Valladolid, Mexico: A Complete Travel Guide
This is a complete travel guide to Valladolid, Mexico. I’m sharing tips of the best places to go, how to get around, where to eat and things to do in Valladolid.
I don’t want to oversell it too much, but Valladolid was probably my favorite place in my entire Mexico trip . It’s authentic, it’s vibrant, and it’s beautiful. I’m sharing a bit of knowledge to guide you through a visit to this amazing Mayan colonial city in the heart of Yucatán .
First things first… why Valladolid?
Apart from beating the crowds on Chichén Itza (more on that later)… because it’s a hidden gem! Don’t get me wrong – Valladolid is in the route of the millions of tourists from Cancún on their way to Chichen Itza. There are a lot of day trippers who stop there in their way back to their giant 5-star resort.
However, once the buses are gone, Valladolid manages to keep an off-the-grid vibe and remains beautifully faithful to its laid-back way of living. It’s a breath of fresh air compared to other busy places in Mexico. It’s also an amazing opportunity to experience the authentic Mayan culture and history in a safe and beautiful little town.
Adding Valladolid to your Mexico itinerary is ensuring you’ll be witnessing the real Mexico.
When to go to Valladolid?
Valladolid is an all-year hot destination. There are essentially two seasons: the wet season, starting in May and ending in October, and the dry season, generally from November through May. If you’re looking for the absolute hottest weather, May to August would be the best time to visit, although the humidity allied to high temperatures (33°C/92°F) can make any kind of sightseeing a challenge.
I visited Valladolid in March. The weather was incredible and prices were reasonable. However, this also peak season and Chichén Itza was packed with tourists coming from all over.
How many days in Valladolid?
I recommend staying in Valladolid for at least 2 full days. While the city seems tiny on the map, there is plenty of things to do in it and around. If you want a less rushed trip and extra time to do more hikes, aim for 4-5 days instead and make Valladolid a base to explore the surroundings.
Is Valladolid safe?
Yucatán is one of the safest regions in Mexico and Valladolid is right in the heart of it. It is safe! We stayed a few minutes away from the main square and had no issues at all. People were always welcoming and we felt safe walking around in the evenings, which didn’t happen in other places in Mexico. To give you some perspective, I felt much safer in Valladolid than in Mexico City , specially at night.
That said, it is recommended to have standard precautions as you would anywhere else – don’t flash anything of value (e.g. shiny jewelry), don’t carry too much money with you, and stick to the main, well-lit streets.
Where to stay in Valladolid
Valladolid is a small town, so aim to find in the streets near the main square. You’ll be in walking distance of the best restaurants, bars, and sights. Here’s a selection of hotels in the best area to stay .
The place I stayed – Colonte Hotel Origen – was definitely the BEST hotel I stayed in Mexico. Could easily stay there for a month!
Best places to stay in Valladolid
A shortlist of the best-rated hotels, guesthouses and haciendas in Valladolid with Superb rating.
My choice: Hotel Colonte Origen
Beautiful design with an eco vibe. Delicious breakfast served in the garden. Honestly, the photos don’t do it justice.
Getting around Valladolid
You can reach Valladolid in different ways:
- By plane – You can fly to Valladolid directly from other cities in Mexico such as Mexico City .
- By bus – ADO buses connect Valladolid to Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Mérida. It’s cheap, comfortable, and the buses are reliable.
- Drive there – Renting a car is an option and gives you extra flexibility to visit Valladolid and other places in Yucatán. Be careful though – car rental companies sometimes advertise very low prices only to charge crazy fees for a mandatory insurance. This is particularly common in Cancún . Read more on how to avoid getting scammed on your rental .
Valladolid is a small flat town, which makes it very walkable. You want to be around the main square, in downtown, where everything it’s at a few-minutes-away walk.
It’s easy to explore the main streets on foot or alternatively, on a bike or scooter, as many locals do. There are many bike rental shops throughout Valladolid where you can rent a bike for as little as $80-$100 pesos/day.
Things to do in Valladolid
While much of the appeal from Valladolid comes from its laid-back nature and the chance to discover how an authentic Mexican city is like, logistically it’s a great base to explore nearby cenotes and Mayan ruins.
Here is my top 10 of things to do and see in Valladolid:
1 Iglesia de San Servicio
Perhaps the most iconic landmark in Valladolid is the Iglesia de San Servicio (or Cathedral San Gervasio), located just south of the main square. The inside is a bit on the simpler side, but the outside is incredible and it gets particularly beautifully lit at night. It has a fascinating background though – the Spanish built this towering cathedral in the 16th century, over a demolished Mayan pyramid!
2 Cenote Zaci
Oh, cenotes . The ancient Mayans believed these were passages to the underworld and it’s easy to see why – A cenote is a giant swimming hole carved into limestone bedrock by spring water. One of the best things in Yucatán are the countless ones this region has to offer.
Valladolid features some of the best in Mexico, including Cenote Zaci , right in the middle of Valladolid urban grid. It’s only a 10-minute walk from the city center and it costs just 30 Pesos to enter. Great place to interrupt your sightseeing and go for a quick refreshing swim.
3 Chichen Itza
The massive Mayan ruins complex of Chichén Itza has been named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, so no wonder (pun intended) is one of the most popular things to do in Mexico. However, it also attracts a HUGE number of tourists, coming from resorts in Playa del Carmen, Cancún, and Tulum on daily tours.
A big advantage of staying in Valladolid is that you can easily make a day trip to Chichén Itza and get a head start on these crowds. Wake up early, and try to arrive at Chichén Itza before 10am. You’ll be off to explore a stunning archaeological site without tons of people taking away from its beauty.
Near Chichén Itza, there are several cenotes to explore: the most popular (common pit stop for tours) is Cenote Ik Kil .
- By colectivo : Take a colectivo minibus from the station on Calle 46. They leave every 30 min or so, and start as early as 7am. Cost: 40 pesos.
- By bus: From the main Valladolid bus station (Calle 46 x Calle 39) take an ADO bus directly to the entrance of Chichén Itza. Keep in mind there are “first-class” and “second-class” buses, which mainly differ in the number of stops along the way and the model of the vehicles. No worries, any of them is fine. Cost: up to 90 pesos.
- By car: Rent a car and drive there.
4 Parque Francisco Cantón
Valladolid is laid out on a classic grid format that radiates from a central town square, in this case, Parque Francisco Cantón Rosado . This the beating heart of the city! Every day, performances of music, dance, or theatre takes place either in the square or on the streets surrounding the park. An example is traditional Mayan dancers that dance to the sound of jarana yucateca , traditional folk music of the region.
It’s also a good place for foodies: down one of the carts selling marquesitas (Nutella and cheese crepes). Or just sit around and appreciate the surroundings. I found it to be a fantastic place for people-watching!
5 Cenote Suytun
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This was by far my favourite Valladolid cenote , and definitely the one with the most Instagram potential. The large light beam that enters the cave through a small opening in ceiling is mesmerizing. When it aligns with the circular man-made ledge in the center of the cenote, it’s truly an otherworldly sight.
It’s possible to swim at the cenote , even though I didn’t find it particularly inviting. Life jackets are mandatory. If you don’t want your photos polluted by a bunch of bright orange spots floating in the water, get there first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Keep in mind the most photogenic time of the day is when there’s more light entering the cave though, which happens between 12-2pm.
To get to Cenote Suytun , we coordinated a taxi to get here from our hotel since it’s roughly 8km away from Valladolid.
6 Mercado Municipal
When we talk about Valladolid , we’re talking about the chance of diving face-first into authentic Mexican culture. And what better place to experience this than venturing to the stalls of the local market?
In Mercado Municipal de Valladolid, you can find everything from local fruits and veggies to honey, clothes, meats and several handicrafts, often cheaper than in the shops that cater to tourists. I was particularly amazed by the many hot sauces, of different colors and smells. It’s a place to soak in everything, even if you don’t buy anything.
7 The streets
Walking through Valladolid is a delight to all senses – the range of colors used in private homes, shops, and government buildings is much larger than we, non-Mexicans, are used to! These vibrant colonial walls make for cute backdrops for photographs, or just a pleasant sight while you wander the cobbled streets of downtown.
Calzada de los Frailles is one of the most iconic and colorful streets and is home to dozens of wonderful handicrafts, cafes, and clothing stores.
8 Cenote Oxman
The final cenote on this list! Set in the very local Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman , Cenote Oxman is set in a collapsed semi-open cave where both natural light and hanging tree roots cascade towards its refreshing waters. There’s even a rope swing for some extra fun!
Apart from the cenote , this 18th century Hacienda grounds also feature a restaurant and an outdoor swimming pool. It’s a great place to escape the Valladolid heat and chill for a few hours.
To get here, I rented a bike (~30 min from Valladolid). While the distance is perfectly doable, the road to get there is in pretty bad shape so it’s better if you rent a scooter or hire a taxi instead (~$100 pesos). Since taxis come from Valladolid, keep in mind you’ll to pay double on the way back as you’ll have to pay the fare for both ways.
If you’re into archaeology, then you don’t want to miss a day trip to Ek Balam . Once home to a city of 20,000 people, this site has an impressive set of 40+ ruins with a fraction of the tourists of Chichén Itza . It’s a golden opportunity to get to know more about the ancient Mayan culture in an intimate setting. I highly recommend getting a guide here.
There’s another plus – unlike other popular ruins like Chichen Itza and Tulum , you can still climb the 106 steps of the great Acropolis pyramid at Ek Balam , for dramatic views of the Riviera Maya.
- By joining a tour: I’m not usually a fan of organized tours, but I open an exception for any kind of ruins. Joining a small group and have a knowledgeable guide explaining what you’re looking at makes all the difference.
- By car: Simply rent a car. It’s a 30-min drive from Valladolid to Ek Balam.
10 Convento de San Bernardino de Siena
Located at the end of Calzada de los Frailles , a short walk from the main square, this 16th century convent is an unusual combo of a place of worship and a military fortress. For $40 pesos, you can enter the grounds and learn all about the history of this place which used to be the headquarters of the Mayan “reconversion” to Catholicism.
Every evening a video-mapping show lights up the building and tells a bit of the story of Valladolid. It runs Tuesday through Sunday at 9pm (Spanish) and at 9:20 pm (English).
While you are at it, right in front of the convent in Parque Sisal there’s a colorful Valladolid sign (every little Mexican town has it these days). Good place to snap a family photo!
What to do in Valladolid
What else do to in Valladolid? Here are some ideas.
Cenotes in Valladolid
Valladolid is strategically located in an area of many different cenotes that will help cool you off, even during the hottest of the days. In a radius of 10km there are dozens of them, perfect for some cenote hopping .
- Cenote Zaci – the easiest to get to, since it’s in the middle of the city. Entrance fee: $30 pesos.
- Cenote Suytun – definitely the most idyllic and Instagramable of them all.
- Cenote Xkeken – a beautiful underground cenote with just a small opening where the light shines through.
- Cenote San Lorenzo de Oxman – stunning scenery with a cool natural swing to jump from. Life jackets are mandatory here. Entrance fee: $150 pesos.
- Cenote Samula – very closed to Xkeken (you can combine both in the same trip), this is an enclosed cenote with stalactites on top, formed due to the water filtration.
- Cenote Palomitas – off the beaten path cenote with a bright blue pool where you can swim without crowds.
Other places to go in Valladolid
Finally, here are other ideas for places you can visit in Valladolid:
- Museo de Ropa Étnica de México – also known as Murem , this is the Mexican Ethnic Clothing museum. A stylish way of absorbing the local culture.
- Xkopek Parque Apícola – A beekeeping park that helps remind us how important bees are to our planet. I actually didn’t visit, but it’s saved for my next time in Valladolid!
- Casa de los Venados – an impressive private collection of Mayan artwork. It’s not a government-owned museum, but it’s actually a hacienda where the owners run tours everyday at 10am.
- Iglesia San Juan -small church facing a small park where you can witness Mexican daily life while indulging on a helado (ice cream).
What to eat in Valladolid
You’ll eat very well in pretty much the entire Mexico – honestly, it’s one of the most satisfying things to do ! – but in places like Valladolid you can taste the authentic thing for a much lower price than in the resort towns. These are some of the delicacies to try in Valladolid:
- Sopa de lima – a personal favorite! Chicken and lime soup, topped with tortilla chips. Freaking delicious.
- Cochinita pibil – the piece of rèsistance of the Mayan food. Slow-cooked pork wrapped in banana leaves, previously marinated in citrus juices. Depth of flavour is insane on this one!
- Salbutes – deep-fried corn tortilla served open-face with several different toppings: pulled pork/poultry, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, avocados, etc.
- Chaya – a native plant of southeastern México and staple food of the Mayas, it can be found in soups, juices or as a side dish. Also known as “spinach tree”.
- Marquesitas – very popular street food dessert which is sort of a crepe made with different fillings (usually chocolate, fruit, and/or cheese), but then it’s rolled into a tube.
Restaurants in Valladolid
Last but not least – this is where I had my best meals in Valladolid.
- El Atrio del Mayab – right in the main square, it’s quite popular with tourists, but it’s a solid choice to indulge in authentic Mayan tastes. Lots of choices. Make sure you sit on the garden area, with beautiful fountains and trees.
- Casa Conato Cultural 1910 – fantastic restaurant serving local Mexican food, with very reasonable portions. Doubles as a bar, so you can stay for a drink afterwards. Ask for a table in the terrace!
- Yerbabuena Del Sisal – almost two weeks in of being in Mexico, my body eventually craved non-mexican food. This is a good place to switch things up and eat a salad or hamburger. Lots of veggy options too.
More about Mexico 🇲🇽
Useful Mexico Travel Tips To Know Before Your Trip
First-time & Independent Mexico Itinerary
That’s it for valladolid, mexico.
I hope you enjoy this fantastic hidden gem of a town as much as I did. Nested in the heart of Yucatán, it’s a delight to explore and additionally, serve as a great base to venture out to other places around.
If you would like to add anything or just share your experience in Valladolid, please leave a comment below!
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The Ultimate Valladolid Travel Guide
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Table of Contents
Your #1 Valladolid Travel Guide – Where to Eat, Sleep, and Play
Valladolid is located deep in the jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. This is becoming a tourist city with nearby Mayan ruins, cenotes, and colorful buildings. It still holds its authentic roots with its traditional foods, colonial style, and vibrant culture. It is a wonderful city to visit because it is situated a short drive to many larger cities. Valladolid is a great place to try traditional Yucatan food at a cheap price.
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Valladolid Travel Guide – Getting There
Fly to cancun.
From Cancun, you can either rent a car and drive or take the popular Ado Bus . We chose to drive as we were traveling to five other Yucatan cities. The toll roads are easy and worth the extra fee. Most of the drive is on a highway that is well maintained and easy to navigate.
Cancun to Valladolid: 2 Hour Drive , Toll Road Route
Playa del Carmen to Valladolid: 2 Hour Drive , Toll Road Route
Isla Holbox to Valladolid: 2 Hour Drive , Toll Road Route
Tulum to Valladolid: 1.5 Hour Drive
Rio Lagartos to Valladolid: 3 Hour Drive
Merida to Valladolid: 2 Hour Drive , Toll Road Route
Valladolid Travel Guide – Packing List
- Passport + Passport Cover
- Travel Wallet
- Driver’s License
- Credit Cards + Cash
- Document Folder
- Travel Journal & Pen
- Pencil Pouch
- Snacks – Think! High Protein Bars
- Water Bottle
- Small Jacket, Scarf
- Travel Lotion & Hand Sanitizer
- Laptop + Charger
- Laptop Case
- Wireless Headphones
- Cell Phone + Charger
- Adapters + Converters
- Tablet , E-Reader
Valladolid Travel Guide – Getting Around Town
Walk : We walked everywhere in Valladolid. Everything is situated around El Centro and the streets are easy to navigate. I always prefer to walk in most cities because you get to see so much more and it is great exercise.
*I wore Chacos every day I was here because they are comfortable walking shoes, stylish, can get wet, and easy to clean.
Drive : I do not recommend driving in this city because of the narrow one-way streets. It is difficult to drive here with many other cars and hard to see around corners. Almost everything in the city is within walking distance. It is nice to have a car for any day trips to the nearby Mayan ruins and cenotes.
Taxi : Taxis are a popular form of transportation in many Mexican cities because it is cheap. Taxis will honk their horn to alert people they are available. I highly encourage anyone using taxis to learn navigational Spanish terms because most cab drivers do not speak English.
Valladolid Travel Guide – Where to Stay in Valladolid
Budget friendly ($), hostal gayser.
We stayed at Hostal Gayser located just a few blocks from the town center. This is a budget-friendly hotel with simple amenities. It is a hostel so there are shared bathrooms, showers, and a kitchen area. We had a busy schedule so we did not spend a lot of time here. This was a great place that was cheap and safe. We got a private room, that includes a simple double bed, sheets, fan, wi-fi, and bathroom towels.
Moderate Price ($$)
- Located in the Best Part of Town
- Free Private Parking
- Inner Courtyard
- Air Conditioner
casa quetzal boutique hotel.
- Apartment Style with Full Kitchen
- Breakfast Included
- Airport Shuttle Available
- Pool with Gorgeous Landscape
- No Advance Payment Needed
Valladolid Travel Guide – Things to do in Valladolid
Shop at the local markets.
Skip the touristy overpriced stores around the town center and find great deals at the many street markets. They are located all around town, a few of my favorites are the Zaci Market and Municipal Market. I bought some cute handmade leather sandals at the Municipal Market for just $240pesos. You can always offer less if you do not agree with the price!
