This article talks about why you should include the colourful city of Valladolid in your itinerary and some of the amazing sights you can see whilst you’re visiting.
A lot of people head straight to Chichen Itza and miss out the beautiful colonial town of Valladolid. We would highly recommend a day or two here exploring the lovely city and its beautiful surroundings. Off the beaten tourist trail, this city is a great value and with lots to see in and around the city, you’d be silly to miss it off your itinerary.
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How to get there?
There are regular buses to Valladolid from all the major towns in the Yucatan Peninsula including Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Chiquila. We got the bus from Chiquila after staying on Isla Holbox and when we turned up, were told that the 4.45 pm ADO bus was full. Luckily a second-class bus, Oriente, still had seats and was nearly half the price. The bus seemed to take longer than the ADO bus had advertised, stopping at various points along the way, but we didn’t mind and were happy to save the money.
TIP: In high season, it is advisable to buy bus tickets in advance in case they have sold out, as we experienced.
If you hire a car, Valladolid is 1 hour and 50 minutes from Merida and the same from Cancun. Tulum is only 1 hour 30 minutes away and Playa del Carmen, 1 hour 20 minutes.
Many taxi drivers are willing to make the drive from many of the above locations however, we only took buses and colectivos in these areas so we can’t provide any price information. Ask and then try a lower price, we found that often a big discount is offered if you don’t accept the first price.
Every meal we had in Valladolid was extremely budget-friendly and absolutely delicious. Getting away from the more touristy towns on the coast, we found that Valladolid offered excellent value for money without compromising on taste.
This is basically a food hall with about 8 stands selling different meals. A lot of Mexican food is on offer and we saw a lot of local dishes for as little as $60 pesos. We saw a stall selling Chinese food as soon as we entered the food hall and all the dishes looked incredible. When choosing your meal you get the option of rice or noodles with different dishes. We opted for 3 additional dishes and this cost us only 87 pesos.
The lady serving us was not shy and piled the food onto our plate. The serving was so enormous we decided we could share the portion. It was very yummy and a great alternative to all the amazing Mexican food we’d had on our journey to date.
A Mexican restaurant and bar in the evening, we listened to music, watched the locals dance and sing and drank 50 pesos Pina Coladas in the evening. We returned the next day to try some of the local specialities we’d seen on the menu.
Conchita pibil is slow-cooked pork with spicy seasonings. It came with beans and rice and lots of corn tortillas. The second dish, Queso Rellena, came with a white soup and tasted a lot better than it looked! The recipe is an Edam cheese scooped out and filled with ground pork.
Pollos a la Lena
Arriving back in Valladolid around lunchtime, we had an hour to find some food before jumping on our bus to Tulum. A short distance from the bus station we found Pollos a la Lena. We passed the small shop and saw the roaring fire. Drawn to the flames we went in and ordered half a roast chicken, rice, beans, chill sauces and corn tortillas. The chicken was smokey and full of BBQ flavour. We sat with locals on the battered plastic chairs and finished every bite. At only 30 pesos per person for such a wonderful meal we were very impressed.
Walk around Valladolid
Walking around this beautiful colonial town is an activity in itself. There are amazing local markets, fantastic sights and shops selling everything from delicious chocolate to gorgeous clothes boutiques. The houses are painted in a variety of colours and the multicoloured houses are a stunning sight to behold. A photographer’s dream.
Price: $120 pesos
This cenote is particularly famous because of the incredible limestone stalactites that hang down from the ceiling of this vast cenote. The small opening in the cenote allows light to filter down onto a platform, from which you can take a photo. The cenote is vast and very impressive and entering the cenote you look like you’re heading down some slippery steps into the darkness.
As a safety precaution, you are given a life jacket if you want to swim in the water. The water is however rather cool which is ideal if you want a refreshing dip. The water has fishes swimming around and they often nip at your feet which can be a bit of a shock if you’re not expecting it!
