Valladolid isn’t on most peoples travel list when visiting the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico but I think it should be. This charming and perfectly preserved colonial town is only 2 hours from Cancun and 2.5 from Tulum and it makes a great base for exploring Mexico’s famous Mayan ruins and numerous cenotes.
We visited Valladolid in August and it was hot, veryhot but I still loved every minute of our time there, most of which was spent wandering its cobblestone streets, cooling off in cenotes and eating the most delicious Meixcan food.
Part of Valladolid’s charm is that it is not over run with tourists, most people only stop here for a few hours en-route to nearby Chichen Itza, and at times you will feel like you have the whole pastel coloured town to yourself. (The buildings, cobblestone streets and vintage Beetles also make the whole town instagram heaven!)
Continue on reading for our quick guide to Valladolid.
First of all I think to get a real feel for the town you would need at least two days as there is a surprising amount of things to do in and around Valladolid.
Some things to know before you go
As Valladolid isn’t fully on the tourist trail yet English isn’t widely spoken so it is advisable to know a few Spanish phrases and locals will really appreciate you making the effort.
Valladolid is easily accessible by ADO bus from Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Merida, you can check timetables and prices on www.ado.com.mx. ADO buses are a great way to travel around Mexico but be sure to buy your tickets in advance from the local station, also be aware that there are first and second class buses, obviously first class buses are more comfortable and usually have less stops. We got both first and second class buses while in Mexico and while I would prefer the first class, second class buses were fine and a good option if you wanted to save money.
Since Valladolid is a small town it is easily walkable, however if you need a taxi they are cheap and plentiful. They don’t have meters and prices seemed to be fixed, we paid 25pesos for a taxi from the bus station to our accommodation.
Where to stay
We stayed in Casa Quetzal Boutique Hotel near the Convento San Bernardino and would certainly recommend it to anyone visiting Valladolid. The breakfast was delicious, the staff were very helpful and its location was perfect.
We also heard great things about Hostel Candelaria on Calle 35 but unfortunately it was fully booked when we were there.
Where to eat
Yerbabuena de Sisal, Calle 54A – you have to go here, the food was just amazing! We went there for lunch on two occasions and absolutely loved it. The freshly made guacamole was delicious and be sure to try their freshly made juices, yum!
La Casona de Valladolid, Calle 41 – a great little spot for authentic Mexican food on the main square.
Things to do in Valladolid
As I have already mentioned there is actually quite a bit to keep you busy in Valladolid.
1. Cool off in Cenote Zaci. Located in the centre of Valladolid on Calle 36, Cenote Zaci is the perfect place to cool down on a hot day.
2. Wander along the cobblestone streets and admire the colonial buildings. When I arrive somewhere new, the first thing I do is get out and just wander the streets with my camera ready, you never know what hidden gems you might come across and the streets of Valladolid were some of the most picturesque that I have come across.
3. Take a walk down Calle de los Frailes. Calle de los Frailes (Calle 41A) is without a doubt the most beautiful and well persevered street in Valladolid, it runs from the centre of town all the way to Sisal Park and the Convento San Bernardino.
4. Explore the Convento San Bernardino. This ex convent is a great place to explore and learn some of the history of the local area. When we visited in August we were the only people there and we enjoyed having the place to ourselves. The entrance fee was 30pesos.
5. Go people watching at the Plaza Principal in the centre of town. The Plaza, also known as Parque Francisco Canton, is a great place to sit and relax and just watch the locals go about their daily lives.
6. Visit Catedral de San Gervasio. The cathedral overlooks the main plaza and it is lit up beautifully in the evening.
7. Go shopping at the Mercado Municipal very close to the centre of town on Calle 37 and 32. If you can think of anything to buy you will probably find it here, it’s an experience not to be missed.
8. And last but certainly not least make sure to visit Chichen Itza . This not to be missed world wonder is only about 45 minutes west of Valladolid. The easiest way to get here is to catch a colectivo down near the bus station on Calle 46 for about 40pesos per person each way. I would also advise you to get here early in the morning as it tends to get extremely busy and hot and bring plenty of water! The entrance fee is 232pesos per person.
There are more cenotes and Mayan ruins near Valladolid but we didn’t get a chance to visit them, hence the reason we wished we had more time here – Coba ruins are roughly one hour away and the cenotes of Ek Balam and Ik Kil are both nearby.
So there is our quick guide to Valladolid. Have you ever been? Do you have any other recommendations? Please feel free to leave your comments below.