9 Best Things To Do in Valladolid, Mexico 9 Best Things To Do in Valladolid, Mexico

9 Best Things To Do in Valladolid, Mexico

Valladolid is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Full of color, culture, and history – every street of the vibrant town tells a new story. Dive into the cool, crystal-clear waters of nearby cenotes and immerse yourself in the rich Mayan heritage. Later, wander around the charming, pastel-hued streets, stumbling upon the majestic San Servacio Cathedral. With its blend of colonial architecture and lively marketplaces, there’s plenty of beauty to take in. Here are all the best things to do in Valladolid, Mexico.

Best Things to do in Valladolid

Even though many people zoom right by Valladolid on their way to the famous Chichen Itza, the colorful city remains somewhat of a hidden gem. However, there are many things to do in (and around) Valladolid, Mexico, that make it worth a visit. 

city sign things to do in Valladolid mexico

Explore the rainbow-colored alleyways downtown, indulge in traditional Yucateco dishes, and cool off in large cenotes. Add a few of the most impressive Mayan ruins between the jungle trees, and you have the perfect few days on your Yucatan itinerary!

shop in valladolid mexico

1. Explore Colorful Valladolid Old Town

Valladolid is known as one of the colorful pueblos (towns) in the Yucatan. In fact, it’s one of the features that makes this destination so beautiful, with many colorful colonial walls spread across the city.

things to do in Valladolid mexico vintage car

As you stroll down the streets, soak up all the different colors and snap some photos in front of the stunning walls (which make the perfect backdrop). Two must-see spots are Calle 43 and Calzada de Los Frailes. With beautiful, colorful houses, these streets are best explored in the morning when the colors really pop in the early sunlight. Plus: It’s not as hot as during the day!

Calzada de los frailes things to do in Valladolid mexico

In the center, you’ll find the main square and park, where people gather to enjoy Marquesitas (a local delight), ice cream, or churros. From here, you can also join a free walking tour of Valladolid that starts from the Tourist Information Center. The tour takes about 1,5 hours, with one starting at 9:35 AM and one at 7:30 PM.

Calzada de Los Frailes

Perhaps one of the prettiest alleys in Mexico is Calzada de Los Frailes, a small pedestrian street where colorful walls and doorways beckon you to bring out your camera. This picture-perfect cobble street dates back to the 16th century and connects to the popular Sisal neighborhood in Valladolid, Mexico. 

sign calzada de los frills things to do in Valladolid mexico

You’ll also find a few restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops here. During the day, it’s very quiet, but once night comes, the street comes alive with more businesses opening their doors. Strolling through this beautiful street is one of the best things to do in Valladolid. 

things to do in Valladolid mexico colorful street

Candelaria Neighborhood

In the northern part of the town lies the Candelaria neighborhood, a peaceful area easily explored on foot. With more colorful buildings to discover, it also has a relaxing park, perfect for grabbing a snack or people-watching.

Cochinita Pibil stand things to do in Valladolid mexico

2. Uayma Church

About 15 kilometers west of Valladolid lies the small town of Uayma. Though it’s not very well known among visitors, it harbors a beautifully adorned 17th-century church worth a glimpse. This Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán is one of the most distinct in all of the Yucatán for its beautiful facade and details. 

red uayma church valladolid mexico

The building was originally built by the Spanish, who used stones from nearby Mayan temples. They did this to enforce their culture in Uayma, which, at the time, was an important Mayan center. 

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9 Best Things To Do in Valladolid, Mexico

In front of the building, there’s a little peaceful park with a few stands selling drinks, snacks, and ice cream. Take a moment to soak up the relaxing atmosphere of the small town while enjoying a cold beverage in the shade.

3. Chichen Itzá

It’s impossible to visit Valladolid and not take a day to visit one of the New Seven Wonders of the World: Chichen Itzá. This stunning complex of multiple Mayan ruins is one of the largest Mayan cities ever built and the most visited ancient site in Mexico

Chichen Itza things to do in Valladolid mexico

Once a vibrant city, Chichen Itzá is believed to have had a population extending well into the tens of thousands! More than 20 buildings remain. The most famous is El Castillo, a massive step pyramid or the Temple of Kukulcan. It was built to honor the deity Kukulcan. You’ll find his face carved in stone structures around the site.

ruins Chichen Itzá things to do in Valladolid mexico

Expect to spend about 2 – 3 hours walking around the large archaeological site, admiring all the different limestone remnants. Though you can view the buildings and carvings from up close, remember that you can’t walk up the structures. Listen to the echoing sounds of tour guides clapping between the temples, showcasing how Chichen Itzá was built to spread sound.

Along the pathways, there are also thousands of vendors that make a great place to buy souvenirs. There are plenty of budget-friendly, high-quality options, from wooden statues to magnets and beautiful Mexican masks. A day trip to Chichen Itzá is one of the best things to do in Valladolid, Mexico.

stall masks Chichen Itzá things to do in Valladolid mexico

Opening Times & Entrance Fee

Chichen Itza is open between 8 AM and 5 PM and costs 614 MXN (±35 USD) to enter. Try to arrive when the site opens, as lines quickly form beforehand. Luckily, the site is large enough that you can explore it with only a few other people around. After 10 AM, the first tour buses arrive, and crowds become larger. 