Stroll Down Calz. Faire
Calz. Faire is the most iconic street in Valladolid because of how colorful the buildings are. This is a very busy street with people walking and cars passing by. The bright colorful buildings line the cobble stone street on both sides creating a gorgeous photo backdrop. This street is well maintained and offers many upscale shopping boutiques.
Swim in the Nearby Cenotes
Cenotes are all over the Yucatan Peninsula, Valladolid is surrounded by them! Cenotes Zaci is located right in town and is easy to walk to for a fun and refreshing adventure. Cenote Suytum is an Instagram-worthy cenote with a large man-made platform in the middle. Cenote Suytum is just a short 12-minute drive from the city center. If you are visiting the Mayan Ruins there are cenotes attached to the Mayan Ruins for an all-inclusive experience.
Day Trip to the Mayan Ruins
There are two major Mayan Ruins near Valladolid, Chicken Itza, and Ek Balam. Chicken Itza is one of the &-Wonders of the world and has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. Ek Balam is also a tourist attraction that is far less busy but offers the same Mayan Ruin experience. Both ruins are about a 30-minute drive from the Valladolid town center.
El Centro at Night
At night, Valladolid’s city center transforms with street vendors and people out for dinner. This is one of the most gorgeous city centers we have seen in Mexico. The bright yellow walls and center fountain create the perfect stage for people to hang out and enjoy some street food. The Iglesia de San Servacio lights up invites people in for a religious service. Right before the sun goes down, the birds go crazy and start chirping loudly while flying from tree to tree.
Take a seat in the Iconic Kissing Chairs
Kissing chairs are unique to Valladolid. There are two chairs connected together creating the perfect seats for two people to share a smooch.
Enjoy the many Traditional Yucatan Dishes
Valladolid offers many of the Yucatan Traditional food favorites. Some traditional foods you must try are marquesita, panchos, Sikil P’ak (pumpkin seed salsa), Chaya juice, and Longaniza (Valladolid Sausage).
Visit the Convento de San Bernardino de Siena
Take the Calz. Faire diagonal street to this large historic site. This is an old convent where the leaders of the Mayan people would oversee the town.
After visiting the Convento de San Bernardino de Siena, take some iconic photos at the Valladolid colorful sign. The sign is painted with animals, people, and activities that are home to Valladolid.
Valladolid Travel Guide – Where to Eat in Valladolid
Valladolid travel guide – where to eat breakfast, restaurant & pizzeria oasis.
Restaurant & Pizzeria Oasis is a local spot located a few blocks from Valladolid Centro. As you get away from the bustling and touristic center the prices get cheaper and the food gets more authentic. This is a small family ran restaurant serving authentic Yucatán dishes. An amazing restaurant to grab some good breakfast for cheap!
What to Order: Omelets
Valladolid Travel Guide – Where to Eat Lunch
Las campanas – my favorite restaurant.
We dined here twice it was so good! Las Campanas is located right on the corner inside the town center. For being right in the town center, this place serves great authentic food for a reasonable price. The frozen margaritas are delicious and cheaper than most places. Panchos Traditional is an authentic Yucatan dish, similar to a tostada but a bit different. They take two corn tortillas and stuff them with refried black beans then fry them, then add the meat and additional toppings.
What to Order: Chicken Panchos Traditional
Valladolid Travel Guide – Where to Eat Dinner
El Artio is a crowd-pleaser with its rich Mexican and Italian dishes. The pasta dishes are ginormous. We dined here for a nice dinner in the center of town right next to the Iglesia de San Servacio (Catholic Church). The complimentary chips and salsa were a great start. The Sikil P’ak (pumpkin seed salsa) was delicious! This was a fabulous dining experience!
What to Order: Longaniza (Valladolid Sausage)
Valladolid Travel Guide – Valladolid Nightlife and Bars
All throughout the city, you will find small food carts that serve a range of dishes. In Valladolid, we found many Marquestias, tacos, elote corn, and hot dog stands. They cook the dishes right in front of you. This is a great option for a late-night treat. I absolutely loved the Marquesitas! A Marquesita is a common Yucatan dessert similar to a crepe but more crunchy. You can customize it to your liking with a wide range of fillings and toppings.
What to Order: Oreo + Nutella Marquesita
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The Ultimate Guide to Things To Do in Valladolid, Mexico
Discover the best things to do in Valladolid, an authentic Mexican town close to Chichen Itza. Find out what to do in Valladolid, what to see in Valladolid and where to eat and stay.
If you’re looking to escape the tourist hubs of Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum to experience a slice of ‘real’ Mexico, visiting Valladolid Mexico might be the needle in the haystack you’ve been searching for. It’s the perfect place to base yourself for a few days, to explore the vibrant town, the ruins of Chichen Itza and the several beautiful cenotes nearby.
This picturesque town is a photographer’s dream, from the colourful colonial architecture all the way to the humble street food. It’s almost as though time stopped still in must see Valladolid. Vendors in the main plaza still sell ice cream from old wooden carts and on Sunday afternoons locals come out to dance, dressed in their traditional Sunday best.
Discover must-see Valladolid with our ultimate travel guide and if you give this town some time, it might just give you the ultimate Yucatan experience.
*This ‘things to do in Valladolid Mexico’ post contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you.
Getting to Valladolid Mexico
Valladolid lies about 150km from Cancun, 100km from Tulum and 160km from Merida in the eastern part of Yucatan state. In general, it’s really easy to get to both by car or public transport.
Bus – many bus companies have connections to Valladolid and you can pretty much get there from anywhere in Yucatan or Quintana Roo. ADO, Mayab and Oriente all operate services there. You arrive at the Valladolid bus station which is nice and central, from there it’s walkable to most accommodation options.
Car – The best way to get to Valladolid and explore the surrounding area is by car. If you’re renting a car for your trip around the area, getting to Valladolid is very easy and takes between 1-3 hours depending on where you’re coming from. It’s well worth noting that there is no car rental in Valladolid which is why I highly recommend renting from a reputable agency in Tulum, Cancun or Playa del Carmen.
If you’re looking for a popular rental car search engine with great deals my personal recommendation is to use Rental Cars .
Click here to check out Rental Car’s deals for your trip dates.
Where to Stay in Valladolid
I used Airbnb and booking.com when staying in Valladolid as I felt they had the best options. If you’ve never tried Airbnb, I can’t recommend it enough. To get you on your way here’s $40 off your first booking if you’ve yet to sign up.
The Best Hotels in Valladolid:
Splurge: Hotel Zentik Project – For one of the most unique experiences in Valladolid head to Zentik. Located towards the outskirts of the town, the adults-only hotel has two swimming pools, one of which is saline and located in an underground cave, a spa, top-notch restaurant, a hammock area and private cabins located amongst lush jungle foliage. Need more convincing? Didn’t think so.
Mid-range : Casa Quetzal – If you’re looking for somewhere colonial but cosy at the same time, this might be the place you’re looking for. This spacious, quiet oasis boasts a pool, gorgeous colonial architecture, traditional Mexican touches in the decor and such a friendly service, you’ll never want to leave.
Budget: Hotel Fundadores – For a touch of colonial charm this hotel is worth way more than it’s price tag. The main building frames a patio with a gorgeous swimming pool, perfect for relaxing after a long day of exploring. Rooms are clean and spacious. Brilliant location in the city centre.
The Best Airbnbs in Valladolid:
MaraVilla – Probably one most beautiful villas in the whole of Valladolid. This place is a true oasis in the centre of town. With its own plunge pool, boho chic decor amid a truly rustic Mexican setting. This villa really is a ‘maravilla’. To find out more check out the listing here .
Beautiful Private Studio in the Heart of Town – A lovely, colonial feel apartment a stone’s throw away from the centre of town and walking distance from the bus station. This apartment is clean, spacious and has everything you might need for a lovely stay in Valladolid. To find out more check out the listing here .
For more hotel options, search for them here:
Planning on visiting Chichen Itza ? Discover how to do it on a budget and without the crowds here .
Where to Eat
Valladolid has many authentic eating establishments and street food but it somewhat lacks in the healthy and plant-based options.
If you are seeking healthy, plant-based meals, I’d highly recommend booking at Airbnb with a kitchen so you can prepare your own meals at least some of the time.
Cafe Del Professor Pitagoras – This cute cafe specialises in a wide range of cafe-style dishes such as sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, quiche, falafel and my favourite the Mexican bowl, which comes with tortillas so you can make your own tacos. It’s such a cosy place and the food was homely and delicious.
They have loads of vegan desserts too, kombucha and many breakfast options too. It also has good Wifi and is work space friendly.
Wabi Gelato – A fantastic place for when that gelato or sweet craving strikes, these guys have many vegan flavours to choose from. The only problem you’ll have is trying to choose which one.
Le Kaat – A brand new vegan and vegetarian restaurant on Calzada de los Failes, this wonderful restaurant has a beautiful garden and outdoor area perfect for an afternoon juice or coconut water.
Most of the menu is vegan and includes Mexican classics like tacos and gorditas as well as falafel pittas, buddha bowls, salads and a whole list of breakfast items.
El Atrio del Mayab – A great quality, more upscale Mayan fusion restaurant with a couple of pages worth of veggie options, most of which can be made vegan. The tacos and tostadas are heavenly. A great option to finish off a perfect day in Valladolid.
Best Things to Do in Valladolid Mexico
Valladolid is definitely not about the quality or quantity of its tourist sights even though there are a few. This is a town to simply stroll around in, admire the gorgeous colonial architecture, and people watch and sample some authentic Yucatan cuisine.
Once that gets too sweaty, visit Cenote Zaci, a cool water sinkhole located right in the middle of town to cool off. Here’s what to do in Valladolid Mexico so you can plan the perfect Valladolid Mexico itinerary.
Visit the Cathedral & the Main Square
The main square of Valladolid is charming. It’s a simple green space where food and handicraft vendors and locals gather in the evenings to socialise and eat ice cream.
It’s framed on all four sides by large, colourful colonial buildings that are seeped in history and elegance.
Here you’ll also find the main cathedral of Valladolid which is the iconic structure of the town. It’s one of the best Valladolid things to do. Look closely at the ancient stonework that looks like it hasn’t changed at all in the last few hundred years.
Eat Some Mexican Food
A Valladolid travel guide wouldn’t be complete without Mexican food. If you’re after some authentic Mexican and moreover Yucatan food, Valladolid won’t disappoint. Grab a snack of corn on the cob with or without mayo in the central plaza, or sample the local tacos or tortas from one of the many street food stalls.
If you aren’t vegetarian, Valladolid’s speciality is the local chorizo which can be bought at the local market or tried in any local restaurant.
Food in Valladolid is authentic, vibrant, tasty but also heavy and not too healthy or plant-based friendly. For my personal favourites check the listings above.
Visit La Casona de Valladolid
La Casona is located in a beautiful colonial building and is worth a stop just to admire the architecture and vibrant paintwork. The house is actually a cultural centre and restaurant all in one, where you can sample some authentic Yucatan food in a spectacular daily buffet.
The main attraction here is at the back of the centre – a 7-metre high altar decorated in thousands of colourful ceramics. Even if you aren’t religious, you have to admire the craftsmanship and artistry here- It’s a truly astounding work of art.
Take a Walk on Calle de Los Frailes
Calle de Los Frailes is without a doubt the prettiest street in Valladolid and this would be the ultimate Valladolid travel guide without its mention.
Filled with hundreds-of-years old colourful, colonial houses, cobbled streets, and the prettiest street corners adorned by potted plants, you’ll find the colonial buildings have now been transformed into boutiques, trendy cafes, restaurants, and hotels.
There’s not much to do here but stroll down the mostly pedestrian street, admire the architecture and history and savour that truly magical Mexican atmosphere.
Stopping in to refuel at one of the cafes or restaurants would also be a good idea.
Visit the Convent
At the end of Calle de Los Fraises, you’ll find the striking San Bernardino de Siena convent, another of Valladolid’s quaint landmarks. The convent and the church are both well looked after and full of history, culture and fine architecture.
It’s worth the small fee to enter the oldest parts of the convent to learn more about the history of the area and the people who lived here.
At 9 pm every night, don’t miss the light show that happens in the vast gardens in front of the structure. The history of Valladolid is projected onto the building in a variety of colourful images, videos and stories. Arrive at 9 pm for the Spanish version, followed by the English version at 9.20 pm.
Take a Trip to Uayma
About 20 minutes drive North-West of Valladolid, you’ll find the little village of Uayma, a typical Yucatan settlement with an exquisite colonial main square and church.
There really isn’t much to do here, just wander around at your own pace, let the locals tell you about the history of the church and see it from inside if you like, although it’s much more impressive from the outside.
It’s worth just wandering around and chatting with the friendly locals, especially if you’re someone who loves authentic local experiences.
Swim in Cenote Zaci
For a cenote experience without having to leave the centre of Valladolid, head to Cenote Zaci. This huge, open cenote, filled with tourists and locals alike, is the perfect place to go for a cool, refreshing dip after a long day of exploring.
It’s especially beautiful when they turn on the running water and a stream drops down into the water from the opening of the cave, like a waterfall. As this is a popular spot, the best time to visit is when it opens at 9 am or, just before it closes at 5 pm.
Take a Trip to Izamal
Known in Yucatan as one of the ‘pueblos magicos’, Izamal is really special. Perfectly combined with a trip to Chichen Itza if you have your own rental car, it’s one of the best day trips from Valladolid.
With most of the colonial centre painted a deep ochre yellow, this is probably the most yellow town you’ll ever see. With beautifully preserved colonial architecture and an equally stunning convent, this really is worth the detour for the afternoon.
When in Izamal make sure to visit the San Antonio Convent right on the main square and enjoy the afternoon quiet and sunshine as well as walk the streets surrounding it to experience the best of Yucatan charm. You can also visit Pirámide de Itzamatul , the Mayan pyramid ruins right in the middle of the town too.
Visit Chichen Itza
This one might go without saying but Valladolid is the closest town to Chichen Itza and you might already have it on your bucket list because of Chichen Itza.
A visit to Chichen Itza from Valladolid in Mexico is a must. As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, it’s one of the best day trips from Valladolid. The Mayan ruins here are just phenomenal making it one of the best Valladolid attractions.
Read more: Valladolid to Chichen Itza – 5 Ways to Get to the World Wonder
The Complete Chichen Itza Guide
There are many Valladolid tours to and including the small town and/or Chichen Itza. Below you’ll find some of the best Valladolid tours.
Is Valladolid Safe?
This is one of the most common questions I get about Mexican destinations. In short yes, Valladolid is safe. In general, the smaller towns in Mexico and the villages are. That doesn’t mean crime doesn’t happen but it generally doesn’t go looking for travellers.
I’ve visited Valladolid twice, once as a solo female and I had no problems whatsoever. The locals were always lovely and I never felt unsafe.
Having said that always make sure to have your own back, pay attention to what’s happening around you and use your gut. If a situation doesn’t feel right, get out of there.
Planning a trip to Valladolid and have any questions about this travel guide? Leave your comments and questions below and I’ll get back to you.
Now more than ever, make sure not to leave home without travel insurance. For the last few years, I’ve been using Safetywing Nomad Insurance for all my individual trips and digital nomad lifestyle and there’s no better company for all my insurance needs. Cover starts from as little as $42 per month. Get your quote below now .
Planning a trip right now? These are just some of my favourite websites I use to book everything from hotels to rental cars!
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Related posts you might like:
A Short Guide to Visiting Chichen Itza (on a budget and without crowds)
Isla Holbox Travel Guide: A Must-Read before Visiting
The 6 Incredible Valladolid Cenotes You Simply Must Visit
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This looks like a charming place to go and visit. Normally I’ve traveled to beach areas of Mexico but I’m aware there are many nice towns and villages that have a lot of culture and tradition. Your pictures of Cenote Zaci cave and waterfall look great! Cheer, Michael
Hi Michael, thank you! Yes, the towns are well worth the visit- they are pretty gorgeous.
That’s a pretty cool list there. Hopefully I can make it too Valladolid one day! My first stop will be Cenote Zaci!
Thanks so much! Yes, I would highly recommend a visit when you can.
Mexico is a complete package of traveling experience. cenote Zaci’s running water looks soo refreshing and entertaining. thanks for sharing your best experience
Absolutely! Yup, its a dream. Thank you for reading.
You got us from the moment you said how to escape from crowds 🙂 It is a destination we did not even know about, good to know it now in case we jump to MExico
Valladolid is a popular stopover on the way back from Chichen Itza. It’s definitely worth a visiting when around the Cancun area.
The cenote looks so pretty! I’d love to visit there, especially with the water flowing down.
It was so dreamy, not to mention refreshing.
This places looks like time passed it! What a great way to travel back in time and experience the true culture
Absolutely, what a great way to describe it. It’s gorgeous. 🙂
We are heading to Valladolid with my girlfriend right now thanks to your great article! Thanks
My pleasure! Hope you enjoy the beautiful town!
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The ultimate bucket list | things to do in rio de janeiro, brazil.
- Mexico City
- Copper Canyon
- San Cristóbal de las Casas
- San Miguel de Allende
- 5 Days in Mexico City
- 10-Day Copper Canyon by Train
- 10-Day Guanajuato Road Trip
- 10-Day Yucatan Road Trip
- 10-Day Oaxaca Road Trip
- Playa del Carmen
- Isla Mujeres
- Cozumel Island
- Holbox Island
- Puerto Escondido
- Hot Springs
- Mayan Ruins
- Mountains and Valleys
20 Things to Do in Valladolid, Mexico (And Around!)
- by Nellie Huang
Last Updated on October 20, 2023 by Nellie Huang
Come for the impressive Mayan ruins, stay for the colonial charm of Valladolid. Get to know the city inside out with my list of fun things to do in Valladolid, Mexico.
