Valladolid, Mexico is an incredibly charming colonial city. On top of that, there are many things to see and do outside of the town — including visits to cenotes, Mayan ruins and so much more.
I was fortunate enough to spend more than 3 weeks travelling through Mexico. In the end, Valladolid was easily one of my favourite locations, and from what you’re about to read below, I think you’ll soon see why!
In this article, I’ll take you through not only the best things to do in Valladolid, but when to visit, where to eat, and where to stay. Plus, I’ll help you with planning all the other aspects of your trip.
Here we go. The complete guide to travelling to Valladolid, Mexico.
Table of Contents
- Best Time to Visit Valladolid Mexico
- Where to Stay in Valladolid Mexico
- 10 Best Things To Do in Valladolid
- Best Day Trips From Valladolid
- Cost of Travel in Valladolid Mexico
- What & Where to Eat in Valladolid Mexico
- Pros and Cons of Travel in Valladolid Mexico
- Is Valladolid Safe?
- Ready to Travel to Valladolid?
Best Time to Visit Valladolid Mexico
The great thing about the Yucatan peninsula, where Valladolid is located, is the hot climate all throughout the year, with temperatures rarely dropping below 20 degrees Celsius.
That being said, some months are well known for tropical hurricanes, while others see and incredibly large numbers of tourists.
But, there are still months to visit Valladolid to get the best weather, and avoid the crowds.
As you’ll see below, the busiest months are at the very start of the year, with fewer and fewer tourists expected in Valladolid as the year progresses.
Peak Season in Valladolid
Peak season typically runs from January through to March.
Though this is still winter/spring, you can expect temperatures to be in the low 30s, with minimal chance of rainfall.
Prices do pick up during these months all across Yucatan and nearby Quintana Roo, though they tend to drop off near the end of this period.
For example, we visited in late March and the weather was incredible and the prices were reasonable. The only issue was that Chichen Itza was busy with thousands of tourists coming from all over.
Shoulder Season in Valladolid
April through August are the shoulder months in Valladolid.
If you are looking for the hottest weather, then this would be a great time to visit as these are the warmest months in Yucatan.
Though you should expect rainfall anywhere from 5 to 12 days a month, you can also enjoy lower prices and fewer tourists at popular sites.
Off-Season in Valladolid
September through December are typically the quietest months in Valladolid.
Though the weather isn’t exactly cold, there is a much greater chance of rainfall during this time.
If you are happy to put up with a bit of rain, then this could be a great time to visit as you can expect lower prices on hotels and for popular attractions to be much less busy.
Where to Stay in Valladolid Mexico
Despite being a relatively small city, there is a wide range of accommodations throughout Valladolid. As a very rough rule of thumb, expect prices to increase the closer you get to the center of town.
If money isn’t an issue and you want to have the best time in Valladolid, perhaps the nicest area to stay would be on Calzada de los Frailes.
This is the road running from the centre of Valladolid down to the popular Convent of San Bernardino of Siena.
All along this road, you’ll find wonderful shops, restaurants, and cafes, meaning you’re spoilt for choice with where to eat each night. From here, you’re also in close proximity to the bus stop and supermarkets.
Hotel Boutique Casa Quetzal is situated in the ideal location. A quiet backstreet right next to the San Bernardino Convent in one of the more scenic parts of Valladolid.
You first enter through a brightly colored gateway and as you step behind the walls of the old home, you are surrounded completely by jungle. Learn more about this great place to stay in Valladolid, here.
10 Best Things To Do in Valladolid
Valladolid is actually a relatively small city, one where time seems to have stood still for a while.
It’s almost a completely different world to nearby cities like Cancun — with expensive beachside resorts all the way up the coast and endless chain restaurants.
Much of the charm and appeal of Valladolid is its slow, laid-back nature and the chance for you to discover what a traditional colonial Mexcian city is really like.
