Valladolid is a relaxed and vibrant town in the heart of Yucatan, Mexico. Whether it’s discovering Mexico’s famous cenotes, exploring ancient Mayan ruins or simply strolling the colourful streets of this charming pueblo, Valladolid Mexico, has plenty to keep you entertained. In this travel guide, we’ll detail 21 of the best things to do in Valladolid, to make sure you experience the best of this wonderful little town in the Yucatan.
Read our ultimate guide to Valladolid Cenotes here.
Table of Contents
About Valladolid Mexico
Valladolid is a beautiful town of colourful, colonial-style buildings in the Yucatan state of Mexico. The Spanish built the city on top of an existing Maya town called Zaci in around 1545. Despite a few back-and-forth battles over the years with the Maya, the Spanish ultimately succeeded in keeping hold of Valladolid and it soon thrived to become the third-largest city in the Yucatan, Mexico. Well, up until the beginning of the 20th century, anyway.
Nowadays, Valladolid Mexico is a fantastic city from which to enjoy some of the colonial culture, natural wonders and ancient Maya history of the Yucatan. Walking around the old town of Valladolid Mexico brings architectural wonders, culinary delights and many hidden gems. Whilst, travelling short distances outside of the city brings you to some incredible cenotes and ancient Maya cities. Indeed, with the mighty Chichen Itza and some of the best cenotes in Mexico just a stone’s throw away, you’ll find Valladolid in the Yucatan to be the perfect place to experience the best of Mexico.
Valladolid Mexico Facts
- Valladolid Mexico is named after its counterpart, Valladolid in Spain.
- The population is around 57,000.
- Cochinita Pibil and Lomitos de Valladolid are typical dishes of the city and are worth a try.
- Valladolid Mexico is a hot and dry city, enjoying warm weather year-round.
- Valladolid is one of Mexico’s Pueblo Magico’s.
- Valladolid is known as ‘The Sultana of the East’.
Where Is Valladolid Mexico?
Valladolid is located in the east of the state of Yucatan in Mexico. It is about a two hour drive west of Cancun and a two hour drive east of Merida.
Valladolid Mexico Map
Feel free to click on the interactive map below to see the location of Valladolid in the Yucatan, Mexico.
21 Things to Do in Valladolid Mexico
So, now you know a little about Valladolid Mexico, let’s jump into the 21 best things to do during your visit, ensuring you get the most out of this awesome Yucatan location. We’ll roughly order the best things to do in Valladolid based on what’s within the city, before moving on to incredible cenotes in Valladolid and the Mayan ruins nearby, before finishing with quick day trips to a little further afield.
What to See in Valladolid Mexico
In this first section of the 21 best things to do in Valladolid Mexico list, will cover the top things within the city itself. From churches, plazas, colourful streets and walking tours, there’s certainly plenty to keep you entertained. So, let’s kick things off.
1. Parque Principal Francisco Canton Rosado
It makes sense to head to the main square or plaza first, and in Valladolid Mexico, this is Parque Principal Francisco Canton Rosado. This pretty fenced park is a wonderful meeting point of activity. Amongst the gardens are vibrant flowers and water fountains. There are also plenty of benches to sit on to enjoy your surroundings. You’ll often find street sellers littered around the Parque Principal Francisco Canton Rosado, as well as organised events happening now and again.
Additionally, the buildings enveloping the park are some of the nicest in Valladolid Mexico. They include Templo de San Servacio.
2. Templo de San Servacio
At the southern end of Parque Principal Francisco Canton Rosado is a large and rustic-looking church. This is Templo de San Servacio and it’s wonderful. The cathedral-like structure, featuring a double bell tower, stands watch over Valladolid Mexico, commanding attention and attracting many a tourist. It’s also possible to pop inside and explore its intricate interior.
Templo de San Servacio was built over a pre-existing Maya pyramid and incorporates some of this pyramid’s stone in its brickwork.
3. Calzada de los Frailes
At the eastern side of Parque Principal Francisco Canton Rosado and Templo de San Servacio is one of Valladolid Mexico’s most popular streets – Calzada de los Frailes. The name translates to ‘Road of the Friars‘ and was originally built in the 16th century to connect the old town of Valladolid with the small town of Sisal. Of course, Sisal is now simply one of Valladolid’s neighbourhoods.
Calzada de los Frailes is a street of colourful buildings, boutique shops and hipster cafes. In short, it’s essentially just a picturesque street to walk down where most people like to snap a picture or two in front of the beautiful array of bold facades and 1950s cars.
But, walking down this rainbow street leads to another of Valladolid Mexico’s most remarkable buildings – the Convent of San Bernardino of Siena.