Calm and unpretentious Valladolid is one of the best kept secrets of the Yucatan Peninsula . Despite being the closest town to Chichen Itza, Valladolid is surprisingly quiet and laidback. Many visitors pass through Valladolid on their way to see the archaeological sites nearby, but few actually stay and get to know the town.
Listed as one of Mexico’s pueblos mágicos (magical towns), Valladolid is lined with cobblestoned streets, pastel colored houses and old colonial buildings converted into art galleries or indie boutiques. It also has a large Mayan population — you’ll see plenty of locals walking around in traditional dress and lots of the restaurants serving typical Mayan dishes.
Since moving to Mexico , we have made it our mission to explore as much of Mexico as possible, and Valladolid has definitely set the bar high. If you’re an independent traveler like us, we recommend spending a few days here and checking out these things to do in Valladolid.
Table of Contents
1. Swim in Cenote Zaci
2. people watch at the zocalo, 3. marvel at the san servacio church, 4. snack at the mercado municipal, 5. wander along the calzada de los frailes street, 6. enjoy lunch at meson del marques, 7. visit the casa de los venados, 8. explore the convent of san bernardino de siena, 9. watch traditional jarana dance, 10. try traditional mayan cuisine, 11. photograph the stunning cenote suytun, 12. explore chichen itza, 13. float in cenote ik kil, 14. explore ek balam archaeological site, 15. swim in cenote x’canche, 16. feel like an explorer at coba ruins, 17. swim in the trio of cenotes at coba, 18. wander around the yellow city, izamal, 19. explore the cultural capital, merida, 20. see flamingoes and pink lakes of rio lagartos, mexico travel requirements , how to get to valladolid, driving from playa del carmen to valladolid, how to get around valladolid, the best time to visit valladolid, where to stay in valladolid, what to eat in valladolid, where to eat in valladolid, further reading on mexico, things to do in valladolid.
Valladolid is unique in the fact that it boasts a cenote right in the center of town: the Cenote Zaci . Unique to the Yucatan Peninsula, cenotes are sinkholes filled with natural underground water that you can swim in. The ancient Mayans believed that that cenotes were their portal to the underworld, and used some of them for religious rituals.
While Cenote Zaci is not the most spectacular of the cenotes in Valladolid (scroll down for more), it’s still worth a visit as it’s just a 10-minute walk from the center. There are multiple spots where you can jump in from all different heights.
Cost: 30 pesos to swim
As with every other town in Mexico, Valladolid has a main square (Zocalo), and it’s known as the Parque Principal Francisco Cantón Rosado. This leafy square features water fountains, trees, lots of benches and little snack stands.
You’ll also find the iconic “confidant chairs” here, which are commonly found all over Yucatan. It’s said that their design were inspired by the “butacas confidentes” (confidant armchairs) from the French Renaissance period.
Overlooking the main square is the prominent Iglesia de San Servacio. The original church was built by Priest Francisco Hernandez in the mid-16th century, but it was demolished in 1705 and restored in the following year.
The cathedral was built with parts of ancient Maya temples and buildings after the Spanish invaded. The Cathedral itself is incredibly beautiful with many symbolic architectural details.
Just a few blocks from the city center, the Mercado Municipal (main market) is a lively place bustling with activity in the morning. This is one of the best things to do in Valladolid for foodies and market lovers. This market only opens until 1 to 1 pm depending on demand, so you best come early. This market has several sections, ranging from fresh fruit stalls to tortilla stands. Grab an elote (corn on the cob) or tamales for a mid morning snack or almuerzo.
One of the best things to do in Valladolid is to wander around town aimlessly. It’s such a pleasure strolling along the streets, admiring the pastel colored houses and wondering what surprise is in store around each corner.
The most photogenic street in Valladolid is the Calzada de los Frailes, which has been tastefully restored with indie boutiques, museums, and small cafes. Be sure to stop at Idilio Folklore Cervecero , a stylish restaurant that offers a small museum and beer tasting sessions.
For a proper meal, head to the hugely popular Meson del Marques (a favorite among locals and visitors). Overlooking the main square, this restaurant is a fixture in Valladolid’s culinary scene.
The traditional music in the background, lush patio, and the papel picado (banners) hanging overhead, all come together to create a welcoming atmosphere. It’s also a great spot to try Yucatan regional dishes like panuchos de cochinita (fried tortilla with pulled pork). Read more reviews here.
Just off the main square, this art museum is housed in a dark red colonial building. Casa de los Venados is actually not a museum, but actually a large house that the owners open up to the public for tours at 10 am everyday.
Inside you’ll find a stunning renovated hacienda housing one of the largest collections of pre-Hispanic Mexican artwork in the country. To visit, it’s a 60 pesos or $5 minimum donation that goes to the Charitable Foundation for the Arts and Education.
Cost: 60 pesos ($5)
Considered to be one of the oldest colonial sites in the Yucatan, the former Convent of San Bernardino de Siena dates to the mid-16th century. The building itself isn’t exactly impressive, but the museum inside is quite insightful. There’s even a cenote on-site, which was used as part of an irrigation system.
You can also catch a light and sound show at the convent every night at 9 pm. We didn’t see it, but if you’re a night owl, it can be a fun thing to do in Valladolid since there isn’t much of nightlife here.
Every evening at 530pm, you’ll find traditional Jarana dance shows at the Parque Principal (main square). The dancers are usually dressed in colorful garb and they put on quite an entertaining show. Yes it’s touristy, but you won’t find large crowds here. Plus it’s free — you’re only expected to pay a small tip.
Ix Cat Ik Mayan Cuisine is a unique place to learn about Mayan staples and try some typical Mayan dishes. It’s not a fancy restaurant by any means, just a simple eatery that hones in on traditional Mayan ingredients and cooking methods. The staff is knowledgable and happy to share what they know about Mayan cuisine.
Ix cat ik is actually a type of chili that the Mayans use in their cooking — be sure to try the i x cat ik margarita which really kicks a punch. I also enjoyed the kaax píbil, chicken wrapped in banana leaf and cooked on a fire pit. The restaurant is about a 10-minute drive from the center, so you’ll need a taxi to get here if you don’t drive.
Things to Do Around Valladolid
As you can tell by now, I’m a big fan of cenotes. They’re amazing creations of Mother Nature, and each one of them is unique. We’ve been to quite a few cenotes by now, but my absolute favorite is the Cenote Suytun . This is my top recommendation for things to do in Valladolid.
Yes, it’s risen to enormous fame thanks to Instagram, but it’s one of those rare few places that’s actually as magical as it appears in photos. I took the following photos with my iPhone (no filter!) and didn’t need any fancy photography equipment.
If you visit first thing in the morning (9am) like we did, you’ll avoid the crowd and be able to capture the famous sunbeam (provided it’s sunny). It’s only a 12-minute drive from Valladolid. Read my guide to Cenote Suytun.
This is what brings so many people to Valladolid! Easily the most popular archaeological site in Mexico, Chichen Itza is just a 40-minute drive from Valladolid. The important Mayan-Toltec city features some of the best preserved carvings and temples in Central America.
The Temple of Kukulcan is the most iconic landmark here. Dedicated to the feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl, the temple has 91 steps on each of its four sides, adding up to 365, the number of days in a solar year. The Temple of Warriors features 1000 columns that represent the Mayan soldiers, and the Temple of Skulls depict intricate carvings that tell the gory events that took place here.
I recommend getting here at 8am, before all the day-trippers arrive from Cancun around 10am. Be warned: there are hundreds of vendors all over the site and they can be pretty relentless. If you prefer to have a guide, check out this private tour that has raving reviews.
Cost: 539 Pesos (US$26)
TIP: Many archaeological sites in Mexico are free or discounted on Sundays for Mexicans and local residents. If you have a Mexican ID or residency visa like we do, be sure to show them to get free entrance! Read my guide on how to get to Chichen Itza.
No trip to Chichen Itza is complete without a swim in the Sacred Cenote or Cenote Ik Kil , a sinkhole that is connected to Chichen Itza by a raised pathway. It’s said that this large natural well may have given Chichen Itza (“Well of the Itzáes”) its name.
The use of the Sacred Cenote was exclusively ceremonial. Over the years, the water has yielded many artifacts including gold, jade, copper, shells and the bones of around 200 people who were thrown in as a sacrifice.
This cenote isn’t my favorite, as it’s the most commercialized that we visited (artificial stairways, lookout points and too many tour groups). But with an almost perfect circular opening and lush green vegetation dangling over the water, the cenote definitely has a stunning setting.
Cost: 150 Pesos ($7.50) per person
If you’re looking to get away from the crowds and explore a less-visited archaeological site, I recommend checking out Ek Balam ruins , 30 minutes from Valladolid. It’s equally impressive but far less commercialised (you won’t find any vendors here!).
It’s also still possible to climb to the top of the pyramids. At 100 feet (29m) high, the Acropolis is the tallest structure in Ek Balam. A spectacular view awaits at the top: ancient pyramids poking above the tree canopy and lush green jungles for as far as the eye can see!
Midway to the top of the pyramids is the tomb of Ek Balam’s powerful ruler, Ukil-Kan-Lek-Tok, who reigned during the city’s peak in 800 A.D. The tomb is being restored, but you can see carvings, paintings, and murals. Read my guide to Ek Balam ruins .
Cost: 400 Pesos ($20) per person
By now you’d have noticed that most ancient cities were built next to major cenotes (as their source of water and/or sacrificial site). Ek Balam is no exception — next to it stands the wild and stunning Cenote X’canche .
We absolutely loved the wild and atmospheric setting of this cenote. It’s surrounded by the jungle, with tree roots hanging over the spearmint blue water and rickety wooden bridges running along the sides of the cenote. There’s also a zipline over head, which our 6.5 year old daughter loved!
Best of all, it was actually empty when we visited on a Saturday afternoon, and we had the whole place to ourselves.
Cost: 80 Pesos ($4) per person and 100 pesos ($5) for the zipline
Further away from Valladolid is an even larger and far less visited archaeological site. The ancient city of Coba dates back to as early as 100 AD and the huge complex features several different temples and ball courts.
Similar to Ek Balam , the ruins of Coba have not been fully restored and they’re located within the dense jungle — which really add to the atmosphere. Most people rent bikes to get from one part of the ruins to the next, but you can also hop on a tricycle and someone will take you.
The largest structure here, Noohoch Mul, reaches 137 feet (42m) and it’s the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula. Every blog I read said that you can climb it, but climbing was prohibited during our recent visit (September 2021). I saw someone climbing it and told him to read the sign! Please do not be the idiot that breaks the rule.
Cost: 80 pesos ($4) per person for entrance and 100 pesos ($5) to rent a bike
As with the other ancient city, Coba is located right next to three cenotes: Cenotes Tamcach-Ha , Choo-Ha and Multum-Ha. All three cenotes are underground caverns accessible by steep spiral stairways.
Of all three cenotes, Choo-Ha was definitely my favorite one, with hundreds of stalactites hanging from the cavern’s ceiling. I loved the fact that these cenotes were off the tourist trail and hardly mentioned in most travel blogs.
Cost: 55 pesos ($3) for each cenote or 165 pesos ($8) for entrance to all three
Day Trips from Valladolid
A 1.5-hour drive away from Valladolid is Izamal, one of the most photogenic towns in the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s nicknamed the Yellow City for good reasons — there are more yellow buildings here than anywhere I’ve seen.
Besides the ridiculously cute architecture, there are also Mayan ruins in the center of town that are worth seeing. Izamal makes a great stop enroute to Merida, the biggest city in Yucatan. Just estimate to spend around an afternoon here, as part of your Yucatan road trip .
Further northwest from Izamal is Merida, a 2-hour drive from Valladolid. The colorful city is known as the cultural capital of the Yucatan state, thanks to its treasure trove of historical monuments and rich heritage displays. For culture vultures, visiting Merida is definitely one of the best things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula . But I would recommend spending at least a few days in Merida, as the city is definitely worth a longer stay. Check out my comprehensive Merida travel guide .
For a more nature-focused day trip, head 1.5 hours to the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Known for its wildlife, Rio Lagartos is located at a lagoon and natural reserve. This makes it a perfect habitat for wild birds, including flamingos.
The pink lakes of Las Coloradas are 10 miles (16 km) east of Rio Lagartos – just follow along the beach road. The lakes are actually as bright as they look in pictures. Plankton and red algae live in these salt flats, giving them their distinct pink color.
The best time to visit is in July-August and March, due to the 6-month evaporation process. If you don’t have a car, I recommend booking a daytrip to Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas .
Valladolid Travel Guide
Mexico has no travel restrictions, and there’s no need for proof of vaccine or PCR tests on the plane or ferry. Anyone is welcomed to travel to Mexico.
However, I always recommend travelers to buy travel insurance, whether you’re traveling for a year or a week. Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan , which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.
Located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula , Valladolid is within easy reach from popular beach towns like Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen. It’s easy to rent a car and do a road trip in Yucatan , as many cenotes and archaeological sites can only be reached by car. I always book my car rental online on Discover Cars , as they have consistently given me the best prices and service.
If you can’t drive, the ADO Bus is a good alternative as it’s reliable and punctual. It connects all of the following towns with Valladolid, and you can easily book your tickets online.
- From Cancun — 2 hours (96 miles or 155km)
- From Playa del Carmen — 1h 35mins (87 miles or 140km)
- From Tulum — 1.5 hours (62 miles or 100km)
- From Merida — 1h 45 mins (99 miles or 160km)
The route from Playa del Carmen to Valladolid is an excellent route as the 305 highway is new. There are no portholes or speed bumps, unlike on the other roads. But it’s a toll road and the toll is pricey, at 280 Pesos (US$14) each way.
We drove the route on the way there, from Playa del Carmen to Valladolid, and it took 1.5 hours. On the way back, we took the route to Tulum via Coba as we wanted to visit the Coba archaeological site. It took about 1 hour more (factor in around 2 hours to visit Coba), but it’s definitely worth a stop.
Valladolid is a small town, and you can easily get around on foot. We drove here from Playa del Carmen, but parked our car at the hotel in the center of Valladolid and walked around town.
To get to the cenotes and archaeological sites nearby, you will need to drive, rent a bicycle or catch a taxi. Many hotels offer bike rentals for around 20 to 25 pesos ($1) per hour. If you prefer to take taxis, expect to pay 100-200 pesos for a ride to nearby cenotes or Mayan ruins.
With warm tropical climate, Valladolid is considered a year-round destination. In general, the best time to visit Valladolid is between November and March , when the temperatures are at their mildest and skies the clearest.
June to August is the warmest time of the year and it gets extremely humid. August and September are the rainiest months in Valladolid — we visited in September and it rained a lot but it was still hot.
I recommend staying close to the Zocalo (main square), or no more than a few blocks away, as you can then walk everywhere in town.
Budget: Casa Hipil
A lovely homely budget option, this place feels more like a guesthouse than a hotel and even has a lounge and communal kitchen. It’s warm and welcoming with clean and comfortable en suite rooms. Check rates here.
Mid Range: Colonte Hotel Origen
With a boho chic interior, this boutique hotel has Tulum vibes and stylish furnishings that exude rustic luxury. We stayed at this mid range hotel on my birthday and enjoyed the small, intimate setting and delicious breakfast! Check rates here.
Luxury: Le Muuch Valladolid
A gorgeous boutique hotel oozing lots of colonial charm, this is the most luxurious option in Valladolid. The elegant hotel features lush gardens, swinging hammocks, and romantic four-poster beds. Check rates here.
Couples: Hotel Zentik Project & Saline Cave
Wish we could have stayed here, but it’s an adults-only hotel! This unique hotel has treehouse-style rooms and two 24-hour pools, including a magical saline cave pool. Check rates here.
The Yucatan Peninsula is famous for its distinctive regional cuisine. Valladolid is a great place to try them, as well as more traditional Mayan cuisine. Here are some local dishes worth trying:
- Huevos motuleños — fried tortillas topped with eggs, red onion, habaneros, refried beans, green beans, cheese, plantains, turkey ham, and a spicy salsa roja
- Sopa de lima — a lime broth with chicken or turkey, lime juice, topped with fried tortilla strips
- Cochinita pibil — slow roasted pull pork
- Papadzules — corn tortillas dipped in a sauce made from pumpkin seeds flavored with epazote
- Panuchos — refried tortilla stuffed with refried black beans and meat
- Queso relleno — Edam cheese filled with ground beef and pork, almonds, raisins, green pepper, and local spice
Meson del Marques is our favorite place to eat in Valladolid. This landmark restaurant is a go-to for both locals and visitors. It’s a great spot to try Yucatan regional dishes like panuchos de cochinita (fried tortilla with pulled pork).
Casa Conato Cultural 1910 is another place we really enjoyed. The yard offers alfresco dining amidst a lush garden and an eclectic mix of ornaments and artwork. On weekend nights, you’ll find Mexican live music playing here.
Restaurante El Atrio del Mayab has a nice lush backyard with great cocktails. The food is fine, but overpriced in my opinion. Just come for drinks to enjoy the gorgeous atmosphere.
Ix Cat Ik Mayan Cuisine is a unique place to learn about Mayan staples and try some typical Mayan dishes. It’s not a fancy restaurant in any way, just a simple place that hones in using traditional Mayan ingredients and cooking methods.
Hope you found this list of fun things to do in Valladolid useful! It’s definitely a place worth adding to your Yucatan itinerary . Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions about Valladolid.