If you have camera gear, you’ll most likely have to put it in a locker at the entrance (50 MXN). Equipment like drones, tripods, or telephoto lenses is not permitted inside the UNESCO site. Note: There are also no bathrooms inside the complex; they are only at the entrance. 

El Castillo Chichen itza things to do in Valladolid mexico

How to Get to Chichen Itza from Valladolid

Though it’s possible to tour the UNESCO site from anywhere on the Peninsula, like Cancun or Tulum, most people choose to stay in Valladolid and visit from there. From Valladolid, there are a few options to get to the iconic Chichen Itza. 

  • Option 1: Join an organized tour of Chichen Itza. Many tours include return transportation, the Chichen Itza entrance fee, and a certified guide for the site. 
  • Option 2: Hop on an ADO bus from the main bus station, which leaves only once daily (10:27) and arrives an hour later. 
  • Option 3: Hop on a Colectivo from the small station on Calle 46 between 37 and 39 (40 MXN). 
  • Option 4: Rent a car or motorbike and make your way to the Mayan site by yourself. From Valladolid to Chichen Itza is about a 45-minute drive. 
temple ruins Chichen Itzá things to do in Valladolid mexico

4. Watch a Night Show

As the sun sets in Valladolid, the town’s vibrant cultural scene comes to life with enchanting night shows. From the walls of ancient buildings to lively parks and squares, evenings here are full of enchanting performances that blend history, culture, and local tradition.

night show mexico

The Convent of San Bernardino of Siena, nestled at the end of the picturesque Calzada de Los Frailes, comes alive each night at 9 PM with a captivating sound and light show. This show (Nights of the Heroic Valladolid) illuminates the grand convent’s walls. It tells a visual story of its rich history – a spectacle worth seeing after a day of exploring the city. 

Nightly Traditional Dance Performance

In front of the main church in the heart of Valladolid, Parque Francisco Canton Rosado turns into a stage for nightly traditional dance performances. Though it feels a bit touristy, the show under the open sky gives a peek into the city’s lively spirit and rich heritage. 

Relax on one of the benches under the beautiful trees with a Marquesita in hand and enjoy the show. These traditional Jarana performances start around 5:30 PM daily.

traditional dance performance things to do in Valladolid mexico

5. Templo de San Servacio

In the heart of Valladolid, the Templo de San Servacio stands as a striking symbol of the town’s rich cultural heritage. Originally constructed in 1545, this church has seen Valladolid develop through the centuries. From its origins as a west-facing Yucatan temple to its current intricately carved stone church, the Templo is a must-see in Valladolid, Mexico. 

Templo de San Servacio things to do in Valladolid mexico

6. Visit Cenote Suytun, Valladolid

With thousands of cenotes spread across the Yucatan Peninsula, some of the best lie close to Valladolid, Mexico. Once fairly unknown, Cenote Suytun has become one of the most famous cenotes to visit due to its long platform in the water. As it lies underground, with only one small opening at the top, Suytun makes for the most magical (Instagram) photos when the sun shines through. 

Cenote Suytun things to do in Valladolid mexico

Descend deep into the ground to reach a large cave full of stalactites and stalagmites. If you catch the sun at the right time, the platform leading into the middle of the cenote lights up. The best time is often at noon between May and August, though depending on the conditions, it’s not guaranteed you’ll get the shot.

There’s a guard who keeps track of the time each person takes a photo, but you can head out as often as you like. If you’re looking to take a dip in the cenote, make sure to shower first. Cenote Suytun lies only 15 minutes from the city center and is one of the best things to do in Valladolid.

Opening Times & Entrance Fee: Cenote Suytun is open daily from 9 AM till 4:30 PM, and entrance costs 250 MXN (14,50 USD).

mercado municipal things to do in Valladolid mexico

7. Mercado Municipal

Mercado Municipal in Valladolid, a vibrant hub of local life and color, is an unmissable destination for anyone looking to experience the authentic atmosphere of the city. Tucked away just a short walk from Cenote Zaci, this market is full of delicious local produce and goods. 

lady mercado municipal things to do in Valladolid mexico

Inside the colonial-style building, you’re greeted with various colors of fruits, veggies, meats, and many homemade hot sauces. It’s the perfect place to watch daily life in Valladolid, allowing you to interact with the friendly locals. Grab a cheap meal at a taqueria, shop for some local ingredients, or simply soak up the lively atmosphere. Open: 5 AM – 3 PM.

