Valladolid, Mexico Travel Guide: Things To Do, Eat, and More (2024)

written by local expert Natalie Castle

I've been traveling around the world for the last 8 years doing many different jobs from teaching English in Thailand to being an au pair in France. Although I call Florida home, I currently live in Uganda where I work for a nonprofit. In my free time, I love to write travel content to share about all the different places I've been to!

If you’re planning a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, you might first think of the popular beach towns of Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Cancun.

Valladolid, Mexico might be a little off the beaten path but it should be added to your bucket list! In fact, the Adventure in You team has spent a year traveling and living in Mexico which means they have a ton of great recommendations, especially when it comes to visiting Valladolid so you’re in great hands.

Valladolid is a hidden gem full of cenotes, museums, and restaurants. Visiting Valladolid is a must for anyone that wants to experience Mexican culture including traditional colonial architecture and some of the best cuisines in the Riviera Maya. 

Valladolid Mexico is also centrally located to some of Mexico’s most famous sites including Mayan ruins and the pink lakes. 

Finding the best things to do in Valladolid Mexico can be overwhelming especially if you’re only there for a day trip or a short weekend. This guide has all the top things to see as well as restaurant and hotel suggestions! 

Valladolid, Mexio

Where Is Valladolid, Mexico? 

Valladolid is in the central state of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s 100 miles from Cancun and 65 miles from Tulum making it a great day trip if you’re already in another city in the Yucatan. From Playa del Carmen, Valladolid is only a 2 hour drive.

Valladolid is also located close to the popular colonial city of Merida.

Valladolid has enough sites and attractions to fill up a week-long trip though if you want to stay awhile! The city lies deep within the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula and is incredibly rich in natural attractions and history.

Below is an overview of the Map of Valladolid to give you an idea on where things are located.

Map of Valladolid via Google Maps

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Valladolid, Mexico Highlights 

Creating a Valladolid Mexico bucket list is one of the best ways to prepare for the trip ahead. While you can tour the city on your own, booking a few tours can enrich your experience in this great year-round destination. 

Things to Do in Valladolid 

Ready to venture around Valladolid Mexico? After spending some time in this beautiful city, here are my top recommendations on the best things to do in Valladolid.

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1. Swim in a Cenote near Valladolid

Going for a dip in a cenote is a must to add to your Valladolid itinerary. Cenotes are natural sinkholes  filled with freshwater perfect for cooling off on a hot day. The Yucatan has the largest amount of sinkholes anywhere on earth with over 6,000 in the region!

So, you definitely have a ton to choose from. Here are the most common ones to visit:

  • Cenote Zací: You can walk to Cenote Zací from downtown Valladolid. It’s only a few blocks. You’ll find many locals here since it’s close by. You can jump into the water from one of the many platforms if you want to get your heart racing. Since Cenote Zac so close to the city center, it gets pretty crowded. Try going early in the morning or in the evening. 
  • Cenote Maya: Visit this cenote to experience Mayan culture. It’s located in the Cenote Maya Native Park. Along with swimming in the cenote, you can also experience a Mayan blessing ceremony and eat traditional Mayan food. 
  • Cenote Ik Kil: This cenote is one of the most famous ones in the region. You can combine visiting Cenote Ik Kil with a day trip to Chichen Itza since they are located in the same area. Booking a tour is a great way to explore both areas with a professional guide.
  • Cenote Suytan: Visit Suytan for a cenote in an underground cave. They also have a platform in the middle you can jump from and take beautiful photos of the water and rock formations behind you. 

Check out our article on the best cenotes in the Riviera Maya for more information.

Cenote Ikkil
The Founders of Adventure in You swimming in one of the cenotes in Valladolid

2. Go Art Shopping 

Valladolid has numerous art galleries and boutique shops. Buying Mexican art makes for a great souvenir or gift for someone back home. Kuxtal Cafe & Mexican Art (Kuxtal Galeria de Arte Popular Mexicano & Cafe)  is one of the most well-known spots for buying art. 

It’s right next to Casa de Los Venados. The owners of the home open up their doors every day for people to come in and view over 3,000 pieces of traditional Mexican artwork. You can tour the gallery and then head to the cafe to buy some pieces to take home. 

