Your complete guide to the charming town of Valladolid in Mexico. In this post, you will list for you all the fantastic things to do in and just outside of Valladolid, tips for visiting and much more!
Valladolid is a small yet very charming Mexican town often visited on a day trip from Cancun or as a part of the Chichen Itza trip. This Mexican UNESCO Heritage Site town has, however, much more to offer than meets the eye.
If you are travelling from Riviera Maya, Valladolid will be your gate to colonial towns and pueblo magicos of Mexico. Far from famous golden sand beaches, a different, much more authentic Mexico will open its door to you.
Valladolid, Mexico is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also conveniently located, right in the middle of the peninsula, making it a perfect base for exploring the Yucatan region while offering great things to do in town, reasonable prices and perfect Mexican town cuteness.
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Is Valladolid, Mexico Worth Visiting?
When I first arrived in Valladolid and did my routine ‘walk around’ action, I thought, Is that all? Valladolid is pretty small, after all.
But I soon found out that Valladolid is not only a cute, laid-back town great for strolling around and taking photographs. There are also plenty of great things to do in Valladolid as well as outside of town.
So if you base yourself in Valladolid, Mexico for a few days, you will be surprised at how much this little town has to offer.
Valladolid is a typical Mexican town with a park set in the heart of the town where you can hide from the sun, sit in one of the kissing chairs or white benches surrounding the fountain, enjoy your marquesitas or ice cream and watch the world go by.
Colourful colonial buildings, historical churches, street vendors, locals going about their lives and wearing their colourful dresses, local artists performing, markets, art workshops and even a cenote located right in the town centre! Not enough?
How about even more beautiful cenotes outside of the town, Mayan ruins and great day trips? All this and so much more makes Valladolid a great base to explore the rest of the area while immersing yourself in authentic, laid-back Mexican life.
I put together this comprehensive guide to all things to do in Valladolid Mexico, so you to choose those that tick your fancy, and have a wonderful time. So let’s begin!
Things to do in Valladolid, Mexico
Discover Valladolid historical town centre
Let your feet and curiosity guide you. Valladolid Mexico is a very safe town, and you can allow yourself to get lost and stroll between the colourful, vibrant streets of the town. In fact, this is probably one of the best things to do in Valladolid.
Spend some time at the town’s main square where the iconic Parque Francisco Canton is located, with colourfully decorated Iglesia de San Servacio to the right. Chill and walk around during the day and enjoy live performances in the afternoon. It is the true heart of the town! Although it is also the most touristy part of the town where daily tour busses drop the one-day-trip visitors, it never felt too crowded or overwhelming.
- You cannot miss Calzada de los Frailes! This quiet, mostly pedestrian street is one of the prettiest streets I have seen in Mexico. Colourful walls and doorways, quirky art, workshops and galleries, cute coffee shops, vegetarian restaurants but all tranquil and very atmospheric – a photographer’s paradise.
- As you walk up the Calzada de los Frailes, you’ll end up at Parque Sisal, which houses the Convent of San Bernardino of Siena. This is a very picturesque and peaceful park. You will find few tourists snapping photos in front of a colourful Valladolid sign, and exploring the convent, but truth to be told I found this to be one of the most peaceful places in town.
- The Franciscan Convent plays an important role in Valladolid’s history, and I recommend you pop in and visit the museum. Come by in the evening as well to see it lit and if you are lucky, you might come across a light show telling the story of Valladolid.
- Wander towards the neighbourhood of La Candelaria. It is actually just ten minutes of walk away from the centre, yet it has a slightly different feel than the rest of Valladolid. It is a charming and peaceful neighbourhood with a cute little park, a few good restaurants and a beautiful church right in the middle. There is not much ‘to do’ there but isn’t it a great thing to do sometimes?
- And last but not least, you cannot miss a visit to a local market – Valladolid Mercado Municipal. It is not only a great way to stock up on affordable fruit and vegetables but also, and mostly, get the real feel of local life! make it early though! This market closes pretty early, sometimes even around midday.
