Visiting Valladolid, Yucatan
Valladolid, located in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, is a captivating destination steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty. Renowned for its well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant markets, and rich Maya heritage, Valladolid offers visitors an authentic Mexican experience. Wander through the charming streets lined with pastel-colored buildings, visit the iconic Cathedral of San Gervasio, or explore nearby archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza and Ek Balam. Nature enthusiasts will be enchanted by the breathtaking cenotes dotting the surrounding landscape, perfect for swimming and diving adventures. With its warm hospitality, delicious regional cuisine, and proximity to top attractions, Valladolid Yucatan beckons travelers seeking an unforgettable journey into Mexico’s diverse and enchanting soul.
We have been visiting this town for over a decade and wanted to provide you with a nice guide of some of our favorite things in town. We hope you find this guide helpful.
Our Video Introduction to Visiting Valladolid
We like visiting and brining you tips from areas around the Yucatan Peninsuala. We have visited Valladolid many times over the years. Here is a brief video you have watch for an introduction to visiting Valladolid.
What is There to See in Valladolid in More Detail
Valladolid is known for its colonial charm, historic center and as an authentic place. Because Valladolid has grown in the past few years, there are many more tourist’s destinations in the city and area around Valladolid. Almost everyone can find something of interest wither you are a family, older couple or backpacker.
Things to see in Valladolid in the Center of Town
The main park is called Park Francisco Cantón Rosado. It is an excellent place to sit in the heat of the day and watch the city go by. There are a few good ice cream shops where you can get something cool and sit in the park enjoying it. On Sunday the park and the streets next to it are closed off for live music and dancing. The innocence of it will transport you back to a simpler time. So if you can, arrange to be here on Sunday evening.
The main church on the square is the Cathedral of San Gervasio. The original church no longer stands but this one is still impressive being rebuilt in 1706. Services are still held in the cathedral.
Also on the main square is the City Hall. There are stairs in the middle of the building to the second floor. You will be greeted by photos of all the past Mayors of the city before you pass through to the hall of murals. These vivid murals highlight the tumultuous history of the area. This is free to do, plus you get good views out over the park.
Casa De Los Venados Museum
A real hidden surprise in Valladolid is the Casa de los Venados. Located on Calle 40 between Calle 41 and Calle 43. This private home is a collection of Mexican folk-art and contemporary art. The house is amazing and so is the collection. Tours are in English and Spanish and are timed, so be sure to check the current schedule. A small donation is requested for the tours which goes to help local communities. The tour takes about one hour and will take you on a tour of Mexican art from all around the country. Plus, the house is spectacular to see.
San Roque Museum of Local History
Just off the main square is the San Roque Museum. Located on Calle 41 near 38th. It is a small homage to the area and its development through history. It is free to go in, they just ask you to sign the registration book. Most descriptions are in Spanish so if you don not read Spanish there is still enough to see and keep you interested in your visit. It takes about 10 minutes to walk around here.
Calzada de los Frailes
This is the most picturesque street in Valladolid. This is a must when visiting. Walking this street opens the opportunity to find cute cafes, boutique hotels, artisanal crafts and the Convento de San Bernardino de Siena at the end of the street. Be prepared with your camera and pace yourself by checking out some of the cute spots along the way.
At the end of Frailes, is the Convento de San Bernadino de Siena (aka Ex-Convent). This impressive building is open for tours. The entrance is only a few dollars and is a self-guided tour. The building is the most impressive because of the thick walls and your ability to walk around almost with no other tourists around. This is one of the most iconic buildings in Valladolid. There is also a laser light show on the Facade. This is something to ask at your hotel since times change and some nights are in English and others Spanish.
The Municipal Market in Valladolid
If you like food markets and local culture, you will love this market. Located on Calle 32 with 37 this block large market will be sure to transport you back in time when everyone shopped fresh. What is amazing is the colorful food and locals selling it. You can see Maya woman taking pride in washing each vegetable and piece of fruit and stacking it neatly. Even though this market was just completely redone, it still retains its charm.