For those who are planning to travel more of Mexico, check out other articles I’ve written on Mexico:
- Cenote Suytun: My Complete Guide
- My Guide to Ek Balam Ruins
- How to Get from Cancun to Chichen Itza
- The Ultimate 10-Day Yucatan Road Trip
- My Recommended 2-Week Mexico Itinerary
- 33 Fun Things to Do in the Yucatan Peninsula
- 30 Best Things to Do in Merida
- 30 Fun Things to Do in Tulum
- 15 Cool Things to Do in Cozumel
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The 11+ most unique things to do in Valladolid Mexico
In this post, you will find the most unique things to do in Valladolid Mexico, the colorful colonial town in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula which you could visit on a day trip from Cancun and the Riviera Maya, or, even better during a road trip around the beautiful Yucatan! Read on!
Mexico is much more than pristine beaches, blue water, and parties. Well, you will find all of that on the Riviera Maya or the Pacific coast .
But there is much more to discover within the Yucatan Peninsula if you step out of the beaten path, and Valladolid, Mexico, is the first colonial town that will give you a taste of the real Mexico if you are coming from the Caribbean coast.
You will only need to drive just a couple of hours inland from the Riviera Maya to discover a whole different world, the colonial Yucatan. You can check out my 3week road trip around the Yucatan Peninsula to have an idea of all the amazing things to do and see.
And Valladolid is, in fact, the getaway to the colonial world of Yucatan, being the first interesting city to visit, before you get to Izamal , another unmissable, spot, or Merida , the spectacular white city. Here in Valladolid , you will find an outburst of colors and flavors and the warm welcome of genuine down-to-earth people. There are amazing colonial hotels where to stay in Valladolid and let’s not forget the delicious authentic Yucatecan cuisine that you will find in many restaurants in Valladolid .
You can’t help but fall in love.
When I lived in Cancun , I have never taken the time to explore it properly as I was caught up with life’s routine.
Since I have taken the Digital Nomad path, and I have the freedom to visit Mexico as a tourist, I decided to spend an entire week in Valladolid to explore every inch of this beautiful city and its surroundings, check out hotels, museums, restaurants, and whatever the city has to offer.
Since it was unbelievably hot, I decided to go out and explore in the mornings and evenings and stay in my air-conditioned studio during the day to work on my gigs and blog.
It was the perfect plan, and everything went perfectly. What you will read below is the result of my exploration during this time. I hope it’s helpful to organize your own trip to Valladolid, Mexico and see what you can do in Valladolid.
You can either use the index or scroll down and read through the entire post.
I will take you around with me with words and pictures.
“ It sounds so far away and different. I like different places. I like any places that aren’t here.”
— Edna Ferber, Gigolo
For more travel quotes you can check this post .
Table of Contents
11 Amazing things to do in Valladolid, Yucatan – Mexico
Walk around the historical center.
The city is brimming with unique colonial architecture elements and colorful buildings that have been nicely refurbished and turned into boutique hotels, private homes, shops, or cute little cafes. It’s just a pleasure to walk around the historical center and look up. I
f you are not fond of museums, you can sit in a cafe’ or peep into a hotel and admire the beautiful architecture. And the tiles, o my GOSH! Remember to look down and check out the tiled floors. The majority of them are original. I can’t get enough of them. If you don’t have much time, you can walk from the central plaza, Parque Francisco Canton Rosado, and walk the Calzada de los Frailes to the Ex Convento. That’s the most emblematic street and full of interesting shops.
If you have a little more time, you can walk from the park towards the neighborhood of La Candelaria, where you will enjoy checking out the local shops and restaurants.
I would try to be in the central park by sunsets and walk up to the Casa de la Cultura, above the tourist center, to watch the sunset and see the Cathedral of San Gervasio naturally litten by the last beams of the sun. You can also rent a bike if you are concerned about the heat.
It can be quite daunting, and the bike makes it more accessible. It costs about 100 MXN per day, and you will find many rental places.
Visit the ex-convent
The ex Franciscan Convent plays an essential role in Valladolid’s history, and it’s now a sort of museum open to the public.
Commissioned by the Franciscan order in 1552 and terminated in 1560, it has been taken over by the Spaniard during the Caste War in 1847 and used as a fortress and military base. Inside the convent, you can admire pieces of art of that time, and in the garden, you will find one of the largest cenotes in Yucatan, but close to the public.
It’s a short visit but worth it. A jump in the past.
Hang out on the main square
You could sit there in one of the famous white love chairs and watch the world go by. I promise you won’t get bored. Street vendors, tourists, locals taking a stroll in their colorful dresses, local dancers performing.
Try the delicious Marquesitas , or, for the weight watchers, an esquite.
Especially in the early night, it turns into a magical atmosphere.
Join a free walking tour
Every day at 7 pm there is a free walking tour around town. A knowledgeable local guide will take you through the history and the most exciting spots of the city.
Enjoy the show of light and sounds
Every night except Monday, you can appreciate a beautiful story projected on the walls of the ex-convent, about the history of Valladolid, with beautiful lights and music. It lasts only 30 minutes at 9.00 pm in Spanish and 9.25 in English. It’s free. Don’t miss it.
Rent a bike and explore the nearby cenotes
One of the things I enjoyed the most was getting out early morning, around 7.00 am, biking in and around Valladolid, and getting to the nearby cenotes when nobody had reached yet. It’s a beautiful short ride and a peaceful visit. Here is my full guide to the best cenotes near Valladolid – Mexico.
Visit the Museums
Valladolid, despite being a relatively small town, boasts a few exciting museums worth paying a visit to:
Museo San Roque – for archeology lovers
Choco Story – Chocolate museum and shop
MUREM – Mexico ethnic clothing museum
CASA DE LOS VENADOS – A private home and national cultural museum with an amazing collection of Mexican folk art.
Take a dip in the cenote Zaci
Located right in the heart of the city, the cenote Zaci is a refreshing oasis where locals and tourists alike find relief from the summer heat when it gets unbearable.
The entrance fee is only 30 pesos, and it’s open from 9 to 5. It’s an open cenote and easy to access.
The location in the heart of the city makes it an easy and quick visit in between your scheduled tours or after a day spent walking around in the heat.
Join a bike tour
A friend suggested I join one of the biking tours of this company , but I didn’t because I don’t like to be tight to a schedule and because they were going to a cenote that I have already visited. So I decided to skip it this time, but I regretted it.
The itinerary looks interesting, and they will take you to cenotes that you would need a car to reach otherwise. They also have a night tour of the churches if you are interested.
Go visit one of the world’s seventh wonders
I saw this spectacular site of Chichen-Itza 15 years ago for the first time, and I decided I didn’t want to go back because I didn’t want to see the money machine it has become.
However, since I was in Valladolid and Mexican residents have free entry on Sunday, I decided to give it a chance. I realized how right I was.
The place is full of vendors everywhere, besides the unbelievable number of tourists that come in flocks with no control whatsoever. I am sorry to say that, but it takes away all the archeological site’s magic.
I always love to spend a few hours walking around and imagine what life was like in those times, say a little prayer to the Mayan Gods, and give thanks. This time I could only think of how to respond to all those vendors trying to sell you something.
I was happy that I got there very early so that the crowd was moderate and could walk and find some moments on my own. At 10. 30 am, I was already starting to feel overwhelmed by the people flocking in, and I just rushed out.
Having said that, you should really visit Chichen Itza at least once in your lifetime.
How to get to Chichen-itz à
You can find colectivos at 7 am just outside the Bus Terminal. Make sure you get a little earlier so you won’t miss it.
If you want to experience Chichen-itzà, you need to get there when they open by 8 am and beat the crowd. It’s about 1 hour to go.
Chichen-Itzà entrance fee is 480 MXN about 25 USD
You can hire a guide for 1000 MXN about 55 USD.
What to bring to Chichen Itza
- Mosquito repellent
- Dress light
If you prefer to join an organized tour from Cancun or the Riviera Maya , instead of going on your own here below you can find some ideas.
How to get to Valladolid Mexico
Valladolid is super easy to reach. Here are your options.
Getting to Valladolid, Mexico by Car
There are direct roads either from, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Cancun to Valladolid. From Cancun, you can choose between the highway (Cuota in Spanish) or the statal road (LIBRE).
I would rather choose libre if you have the time of course because you would drive by small towns where you will start to see the real Mexico, not to mention all the many beautiful cenotes you will bump into. It will make it worth the time.
Getting to Valladolid, Mexico by Bus
Either from Tulum, Playa del Carmen, or Cancun to Valladolid you will find a direct connection to Valladolid. It’s normally the bus to Merida. Buses ADO or Oriente will take you there.
Where is Valladolid Mexico on the map?
Valladolid Mexico FAQ
Is valladolid mexico safe.
Yucatan is considered one of the safest regions in Mexico and Valladolid is in the heart of the state and although it’s considered the getaway to Yucatan and quite touristy, it was able to conserve the authenticity of the Yucatan people, my favorite people in Mexico. Their kindness will make your heart melt. So to answer your question, yes Valladolid is safe, although regular common sense must be a regular practice. everywhere.
Read also: Is it safe to travel to Mexico?
Is Valladolid Mexico worth visiting?
Oh yes indeed, if you like to immerse yourself in Mexican culture, Valladolid can be your first step. The city has the typical colonial structure and although some can argue that Colonialism is not exactly something worth remembering for the atrocities the conquerors have inflicted to the indigenous population, I would like to think that admiring the colonial art and craft is also a way to remember and honor their sacrifices and the beauty of their work.
Here below in this post, you will find out more about why this colorful town is worth visiting and all the amazing things you can do in Valladolid.
How far is Valladolid Mexico from Cancun?
It’s about 2 hours drive, if you rent a car, and about 3 hours if you go by ADO. I would suggest you rent a car and take the regular road as opposed to the boring highway to enjoy the view of the local towns. It will be a little slower, but totally worth it.
How big is Valladolid Mexico?
On paper, it might not look so big with an extension of 490 SqM and a population of 48k, but in reality is even smaller as you will want to stay within the historical center, the most charming part. And that you can visit in one day.
How to pronounce Valladolid Mexico?
Instead of trying to explain it in words, it’s better if you hear it yourself. Listen and repea t ! 😉
I hope this post was helpful to introduce Valladolid and I hope now you will include it in your Yucatan itinerary and among all the things to do in the Yucatan peninsula . And as usual, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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22 Things To Know When You Travel To Valladolid Mexico in 2023
One of the most laid-back cities in the Yucatan Peninsula is Valladolid. A small and charming city right in the heart of the peninsula. This is a complete guide for traveling to Valladolid with things to do, places to see, where to eat, rooftop bars, where to stay and everything else.
Most of you have heard about Merida Mexico and may have read my complete Merida travel guide with 45 tips about this charming city, but don't skip Valladolid when traveling to Yucatan. Valladolid is the second biggest city in the Yucatan state and an undeniable place to visit when making a Yucatan Peninsula road trip . Also great as a stop when backpacking Yucatan and a must see place if you love cenotes! Check my article with the best cenotes near Valladolid !
A landlocked quiet and hot town, that stole my heart. For many reasons I visited Valladolid multiple times over the last years. In total I spent more than a month in this little city and these are all my Valladolid Mexico travel tips.
Somewhere deep inland one can find a small municipality with only 46.000 inhabitants. Indeed, the urban area was called after its Spanish namesake in 1543 and maintained the name after its relocation to where it welcomes guests from all around the world today. The reasons for visiting Valladolid are endless and in this Valladolid Mexico travel blog I am giving you all my tips.
you may also like...
Craving the beach after visiting Valladolid Mexico? Pick the two places that are not affected by the seaweed! What about a trip to Isla Holbox or check out all the amazing things to do in Isla Mujeres .
22 Valladolid Mexico travel tips
1. how to get around valladolid mexico.
Valladolid has a centrally located bus station just a couple blocks away from the main square. There are busses going in any direction pretty much all day long. That makes traveling to Valladolid Mexico very easy. Getting away is equally easy. Great places to travel after Valladolid are: Rio Lagartos , Costa Maya , Isla Holbox and Bacalar.
Valladolid is very well connected through the ADO bus company . Click on the link to see all routes, time tables and even order your tickets online. The website automatically translates to English.
2. No car rental company
Unfortunately there is still no car rental company in Valladolid Mexico. Which kind of sucks because there are some amazing day trips from Valladolid that are much easier with a car: Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, cenotes, etc. Renting a car is cheap in Yucatan, you can find them for $10 per day already. Sadly not in Valladolid Mexico.
3. Rent a scooter
A great alternative for a car is to rent a scooter in Valladolid. There are about 3 companies that rent out scooters, but I can recommend you Scooter Rental Valladolid Mexico . They charge 100 Pesos ($5) per hour or 500 Pesos ($25) for 24 hours. One of my personal Valladolid Mexico travel tips is to rent a scooter in the afternoon for 24 hours. In the afternoon you can explore the cenotes near Valladolid and the next morning very early you visit Chichen Itza or Ek Balam. This way you don’t have a full day driving around Valladolid on top of squeezing in all the activities. At the end of the day you are on a holiday. Traveling to Valladolid should be laid-back, in line with the city vibes!
4. Rent a bicycle
You can easily go around the city on a bicycle as everything is flat. Even for visiting some of the Valladolid cenotes a bike would be sufficient. I didn’t do it myself, but I saw lots of other travelers on bikes. Renting a bike is only 100 Pesos ($5) per day. Cenote Oxman, Samula and Xkeken are great cenotes to visit on a bicycle.
5. Cenotes around Valladolid
A plethora of cenotes scattered around town make this city some of the best places to visit in Yucatan . So there is no need to tell you that visiting cenotes is among the best things to do in Valladolid. The easiest Valladolid cenote to get to is cenote Zaci , as it is just a couple minutes walk from the main square in Valladolid. This centrally located cenote should be a teaser for what is coming as near Valladolid are some of the best cenotes in Yucatan.
Cenote Suytun is the famous cenote to get that epic instagram picture you have probably come across on social media. Cenote Ik Kil is next to Chichen Itza and according to the majority of the tourists the most beautiful cenote in Yucatan. Cenote Xcanche is next to Ek Balam and has zip lining and rappelling and for stunning closed cenotes head to Palomitas and Agua Dulce .
There are too many to chose from so I recommend you reading my best cenotes around Valladolid article in where I show you all of them and you can make a selection of where you want to go.
6. Great mix of past and present
One of the reasons you should travel to Valladolid is to feel its charm. Conversion to Christianity with an explicit colonial touch played a crucial role in the formation of the present-day urban center. Boutique shops are popping up in old colonial style buildings and old haciendas serve as open air restaurants. Some doors open to amazing courtyards full of surprises. Valladolid Mexico kept on surprising me and every day I discovered a new hidden gem.
7. Mercado Municipal
If visiting local markets is your thing then definitely check out Mercado Municpal in the morning. Just a couple blocks northeast of the city center. A bustling place but one of the best places to visit in Valladolid for your dose of real local culture.
8. Valladolid Cathedral
Needless to say, the San Gervasio Cathedral is the epitome of the timeworn settlement's transition to the new era. Here the Mayan ruins and the Christendom seem to merge together forevermore. The cathedral looks at its best in the sunset and as good as it looks from the outside, the interior is quite disappointing. Just have a look and decide for yourself. There is no entrance fee, you can just walk in.
9. Convent of San Bernardino
The uniqueness of this construction is followed in chronology and importance by the Convent of San Bernardino located a little further from the downtown. Having undergone several alterations similarly to the Cathedral, it, perhaps, crowns the architectural layout of the town. And at that, attracts attention due to its ambiguous character serving as a fort and a religious center at the same time.
10. Great architecture
Valladolid’s tangible culture is dating back to the 16th century when the conquistadors did not save their efforts to make their dream happen and embody their power in architecture. Although the Cathedral and the Fort are major tourist attractions in Valladolid, don't miss out on the rest of the town presented by an abundance of Havana-like colonial architecture. All in vivid colors. Corresponding to its title and the status, Valladolid's cultural legacy is genuinely enchanting.
11. Stroll through Calz. de los Frailes
I named it my favorite street in Yucatan! This is the street that leads you away from the city center towards the fort or the Convent of San Bernardino. On both sides you will only find colonial buildings that house boutique shops, boutique hotels, bars, restaurants and cute coffee places. Some of the houses are painted in bright colors, one of those streets where you will find lots of girls taking instagram pictures. One of my favorite places to visit in Valladolid Mexico for sure.
12. Valladolid sign
Taking pictures with the city sign is a popular thing to do in Valladolid Mexico. Find it at the end of Calz. de los Frailes, next to the Convent of San Bernardino. Valladolid is a so called Pueblo Magico, meaning a magical town, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. Well... I agree! Every Pueblo Magico has a sign like this!
13. Casa de los Venados
Valladolid does not abound in museums and art stuff, however, the centrally located San Roque mansion and the Casa de los Venados or simply the Deer House boast a remarkable collection of the local craftsmanship. Find here various rooms in a private home dedicated to a plethora of handicraft pottery, furniture items and colorful textiles. The entrance fee goes to charity. There are guided tours in English available. Casa de los Venados is only open till 1:00pm only.
14. Free Walking Tour Valladolid.
A great way to see Valladolid is to join one of the free walking tours . Click on the link to go to their Facebook Page and find their details. In 2023 tours are available 7 days a week, 4 times a day: 10am, 5pm 6pm and 7pm. The Valladolid Free Walking Tours start near the fountain in the central square and you can recognize them from the dark red umbrella.
15. Great hub for Chichen Itza
There are multiple busses and colectivos going to Chichen Itza and it just takes about 30 - 40 minutes to get there. When you decide to travel to Valladolid Mexico, this should be one of your day trips. If you visit Chichen Itza go early! I mean go an hour earlier than intended! This is one of the 7 World Wonders so expect huge crowds from 10.00am onwards. Chichen Itza opens at 8.00am. No need to tell you that visiting a nearby world wonder is one of the best things to do in Valladolid.