Casa de los Venados has pieces representing every region of Mexico making it one of the best places to buy souvenirs. You can find paintings of Mayan ruins, beautiful Mexican beaches, and famous churches. They also have pottery, magnets, and hand-woven baskets. 

Kuxtal Cafe is inside the art shop. It’s small but is known for having some of the best coffee and snacks in Valladolid. 

3. Visit the San Bernadino de Siena Convent 

This is one of the most beautiful convents in the area with pink walls and a stunning altar area. The convent took eight years to build between 1552 and 1560. A waterwheel was added in 1613. Both the waterwheel and the convent are the second largest in the Yucatan. 

The convent of San Bernadino de Siena is extremely peaceful. It’s a nice place to visit in the early morning before it gets too crowded. While most of the architecture in Valladolid is colonial, the convent has more of a medieval flare. 

When you’re done touring the church and convent, make sure to go to the park just outside where you’ll see the colorful Valladolid letter sign. Most Mexican cities including the coastal towns in Riviera Maya have similar signs where the city’s name is spelled out in large letters. 

You can walk along the popular Calzada de los Frailes street which is lined with colorful houses and cobblestones.

Make sure to snap a few pictures to commemorate your day! If you’re traveling to other cities in the Yucatan, make sure to take photos with all the city’s signs to make a collection. 

San Bernadino de Siena Convent

4. Tour the Nearby Mayan Ruins 

While there aren’t any Mayan ruins in Valladolid, you can take a short drive and visit Chichen Itza and the Ek Balam Ruins located close to Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you only have time to explore one, head to Chichen Itza to see one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s only about a 30-minute drive from Valladolid. 

If you don’t have a rental car, you can book a tour to get to the ruins. Most tours also include a guide that can explain the history of Chichen Itza to you. 

Ek Balam is not as well known but it’s still worth visiting if you have extra time. Unlike Chichen Itza, you can climb the ruins at Ek Balam. Since it’s smaller and less popular, you can also get better views of the temples and better photos without so many tourists crowded around. 

Popular Chichen Itza Tours:

Most Chichen Itza tours come from either Tulum, Playa del Carmen, or Cancun. You can also explore it independently by renting a car and driving there yourself.

Mayan Ruins

5. Day Trip to Izmal, The Yellow City 

The Yellow City or La Cuidad Amarilla in Spanish is one of the most popular day trips in the Yucatan. All of the buildings are painted the same shade of bright yellow making for a beautiful photo op. 

The city isn’t very big, so this is a great choice for a half-day trip where you can head back to Valladolid in the late afternoon. You can tour the small convent in the city and also have traditional Yucatan food in one of the many restaurants in the city center. 

In the central plaza, there are also the Kinich Kakmo Mayan Ruins. It’s not as big as Chichen Itza or some of the other ruins in Mexico, but it’s not usually busy and is worth checking out while you’re there. 

It’s about 1.5 hours from downtown Valladolid and is one of the only cities in the world where the entire downtown area is painted the same color. 

The Yellow City

6. Visit the Iglesia de San Servacio 

This is probably one of the most famous buildings in Valladolid Mexico. It’s a huge church that towers over the entire downtown area. You’re welcome to go inside, but they ask that you dress modestly and don’t take too much noise. 

You can also take photos inside although the outside of the church is a much more famous photo op. Most people that post on Instagram or other social media sites have a cover photo of the Iglesia de San Servacio, so you’ll probably recognize the building as soon as you see it! 

The best views of the church are from Parque Principal. Around the park, you’ll find tons of restaurants and cafes you can relax in to take a break from walking around the city. 

Iglesia de San Servacio

7. Explore the Caldeza de los Frailes

Calle de Los Frailes or Caldeza de Los Frailes is one of the most famous streets in Valladolid. It’s only about a 5 to 10-minute walk from the central plaza. Make sure to bring your camera as the street has stunning colorful buildings. 

The convent de San Bernadino de Siena and Coqui Coqui Yucatan are both on this street so you visit all three places in one day. 

Calle de Los Frailes

8. Pamper Yourself at Coqui Coqui Yucatan 

After strolling the Calle de Los Frailes, you can have a spa treatment at the Coqui Coqui Yucatan. You need an appointment to even enter the spa and the on-site perfume shop so make sure to plan ahead for this activity. 

