Valladolid is a small colonial town that looks exactly how I imagined Mexico to be before I got there. With its simple architecture, narrow streets, pastel coloured walls, small tequila bars, the main church overlooking a picturesque square and a cenote right in the middle of the town, what more can you ask for?
The town is pretty small, but you can base yourself here to visit Chichen Itza or the less famous, but equally as beautiful Ek’ Balam.
Things to see and do in Valladolid:
- Take a walk in the main square;
- Visit Cenote Zaci;
- Go visit San Bernardino de Siena Monastery and watch the light show in the evening; and
- Visit Cenote Dzitnup.
Valladolid is not particularly big, so everything is centred around two main places, one of this being the main plaza. Here, all around a big fountain, there some weirdly shaped benches that you will see in several small towns in the Yucatan peninsula. Dominating the square, the Catedral de San Gervasio, with its simple lines and white stone walls takes you back to another time in history. Entrance to the church is free. We really enjoyed spending our first evening simply walking around the plaza, watching fireworks and looking at street artists at night. Not far from the main square, you can get to have a look at another cute colonial church, the one of St. Anne.
Named after the former name of the town, Cenote Zaci is another must-see. Situated five minutes away from the main square, Cenote Zaci is the second most iconic place of the town. Usually busy with both tourists and local people, this is the place to go for your chill day or to do cliff jumping. While it certainly isn’t the clearest cenote water we have come across in the Yucatan, what other town in the world has a natural sinkhole right in the middle of it? Entrance fee is of 30 pesos.
Just a ten minute walk away from the city centre, the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena is the second largest Franciscan construction in the Yucatan. Pretty to look at during the day, in the evening you can go there to enjoy a light show projected on its walls which tells the story of the town, both in Spanish and in English, every Wednesday night at 9pm. Entrance is free.
One of the days we spent in Valladolid, we decided to take a day trip to Cenotes Dzitnup, a complex of natural sinkholes only 40 minutes away from Valladolid. There are two cenotes here. The first one, Xexhen, is the biggest and it’s a huge underground cave with some natural light coming through. You can swim in here or just sit on a rock with your feet in the water enjoy a free pedicure thanks to lots of small catfish that will look after your feet. The second cenote, Sumala, is smaller and it has three shades of water, from light crystal blue, to green to very dark blue. Entrance fee: the cost to visit Dzitnup is of 100 pesos for one cenote and of 180 pesos for both.
How to get there:
- Get a collectivo from calle 44, between 41 and 43.
- If it’s more than two people, it is worth getting a taxi which will bring you straight to the place for less than 2 dollars each.
There are a few nice hostels in Valladolid. I stayed in Tunich Naj, a small hostel close to the city centre, which offers dorms, private rooms or traditional cabanas, for very reasonable prices.
Bus from Cancun – From the Cancun station TAME get a direct ADO bus to Valladolid, which runs several times daily. The bus journey lasts approximately 4 hours and it costs less than 250 pesos for a first class ticket. Unless it’s high season, there is no need to book in advance.
Bus from Merida – From the bus station in Merida, buses to Valladolid are very frequent. You can check the timetable online on the ADO website, but it isn’t always reliable. Just show up at the station and ask for the next available bus. Price for a first class ticket is less than 250 pesos for a four hour journey.