How to get from Cancun to Merida

Travelling from Cancún to Mérida, you can discover the rich history, culture and natural wonders of the Yucatán Peninsula. This fascinating route offers a variety of travel options, each with its own unique charm and opportunities for discovery. In this article, we've put together ways on how to get from Cancún to Mérida.

How to get from Cancun to Merida

Travelling from Cancun to Mérida, two vibrant cities on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, can be an exciting adventure, and choosing the right transport to suit your preferences will add to the experience. There are four ways to get from Cancun to Mérida:

  • By bus: Long-distance buses, including ADO and other operators, offer a budget and scenic journey with flexible timetables to choose from.
  • By car: Renting a car makes it possible to explore the region at your own pace and allows you to make stops along the way.
  • By private transfer: Opting for a private transfer offers a comfortable and personalized option, where a dedicated driver can take you directly from Cancun to Mérida, making the journey hassle-free.
  • By plane: You can also take a domestic flight from Cancún International Airport to Mérida Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport.

Planning a trip to Cancun or Merida? Use the expertise of our Mexico travel experts.

How far is Merida from Cancun?

The distance between Mérida and Cancún on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula is approximately 303 kilometres (about 188 miles). The journey is generally westbound from Cancún to Mérida through the state of Yucatán.

The main route is often along the well-maintained Highway 180 (also known as the Mérida-Cancun Highway) connecting the two cities. The journey usually takes about 3.5-4 hours, depending on road conditions, traffic and stops that can be made along the way.

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San Idefonso Cathedral in Merida, Mexico © Shutterstock

San Idefonso Cathedral in Merida, Mexico © Shutterstock

What's the quickest way to get from Cancun to Merida?

The quickest way to get from Cancun to Mérida is travelling by hire car or private transfer, both of which have a duration of around 3.5 hours.

It may seem surprising, but travelling by plane will take you a long time as there is currently no direct flight from Cancun to Mérida. With one connection, the journey time will be at the very least 5 hours.

Travelling by bus will take longer with an average journey time of 6 hours, but you can find buses that will take you almost as fast as a car in about 4 hours.

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By bus

Duration: from 4 to 6 hours | Cost: from $10

Travelling from Cancun to Mérida by bus is a scenic and budget-friendly journey across Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. Departing from Cancún, you will find several bus companies, including ADO, providing reliable intercity services along this route. There are 2 departure points from Cancun to Mérida: from the airport and from the downtown of Cancun.

From Cancun Airport to Merida

On arrival at Cancun International Airport (CUN), head to the ground transport area. The airport is well organised and you will see clear signs pointing the way to the bus terminal.

Buses operated by ADO, a reputable and widely travelled bus company in Mexico, depart from the airport. Bus tickets can be purchased at the ADO counter in the airport terminal or in advance online. Once you have received your ticket, proceed to the designated boarding point.

After approximately 4.5-6 hours, the bus will arrive at the Merida bus station, which is conveniently located in the city, making it easy to continue your journey to your desired destination in Merida.

From Downtown Cancun to Merida

In the downtown of Cancun, you can catch a bus to Mérida from the ADO bus terminal. This terminal is a major transport hub and many bus services can be found here, linking Cancun to various destinations throughout Mexico.

As with the bus terminal at the airport, you will need to purchase a ticket, if you have not purchased it online, proceed to the departure point of your bus. Then take the seat indicated on the ticket and wait for the bus to depart for Merida.

The bus arrives at Mérida's central bus terminal, from where you can easily access different areas of the city or organise onward transport to your final destination.

Chichen itza sunset, Mexico © Shutterstock

Chichen itza sunset, Mexico © Shutterstock

By rental car

Duration: from 3.5 to 4 hours | Cost: from $5 for the day

Travelling from Cancun to Mérida by car is a travel option that allows you to explore the Yucatán Peninsula at your own pace and what's even better gives you the opportunity to see the various sights along the way.

Many rental agencies in Cancun offer a wide range of cars for hire at affordable prices. However, if you are planning a one-way trip and do not plan to return the car to Cancun, this service will cost you considerably more.

Plan your journey in advance using GPS or maps. The most common route is southwest of Cancún along Highway 180, known as the Cancún-Merida Highway. The journey is approximately 303 kilometres (about 188 miles) and usually takes between 3.5 and 4 hours, but will legitimately take longer if you want to explore the area along the way.

Into independent travel? Read up on getting around Mexico.

By private transfer

Duration: from 3.5 to 4 hours | Cost: from $230

Travelling from Cancun to Mérida by private transfer is a comfortable way to experience the Yucatán Peninsula, allowing you to enjoy your trip without the hassle of driving or public transport. However, it should be noted that this is the most expensive of all travel options.

You can book a car through reliable transport service providers in Cancun to organise a private transfer. This can often be done in advance online, ensuring a smooth journey from Cancun to Merida.

The travel time from Cancún to Mérida by private transfer is usually between 3.5 and 4 hours, depending on road conditions and the stops you decide to make. During the journey, the driver can give information about the region and recommend local attractions.

By plane

Duration: from 5 hours | Cost: from $230

In many cases, travelling by plane would be considered fast and comfortable, but this is not the case. At the moment there is no direct air service between Cancun and Mérida and if you choose a plane, be prepared for connections.

Other disadvantages of travelling by plane from Cancun to Mérida include the high cost of tickets and the fact that it is not the most eco-friendly mode of transport.

To summarise all of the above, we recommend that you choose a land route from Cancun to Mérida, which will also allow you to enjoy the beauty of the Yucatán Peninsula and get to your destination faster.


Tacos carnitas queso fresco © Shutterstock

Is Merida worth a visit?

Mérida is a city rich in cultural heritage and history and worth visiting. This charming city attracts many with its well-preserved colonial architecture, grand plazas and lively markets.

It is not only the architecture that attracts travellers. Mérida's cuisine is a gastronomic adventure, with Yucatecan specialities such as cochinita pibil and sopa de lima. Lively markets such as Lucas de Gálvez offer a taste of local culture and authentic dishes.

Mérida also serves as a gateway to ancient Mayan history, with famous archaeological sites such as Uxmal and Chichen Itza nearby. In addition, the city's warm hospitality and cultural activities create a visitor-friendly atmosphere.

For more inspiration for your trip to Mexico, see The Rough Guide to Mexico. Browse our customisable Mexico itineraries or talk to our local Mexico travel experts.

Olga Sitnitsa

written by
Olga Sitnitsa

updated 20.10.2023

Online editor at Rough Guides, specialising in travel content. Passionate about creating compelling stories and inspiring others to explore the world.

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