The spa has all the services you could dream of including numerous facials and massages. You can even experience a traditional Yucatan healing ritual. 

9. See the Pink Lakes of Mexico 

Las Colorados is one of the only pink lakes in the world and is just a little over an hour from Valladolid. Unfortunately, you can’t swim in Las Colorados (it’s illegal so don’t try) but you can enjoy the beautiful scenery. The water is pink because of the natural red algae and brine shrimp. 

Before getting to Las Colorados, you’ll need to drive to Rio Lagartos and take a boat to the pink lakes. During the boat cruise, you’ll see plenty of flamingos and alligators!

Pink Lakes of Mexico

10. Head to the Central Square for a Dance Performance

Every evening around 5:30 p.m. you can immerse yourself in the culture of Valladolid Mexico by watching a traditional dance show in Parque Franciso Canton Rosado. You’ll see Mayan dancers doing the Jarana, one of the most popular dances of the Yucatan. 

11. See the Local Life at the Mercado Municipal 

Shopping at a local market is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Valladolid Mexico culture. Valladolid’s main market is the Mercado Municipal. If you’re staying in an Airbnb or vacation rental and plan to cook your own meals, shopping here gives you the best selection of fresh vegetables and meats. 

There are also a few vendors that have craft stalls if you aren’t interested in buying any food. 

Mercado Municipal Mexico

12. Eat at Conato Cultural 1910 

This is consistently voted one of the best restaurants in Valladolid Mexico. Head to Calle 40 to find Conato Cultural 1910. It’s hard to miss with the colorful exterior. They have all the local food favorites as well as a terrace on the roof where you can enjoy some of the best views of the city. 

13. Stop by the Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo 

Just 20 minutes from Valladolid Mexico you’ll find the city of Uayma with Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo (Iglesia de Uayma). While the original church was completed in the 17th century, it burnt down during the Yucatan Caste War. 

Since then, parts of the building have been restored including some of the original paintings that were inside. Take a self guided tour of the church and then explore Uayma for a nice day trip from Valladolid.

Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo

14. Have a Drink at La Joyita 

Valladolid doesn’t have a huge bar or nightlife scene, but there are still plenty of little local places to grab a drink. La Joyita is one of the best places to meet locals and practice your Spanish all while drinking a local beer or margarita. 

15. Visit the Iglesia de San Juan

Mexico is full of small churches and the Iglesia de San Juan is one of the prettiest. You can walk just 10 minutes from downtown Valladolid to reach the church. The neighborhood is quiet and one of the more local parts of Valladolid Mexico. 

You can also buy ice cream and pastries from the vendors outside the church. 

Iglesia de San Juan

Where to Eat In Valladolid 

Trying the regional cuisine of Valladolid Mexico is one of the best ways to experience the variety of Mexican food while wandering around this historic town.

A few regional dishes to try are Lomitos de Valladolid, longaniza de valladolid, local traditional candies, traditional ice cream, cochinita pibil and more. Here are the best six restaurants in Valladolid to try during your trip!

  1. Yerbabuena del Sisal has all your Mexican favorites but all made vegetarian and vegan. Along with vegan tamales and chilaquiles, they also have some non-Mexican choices like veggie burgers and pasta. Make sure to also order one of the freshly squeezed juices with whatever food you order! 
  2. El Meson del Marques is a hotel in Valladolid with an amazing restaurant inside. It’s much pricier than most of the other restaurants but makes a perfect spot for a date night or celebration. Try the mole enchiladas for dinner or the brioche buns with papaya jam if you go for breakfast. 
  3. La Casona de Valladolid is only one block from the city center. You can sit outside in the beautiful courtyard and order from the menu or serve yourself from the buffet. All the food is traditional Mexican including empanadas de chayote and panuchos. 
  4. L’OSteria della Nonna is a great choice if you’re craving Italian food while in Valladolid. The homemade ravioli is the most popular choice on the menu. 
  5. Las Campañas is a small restaurant mostly filled with locals eating pork tostados and queso fundido. The food and drinks are cheap and they have live music during the evenings. 
  6. Laville Bistro is a nice spot for breakfast as they offer a huge menu of different omelets and fresh bread. The cafe also has a lunch and dinner menu with steak, pasta, and hamburgers. 

