Steeped in Mayan heritage and colonial charm, Valladolid Mexico, is one of the best places to visit in the country. Valladolid is mainly known as the base for visiting one of the New Wonders of the World – the mighty Chichen Itza. It is also famous for hundreds of Valladolid Cenotes situated near the city, and swimming in cenotes is one of the top things to do in Valladolid by far!
Valladolid is one of the ‘pueblos magicos’, which in Spanish means magic city, and there is an excellent reason why the city received this honourable title! Apart from the Chichen Itza and cenotes, Valladolid is a great destination in its own right. Picture quaint churches, pastel-painted buildings lining the colourful streets, and tranquil parks where you can taste some of the best street food and watch the local, laid-back vibe.
This post is a complete Valladolid travel guide to all the super cool things to do and the best day trips from Valladolid, including my personal favourite trip to the city of Izamal! You will also learn about the best restaurants in Valladolid, the best hotels in Valladolid and all the nitty-gritty travel tips that will make your Mexico vacation in Valladolid perfect. Happy travels!
Valladolid Mexico Quick Guide
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🚖 Book your private transfer to Valladolid from Cancun Airport.
Where is Valladolid Mexico?
Valladolid Mexico (not the one in Spain 😉 ) is situated on the Yucatan Peninsula, tucked between the famous holiday resort – Cancun and up and coming tourist destination – Merida. Both cities can be reached within two hours from Valladolid. Valladolid is also only about a 45-minutes drive away from Chichen Itza, 1.5 hours from Tulum and about 2 hours from Playa del Carmen.
Most tourists stay in Cancun and only visit Valladolid on a day trip in combination with Chichen Itza, but I highly recommend you to add Valladolid to your Mexico itinerary and stay in the city for at least a few days. The next sections talk about all the cool things to do in Valladolid Yucatan, and you’ll understand why you need more time to spend there.
Valladolid Mexico Map
( Click anywhere on the map to open the interactive version)
What to expect from Valladolid Yucatan Mexico?
Valladolid is a laid-back city famous for its beautiful church situated on the city’s main square and colourfully painted buildings with hidden courtyards.
After visiting ultra-touristy destinations such as Cancun, Tulum and Isla Mujeres, Valladolid was a breath of fresh air for me being an authentic Mexican city. It felt like a delightful blend of tradition, culture and a touch of hipster!
Valladolid is perfect for taking photos, with every street corner, every church and every building being picture-worthy! I also enjoyed a great selection of hipster cafes and chic boutiques with sustainable fashion but also had some best traditional street food in Valladolid, like marquesitas!
Best places to stay in Valladolid Mexico
Hotel Zentik Project & Saline Cave – Unique Adults-Only Hotel with Cave Pool
Situated 1.8 km (22 minutes walk) from the main square in Valladolid, Hotel Zentik Project features a unique cave with hot and salty water and another outdoor pool surrounder my loungers and hammocks. Guests can also enjoy a complimentary American breakfast, free parking, a spa centre, an onsite restaurant, and a bar.
Le Muuch Hotel Boutique – Boutique Hotel, 6 min walk to centre
Le Muuch Hotel is situated right in the heart of Valladolid, a 6-minute walk to the main square. The hotel features two pools – one indoor and one outdoor, a complimentary a la carte breakfast and free parking. All rooms are equipped with a coffee machine and fridge, while some come with a kitchen. The hotel also boasts a restaurant and a bar.
Read also | Best Hotels in Valladolid Mexico for All Budgets
Best things to do in Valladolid Mexico
#1 Visit the World Wonder – Chichen Itza
Not really one of the things to see in Valladolid city, but it has to be mentioned first as many people come to Valladolid primarily to see the mighty Chichen Itza pyramid. And, if you’ve never seen it before, Valladolid Mexico is an excellent base for visiting Chichen Itza.
Apart from being one of the Seven New World Wonders, Chichen Itza is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site; but what is it actually? Well, Chichen Itza was a super important Mayan city back in 600 AD that boasted a robust economy and architectural superiority.
The most famous part of Chichen Itza is the Kulkulan Pyramid (also known as El Castillo), which was a temple devoted to Kulkulan and a giant calendar! The temple has 365 steps representing days in the year and four sides representing four seasons. The pyramid was used to teach things like when to plant seeds and harvest crops. Another curious fact about Chichen Itza is that it takes its name from the nearby cenote – Sacred Cenote, which was used for sacrificial offerings. Chichen means ‘mouth of the wells’, and Itza refers to the name of a Mayan tribe that lived nearby.
