One of the most laid-back cities in the Yucatan Peninsula is Valladolid. A small and charming city right in the heart of the peninsula. This is a complete guide for traveling to Valladolid with things to do, places to see, where to eat, rooftop bars, where to stay and everything else.
Most of you have heard about Merida Mexico and may have read my complete Merida travel guide with 45 tips about this charming city, but don't skip Valladolid when traveling to Yucatan. Valladolid is the second biggest city in the Yucatan state and an undeniable place to visit when making a Yucatan Peninsula road trip. Also great as a stop when backpacking Yucatan and a must see place if you love cenotes! Check my article with the best cenotes near Valladolid!
A landlocked quiet and hot town, that stole my heart. For many reasons I visited Valladolid multiple times over the last years. In total I spent more than a month in this little city and these are all my Valladolid Mexico travel tips.
Somewhere deep inland one can find a small municipality with only 46.000 inhabitants. Indeed, the urban area was called after its Spanish namesake in 1543 and maintained the name after its relocation to where it welcomes guests from all around the world today. The reasons for visiting Valladolid are endless and in this Valladolid Mexico travel blog I am giving you all my tips.
Craving the beach after visiting Valladolid Mexico? Pick the two places that are not affected by the seaweed! What about a trip to Isla Holbox or check out all the amazing things to do in Isla Mujeres.
22 Valladolid Mexico travel tips
1. How to get around Valladolid Mexico
Valladolid has a centrally located bus station just a couple blocks away from the main square. There are busses going in any direction pretty much all day long. That makes traveling to Valladolid Mexico very easy. Getting away is equally easy. Great places to travel after Valladolid are: Rio Lagartos, Costa Maya, Isla Holbox and Bacalar.
Valladolid is very well connected through the ADO bus company. Click on the link to see all routes, time tables and even order your tickets online. The website automatically translates to English.
2. No car rental company
Unfortunately there is still no car rental company in Valladolid Mexico. Which kind of sucks because there are some amazing day trips from Valladolid that are much easier with a car: Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, cenotes, etc. Renting a car is cheap in Yucatan, you can find them for $10 per day already. Sadly not in Valladolid Mexico.
3. Rent a scooter
A great alternative for a car is to rent a scooter in Valladolid. There are about 3 companies that rent out scooters, but I can recommend you Scooter Rental Valladolid Mexico. They charge 100 Pesos ($5) per hour or 500 Pesos ($25) for 24 hours. One of my personal Valladolid Mexico travel tips is to rent a scooter in the afternoon for 24 hours. In the afternoon you can explore the cenotes near Valladolid and the next morning very early you visit Chichen Itza or Ek Balam. This way you don’t have a full day driving around Valladolid on top of squeezing in all the activities. At the end of the day you are on a holiday. Traveling to Valladolid should be laid-back, in line with the city vibes!
4. Rent a bicycle
You can easily go around the city on a bicycle as everything is flat. Even for visiting some of the Valladolid cenotes a bike would be sufficient. I didn’t do it myself, but I saw lots of other travelers on bikes. Renting a bike is only 100 Pesos ($5) per day. Cenote Oxman, Samula and Xkeken are great cenotes to visit on a bicycle.
A plethora of cenotes scattered around town make this city some of the best places to visit in Yucatan. So there is no need to tell you that visiting cenotes is among the best things to do in Valladolid. The easiest Valladolid cenote to get to is cenote Zaci, as it is just a couple minutes walk from the main square in Valladolid. This centrally located cenote should be a teaser for what is coming as near Valladolid are some of the best cenotes in Yucatan.
Cenote Suytun is the famous cenote to get that epic instagram picture you have probably come across on social media. Cenote Ik Kil is next to Chichen Itza and according to the majority of the tourists the most beautiful cenote in Yucatan. Cenote Xcanche is next to Ek Balam and has zip lining and rappelling and for stunning closed cenotes head to Palomitas and Agua Dulce.
There are too many to chose from so I recommend you reading my best cenotes around Valladolid article in where I show you all of them and you can make a selection of where you want to go.
6. Great mix of past and present
One of the reasons you should travel to Valladolid is to feel its charm. Conversion to Christianity with an explicit colonial touch played a crucial role in the formation of the present-day urban center. Boutique shops are popping up in old colonial style buildings and old haciendas serve as open air restaurants. Some doors open to amazing courtyards full of surprises. Valladolid Mexico kept on surprising me and every day I discovered a new hidden gem.