16. Ek Balam day trip
The Maya ruins of Ek Balam are considered the smaller brother of Chichen Itza and lots of tourists prefer the Ek Balam ruins over the busy Chichen Itza. Don’t get me wrong even at Ek Balam it gets busy, but not as much as at Chichen Itza. Another advantage is that you can climb the pyramid at Ek Balam and at Chichen Itza you can not! Ek Balam is 30 minutes north of Valladolid.
17. Try local (street) food
Another reason to travel to Valladolid Mexico is the Yucatan food culture. Who doesn’t like to travel for food? We all want to try the local dishes right? So what is Yucatan food actually? They are based on rich multi-century recipes with conspicuous vegetarian undertones. The Mayans have hugely contributed to this field of the Mexican heritage. The mass use of fruits and vegetables drawn from the surrounding wild nature ensures a healthy dose of ecstasy. Corn, achiote, citrus, habaneros are the basics of the Mayan cooking tradition.
Here are some of the Yucatan’s most mouthwatering experiences.
- Start with Panuchos or the hamburgers in Yucatan style. These corn tortillas fried in oil are usually served with toppings such as lettuce, meat varieties, tomato, and onion. Carrots, avocados and other ingredients may be added.
- Salbutes are a variety of Panuchos. These are mostly served as light yet delicious starters.
- Papadzules or the delicious egg stuffing embraced by the corn tortillas with tomato sauce and habanero promise another must have delight when you travel to Valladolid. Spice up your Mexican adventure but don't get too addicted!
- Visiting Valladolid you have to try Cochinita Pibil. The marinated pork filling in a banana leaf is going to fully gratify your senses. Enriched with a special sauce made of sour orange, habanero and red onion.
There are many more varieties of soups and meat dishes and also local pastries. Eating street food is a must when traveling to Valladolid Mexico. Most of them you can find around the main square a little later in the afternoon or in weekends.
This is one of my favorite restaurants in Valladolid Mexico. It is a little outside of the city center, but right next to one of the most popular places to see in Valladolid: Convent of San Bernardino. This hip and modern restaurant is where you will find many tourist and some prosperous local Mexicans. They serve a wide range of vegetarian dishes and juices. Yerbabuena is my best Valladolid Mexico tip for food.
19. Pitagoras Cafe del Profesor
My favorite places to go for breakfast in the city center. Cafe Pitagoras is located just two blocks from the main square and a gem in Valladolid Mexico. They have delicious juices as well as healthy meals. The homey interior with book shelves made it a great place to hang out for a little while. At Cafe del Profesor Pitagoras I also met some other travelers. Loved this place a lot.
20. Mercado 43
To be honest Im not even sure if this is a real restaurant, it is not on Google Mpas. I stumbled upon it while getting lost in the charming streets. It is called Mercado 43 and is about 2-3 blocks east from the main square in Calle 43. In the garden there was like a local market of 5 stands selling local handicrafts, but also 2 places that sold food. I had a local pasta dish for 80 Pesos ($4) and it was delicious. Totally worth searching for when traveling to Valladolid.
21. Best coffee in Valladolid Mexico
Conkafecito is my favorite place to grab a coffee. Simply because they serve the best coffee in Valladolid Mexico. I tried a bunch of places, but the best one I got at Conkafecito. It is located on the end of Calz. de los Frailes towards the Convent of San Bernardino. It is not the most charming place unfortunately but they do serve the best coffee in Valladolid and I am a coffee snob!
22. Mezcaleria Don Trejo
Another great Valladolid Mexico tip is this restaurant/bar. Although called mezcaleria they serve better things than that! It is a little more pricey but the food is good and this is a great place to meet travelers. They often have live music or a DJ. Mezcaleria is also located in Calz. de los Frailes.
Where to stay in Valladolid Mexico
The tourist-focused infrastructure makes it that there is something for every pocket and taste. There is an abundance of guesthouses, airbnbs and hotels in and around downtown. This is going to make it easy to find your preferred Valladolid Mexico accommodation.
The Hostel Guacamaya s, Hostel Candelaria and the Hostel Casa Xtakay are two great hostels in Valladolid Mexico and the best low-budget accommodations with typical Mexican ambiance. Hostels in Valladolid Mexico are pretty scares and highly populated most of the time making an early bird status rather demanded.
Provided your finances are not so modest, more comfortable accommodations are always at hand in the mentioned area. Casa Sisal Valladolid Yucatan , Hotel Casa Rosario and Hotel Peregrina just to name a few with spacious rooms, charming decorations and outdoor or indoor pools are truly a pledge of a memorable adventure.
And lastly, luxury lovers are equally going to get their share when in Valladolid. A row of hotels designated for the upper class boasts such mansions as Le Muuch Hotel , Hotel Zentik Project & Saline Caves . Here rustic style merges with genuine bliss.
I hope all the above Valladolid Mexico tips were useful for your upcoming Yucatan trip. In total I spent over 2 months exploring the peninsula, see here my Yucatan itinerary . It basically touched down at all the cool places to visit in Yucatan as well as many day trips from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, like Selvatica Zip Lining , Tulum and Coba Tour , a Puerto Morelos travel blog and much more. Also recommended places to vist are of course Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres .
Safe travels and enjoy Yucatan!
- yucatan peninsula
- 1 Understand
- 2.2 By carpooling
- 3.1 On foot
- 3.2 By bicycle
- 3.3 By e-hailing
- 3.4 By taxi
- 3.6 By motorbike
- 3.7 Orientation
- 5.1 Out of town trips
- 7.1 Food markets
- 7.2 Street Food
- 7.4 Mid-range
- 7.5 Splurge
- 11.1 In the south:
- 11.2 In the west:
- 11.3 In the east:
Valladolid is a small city of 56,000 people (2020) in the state of Yucatán that is about a 45-minute drive from the (lesser-used) east entrance of Chichén Itzá . It offers an alternative base for visiting the ruins, while having its own charms as well -- although further from the ruins than the town of Piste, Valladolid is less tourist-oriented and has more historic charm. It is one of the "Magical Towns of Mexico".
Understand [ edit ]
Climate Valladolid has a tropical wet and dry climate. Valladolid's climate is hot and humidity is moderate to high, depending on the time of year. The average annual high temperature is 33 °C (91 °F), ranging from 28 °C (82 °F) in January to 36 °C (97 °F) in May, but temperatures often rise above 38 °C (100 °F) in the afternoon in this time. Low temperatures range between 18 °C (64 °F) in January to 23 °C (73 °F) in May and June. It is most often a few degrees hotter in Valladolid than coastal areas due to its inland location and low elevation. The rainy season runs from June through October, associated with the Mexican monsoon which draws warm, moist air landward. Easterly waves and tropical storms also affect the area during this season.
Get in [ edit ]
By car [ edit ].
Valladolid is just off the toll highway (180D) between Cancún and Merida ; the exit is about 5 km (3 miles) north of the center of town. The old highway (180) runs east-west through the centre of town, and highway 295 connects south towards Chetumal , and north to the toll highway and Ek Balam . Both highways run right through the centre of town on one-way streets, forming the four sides of the central town square.
By carpooling [ edit ]
You can have a look on Blablacar for shared rides. Especially from Cancun amd Mérida there should be some. Check also from other cities of the Yucatan peninsula.
By bus [ edit ]
- 20.690867 -88.204833 1 Terminal de Autobuses ( main bus station ), Calle 39 No 221, Col Centro ( NE corner of C/ 39 & 46, a couple blocks west of the central plaza (Parque Francisco Canton) along C/ 39 ), ☏ +52 985 856-3448 . Frequent first class services with ADO, ADO GL to Cancun (2 hr to east); Merida (2 hr 15 min west) and Playa del Carmen (1 hr 30 min to the southeast). Passengers transfer in Merida or Playa del Carmen to get to additional cities. There are second class services with ATS, Oriente and Mayab to other surrounding towns & villages nearby such as to Piste, Chichen Itza , Ticul, Tiziman, and further out to Merida and Playa del Carmen. The ride will take longer with the frequent stops to get beyond the immediate area on second class buses. Inside the shop of the Terminal is a BanCoppel ATM, charging for a withdrawal just M$18 (Jan 2022). ( updated Feb 2022 )
- 20.692603 -88.211413 2 Terminal de Autotransportes de Oriente Viejo ( Old bus station ), Calle 37 / Calle 54 ( further west along Calle 37 ). The old bus station is now a second class bus station for buses going to Merida, Cancun, El Progreso, El Piste, Chichen Itza, Tiziman, Izamal, etc with Autocentro , Mayab and Oriente. The ride will take longer with the frequent stops to travel longer distances. ( updated Jun 2016 )
Get around [ edit ]
On foot [ edit ]
Valladolid is small enough to make walking a reasonable choice within town.
By bicycle [ edit ]
To explore the city you can also rent bicycles at a reasonable rate.
By e-hailing [ edit ]
You can check Uber, if there are cars available. Otherwise you can put the displayed price into the app of inDriver and maybe increase it slightly.
By taxi [ edit ]
Other alternative choices are taxis (Be aware the drivers do not speak English). A 6 minute and 2 km ride costs about M$35 (Jan 2022). As always, agree on the price before.
There are no city buses in Valladolid. Only colectivos (minibuses) going on the federal roads out of town for example to the western and northern direction, but not south.
By motorbike [ edit ]
It is possible to rent a scooter and use it to drive around the city and to nearby sights. It should cost no more than M$ 400 per person per day, depending on your haggling skills.
Orientation [ edit ]
Locally the streets or Calles are numbered with the odd numbered streets going east and west and even numbered streets going north and south. The street numbers get higher as you go from east to west and from north to south. Directions and addresses can be given with the locations such as Calle 41 No 201, entre 42 y 44 meaning Building #201 along Calle 41 (going east & west) between 42 & 44 (going north & south)
See [ edit ]
- Parque Fransisco Canton Rosado , the central town square, is surrounded by pretty colonial-style buildings that maintain much of their historic character.
- The Catedral de San Gervasio , located on the south side of the town square.
- Cenote Zací . A spectacular sinkhole located in a public park only few hundred meters from the central plaza, this cenote is traversed by a walking path that passes under a curtain of stalactites in an overhang area. It has been temporarily closed for renovation for some months (Oct 2022).
- The Calzada de los Frailes (Calle 41A) is a 10-minute walk south from the town square. This street consists of colonial homes with great architecture. It commences at the "cinco calles" and it ends at the park of the ex-convent San Bernardino de Siena.
- The Ex-Convent San Bernardino de Siena is in the neighbourhood of sisal a 10-15 minute walk south from the town square. This 15th-century ex-convent and church is situated around a public park where you can sit and enjoy tranquility. M-Sa M$40, Su M$20.
- The Museo de San Roque is a few hundred meters from the central plaza. This museum contains Mayan and colonial artifacts and traditional items.
Do [ edit ]
Valladolid has tranquility and a small town charm. You can visit several Cenotes within the area and two are close enough to hire bicycles from a nearby vendor. Visit "Cenote Dzinup" — you will love it. As well you can go sightseeing of the architecture and mingle with the people of the city.
Out of town trips [ edit ]
Valladolid has a good modernised bus station (near the main square) which connects it with the surrounding towns and tourist destinations. There are frequent services to all major destinations.
- 20.891744 -88.136206 1 Ek Balam – 28 km. Visit the Maya ruins of, an impressive archaeological site only about 30 minutes drive north of Valladolid. You can climb the tallest ruin which has been partially restored. This gives you a 360° view of the surroundings. This ruin is way less crowded than Chichen Itza and it provides a similar experience. Entrance is M$ 150, this can be bought together with entrance to nearby Cenote X-Canché for M$ 300. You can even haggle about the price.
- 20.682565 -88.569735 2 Chichén Itzá – 40 km. The largest and most famous ancient Maya site in Yucatan, is to the west; Valladolid is close enough to the ruins to be a convenient base. The entry fee is M$571 (Oct 2022). It's open daily 8:00-17:00.
- Further west than Chichen are another charming small Yucatecan city, 20.932644 -89.018415 3 Izamal – 130 km.
- 20.819329 -88.05566 4 Cenote Palomitas - 30 km away, a tourist complex with two large, beautiful cenotes with lots of stalactites. M$150 for each or M$300 for both, can be haggled to less. Can be easily reached by car or (motor)bike.
The following are taxis and colectivos (shared ride taxis & vans) to towns and villages in the surrounding areas. They are generally quicker in getting there than buses. With the agreements they have with the local taxi unions they cannot provide local taxi services. They are:
- 20.690801 -88.205583 3 Colectivos to Chichen Itza, Cenote Ik Kil, Balankanche Caves and Piste , Calle 39 No 215, between C. 46 and 48 ( main entrance west of the main bus station. ). For all mentioned destinations the fare is M$40. ( updated Oct 2022 )
- 20.691926 -88.203092 4 Taxis & colectivos to Ek Balam and Hunuku (village) ( Calle 37 between C. 42 & 44 ). The name of the place is Sitio de Taxi UnTrac. ( updated Jun 2016 )
- 20.692291 -88.20129 5 Taxis to Tizimin ( Sitios Taxis Foraneos ), Calle 40 between C. 35 and 37 ( inside and in front of the "Estacionmento Centro" building. In Google Maps it's called "Sitio de Taxis Foráneos, Ruta Valladolid-Tizimin". ). ( updated Jun 2016 )
- 20.692185 -88.203854 6 Collectivos to Ek Balam Ruins , Calle 44 just north of Calle 37 .
Buy [ edit ]
ATMs with low withdrawal fees in the center are BanCoppel, Banco Azteca (inside the elektra store) and banamex.
For buying groceries, there are minimarkets (tiendas) and Oxxos around. A bigger variety have the 20.690713 -88.203246 1 Bodega La Favorita and the 20.690705 -88.20409 2 La Surtidora del Hogar Centro . In the east and south of the center are the Dunosusa supermarkets and Super Willys with a good variety of products. In the west of the center is the 20.691126 -88.207755 3 big supermarket Soriana .
Buy wood carvings and traditional clothing and bags made from henequen from the vendors on the central Plaza and the grounds of "Cenote Zaci"Hand made shoes and sandals at the central Plaza.
Visit Yalat Boutique right at the Main Square, the place is filled with original artwork, fine jewelry, and is dedicated to master works and fine Mexican artcrafts including exquisite ceramic Jainas and Maya vessels that are exquisite. Owner very friendly, speaks perfect English, a bit of German and French.
Visit the Coqui Coqui Perfumery and Spa in the Calzada de los Frailes on the way of the Convent. All the perfumes they sell are from the yucatan peninsula, amazing fragrances as the agave or the flor de mayo. Also a very nice garden.
- Casa de los Venados , Calle 40 #204 . Private residence with a Mexican folk art collection of approx. 3,000 museum-quality pieces. American owners, when they are in residence, very generiously show people the collection.
Eat [ edit ]
Typical dishes of the region are:
- Lomitos de Valladolid which is a pork dish in fresh tomato sauce
- Cochinita pibil meat marinated in achiote, and spices, wrapped in banana leaf and barbecued or baked in a pit
- lechon al horno
- bistek de cazuela
- relleno negro which is turkey cooked with a paste of charred chillies and vegetables with bits of hard-boiled eggs
- frijol con puerco
- chicken in escabeche
- longaniza , which are a type of pork-based salami sausage with traditional condiments.
Local traditional candies are based on materials from the region such as honey, coconut, corn and others. Traditional ice cream is also very popular. The most common flavours are coconut, corn and fruits of the region as guanabana, mamey sapote and others.
Food markets [ edit ]
To get the local dishes, head to the 20.691049 -88.201374 1 Mercado De Comida in the center. Mains costs about M$80-110 (Jan 2022).
Street Food [ edit ]
There is a few street food in Valladolid.
20.689615 -88.203457 2 El tigrillo . Tasty tortas for M$25 (Jan 2022). The bread is super soft and you may not have tried that meat before. The food stall is shown inside Google Maps. The opening hours on Google Maps may not be correct. In January 2022 it was open around 17:00-19:00.
Budget [ edit ]
All these are in the city center:
- 20.688781 -88.20335 3 Taqueria Don Trejo , Calle 44 #202H X 41 Y 43 . Simple authentic restaurant. Tacos with carnitas and pastor meat for M$16 (Jan 2022). Also served are vegetarian tacos, tortas, gringas and quesadillas. They have a menu card in English. It's open M-F 8:00-22:00 and on weekends 9:00-22:00
- 20.690667 -88.203685 4 Tostilocos , C.44x39 . Super tasty with many ingredients. You can choose between Tostitos or Doritos nachos. The price is just M$35 (Jan 2022). It's sold in the evenings inside the Tortillería “El rosario” .
- 20.69418 -88.202698 5 La Palapita de los Tamales , Calle 42 x 33 y 35 numero 181 cp 97780 . ( updated Sep 2022 )
- 20.688947 -88.204849 6 El Paisa Carnitas , C. 46 199M . ( updated Sep 2022 )
- 20.694374 -88.201479 7 Loncheria Olich , Calle 40 No 179 B entre Calle 33 y 35 . ( updated Sep 2022 )
- 20.689776 -88.208015 8 El Sazón de Valladolid , Valladolid - Cancun 231 A x 48 y 50 . ( updated Sep 2022 )
Mid-range [ edit ]
- 20.690824 -88.201671 9 El Meson de Marques , Calle 39 203 X40 Y 42 . A hotel on the north side of the town square, offers dining beside a charming interior courtyard, with excellent food. Mains in the M$200-350 range (Jan 2022). ( updated Sep 2022 )
- 20.692995 -88.203565 10 Casa Italia , Calle 35, #202J por 44 y 42 (interior del Parque) . A small and charming Italian restaurant on the south edge of the square in Candelaria, four blocks north and one block west of the main square. Their pizzas, baked in a wood-fueled oven, are wonderful and inexpensive. ( updated Sep 2022 )
- 20.689627 -88.201416 11 Restaurante El Atrio del Mayab , C. 41 204 , ☏ +529858562394 . A restaurant with a beautiful patio that specializes in regional cuisine and provides great cocktails. ( updated Sep 2022 )
Splurge [ edit ]
Drink [ edit ].