There are numerous ways you can visit Chichen Itza; one of them is taking a private Chichen Itza Tour from Valladolid. You can also visit Chichen Itza independently. Rent a car in Cancun or a scooter in Valladolid and drive to Chichen Itza yourself. You can also take a Colectivo bus from Valladolid city centre.
TIP | The best time to visit Chichen Itza is in the early morning to avoid the crazy crowds and the heat of the day. Arrive at the gate before the opening time, ideally at 7:20 am, to be one of the first in the queue.
You may also like: Chichen Itza from Valladolid | Tips & 2022 Prices
Photography Tips | Chichen Itza is extremely busy, and to snap that perfect photo without unwanted crowds in the background, you need to be fast. As soon as you enter the site in the morning, head behind the main pyramid, where you can get the best photos. Use trees or small bushes to create another dimension, and don’t forget to photograph El Castillo from an angle!
Chichen Itza Opening Time | 8 am to 4:30 pm
Chichen Itza Entrance Fee | 571 pesos ($29)
#2 Swim in a cenote
Visiting a few cenotes is definitely one of the most fun things to do Valladolid Mexico is famous for, and there are so many cenotes to choose from!
Imagine that millions of years ago, the Yucatan Penisula was a huge coral reef that at some point dried out, leaving the limestone rocks exposed to the erosive powers of sun, wind and rain. Over time, caves and tunnels were formed underground, some flooded with water. This is how cenotes in Mexico were formed. The youngest cenotes in Yucatan are still hidden underground, and the oldest cenotes have their roofs partially or entirely collapsed.
Cenotes vary in depth from a few meters up to hundreds of meters, and their water is normally exceptionally clean, being filtered through the ground over a long time. The cenotes near Valladolid are privately owned and open to the public. They are regulated and safe to swim. Each cenote is unique, and if you need help in deciding which Valladolid cenote to visit, I’m leaving a link to the full guide below.
You may also like – Guide to Valladolid Cenotes.
You can also visit cenotes on tour, and here are the two best cenote tours:
All-Inclusive Tour Cenotes Valladolid | On this tour, you will visit three incredible cenotes – Cenote Suytun, Cenote Chukum and Chichikan. The tour includes water and lunch and leaves from Valladolid.
Cenote Tour Valladolid by Bike | On this Valladolid cenote tour, you will visit Cenote Oxman and Cenote Xkeken, as well as a local market and a Mayan village where you will learn more about the Mayan culture and learn how to make tortillas.
#3 Take an Instagram famous photo at Cenote Suytun
Another must-do thing in Valladolid Mexico is snapping an epic shot at Cenote Suytun! If you’ve ever scrolled through Instagram photos from Mexico, you must have seen the picture of it!
Suytun is a cavern cenote, which means that there is only a small opening in the cenote ceiling that is located directly over a circular platform in the middle of the cenote pool. If you visit the cenote around midday, on a sunny day, an incredible light beam illuminates the platform creating an extra-terrestrial sight! Cenote Suytun Mexico is also unique for its stunning stalactites hanging from the ceiling.
Cenote Suytun is located 8.4 km east of the city centre. The best way to get here is by car or motorbike, and it is also possible to get here by taxi and expect to pay around 100 pesos each way.
Photography Tips | If you want the Instagram-worthy photo of the circular platform of the cenote, arrive at Suytun as early as possible, preferably for the opening time. Otherwise, expect to wait in a large queue. The staff at cenote Suytun allows only 60 seconds per person for a photo on the platform, so prepare the camera settings and the poses ahead. If you’re an avid photographer, bring a tripod and shoot at a low shutter speed to help your camera lens capture as much light as possible.
Cenote Suytun Opening Time | 9 am to 5 pm
Entrance Fee | 150 pesos ($8)
#4 Visit the Valladolid church – Iglesia de San Servacio
Situated right by the main city square – the Church of Saint Servatius is Valladolid’s most recognisable landmark and a place where you can start your city sightseeing.
This catholic church was built at the beginning of the 18th century to replace the old colonial church in the same place. The old church was facing the West as most colonial churches built in Yucatan, which was frowned upon in the later years, and it was a good enough reason to demolish the old temple and start from scratch.
The current church was given a new orientation, and its main facade is North-orientated, towards the city’s main square. It boasts a stone-carved front with arabesques, a royal crown, a white sparrow hawk and a palm. In the centre, there is a clock, which is the only public clock in the city, and the main entrance is hugged by two square towers.
During my stay in Valladolid, Iglesia de San Servacio was mainly closed during the day and only opened in the evening, before sunset, so take this into account if you want to peek inside.
Photography Tips | The best time to photograph Valladolid church is in the morning when the sun illuminates its front facade. You can get some cool shots from different places on the square, including the park, the City Hall and its archway.
