Mérida (city, Venezuela)

Mérida the capital of Mérida State, is located in Venezuela, at the foot of the Andes, only fifteen kilometers from Venezuela's highest point. It is the centre for outdoor activities in Venezuela.


Get in

By plane

It is possible to get by plane using the Alberto Carnevalli Airport (SVMD)

By car

The road from Valera will take you over the highest asphalted road in Venezuela. The Pico Aquila is 4118m high. The roads are of reasonable quality and can easily be driven with a small car. On the way, you will have great views over the mountains and valleys. Try to drive this route in the morning, in the afternoon is usually gets clouded/foggy.

By bus

The bus terminal is a few kilometers out of the center. A taxi to the center cost around Bs 15.00. There are daily connections to Barinas, Maracay, Caracas and several other destinations in Venezuela. If you want to go across to Ciudad Bolivar and avoid going north to Caracas or Valencia, then take the bus to Barinas (about 3.5 hours) and then the overnight bus, leaving at 10PM, to Ciudad Bolivar (11 hours).

On departure a Bs.3 departure tax is collected.

You can catch a bus to the center across the street from the bus terminal (6-7 BsF)

Get around

The city has a straight-forward street grid with numbered Calles crossed by numbered Avenidas. The streets do not always have signs, but the city center is easily navigable. Plaza Bolívar, between Avenidas 3/4 and Calles 22/23, is a focal point for the center.

There are busetas (6-7 BsF) going just about everywhere. In the center, many of them stop on Avenida 25 between Calles 2/3.

See

There are several small Andean towns in the region which are quite scenic and easy to visit, such as Jají, Mucuchies, Apartaderos, and Santo Domingo.

Do

Teleferico
Pico Bolivar

Buy

Eat

Drink

Mérida is a college town full of fantastic bars and discos playing salsa and international pop music well into the morning, fueled by cheap Polar beer and strong cai pirinhas.

Cafe Calypso
(excellent cai pirinhas) in the Centro Commercial El Viaducto is a top spot to begin the night, conveniently near to the popular dance club,
El Bodegón de Pancho
(Centro Comercial Mamayeya) You can see the lit-up sign for blocks around, El Bodegón is the place to finish the night and dance until the early morning.
Alfredo's
(Av.4 Bolívar. Esquina De La Calle 21) features cheap set-ups of rum - you can buy a bottle and some mixers with a group of friends. Cheapest beers in town.
El Balcon
(Av. 2 con Calle 26) Balcony views, cheap Polar beer.
Hoyo Queque
(Av. 4 Bolívar. Esquina De La Calle 21) is a tiny bar with good often live music
Birosca
(Av. 2 Lora Con Calle 24 C.C. Los Tapiales) with famous "Bombas" drinks and a maze like interior from its colonial heritage to explore. A good place to escape from Reggaeton.
Gradas Sports Bar
(Av. 4 Bolívar. Esquina De La Calle 21 - caddycorner from Oyo) A fancy bar with lots of screens to watch futbol on
The Clover
(Av. 4 Bolívar entre calles 14 y 15) - best place to get a non-Polar beer in town.
Habana Kawy
(Av. Principal De Los Chorros De Milla) dance club focusing more on disco than salsa/merengue.
La Cucaracha
( c.c. Las Tapias, Nivel Estacionamiento.) Inside the Las Tapias mall, this is the quintessential Mérida dance club. Unfortunately, the bouncers are sometimes racist.

Sleep

Heaps of cheap backpacker posadas with shared bathrooms (generally) are clustered around Plaza Las Heroínas. A few blocks further northeast, in La Plaza Milla, are a few nicer posadas

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Keep in mind that the beds in many hotels (mostly up to the mid-range levels) are nothing more than mattresses on concrete slabs that resemble box springs. Depending on what your sleep preference is, they may not be the most comfortable for you. Something for you to consider when looking for a hotel to stay at.

Connect

Venezuela's cheapest internet shops can be found in Mérida. There are dozens and cost around 0.50 US$ per hour or less.

Cope

Remember to wear your sunscreen and be careful about over-exerting yourself - you're at reasonably high altitudes, and close to the equator.

Go next

Los Nevados

A trek you can do on your own is to Los Nevados. Take the teleférico to station Loma Redonda, make sure you don't pay the full amount for the teleférico. Inparque might charge you a Bs. 5.000 tax. From there follow the trail. It's a beautiful 4 to 5 hour walk to Los Nevados. Mules will carry you for BsF 50. In Los Nevados there are several posades where you can sleep for between BsF 120 to 160 with dinner and breakfast. The next morning jeeps will leave for Mérida at 9AM for BsF 60 pp. It's a four and half hour ride along a narrow road. If you do it the other way around you might save the teleférico entrance and the Inparque tax, but you have to race from Los Nevados to Loma Redonda to catch the last cablecar down. If you want go to Los Nevados call to Abadia Tours Travel & Destinations: Av 3 entre calles 17 y 18 Mérida

An alternative route when the cable car is not running is to start at Mérida and take a jeep to Los Nevados. Jeeps leave at Plaza las Heroinas as of 7AM and cost BsF 60 per person (travel time = 4 to 5 hours). At Los Nevados you can stay at a number of posadas:

Posada Bella Vista - BsF 130 pp including dinner & breakfast - Incredible views from the terrace. Call 0274/6580146 or 0274/5113956 for a reservation.

Posada Guamanchi - BsF 160 pp including dinner & breakfast - Excellent food! Go to Guamanchi Tours at Calle 24 to book this posada.

In Los Nevados you can make some beautiful hikes for a couple of hours. Ask the owners of the posadas for information.

The next day, it is possible to walk to the house of Pedro Peña (tel: 0416 0877510 - only Spanish - call in advance to make sure he is there and has space available). Pedro is the grandson of the first person to reach the top of Pico Bolivar. He has excellent stories and a game of domino always makes for a good night. To get to Pedro's, it is best to rent a guide (and mule). Ask at the posada for arranging this. Prices are BsF 60 for a guide for 1 day and BsF 50 for a mule. The 3rd day, walk down to La Cruz and take a bus back to Mérida (1 hour - 2 BsF)

El Paramo

Explore the cold high plains full of frailejones, lagoons and cold winds.

Aguas Termales del Musui

Take a bus towards Musui and (with a guide, or at least someone who's been before) hike up to the hot springs. Bring camping supplies, you'll want to spend at least one night soaking while you watch the stars overhead.

Los Aleros

Los Aleros is a theme park located in Mérida, Venezuela. It depicts a typical andean town in the 1930s. It was created by Alexis Montilla in 1984. An absolutely breath-takingly beautiful place to visit but beware of creepy ghouls that will jump out of dark corners to scare you. Fun for the whole family.

Montaña De Los Sueños

About a 45 minute drive from downtown Mérida this theme park is all about the old time movies. There are a lot of classic cars, jukeboxes, movie scenes, and other general 1930-1960 movie, radio, and music memorabilia. It's a pretty interesting place if you love seeing some of the history of movies in Venezuela. The cost is around $15 per adult. The theme park does not open until later in the day and is best at night. Telephone# +58 (274) 262-1557 / +58 (274) 263-9757

La Mucuy

Popular picnic destination reasonably close to the city. Bring a lunch and a few bottles, go swimming and commune with nature amongst the throngs of Merideño families on weekends. Catch a bus to Tabay from the center, then take a jeep to La Mucuy. (~1 hr total)

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