Valladolid, Mexico: Colonial Town with awesome cenotes

Valladolid, Mexico: A little stroll through a colonial city in the Yucatan Peninsula

We just happened to be in this town by chance and were only there for a couple of hours. But I decided that this was an excuse for another article about Mexico, because Valladolid was another little adventure for us and a chance to get to know this country a little better. There is a city with the same name in Spain, don’t get confused. As it turned out, our Mexican “version” was named after the Spanish one. Only it is located at a different address:

Valladolid, Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Mexico.

A little backstory on how we got here. We took the bus from Cancun to Chichen Itza, then drove to the Ik Quil cenote, where we planned to take a local bus to Valladolid station to get back to Cancun. But the stars aligned very differently, mixing up our plans. We missed the bus. Filled to capacity, it whizzed past us without even stopping. It was unbearably hot outside, and we stood at the exit of the cenote, tired and hungry, wondering what to do next. And then a miracle happened. A car approached us, and its driver, seeing our pitiful faces, offered to drive us to Valladolid. We agreed without thinking. I didn’t care that there were already four people in the car, and that there were six of us. In the Mexican version of the fairy godmother who saved our situation (aka the kind driver), I recognized the same man who had been loudly encouraging me just an hour earlier as I hesitantly tried to jump from a height into the cenote. A fey named Alfonso and his three girlfriends turned out to be very nice and cheerful guys. We got to talking on the way to the bus station and they suggested we stop in town for a bite to eat first, to which we again said yes.

Top 5 Mayan cenotes in the Yucatan

We stopped in Downtown at a cozy little restaurant where I finally had a delicious enchilada de molé, and of course Margarita was involved. Satisfied, we decided we couldn’t just part with each other. Alfonso had a plan to walk around the city together, and then he would drive us to Playa del Carmen. Playa is an hour away from Cancun, which was doubly good for us. It’s such a great chance to see Valladolid! So who’s up for a walk?

A little stroll through Valladolid

Valladolid is a small (population about 50 thousand people), but significant to the state, and very nice looking town. It was built on the site of the capital of a Mayan tribe (Zací). Here you can find several churches and a small museum and on one of the streets there is a sample of a typical Mayan house. On the outskirts of Valladolid is a cenote (Cenote Zací).

In the middle of the main square is a small garden, for some reason called a park – Parque Francisco Cantón, with a fountain and interesting white benches, “friendship chairs”. The way they’re set up, two people sitting next to each other will always face each other. And if you come here with your significant other, Alfonso told us, you should definitely sit next to each other and kiss, for good luck.

Happy Benches Valladolid

Families with children and couples in love walk in the garden. Nearby are tents with souvenirs, trays with hot corn and drinks. The sun is shining, everyone is enjoying life. And in the evening the trees on the square are lit with colored lights.

Valladolid Yucatan

Across the road from the park is the beautiful Cathedral of San Gervacio (Catedral de San Gervacio) . The palm trees at the entrance harmonize with its appearance.

San Gervasio Cathedral Valladolid

Inside there are typical pews for the parishioners and fans save from the heat. Paintings and icons were not found. In designated niches on the altar and side walls are figures of saints. It was a bit strange to look at them, especially the figure of Christ. The style is notably different from ours.

Tourist reviews of vacations in Mexico - 2022

San Gervasio Cathedral ValladolidSan Gervasio Cathedral Valladolid

On the other side of the square is the City Hall or Municipal Palace (Palacio Municipal), which on the first floor is a collection of paintings showing the life of this region before the arrival of the Spaniards. The building is modeled on the Royal Palace in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Valladolid is a colonial city and its buildings remind us of that.

City Hall in Valladolid

Valladolid City Hall

The royal palace in Santo Domingo. Taken from

Nearby is another pretty building. The same colonial style can be seen in almost every street.

Valladolid Yucatan Valladolid Yucatan

What’s more remarkable, many of the houses here are painted in different colors – white, red, pink, orange and green. Typical of such Mexican towns. If you walk down Calzada de los Frailes, you’ll see even more colorful houses.

Valladolid YucatanValladolid Yucatan

Our walk has come to an end, but I have compiled a more detailed list of the city’s sights for you. By the way, our Mexican fairies on the way to Playa del Carmen decided to take us to Tulum as well. In one of its bars by the sea we learned how to salsa dance. Thanks to the stars that they came together in the wrong order Casual encounters sometimes give birth to amazing adventures.

