Colonial architecture in all imaginable colours. A cenote in the middle of the city. Cute shops selling artefacts. Some of the most excellent food the Yucatán state has to offer. The list of reasons to visit Valladolid is endless. Built during the 16th century, this is the second oldest city in the Yucatán state. Although Valladolid is a great place for anyone interested in history, above all, it’s the perfect destination for those wishing to submerge themselves in authentic, contemporary Yucatecan lifestyle. With most of the main attractions concentrated around the city centre, it’s a great place to explore with just a few hours to spare. Here’s a quick introduction to Valladolid as well as five things to do while exploring the city.
A peek into local lifestyle
Photo: The streets of Valladolid are interesting to explore even on a rainy day.
Some holidaymakers who come to Cancún, Playa del Carmen or Tulum won’t venture far outside their resort or hotel area. The beaches and the coast are indisputably beautiful, but they will hardly allow you to experience authentic Yucatecan lifestyle.
The Yucatán area is beautiful and diverse and has a lot to offer anyone wishing to explore it. Go on an adventure further inland and visit one of the larger cities!
Convenient and compact – a few hours and you’ve seen Valladolid’s main sights
Photo: There are lots of cute shops along the streets selling handmade artefacts.
Valladolid, the second oldest city in the Yucatán state is the perfect city to visit. With a population of a little under 50.000 people it’s also the state’s third largest city. It’s large enough to give you a glimpse into the everyday lives of local people, but still compact enough to allow you to see the best sights during just one afternoon.
Most of the main attractions are located at just a short walking distance from each other, so this is a great city to explore by foot. You’ll get a map of the city as well as super-friendly service from the tourist office on the southeast corner of the plaza in the city centre.
Valladolid is also conveniently located just a short distance from Chichen Itzá so you can easily combine the two. Start with the ancient Mayan ruins and then head to Valladolid for lunch and a city stroll.
Photo: Valladolid is located at around 160 kilometres from Cancún and around 100 kilometres from Tulum. It’s easy to reach by car and you’ll usually find a convenient parking spot along the streets.
1. Check out the colourful buildings
Photo: Even on a rainy day the amount of colour in Valladolid is inspiring. These flowerpots decorate the street called Calzada de los Frailes.
Valladolid is famous for its colonial architecture. The houses lining the streets come in all imaginable colours from intense blue and green to light pastels. The city was founded in 1543 by the Spanish conquistadors. Originally it had a different location, but was moved to its current position in 1545.
There are colourful buildings all around the city centre. For example, you can take a stroll along any of the streets starting from the plaza, the main square.
For the most beautifully restored houses take a walk along Calzada de los Frailes (also called Calle 41-a). This is a diagonal street lined with beautifully coloured buildings. Continue all the way down this road and you’ll eventually get to another one of Valladolid’s famous sights, the 16th century convent Iglesia de San Bernardino de Siena.
2. See Iglesia de San Servacio by the main square
Photo: Iglesia de San Servacio is a majestic sight, watching over the main square in Valladolid.
You can’t see Valladolid and miss out on the main square, the plaza. This beautiful square has a charming green park with a fountain and a statue of a woman wearing a traditional Yucatecan huipil (a traditional colourful garment).
On the south side, the magnificent church Iglesia de San Servacio towers over the plaza (sometimes it goes by the name Catedral de San Gervasio). The entrance is colourfully decorated and two beautiful palm trees in front of the church stand almost as high as the two church towers.
3. Eat, eat and eat!
Photo: Traditional Yucatecan food includes a lot of meat. But vegetarians will also find delicious alternatives, like grilled cheese, avocado and vegetables.
The quality of the food in Valladolid is very high. In fact, many Mexicans will head to Valladolid just for the tasty cuisine. This is why it would practically be a crime to visit Valladolid and miss out on enjoying the culinary treats.
Several good restaurants are located close to the plaza. For example Hostería del Marques is great both for the food and the enjoyable setting – you’ll be dining in an interior courtyard dating back to the 17th century.
If your sweet tooth isn’t satisfied head towards Calle 41 where you’ll find Wabi Gelato. This place has some amazing artisanal ice cream in all imaginable flavours.
Photo: Hostería del Marques is a lovely restaurant to eat at, with tables overlooking the courtyard.
4. Admire beautiful cenote Zaci
Photo: Cenote Zaci is beautiful to visit even if you’re not planning on swimming.
One of Valladolid’s main attractions is cenote Zaci. It’s located right in the heart of the city, just a short walk from the plaza.
Cenote Zaci is beautiful. Half of the cenote covered by a stone ceiling hanging over the water, providing cover from both the sun and downpours. The other half is open, letting in natural light. Lush green vegetation spills over the sides of the rock walls hanging down towards the water.
There’s a path several metres above the water level, going all the way around the cenote. The bravest swimmers will jump into the water from the edge of this path. The cenote is deep – around 30-40 metres at the deepest points.
But not everyone will want to swim. The water is a bit murky and full of fish. However, the entrance fee at just 30 pesos is worth paying even if you’re not up for a swim. You can enjoy the beautiful location without having a dip.
From time to time there’s musicians playing live music and the half-cave by the cenote provides them with some great acoustics.
5. Soak up the street vibes
Photo: Customers, both human and canine, gather round a Taquería food cart in Valladolid.
Valladolid is the perfect city to visit if you want to catch a glimpse of everyday Yucatecan life. It’s laid back, but still busy enough for people watching.
Sit in the park at the plaza or have a coffee at one of the cafés, wander the streets or buy a snack from one of the Taquerías (food carts) and have a chat with the locals.
Photo: A scruffy-looking dog takes a nap on the street.