15 DELIGHTFUL Things to do in Valladolid + Itinerary

by | Dec 29, 2021 | Mexico, Travel

If you’re passionate about the history and culture of Mexico, then Valladolid makes an excellent base for exploring some of the BEST Maya ruins and cenotes in the country.

You’ve got the ancient ruins of Ek’Balam and Chichin Itza,

seven amazing cenotes that you can get to by foot, bike, or public transportation,

a city full of colorful colonial architecture,

and a museum with the best collection of Mexican folk art in the country.

Along with all of that, Valladolid (population 48,000) is a safe and laid-back place to spend a few days in. But if you’re shorter on time, it also makes for an excellent day trip from Merida, Cancun, Tulum, or Playa del Carmen.

Here is a list of my 15 favorite things to do in Valladolid and the surrounding area.

For more travel info on Mexico, check out my list of things to do in the Yucatan and my post on traveling in Merida.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate and a Bookshop.org Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  Please see this website’s Disclosure for more info.

Table of Contents

About Valladolid

map of Valladolid Mexico
Click here or the map to view the map in Google Maps

Valladolid is a compact city that is easy to get around by foot or bike. The historic center is where you’ll find all the best accommodations, restaurants, and places of interest.

The ADO Bus Station is in the middle of the historic center, just two blocks from the main square, making it easy to hop off a bus from Merida or Cancun and a short walk to your hotel or hostel.

For the ruins and most of the cenotes, you will need to take some kind of transport.

History of Valladolid

intersection with pink buildling

Known as the Sultan of the East for its beautiful architecture, Valladolid has played a significant role in many of the major events in Yucatan history. Some good, some bad, but all very fascinating.

Valladolid was first established in 1543 in another area of the Yucatan. But the residents complained so much about the malaria-infested mosquitoes and insufferable humidity that the city leaders moved the city.

They chose Zaci.

The only problem was that someone was already living there: the Maya. However, in typical colonial fashion, that fact didn’t stop the conquistadors. The Spaniards kicked the Maya out of their city, tore down their buildings, and used the stones from their temples to build churches, mansions, and government buildings.

Unfortunately for the Maya, things continued to get much worse. Eventually, they lost almost all their land to the colonizers and their ancient books were destroyed by the church. The Maya were converted to Christianity, and then to top it all off, they ended up working on the large estates as indentured servants (a.k.a. slaves).

Unfortunately for the Spaniards as well, the Maya did not take things lying down. Over the next several centuries, they rose up against the Spanish citizens and their allies several times.

The first time was a year after the Spaniards took over Valladolid. They were immediately defeated, however.

In 1705 they revolted in an event called the “Assassination of Mayors’ and after killing a number of important people in the town, including the mayor, they were defeated again by the Spanish troops.

In 1821, Mexico became independent from Spain. After that, things got even worse for the Maya. At least when Mexico was part of Spain, the Europeans’ exploitation of the indigenous population was held in check by the Spanish crown.

The boom in henequin production that swept over the Yucatan made things even worse for the Maya. They lost more of their land and became more indentured.

Finally, in 1847, the Maya had had enough and revolted again in what is called the Caste War.

Valladolid was one of the first places that the Maya attacked. They laid siege to the city for two months before the army was able to break it. Some Maya were able to escape, but many were slaughtered.

The Caste War went on until 1915.

Best Books on the history of the Yucatan: To get a sense of what was happening in the Yucatan in the 1800s and why the Maya revolted, I highly recommend reading Maya Society Under Colonial Rule, Violence and the Caste War of Yucatan, and Yucatan’s Maya Peasantry and the Origins of the Caste War. For a surface understanding of what happened, there’s the Charles River Edition on the topic: The Caste War of Yucatan.

Things to do in Valladolid – top 15

Begin your sightseeing of Valladolid with a visit to the historic center (centro historico), which is the area around the main square. There are lots to do here including a wonderful private folk art museum, a fun cenote, historic churches, a pretty central square, an entertaining and informative light show in both Spanish and English, and a beautiful convent.