Rent a bicycle / the best thing to do in Valladolid Mexico!
One of the best things to do in Valladolid, Mexico is renting a bicycle! I did it on my second day with a couple of friends I met in the hostel and it was the best decision. Valladolid is very bicycle friendly and nearly every hostel has bikes for rent. You can ride around the town, explore the outskirts but also take a bike trip to the local cenote! That’s right!
Cenotes Samula and Xkeken are located only 30 minutes bike ride from Valladolid centre. It is an easy, safe and well-marked route! isn’t that better than hopping on a crowded bus?
In the next part, I will tell you all about Valladolid cenotes, so be sure to read on!
Discover all cenotes around Valladolid, Mexico
Yucatan Penisula is home to over 6000 cenotes! Isn’t this a crazy amount! You can visit many of them on a day or even half-day trip from Valladolid Mexico and if you do it right, you might even have few of them just for yourself! Don’t worry, I will tell you how!
- If you are in Valladolid only for a day, you can visit Cenote Zaci – located right in the town centre. That’s right! You don’t need to travel on a bus, rent a bike or car -walk for 5 minutes and you will be able to have a dip in the cooling water of this stunning cenote or grab a seat at the restaurant located just above it.
If you get here first thing in the morning, you might find just a couple of people, but it is a popular cenote, and it does get busy. It was unavailable for swimmers last time I visited as it was closed around the pandemic time and I was told it will be reopening towards the end of 2021. Before the closure, the entrance was 30MXN but expect the price to rise once it reopens.
- As I mentioned earlier just 30 minutes bike ride from Valladolid, you will find two beautiful cenotes – Samula and X’Keken. Located one next to another, both cenotes can be visited on the same ticket and I recommend you do that as they are both offering a unique experience and the price is very affordable. A trip to cenotes is truly one of the best things to do in Valladolid.
Cenote X’Keken is larger and located completely underground with stalactites hanging from the ceiling while the Samula cenote is located inside a cavern with tree roots dangling from the roof, birds circling around the roof opening and an incredibly turquoise pool to swim in.
We were the only people in both cenotes, and the experience was surreal.
To experience both cenotes without the crowds and even have them all for yourself, I recommend you rent a bike and leave as early as you can. We arrived just after 9 am and were back in town around midday.
The alternative way of getting to cenotes Samula and X’Keken is by local colectivo or taxi.
The entry price for each cenote is 80MXN but if you pay for both, you will only pay 125MXN. Bargain for an absolutely incredible experience!
Note – As an additional cost, you will be required to rent life vests for 20MXN at each cenote so the total price will come up to 165MXN.
But there’s so much more! Here are just a few of the cenotes you could visit on a trip from Valladolid:
- Cenote Suytun has become the most popular cenote to visit and probably one of the best things to do in Valladolid. This is because it is one of the most photogenic cenotes which is taking Instagram by storm. It boasts a stone platform taking you all the way to the centre, which during midday is flooded with incredible light. I admit this creates stunning photos. The entry fee is 125 MXN and the last entrance is at 4;30pm.
- Cenote Oxman is a gorgeous, underground cave style pool with a swing rope and with hanging vines, located on a hacienda Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman. It is one of the most popular and most beautiful cenotes around Valladolid, Mexico. Highly recommended! You can also get there by bike and the entrance fee is 150 MXN.
- Are you looking for a full sacred cenote experience? In that case, you should consider a visit Cenote Maya in Cenote Maya Native Park. This is a full Mayan cultural experience, complete with an authentic Mayan blessing ceremony and a traditional meal.
- Cenote Ik Kil, so-called Chichen Itza or sacred cenote, has been rated as one of the most beautiful cenotes in the whole of Yucatan! It is located only 5 kilometres from Chichen Itza and it is often visited in combination with the Chichen Itza tour. You can also easily visit it on your own and it is definitely worth it! This spectacular cenote features the vines hanging over the roof, reaching all the way down to the water level. It is one of the most popular cenotes in Mexico, so don’t expect to have it all for yourself.