You can get a colectivo from town (35 pesos per person) or a taxi like we did (100 pesos) to get to the cenote. Try and get there before 10 am when the busloads of tourists from the resorts in Cancun arrive. We got there as it opened at 9 am and only about 10 other people were there with us for the first half an hour. If you do get a taxi, it might be worth getting them to stay there or else head out to the road to hail a colectivo back into town.
Price: $30 pesos
After visiting Cenote Suytun, we were recommended to visit Cenote Zaci which is found in the centre of Valladolid. We arrived and there was hardly anyone else at the cenote. Totally different from Suytun, Cenote Zaci is more open and has water cascading off the top and into the water below. Green vegetation frames the cenote and it’s really beautiful. People were swimming in the cenote and now it was nearly midday, it was so lovely to jump in the cool water. As the cenote is in the centre of town, you are able to walk there if you stay centrally.
Catedral de San Servacio
This cathedral is just off the main square in Valladolid. At over 500 years old, it has quite a dark history, with a murder having taken place within the cathedral. The cathedral is charming and it looks lovely lit up at night or in the bright sunlight. Colourful flags adorn the entrance and you’ll see tourists and locals alike stopping to admire this stunning building. If you want to go inside, the entrance is free.
Calzada de los Frailes
Is a beautiful pastel coloured street with beautiful boutiques. It’s famous for being the prettiest street in Valladolid and it certainly lived up to expectations. Colourful flowers adorn the walls and the shops and boutiques are gorgeous. A great street for shopping and at the bottom of the street is the Convent de San Berardino and the VALLADOLID sign.
Convent de San Bernardino
An impressive building, we didn’t actually go in as we had gone for an early morning wander, but the area is lovely. There is green grass in front of the convent where people congregate for picnics mean it’s a nice area to relax after walking around. The VALLADOLID sign in the corner (it was getting a new coat of paint when we visited) also allows you to get another nice picture.
Casa de los Venados – private art collection
We read an article saying that a visit to Valladolid is completed with a tour of Casa de los Venados, a fantastic private art collection. We read that there were tours at 10 am, 11.30 am and 1 pm, but when we turned up at 1 pm, it said that they only do tours at 10 am. If you want to go, it might be worth checking the tour times the night before. We heard great reviews about the art collection, so if you go let us know what it is like!
La Casona de Valladolid
In this lovely restaurant is a fountain dedicated to the Patron Saint of Valladolid. The restaurant serves a buffet of all the local specialities and with a beautiful courtyard it is a great place for the lunch if the 350 pesos per person price is within your budget. We heard great things about the food and everyone advises that you don’t eat much beforehand.
The fountain is at the back of the restaurant and the staff kindly allowed us to go and look at the fountain even though we weren’t eating. The fountain is bright, bold and full of colour, in keeping with the rest of Valladolid.
Valladolid Hostal / Spanglish Hostal
We absolutely loved the Valladolid Hostel which we booked through Hostelworld. We got a private room, which was really reasonable, had AC and was large. The staff were so friendly and helpful, providing a map of Valladolid with all the sights and places to get money, colectivos, buses, etc. Just brilliant. The hostel also had everything you needed and only a 2-minute walk from the ADO bus station it was a great location and had great facilities, plus breakfast was included. We highly recommend this hostel.
- A street away from the main bus station. Central location in easy walking distance to all the sights.
- Swimming pool, gym area
- Good kitchen area and fully equipped
- Good breakfast of toast, fruit and cereal included in the rate. Tea and coffee making facilities available.
- Very friendly & helpful staff. They have written on a map that they give to all guests showing places of interest. Where to get colectivos to various cenotes/attractions and a great food hall where we had a very yummy but cheap dinner.
- Our room was large & had a fan and air conditioning.
- Excellent WiFi
- Allowed us to leave our bags as we explored the town the next day
- Felt very secure – can only get access to the hostel by going past the front desk
- The room was very clean
- Comfortable mattress and a good pillow and clean linen
- Towels were included
- Quite a lot of flies outside as we had breakfast
- Not the strongest shower, but it was nice and warm
We hope that this article provides some advice about some of the best things to see and do in the colourful city of Valladolid. Have you visited the city? What were your highlights and favourite restaurants?