Is Valladolid worth visiting?
The simple answer is yes!
Located in Yucatan state and known for its beautiful natural landscape, Valladolid was once the capital of the Maya east. It is surrounded by thousands of natural cenotes, plenty of historic sites and an exciting gastronomy scene, and is increasing in popularity as a day trip for tourists. In our opinion, it’s worth staying longer than the day to take in all Valladolid has to offer.
The rural city in the middle of the Yucatan jungle is a great example of ‘authentic’ Mexico, slightly off the beaten path and dripping in history and culture that is still largely undiscovered by international visitors.
The pastel coloured buildings lining the streets make it exciting to explore, the bright pops of colour enticing you to turn the next corner and see what sights await.
See the highlights of Valladolid in the following guide, and be sure to add this exciting town to your Mexico itinerary!
Is Valladolid Mexico safe?
It’s no secret that parts of Mexico have once had a reputation for crime, but in the past decade the country as a whole has become a lot safer and much more popular as a tourist destination. Rest assured that Valladolid is considered to be one of the safest cities in Mexico!
Having been ‘off the beaten track’ for a long time, Valladolid is growing increasingly popular with tourists and its reputation for being a safe place to visit plays a big part in that. It’s an authentic Mexican town, with an authentic Mexican culture, and its residents are friendly and welcoming of foreign visitors.
As on any vacation, we recommend keeping your personal belongings close and travelling without valuables where possible, but you can certainly have confidence that Valladolid is considered a safe place to travel to!
If you want to know more about safety in Mexico, you can also read our guide on: Is Mexico safe?
What to see in Valladolid
Take a dip in one of Valladolid’s beautiful cenotes
If you’re travelling to Mexico it’s likely you’ve heard the word ‘cenote’ once or twice. After all, Mexico is home to some of the world’s greatest and most stunning! But wait. What is a cenote?!
It’s a natural sinkhole caused by the collapse of limestone bedrock, exposing the groundwater underneath. In Mexico they are used as natural swimming holes, many cavernous and mysterious, others surrounded by lush jungle, the true depiction of a tropical paradise. Actually, in ancient Mayan language ‘cenote’ means “sacred well”, and Mayan people believed that they were a portal to another world.
Valladolid and the surrounding region is packed with cenotes, including Cenote Zaci which is within walking distance from the town’s main square. If you’re willing to travel a little out of town to see some of the best, Cenote Hubiku is less than 30 minutes by car and features moss-covered walls, hanging vines and deep turquoise waters.
Around a 40 minute drive is Cenote Maya Park, well worth the travel to see the Yucatan Peninsula’s largest cenote! A staircase leads you down to the cool, refreshing waters, or adventurers can free rappel into the cave. The cenote is so vast, it even has its own underground zipline!
Take a trip to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza
One of the main reasons so many tourists whizz past Valladolid on their day trips from Cancun is to visit this ancient Mayan city. The UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World on the Yucatan Peninsula is one of the region’s most visited archaeological sites and tourist attractions. It was built as early as the 400’s and years later it became the most powerful city in the Yucatan region after it was conquered by the Toltecs.
Today, it is home to very well-maintained and restored structures and sculptures, including the iconic 30 meter high pyramid with its serpent-headed staircase. You will notice many carvings and figures in the shape of a snake – this snake is Kulkulkhan, the serpent deity worshipped by the ancient people who comes to life twice a year during the spring and autumn equinoxes.
Chichen Itza is popular year-round, but if you happen to be in the region around the time of the spring (circa March 21) or autumn (circa September 22) equinox, you should try to plan your visit then. A serpent-like shadow (said to be that of Kulkulkhan) appears on the sides of El Castillo’s staircase as the sun rises and reaches its peak. It’s a spectacle that shouldn’t be missed!
Up your Instagram game on Calzada de los Frailes
If you’ve searched for images of Valladolid, chances are you have seen the pretty pastel buildings lining the quaint, quiet streets. The very best of these streets is Calzada de los Frailes, a postcard-perfect depiction of charming, authentic Mexico. Whilst there’s not a lot to do on the street itself, except of course marvel at the beauty and capture lots of photographs, if you walk there from the town’s main plaza you’ll pass plenty of nice, boutique shops and restaurants that may pique your interest along the way.
Marvel the Mexican history on show at Casa de los Venados, a private home museum
More than 3,000 pieces of Mexican folk art are held in Mexico’s largest private art collection, in the private home Casa de los Venados. Owned, run and maintained by an American couple this is the house in which they live, and every day at 10 AM they invite visitors on a tour of the rooms and the exquisite art on show on every wall, table, cabinet; it literally lines every inch of the house!
Enter the heart of the city from Parque Francisco Canton Rosado, Valladolid’s main square
Every city has its main square and Valladolid is no exception. Francisco Canton Rosado is surrounded by colonial buildings and stunning views that should not be missed during your stay in Valladolid. The park itself is very green and a great place to sit, relax, and watch the world go by/
The Iglesia de San Servacio cathedral is located just off the square, as is the Museo de San Roque, an ex-convent from the 16th century now a museum showcasing the history of the city and the region, and an insight into traditional Mayan life. Walk a little further and you will find Convent San Bernardino, one of the oldest colonial buildings in the entire state of Yucatan and best visited late in the evening for the night show (beginning at 9 PM) which impressively lights the entire building in a spectacular lighting display.
If you have only previously considered Valladolid as a passing point on your travels to visit nearby sights, we urge you to stay at least the night to experience true Mexico. We have a feeling you won’t regret it!