As you’ll soon discover, it also serves as a great base to visit a variety of nearby Mayan ruins and cenotes. Here are some things to see and do in Valladolid that you won’t want to miss:
1. The Convent of San Bernardino of Siena
Located a short walk from the centre of town, this convent is a must-see on any visit to Valladolid.
Completed in the 16th century, the building serves a dual purpose of being both a fortress, as well as a place of worship.
For just 30 Pesos ($1.25), you can walk around most of the convent, discovering the impressive blend of the church and castle fortress, as well as learn more about the history of the building and the artifacts discovered outside.
Speaking of which, there’s even a cenote, which is believed to have been used for a long time as a water source for the convent’s inhabitants.
When exploring this cenote, they discovered all kinds of artifacts, including weaponry which is now on display inside.
Before leaving, be sure to head outside to the colourful Valladolid tourist sign and snap a photo. They have these signs in all major cities throughout Mexico, so you can build up a nice little collection!
2. Cenote Samula & Xkeken
Many of the best things to do in Valladolid are visits to the nearby cenotes.
There are literally thousands of cenotes all across this part of Mexico, a rare geographic phenomenon that helps make this region so wonderful to visit.
The first of the most impressive Valladolid cenotes is Samula, located about 7km from the city. Here, you’ll find a paid entrance, changing rooms, a souvenir store, a restaurant, and even a lifeguard!
This is one of the more developed and tourist-friendly cenotes to visit.
Samula is also impressive due to the large ray of light that comes in through the roof, lighting up the water. It’s easy to spend hours swimming both here and in the smaller Cenote Xkeken nearby.
3. Cenote Zaci
If you’re looking for a cenote located right in town, then venture over to Cenote Zaci.
It’s only a 10-minute walk from the city centre and you will see signs for it dotted around the streets.
It costs just 30 Pesos ($1.25) to visit and you can swim if you like, with the deepest parts of the cenote reaching 100 meters!
One really cool feature here are the ledges located around the water which you are welcome to jump in from. They go as high as 8 meters, so it all depends on how brave you feel!
4. Suytun Cenote
This was by far our favourite Valladolid cenote, and possibly the most Instagram-famous.
Because there is a large ray of light that comes through the ceiling and perfectly lights up the man-made ledge in the centre of the water.
It is possible to swim here, though we didn’t as there are black fish everywhere. I recommend getting here first thing in the morning, when no one else is there.
Otherwise, it gets very crowded and it’s hard to get a nice photograph.
7. Casa de los Venados
Back in Valladolid City, one building that you can’t afford to miss is Casa de los Venados, which is home to one of the largest and best collections of Maya artwork anywhere in Mexico!
What’s nice is that it isn’t actually a government-run museum, but is instead a private home, where the owners run tours every day.
Tours start at 10am and allow you the unique chance to get up close and personal with beautifully kept artwork.
8. Admire the Beautiful Colonial Buildings
As mentioned earlier, one of the best reasons to visit Valladolid is to experience what an old-fashioned, colonial Mexican city is really like.
Well, to truly experience it, it’s best to spend a few hours simply roaming the cobbled streets, taking in the many gorgeous colourful buildings located all throughout the city.
Other notable sites to visit in Valladolid, not mentioned above are San Gervasio Cathedral and Iglesia San Juan.
Also, on your way to the Convent of San Bernardino be sure to take Calzada de los Frailes. This colourful street is one of the nicest anywhere in Valladolid, home to dozens of wonderful cafes and souvenir stores.
9. Relax in The Central Square
During our time in Valladolid Mexico, one of my fondest memories is of spending our lunch and dinner times relaxing in and around the central square.
Here, you’ll find a large fountain surrounded by well-maintained gardens. It’s the perfect spot to sit down, relax and watch the goings-on of the city.
Also, all around this square there are lovely little restaurants and cafes (more on that below). There are also some really nice ice cream stores right in the square, so pick one up and enjoy it on one of the benches by the fountain.
10. Join the Free Walking Tour
If you are keen to learn more about the local culture and to get a true insider’s glance into the history of Valladolid, then your best bet is to go on a free walking tour.