7. Mercado Municipal
If visiting local markets is your thing then definitely check out Mercado Municpal in the morning. Just a couple blocks northeast of the city center. A bustling place but one of the best places to visit in Valladolid for your dose of real local culture.
8. Valladolid Cathedral
Needless to say, the San Gervasio Cathedral is the epitome of the timeworn settlement's transition to the new era. Here the Mayan ruins and the Christendom seem to merge together forevermore. The cathedral looks at its best in the sunset and as good as it looks from the outside, the interior is quite disappointing. Just have a look and decide for yourself. There is no entrance fee, you can just walk in.
9. Convent of San Bernardino
The uniqueness of this construction is followed in chronology and importance by the Convent of San Bernardino located a little further from the downtown. Having undergone several alterations similarly to the Cathedral, it, perhaps, crowns the architectural layout of the town. And at that, attracts attention due to its ambiguous character serving as a fort and a religious center at the same time.
10. Great architecture
Valladolid’s tangible culture is dating back to the 16th century when the conquistadors did not save their efforts to make their dream happen and embody their power in architecture. Although the Cathedral and the Fort are major tourist attractions in Valladolid, don't miss out on the rest of the town presented by an abundance of Havana-like colonial architecture. All in vivid colors. Corresponding to its title and the status, Valladolid's cultural legacy is genuinely enchanting.
11. Stroll through Calz. de los Frailes
I named it my favorite street in Yucatan! This is the street that leads you away from the city center towards the fort or the Convent of San Bernardino. On both sides you will only find colonial buildings that house boutique shops, boutique hotels, bars, restaurants and cute coffee places. Some of the houses are painted in bright colors, one of those streets where you will find lots of girls taking instagram pictures. One of my favorite places to visit in Valladolid Mexico for sure.
12. Valladolid sign
Taking pictures with the city sign is a popular thing to do in Valladolid Mexico. Find it at the end of Calz. de los Frailes, next to the Convent of San Bernardino. Valladolid is a so called Pueblo Magico, meaning a magical town, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. Well... I agree! Every Pueblo Magico has a sign like this!
13. Casa de los Venados
Valladolid does not abound in museums and art stuff, however, the centrally located San Roque mansion and the Casa de los Venados or simply the Deer House boast a remarkable collection of the local craftsmanship. Find here various rooms in a private home dedicated to a plethora of handicraft pottery, furniture items and colorful textiles. The entrance fee goes to charity. There are guided tours in English available. Casa de los Venados is only open till 1:00pm only.
14. Free Walking Tour Valladolid.
A great way to see Valladolid is to join one of the free walking tours. Click on the link to go to their Facebook Page and find their details. In 2023 tours are available 7 days a week, 4 times a day: 10am, 5pm 6pm and 7pm. The Valladolid Free Walking Tours start near the fountain in the central square and you can recognize them from the dark red umbrella.
15. Great hub for Chichen Itza
There are multiple busses and colectivos going to Chichen Itza and it just takes about 30 - 40 minutes to get there. When you decide to travel to Valladolid Mexico, this should be one of your day trips. If you visit Chichen Itza go early! I mean go an hour earlier than intended! This is one of the 7 World Wonders so expect huge crowds from 10.00am onwards. Chichen Itza opens at 8.00am. No need to tell you that visiting a nearby world wonder is one of the best things to do in Valladolid.
16. Ek Balam day trip
The Maya ruins of Ek Balam are considered the smaller brother of Chichen Itza and lots of tourists prefer the Ek Balam ruins over the busy Chichen Itza. Don’t get me wrong even at Ek Balam it gets busy, but not as much as at Chichen Itza. Another advantage is that you can climb the pyramid at Ek Balam and at Chichen Itza you can not! Ek Balam is 30 minutes north of Valladolid.
17. Try local (street) food
Another reason to travel to Valladolid Mexico is the Yucatan food culture. Who doesn’t like to travel for food? We all want to try the local dishes right? So what is Yucatan food actually? They are based on rich multi-century recipes with conspicuous vegetarian undertones. The Mayans have hugely contributed to this field of the Mexican heritage. The mass use of fruits and vegetables drawn from the surrounding wild nature ensures a healthy dose of ecstasy. Corn, achiote, citrus, habaneros are the basics of the Mayan cooking tradition.