One side of the market is mainly fruits and vegetables with some flowers and fresh honey. The other side is fresh meat. If you are a bit squeamish to see hanging meat or blood you can skip this side, but it is very interesting to see. You will also see a small amount of hand crafts like handmade sandal and carved gourds here at the market. Prices will be some of the best because it is not a major tourist spot. Go early to see it in full swing. It is best to visit between 8am-11am.
Tourist attractions just outside the center of Valladolid
Cenotes to Visit in Valladolid
Cenotes are one of the top things to see when visiting the Valladolid area. Not only is there Cenote Zaci right in the middle of Valladolid where you can swim, there are some pretty iconic cenotes around Valladolid. Here is a list of some of our favorites.
- Cenote Zaci: Located right in the heart of Valladolid, Cenote Zaci is easily accessible and offers a refreshing swimming experience. Surrounded by lush vegetation and natural rock formations, it provides a tranquil escape from the city heat. This cenote is open, meaning not in a cave.
- Cenote Samulá: Nestled amidst a rural area near Valladolid, Cenote Samulá is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Visitors can descend into the cavernous cenote via a wooden staircase and swim in its cool, turquoise waters while admiring the sunlight streaming through the natural skylight above. right across the road from this cenote is Cenote Xkeken. You can read more about these two cenotes here.
- Cenote Xkeken (Dzitnup): Also located near Valladolid, Cenote Xkeken is renowned for its striking blue waters and captivating limestone formations. Visitors can swim, snorkel, or simply marvel at the cenote’s beauty from the viewing platforms. You can actually bike here if you want since there is some trail from the center of town here.
- Cenote Oxman: Situated on the grounds of Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman, Cenote Oxman offers a unique swimming experience surrounded by lush vegetation and hang roots. Visitors can access the cenote via a wooden staircase and enjoy the natural beauty of this secluded oasis. This is probably the best cenote to visit that is close to Valladolid because it is beautiful.
Xkopek Bee Park
This small eco park is a great place to learn about the bee keeping culture of the Mayas and locals of today in the Yucatan. This is a great activity for families and adults. We personally learned so much from a tour here and enjoyed it. They have timed tours that take you into a dry cenote and show you the home of different types of bees including the stingless bees (Melipona). The Yucatan area is the largest producer of this honey (which is also used for medicinal purposes). Here is a link to their Facebook page here for more information..
This is what is sounds like. But don’t worry, it is not a typical zoo with small cages. This animal park is great for families or people that have time to walk about and see local animals. For more about visiting here, see our article about the Vallazoo. This is on the north end of town just across the road from the next attraction, the Mayapan Tequila tour.
Almost Tequila Tasting
This attraction is a tequila producing farm with tour. Tours take about 20 minutes. It is located just north of Valladolid near the ring road. Now I know what you are thinking, tequila in the Yucatan? The blue agave it comes from grows very well here but you can actually only call tequila, “tequila”, if it comes from the Tequila region of Mexico. (Just like Champagne can only be called Champagne from the Champagne region of France). So, to get around this it is called Mayapan (named after a small town just like how Tequila is named after the small town of Tequila) instead of Tequila, but we all know what it is.
They provide a small tour, and you can do a taste test of several ages of the alcohol they make. The tour is only a few dollars. Small tips are appreciated for the tour and tasting. You can buy bottles here and they have an assortment of local crafts as well. Children are welcome for the tour. Here is a link to their website. We like their business practices as well. They use wind energy and more ecofriendly methods of running the farm.
Bikers Zaci Bike Tours
One local tour we really like is this bike tour. They custom make tours to visit cenotes and local spots all around Valladolid. They know the local trails and about everything in the area! This is hosted by passionate local bikers. Tours are well priced and a great way to see more off the beaten path areas of Valladolid while getting some exercise. Their Facebook page is the best way to contact them.