Location | Iglesia de San Servacio
#5 Chill on Valladolid Main Squere – Parque Principal
Valladolid Mexico was built in a colonial settlement style with the main square in the heart of the city and wide streets coming from it. In the main square of Valladolid, you can find a pretty park with lush greenery, stone benches and a fountain in its centre.
The best time to enjoy the park is in the late afternoon and early evening, when the park fills with families, couples and friends talking and chilling in its shade. In the evening, you can also find here the best marquesitas and churros vendors! Having a marquesita in the city’s main park is by far one of the best things to do in Valladolid!
If you come at the busiest time, you will have to wait in line for a while before you get your sweet treat, but it’s all part of the experience! Once you get your marquesita, sit in one of the Valladolid iconic double seaters and people-watch while enjoying your snack.
TIP | When booking your hotel in Valladolid Mexico, make sure you have walking distance to the city’s square!
Location | Parque Principal Francisco Canton Rosado
#6 Stroll La Calzada de los Frailes
The Road of the Friars dates all the way back to the 16th century when it was built to connect Valladolid with the Indian villages of Sisal.
Today, it’s a semi-pedestrianised street that connects the city centre with the Convent of San Bernardino and the Sisal neighbourhood. Taking a leisurely stroll along it is one of the best Valladolid Mexico things to do! Here you can find hipster cafes such as Le Kaat, specialising in healthy international cuisine with a Mexican twist, artisanal ice cream shops and artisanal coffee.
If you want to do some shopping in Valladolid Mexico, including chic and sustainable fashion, cool accessories, and unique souvenirs, the road of the Friars is also perfect for that.
Walking towards the convent, don’t forget to spot a traditional, entirely preserved Mayan house on your right and on your left, a colourfully painted door frame which makes for a quick but cute shot.
Photography Tip | The best time for taking pictures of La Calzada de Los Frailes is in the late afternoon when the light is softer.
Location | La Calzada de los Frailes
#7 Explore Convento de San Bernardino de Siena
At the end of the Road of the Friars, you will find a large complex of the ex Franciscan convent.
The convent is located in the neighbourhood of Sisal, which was an old Mayan town. The name Sisal is derived from the Mayan Ziiz-Ha, which means cold water, probably because of the cenote that is located inside the convent. The convent was built in the 16th century by the Franciscans to educate and convert the indigenous people to Christianity.
The site consists of the convent, temple, Indian chapel, and a water wheel built a little later. The facade of the building has a long arched hallway and a renaissance-style stone-carved doorway, and it faces a large green area where the local people come for a picnic.
I highly recommend paying the small entrance fee that gives you access inside the ex-convent and to its small garden where the cenote is located. Inside, you will find a bizarre-looking courtyard surrounded by archways and corridors painted in bright pink and red! If you’re a photography lover like me, you will love this place!
The convent is never too busy, so any time of the day during its opening hours is good to visit.
Location | Convento of San Bernardino de Siena
Opening Times | 9 am to 6 pm Monday to Saturday
Entrance | 30 pesos ($1.5)
#8 Snap a photo with Valladolid letters
After visiting the ex-convent, don’t forget to check out the Valladolid letters located in front of the convent building in Sisal Park. Every Pueblo Magico (magic city) in Mexico seems to have a set of colourful letters, and Valladolid is no different. I’m not a massive fan of taking photos with the city letters, but I must admit I was well impressed with the ones in Valladolid!
So, without overthinking it, go and treat yourself to a fun photo with the letters!
Any time is good to take a quick picture, but expect a small queue.
Location | Valladolid letters
#9 Watch the light & music projection at the convent
Watching the light show at the ex-convent is hands down one of the best Valladolid Yucatan things to do at night! The light projection takes place every day with two sessions – one in Spanish at 9 pm and one in English at 9:30 pm. Take a seat in front of the main entrance to the ex-convent – there is plenty of space on the grass or the concrete seating wall that runs along the edge of the lawn.
The show is projected on the main building facade and shows beautiful scenes from the history of Valladolid, starting from the pre-Colombina area until the present time. The show is short and easy to follow. Don’t forget to bring some snacks and drinks and something warm as the evenings in Valladolid may get a little chilly.
Straight after the show, a group of Mayan men dressed in their traditional attires start an unofficial show consisting of wild chanting and dancing with fire torches. The show is actually very entertaining, so I recommend you to stay and watch it. And, of course, the group is doing it for tips, so if you decide to stay and enjoy it, don’t forget to contribute with a small tip.