1. Visit the Parque Principal Francisco Canton Rosado

The first place you’ll want to visit in Valladolid is the city’s main square, Parque Principal Francisco Canton Rosado. This is the heart and soul of the city. After strolling around the park and admiring the fountain and views of the colonial buildings surrounding the park, grab a snack called a marquesita, a specialty of the Yucatan, from one of the vendors in the park. Then take a rest on one of the many benches and watch the locals and tourists go by.

a fountain with a church in the background in Parque Principal, Valladolid

Along the streets surrounding the park are colorful Spanish colonial buildings and the main church—the Church of San Servacio. It has a fascinating history. The church was built in 1545 using the stones and materials from the Maya people’s own temples. Over the years, the Maya lost their land and ended up in indentured servitude on the haciendas around Valladolid.

the front facade and entrance of San Servacio Church in Valladolid

However, they got a bit of revenge when in 1705 they rebelled and killed the city’s mayor inside the church. Because the church leaders felt that this action had profaned the religious building, the bishop ordered it demolished and a new one built. Because it needed to still be built around the main square, it was constructed facing North rather than East, the traditional direction that churches around the world face.

There are some restaurants around the park including a conveniently-located food court where you can try some local food. You can also find stores and street vendors selling local handicrafts.

2. Check out the colorful colonial architecture

If you’re a lover of architecture, you’ll want to just wander around the historic center admiring Valladolid’s colorful colonial architecture and pretty parks. The pinks, blues, and greens of the buildings make for great photos.

a street lined with colonial buildings in Valladolid

Valladolid doorways are particularly special. Notice the decorations around them. The unusual height of the doors is also quite interesting. They were built that high so that the colonists could enter the buildings without getting off their horses.

an archway in front of a yellow church in Valladolid

There are also some lovely smaller parks like Parque Santa Ana (Google Maps).

3. Learn about Mexican folk art at Casa de Los Venados

  • GUIDED TOURS: 10:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 3:00 PM
  • COST: US$5 or MXN$100 donation at the end of tour + a tip for the guide
  • LOCATION: Google Maps

Another not-to-miss thing to do in Valladolid is to visit the private museum, Casa de Los Venados (The House of the Deer). The Casa is the private home of a wealthy American couple, John and Dorianne Venator. They bought this 400-year-old 18,000 square foot house several years ago, remodeled it, and slowly filled it with over 3,000 pieces of folk art and contemporary art from around Mexico.

the dining room filled with Mexican folk art at Casa de Los Venados

There are guided tours of the couple’s folk-art collection and many rooms of their house at 10:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 3:00 PM. I absolutely love the fun and colorful Mexican folk art, and the collection is the best I’ve seen so far in the Yucatan. Some highlights include a room devoted to Frida Kahlo (no there are no original Frida Kahlo pieces here), a huge mural from Oaxaca at the entrance of the home, some pieces of Talavera pottery, some fascinating and colorful clay figurines by Josefina Aguillar, and the couple’s kitchen and dining room.

4. Stroll down the Road of Friars- Calzada de los Frailes

a street lined with melon-colored Spanish colonial buildings in Valladolid

The Road of Friars (Calzada de Los Frailes) used to be the main street that connected the colonial center of Valladolid with the Maya town of Sisal. This is the same road that will take you to the Convent of San Bernadino de Siena and to some nice restaurants.

Today those same buildings have been restored and are now hip restaurants serving pizza and vegetarian food, cute shops selling souvenirs, and boutique hotels and pricey spas for those with money to burn.

5. Take a free walking tour of the historic center

  • START: 7:00 PM nightly – meet in the Parque Principal
  • COST: free except you should tip your guide at the end
  • MEETING POINT: Google Maps

Every night at 7:00 PM, there is a “free” and informative walking tour in English of the historic center of Valladolid and the Road of Friars. Just look for one or two people standing in the middle of Parque Principal as early as 6:30ish holding signs and wearing hats that say “free walking tour.”

a customer speaking to an employee in a bakery

A guide will take you around the central area telling you stories about the history of Valladolid. Then he or she will take you down the Road of Friars stopping off at a few stores to sample some local foods and to learn about the life of a famous local artist. The tour ends in front of the Convent of San Bernadino de Siena.