Things to See Just Outside of Valladolid
The Church in Uayma
This is the church in Uyama (pronounced why-ma) This is one of the most unique churches in the entire Yucatan Peninsula. Inside and out this church is heavily decorated with designs. Built by the Franciscan order in 1642, the Santo Domingo Church (it’s official name) has endured the rigors of history. It was nearly destroyed by the Mayans during the Caste War (1847-1901). Up until 2003 the church laid in a state of disrepair and the roof had collapsed. It is now repaired and open for a look. No one is usually around, and you can just walk around and in the church. To get to Uayma from Valladolid take Road 79 east out of town. You will see signs for Uayma. It is about an 18-minute drive.
Cenotes to Visit Outside of Valladolid
- Cenote Suytun. This cenote is just outside of Valladolid. It is famous for the platform that going to the center of the cenote. At times you can walk to the center, and it is an epic place to take photos. There is also a more rustic cenote here you can see with the price of admission.
- Cenote Palomitas, Agua Dulce and Dzalbay. These three cenotes are close together and are just over half an hour’s drive from Valladolid. Palomitas and Cenote Agua Dulce are sister cenotes and look almost the same. Sometimes one is reserved for bus groups. Cenote Dzalbay is more of a cavern experience. It is cheaper entrance, but not for swimming.
- Cenote Sac Aua. What makes this cenote so interesting is the structure. The roof collapsed and formed an island in the center. This beautiful cenote has swimming and kayaks plus a cavern tour near the cenote. For more about Cenote Sac Aua, see our article and video here.
- Cenote Hubiku. This is just north of Valladolid in the town of Temozon. This large cenote is popular with bus groups going to Ek Balam or Chichen Itza. The cenote has deep blue water and a buffet if you want a package.
- Cenote at Ek Balam Ruins. Next to Ek Balam ruins there is a good cenote to visit. It is called Cenote Canche.
- Cenote Ik Kil is about a 40-minute drive from Valladolid, Cenote Ik Kil is one of the most famous cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula. This cenote features a picturesque open-air sinkhole with cascading vines and clear blue waters, making it a popular spot for swimming and diving. This is near Chichen Itza and one where many bus tours stop. It is still worth visiting by yourself though.
These are just a few of the many cenotes near Valladolid, Yucatan, waiting to be explored. Each cenote offers a glimpse into the region’s natural wonders and provides an unforgettable opportunity to connect with the beauty of Mexico’s cenote-filled landscape.
What are Some Good Restaurants in Valladolid?
Valladolid has a lot more restaurants now than in the past and better ones at that. In general, restaurants in Valladolid offer a more regional cuisine and more affordable prices than Merida, Yucatan or the Riviera Maya in Quintana Roo. There are however about 6 really touristy options that are not the best and you don’t want to waste your time with them.
In our video we mentioned a few right on the main square. These are:
- El Atrio del Mayab Restaurant. The reason we like this restaurant is because the nice garden in the back, handmade tortillas, and good value for breakfast. El Atrio is almost right next to the cathedral on the main plaza. Be sure to walk to the back to the garden for best atmosphere. The restaurant is open daily from 7:00am-11:30pm. It is nice for lunch and dinner, but the breakfast is the best value and meal served here. Here is a link to their Facebook page.
- Bazar Municipal food court. Located on the corner of the main plaza at the corner of Calle 39 and Calle 40, this is a local food hall area under one roof. Here you can get lots of local plates of food. The Bazar Municipal gets some independent travelers and locals that work in the area eating here. It is not the cleanest and for a few more pesos you can eat in a restaurant, but it does give you an option right in the center of town. Open daily. You can find some really good local dishes like longaniza sausage or poc chuc.
- Meson de Marques Restaurant is on the main plaza in a colonial building. For many years, this was “the place to go”. This restaurant has a rooftop restaurant with views of the square and cathedral and the main colonial dining area in the main building. The food is ok and very similar to many other places in the area serving Mexican/Yucatecan cuisine. If you want to enjoy the restaurant setting, you can also come for dessert or drinks. Open daily from 7:00am-11:00pm.
Best Bakery in Valladolid
- Ancestra Bakery. Talk about gourmet treats and bread! This is a great place to get something to go for your walking around Valladolid. Don’t worry, you can walk it off. Here is a link to their Facebook page for more info.
