Valladolid is a hidden gem in Yucatan. Cenotes, colorful walls, and it’s a perfect base for day trips from Valladolid. Check out the best things to do in Valladolid, Mexico!
A very charming town in Yucatan, Valladolid is quite the destination to visit: there are so many things to do in Valladolid and all around the area.
It’s a place where art and architecture are at the forefront, with its beautiful pastel buildings and old historic churches, and the cuisine is simply delicious. The streets are colorful and buzzing with life and to top it all off, Valladolid has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.
It definitely is a place that’s worth to take to time to explore all of its nooks and crannies, and that’s no small task, also because there are so many places around Valladolid that are worth visiting. If you are planning to spend 2 weeks in Yucatan, then definitely stop here for a few days and make it your base.
It’ll take you a few days at least to witness what Valladolid, Mexico has to offer, and that still won’t be absolutely everything. However, if you have no time, Valladolid can also be a good destination for a day trip from Tulum, Cancun, or Playa del Carmen, especially if you combine it with Chichen Itza and some cenotes!
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TOP 7 THINGS TO DO IN VALLADOLID, MEXICO
Let’s check out the absolute best things to do in Valladolid and nearby.
Walk Around the Town of Valladolid
When people ask me what to do in Valladolid, the first thing I say is “just walk around!”. One of the most fascinating aspects about Valladolid is its architecture. Simply walking around its streets and exploring the buildings, their façades, windows, walls, is stunning. The Valladolid colonial Spanish architecture is unmistakable, with its colorful pastel buildings, and the old historic churches dotting the already exquisite town – make sure the check out the Valladolid cathedral! I love it because there’s always something to see in every corner.
Learning about the town’s history is also fun, and very easy, as there are plenty of plaques describing the important events that took place there, as well as the important people that played a role in said events.
⇒ To learn more about the history and culture of Valladolid, join a Bike Tour at Night with a local guide. BOOK IT HERE.
And once you’re done exploring the city, check out a few of the best Valladolid restaurants. One of my favorites was El Atrio del Mayab, right in the central square. Try the “queso relleno” (stuffed cheese), it’s soooo good (keep reading for a full list of eateries and restaurants in Valladolid!).
Discover the Cenotes in and around Valladolid
A natural phenomena that you can witness with your own eyes are the cenotes near Valladolid. They are sinkholes that have formed throughout the ages, and the area around Valladolid, as well as the rest of Yucatan, is full of these beautiful cenotes perfect for a swim.
Cenote Zaci is one of them, and it’s located very near the center of the city. This cenote is part of a cave, as well as filled with water, so you can take a relaxing swim, or explore around depending on what you prefer.
If you feel more adventurous, you can rent a bike and go to Cenote Samula, which is a cenote located around 7 kilometers away from Valladolid, and this one is completely underground, so you’ll definitely spend some time exploring it.
There are several other cenotes, each one more unique than the last. One of my favorites is Cenote Oxman. It’s absolutely worth it to explore all (ok that is impossible, but lots) of them, especially if you’re renting a bike and can move easily around. Definitely one of the best things to do in Valladolid!
FULL BLOG POST: 11 Incredible Cenotes Near Valladolid You Can’t Miss
Trip to Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas
The Yucatan peninsula feels like a slice of heaven for many visitors. It’s not only lush and gorgeous, but there long and wide stretches of white, sandy beaches, and crystal clear waters.
Rio Lagartos is a fantastic little coastal town that’s absolutely worth taking a trip to from Valladolid, Yucatan. It’s found near a lagoon, and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. From the unique flora and fauna, to the fantastic beaches, everything is simply gorgeous. It’s also a very popular destination for fishing, and for a very good reason.
Very near Rio Lagartos you can find a small fishing village by the name of Las Coloradas, and as far as unique destinations go it’s one of the best. It’s surrounded by many pink lakes that are actually pink because of the area’s salt production, and it’s the home to a good number of flamingos.
Should you visit these locations, make sure to bring your camera with you… this place is highly instagrammable and highly addictive!
Check out this Flamingos Tour that will bring you to Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas. You’ll start with a boat ride in Rio Lagartos where you’ll get a chance to see crocodiles and flamingos, then you’ll visit a salt mine at the pink lakes of Las Coloradas, and finally you’ll get some time in a beautiful beach nearby. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
Visit Chichen Itza and Swim at Cenote Ik Kil
The entire area around Valladolid is filled with Mayan Ruins, and one of the most famous one is Chichen Itza, one of the 7 Wonders of the World.
It’s one of the most preserved ruins in the region, and you wouldn’t want to miss on the opportunity to check out the once mighty fortress of the Mayan people. Make sure to devote an entire day to exploring the ruins, as there are many, many things to see.
TIP TIME: Skip the line by booking your tickets in advance. You’ll enter the ruins through Mayaland Hotel so you’ll avoid the crowds (you could easily spend a looong time in a queue), and after your visit you’ll be able to use the facilities at the hotel including the swimming pool. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
READ ALSO: Chichen Itza Ruins: A Complete Guide (2021)
On the way to the ruins you can stop by to see Cenote Ik Kil, which is an underground river in a cave. It’s another one of the natural sinkholes, and it’s an amazing one as well. Try and go as early as possible as it becomes veeeeery popular with entire buses arriving from the organized tours.