This is one of the best things to do in Valladolid when you first arrive.
These leave every day at 10am, 5pm and 7pm.
They meet in the central park and take you to many of the best sites around Valladolid. If you are a solo traveller, looking to make friends, then this is a great way to do exactly that!
As mentioned, they are completely free, but if you enjoy yourself and want to contribute then you can leave a tip to your guide at the end.
Best Day Trips From Valladolid
If you plan on basing yourself in Valladolid for more than a few days, then it’s definitely worth taking a few day trips to surrounding sites.
There are numerous great day trips from Valladolid to choose from, here are some of the best that you might want to consider.
1. Chichen Itza and Izamal
By far the most famous thing to do when visiting Valladolid is to head to Chichen Itza.
If you’ve ever seen pictures of Mayan ruins in Mexico, then there’s a very good chance that those pictures were of Chichen Itza.
This is a large Mayan site that was occupied for roughly 600 years before being abandoned in the 1200s.
Here, you’ll discover dozens of ancient Mayan temples and ruins and you should allow at least 2 or 3 hours to walk around and discover them all.
By far the most famous of all the temples here is the Wonder Of The World, El Castillo — a dominating pyramid located right near the entrance.
This highly rated day trip takes you from Valladolid to Chichen Itza. You’ll arrive at opening time so that you’re one of the first to visit, avoiding the crowds and midday heat.
You’ll have free time here to explore on your own, followed by a refreshing dip in a cenote and a typical Yucatan lunch. Visit the yellow town of Izamal before returning to Valladolid.
2. Rio Lagartos and Ek Balam Ruins
Located on the northern coast of Yucatan, you’ll find Rio Lagartos.
Though it’s very up and coming, this charming old fishing village is still well off the typical tourist route.
Rio Lagartos is a great place to catch a glimpse of Yucatan’s northern shores and to experience the Las Coloradas Pink Lakes which are home to thousands of flamingos!
Roughly half an hour drive north of Valladolid, you come across the far less touristy Mayan site of Ek Balam.
Though not as famous or grandiose as Chichen Itza, Ek Balam is easily one of the best Mayan sites in all of Mexico, and much less busy.
At its height, Ek Balam was home to more than 20,000 people and was once even the seat of the local Maya kingdom. In total, there are 45 structures uncovered, which you are welcome to explore.
This highly rated Go Flamingo day trip takes in the nature reserve of Ria Lagartos, the pink lakes of Las Coloradas and the amazing Maya site of Ek Balam. Plus, lunch, entrance fees, guide and pick-up from your hotel in an air-conditioned vehicle.
3. Bike Trip Around Valladolid
If you want to experience two more things not yet mentioned on the list above, you may want to take a half-day cycling trip around Valladolid.
This tour takes you to cenote Xkeken, the small town of Chichimilia, and the town of Dzitnup — which is home to two of the most emblematic cenotes around, Samula and x-keken.
This trip is a great way to see the outlying towns, get some exercise and enjoy some more off-track cenotes.
Cost of Travel in Valladolid Mexico
As backpackers, we’ve found that it’s actually very easy to visit Valladolid even if you are on a budget.
The biggest expense we faced during our time here was the visit to Chichen Itza, which cost 480 Pesos ($20) per person.
If this doesn’t sound like a lot to you, then that’s great as you won’t have any expenses as high as that, unless you decide to stay in the much nicer hotels in the centre of town.
There’s a wide range of restaurants around Valladolid, with many of the nicest and most atmospheric surrounding the central square.
Here’s what you can expect to spend when travelling Valladolid.
Budget $20/ Day
This would get you a stay in one of the cheaper hostels ($8-10 dollars/night), and allow you to visit many of the free and cheaper things around Valladolid — notably, Cenote Zaci.
It’s possible to save money by buying all of your meals from the local supermarket.
Mid-Range $50/ Day
This is roughly what we spent, which enabled us to see everything on the list of sites, as well as to eat in a mid-range restaurant around the square every night.