6. Visit the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena

  • OPEN: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • COST: MXN$40 (US$2)
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
Valladolid sign in front of Convent

At the end of the Road of Friars is one of the oldest and most important religious institutions in the Americas, the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena. Built between 1552 and 1560, the convent and church played an important role in the conversion of the local Maya to Christianity.

Lots of people just take a photo of the City’s sign with the convent in the background.

I recommend getting up close to the exterior and checking out the façade. There’s a bit of yellow and pink in the stone with square indentations. It’s really quite beautiful.

convent entrance

Part of the convent has been turned into a museum, whose entrance is on the side.

There are also some wall frescoes from the sixteenth century that you must not miss. In the garden behind the building, there is a sacred cenote under the convent’s garden.

In his book Incident’s of Travel in Yucatan, John L Stephens writes about his visit in 1843 to Valladolid and the convent: “We remained till four o’clock, and then set out for Valladolid. As far as the suburbs the road was broken and stony. We entered by the great Church of Sisal, the convent and cloisters by its side, and ta square in front, which, as we rode across it, sounded hollow under our horses’ feet, and underneath was an immense senote. We passed up the Calle de Sisal, a long street with straggling houses on each side, and were directed to the house of Don Pedro Baranda, one of the largest and best in the place.”

7.  Watch the light show on the history of Valladolid

  • OPEN: 9:00 in Spanish and 9:20 in English
  • COST: free
  • LOCATION: Google Maps

To learn about the history of Valladolid and the convent, in the evening head to the green space in front of the Convent of San Bernadino de Siena. Like in the city of Merida and Campeche, a sound and light show telling the history of the Convent and Valladolid is held at 9:00 and 9:20 every evening except Wednesdays and Thursdays. At 9:00 PM, it’s in Spanish, and then between 9:20 and 9:30 PM, after a five-minute break, it’s in English.

convent in Valladolid with colored lights on facade

The show takes place on the exterior of the convent. There is limited seating so if you really need a chair, arrive early. If sitting is not essential for you, you should still have no problem getting a good view of the show.

8. Swim at Cenote Zaci

  • OPEN: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • COST: MXN$30 to enter and MXN$30 to rent a life jacket (bring your ID)
  • LOCATION: Google Maps – Enter on Calle 36
Cenote Zaci

What does Valladolid have that Merida and Campeche do not? A cenote smack dab in the middle of the city! This affordable and fun cenote is like an oasis from the city’s heat, humidity, concrete, tour buses, and crowded sidewalks. A swim in the cenote is definitely one of the best things to do in Valladolid.

What is a cenote? – They are underground limestone caverns that filled up over the centuries with groundwater. Eventually, the ceilings collapse to reveal these incredible swimming holes of crystal clear water.

Cenote Zaci’s ceiling collapsed a long time ago, so its ceiling is mostly gone. There are 3 spots where the water falls from the edge of the ceiling. There are several areas at various heights for jumping into the deep water.

Is the water clean? Flower petals and leaves do fall on the surface of the water but I didn’t notice any birds dropping their poop on the water like at other cenotes I’ve been to. You can’t see the bottom of the cenote, so it’s not ideal for diving.

You’re supposed to have your ID to rent a lifejacket. I didn’t have mine, but I was still allowed to rent one.

There is also a restaurant on the cenote grounds and they are currently building some other facilities including an amphitheater.

9. Try Yucateca Food

Valladolid is a great place to try the regional Yucatecan food. You’ll find that the food is nothing like what you’ve eaten at Taco Bell back home. There are dishes that you’ve never heard of before and when you leave the region you’ll be wondering why those Mexican restaurants back home aren’t also serving sopa de lima, panuchos, and cochinita pibil.

