Valladolid is a small city of 56,000 people (2020) in the state of Yucatán that is about a 45-minute drive from the (lesser-used) east entrance of Chichén Itzá. It offers an alternative base for visiting the ruins, while having its own charms as well -- although further from the ruins than the town of Piste, Valladolid is less tourist-oriented and has more historic charm. It is one of the "Magical Towns of Mexico".
Climate Valladolid has a tropical wet and dry climate. Valladolid's climate is hot and humidity is moderate to high, depending on the time of year. The average annual high temperature is 33 °C (91 °F), ranging from 28 °C (82 °F) in January to 36 °C (97 °F) in May, but temperatures often rise above 38 °C (100 °F) in the afternoon in this time. Low temperatures range between 18 °C (64 °F) in January to 23 °C (73 °F) in May and June. It is most often a few degrees hotter in Valladolid than coastal areas due to its inland location and low elevation. The rainy season runs from June through October, associated with the Mexican monsoon which draws warm, moist air landward. Easterly waves and tropical storms also affect the area during this season.
Valladolid is just off the toll highway (180D) between Cancún and Merida; the exit is about 5 km (3 miles) north of the center of town. The old highway (180) runs east-west through the centre of town, and highway 295 connects south towards Chetumal, and north to the toll highway and Ek Balam. Both highways run right through the centre of town on one-way streets, forming the four sides of the central town square.
- Terminal de Autobuses (main bus station), Calle 39 No 221, Col Centro (NE corner of C/ 39 & 46, a couple blocks west of the central plaza (Parque Francisco Canton) along C/ 39), ☏ . Frequent first class services with ADO, ADO GL to Cancun (2 hr to east); Merida (2 hr 15 min west) and Playa del Carmen (1 hr 30 min to the southeast). Passengers transfer in Merida or Playa del Carmen to get to additional cities. There are second class services with ATS, Oriente and Mayab to other surrounding towns & villages nearby such as to Piste, Chichen Itza, Ticul, Tiziman, and further out to Merida and Playa del Carmen. The ride will take longer with the frequent stops to get beyond the immediate area on second class buses.
- Terminal de Autotransportes de Oriente Viejo (Old bus station), Calle 37 por 54 (further west along Calle 37). The old bus station is now a second class bus station for buses going to Merida, Cancun, El Progreso, El Piste, Chichen Itza, Tiziman, Izamal, etc with Autocentro, Mayab and Oriente. The ride will take longer with the frequent stops to travel longer distances.
The following are taxis and colectivos (shared ride taxis & vans) to other towns and villages in the surrounding areas. They are generally quicker in getting there than buses. With the agreements they have with the local taxi unions they cannot provide local taxi services. They are:
- Sitio de Taxi UnTrac, Calle 37 entre 42 y 44 (along Call 37 between 42 & 44). Taxis and colectivos going up to Ek Balam and Hunuku (village)
- Colectivos y Taxis a Piste y Chichen Itza, Calle 39 No 215, entre 44 y 46 (main entrance east of the main bus station, past the Restaurante Squimz and Farmacia Similares). To Piste & Chichen Itza
- Taxis Tizimin y Valladolid (Sitios Taxis Foraneos), Calle 40, entre 35 y 37 (inside and in front of the "Estacionmento Centro" building along Calle 40 between 35 & 37; it's on the left if going north on Calle 40).
- Collectivos a Ek Balam, Calle 44 just north of Calle 37. To Ek Balam Ruins.
Valladolid is small enough to make walking a reasonable choice within town. To explore the city you can also rent bicycles at a reasonable rate. Other alternative choices are taxis (Be aware the drivers do not speak English). Locally the streets or Calles are numbered with the odd numbered streets going east and west and even numbered streets going north and south. The street numbers get higher as you go from east to west and from north to south. Directions and addresses can be given with the locations such as Calle 41 No 201, entre 42 y 44 meaning Building #201 along Calle 41 (going east & west) between 42 & 44 (going north & south)
- Parque Fransisco Canton Rosado, the central town square, is surrounded by pretty colonial-style buildings that maintain much of their historic character.
- The Catedral de San Gervasio, located on the south side of the town square.
- Cenote Zací. A spectacular sinkhole located in a public park only few hundred meters from the central plaza, this cenote is traversed by a walking path that passes under a curtain of stalactites in an overhang area.