Best Time to Go to Valladolid 

Just  like the other cities in the Yucatan Peninsula, Valladolid’s climate can get very humid due to its inland location. For the best weather, try visiting Valladolid between November and March. These months are the major tourist season in Mexico though, so you might want to book your hotels and flights well ahead of time to avoid soaring prices. 

Mexican monsoon season is usually from June to October.

The good news is that Valladolid Mexico is still under the radar compared to other Mexican destinations. Even during the high season, Valladolid is significantly less crowded than Cancun or Tulum.

How to Get to Valladolid, Mexico

Since Valladolid doesn’t have an airport, you will need to either fly into Cancun or Merida. From the airport, you can either take one of the local buses or you can rent a car to get to Valladolid. Here are more details on both options. 

Rent a Car 

Having the option to drive yourself around Valladolid and the surrounding areas gives you a ton of freedom while on vacation. Renting a car also makes it easier to take day trips and get to the more remote cenotes in the region. 

Driving around the Yucatan is pretty easy since the roads are well labeled. If you’re coming from Cancun or Playa del Carmen, the roads are mostly highways and toll roads with signs telling you exactly where you’re going. 


If you’re not comfortable driving or you’re on a tight budget, the bus is a perfect way to travel to Valladolid Mexico. It’s safe and convenient. When coming from large tourist destinations like Cancun or Mexico City, you’ll find a bus leaving for Valladolid every hour. 

From Cancun, you can catch the bus from the downtown bus station and be in Valladolid in about 2.5 hours. From Tulum, the trip is only 1.5 hours. There is also a bus from downtown Merida to Valladolid that  takes about 2.5 hours. 

If you want to buy tickets ahead of time, you can from the ADO website. You can see all the trip fares and times. Most cities also allow you to buy same-day tickets at the bus station. 

Where to Stay in Valladolid 

  1. Le Muuch Hotel Boutique: Large outdoor swimming pool, a bar, and a beautiful garden. It’s near everything you need including supermarkets, attractions, and cafes. 
  2. Hotel Zentik Project & Saline Cave: Complete with a warm pool in a cave and outdoor hammocks. The rooms are large with sitting areas and spacious beds. 
  3. Casa San Roque Valladolid: Offers free parking and free WIFI. You can walk to many different restaurants and cafes making this one of the most convenient hotels in Valladolid. 
  4. Hotel Meson del Marques: Awesome central location. They have free breakfast and beautiful gardens along with a restaurant on site serving traditional Mexican dishes. 
  5. Hotel Posada San Juan: Located in the city center with an outdoor pool and terraces outside every room. Breakfast is free and they have a nice garden area with hammocks. 

FAQ on Valladolid, Mexico

Is Valladolid safe? 

Valladolid is a magical town known for being one of the safest cities in the Yucatan Peninsula. You can experience the charm and history of Valladolid with no worries or issues with your safety!

Is Valladolid Mexico worth visiting? 

Valladolid is 100% worth visiting if you’re looking for an authentic Mexican town. It doesn’t have the same hustle and bustle as Cancun and Tulum,  but it offers visitors a way to experience Mexican culture away from the larger tourist destinations.   

What’s the best time to visit Valladolid? 

To experience the best weather, go to Valladolid from late November through March. Since Valladolid is off the beaten path, you won’t experience too many crowds even though these months are the high tourist season in Mexico.  

What’s the closest Valladolid Airport? 

Valladolid does not have an airport, so you’ll need to fly into one of the nearby airports and then drive or take a bus to Valladolid. The closest airports are Merida International Airport (MID) and Cancun International Airport (CUN). 

Is There Uber in Valladolid? 

Uber is a great way to get around Mexico if you don’t want to rent a car. Yes, there is Uber in Valladolid. Since it’s a small town though, you might find it more convenient to just walk everywhere or rent a bike or scooter. 

What are the best day trips from Valladolid? 

From Valladolid, Mexico, you can take quick day trips to the Yellow City (Izmal), Las Colorados, or the nearby city of Uayma. All these places offer more chances to tour Riviera Maya’s most charming spots. The popular beach town of Playa del Carmen is also only 2 hours away.

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Valladolid Mexico Travel Guide | Ready to explore Valladolid Mexico? After spending some time in this beautiful city, here are my top recommendations on the best things to do in Valladolid.
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