4 panuchos

At the end of this post, I have a list of recommended restaurants. For dessert or a snack, grab the rolled-up waffle stuffed with Nutella, chocolate, or cheese called marquesitas. You can often find them at food stalls around the central square.

10. Explore Chichen Itza and Ik Kilim Cenote

  • OPEN: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM for Chichen Itza and 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM for the cenote
  • COST: MXN$533 (US$27) for Chichen Itza and MXN$80 (US$4) for the cenote
  • LOCATION: Google Maps

Chichen Itza is officially now one of the Seven Wonders of the World, so it would be a crime not to visit it while you’re in Valladolid. These amazing ruins were once the capital of the Maya during the post-classic era (800 – 1200 AD). They contain one of the most beautiful Maya temples ever built and the largest ball court in Mesoamerica.

On your way back to Valladolid, you can then cool off with a stop at Ik’ Kilim Cenote.

El Castillo at Chichen Itza

Visit Chichen Itza in the morning (9:00 or 10:00 am) before it gets too crowded and too hot. It’ll take around three hours to tour the whole thing as the structures are spread out.

Also, bring lots of water and a hat for the sun. You aren’t allowed to bring any food into the park. Your bags are checked so if they see any food, you’ll have to leave it behind.

Stop first at the perfectly built Temple of the Sun (El Castillo) and then the ballcourt to avoid crowds later in the day. Don’t skip the Platform of Skulls (Tzompatli), the Temple of Warriors, the Osario (observatory), and the Nunnery.

Before entering Chichen Itza, you might be approached by guides selling their services. English-speaking guides cost MXN$500. This is the standard amount for many Maya ruins in Mexico.

You’ll also want to get to the cenote early (around noon) as it also gets crowded.

How to get to Chichen Itza from Valladolid:

I actually visited Chichen Itza from Merida, so I can’t verify which bus to take to get to the ruins from Valladolid.

I also know that a lot of information on the internet about buses in Mexico is wrong! I’ve read on several websites that you can take a first-class ADO bus to Chichen Itza from Valladolid, but I’m skeptical about this information because I read the same thing about getting to the ruins from Merida, and there ended up being no first-class bus.

What I do know is this:

When I was in Valladolid in June 2021, I saw buses leaving from the ADO Bus Station (Google Maps) to Chichen Itza. They were not ADO buses. Instead, they were the second-class Oriente Buses, which are still very comfortable. It’s just that these buses stop and let passengers on and off whenever they want, so they are slower than the first-class buses. The buses do drop you off right at the Chichen Itza parking lots and Ik Kilim cenote.

I also saw white vans called colectivos leaving for Chichen Itza from Valladolid along Calle 39 (a block from the ADO Bus Station).

11. Take a day trip to the ruins of Ek Balam and Cenote Xcanche

  • OPEN: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • COST: MXN$456 (US$23) for ruins and MXN$170 (US$8.50) for the cenote
  • LOCATION: Google Maps

Ek Balam might not be as famous as Chichen Itza, but this Maya archaeological site has something that you can’t find at the 7th Wonder: a chance to act like Indiana Jones and climb its pyramids.

Right after you’ve sweated a ton by climbing over the ruins, you can then grab a bike and cool off with a swim at the uncrowded and beautiful Cenote Xcanche. 

monster door on Acropolis at Ek Balam

Ek Balam, which means Black Jaguar (what a cool name!), was the center of the Talol Kingdom during the Classic Period (600 – 900 AD). It began its decline during the Late Classic (900-1100 AD) just as Chichen Itza was on the rise. Like most Maya cities, it was eventually abandoned.

Another reason to visit the ruins is to see the unique entrance to the tomb of the ruler Ukit Kan Le’k Tok. The entrance looks like the mouth of a monster with fangs on the top and bottom of the doorway. The sides are adorned with intricately-carved angels and dwarves. It’s in such pristine condition that it looks fake. Actually, the reason it looks so new is that had been covered up by a stone wall for over a thousand years and has only recently been excavated.