Restaurant near the Ex-convent
We also mentioned one of our favorite places to eat lunch in Valladolid was La Yerbabuena. Yerbabuena Restaurant is a healthy and tasty place to grab lunch in Valladolid. Although this restaurant leans vegetarian, it should not matter. It is good food, and you can find a wide section on the menu. There is even a bakery on the premise. You can sit at the counter and have a great juice or dine in the back where there is a nice garden. Open Tuesday-Sunday 8:00am-10:00pm. Closed Mondays. Here is a link to their Facebook page.
For a lot more restaurants in Valladolid, see our guide here: best places to eat in Valladolid .
What are the Best Places to Stay in Valladolid?
Valladolid is not that big of a city and staying in the center allows you to walk most places. In fact, driving around in the center is a little hard because of limited parking and one-way streets. So, this is a consideration when looking to book a hotel. If you do have a car, this opens up some of the places to stay around Valladolid. For the most part, most people stay in the shaded area on the map below. Each marker has a link for more information.
Getting to Valladolid with Transportation
Visiting Valladolid is fairly easy since the city sits in the middle of the peninsula and close to three main intersection roads.
Driving to Valladolid
Valladolid sits at the intersection of several important roads like the 180-toll road. From the Riviera Maya it is a 1.5-hour drive to Valladolid on the toll highways. If you take the toll highway 180 you will need to pay twice. Payments at tolls are cash only and in pesos.
Coming from the north, south or from Merida you have the 180 tolls road, 180 non toll road, and 295 road. Almost all roads lead to Valladolid as the expression goes. Almost all of the time when coming from east and west it is best to take the toll 180 highway. The old non toll road is very slow, and you will pass many small towns and speedbumps.
Tren Maya Station
The Tren Maya is now running to and from the Valladolid station. The train station is a 5-minute taxi ride north of town next to the 180-toll highway. Here is our article about more information about the Tren Maya in Valladolid.
The bus station in Valladolid connects to Merida, Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, Cancun, and other smaller towns nearby. The main bus service is ADO. These buses are airconditioned and pretty comfortable. For smaller destinations like Izamal and Rio Lagartos, there is only very slow local buses. These can be Centro or Mayab buses. We don’t recommend these buses unless you are backpacking, and this is the only option. The reason we don’t recommend the second-class buses is the slow service with a lot of stops.
The ADO Bus Station is on the corner of 46th and 39th Streets in the center of Valladolid. From the bus station it is possible to walk to many of the hotels or grab a taxi from the bus station. Taxis are very reasonable in price in Valladolid.
Chichen Itza Colectivos
You have four options to get to Chichen Itza from Valladolid. The good news is, many people use Valladolid as a jumping off point to visit Chichen Itza, so it is fairly easy.
- Drive on the 180 non toll road. It is about 40-minute drive.
- Take a bus from the bus station. These are large buses with air-conditioning. These are limited so you will need to plan your times and how to get back to Valladolid or continue on to Merida.
- Colectivo vans. These vans leave when full. It is on the same street as the bus station between 46th Street and 48th Street. These mainly leave in the morning and come back mid-day. Most people want to get an early start to visit the ruins.
- Taking the Tren Maya. This might sound fun, but it is more expensive and takes longer. For one you need to take a taxi to the train station, have your tickets already purchased the beforehand, get on the train and get off in Piste. Then you need a taxi to take you to Chichen Itza. This cost about 200-300 pesos more per person and takes about 50 minutes more in transportation time.
Ek Balam Shared Taxis
If you are going to Ek Balam from Valladolid, you have three options.
- Drive to Ek Balam. This takes just over 1/2 an hour to drive. Parking at the ruins is now paid parking of 100 pesos.
- Taking a bus from the bus station. There have been limited buses from the bus station, but these times change often, so you will need to check in the bus station. Second class buses are not on the ADO website.
- Colectivo shared taxi. These small cars leave when full. The stop is on 37th Street between 42nd and 44th Streets. This is a fast option, and you don’t need to pay parking.
We hope that if you get to Valladolid, Yucatan you have a great time exploring the area and find our tips helpful. We have been visiting Va If you have any further things to mention, be sure to comment below so we can share with readers.