4. Convent of San Bernardino of Siena
The incredible Convent of San Bernardino of Siena is located at the end of Calzada de los Frailes and occupies a wide-open plot in town. Located in the neighbourhood of Sisal, the grand convent was built in the 1500s and even features its own cenote within its walled fort.
At 9pm each night, a sound and light show is projected onto the convent walls, documenting its history. Certainly, if you’re not too tired from a day exploring the city, it’s well worth a watch.
5. Valladolid Mexico Sign
Sitting in front of the grass plaza of the Convent of San Bernardino of Siena are the Valladolid Mexico letters. If you’ve visited a few towns in Mexico, you’ll be quite familiar with their colourful place name letters. The ones in Valladolid Mexico are particularly wonderful, and photogenic, with San Bernardino framed nicely behind them. You’ll end up collecting place name pictures as you venture through Mexico.
6. Ayuntamiento de Valladolid
Back at the main square of Parque Principal Francisco Canton Rosado, there are a few more cultural things worth checking out. The first is Ayuntamiento de Valladolid. Located on the eastern side of the plaza, the Ayuntamiento is where you’ll find Valladolid’s tourism office. But, it’s the murals up on the second floor you’ll want to check out here.
7. Casa de los Venados
A little south of Ayuntamiento de Valladolid, along Calle 40, is Casa de los Venados. Open 10am–4pm, here you can take a guided tour inside a private home, marvelling at intriguing Mexican folk art. There’s no set entry fee, just donations to local charities.
8. Museo San Roque
The Museo San Roque is an old 16th-century convent now used as an exhibition space. Within San Roque are exhibits about the city, as well as the Mayans. Admission is free, so if you’re looking for something interesting to do, whilst saving some of the travel fund (for say, Chichen Itza!), then Museo San Roque is a great shout.
9. Iglesia San Juan
Heading further south still from the main square along Calle 40 brings you to Iglesia San Juan, otherwise known as Saint John’s Church. This is a beautiful old church in Valladolid Mexico, that’s small, unassuming and wonderfully rustic inside. Iglesia San Juan is like a Templo de San Servacio in miniature.
10. Mercado Municipal
Heading east out of the centre of Valladolid Mexico is the Mercado Municipal. This is where the locals come to shop for their groceries. At Mercado Municipal you can browse everything from flowers and fruit to clothing and cheap eats. Certainly, if you don’t mind the walk, it’s a wonderful experience to soak up the atmosphere and visit one of the local taquerías.
11. Walking Tour Valladolid Mexico
Of course, one of the best things to do to take in the main attractions of Valladolid Mexico is to get yourself on a free walking tour. You can opt for a Spanish or English-speaking guide, and they’re a fantastic way to learn more about the history of Valladolid Mexico, as well as each individual building and location you stop at. Checking out the local free walking tour is always high on our agenda when visiting a new place. FreeTour and GuruWalk both offer free walking tours in Valladolid Mexico.
12. Capture the Colour of Valladolid Mexico
Look, I know we singled out Calzada de los Frailes as the place to photograph colourful buildings in Valladolid Mexico, but, colourful buildings are literally EVERYWHERE. They’re of course what gives this town its charm and visual appeal. So, don’t be afraid to just stop and snap a picture outside any building you particularly like the look of.
Valladolid Mexico Cenotes
Certainly, there are plenty of exciting things to see and do within the city itself. But, Valladolid Mexico has some spectacular attractions just a short distance outside of town. So, step forward Mexican cenotes. Indeed, visiting a handful of these are easily some of the best things to do in Valladolid in the Yucatan Peninsula. This next section of the 21 best things to do in Valladolid Mexico, will take a look at some of our favourites.
13. Cenote Suytun
There’s one definitive cenote to visit when heading to Valladolid Mexico, and that’s Cenote Suytun. Its brilliant turquoise water shimmers within a vast cavernous expanse. Indeed, with an ancient-looking stone platform leading to a circular plinth in the centre of Cenote Suytun, you’ll find this is one of the most visually stunning cenotes in Mexico and definitely one of the best in Valladolid in the Yucatan Peninsula.
14. Cenote Xkeken
Cenote Xkeken is another of Valladolid Mexico’s stunning cenotes. It’s often mistaken as being one and the same as Cenote Dzitnup, but this is incorrect. Cenote Xkeken is actually one of two incredible cavern sinkholes found at the Cenote Dzitnup complex. The other is Cenote Samula.
Cenote Xkeken is a closed cenote, featuring long jagged stalactites protruding from the cavern ceiling. There’s also a small opening in the cave ceiling, creating a playful skylight that highlights different spots in the cenote as the sun moves overhead.
15. Cenote Samula
Cenote Samula, the second of the Dzitnup Cenotes, is a large cavernous cenote just outside of Valladolid Mexico. The incredible chamber space is vast and comes complete with dreamy turquoise waters perfect for plunging into. Certainly, visiting Cenote Samula is a wondrous experience and one of our favourite cenotes to date! Just like neighbouring Cenote Xkeken, there’s a small opening in the cave ceiling.
