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!
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.
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-itzà
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
- Gym shoes
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 repeat! 😉
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.