You can find cheap guesthouses and hotels for around $20/night per person.
Top-End $100/ Day
For this, you could stay in a much nicer hotel, somewhere closer to Calzada de los Frailes and the centre of town for $40-50/night per person as well as meals in the nicest restaurants.
What & Where to Eat in Valladolid Mexico
The food in Valladolid is delicious because it’s Mexican!
Mexican food is one of our favorite cuisines and actually, the food in Valladolid is a unique blend of modern Mexican food and Yucatan cuisine.
This means you can try unique foods, not common in other regions of Mexico.
Must-Try Dishes in Valladolid:
Chaya: This is otherwise known as “Tree Spinach”, and is a herb-like green that has been used by Mayans and others in the Yucatan region for many years.
You’ll find lots of different uses for it in dishes in Valladolid. It could be with eggs, in a smoothie or in stew & soups. A popular place to find juices that include Chaya is at the Mercado Municipal which has a juice stall where you can purchase it.
Marquesitas: These are a typical Yucatan & Valladolid dessert and once the night falls you’ll see stalls around Valladolid selling these delicious treats.
They’re very similar to crepes, but once you add your chosen filling (cheese, chocolate, whatever your heart desires), it’s then made into a long tube and placed on the grill to crisp off.
Sopa de Lima: This is a popular dish all over the Yucatan Peninsula. This Mayan soup is made with chicken, lime and topped with tortilla chips. It’s delicious! You can find it on the menu in most restaurants in Valladolid.
Best Restaurants in Valladolid Mexico
El Atrio del Mayab Restaurant: This restaurant is located in the main square of Valladolid next to the cathedral and has quite a romantic vibe. You can dine inside or out, but I recommend outside as the area is dimly lit, with beautiful candles and it’s in a garden-style area with fountains.
I would describe food as “mid-range” for the area, but of a delicious quality with lots of choices. A perfect dinner location. Click here to find it on the map.
Casa Conato Cultural 1910: This is a very popular place to dine in Valladolid, and actually the first time we tried to visit, the queues were super long. You may have to wait for a table, but it’s totally worth it.
The food is delicious and authentic Mexican. They also serve a brilliant margarita. Food is well priced, especially for the portion sizes. It’s located just a few minutes’ walk from the main square in Valladolid. Click here to find it on the map.
Yakunaj Cocina Mexicana: If you’re looking for a spot that offers a little bit of “fine dining” with a Mexican flair, then this is your spot. Prices are a little higher than average, but the quality matches in return.
Again, this restaurant is perfectly located as it’s just a few minutes’ walk from the main tourist square in Valladolid. Click here to find it on the map.
Pros and Cons of Travel in Valladolid Mexico
Overall we found travel in Valladolid pretty great and there were definitely more pros than cons.
The people were super friendly and helpful, the food was delicious and amazingly priced and the sights were all easily accessible.
The area also had great coffee!
With regards to cons, I can’t think of anything major. We didn’t get hassled to buy tours or have any issues with safety in general.
Is Valladolid Safe?
In our opinion, yes.
As a travelling couple, we did not experience any issues with safety in Valladolid. We felt very safe and we walked at night with ease.
We stayed a little outside of the main tourist square and had no problems walking to and from in the evenings. People were welcoming and friendly.
Of course with any country and city, it’s important to take normal precautions.
We didn’t carry lots of money on us, we didn’t flash anything of value, and we used main roads that were well lit and had people on them.
As long as you are aware of your surroundings and make sensible decisions then you should be okay. Find out more here.
You should always keep up-to-date on current political situations in an area, as Mexico doesn’t have the most stable of reputations. I recommend also asking your hotel or hostel for safety recommendations as they can give you honest, local advice.
Ready to Travel to Valladolid?
Hopefully, now you are ready to experience one of Mexico’s most wonderful little cities. Perched perfectly in the Yucatan peninsula, it really is the ideal place to base yourself for a few days and experience the wonderful sights all around.
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