Valladolid is a colonial city located in the middle of the Yucatan Peninsula.
With its pastel-colored houses, beautiful cathedrals squares, cobblestone streets, the joy of the people and the authentic vibe, Valladolid remained relatively untouched by the ravage of tourism.
It is also the perfect place to experience the Mayan culture, being so close to Chichen Itza, discover the beautiful cenotes all around the city and at the same time enjoy the relaxed vibe of the city.
We arrived in Valladolid at noon. We drove our rental from Tulum for about 2 hours. And we discovered a city with an authentic feel, an authentic Mexican feel.
Top things to see in Valladolid
We arrived in Valladolid and drove directly to Cenote Zaci.
This cenote was practically in the center of Valladolid. It has two entrances. One in a souvenir mini-market area at Calle 39 and the second one is at Calle 36.
We parked the car in the souvenir mini-market and walked to the cenote.
Cenote Zaci is a massive cave that collapsed only partially. The roof covered most of the cenote. It had a huge gap of almost 50 meters to the water’s surface. The open part of the cenote was covered in beautiful leaves.
There was a path carved out in the walls that made possible to walk in a circle till the surface of the water. It was really impressive! If you want to swim here and you can rent lifejackets for 30 pesos. But there are no lockers to leave your valuables.
It can be a little intimidating to swim here because the depth of Zaci is about 100 meters.
You will have to pay attention at the time of your arrival because Zaci cenote is considered as a public swimming pool, so many locals came here too.
The best moment is to come in the morning of working days.
Next to the Cenote, there is a restaurant with the same name.
When we arrived it was raining, so we were forced to look for shelter in the restaurant. Which wasn’t bad at all.
We enjoyed a coffee from its terrace, with the perfect view over the cenote.
The restaurant has very good food and affordable prices
Cathedral and Main Square
From Cenote Zaci we had a short walk to the city center and the main square.
Although Valladolid is the third-largest city in the state of Yucatan, to us, it felt rather small.
The main square is the central piece of Valladolid and reflected its history.
In the 16th century, the city was first founded 50km from the coast, but it was too hot and there were way too many mosquitoes.
So, Francisco de Montejo, the famous Spanish conquistador moved the city to the Maya ceremonial center of Zaci, where they faced heavy resistance from the local Maya. Eventually, Montejo took the town. The Spanish conquerors, in typical fashion, ripped down the town and laid out a new city following the classic colonial plan. The Cathedral and the main square were the most important part of the city. Even today the Cathedral and the main square have the same importance.
People of all ages gather here and relax. Especially on Sundays, in the evening the young and old gather to dance on the main square. They dance together to traditional Mexican music. You should visit the city on a Sunday evening and enjoy the local atmosphere.
Calle 41A or Calzada de Los Frailes
From the city center, we walked for 20 minutes to Calle 41A.
The entire city was bustled. The locals were shopping, chatting on the streets or simply had lunch in the main market.
In no time we reached the famous street of Los Frailes. It used to be the most important avenue connecting the city center with the monastery. Today is still a famous street, with the best and most expensive boutiques in Valladolid.
The street is closed to traffic in the evenings or weekends you will have a chance to enjoy the colored houses and the local vibe.
Although it was raining during our visit to Valladolid, we loved the city.
The streets are typical for a Mexican town: pastel-colored colonial houses, old VW Beetles, a small cathedral, people enjoying their Sunday.
How to get here
This is the easiest way to reach Valladolid.
- From Tulum
There are 1.5 hours of driving and about 100 km. First, take 109 road to Chemax and then 180 road to Valladolid.
There are no tools to be paid.
- From Playa del Carmen
First option: Take the 307 road to Tulum, then 109 road to Chemax and 180 road to Valladolid. It will be about 164 km in about 2.5 hours, but the road doesn’t have tolls.
Second option: Take the highway to Valladolid. It will be about 153 km and about 2.5 hours to drive. The highway has huge tools to be paid.
- From Cancun
Take the Cancun to Valladolid highway, you will drive for 2.5 hours and 162 km.
Frequent “collectivo” vans and ADO buses connect Valladolid to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.
The bus stations are generally in the city center of the city. Therefore cheap options.