Merida Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing
(Merida, The Andes, Venezuela)
Sadly, the city's famous Teleférico cable car has been closed since 2009, with no indication of its reopening, making hitting the high peaks a little more difficult. Whilst this was previously one of the principal tourist attractions in Merida, there is still much to see, with a wealth of outdoor recreational activities in the vicinity.
Merida is a fascinating tourist destination, with stunning old buildings, a huge number of parks, beautiful churches, a historic Old City neighbourhood, several museums and many more quality attractions. There is even the Venezuela de Antier theme park, which takes visitors on a time travel journey and covers all Venezuela's diverse regions. Much of the interest is centred around the Plaza Bolivar, while to the north, the Zoological Park (Parque Zoologico Chorros de Milla) is a good choice for holidaying families.
Address: Merida, Venezuela, VE
The city of Merida is a great place to get out and about, and many consider this part of Venezuela
to be nothing short of the country's capital of adventure sports and recreational attractions. Popular activities in the surrounding countryside and neighbouring national parks include everything from hiking, trekking, rock climbing and mountaineering, to paragliding, white-water rafting, canyoning, mountain biking, wildlife watching, horse riding and even bungee jumping. Paragliding generally starts at nearby Las Gonzalez, with white-water rafting at its best along the rivers running down the westerly and southerly slopes of the Andes. You may also like to try your hand at canopy tours, zooming along zip-lines high above the banana trees. Many tour operators and travel agencies will vie for your business, particularly around the Avenida Don Tulio, the Avenida 2 Lora, the Avenida 3 Independencia, the Calle 24 Rangel and the Calle 41.
Open hours: daily
Admission: charge for some activities
Botanical Gardens (Jardin Botanico)
Address: Avenida Alberto Carnevali, Merida, Venezuela, VE
Tel: +58 0274 416 0642
An extensive and impressive collection of tropical flora awaits the visitor here, showing the most beautiful examples of the region's flowering plants. The Botanical Gardens are conveniently close to the Zoological Park and were founded as recently as 2000, covering just under 110 acres / 45 hectares. A special section is dedicated to displays of medicinal plants, and another to aquatic species. The collections of bromeliads and orchids are quite special, as is the mini cloud forest and the aerial walkway, which is opened at the weekend and involves a small additional charge.
Open hours: Tuesday to Sunday - 08:00 to 17:00
Admission: charge, free at the weekend
Bolivar Square (Plaza Bolivar)
Address: Plaza Bolivar, Calle 22 Uzcategui / Calle 23 Vargas / Avenida 3 Independencia / Avenida 4 Simon Bolivar, Merida, Venezuela, VE
The Plaza Bolivar, named after the famous South American revolutionary General Simon Bolivar, forms the very heart of the old city and functions as its main square, being close to the business district. Surrounded by the best of Merida's beautiful old colonial buildings and attractions, including the cathedral, the square is a favourite meeting place for locals and visitors alike. The Plaza Bolivar is a great place to relax and watch the world go by, while to the north, the Plaza Milla will also appeal to sightseeing tourists, offering shady seating areas.
Open hours: daily
Zoological Park (Parque Zoologico Chorros de Milla)
Address: Avenida Chorros de Milla, Merida, Venezuela, VE
Tel: +58 0274 244 3864
Set in a beautiful landscaped park roughly 5 km / 3 miles to the north of downtown, this zoological garden, with the aid of Cleveland Zoo, holds a wealth of native species of birds and animals. Amongst the top attractions are a number of condors and some rare indigenous bears, together with anacondas, capuchins, capybaras, jaguars, tapirs and spider monkeys. Focused on conservation, the park works hard to conserve the natural resources of the region. As well as the bears, there are at least 150 other local species here. The Parque Zoologico Chorros de Milla is set alongside the Rio Milla river and is just a short walk away from some breathtaking waterfalls.
Open hours: May to October, daily - 08:00 to 18:00; November to April, Tuesday to Sunday - 08:00 to 17:00
Venezuela de Antier
Address: Via Pan-American Highway to Jaji, Venezuela, VE
Tel: +58 0274 245 0053
A theme park with a difference and located just a few kilometres outside of Merida, the Venezuela de Antier takes visitors back to the period when the much-loved Juan Vicente Gomez was in charge of Venezuela. Visitors can expect costumed locals, Yari dancers and lots of nostalgia. The park was founded in the summer of 1991 and displays the diverse culture and history of every region in the country, with its various shows and exhibitions. Specific attractions include endless antiquities, pictures, clothing, old newspapers and traditional Venezuelan games. There is also folk music and dancing, refreshments, a cave, a bank with historic currency, boating on Lake Sinamaica, a children's play area (Parque Infantil), a traditional sugar cane mill, cabaret in the Great Hall of the Underground (El Gran Salón de la Clandestinidad), and a chance to try your hand at bullfighting, with a pretend bull of course. In the Amazonas Federal Territory (Territorio Federal Amazonas) there are more than 80 classic cars and vehicles.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 15:00
Address: Merida, Venezuela, VE
In addition to the nearby Parque Nacional and the looming mountains, the city of Merida is unique as it is home to no less than 26 attractive parks, truly its green lungs. From large to small, each park has its own characteristics and provides a rest and relaxation hub for its local area. All are tree-lined for shade in the hot weather, with spectacular flower displays in season. Nearby and perfect for getting up close to Venezuelan nature are both the Sierra La Culata National Park
and the Sierra Nevada National Park
, which can easily fill up a few spare days with their trails and magnificent scenery.
Open hours: daily
Plaza Monumental Román Eduardo Sandia
Address: Avenida las Americas, Merida, Venezuela, VE
Whatever visitors may feel about bullfighting, almost every Venezuelan city has its own bullring, regarded as a local attraction in much the same way as football stadiums are in the West. Merida's bullring was built in 1967 and can hold some 16,000 spectators, with regular 'corridas' (bullfights) being held here. Children in the city are, however, banned from attending the bullfights and there are national moves to ban the practice. Over the years, many famous Spanish bullfighters have performed here, including the likes of David Fandila Marin, Enrique Ponce, Francisco Rivera Ordónez and Javier Conde Becerra.
Open hours: hours vary according to schedule
Plaza Sucre Church Tower
Address: Plaza Sucre, Calle 13, Merida, Venezuela, VE
This quiet and charming square is home to a chocolate-box gleaming white church with an exceptionally tall bell tower, which is clearly visible from across the city and therefore serves as a useful point of reference. This is also a pleasant place to spend a relaxing hour or two, while you may also like to enjoy lunch here at a local eatery. The Plaza Sucre is far less crowded than the Plaza Bolivar and yet still contains plenty of interest.
Open hours: daily
Metropolitan Stadium (Estadio Metropolitano / Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano)
Address: Avenida Andres Bello, Merida, Venezuela, VE
Located in the La Parroquia area of the city, within the south-westerly suburbs and close to Ejido, the Estadio Metropolitano is a large modern stadium, opened in 2005 for the National Venezuelan Games. Soon after, the stadium was enlarged to accommodate more than 40,000 spectators and in 2007, became one of the sports venues used to host the Copa America football tournament. The overall cost of building this Metropolitan Stadium is estimated at more than $100 million.
Open hours: hours vary according to event