Photography Tips | Taking photos at the light show is a little tricky and challenging. If you really want some photos, make sure you bring your tripod; otherwise, it won’t be possible to take any decent shots. Place your tripod somewhere where you won’t get any people obstructing the view, and shoot at a slow shutter speed, below one second. I forgot my tripod and took photos with my iPhone 12 Pro, and they turned out very decent.
Location | Convento of San Bernardino de Siena
When | Tuesday to Sunday, 9 pm in Spanish, 9:30 pm in English
#10 Take a Valladolid free walking tour
A great way of getting to know a new city is taking a ‘free’ walking tour on the first day you arrive. The Valladolid tours are run by the locals, and my favourite part is that you can ask them any questions you have about the city and its heritage as well as restaurant recommendations. I’ve done these tours in different cities in Mexico, and each time I really loved it.
The meeting point is on the city’s main square, and in about one and a half hours, you will get to know a little bit more about colonial times, the Mayan heritage, and Valladolid must see places. Your guide will also take you to the local market to show you the local life and regional foods.
Please note that the tour is not really free, you are expected to pay a tip, and some guides will actually mention the amount. It is, however, going to be very small, around $7 per person.
Location | Free walking tour Valladolid
Tour times | 10 am and 5 pm
Cultural Valladolid things to do
#11 Take a tour of Casa de Los Venados
One of the best things to do in Valladolid for the culture and art enthusiasts is taking a tour of Casa de Los Venados, situated in the city’s heart. Casa de Los Venados is a private hacienda owned by a couple of art connoisseurs from the US that gathered over 3,000 pieces of Mexican folk art. Many of the items were commissioned specifically for this house by some of the most famous artists of Mexico. The house is open to the public, and anyone is invited to come on a guided tour.
The house is 400 years old, and it’s been renovated between 2000 and 2008. It boasts a beautiful courtyard and multiple bedrooms, each with a different theme. My favourite bedroom was one dedicated to Frieda Kahlo! You also get to visit the private quarters where the owners actually live. The most impressive room is their dining room with stunning table and chairs, and even the kitchen is filled with splendid pieces of art!
As this is a private house, the only way to visit is on a guided tour. The guide is super knowledgeable and gives super interesting information and anecdotes about the most important exhibits.
During my visit, multiple tours were available during the day – at 10 am, 11:30 am, 1 pm, 2 pm and 3 pm. You can also contact them if you require more information.
Location | Casa de los Venados
Entrance | Donation of 100 pesos
Tour time | 10 am (no reservation require)
#12 Learn history at Museo San Roque
San Roque is a one-room museum dedicated to the local history, including the Mayan heritage, with a few artefacts, sculptures and paintings. It also features a couple of information boards with Mayan documents and tales, but unfortunately, they are only displayed in Spanish. The entrance is, however, free, so it is still worth popping in on your way to the local market.
Location | Museum San Roque
Entrance | Free
#13 See ethnic wear at Museo de Ropa Etnica de Mexico
If you’re looking for more cultural Valladolid things to see, you can’t miss this small museum! It is located on a quiet street behind the tranquil park – Parque San Juan. The entrance is donation based, and the place is really worth you’re time.
The museum is a beautiful collection of colourful and vibrant clothes worn by different Mexican ethnic communities. The host in charge of the place is super friendly and happy to give you valuable commentary about the museum exhibits so that you can better understand the skills and customs behind them.
Location | MUREM
Entrance | By donation
Opening time | 10 am to 6 pm, every day
Foodie things to do in Valladolid México
If you’re a complete foodie like me and wonder what to do in Valladolid Mexico, to satisfy your taste buds, this section is for you!
#14 Eat a burrito made with love at Burrito Amor
Having a burrito at Burrito Amor is hands down the best foodie activity to do in Valladolid! I have always loved Mexican cuisine, and I had some big culinary expectations before my trip to Mexico, and Burrito Amor still managed to amaze me!
The restaurant is situated across the park (Parque Candelaria) in a cute, red-painted colonial building and overlooks a quaint, colourful church. Burrito Amor is one of the best places if you’re looking for the best Valladolid photo spots! It specialises in burritos (as you can guess from its name), and the menu has excellent vegetarian options. Burrito Amor is equally great for lunch or dinner!
Location | Burrito Amor Valladolid
#15 Take a cooking class Valladolid Mexico
One of the best things to do Valladolid in Mexico for foodies is taking a cooking class on authentic Mexican dishes. The cooking class that I recommend below is carried out by a professional chef and includes a 6-course gourmet dinner!
Your instructor first takes you shopping at the local market for ingredients and some snacks. You will get to learn the secrets of traditional Mexican cuisine and important ingredients. And, in the end, you’ll get to enjoy the delicious food you have made yourself!