I hired a guide for MXN$600 (US$30) at the entrance of Ek Balam (after you pay your entrance fee) and split the cost with two other travelers. It was well worth it! My guide, an archaeologist who worked on the site, was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the ruins.

How to get to Ek’Balam from Valladolid:

There’s a shared-taxi station (Google Maps) on Calle 44 between Calle 35 and 37. A taxi shared with 2 or 3 other people will cost MXN$60 to $70 per person. If you don’t want to wait for the taxi to fill up with more people, it’ll cost MXN$200 one way. It takes 30 minutes to get to the ruins.

How to get to Cenote Xcanche from Ek Balam:

X’Canche Cenote

It’s super easy getting to the cenote from Ek Balam. After you buy your Ek Balam ticket, you’ll start walking along a pathway through a forest. Very soon you’ll come to an intersection. One sign points to the ruins and another sign to the cenote. Just a few feet away is the ticket booth for the cenote and where you can grab a bike (it’s included in the ticket price). Getting to the cenote is a 10 to 15-minute bike ride. You’ll find toilets, showers, and changing rooms there.

How to get back to Valladolid from Ek Balam:

You can find a shared taxi in the Ek Balam parking lot.

12. Explore the cenotes at Cenotes Dzitnup

  • OPEN: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • COST: MXN$125 (US$6) for 2 cenotes + MXN$25 (US$2.50) for a life jacket
  • LOCATION: Google Maps

My absolute favorite cenotes near Valladolid are the two at Cenotes Dzitnup. They are Cenote Xkechen and Cenote Samula. It’s my favorite because it’s got these really cool rock formations and they’re not crowded.

Cenote XKeken

The best time to visit a cenote is in the morning when it first opens up. That’s when no one else visits. You’ll either get the whole cenote to yourself or you’ll be one of two or three other people in the place. The afternoon is when cenotes get crowded. But then again, the afternoon is also when it gets the hottest in the Yucatan—a time when you need a swim in a cenote to cool you off.

The lifejacket rental is not included in the price of the ticket. You can rent one from vendors along the path to Xkechen and then rent another one for Samula.

There are no restaurants here but there are vendors selling snacks.

How to get to Cenotes Dzitnup from Valladolid

Cenotes Dzitnup is located outside of the city of Valladolid. You can join a tour, but I chose to do it on my own by bike and combine it with a visit to Cenote Oxman.

I give you EXACT instructions in this article on how to get to Cenote Dzitnup and then to Cenote Oxman and finally back to Valladolid.

13. Swim at Hacienda Cenote Oxman

  • OPEN: 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • COST: MXN$250 (US$12.50) for cenote, life jacket, and food; MXN$150 (US$7.50) for cenote and life jacket
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
  • WEBSITE: Facebook Page
Cenote Oxman

Hacienda Cenote Oxman (a.k.a. Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman) is the easiest of the cenotes other than Cenote Zaci to get to from Valladolid. It’s also stunningly beautiful and a lot of fun to visit. There’s a restaurant, a swimming pool, bar along with a gorgeous open-air cenote.

You can combine a trip to Cenote Oxman with a visit to Cenotes Dzitnup. You can read all about how to do it by bicycle in my article on how to get to Cenote Dzitnup.

Cenote Oxman has two options. You can either just pay for the cenote and life jacket for MXN$150 (US$7.50) or you can buy a ticket for the cenote, life jacket, and a meal in their restaurant for MXN$250 (US$12.50). I did the latter because there were no other restaurants nearby. I was given a meal ticket worth MXN$200 to spend in the restaurant. It’s easy to use up all MXN$200 with just one dish and one drink since the menu is limited and prices for the dishes and drinks are pretty expensive.

How to get to Cenote Oxman:

You can read all about how to EXACTLY get to Cenote Oxman in this article.

14. Swim at Cenote Suytun

  • OPEN: 9 am – 5 pm (last entrance is 4 pm)
  • COST: MXN$130 (US$6.50)
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
Cenote Suytun in Valladolid Mexico

Cenote Suytun is probably the most instagrammable cenote in Mexico, but it’s unfortunately hard to get to on your own. I think the only way is to rent a car or take a taxi. It’s too far away to bike to.