Check Out Izamal, The Yellow City
The town of Izamal is today a quiet, yet splendid, town, but in the past it used to be a place of worship. The Mayans built it around a dozen temple pyramids to honor their gods, Itzamna and Kinich-Kakmo, and centuries later the Spanish built an enormous Franciscan Monastery, that proudly stands to this day in the heart of the town. The town itself has a very magical atmosphere, and I mean! Yellow walls ALL OVER the place, it’s an Instagrammer dream!
Take a Day Trip to Merida
The capital of Yucatan, Merida is a beautiful city that has a fantastic blend of old and new. It’s absolutely filled with chunks of colonial history and culture, especially since it’s been the cultural capital of the region for many centuries.
Not as touristy as many other places in Yucatan, with many shops, markets, museums, and events, and it’s one of those places that you just want to explore as much as you can. Getting there is also quite easy, as there are regular buses, but you can get pretty quickly there by car in just about 2 hours.
I ended up living in Merida for about 3 weeks, as this city is so livable and offers so much. And the food! Oh. My. Gosh. the food. They have all kinds of strange street food (brain tacos anyone) + a big selection of western and fine dining places.
Explore the Mayan Ruins of Ek Balam
Another impressive set of ruins, Ek Balam is one of the more mysterious ruins, because most of it still hasn’t been fully excavated. While the ruins have been mapped, only its center has been uncovered, so exploring them is quite a treat.
You’ll get to see where and how the archaeologists used to work, and there are excellent tours that will explain just how this ancient city used to go about its daily life. The ruins are quite close to Valladolid, and transportation is frequent, so getting there and back will be easy.
How to get to Ek Balam from Valladolid: Catch a share taxi (waiting at the corner of Calle 44 and Calle 37 in Valladolid) to Santa Rita, close to the ruins. The price should be roughly 50 pesos per passenger. A whole taxi will cost you about 200 pesos.
VALLADOLID, MEXICO: OTHER GREAT THINGS TO DO
You’ve got more time in Valladolid? Great news, as there are still tons of things to do in town!
Stroll Around Calzada de los Frailes
Strolling around Calzada de Los Frailes is a must-see when you are visiting Valladolid. The houses that line the street are colorful, and this is definitely the most charming street in Valladolid.
Calzada de los Frailes is a colonial street from the 16th century that makes you feel like you are being transported back in time. As you walk through the street, you’ll be able to glimpse the legacy left behind by the Franciscans that once ruled this town.
Walk Around the Mercado Municipal
Mercado Municipal is the best place to go to in Valladolid for that authentic Mexican market experience. This is where locals come to buy goods such as cheap clothing, local produce such as fruits and vegetables, and you can get a taste of the inexpensive taquerías. On the eastern side of the market you’ll find fresh flowers… you know, maybe for that Instagram photo?
Even if you’re not interested in buying anything, in my opinion it’s worth going. The market constantly buzzing and provides you with a glimpse into the local way of life.
Visit the Iglesia de San Servacio (also called Iglesia de San Gervasio)
Iglesia de San Servacio is one of the main attractions to see when exploring the historic town of Valladolid. You will find this church at the southern side of the main square. The original church was built by Priest Francisco Hernandez in the mid-16th century, then it was demolished in 1705 and restored in the following year.
The main façade of the church features the coat of arms that is carved on stone. There is also a Royal crown and Franciscan cord that you will see when you walk into the church.
WHERE TO STAY IN VALLADOLID
Valladolid has a good amount of places you can rest, and depending on your preference you can easily find boutique hotels or more budget-friendly places right in the heart of the town. Book your accommodation by using the map below ⬇
Luxury & Boutique Hotels
Coqui Coqui Valladolid: By far the most luxurious option in Valladolid, this one-suite residence above the perfume shop comes with a four-post bed, moorish tile floors, a beautiful copper tub, and a private plunge pool. Difficult to go more design than this.
Check out prices and availability for Coqui Coqui Valladolid.
Hotel Zentik Project & Saline Cave: Rooms that look like treehouses and an outdoor pool. But what makes this hotel really stand out is the other 24-hour warm pool nestled in a saline cave. Magical!
Check out prices and availability for Hotel Zentik Project & Saline Cave.
Hotel Posada San Juan: 4-star hotel in colonial-style. Gotta love the outdoor pool and the very spacious rooms that mix antique furniture and modern touches.
Check out prices and availability for Hotel Posada San Juan.
Casa Tia Micha: A boutique hotel in a colonial-style building, right in the center of Valladolid. The suites and rooms are all different and charming, especially the Deluxe Honeymoon Suite (that you can have for less than $100 a night!). Check out prices and availability for Casa Tia Micha.
On a Budget
Hotel Hacienda Margot: Simple rooms and an outdoor pool, close to the town center. Guests are welcome to use the bikes for free. Check out prices and availability for Hotel Hacienda Margot.