8. Swim at Valladolid’s Cenote Zaci

Right in the center of town lies a lovely semi-open cenote that captivates with its natural beauty. Located only a short 10-minute walk from the main square, Cenote Zaci makes an easily accessible spot to cool off during the hot day. 

cenote zaci valladolid mexico

As you descend the stone staircase, it’s as if you’ve just stepped into a scene from Indiana Jones! Cenote Zaci has a unique shape, resembling a massive half-open cave that allows sunlight to filter through. Below, a large cenote reveals its stunning turquoise colors, inviting you for a swim. Along the walls, lush greenery drapes down, and the occasional waterfall adds to the tranquility of the area.

Cool off in the cenote’s waters, jump off cliffs, and admire natural beauty from different angles. Due to popularity, only one hour is allowed inside. The best time to visit is around noon, when the sun illuminates the walls.

Cenote Zaci things to do in Valladolid mexico

9. Ek Balam Mayan Ruins in Valladolid

Hidden in the lush jungles near Valladolid, the ancient Ek Balam (‘Black Jaguar’) ruins show the remains of a once-thriving civilization. This stunning site is, just like Chichen Itzá, huge in size and was at one point home to over 20.000 people! However, it’s much quieter than its famed neighbor, allowing you to connect deeply with the Mayan legacy.

climbing ek balam ruins things to do in Valladolid mexico

Visitors can climb the structures to the top to marvel at the different carvings and enjoy astonishing views of the green Yucatan jungle. Take your time to explore the grounds – the centerpiece, known as the Acropolis, is one of Valladolid’s best things to do. 

From Valladolid, it’s a 30-minute drive to Ek Balam, and entry costs 531 MXN (± 31 USD). 

Ek Balam ruins things to do in Valladolid

Where to Stay

Though Valladolid can be visited on a day trip, its bounty of beautiful sites makes it worth spending a night or two. From colorful hostels for the budget backpacker to boutique hotels, there’s something to suit any traveler. Plus, many places include a yummy Mexican breakfast like huevos divorciados!

Candelaria neighbourhood things to do in Valladolid mexico

Best Cafes & Restaurants in Valladolid

Valladolid may be small, but it’s brimming with amazing places to eat. From excellent local Yucatan cuisine to hip Italian bistros, you could easily travel to the city for the food alone. Don’t forget to try the local delicacies like Cochinita Pibil or different tamales – yum! 

Some of our favorite restaurants are:

  • San Giovanni Trattoria (Italian)
  • Sabrositacos
  • La Joyita Cantina (coolest bar)
restaurants valladolid mexico

Note: Drinking alcohol in public is prohibited in Mexico, and Valladolid is a town where it’s well enforced. If you’re craving a cold alcoholic beverage, you’ll have to head to a bar and drink it indoors or on their patio.

colorful streets mexico

How to Visit Valladolid, Mexico

Valladolid lies in the center of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, which is far from the coastline but perfectly located around some of the area’s best cenotes and Mayan ruins. The closest airport is Cancun International Airport, which lies about 2,5 hours from Valladolid. 

Find flights to Valladolid ✈️
mexican flag

By Car

Probably the easiest way to get to Valladolid is to rent a car in Mexico and drive yourself. Renting a car gives you the freedom to drive at your own pace and stop at a few beautiful spots in between. Depending on where you’re traveling from, it takes about 1,5 – 2,5 hours to get to Valladolid. 

  • From Cancun: 2,5 hours
  • From Tulum: 1,5 hours
  • From Playa del Carmen: 1h 45m
colourful town things to do in Valladolid mexico

By Bus

The ADO buses are an easy way to get around the stunning Yucatan. Though they’re not the fastest way to Valladolid, they’re definitely the cheapest. From Cancun Airport, you’ll first have to make your way to the central ADO station in the city before hopping on the bus to Valladolid. Buses run almost every hour, and the journey costs about 400 MXN (± 23 USD).

By Taxi or Private Transfer

Another option to get to Valladolid is to hop on a taxi, though expect to spend a pretty penny (about 200 USD). Make sure to agree on a price before getting in or check if the taxi has a working meter. 

Alternatively, if you still prefer a more private experience but don’t want to drive yourself, book a private transfer to Valladolid instead.

taxi driver mexico

Getting Around

Once you get to Valladolid in Mexico, you can easily get around and see the city on foot. The center is relatively small; walking from the Convento de San Bernardino de Siena to the northern neighborhood of Candelaria and the municipal market can all be done within an hour.

authentic street in mexico

If you’re traveling outside the city center to places like Chichen Itza or the Suytun Cenote, it’s best to have your own transportation. We recommend renting a car, but a motorbike is also a good option to get around.

Alternatively, you can book a taxi to drive you some of the things to do in Valladolid outside the city. However, this does cost much more and is a bit time-consuming, as there are no taxis waiting to take you back to town. Instead, you’ll have to call them in advance.

Best Time to Visit

Though the Yucatan can easily be visited year-round, the best time to visit Valladolid is between November and March. This is during the dry season, with temperatures at their mildest and clear skies.


The late spring and summer months are much warmer and more humid, making it more difficult to travel inland. Rain is more frequent between May and late October, but crowds are much smaller during this time.

02/04/2024 https://www.saltinourhair.com/mexico/valladolid/
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