Here are some of the Yucatan’s most mouthwatering experiences.
- Start with Panuchos or the hamburgers in Yucatan style. These corn tortillas fried in oil are usually served with toppings such as lettuce, meat varieties, tomato, and onion. Carrots, avocados and other ingredients may be added.
- Salbutes are a variety of Panuchos. These are mostly served as light yet delicious starters.
- Papadzules or the delicious egg stuffing embraced by the corn tortillas with tomato sauce and habanero promise another must have delight when you travel to Valladolid. Spice up your Mexican adventure but don't get too addicted!
- Visiting Valladolid you have to try Cochinita Pibil. The marinated pork filling in a banana leaf is going to fully gratify your senses. Enriched with a special sauce made of sour orange, habanero and red onion.
There are many more varieties of soups and meat dishes and also local pastries. Eating street food is a must when traveling to Valladolid Mexico. Most of them you can find around the main square a little later in the afternoon or in weekends.
This is one of my favorite restaurants in Valladolid Mexico. It is a little outside of the city center, but right next to one of the most popular places to see in Valladolid: Convent of San Bernardino. This hip and modern restaurant is where you will find many tourist and some prosperous local Mexicans. They serve a wide range of vegetarian dishes and juices. Yerbabuena is my best Valladolid Mexico tip for food.
19. Pitagoras Cafe del Profesor
My favorite places to go for breakfast in the city center. Cafe Pitagoras is located just two blocks from the main square and a gem in Valladolid Mexico. They have delicious juices as well as healthy meals. The homey interior with book shelves made it a great place to hang out for a little while. At Cafe del Profesor Pitagoras I also met some other travelers. Loved this place a lot.
20. Mercado 43
To be honest Im not even sure if this is a real restaurant, it is not on Google Mpas. I stumbled upon it while getting lost in the charming streets. It is called Mercado 43 and is about 2-3 blocks east from the main square in Calle 43. In the garden there was like a local market of 5 stands selling local handicrafts, but also 2 places that sold food. I had a local pasta dish for 80 Pesos ($4) and it was delicious. Totally worth searching for when traveling to Valladolid.
21. Best coffee in Valladolid Mexico
Conkafecito is my favorite place to grab a coffee. Simply because they serve the best coffee in Valladolid Mexico. I tried a bunch of places, but the best one I got at Conkafecito. It is located on the end of Calz. de los Frailes towards the Convent of San Bernardino. It is not the most charming place unfortunately but they do serve the best coffee in Valladolid and I am a coffee snob!
22. Mezcaleria Don Trejo
Another great Valladolid Mexico tip is this restaurant/bar. Although called mezcaleria they serve better things than that! It is a little more pricey but the food is good and this is a great place to meet travelers. They often have live music or a DJ. Mezcaleria is also located in Calz. de los Frailes.
Where to stay in Valladolid Mexico
The tourist-focused infrastructure makes it that there is something for every pocket and taste. There is an abundance of guesthouses, airbnbs and hotels in and around downtown. This is going to make it easy to find your preferred Valladolid Mexico accommodation.
The Hostel Guacamayas, Hostel Candelaria and the Hostel Casa Xtakay are two great hostels in Valladolid Mexico and the best low-budget accommodations with typical Mexican ambiance. Hostels in Valladolid Mexico are pretty scares and highly populated most of the time making an early bird status rather demanded.
Provided your finances are not so modest, more comfortable accommodations are always at hand in the mentioned area. Casa Sisal Valladolid Yucatan, Hotel Casa Rosario and Hotel Peregrina just to name a few with spacious rooms, charming decorations and outdoor or indoor pools are truly a pledge of a memorable adventure.
And lastly, luxury lovers are equally going to get their share when in Valladolid. A row of hotels designated for the upper class boasts such mansions as Le Muuch Hotel, Hotel Zentik Project & Saline Caves. Here rustic style merges with genuine bliss.
I hope all the above Valladolid Mexico tips were useful for your upcoming Yucatan trip. In total I spent over 2 months exploring the peninsula, see here my Yucatan itinerary. It basically touched down at all the cool places to visit in Yucatan as well as many day trips from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, like Selvatica Zip Lining, Tulum and Coba Tour, a Puerto Morelos travel blog and much more. Also recommended places to vist are of course Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres.
Safe travels and enjoy Yucatan!