All the advice I’ve read about this cenote is to get there early in the morning before the tour groups arrive. Because it’s so famous on Instagram, people line up for a long time to get their chance at taking the perfect shot on the platform in the middle of the cenote. However, to get a shot with the sun shining down on you while standing on the platform requires you to be there at around noon.

How to get to Cenote Suytun from Valladolid:

If you don’t have a car or moped, you’re only bet is to take a taxi or on a tour. I honestly couldn’t find where to get a shared taxi to Cenote Suytun in Valladolid when I was there. I’d already been to five cenotes and I wasn’t that keen on seeing another one at that point. My recommendation is to ask at the different colectivo stations around the historic center. You can find them by using Maps.Me.  

15. Spot flamingos in Rio Lagartos and visit a pink lagoon in Los Coloradas

Rio Lagartos (Lizard River—wonderful name, don’t you think?) is a small fishing village located on the coast of Mexico. It consists of a lagoon with mangroves, hordes of beautiful flamingos and other birds, and alligators (never saw them).

a group of flamingos in Rio Lagartos

Tours also go to Los Coloradas for the pink lagoon, a body of water that is the color of pink (the pink is due to some chemicals in the water). You can also visit Los Coloradas on your own by taking a bus from Rio Lagartos. Buses leave at 11:30 AM and 2:00 PM. They return to Rio Lagartos at 5:30 AM and 4:00 PM.

My tour also included a stop at a deserted beach for some swimming.

Los Colorados at Rio Logartos day trip from Merida

There are shared boat tours from MXN$300 to $400 (US$15 – $20) or a private tour for MXN$1500 to MXN$1800 (US$75 – $90). I did mine through my hotel, Hotel Mercy Inn.

The town also has some great fish and seafood. I had the best ceviche in my life at La Mojaritta. The guy who owns the restaurant speaks pretty good English and is an official tour guide who offers tours to the Biosphere Reserve and also takes people out fishing. 

How to get to Rio Lagartos from Valladolid:

If you want to do a day trip to Rio Lagartos, there are three ways to do it.

First, if you have your own car, you can drive the two hours to the town on the coast and take one of the many tours going on throughout the day.

For the second way, you can join a group tour that includes Ek Balama and XCanche Cenote. The cost is around MXN$2,000 (US$100). MexicoGo Tours was recommended to me.

The third is the DYI way, but it requires you to change buses in Tizimin and stay overnight in Rio Lagartos. This is the way I did it, but I even barely made the last bus back to Valladolid. I think a day trip is cutting it too close and you might end up stranded in Rio Lagartos or Tizimin, needing to take an expensive taxi back to Valladolid.

1. In the morning, take an ADO first-class bus from Valladolid to the Tizimin ADO Bus Station. It takes an hour to get to Tizimin. There are several buses leaving in the morning. The times change daily, so I highly recommend buying your ticket the night before. The only thing you want to keep in mind is that you need to give yourself enough time to change buses in Tizimin. You can find ADO bus schedules online. The ticket costs MXN$55.

2. When you get to Tizimin, walk to the Noreste Bus Station for a second-class bus to Rio Lagartos. The stations are around the corner from each other.  

3. When I was in Tizimin in June 2021, buses from Tizimin to Rio Lagartos left at 4:00 AM, 6:30 AM, 10:30 AM, and 1:00 PM. You’ll want to either get the 10:30 AM or 1:00 PM bus. The ticket cost MXN$50.

*An alternative to the bus is a colectivo from Tizimin to Rio Lagartos. I don’t know when they leave. You can catch a colectivo to Rio Lagartos a block and a half from the Noreste Bus Station on Calle 47 (between Calle 48 and 50). The price is the same.