16. Cenote Zaci
In the heart of Valladolid is Cenote Zaci. This semi-open cenote is small but uber-picturesque. On-site is also a lovely outdoor restaurant and incredibly, Cenote Zaci is one of the cheapest cenotes in Valladolid Mexico to visit, costing just $30MXN ($1.80USD) per person. You can also walk to it from pretty much wherever you’re staying in central Valladolid Mexico, and can find it located here on Google Maps.
Mayan Ruins Valladolid Mexico
Of course, Mexico and the Yucatan aren’t short of Mayan ruins to explore either, with Valladolid being the perfect base to visit a handful, including possibly the most famous of all – Chichen Itza.
For more in-depth information about some of Mexico’s Best Mayan Ruins, check out our post here.
17. Chichen Itza
Valladolid Mexico is the easiest, and closest city, from which to visit Chichen Itza. Valladolid to Chichen Itza is just a 40 minute drive away. In fact, being based in Valladolid Mexico means you’re close enough to arrive for the opening (8am) and beat the tour groups coming from other popular destinations throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
As one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, this place has to be seen to be believed. But with that comes a hefty price tag and hoards of tourists. So, expect this Mayan ruin to get busy, and fast. Still, it’s absolutely worth it. Check the official Chichen Itza website for the most up-to-date prices and general information.
18. Ek Balam
Ek Balam Ruins is an astonishing collection of crumbling Mayan palaces, pyramids and ball courts. Also, visitors are permitted to climb the remarkably intact steps of the ancient Mayan city, marvelling at views across the Yucatan as far as the eye can see. Ek Balam is located a little north of Valladolid in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, with the entire city complex small and easily walked around in a couple of hours.
Best of the Rest
Rounding off our 21 Wonderful Things to Do in Valladolid Mexico list are a few more natural attractions, before ending with some local cuisine.
19. Xkopek Beekeeping Park
For nature lovers, and those who understand, or would like to understand, the importance of bees, you might like to know about the Xkopek Beekeeping Park. South of central Valladolid Mexico is a conservation park that has been dedicating itself to the preservation of bees for around 25 years. The park offers tours to see the hives of many different species of bees. Located in a dried cenote, this is one for those of you who want to escape the crowds, but still see something interesting and educational.
20. Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas
One of the most extraordinary day trips you can make from Valladolid Mexico is to Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas in the Yucatan. Here, you’ll see pink salt lakes. And they’re amazing. You might also spot flamingos and crocodiles on this picturesque edge of the Gulf of Mexico. The trip is longish and you’ll need to take a bus from Valladolid to Timizin, and then another bus from Timizin to Rio Lagartos. Entry to the lake is $75MXN ($4.50USD) per person.
Of course, it’s also possible to get to Rio Lagartos from outside of Valladolid Mexico and from other places in the Yucatan Peninsula. GetYourGuide offers some excellent tours, including the popular Rio Lagartos & Las Coloradas Day Trip & Lunch from Cancun.
21. Valladolid Mexico Cuisine
And let’s not forget, Mexico has one of the best cuisines in the world. Well, we think so anyway. It’s also not unusual for regions and cities to have dishes they’re known for. In Valladolid Mexico, it’s the Cochinita Pibil and Lomitos de Valladolid.
Cochinita Pibil is a type of pulled pork which can be eaten in various ways, including in tacos. Lomitos de Valladolid is pork loin in tomato sauce. Both are delicious and can be found throughout Valladolid Mexico.
How to Get to Valladolid Mexico
So, now you know the 21 best things to do in Valladolid in the Yucatan, Mexico, let’s take a look at how to get there in the first place.
Valladolid Mexico is very accessible from all other major towns and cities in the Yucatan Peninsula. One of the most reliable ways to get to Valladolid from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Merida is by taking the bus. Specifically, the ADO bus company is one of the safest and most reliable ways to travel to Valladolid Mexico and is the choice of many travellers, include Dan and myself.
- Cancun to Valladolid: 2.5 hours
- Playa del Carmen to Valladolid: 2 hours
- Tulum to Valladolid: 2 hours
- Merida to Valladolid: 2.5 hours
Of course, renting a car and driving yourself around the Yucatan to Valladolid Mexico is one of the easiest ways to visit. If you want to hire something, we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a variety of cars on Rental Cars, which are very easy to book online. Personally, Dan and I have used Rental Cars plenty of times and never had any problems.
Valladolid Mexico Tours
Additionally, another fantastic way to visit Valladolid Mexico and its surrounding cenotes and Mayan ruins is with a tour. This is a great option if you want to visit Valladolid from somewhere else in the Yucatan and if you feel like a tour is the best idea for taking care of all logistics. Get YourGuide offers some excellent Valladolid tour options throughout the Yucatan and Riviera Maya.