#16 Gorge on marquesitas & churros
One of the best foodie things to do in Valladolid Mexico is trying a marquesita! You probably heard of Mexican churros, but not everyone knows about marquesitas, which are another excellent desert. Marquesitas come from Yucatan and are crispy crepes rolled like tacos and filled with a choice of ingredients such as banana, Nutella, Philadelphia cheese or Edam cheese.
You can find marquesitas all over Yucatan, but I have had the best ones on the main plaza Mexico Valladolid! They are prepared fresh by street food vendors in the late afternoon, and sometimes to get one from one of the best marquesita chefs, you will have to wait in line!
Location | Parque Principal Valladolid
#17 Try cochinita pibil at El Tigrillo
If you’re a meat lover, you must try the traditional Yucatan street food – conchita pibil at a highly starred street food cart – El Tigrillo!
Conchita pibil is a slow-roasted pork dish. The meat is first marinated in a strong acid citrus juice and annatto seeds from which it gets its orange colour. The meat is super tender and juicy, and it is served in a taco or sandwich accompanied by pickled onion.
Being vegetarian, I passed on this experience, but my partner Robin really enjoyed the conchita pibil tacos. Right by the El Tigrillo stand, there is a lady selling freshly squeezed orange juice and ice-cold Jamaica drink, which are both great to have with your tacos.
Location | El Tigrillo
#18 Have an ice cream at Wabi Gelato
Another exciting food to try in Valladolid is an artisan ice cream from Wabi Gelato! Wabi Gelato is a small independent ice cream shop that makes homemade ice cream, including some unique flavours such as spicy lemon. Ice cream flavours vary depending on the day, so feel free to ask the friendly owners for their recommendations! Whichever flavour you choose, expect a mouth-watering taste with no artificial additives! In front of the shop, you can find a small seating area where you can enjoy your gelato!
Wabi Gelato is located a few minutes walk east of the main square.
Location | Wabi Gelato Valladolid
#19 Eat papadzules
Make sure you also sample the regional dish of Yucatan Penisula – papadzules! Papadzules look a little like – they are corn tortillas filled with hard-boiled eggs and dipped in a rich pumpkin sauce, and garnished with cooked tomatoes and peppers sauce. Papadzules is believed to be a pre-Hispanic dish made by the Mayans and a precursor of the more modern enchiladas. You can find them all over Yucatan, served in traditional cantinas and restaurants. They are a great dish to have for breakfast or lunch!
#20 Gorge on seasonal fruit
What I loved the most about Valladolid, is that you could buy fresh fruits everywhere on its streets. Usually, in the evening, you could find small carts parked in various places of the city selling freshly cut mango, papaya and pineapple. Also, near the main Valladolid bus terminal, there is an old lady that sells oranges. She skillfully takes the skin off them and cuts them into pieces, ready to be eaten. From how precise and quick she does it, you can tell she spent years on this street selling oranges.
Make sure you buy some fruit during your trip to Valladolid to get your 5 a day and support the local vendors.
#21 Have dinner at Bazar Municipial Vallalodid Yucatán
If you’re looking for an affordable place to try some of the traditional Mexican dishes, go to Bazar Municipal, situated in the northeastern part of the city’s main square. The Bazar is set in a picturesque colonial building, and it’s more like a food market than a Bazar, which offers various food options, including a Chinese stand. There is also a cafe that makes super tasty frappes!
Location | Bazar Valladolid
More things to do in Yucatan Valladolid
#22 Check out Palacio Municipial – Valladolid City Hall
The City Hall is located in the historic building in the southeastern corner of Valladolid main square. The entrance is free, and it is really worth adding Palacio Municipal to your schedule, I explain why below.
The entrance to the city hall is located inside the archway passage, as you come inside, head upstairs, where you will find a long corridor filled with stunning art. Each painting has an information sign where you can read about its meaning, which is super interesting. They contain lots of symbols of the Mayan people, their gods and beliefs and the Spanish conquistadors.
From this place, you can also get a great view over the park and the stunning Valladolid Mexico cathedral! There are also a couple of more rooms filled with historical books and paintings and a small courtyard at the back of the building.
Location | Palacio Municipial Valladolid
#23 Snap a photo at the colourful Iglesia de la Candelaria
Iglesia de la Candelaria is a super charming church located in a tranquil neighbourhood of la Candelaria, a 10-minute walk from the Valladolid main square. The church is painted in vibrant orange and has a small park in front of it where you can take a few minutes to rest and admire the church’s facade.