4. The bus will drop you off at a tiny bus station in Rio Lagartos.

Getting back to Valladolid from Rio Lagartos:

It’s hard to get the correct information for buses and colectivos back to Tizimin in Rio Lagartos. My hotel didn’t even have the correct information. But here is what I know:

1. In June 2021, buses were leaving Rio Lagartos for Tizimin at 6:00 AM, 7:00 AM (not on Wednesdays or Thursdays), 9:00 AM, and 4:30 PM. According to my hotel, colectivos left at 7:00 AM and 2:00 PM. However, I got a colectivo at 4:00 PM.

2. You can check the bus schedule on the ADO Website for buses back to Valladolid from Tizimin. According to the ADO website in October 2021, the last bus was either at 7:00 PM or 7:30 PM. BUT when I was there in June 2021, the last bus was at 5:30 PM.

Suggested Itinerary for Valladolid

Day 1

  • Wander around the historic center
  • Visit Casa de Los Venados
  • Stroll along the Road of Friars
  • Convent of San Bernadino
  • Swim at Cenote Zaci

Day 2

  • Chichen Itza and Ik Kilim Cenote
  • Sound and light show

Day 3

  • Cenote Dzitnup
  • Cenote Oxman
  • Free Walking Tour

Day 4

  • Ek Balam and Cenote Xcanche

Day 5 and 6

  • Rio Lagartos and Los Colarados


How to get to Valladolid from Merida

You can take an ADO first-class bus from the ADO Bus Terminal in Merida (Google Maps). Buses leave frequently throughout the day, and it takes 2.5 hours to get to Valladolid from Merida. You can check the ADO Bus website for bus times as well as buy your tickets online.

How to get to Valladolid from Cancun

First-class ADO buses from Cancun to Valladolid leave frequently throughout the day. They take 2 to 2.5 hours and cost MXN$192 to $292 (US$10 – $15). You can check the ADO Bus website for bus times as well as buy your tickets online.

How to get to Valladolid from Tulum

First-class ADO buses from Tulum to Valladolid leave frequently throughout the day. They take around 1.5 hours and costs MXN$172 (US$9). You can check the ADO Bus website for bus times as well as buy your tickets online.

How to get to Valladolid from Playa del Carmen

First-class ADO buses from Playa del Carmen to Valladolid leave frequently throughout the day. They take around 2 hours and 40 minutes and cost MXN$206 to $294 (US$10 – $15).

How to buy ADO bus tickets online: You can buy first-class ADO buses online from the ADO website. When buying the ticket, you’ll need to choose a seat. I always try to sit as close to the driver as possible. Your ticket will be delivered to your email. You can also save your ticket to your computer. I usually then upload it to Google Drive, so I can easily open it up on my phone when showing my electronic ticket to the bus driver. I sometimes have trouble opening my ticket from my email. The driver will scan the ticket’s QR code. You cannot buy second-class Oriente bus tickets online.


1. Bazar Municipal (Google Maps) – Across from the Parque Principal is a food court called Bazar Municipal. If you need something to eat quickly and conveniently, this is an ok place to visit. There are several restaurants serving local Yucateca food

2. Le Kaat (Google Maps) – For really delicious vegetarian food, try Le Kaat on the Calle de Los Frias. They also rent out bikes and do bike tours.

a salad of shredded beats, avocados and lettuce

3. El Sazon de Valladolid (Google Maps) – For traditional Yucateca food at a reasonable price in the historic center, you can’t do wrong at El Sazon de Valladolid.

4. La Tia Poc Chuc (Google Maps) – This restaurant is a bit off-the-beaten-path but still located within walking distance of the historic center. I went here because it was highly-rated on Google Maps, popular with locals, and specialized in poc chuc, a typical Yucateca pork dish that I hadn’t tried yet.

5. Taqueria Regalo de Dio (Google Maps) – If you’re looking for some inexpensive tacos and tortas in the historic center, there’s a taqueria on Calle 48 called Taqueria Regalo de Dio. They open their taco stand at around 6:00 or 7:00 PM.

6. Soriana Express Supermarket (Google Maps) – For some DYI meals, there’s a good-sized supermarket in the historic center called Soriana.