Casa Hamaca Guesthouse: My choice in Valladolid was the Casa Hamaca Guesthouse, a boutique hotel whose entire ambiance gives off a relaxing tropical vibe. The rooms are quintessentially Mexican, with a traditional and colorful decor. But the best thing of this hotel is the hammocks that you can find in each room, that are so perfect to relax on with a book!
Casa Hamaca is located near the center square, so everything is within walking distance, and after an active day of exploring it’s the perfect place to relax in, either in its gardens, the outdoor pool, or your room. The staff is very welcoming (a special shoutout to the owner Dennis!) and one thing is for certain, you’ll definitely feel like home.
CHECK OUT PRICES & AVAILABILITY: Casa Hamaca Guesthouse
WHERE TO DRINK & EAT IN VALLADOLID
The Yucatan Peninsula offers a distinctive regional cuisine, partly because of its relative isolation from the rest of the country. When you visit Valladolid, you cannot miss out on the chance to sample the unique tastes that this region offers.
Taberna de los Frailes is one of the culinary highlights in the town of Valladolid. Overlooking the former convent of San Bernardino de Siena, the restaurant is known for the traditional dishes such as the Yucatan Nachos, Pipian de Pollo (roasted chicken breast), and their Mayan spiced pork ribs. They also have an impressive drinks menu so you can order local wine or some goood margaritas.
If you are looking for more delectable dining options, head to what is considered by many as the best restaurant in town – Hosteria del Marques. The setting is part of the dining experience, which is located in an inner courtyard of a hotel.Here it’s where you have to try the traditional Yucatan dishes.
Another must-try when in Valladolid is Restaurante El Meson del Marques, located north of Parque Francisco Canton in a nice garden setting. Try out their jicama margarita, which is both refreshing and boozy.
HOW TO GET TO VALLADOLID
How To Get from Cancun to Valladolid
Most visitors will come from Cancun to Valladolid. The best way to do Valladolid Cancun or the opposite is by bus. There is a bus from Cancun to Valladolid pretty much every hour until 5.30pm, then one last one at 9.30pm. Check out the timetable here.
Otherwise, you can rent a car which is really easy in Mexico (and will be very useful to explore the surroundings of Valladolid), or book a private transfer.
READ THE FULL BLOG POST: How to Get from Cancun to Valladolid – Info & Prices
How To Get from Playa del Carmen to Valladolid
If you want to visit Valladolid from Playa del Carmen, I recommend renting a car. You can take the new 305 highway; this is a toll road but offers the quickest route to get to Valladolid (approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes). Another option is to drive to Tulum and then find the sign that leads to Valladolid, but it takes 40 minutes longer.
You can also take the bus to get to Valladolid from Playa del Carmen, the ADO bus is your best option. The bus ride is approximately 2.5-3 hours long. Make sure you check the bus schedule ahead of time so you know when to catch one.
How To Get from Merida to Valladolid
The best option to get to Valladolid if you are traveling from Merida is via the ADO bus. It’s a comfortable ride and the cost to get to Valladolid is 226 Pesos (around $11). There are many departure scheduled during the day.
You can also choose to rent a car, if you prefer to drive around or visit other destinations from Valladolid such as Las Coloradas or the cenotes. There are many car rental companies in Merida that you can rent from.
How To Get from Mexico City to Valladolid
If you’re coming all the way from Mexico City, definitely book a flight to either Merida or Cancun and then take a bus. Valladolid doesn’t have an airport. Flights can be as cheap as US$ 40 if booked in advance. Low cost flights to check are Viva Aerobus, Volaris, and InterJet.
Visiting Valladolid is absolutely recommended for anyone that has an interest in art and culture. It’s just one of those places that sticks with you, so you’ll definitely remember it for times to come.
Join a Guided Tour to Valladolid
Otherwise, you can also join a 3-day tour to Valladolid are this area of Yucatan. In 3 days, you’ll swim in cenotes, explore the historic center of Valladolid by bike, and eat all the traditional dishes from Valladolid. ⇒ CHECK IT OUT HERE
HOW TO GET AROUND VALLADOLID
Valladolid is a small enough town, so it’s easy to get around Valladolid. When you get off your bus, you will be taken to the center of town and you can easily explore it on foot from there.
If you are planning to go further, bicycles are a great way to get around the town and you will find many rental companies available. The average cost is 20 to 25 Pesos an hour. Another option is to take a taxi, if you prefer the convenience. Do note that most of the tax drivers in Valladolid don’t speak English, so have your destination written down if you don’t speak Spanish.
BEST TIME TO VISIT VALLADOLID
Valladolid, like the rest of the Yucatan peninsula, experiences tropical weather all year round. That makes it a great year-round destination. But if you want to make the most of your time in Valladolid, the best time to go is between the months of November and March/April. These months offer the best conditions to travel and sightsee.
The hottest months of the year are May to July. During this time, the average temperature reaches 37 degrees Celsius (97 Fahrenheit) , so I recommend avoiding visiting Valladolid in the summer if you can.
If you want to avoid the rain, the best month to go to Valladolid is in mid-December. On the other hand, the chances of rain increase when you visit in August, especially during the latter part of the month.