Where to Stay in Valladolid Mexico
Valladolid is one of the most beautiful cities to stay in throughout the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the best budget, mid-range and luxury options.
- Budget – Hostel Candelaria: this highly-rated hostel in the heart of town features comfortable dorm rooms, a communal kitchen and a relaxing common space. The Hostel Candelaria is an excellent option for those on a budget.
- Mid-range – Hotel Zazil-Naj: Dan and I stayed at Hotel Zazil-Naj. We loved the location. Plus, the room was massive, whilst the en suite bathroom was clean and modern. The hotel staff are also very attentive and helpful.
- Luxury – Hotel Meson del Marques: you can look forward to authentic colonial-style decor and a truly luxurious stay at Hotel Meson del Marques. This five-star hotel features pretty gardens, a rooftop terrace with city views and a wonderful restaurant.
Best Restaurants in Valladolid Mexico
So, where to eat in Valladolid Mexico? Well, this vibrant city isn’t short of options with something to suit every budget. Below are some of our favourites.
- ConKafecito: nestled on Calzada de los Frailes is the popular coffee stop of ConKafecito. Expect great cake and even better coffee. Oh, and the wifi is pretty top notch too.
- La Ville Bistro: this delightful bistro is a stone’s throw from the main square with delicious food and a wonderful owner. Expect an excellent feed at La Ville Bistro.
- Wabi Gelato: Wabi Gelato is the place to go to satisfy that sweet tooth. The ice cream (gelato) is out of this world.
For a cheeky after-dinner drink, check out La Joyita and Don Trejo Mezcaleria.
Is Valladolid Mexico Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! In fact, Valladolid is one of our favourite towns in the Yucatan. And, as you can see from this 21 best things to do in Valladolid Mexico guide, there’s plenty to enjoy.
Is Valladolid Mexico Safe?
On the whole, yes. We certainly found Valladolid Mexico to be a safe place to visit. But, with that being said, we don’t take unnecessary risks either. So, as always, be vigilant when out and about, stay in busy areas, don’t be flashy with your gear (phone, camera, etc.) and trust your gut. Certainly, if something doesn’t feel right, walk away.
How to Pronounce Valladolid Mexico?
Valladolid is pronounced via-doll-eed.
How Many Days in Valladolid Mexico?
Dan and I spent a total of four nights in Valladolid Mexico. This included one day to explore the town itself, and the rest doing little trips to Mayan ruins, cenotes and other attractions. We felt this was plenty for us, but it would be easy to spend much longer. As a bare minimum, we recommend at least 2–3 days.
Travel Essentials For Valladolid Yucatan
These are our travel essentials for visiting Valladolid in the Yucatan Mexico.
- Swimming gear: if you want to visit Valladolid cenotes (which you must) then don’t forget your swimming gear. A small lightweight microfibre towel is a great addition also, and much better than sneaking the hostel/hotel’s bath towel out.
- Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger: if self-guiding yourself around Valladolid Mexico, you’ll want to make sure your phone has plenty of battery life.
- SZROBOY Universal Travel Adapter: gone are the days when you need to pack multiple power adapters. This one sorts you out for anywhere in the world.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for day tripping, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- Nikon DSLR Camera: you’ll definitely want to document your visit. Also, a GoPro is a great addition to filming in cenotes.
Travel insurance is a real necessity, especially when travelling through Central America and getting a little off the beaten track.
SafetyWing is an excellent budget-friendly travel insurance provider. Personally, Dan and I have used SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance many times to insure our trips. The Nomad Insurance is fantastic value for money with a smaller additional cost to add a partner. Unlike most other insurance companies, there’s an option to pay on a monthly basis, similar to having a prepaid phone plan. Better yet, there’s no lock-in contract. In addition, you can cancel at any time, which will take effect the month after.
For shorter trips, it’s also possible to use Nomad Insurance for trips lasting just days or just 2–3 weeks. Indeed, SafetyWing is cheaper than almost all other travel insurance policies and covers just as much and sometimes more.
SafetyWing is a modern travel insurance company that is certainly leading the way in terms of how travel insurance should work in the future.
- So many cenotes: look, there are tonnes of cenotes surrounding Valladolid Mexico. It would be unrealistic to try to see them all on one visit. Try not to overthink which will be the best to visit. They’re all great and when it comes down to it, a cenote is a cenote. You’ll love whichever you end up at.
- Early bird: don’t forget to utilise your proximity to Chichen Itza and get there for the opening before the tour groups arrive.
- Where next after Valladolid Mexico: Dan and I visited Palenque and Oaxaca before reaching Mexico City. There’s plenty to see and do along this tourist trail.