- Maruja Cafe, Bar y Galeria , Calle 41 #202A ( South side of the main Plaza ), ☏ +52 985 856 0999 . 08:00-22:00 . Full service bar, great Maya organically grown coffee & chocolate, deli style menu, outdoor sitting overlooking the main park. Credit cards accepted.
Sleep [ edit ]
- Cada del Mayordomo , 46th Street #189, corner 35th Street, Col. Candelaria , [email protected] . Bed & breakfast and butler service, for special occasions, along with Yucatecan snacks of your choice. ( updated Nov 2015 )
- Casa Quetzal , Calle 51 No. 218 x 50 y 52 col. Sisal, Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico , ☏ +52 9858564796 . Four-star boutique hotel offering various spas and therapeutic massages. Yoga and Chi Kung classes offered.
- Hostal Kin-beh , Cnr Calle 38/Ave 41 . Very clean.
- 20.6897 -88.20633 1 Hostel Valladolid 48 , Corner of 48 and 41 . A nice backpacker hostel with small pool ( updated Feb 2022 )
- Hotel Maria De La Luz . Friendly and well kept. It is on the main square. You can get a double with A/C. The restaurant opens up to the square and has great food.
- Hotel Santa Lucia ( about 6 blocks north of the main square ). A two-floor hotel with a variety of rooms ranging from a single with no A/C up to a quintuple with A/C.
- Hotel Tunich Beh ( near downtown on Calzada De Los Frailes ). Eight air-conditioned guestrooms and a swimming pool with a small palapa by the side.
- Hostal Tunich Naj Calle 38 #202A entre 43 y 45 Centro, Valladolid, YU. Hostel with spacious 10 bed dorm M$195 (Jan 2022) and various private rooms. Clean and central. Nice staff.
- Casa Xtakay Calle 43 entre 38 y 40. Family-owned hostel with dorms and privates. Pleasant back garden, home-made breakfast. Dentist at same place.
Contact [ edit ]
Go next [ edit ].
You find hostels and private rooms ...:
In the south: [ edit ]
Mahahual (Costa Maya) – 270 km
Chetumal – 300 km
Bacalar – 260 km
In the west: [ edit ]
Mérida – 160 km. From there to Campeche .
In the east: [ edit ]
Playa del Carmen – 140 km
Cozumel – 170 km
Tulum – 110 km
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Valladolid Mexico | A Complete Travel Guide
Valladolid in Mexico was our favorite town on our Yucatan trip. This is how we imagined a small Mexican town. Colorful houses, colonial buildings, relaxed atmosphere and a green main square in the center of town. After our negative experience on the supposedly quiet Isla Mujeres the days before, we could really relax in Valladolid and enjoy strolling through the beautiful city.
However, most people will come to the city not only because of the beautiful atmosphere, but on the one hand because of the Mayan site Chichen Itza * and on the other hand because of the many beautiful cenotes that exist in and around Valladolid. Since we skipped Chichen Itza (it was too expensive and too crowded for us), in this travelogue we will only discuss Valladolid itself and the, in our opinion, most beautiful cenotes in the area.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Things to do in Valladolid Mexico
We imagined Valladolid in Mexico as a typical Mexican small town and found it exactly the same. The atmosphere of the city reminded us a bit of Bacalar , in the south of Mexico. No comparison to the chaos, traffic and tourists we found in Cancun or Isla Mujeres .
Valladolid is about 150 km away from Cancun and yet it is a completely different world. Sure, it is touristy and there are many souvenir stores in the city center, but this is a very bearable extent and so that it is fun to explore the city.
The central main square (Zocalo) of Valladolid in Mexico was the meeting place of young and old and also of all the hungry. In the park itself there are a lot of stalls offering marquesitas (a freshly baked ice cream cone filled with all kinds of delicious things ), typical corn dishes and other delicacies. Around the square there are of course the obligatory restaurants.
In the evenings, performances by Mayan fighters in disguise are often held there, and it is easy to stroll past souvenir stands and get to know the country and its people.
Convent de San Bernardino de Siena
The Convent de San Bernardino de Siena is an old monastery just outside of downtown Valladolid, but it’s within walking distance. It is one of the landmarks of the city and, since it is not centrally located, not at all crowded. It costs 30 MXN entrance fee (about 1.40 Euro) and you can explore a small garden with its own small cenote, visit a museum with many church exhibits and marvel at the building itself.
Really all very nice to look at. There is also a small courtyard and the whole monastery has been super restored, so you can well imagine how the life of the monks was here a few hundred years ago.
On some days (Wednesday – Sundays) there is a light show here in the evening at 9:20 pm in English (9 pm in Spanish), which shows the history of the monastery in bright colors on the facades of the monastery.
Our Accommodation in Valladolid Mexico
We decided to stay a little bit outside of the city center. We like to stay a little away from the hustle and bustle, so that we have it quiet, but still quickly walk in the middle of the action.
Our hotel was built in a beautiful colonial style and had air-conditioned rooms, a small pool and a Hollywood swing in the courtyard. The staff was also very nice and you felt very well taken care of there.
Discover our hotel Quinta Marciala at Booking.com*
Day Trip to the most Beautiful Cenotes near Valladolid
There are many beautiful cenotes very close to Valladolid and it is probably not even possible to visit all of them during a stay of several days in Valladolid. But we think you don’t have to.
We have researched most of the cenotes nearby and many look quite similar. Again, some are not that spectacular, so the entrance fee, which is usually around 100 MXN (5€) per person, is not worth it in our opinion.
We chose 3 of the most beautiful cenotes around Valladolid for our day trip. In addition, we went to a cenote that is located in the middle of the city. Optionally, we will introduce you to 2 more cenotes nearby that you can visit on an additional day. Or of course on the same day, if you leave very early in the morning and don’t leave so much time per cenote.
How to get to the cenotes?
You can of course book a guided tour * and then be driven comfortably from cenote to cenote by coach. But those who know us know that this is not our way. We prefer to do it on our own . We don’t like to follow a tour guide and prefer to take the chance to have a place all to ourselves in the morning instead of sharing it with a whole group. Our recommendation to you is to rent a car or a scooter to explore the surroundings of Valladolid for 1-2 days.
Day Trip Chichen Itza and Cenotes | Check Prices*
Rent a Scooter in Valladolid
We found driving a scooter in Valladolid pretty easy, even if on the big interurban roads the buses and trucks race past you pretty fast. But there is almost always a wide shoulder on which you can keep a safe distance from the speeders with the scooter. Some roads off the main roads were quite adventurous to drive, but we have mastered all without punctures. If you dare to explorer the area with a scooter, then we can only recommend it to you. You are very flexible and have a lot of fun driving around on the Mexican streets.
Which are the most Beautiful Cenotes in Valladolid Mexico?
Before we introduce you to the most beautiful cenotes in our opinion, we would like to take a short excursion and tell you what these strange cenotes are and how they were formed.
What are cenotes anyway?
There are over 6000 cenotes in the world and more than 2500 of them on the Yucatan Peninsula alone. The name comes from the Mayan word “Dzonot”, which means hole with water . Cenotes are unique cave formations that were formed many thousands of years ago. Formed by rainwater that seeped through the porous earth, underwater rivers were created. In some places, the ceilings have collapsed, creating access to these underground cave systems.
The ancient Maya, lacking rivers on the Yucatan Peninsula, used the cenotes as wells to obtain drinking water or to hold ceremonies for Chaac, the rain god. All major Mayan cities were strategically built near a cenote. Nowadays, the numerous cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula are one of the tourist attractions in Mexico.
Our Route for the most Beautiful Cenotes around Valladolid
In this trip report we will limit ourselves to the cenotes that you can reach perfectly in one day by scooter without rushing. Optionally we will add two more if you are faster than us or have more than one day. On the route you will pass about 10-12 cenotes in total. Some of these cenotes are not listed on Google Maps and therefore not really known.
There is simply a sign at the roadside that points to this or that cenote. If you have more time than us, then you can make spontaneous discoveries along the way. But finally, here is our selection of the most beautiful cenotes around Valladolid, which can be reached in one day.
The cenotes are listed in the order we did them. Of course you can do them the other way around, but in our opinion this makes the most sense, because especially the Cenote Hubiki is very empty in the morning and gets crowded at noon. So you should go there first thing in the morning.
#1 Hubiku | The Super Touristy Cenote
Cenote Hubiku can rightly be called one of the most touristy cenotes around Valladolid. And we don’t necessarily mean that in a positive way. At the huge parking lot you think: Oh, they have built generously . But at the latest when you enter the building, where you can also buy the entrance tickets, you realize that this place was planned for a large number of tourists. And that the commercial idea is in the foreground here.
After you have purchased the ticket, you can by no means go directly through to the entrance of the cenote. No, you first have to zigzag through the small building and meander past liquor tastings and souvenir shelves. It’s almost like an amusement park where, after visiting the roller coaster, you have to walk past all the merchandising and the photo booth to get to the exit. We didn’t think that was so cool and were glad that there was still so little going on so we could just walk through quickly.
There are open air showers and restrooms behind the souvenir building. The entrance to the cenote is then a very nondescript staircase down into the darkness. The sight that awaited us down there surprised us greatly. It looked beautiful! Roughly speaking, we saw a very large cave with a small hole in the ceiling through which a small but bright light shone into the interior of the cave.
There was a small footbridge leading into the water and ropes stretched across the entire width of the cave at water level for you to hold on to. Perfect for less good swimmers or if you just want to relax in the water without having to paddle constantly. There are also many fish swimming in the water, some of them large, that seem to have little shyness about humans.
Try to be at Cenote Hubiku as early as possible
By the way, Hubiku means in the Mayan language as much as the great god or nest of the iguana . The cenote has a diameter of about 50 meters and the water reaches almost 27 meters deep.
- Entrance fee: 100 MXN (approx. 5 Euro)
- Opening hours: 09:00-17:00
- Try to be here early in the morning!
#2 Agua Dulce | The Adventurer Cenote
Cenote Agua Dulce was for us the most beautiful, and definitely the least touristic cenote. It is located on an area which is quite large and contains a total of 4 cenotes. The cenotes cost 100 Mexican pesos (about 5 Euro) entrance fee each. The possibility of a combined entrance, where you could visit all cenotes for a reduced entrance fee, does not exist.
After our research beforehand and also looking at the info board (including photos) of the different cenotes, we decided on the Agua Dulce Cenote. First, this one looked the coolest and second, we didn’t want to spend money four times for four cenotes. One was enough for us.
After we bought our tickets at the ticket booth, which is located at the very back of the area, we drove with our scooter to the entrance of Agua Dulce. The cenote has 2 entrances of which one can be described as “normal” (a normal wide staircase ) and the other as really spectacular (a free floating spiral staircase attached to the corner of the cave ). Of course, it is clear which entrance we have chosen.
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WHAT IS THE BEST REGION OF MEXICO TO EXPLORE?
We descended into the cenote via the narrow spiral staircase. The spiral staircase ends on a platform attached to ropes, from which you can jump directly into the water. The space to put your things there or to sit is very small. The other platform, where the normal entrance ends, can only be reached by swimming. So many people do not fit on this platform.
On the ceiling of the cenote there are also two climbing ropes where you can climb up and plop down into the water. A lot of fun, if you make it up there. In addition, there are also two kayaks, several floating hoops and the obligatory ropes on the water surface. We had a lot of fun in this cenote and could also shoot very great photos before we fought our way back up via the wobbly spiral staircase.
- Entrance fee: 100 MXN (about 5 Euro)
#3 Suytun | The Instagram Cenote
The Suytun cenote is not really the most beautiful or spectacular on this list. It’s not even particularly deep or has particularly clear water. But it is pretty damn picturesque . Cenote Suytun is rather small and also quite dark , as there is only a small light inlet. The water is also only a maximum of 5 meters deep and not very clear. So you can’t come here to swim.
But what can be called the highlight of this cenote not far from Valladolid is the platform that leads into the middle of the cenote and the beam of light that shines through the hole in the cave ceiling directly to the end of this small platform. This looks mega cool. And so the tourists also literally queue up in front of this platform to take the perfect Instagram photo here.
If you also want to have such a photo, then you should visit the Cenote Suytun. But if you don’t care about such photos and prefer to swim in a deep, spectacular cenote, then you should skip Suytun and rather include one of the two optional cenotes described below in your itinerary.
- Price: 120 MXN (about 6 Euro)
- you don’t come here to swim, but to take pictures
#4 Zaci | The City Cenote
This cenote is definitely the easiest to reach in the Valladolid area. In fact, it is located right in the city and is within walking distance from the main square of the small Mexican town. Zaci is not a closed cave, but an open/collapsed cenote, which makes for a great view from above. It has a diameter of almost 45 meters and a water depth of 30 up to 100 meters.
The water is wonderfully clear and from above a small, artificially fed, waterfall pours into the cenote. You can walk around the cenote on a small path and in the back area, if you dare, jump into the water from a height of about 10 meters.
A visit to the Cenote Zaci is an essential part of a walk through Valladolid. Be it to cool down from the heat or to end the day trip to the cenotes in and around Valladolid.
- Price: 30 MXN (approx. 1,40 Euro)
- within walking distance from the city center
Here are 2 additional cenotes that you can optionally add to your route. We unfortunately didn’t visit these cenotes in Valladolid ourselves due to time constraints, but have researched them enough beforehand to recommend them. So if you have more than one day or are just done with the other cenotes earlier, we can still recommend the following two cenotes.
#5 + #6 Cenote Xkeken & Cenote Samula
These two cenotes are quite similar and generally less visited than e.g. Cenote Hubiku. They are enclosed cave cenotes that both have a light entrance through a hole in the ceiling. Both are right next to each other and the owners have taken heart and created a combined entrance where you save some money if you want to visit both cenotes.
There is also a funny legend about Cenote Xkeken: It is said to have been discovered long ago by a pig that always came back to its owner covered in mud. At some point the farmer followed his animal when it went off again and found the cenote with the crystal clear water in which the pig always bathed. If you still have time on your day trip around Valladolid, you should include these two cenotes in your itinerary.
- Entrance fee: 125 MXN (about 6 Euro) for both cenotes / 80 MXN (about 3,50 Euro) for one cenote
- Opening hours: 08:00-19:00
Do you think another cenote belongs in this list? Then write us a comment below our Valladolid Mexico travelogue!
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Magical Valladolid, Mexico: Things to Do + Travel Guide
If you ask us, there are few more perfect places on the Yucatan peninsula than Valladolid, Mexico–if you’re willing to sacrifice access to a beach, that is.
Between the number of fun things to do in Valladolid (hello cenotes!), the easy access to any number of day trips, and the laid-back and affordable nature of the beautiful city, there is no shortage of reasons to visit Valladolid.
While Merida is arguably a bit trendier and the coastal cities of the Riviera Maya are hard to pull yourself away from, independent travelers find that Valladolid is easy to fall in love with–and for us, it’s one of those cities that we’ve visited multiple times and will continue to return to again and again.
Considering a stop in Mexico’s colorful city of Valladolid? Here’s everything you need to know before you go, from what to do in Valladolid to where to stay and how to get around!
Table of Contents
19 Best Things to Do in Valladolid, Mexico (+ Nearby!)
Getting to + around valladolid, where to stay in valladolid, mexico, where is valladolid, mexico, taking a day trip to valladolid, the best time to visit valladolid, what to pack for valladolid, mexico.
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Check out Calzada de los Frailes.
This vibrantly colorful street is one of the most popular places to visit in Valladolid!
Lined on either side with brightly painted buildings, this street dates to the 16th century and is part of the reason that Valladolid is listed as one of Mexico’s “pueblos magicos” , or magic towns.
Stroll through the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena.
Considered to be one of the oldest colonial sites in the Yucatan, the former Convent of San Bernardino de Siena dates to the mid-16th century and is definitely worth a visit.
It even has a cenote on-site, which was used as part of an irrigation system during the time that a Franciscan order called the convent home.
Pay a visit to Chichen Itza.
One of the best things to do near Valladolid, a huge part of the reason that travelers choose the city as a base is its proximity to Chichen Itza .
Chichen Itza is less than an hour by car from Valladolid, and with an early alarm clock, you can arrive at the gates right as the site opens–and beat the crowded tour buses that have to drive more than 2 hours from Cancun to the pyramids.
… and Cenote Ik Kil.
One of the area’s most famous cenotes, Cenote Ik Kil is located near Chichen Itza and is frequently combined with a trip to the pyramids.
It also happens to be absolutely beautiful!
Marvel at the beauty of Cenote Suytun.
Once fairly obscure, Cenote Suytun has risen to enormous fame in the age of Instagram thanks to its incredibly photogenic nature–and if you catch it at the right time, it is indeed as magical as the photos would suggest.
To avoid the crowds, you’ll want to go early in the morning… but to try to capture the famous sunbeam, you’ll want to aim for a sunny day at mid-afternoon (you’ll also need the air to be a bit dusty and cooperate inside the cenote, though–there’s no guarantee you’ll get the shot).
We took the Cenote Suytun photos in this Valladolid blog post as soon as the cenote opened in the morning!
Cenote Suytun is only a 15-minute drive from the center of town and is one of our favorite things to see in Valladolid, Mexico.
… and Cenote Ka Peh.
There’s a second cenote on-site with the famous Cenote Suytun: Cenote Ka Peh.