Full list of attractions in and around Valladolid

  • Parque Francisco Cantón.
  • San Servacio Cathedral
  • The Town Hall (Palacio Municipal) and its mini art exhibition
  • Calzada de los Frailes with colorful houses
  • Convento de Sisal
  • Churches of Santa Ana, San Juan and others (Iglesia de Santa Ana, Iglesia San Juan de Dios)
  • San Roque Museum (Museo de San Roque)
  • Handicraft Market (Mercado Artesanias)
  • Model of a Mayan Dwelling
  • Cenote Zaci
  • Cenote Dzitnup
  • Cenote Samula
  • Cenote Saamal
  • Cenote Suytun
  • Archaeological Ek Balam zone (Ek Balam Zona Arqueológica)


Interesting writing and great photos. I can not get to Mexico myself, so it remains a dream so far

Tonina - Ancient Mayan Tower of Babel in Mexico

Thank you!) The country is interesting, and the nature is beautiful, and a lot of antiquities worth visiting. Wishing you a dream come true

Mexico, Yucatan: the colonial town of Valladolid and the cenotes

In Valladolid we checked into our most wonderful hotel in all of Mexico, walked through the beautiful streets of the city center on the first day, stopped by the uninteresting San Bernardo Monastery, the main attraction of the city, and ate unsuccessfully at the local food court in the main square, growing nostalgic for the cool and tasty San Cristobal.

Valladolid liked its central square and several central neighborhoods better than Merida, but there’s not much to do in the city itself, and during the day a million tourists on buses from Chichen Itza pass through it, stop and walk, so that the perimeter of the cozy central square turns into one big parking lot.

But on Sunday evening the town was transformed – one of the streets of the central square was closed to traffic, plastic chairs were placed along it, and the orchestra played incendiary Mexican music to which both young and old danced, and the elderly couple and the man, holding his partner by the hands, dancing with the woman in a wheelchair, looked especially touching.

Since there are several cenotes, underground karst lakes in caves, near Valladolid, the town is a wonderful place to spend 1.5-2 days, using it as a base to explore the area. Here we had the best hotel with a huge room with its own kitchen, bathroom, flat TV, two air conditioners and wi-fi for only 450 pesos per night – unprecedented generosity! Here we also found a good restaurant with very hearty food on the last night and finally had a wonderful meal for the first time in the new year.

We took a cab from Valladolid to Samula and Xtentup cenotes. In Samula cenote we came very early in the morning, on the way there were no sellers of souvenirs, only hanging freely available goods, take it or leave it. We spent 15 minutes to enjoy it alone, in silence and calmness, and the next 1.5 hours, there were not many people, so that in the end, it was just us and one more couple. This cenote is good because it has high arches, through a large hole visible to the nature outside, the water is blue, beeping bats swim big black fish, and small pinch your skin if you sit down at the entrance and stay still, but beautiful formations are few.

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Xtentup cenote is the most beautiful cenote we have seen. Right very beautiful formations, tree roots hanging from the ceiling, huge stalagmites. There are more people, but they all flounder in their life jackets at the entrance, you can swim away and hang out over the stretched in the water rope, poking into the beauty.

Ek Balam cenote is open, deep, but it was crowded, and so were the leaves from the trees growing around it. If the previous ones can not jump in this one, you can jump from the rails and ropes, there is a zip line, you can come down from the top on a rope. Nice natural pool, only closes early, at 3:30 p.m. – good thing we came to this cenote before the ruins.

The last point of the program on this busy day was Ek Balam ruins – a huge disappointment. In fact, the biggest one of the whole trip. For 50 pesos we would not be so disappointed, but for 193 it was very disappointing to see only 3 tiny pyramids and the main structure with the reliefs, looking too much like new-made, not striking at all after Chichen Itza. It is better to save time and money and go to the Museum of Anthropology in Merida – the reliefs there are much cooler.

In the evening we finally found a nice restaurant where we were served hearty food – so good we had not eaten since last year )))) From 19:30 to 20:00 on the main square there was a traditional Sunday concert.

My nostalgia for San Cristobal in Valladolid was brightened up by the local women, dressed in beautiful white dresses, embroidered on top and bottom with large multi-colored flowers.

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