman graves and Casa del Mitreo excavation.
If arriving by train, it makes sense to visit the Circo Romano first, before passing by the theater and amphitheater and finishing in Plaza España.
How to Get to Merida
If traveling around Spain primarily by train, check out this Interactive Rail Map of Spain that allows you to find travel times and ticket prices for your entire itinerary.
From Madrid The train takes about five hours and costs around 40 euros. The bus is a little quicker and cheaper. Book the bus from Avanzabus.com. You can make the 340km journey by car in just over three hours.
From Seville There is one train per day that takes thee-and-a-half hours, costing around 20€.
The bus takes around two hours (though travel times can vary) and costs 15 euros. Book from movelia.es It takes around two hours by car to make the 192km journey.
From Lisbon There are two buses per day from Merida to Lisbon, taking around three hours and costing about 30 euros. Book from movelia.es. There is no train.
From Salamanca The bus takes four to five hours and costs about 20 euros. Book from movelia.es. No train.
Compare Prices on Flights to Spain (book direct)
When to Visit
In July and August, the Roman theater and amphitheater put on shows, including Greek dramas and other performances.
The city's main feria is in September.
Number of Days to Spend in Mérida (excluding day trips):
Two days. Merida is small, but with so many Roman ruins to see, you'd be hard pushed to see it all in one. Viewing times are divided into two sessions, with the afternoon session infuriatingly short - just 2h15 long. Therefore, you'll need to arrive early to take advantage of both sessions, but even then, a single day would be hard work.
Five Things to Do in Mérida
- The Roman Theater and Amphitheater Excellently preserved theater and amphitheater, conveniently situated side by side.
- The Roman Bridge (Puente Romano) One of the longest bridges built by the Romans.
- The Templo de Diana Ruins of an old temple.
- Circo Romano Hippodrome The ruins of an ancient stadium where chariot races would have been held. Nearby is an old aqueduct - watch out for the storks!
- The Zona Arqueológica de Morería Archeological diggings.
Day Trips from Mérida and Where to Go Next
Cáceres is an hour way.
Merida (along with Cáceres) is the perfect stepping stone from Seville to Madrid or Salamanca and vice versa.