If you decide to visit Ek Balam ruins, then you should definitely visit Cenote X’Canche. On a Combined jungle bike ride, you can enjoy wonderful ruins and refreshing swim in a cenote. Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? You can also opt for this day trip!
Another cenote that is often included in the Chichen Itza tour is cenote Saamal. Located at Hacienda Selva Maya, Saamal is a huge open cenote, with steep walls and a man-made waterfall. On-site you will also find a restaurant serving traditional Yucatec dishes.
If you like the idea of exploring cenotes on a day bike tour which includes a visit to the market, take a look at this highly-rated tour from Valladolid!
Visit Famous Chichen Itza Mayan ruins (and not only)
If you are a Mayan ruins junkie, then Valladolid Mexico is a perfect base for you! You can visit quite a few famous Mayan archaeological sites and most of the time you will have an option to either join an organised tour or do it independently.
- Chichen Itza is probably the most famous Maya ruins site in Mexico. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that several day tours arrive here daily from all possible locations, including Cancun, Tulum, Merida and also Valladolid. I have a written why I decided not to see Chichen Itza in my Merida post (you can read about it here) but most of the posts online highly recommend it. And if you only have time to see this one site, definitely don’t skip it. Visiting Mayan ruins is a magical experience.
- Ek Balam is another famous Mayan site. Not as popular as Chichen Itza but equally, if not more, incredible. It is not an off the beaten path site, so you will still have to share the experience with other travellers. But as a rule of thumb – the earlier you arrive, the more of a site, you will have for yourself. And there is nothing more incredible than walking around mysterious ancient ruins in the mist of early morning! Many travellers claim that Ek Balam is a better option than Chichen Itza. if you went to both – let us know what your thoughts are in the comments below this post.
- The ancient Coba Ruins is also one of the top picks for Maya ruins near Valladolid, Mexico. There are few cenotes located near Coba, so by combining both experiences you can create a fantastic day-long trip! Coba ruins are smaller than those in Chichen Itza and Ek Balam, but they definitely don’t lack beauty and adventure opportunities. Located in the dense jungle, this ancient site gives you the option to hop on a bike or a tuk-tuk and explore the jungle and the archaeological sites.
Learn more about local Art and Heritage
Valladolid, despite being a relatively small town, boasts a few museums as well as a few great arts and crafts workshops.
- Visit Murem Museum (El museo de ropa étnica de México ) for the history of Mexican ethnic clothing or Choco Story to learn about the significance and history of chocolate production. You can of course buy some chocolate too!
- Museo San Roque is a very interesting museum featuring a great collection of archaeological artefacts, as well as exhibits of shamas altars, a display of murals and a small charming courtyard. The entrance is free, so there are no excuses.
- Stop in Casa de Los Venados to check out some Mexican folk collections. It is a true treasure house of Mexican art and is held in a private home of collectors who open their doors to the public. It offers a tour every day at 10 am.
- Finally, while strolling down the Calzada de los Frailes, make sure you pop into the cute little boutique shop and cafe Kuxtal Café & Mexican Art. It is a brilliant spot to have some delicious coffee and buy unique and original souvenirs.
Enjoy Valladolid Mexico food and bar scene
Although Valladolid experiences a fair amount of daily tours and an influx of travellers, it still remains relatively off the radar and maintained its authentic charm. It is also great news when it comes to eating out. You will be able to find fairly affordable and deliciously authentic meals around the town.
When it comes to eating out, you can find anything that you need in Valladolid. Starting with a local market where you can buy homemade tamales, to Mercado de Comida in the centre, all the way to fancy international cuisine and quirky Mexican restaurants.
- If you want to have a taste of traditional and reasonably priced dishes, pop into Mercado de Comida (Food Market) just off the main square. You will see a combination of locals and travellers eating here – always a good sign!
- Along the side streets of Valladolid, look for taco stands. I bought some incredible tacos el pastor and some other of which name I don’t remember for 12MXN each! They were delicious!