You can’t swim in it, and it’s not as beautiful as Cenote Suytun, but it is gorgeous in its own way and well worth the quick walk to see it.
Visit the Iglesia de San Servacio.
Located right on Valladolid’s zocalo, or main square, this beautiful church dates to 1705 and is the most striking building on the square.
Climb the pyramids of Ek Balam.
Located just 30 minutes from the city center, the stunning Mayan city of Ek Balam belongs on any list of what to do in Valladolid–and with a fraction of the crowds of Chichen Itza, I’d argue that it’s even more impressive to visit (also unlike Chichen Itza, you can still climb the central pyramid here).
… and jump into Cenote X’canche.
Located in the same complex as Ek Balam, though you’ll pay a separate entrance fee to visit, Cenote X’canche ranks among my personal favorite cenotes in Mexico, and I highly recommend a visit!
Stunningly beautiful, the cenote boasts bright blue water and a waterfall.
There is a small restaurant, changing rooms, and restrooms on-site, as well as hammocks to relax in, and it’s incredibly enjoyable to spend an afternoon here.
Visit the Casa de los Venados.
This beautiful museum in Valladolid features over 3000 pieces of Mexican folk art… and it also happens to be located in a private home.
It’s definitely one of the most unique things to see in Valladolid and is worth a visit.
Snap a photo of the colorful Valladolid sign.
These colorful signs denoting the town names of Mexico’s pueblos magicos can be found all over the country–and for us, they never get old!
Shop at the Mercado Municipal.
Whether you want to shop for local ingredients to cook with, grab a cheap meal at a taqueria, browse clothes, or just snap photos of the colorful fruit and vegetable stands, the centrally located Mercado Municipal is worth a stop when you’re looking for the best things to do in Valladolid.
Take a dip in Cenote Zaci.
Cenote Zaci is widely considered to be a lovely-but-not-magnificent cenote (as compared to the other nearby options like Cenote Suytun and Cenote X’canche)… but it does have one major advantage over the others, and that it is that it’s located in the center of town!
If you’re staying within walking distance of Valladolid’s zocalo, you’ll also be able to take a quick stroll to Cenote Zaci.
People-watch in the zocalo.
Valladolid’s zocalo, or main square, is a delightful blend of attractions for locals (helado carts, balloons for sale for children) and attractions for tourists (dancers performing traditional Mayan dances in costume, souvenir stalls).
It’s a charming, peaceful place, and one of the best places to visit in Valladolid.
In addition to tourist attractions like (arguably overpriced) restaurants and the local tourism office, you’ll also find practical things you’ll likely need for your time in Valladolid here, like the taxi stand in front of the Iglesia de San Servacio, where you can negotiate rates for trips out of town.
Take a day trip to Izamal, Mexico’s yellow city.
Featuring a historic convent, Mayan ruins in the center of town, a chance to escape the crowds, and more beautiful yellow buildings than you can imagine, Izamal is arguably one of the most photogenic towns on the Yucatan peninsula… and it also happens to be only an hour and a half by car from Valladolid!
Check out the Museo San Roque.
Housed in a former convent, this museum is free to visit and focuses on the history of Valladolid and on Mayan culture more broadly.
Take a day trip to the pink lakes of Las Coloradas.
Years ago, on our first trip to Valladolid, we naively arrived in town hoping to find a tour company that would take us to Mexico’s pink lakes in Las Coloradas, which were then just starting to rise in fame.
As it turned out, there were no tours (still aren’t, as far as we could tell on our most recent visit), but a long taxi ride or an easy 2-hour drive in a rental car will get you there.
We have a full guide to visiting the pink lakes , so I won’t repeat myself much here, but suffice it to say that they’re one of the most unique day trips from Valladolid!
Spend the day at Cenote X’keken and Cenote Samula.
Cenote X’keken and Cenote Samula are located in the same complex, about a 15-minute drive from Valladolid.
Of all the cenotes included on this list of what to see in Valladolid, these are arguably the most developed, with everything from tourist trinkets to snack stalls to lockers available to rent available to you on-site.
Both cenotes are beautiful and worth enjoying, but due to their popularity, we’d recommend visiting on a weekday if you can.
Getting to Valladolid from hubs like Cancun and Tulum by bus is very easy: ADO bus routes run right to Valladolid.
However, we strongly prefer to rent a car and drive to Valladolid because of the freedom that it allows in visiting surrounding attractions like Chichen Itza, Ek Balam , Cenote Suytun, and more.
If you’re planning on renting a car, it’s very important to note that there are no car rental agencies in Valladolid (a lesson that we learned the hard way on our last trip when we ended up having to double-back to Tulum to pick up a car).
Y ou’ll want to pick up a rental car on the Riviera Maya before leaving–the easiest and cheapest way is generally to rent a car in Cancun (even at the airport), but Playa del Carmen and Tulum are also options.
Check prices & shop rental cars for your trip to Valladolid today!
If you visit Valladolid without a car, you’ll need to reach the cenotes and ruins through a combination of taxis, collectivos, bikes, scooter rental (for nearby sights like Cenote Suytun) and organized tours. It’s also worth noting that organized tours for attractions that are further away, like the pink lakes, are scarce to non-existent. Tours to Chichen Itza, on the other hand, are easy to find.
It’s entirely doable, especially if you’re comfortable negotiating prices in Spanish–however, having visited Valladolid both ways, the freedom that a car provides is fantastic, and we absolutely prefer it.
Driving to and around Valladolid is fairly easy, and we find driving in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula in general easier than in many places in Europe!
The best company to rent a car for your Valladolid vacation from will likely vary dramatically depending on exactly when you’re traveling. Sometimes large international carriers offer the best prices, sometimes local outfits. Sometimes one company has an excellent base price, but terrible rental requirements.
The best way to find your rental car is to search through Discover Cars , which will sift through dozens of companies to find the best combination of low prices and reasonable rental terms for your trip.
Valladolid has a fantastic selection of places to stay, ranging from budget hostels to beautiful boutique hotels.
Here are some of the best, including the hotel we adored on our most recent visit!
Hostel Candelaria — Featuring a perfect location in the center of Valladolid, colorful decor, hundreds of near-perfect reviews and plenty of dorm and private room lodging options, Hostel Candelaria is a go-to choice for budget travelers to Valladolid.
Check rates & book your stay at Hostel Candelaria!
Casa Aluxes Hotel — We absolutely adored our stay at this boutique hotel. The breakfast is fantastic, the service perfect, the inner courtyard and pools beautiful, and their location excellent. When we return to Valladolid yet again, we’ll definitely consider staying again.
Check rates & book your stay at Casa Aluxes Hotel!
Le Muuch Hotel — This luxury hotel in Valladolid offers spacious family rooms, excellent service, and a fantastic breakfast, all housed in a convenient location within walking distance of Valladolid’s major sights. The grounds include two beautiful pools, and the hotel’s hundreds of excellent reviews make it a sure bet when visiting Valladolid.
Check rates & book your stay at Le Muuch Hotel!
Valladolid is centrally located in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, far from any beaches but perfectly located for exploring Mayan ruins, cenotes, and more.
It’s about 2 hours (155 kilometers) from Cancun, about 1 hour, 45 minutes (140 kilometers) from Playa del Carmen, 1 hour, 30 minutes (100 kilometers) from Tulum, and 1 hour, 45 minutes (160 kilometers) from Merida .
While you could technically take a day trip from the Riviera Maya to Valladolid, in our opinion, the city is best used as a base–we’d only recommend visiting Valladolid as part of a day trip if you’re combining it with a visit to nearby attractions like Chichen Itza or Cenote Suytun.
If you’d like to visit Valladolid as part of a greater day trip from the Riviera Maya, we recommend this popular tour leaving from Cancun that includes a visit to Chichen Itza, Cenote Ik Kil, and Valladolid.
Book your day trip to Chichen Itza, Cenote Ik Kil, and Valladolid today!
Though Valladolid can easily be considered a year-round destination, the best time to visit Valladolid is from roughly November through March, when the temperatures are at their mildest and skies the clearest.
The late spring and summer months are extremely hot and humid, and a trip during these months will likely mean more time spent at the cenotes than on average in an effort to stay cool (not that that is a bad thing, exactly).
August and September are the rainiest months in Mexico’s Valladolid.
Wondering what to pack for your trip to Valladolid? Be sure to throw these items in your bag!
Travel Insurance — We don’t ever suggest traveling without insurance–anything can happen, and this is definitely a case of better safe than sorry. Traveling to Mexico is generally safe, of course, but it also likely involves stepping outside your comfort zone and trying out new adventures in a foreign land… where you may or may not speak the language. We use and recommend Safety Wing for trips to Mexico.
Comfortable Day Bag — We currently use Pacsafe’s sleek anti-theft backpack and love it, but if you don’t want to shell out the cash for this trip, that’s totally understandable. Just aim for something comfortable to wear, not flashy, and medium-sized–we used a Northface Jester backpack for years and loved it as well.
About Kate Storm
In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.
1 thought on “Magical Valladolid, Mexico: Things to Do + Travel Guide”
Thanks for all the information about Valladolid, we intend to spend 10 days there in April at the end of our winter snowbirding in Progreso. Looking forward to it. The information provided will be helpful.
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Valladolid Tourism: Best of Valladolid
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Valladolid Is Great For
Eat & drink
The great outdoors
- Hotel Posada San Juan
- Hotel Zenti'k Project
- Hotel Meson del Marques
- Le Muuch Hotel
- Casa Tía Micha
- IX CAT IK Mayan Cuisine
- El Meson del Marques
- Restaurante Ahal
- Yakunaj Cocina Mexicana
- Suytun Cenote
- Cenote Saamal
- Cenote Zaci
- Zazil Tunich
- Cenote Maya Park
- Cenote Maya Native Park Admission Ticket
- Rio Lagartos - Ek Balam from Valladolid
- Valladolid Mayan Bees Tour with Lunch or breakfast and Honey Tasting
- Cenotes Suytun tickets
- Experience to the Mayan Underworld (Cavern-Cenote)
travel and stay in Mexico
Valladolid ultimate travel guide.
Valladolid is an incredible hidden gem in the Yucatan state of Mexico, known for its natural beauty, thousands of cenotes, and the iconic Chichen Itza
Valladolid Ultimate Travel Guide – 2022
Valladolid is an incredible hidden gem in the Yucatan state of Mexico, known for its natural beauty, thousands of cenotes, and the iconic Chichen Itza .
Most people have heard about Merida , Cancun , Playa del Carmen , and Tulum ; however, if you plan to travel to the Yucatan Peninsula, you shouldn’t skip Valladolid.
Valladolid is a charming small city of 48,000 people with colorful homes, historic colonial buildings, and churches combined with a laid-back atmosphere and an authentic Mexican lifestyle.
Most people who visit Valladolid only go there for a day trip; however, this town does warrant at least two or three days to explore and appreciate it. So, If you have the time in your itinerary, you’ll be amazed at how beautiful and relatively inexpensive this town is.
Is Valladolid Mexico Safe?
Valladolid is located in Yucatan, considered the safest state in Mexico; therefore, for most travelers, Valladolid is a safe town to visit.
What’s the best time to visit Valladolid?
Weather-wise, the months of November to April are pleasant, with max temperatures oscillating between 25 to 32 degrees Celsius (78 to 89 F) and humidity at bay.
Although these months are high season for travel, Valladolid doesn’t get as crowded as other destinations.
How to get to Valladolid?
Valladolid does not have an airport. However, as Valladolid is centrally located between Merida and Cancun, you can either fly into the Cancun International Airport (code: CUN) or Merida International Airport (code: MID); then rent a car and drive or take a bus.
Renting a car is the easiest and most convenient way to travel to Valladolid; however, if you are not comfortable driving, you can take a bus.
Cancun to Valladolid by bus
You can catch the ADO bus from Cancun to Valladolid at the Cancun Centro (Downtown) station. The trip is about 2.5 hours each way, and the bus tickets average $250 pesos ($12USD) each way.
Cancun to Valladolid by car
Take Highway 180 and head west, and then take Highway 180D. Then, about an hour later, you’ll see the signs for Valladolid/Highway 295 South.
Highway 295 south will take you right into downtown Valladolid. The drive time is about two hours from Downtown Cancun or 2.5 hours from the Cancun Hotel Zone .
Recommendation: Download a map from Google Maps or Maps.Me before the trip, as you’ll likely lose cell signal for a while.
Tulum to Valladolid by bus
You can catch the ADO bus from Tulum to Valladolid at the Tulum Centro (Downtown) station. The trip is about 1.5 hours each way, and the bus tickets average $150 pesos ($7USD) each way.
Tulum to Valladolid by car
This is an easy drive, as you’ll only take one road the whole way. From Downtown Tulum , take Highway 109 northwest; when you cross into Yucatan state ( Tulum is in Quintana Roo state), the Highway changes to Highway 180, which takes you right to Valladolid. The drive time is about 1.5 hours.
Merida to Valladolid by bus
You can catch a bus at Terminal de Autobuses de Merida (TAME) on Calle 69 in Centro Historico (Downtown Merida). The trip is about 2.5 hours each way, and the bus tickets average $250 pesos ($12USD) each way.
Merida to Valladolid by car
Take Highway 180 east and then Highway 180D. Then, about an hour later, you’ll see the signs for Valladolid/Highway 295 South. Highway 295 south will take you right into downtown Valladolid. The drive is about two hours from Downtown.
How much time do you need in Valladolid?
Because of its size, you only need a few days in Valladolid; therefore, it’s the perfect place for a weekend trip from bigger and busier destinations like Cancun, Tulum, or Merida. However, Valladolid is still a good destination for a day trip if you don’t have too much time.
The ultimate guide to visiting Valladolid Mexico
1. stroll through calzada de los frailes.
The Calzada de los Frailes is known as the prettiest street in Valladolid. This is the street that leads you away from the city center towards the fort or the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena and the sign with the big, colorful Valladolid letters. While walking through the street, take the time to admire the colonial buildings, some painted in bright colors that house boutique shops, boutique hotels, bars, restaurants, and coffee shops.
2. Visit the Convent of San Bernandino
The Ex-Convento de San Bernardino de Siena is an ancient Franciscan Monk church and convent that dates back to about 1555. Its architecture, reminiscent of medieval fortresses, makes it a jewel worth visiting.
Just outside of the church grounds, you’ll find the Valladolid letters sign, which is colorful but a little worn down.
3. Have a spa day at Coqui Coqui Valladolid
Coqui Coqui is a perfume shop that also offers Spa treatments from massages and facials to entire holistic healing rituals.
4. Explore Cenote Zaci and other nearby Cenotes
Valladolid is hot for most of the year, so luckily, there are gorgeous cenotes nearby to cool off.
There are about 6,000 Cenotes in Yucatan; however, some of the most beautiful and popular ones are located in Valladolid, or within 45 minutes of town.
Cenote Zaci is the only cenote in the town of Valladolid, so there’s no need to get transportation. You can easily walk from Downtown. There are many signs or the tourist information to help guide you!
You can either swim or simply enjoy the view from the platform in this cenote.
Cenote Maya : visiting the Cenote Maya Native Park is a daylong experience, complete with an authentic Mayan blessing ceremony, a traditional meal, rappelling, rope swings, and the cenote itself.
Cenote Xkeken or Dzitnup : This is a unique underground Cenote, that is a must-visit.
Cenote Suytun : This cenote is located underground in a cave, with a platform in the center that is the perfect spot for an Instagram post.
5. Have a picnic in the main square
The main square in Valladolid has a little park and a white fountain, which isn’t all that impressive, but it certainly adds to the romantic atmosphere the little square exudes.
Grab some lunch or ice cream and lounge on one of the seats, and create our own little picnic.
6. Dine at one of the Main Square Restaurants
There’s a range of fabulous little restaurants on the main square that serve authentic Yucatan cuisine.
7. Admire the mix of the past and the present
Admire the conversion to Christianity with an explicit colonial touch (past); however, boutique shops are popping up in old colonial-style buildings and old haciendas serve as open-air restaurants (present)
8. Mercado Municipal
If visiting local markets is your thing, check out Mercado Municpal in the morning. This is a bustling place but one of the best places to visit in Valladolid for your dose of authentic, local culture.
9. Take a free walking tour
Joining a free walking tour is a great way to see Valladolid. In 2022 tours are available seven days a week, four times a day: 10am, 5pm 6pm and 7pm. The Valladolid Free Walking Tours start near the fountain in the main square.
10. Admire the art in Casa de los Venados
Valladolid does not abound in museums and art; however, the San Roque mansion and the Casa de los Venados (Deer House) boast a remarkable collection of local craftsmanship. You can find a plethora of handicraft pottery, furniture, and colorful textiles here. The entrance is free, but they accept donations that go to local charities.
11. Take a day trip to Chichen Itza and Ek Balam
Chichen Itza , one of the “Seven Wonders of the World,” is home to towering temples, sacred sinkholes, and curious Mayan ballcourts. Centrally located in the Yucatan Peninsula , this magnificent place is visited by 2.5 million people each year.
Chichen Itza covers 740 acres, and you can find several Mayan pyramids and unique Mayan archeological sites. Upon entering Chichen Itza , the first pyramid you see is El Castillo (AKA the Temple of Kukulcan); this is the Chichen Itza pyramid you’ve seen in photos. Other notable sites include the Temple of the Warriors, Group of a Thousand Columns, El Caracol Observatory, and Sacred Cenote.
Ek Balam is a smaller site that provides a totally different experience than Chichen Itza. The temples look very different, you can climb the ruins at Ek Balam, and is less crowded and less touristic.
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Best places to stay in valladolid, privacy overview.