Another great way of enjoying the view of the church is having lunch in one of the best Valladolid Mexico restaurants – Burrito Amor! Choose the table that overlooks the church, have a burrito or just a drink and just take in the gorgeous view.
Location | Iglesia de la Candelaria
#24 Visit Church of Santa Ana Valladolid
Another beautiful church to visit is Santa Ana Church, located a few minutes walk east of the main square, close to Cenote Zaci and Mercado Municipal. The church is painted with a bright shade of yellow and has a stoned carved facade. There is a small park just across the street from the church where you can relax in the shade and people-watch.
Location | Church of Santa Ana
#25 Spend an afternoon at Cenote Zaci
Cenote Zaci is located right in the city’s heart, just 600 meters or 7 minutes walk from the main square. Zaci, also known as Cenote Zacil-ha, is a semi-open cenote with plenty of light coming through the opening and lush greenery growing on the sinkhole walls and some artificial waterfalls gently dripping into the pool.
What’s unique about this cenote is that the access stairs and corridors were carved into the rocks allowing visitors to explore almost the whole length of the cenote. And multiple staircases provide access to the water at various points of the cenote, which is useful when the cenote is busy. The water is super refreshing and great for swimming, and if you’re lucky, you will be able to spot black catfish.
Zaci also features a jumping platform that is raised at 8-10 meters above the water and can certainly give you a little bit of an adrenaline rush if you decide to have a go!
Location | Zaci Cenote
#26 Check out Iglesia San Juan
The church is located right in front of San Juan Park, and you can check it out on your way to the Museo de Ropa Etnica. The church dates back to colonial times, it’s got a simple stone facade and two bell towers on both sides of the main entrance.
Unfortunately, the church remains close most of the time, but your best chance to take a peek inside is just before the sunset or Sunday morning during the mass service.
Location | Saint John Catholic Church Valladolid
#27 Watch local life at Mercado Municipal
Set in a magnificent colonial edifice with a beautiful archway and painted in bright yellow, you can find the city’s local market. Mercado Municipal is an excellent place for experiencing local life and people-watching. Come here in the morning to experience the busy vibe, the colours and the variety of the merchandise.
If you’re looking for local street food, you will find Mexican dishes here such as tacos, conchita pibil and tamales. You can also stock up here on fresh fruits and veggies and find some souvenirs to take home.
Mercado Munipial is located near Cenote Zaci, a 15-minutes walk east of Valladolid’s main square.
Location | Mercado Municipila Valladolid
Opening time | Every day, 5 am to 4 pm
Best Day trips from Valladolid Mexico
If you’re staying longer in Valladolid and have a spare day or two, check out this section where I share the best things to do around Valladolid Mexico.
#28 Visit the Yellow City – Izamal
Visiting the quaint town of Izamal is the best Valladolid day trip you can take, and I highly recommend you check this cute town out! Izamal is also known as the Yellow City, and when you arrive, you will quickly realise why it’s called that! All the buildings in its historic part are painted yellow! But why yellow, you may ask? The city was painted yellow (which is one of the papacy colours) for the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1993.
Izamal has a chilled, small-town vibe, and it’s super compact and easy to explore on foot. Make sure you visit the historic Convento de San Antonio, located in the city’s heart and a tranquil park opposite the convent.
If you’re an ancient history enthusiast, you will also be in for a treat because Izamal is home to five Mayan pyramids! The largest, 34 meters high, is the Kinich Kakmó dedicated to the Maya Sun god – Kinich Kak Moo (macaw of the solar fire face). Kinich Kakmo is the third-largest pyramid in the whole Yucatan Peninsula and one of the few that you can still climb!
You may also like | Izamal Mexico – A Guide to the Yellow City of Yucatan
Location | Izamal | 95 km of Valladolid
#29 Explore the ruins of Ek Balam
Situated 28 km northeast of Valladolid Yucatán, the archaeological site of Ek Balam is one of the most popular and easy day trips from Valladolid.
Ek Balam, which means “the black jaguar” was an important Mayan city built between 100 & 300 A.D. and inhabited for over 1000 years, covering 12 km squared and encompassing 45 structures, including two castles, multiple temples, city walls, a ball court and the largest pyramid 30 meters high – El Torre.
Today, we can only see about 2 km square of the city, with the most important buildings located on the Central and South Plazas. The sheer sizes and intricate decorative techniques indicate how sophisticated the creators of this grand city were.
If you have more time, after exploring the ruins, head to the Ek Balam Cenote, which is situated within the same archaeological site. Ek Balam or Cenote Xcanche is a mostly open cenote with 90 meters deep water and lush greenery covering its walls. Most tourists only visit the ruins, so you may have it entirely to yourself!