7. Panaderia La Especial (Google Maps) – Located near Cenote Zaci, Panaderia La Especial is very popular with locals. It’s got a good selection of baked goods and it’s inexpensive. You’ll find more local breads and pastries than European ones. It’s open from 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM.

8. La Casona de Valladolid (Google Maps) – If you want to try as many Mexican and Yucatecan dishes as you can in one meal, then try the buffet at La Casona de Valladolid.  

9. Cafeina (Google Maps) – Located on Calle de Los Frias, Cafeina is a great place to go in the evening for pizza and beer or mezcal. It’s got a great outdoor garden seating area and really good service.

cazuela wtih mole sauce and topped with 3 plantains

10. Yerbabuena del Sisal (Google Maps) – Another fabulous vegetarian restaurant to check out for breakfast and lunch is Yerbabuena del Sisal. Located across from the Convent, the restaurant is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and is closed on Mondays.

11. Yum Kaax El Buen Sabor Regional (Google Maps) – Yum Kaax serves these huge and delicious breakfast meals that include fruit, granola, eggs, avocado, and plantains. Yum!!!

WHERE TO STAY in Valladolid


Hotel Casa Rosario –  (Booking.com | Agoda) Hotel Casa Rosario is an absolute steal! I stayed at this very comfortable and affordable hotel perfectly located just a couple blocks from the ADO Bus Station, the Street of Friars, and Parque Principal. There’s a small pool, showers with great water pressure, free water and coffee, and a great balcony to sit on in the morning with your cup of coffee. The only problem is that the WiFi is slow and unstable in many of the rooms. I wasn’t able to teach on Zoom.

Hostel Tunich Naj – (Booking.com | Agoda) I also stayed in a private room at Hostel Tunich Naj. The room was decent and the WiFi was excellent. However, I found the people who work there to be unfriendly and unhelpful. They take no COVID precautions.

Hostel Candelaria – (Booking.com | Agoda) I didn’t stay at Hostel Candelaria, but I met other people who did and they absolutely loved it. They raved about the people who worked there and the breakfast.


Casa Tia Micha – (Booking.com | Agoda) Located a block and a half from Parque Principal, Casa Tia Miche is a highly-rated mid-range hotel in a colonial-style building. Breakfast is included. There’s a beautiful garden that you can sit and relax in.

Casa San Roque Valladolid – (Booking.com | Agoda) Casa San Roque is a charming hotel perfectly located half a block from Parque Principal. Includes garden and pool.

Valladolid Essentials

Pharmacy – Valladolid has tons of pharmacies, but not all are equal. There is a good pharmacy on Calle 46 called Farmacia YZA, near the Street of Friars. I found suntan lotion, insect repellant, and contact solution here.

Laundry Service – If you need to get your laundry done, check out Lavanderia Master Laundry in the historic center. Decent price and service. They’re also open pretty late.

ATM Machines – There is an HSBC Bank and ATM on Calle 41 (Google Maps) less than half a block from Parque Principal. There’s also an HSBC ATM in the Bazaar Municipal.

Final Thoughts

One of my favorite things about Valladolid is that it makes for an excellent place to base yourself when exploring the famous ruins and cenotes of the Yucatan. The city is also really easy to navigate.

Have you been to Valladolid? Do you have any other great tips to add to this list? Please let me know in the comments section below!

Where to Go Next in Mexico

PRO TIP: No one likes to think about insurance, but accidents do happen. I highly recommend getting travel insurance. During my travels over the past 2 years, I’ve been using SafetyWing for my insurance. They’re very affordable for all ages, and digital nomads can use their insurance long-term.

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About the Bamboo Traveler

The Bamboo Traveler

Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel blog dedicated to helping those travelers who want to dig deeply into the history, heritage, and culture of a place. Whether it’s through the pages of your passport or the pages of a book, I’ll help you travel the world and uncover the history, culture, food, architecture, and natural beauty of some of the world’s most fascinating places.

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