- Alongside the Calzada de Los Frailes, you find quite a few quirky restaurants and coffee shops including De Los Santos and a great vegetarian restaurant Le’ Kaat.
- Yerbabuena del Sisal is the most popular restaurant among vegetarians and not only. It is probably one of the best restaurants in Valladolid. Make sure you pop in after taking a photo in front of the Valladolid sign!
- For traditional Maya cuisine, visit Cocina IX CAT IK restaurant. It is one of the most popular restaurants in Valladolid. Another popular restaurant amongst locals is Taberna de Los Frailes. Nena Nena is maybe hard to find but a perfect restaurant in Valladolid for traditional homemade Mexican food too.
- Burrito Amor located in the Parque La Candelaria is the best place in town for yummy vegetarian burritos, and for the best pizza in town, visit Paparazzi.
- Looking for a fancier rooftop experience in Valladolid, Mexico? Head over to Meson de Marques Restaurant.
After you fill your tummy with delicious food, be sure to visit one of the traditional cantinas.
A cantina is a classic Mexican bar featuring swinging doors, music, and plenty of tequila. Traditionally it was a men’s bar but now are open to everyone (at least in major tourist towns). The most famous cantinas in Valladolid are La Joyita and Cantina Bar Tenampa.
There are also a few other choices in Valladolid for those craving some evening fun. For mezcal (and other spirits) tasting visit Mezcaleria Don Trejo. Decorated with psychedelic Day of the Dead murals Líbranos del Mal is Valladolid’s ‘hipster’ bar. And if you are looking for the most popular nightspot in Valladolid Mexico head to Condesa Cocina-Bar. It is a bar welcoming a fairly young crowd coming over for good cocktails, food and music.
Take a free walking tour in Valladolid Mexico
And finally, one of the best things to do when arriving in any new town or city. A free walking tour is a great way to get your bearings around the new town, learn about its history, and also meet other travellers.
To look up free walking tours all over the world, I recommend Guru Walk but for Valladolid, you can take a look at this specific tour that has been recommended to me!
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How to get to Valladolid Mexico
It is extremely easy to get to Valladolid from most of the towns on the Yucatán peninsula. There are direct ADO busses to Valladoid Mexico running daily from Merida, Palenque, Cancun, Playa del Calmen and Tulum.
I always buy my ADO bus ticket online a few days prior as it is a bit cheaper and you can choose your seat. Especially handy when travelling over night!
Where to stay in Valladolid Mexico
If you are planning to book a hostel in Valladolid Mexico the best choice is Hostel Candelaria. It is a fantastic, backpacker-friendly hostel offering great dorms, an incredible garden, and one of the best kitchens ever. Their breakfast is spectacular and included in the price.
Every day, a couple of lovely ladies cook up a different dish like pancakes, eggs and tasty sandwiches. La Candelaria is definitely the best budget option for staying in Valladolid.
Hostal Guacamayas is another great choice for budget travellers. This small hostel has a cool place to hang out, a well-equipped kitchen, is close to the city centre, and there are no bunk beds.
For the best deal in town on a hotel, check out the highly recommended Hotel Hipil. Nicely decorated simple room, swimming pool and garden for a very reasonable price.
For a more exquisite and luxurious stay, choose the highly-rated Le Muuch Hotel.
Are you convinced now that Valladolid Mexico is worth spending a few days in? If yes, I hope this guide will help you and you’ll have an awesome time!
Let me know how did it go!
And until then, happy travelling!
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Exploring more of Mexico?
For an in-depth guide to San Cristobal de las Casas click here and if you are planning to enter Mexico from Guatemala via land border head over to my guide here!
If you travelling between San Cristobal de las Casas and Cancun, read about all the best stops you could take on this route.
Considering a trip to the yellow town of Izamal? Check out this guide for a perfect day trip guide.
If you are ending your trip in Cancun and wondering if Cancun is even a good stop for budget backpackers, read about what I think about it here.
Finally, If you are heading towards Palenque don’t miss my comprehensive guide here!