Location | Ek Balam Mexico
Entrance fee | 490 pesos ($24), cenote 170 pesos ($8)
Opening times | 8 am to 5 pm
#30 Visit the archaeological site of Coba
The ruins of Coba are located 60 km southeast of Valladolid and 47 km of Tulum. Visiting Coba is one of the best things to do near Valladolid for ancient history lovers and explorers!
Coba was another super important Mayan settlement, and Coba means “waters stirred by the wind” as the settlement is surrounded by two large lagoons.
What’s unique about Coba is that it is a cluster of multiple Mayan cities, all connected to the central pyramid – Nohoch Mul, with a network of sacbéob, which are ceremonial white roads. The whole site is still largely undiscovered, but it is believed that there are over 6,000 structures!
The main pyramid of the site – Nahoch Mul is the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan Penisula, measuring 42 meters which is more than El Castillo at Chichen Itza. And, the best part is that you can still climb its 120 steps. For the best experience, arrive early in the morning, before it gets hot. The climb is challenging, but at the top, you will be rewarded with impressive panoramic jungle views.
The best way to explore the Coba ruins is to hire a bicycle as the site is pretty large. You can also visit on a tour.
Location | Coba Mexico
Entrance Fee | 100 pesos ($5) + 60 pesos ($3) parking
Opening times | 8 am to 4 pm
#31 Tour Rio Lagartos & Las Coloradas Pink Lake
A visit to Rio Lagartos is another excellent day trip from Valladolid Mexico, situated 106 km north or about 90 minutes drive. Rio Lagartos has been recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for its rich fauna and flora and its importance as a nesting ground for many endangered species.
The best way of exploring Rio Lagartos is by taking a boat tour through its mangroves and wetlands. Here you can spot Carrabean Pink Flamingoes, turtles, crocodiles and hundreds of different species of birds. Pink Flamingoes can be spotted in Rio Lagartos all year round, but the best chance of seeing lots of them is between March and June, which is hatchling season.
It is also common to combine a visit to Rio Lagartos with the pink lake – Las Coloradas. The lake contains a high amount of salt, a perfect environment for the growth of a certain type of algae that gives the water a pink/reddish colour. The lake is private property that charges an entrance fee for a guided tour.
If you want everything arranged for you, you can take a Viator tour that combines Rio Lagarto, Las Coloradas and Ek Balam ruins. The tour departs from Valladolid and includes transportation, a guide, lunch and a boat trip at Rio Lagartos.
Location | Rio Lagarto
Best Restaurants in Valladolid Mexico
Best Valladolid restaurants for breakfast & lunch
Yerbabuena del Sisal | One of the best healthy restaurants Valladolid Mexico: veggie burger, pancakes, avo on toast, enmoladas. Location.
Burrito Amor | Best burritos in Valladolid, including excellent veggie options. Location.
Huper Healthy Food | One of the best food in Valladolid Mexico for health enthusiasts: salad bowls, veggie burgers, sandwiches, and smoothies. Location.
Le Kaat | Cool hipster cafe with a courtyard on La Calzada de Los Frailes. Pokeh bawls, fresh juices, smoothies, humous and guac dips, burgers. Location.
Best Valladolid Restaurants for dinner
Conato | The best restaurant Valladolid Mexico for dinner. Set in a beautiful garden, often has live music. Great for food and cocktails. Location.
Las Campanas | Located right on the main square, one of the Valladolid restaurants that offer live music and local cuisine specialities. Location.
Los Portales | Probably the worst service ever but undeniably good location, right on the main square. Location.
La Casona de Valladolid | Buffet lunch or dinner. Location.
Carpe Diem | Valladolid’s hidden gem! Excellent for shrimp tacos with spinach. Location.
More Travel Tips for Visiting Valladolid Mexico
How to get to Valladolid Yucatan?
From Cancun to Valladolid
The easiest way of getting from Cancun to Valladolid is by car. The distance is 156 km, the route is very straightforward, and the journey should take just over 2 hours. You can check for the best rates and availability at Discover Cars.
There is also a good Cancun Valladolid bus connection. You can catch the bus from ADO Terminal in downtown Cancun. There are multiple connections per day, and you can check the bus schedule – Cancun to Valladolid & Valladolid to Cancun on the ADO bus website. ADO Valladolid Bus Terminal is located within a 5-minutes walk from the city’s main square.
Cancun Airport to Valladolid
The most convenient way of getting from Cancun airport to Valladolid is by car or with a private transfer, for example with Viator, which will save you a big hassle at the airport. If your flight arrives during the day, you can take an ADO bus to downtown Cancun and then another bus to Valladolid.