Top Things to Do Around Valladolid Mexico: Yucatan Travel Guide
By: Author Aly Smalls
Posted on Published: January 18, 2020 - Last updated: October 9, 2023
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Mexico is a beautiful country full of mind blowing history, archaeological wonders and colorful hidden gem cities that you can only experience by getting off the beaten path.
One of the next up and coming Mexico destinations is Valladolid in the Yucatan.
It’s a central hub to many nearby ruins and cenotes, making it the perfect place for an authentic Mexico vacation.
This area in the Yucatan Peninsula is only 2 hours from Cancun, is safe for tourists and has enough attractions nearby to keep you busy for several days.
If you’re looking to get off the beaten path in Mexico, visiting Valladolid and nearby Ek Balam is just what you’re looking for.
There is so much more to do in Mexico than to stay at an all inclusive resort for a week!
Despite the many day trip options to Valladolid from Cancun and the Riviera Maya, this area is still considered ‘non touristy Mexico.’
But this hidden gem won’t stay undiscovered for long.
If you want to experience an authentic Mexican vacation, consider staying at least a few days in (or around) Valladolid and experience the Maya way of life, the fascinating history of the Spanish conquest (and the incredible fight that the Mayan warriors put up), the unique flavor profiles of the local cuisine and all the outdoor adventure and scenery you can handle.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only share products and services that I know, love and trust.
Where to Stay in and Around Valladolid
Plan to stay either right in the middle of Valladolid, or somewhere outside of town within a 20 minute drive or taxi ride.
If you’re planning to stay and visit the area for a week or more, I would recommend splitting your accommodations and trying 2 different locations to get the full rural Mexico travel experience.
An Eco Resort in the Jungle
We chose to stay outside of Valladolid and found a real hidden gem at this Eco Resort on Airbnb . Staying in a small Mayan village is definitely a unique experience.
We found it to be quiet and slowly paced which was relaxing. Since we had planned to do several day trips from Valladolid anyway, we figured it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle staying outside of town. g.
Important Travel Tip: How to Save Money on Airbnb Without a Referral or Discount Code
A Historic Hacienda
Another unique experience that not many tourists have done is to stay in a Hacienda on the outskirts of town.
Much like the ancient ruins, haciendas are large mansions built throughout the 17th and and 18th centuries on henequen plantations.
These were massive crops of a certain type of agave plant that was used to produce sisal, which is a strong fiber that had many uses and contributed to the economic boom in the Yucatan.
Now, many of these Haciendas have been turned into hotels with beautiful gardens and pools for guests to enjoy.
This Hacienda is more like a medieval castle and is only 15 minutes from Valladolid.
Best Hotels in Valladolid, Mexico
If you prefer to stay in Valladolid there are some great hotels in the centro area, all within walking distance the main attractions of Valladolid.
Hotel Fundadores is located perfectly in the middle of the centro area of Valladolid.
The pool is located in the middle of a picturesque courtyard and has the romantic second floor balcony archways that you find on many of the local government buildings.
Casa Tia Micha is my choice for best location and one of the top rated hotels in Valladolid.
With a 3 course breakfast served in the garden courtyard and being less than a 10 minute walk from the Zaci Cenote, you can’t go wrong with this choice.
And if you’re arriving in Valladolid via the ADO bus, Casa Marlene is another great choice, located just a few minutes walking distance away.
Room rates include breakfast and the hotel staff are exceptional at providing local recommendations about where to go and what to see.
Hotel Zentik Project & Saline Cave . This adult only hotel offers a unique saltwater pool located underground in a cave-like setting. There’s a second pool in the courtyard outside, and they’re both open 24 hours!
If you’re traveling to Valladolid as a couple and looking for some romantic things to do, the Hotel Zentik Project is a perfect choice.
The hot tub and salt water cave pool are perfect for a soak after a busy day climbing ruins and exploring the Mayan jungle.
Don’t feel like reading? Watch my Youtube video with all the details!
Things to do in Valladolid, Mexico
Mark my words, you will be hearing a lot about the small charming city of Valladolid, Mexico in the next few years.
The colorful facades that border the cobblestone streets are a visual feast for anyone, not just photographers with a keen eye.
And even if you are a photographer (or an aspiring one), you’ll be fishing with dynamite anywhere you look. Beyond admiring the colors and the architecture, here are the best things to do in Valladolid:
1. Get Lost and Wander Around Town
This is the best way to experience the charm of Valladolid. Just like any other village, town or city in the Yucatan Peninsula, Valladolid is centered around its main park square which is anchored by a cathedral.
Start your day in the square, and admire the stunning church from a few different angles. My favorite viewing spot is from the second floor balcony of the municipal building.
Not only does it have cute balcony viewing points, the entire hall is full of incredible murals that tell the history of the city.
Visiting the cathedral at the central square and admiring the architecture is definitely one of the top things to do in Valladolid.
2. Be Adventurous and Try Yucatecan Food
Yes, you are in Mexico and will be getting your fill of tacos and tostadas, but here in Valladolid they also serve up their local regional Yucatean cuisine.
It’s a little different than what you might be used to, but it’s piquante and full of flavor.
Many of the main ingredients are poultry and pork (lots of turkey here), sauces made out of all kinds of vegetables like pumpkin and of course, corn tortillas with pretty much every dish.
Try some of the most famous Yucatecan dishes like:
- Lomitos : this is a dish of savory chunks of pork, cooked in a rich tomato sauce full of spice and flavor, served with a white bean puree.
- Poc-Chuc : The main star of this dish is thinly sliced pork (or chicken if you prefer) marinated in a sour orange sauce served with pickled vegetables, black beans avocado.
- Longaniza : a locally made pork sausage with smokey flavor, not to be missed.
The best place to eat and try some of these dishes at El Atrio del Mayab which is a must visit restaurant in Valladolid. The prices were reasonable and the outdoor garden patio is airy and charming.
This restaurant is also right beside the cathedral.
3. Stroll Down Calzada de los Frailes
This is one of the best streets to wander in Valladolid and is also home to some yummy restaurants, including some great vegan ones.
Every facade of each building is different and freshly painted, making it a great spot to admire the different styles and colors.
There are boutique shops on the expensive side here, so you know this is a fancy street!
4. Visit the Valladolid Sign and the Convento de San Bernardino
Almost every cute town in Mexico has a giant letter sign spelling the name of the city (or at least all the towns with Pueblo Magico status).
But the one in Valladolid is my favorite, and in the photo below, you can see why.
Arrive just before dusk to see it in the daylight, and as the sun sets, the lights turn on for a moody display.
The San Bernardino Convent is located in the middle of Valladolid and is quite the site when you arrive on the grounds. It looks more like a fortified castle than a church.
Built in 1560, this massive fortress structure includes several chapels, a garden courtyard and its own cenote. There’s a small museum inside, but you won’t miss much if you choose to not enter.
There’s a nice park plaza that surrounds it, where we saw many locals lounging and having picnics. And don’t miss the 20 minute light show that starts just after 9:00pm every night.
5. Take a Dip in the Valladolid Cenote Zaci
There is a cenote located in the middle of town! This natural freshwater pool is chilly but refreshing, as it’s fed from the subterranean river system.
It’s only 30 pesos to enter, it’s nice and wide with rope swings and jumping platforms, and life jackets aren’t obligatory here.
There’s even a nice little waterfall in this cenote. It’s a beautiful spot, and if you’re staying at a hotel in Valladolid, you can visit Cenote Zaci early in the morning and be the only swimmer.
Travel Tip : if you eat at the restaurant on site, your entrance to the cenote is free.
The cenote in Valladolid is definitely worth an hour or two of your time on a hot day.
6. Watch Traditional Mayan Ceremonial Dances
The main square in ‘centro’ comes alive at night on the weekends and there are all kinds of performances to watch.
Whether it’s live music or a demonstration of a ceremonial dance, there’s no shortage of entertainment.
Sundays are the best days to visit in Valladolid, as it’s a big market and shopping day for the locals who come in from the rural areas.
Day Trips from Valladolid, Mexico
Valladolid is surrounded by gorgeous villages, ruins in the middle of the jungle and stunning cenotes.
But to visit any of these attractions, you will be taking at least half a day if not a full day trip to visit some of these sites.
Ek Balam Ruins
If you really want to get off the beaten path in Mexico, travel 20 minutes from Valladolid to Ek Balam. Here you will find both the ancient Mayan ruins and its neighboring town.
The Ek Balam ruins are a real hidden gem in Mexico and are much better than Chichen Itza, in my opinion.
At these Mayan ruins, not only can you climb to the top, the main pyramid is actually taller than the famous one at Chichen Itza.
Halfway up the pyramid you will soon find out why Ek Balam means Black Jaguar.
You’re greeted with a jaw-dropping display (pun highly intended) of what archaeologists believe is the main chamber of this pyramid that dates back to 800 AD.
The intricately carved symbols represent the three influences of the Maya universe: space, the earth and water.
The center of the jaws would be where the main king/ruler sat and overlooked his courtyard below. Ek Balam is truly a spot that’s off the beaten track from Cancun, as you will notice that a lot of site remains to be excavated here.
The entrance fee to the Ek Balam ruins is 400 pesos, and you will have to pay extra for a guide on site if you want a guided tour.
If you want to see the Ek Balam ruins from Cancun, this is one of the highest rated tours that includes a guide and a visit to a nearby cenote and lunch and beers.
If you prefer to stay at a hotel near Ek Balam, I recommend staying in the nearby village of the same name, at the Genesis Eco Resort , which is where we stayed (and loved).
There are treehouse-like rooms (which have private outdoor showers) and a pool designed like a cenote. You can rent bikes and find your way to ruins on your own.
Ek Balam Cenote (X’Canche)
Just over a mile away from the Ek Balam ruins is the Ek Balam cenote which is officially known as X’Canche. You should definitely visit.
This was one of our favorite cenotes in the Yucatan by far.
With a large opening and boardwalks and platforms to jump off, we had lots of fun swimming in the crystal clear water.
If you have ever played Far Cry 3, you will feel like you’re in the real life video game!
Ek Balam Village for Traditional Maya Classes
If you visit the quaint village of Ek Balam, you can try your hand at making chocolate, tortillas and hammock weaving with the locals.
Here we spent a couple hours making chocolate from scratch from one of the oldest residents in the village.
She invited us into her home where we started with roasting cacao beans over the fire for a few minutes. After that, we shelled them to reveal the rich cacao bean inside.
Next she showed us how to grind the beans down into a paste using a stone rolling pin and board. This was hard work but so much fun!
When it was finally down to a gooey paste, she added it and hot water to a hand powered ‘blender’ and then poured our hot cocoa into bowls made from the Jicara fruit (which you’ll see growing on trees everywhere).
Once we added some sugar, cinnamon and chili, it was the best hot chocolate we ever tasted!
After that we learned how to make corn tortillas from scratch, including grinding the corn kernels down into a flour.
This was mixed it into a paste to form little circles and then we baked them over the fire.
The real treat was when she cracked a fresh egg (from that morning) into the middle of the tortillas and made us our own little Mexican breakfast sandwich. We laughed, ate and learned a few phrases in the Maya language!
Many of the women in this village are highly skilled hammock weavers, and you can learn to weave your own hammock.
If you want to buy a locally made authentic hammock on your Mexico vacation, the ones made in EK Balam are of the highest quality.
Chichen Itza Ruins
The Chichen Itza ruins are only about a 45 minute drive (taxi ride) from Valladolid, so if you want to get your fill of seeing these ancient pyramids and cities, Valladolid is definitely a good hub.
Now designated as one of the 7 new wonders of the world, Chichen Itza is still impressive to visit even though you can’t climb the pyramid.
This is a very popular site so expect it to be busy.
One thing you can do for a much better experience is to take a private tour to Chichen Itza for early morning entry without the crowds.
Las Coloradas and Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve
For a day trip from Valladolid that’s a little different, plan a visit to Rio Lagartos and Los Coloradas for the ultimate nature tourism experience.
This is where you can explore the pink lakes called Las Coloradas which are the salt ponds that get their vibrant color from the algae and plankton organisms that thrive from the hot sun and salt.
Then you can explore the mangroves by boat and see an array of flora and fauna including flamingos and crocodiles.
Have lunch in San Felipe, a Caribbean fishing village with brightly painted clapboard houses and restaurants that serve fresh seafood.
To visit Los Coloradas and Rio Lagartos, it’s best to book a tour.
If you’re short on time, you can book this tour which combines a visit to Las Coloradas, Rio Lagartos and the Ek Balam ruins. You can also drive yourself and once you’re there, hire a guide on site to tour you around.
I recommend checking prices online first so that you have an idea what a standard price should be and not get ripped off!
More Cenotes Near Valladolid to Visit
One of the biggest attractions of the Yucatan Peninsula is the massive network of cenotes. And while I’ve already mentioned a few cenotes above, there are tons more in the area.
I highly recommend checking out as many you can, since visiting cenotes are some of the top things to do in this area. Not only are they super refreshing on a hot day, they are all a little different from one to the next.
There are lots of locals guides or drivers that you can hire for a day to take you off the beaten path and do your own private cenote hopping tour.
This is the closest cenote to Chichen Itza and is therefore quite popular and very commercialized. Nonetheless, its vast beauty is breathtaking and is worth a visit if you’ve never been.
With lockers and towels available to rent and a restaurant on site, you have everything you need for a few hours of fun. This one gets crowded, so get here early if you can.
This is a famous cenote for the sunbeam that shines down on a platform for a perfect picture.
Since the only natural light is from the small opening above, it’s best to go around noon for the best light. If you want to visit for an epic photo shoot, this place is amazing.
If you care more about swimming, I would visit a different cenote as the water here is colder than most and the entrance fee is higher, at 120 pesos.
This one is a little touristy as many tour buses make a stop and there’s a small market with many vendors that you walk through for access to the cenote entrance.
Cenotes Dzitnup/X’keken and Samula
Here there are 2 cenotes very close together and you can choose to pay to enter one or both. Each are different, so if you’re trying to visit as many cenotes on this trip, these two are very close together.
Just pay the entrance fee for both and decline any vendors who want to provide you a tour (unless you really want to). Some may try to mislead you and tell you that you need a tour guide to enter, but you don’t, just the admission fee.
Plan to visit in the morning for less crowds and on a sunny day for the best chance to see the dreamy light beams shining through from above.
Swimming here, you will also notice the little Lu fish that are a specific type of fish that live in the cenotes. They are harmless, but if you stay still long enough you will feel them gently nibble at your heels just as you would if you have ever experienced the fish pedicure at the spa!
It doesn’t hurt, it just tickles and it’s kinda fun!
How to Get to Valladolid from Cancun
From the Cancun airport you can take a modern ADO bus that is probably more comfortable than your flight you arrived on!
You can check the ADO bus schedule online and purchase your tickets from the website, or you can buy them in the airport terminal at the red ADO booth.
You might have to take one bus to the downtown Cancun bus station and then another one from there to Valladolid, but it should be less than 3 hours total for the whole trip. The ADO bus is a very inexpensive and safe way to get to Valladolid from Cancun.
If you’re driving yourself, just make sure you have a full tank of gas and hit the highway towards Mérida. You’ll have the option to take the toll road (quota) or the free route (libre).
The toll will be about 200 pesos, but you will save an hour of driving time and feel much safer. The toll fare does include additional insurance for your vehicle on the road and emergency roadside assistance if you need it (just dial *78).
How Many Days You Should Stay in the Valladolid Area
Since there are so many unique places to visit in Mexico and particularly in the Yucatan Peninsula, I would recommend combining a visit to Valladolid with a stay in another location (or more).
Staying 3 nights in this area will give you enough time to take part in some non touristy Mexico travel experiences.
Of course, you could stay longer, but after 5 nights in this spot, you might find yourself looking to move on to other areas.
On the other hand, if you’re visiting Valladolid on a day trip from Tulum, Playa del Carmen or Cancun, find a tour that combines a visit to some Mayan ruins, a cenote and a quick stop in the city and that will give you a taste of the region.
Final Thoughts on Going Off the Beaten Path and Visiting Valladolid, Mexico
It’s safe to holiday in Mexico, and there are so many off the beaten path hidden gems to discover when you leave the resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
I think Valladolid is one of the best non-beach places to visit in Mexico because in addition to the close access to important ruins and amazing cenotes, this small city has all the color and architecture of larger centers like Merida, but isn’t near as busy.
Travel Insurance for Mexico
I do recommend looking into purchasing travel insurance for your trip. While Mexico is safe to visit, there are other reasons why having insurance is important.
Now that I’m in my 30s, I’m always a little more concerned about the random possibility of accidentally rolling my ankle from climbing the steep stairs of a pyramid or when we go hiking.
We’ve experienced the occasional food not agreeing with us, and Chris has suffered some bad heat stroke, so we always make sure we’re covered when we travel to Mexico.
We use World Nomads travel insurance , and I love it because you get an instant free quote and it clearly outlines exactly what you’re covered for. There are tons of different options for coverage and it’s flexible.
What’s more, is that if you’ve already left on vacation, you can still purchase it on your trip. It’s perfect for adventurous or active travelers because they cover specific activities and even sports equipment.
Have Fun and Discover More Places in Mexico!
Enjoy your trip getting off the beaten path in Mexico by exploring Valladolid, Ek Balam and the surrounding area! We loved traveling through this rural area of the Yucatan Peninsula and there are so many other great areas to explore!
Check out my guides about visiting Merida, which is 2 hours west (a beautiful historic city) and Holbox Island, which is 2 hours north:
26 THINGS TO DO IN MÉRIDA, MEXICO: A HIDDEN GEM CITY
VISITING HOLBOX ISLAND, MEXICO | COMPLETE TRAVEL GUIDE AND TIPS
12 THINGS TO DO IN HOLBOX FOR THE ULTIMATE MEXICO ISLAND VACATION
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