TIP | If you’re arriving late at Cancun Airport, make sure you booked your transfer in advance! Cancun Airport is notorious for ripping off tourists and I, unfortunately, experienced it first handed!
From Tulum to Valladolid
The easiest way of getting to Valladolid from Tulum is to rent your own car with a pick-up in Tulum. You can check for the best rates and availability at Discover Cars.
Another easy way of getting from Tulum to Valladolid is the ADO bus. You can catch this bus from the Tulum bus station. The Tulum Valladolid bus ticket costs around 150 pesos ($8). The return ticket from Valladolid to Tulum costs a similar amount. Check the schedule of bus Valladolid Tulum on the ADO website and book your ticket in advance, because this connection is always busy.
Read the full post – Tulum to Valladolid | Tips & 2022 Prices
From Playa del Carmen to Valladolid
ADO buses also operate from Playa del Carmen, and the ADO bus station is located in the centre of the town. The distance between Playa del Carmen Valladolid is 141 km, and the bus will take around 2 hours.
From Merida to Valladolid
There is also an ADO bus service in Merida. The ADO bus terminal is located near the historic centre. The distance between the cities is 163 km, and the ADO Valladolid Merida bus takes between 2.5 and 3 hours.
How to get around Valladolid Mexico?
Valladolid Mexico car rental
At the time of writing this post, there was no available car rental in Valladolid Mexico. If you want to rent a car, you will have to do it in Cancun, Tulum, Merida or Playa del Carmen. Check Discover Cars to arrange it in advance.
You can also rent a scooter in downtown Valladolid. Ask your hotel for a recommendation or check the nearest scooter rental shops near where you’re staying. We used K’ox Balak and had an excellent experience. Expect to pay at least 500 pesos per day and don’t forget to ask for a discount if you’re renting for more than one day. Riding a scooter in this part of Mexico is relatively easy as the roads are not too busy.
Another way of getting to places near Valladolid is by a local bus called “colectivo”. They are a type of shared taxi, normally with no set timetable. The drivers typically wait until they have a full car before leaving. Unfortunately, there is no central stop, and you will have to ask around where to catch a colectivo depending on the destination.
You can also get to places by taxi, just hail one down on the street and don’t forget to negotiate the rate. Expect to pay around 50 pesos ($3.4) in Valladolid and at least 100 pesos for places outside of the city boundaries.
What’s the best time to visit Valladolid Yuc Mexico?
The best time to visit Valladolid is between mid-November and mid-March when the day temperatures don’t exceed 30-33 degrees Celsius (86-91 F) and the night temperatures drop down to a pleasant 18 degrees Celcius (64 F). This is also the period of minimal precipitation (rain). For affordable rates and fewer crowds, visit Valladolid at the beginning or end of this period and definitely avoid the Christmas holiday season.
What’s the weather in Valladolid Mexico?
Valladolid in Mexico experiences short but super hot summers and long and warm winters with day temperatures never going down below mid-twenties degrees Celcius (75 F).
The wettest time of the year is between June and October with precipitation reaching 163 mm, and the driest period is between December and April with 30 mm of rain. The hottest months are April and May when the temperatures can even exceed 35 degrees Celcius (95 F).
How much time do I need for Yucatan Valladolid?
Valladolid has so much to offer and it’s also an excellent base for exploring Chichen Itza and the most epic cenotes near Valladolid, and you will need 3 days at the very least to explore the main things to see in Valladolid Mexico – 1 Day for Chichen Itza, 2nd Day – 3 cenotes of your choice and 3rd Day – Valladolid city.
If you want to visit Izamal, Ek Balam or Coba, you will need to add more days.
Is Valladolid Mexico safe?
Valladolid is one of the safest cities to travel to in Mexico, including for solo female travellers. The city has a relaxed vibe and I personally felt safe walking within the centre during the day and at night. This however doesn’t mean you should forget about all common sense precautions starting with good travel insurance, keeping an eye on your belongings and getting a taxi back to your hotel if you went drinking at night.
How is Valladolid Mexico nightlife?
When it comes to the nightlife Valladolid Mexico doesn’t have a huge choice. Apart from a few bars, most of the nightlife consists of a candlelit dinner with live music and a few cocktails or craft beer. I’m leaving below a few bars worth checking out:
Is Valladolid Mexico worth visiting?
Valladolid is the ideal base for visiting Chichen Itza and some of the best cenotes in Mexico, but also, the city is a destination worth visiting in its own right. What I loved the most about Valladolid is its colourful, colonial architecture, including the ex-convent and the main city church located in the picturesque main square. I also enjoyed the excellent dining scene and the relaxed, small-town vibe.
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