- The Calzada de los Frailes (Calle 41A) is a 10-minute walk south from the town square. This street consists of colonial homes with great architecture. It commences at the "cinco calles" and it ends at the park of the ex-convent San Bernardino de Siena.
- The Ex-Convent San Bernardino de Siena is in the neighbourhood of sisal a 10-15 minute walk south from the town square. This 15th-century ex-convent and church is situated around a public park where you can sit and enjoy tranquility.
- The Museo de San Roque is a few hundred meters from the central plaza. This museum contains Mayan and colonial artifacts and traditional items.
Valladolid due to its tranquility and small town charm is mostly a one-day getaway. You can visit several Cenotes within the area and two are close enough to hire bicycles from a nearby vendor. Visit "Cenote Dzinup" — you will love it. As well you can go sightseeing of the architecture and mingle with the people of the city.
Buy wood carvings and traditional clothing and bags made from henequen from the vendors on the central Plaza and the grounds of "Cenote Zaci"Hand made shoes and sandals at the central Plaza.
Visit Yalat Boutique right at the Main Square, the place is filled with original artwork, fine jewelry, and is dedicated to master works and fine Mexican artcrafts including exquisite ceramic Jainas and Maya vessels that are exquisite. Owner very friendly, speaks perfect English, a bit of German and French.
Visit the Coqui Coqui Perfumery and Spa in the Calzada de los Frailes on the way of the Convent. All the perfumes they sell are from the yucatan peninsula, amazing fragrances as the agave or the flor de mayo. Also a very nice garden.
- Casa de los Venados, Calle 40 #204. Private residence with a Mexican folk art collection of approx. 3,000 museum-quality pieces. American owners, when they are in residence, very generiously show people the collection.
The typical dish of the region is Lomitos de Valladolid which is a pork dish in fresh tomato sauce; Cochinita pibil meat marinated in achiote, and spices, wrapped in banana leaf and barbecued or baked in a pit; lechon al horno, bistek de cazuela, relleno negro which is turkey cooked with a paste of charred chillies and vegetables with bits of hard-boiled eggs, frijol con puerco and chicken in escabeche. Valladolid is also known for its longaniza, which are a type of pork-based salami sausage with traditional condiments. Local traditional candies are based on materials from the region such as honey, coconut, corn and others. Traditional ice cream is also very popular. The most common flavours are coconut, corn and fruits of the region as guanabana, mamey sapote and others.
- El Meson de Marques, a hotel on the north side of the town square, offers dining beside a charming interior courtyard, with excellent food. Mains in the M$100-200 range.
- Casa Italia is a small and charming Italian restaurant on the south edge of the square in Candelaria, four blocks north and one block west of the main square. Their pizzas, baked in a wood-fueled oven, are wonderful and inexpensive.
- Taberna de los Frailes, Parque Ex-Convento San Bernardino (Barrio de Sisal), ☏ . 11:00-23:00. Serving contemporary cuisine utilizing Mayan herbs and spices surrounded by Valladolid’s 16th century Ex-Convento de San Bernardino. Full service bar, VIP areas, groups, parking, credit cards. US$10-50.
- Maruja Cafe, Bar y Galeria, Calle 41 #202A (South side of the main Plaza), ☏ . 08:00-22:00. Full service bar, great Maya organically grown coffee & chocolate, deli style menu, outdoor sitting overlooking the main park. Credit cards accepted.
- Cada del Mayordomo, 46th Street #189, corner 35th Street, Col. Candelaria, firstname.lastname@example.org. Bed & breakfast and butler service, for special occasions, along with Yucatecan snacks of your choice.
- Casa Quetzal, Calle 51 No. 218 x 50 y 52 col. Sisal, Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico, ☏ . Four-star boutique hotel offering various spas and therapeutic massages. Yoga and Chi Kung classes offered. From US$75.
- Hostal Kin-beh, Cnr Calle 38/Ave 41. Very clean. doubles from M$120.
- Hotel Maria De La Luz. Friendly and well kept. It is on the main square. You can get a double with A/C for US$50. The restaurant opens up to the square and has great food. US$6.50-$10.
- Hotel Santa Lucia (about 6 blocks north of the main square). A two-floor hotel with a variety of rooms ranging from a single with no A/C (for about US$20) up to a quintuple with A/C (for about US$90).
- Hotel Tunich Beh (near downtown on Calzada De Los Frailes). Eight air-conditioned guestrooms and a swimming pool with a small palapa by the side. M$450 per night.
- Hostal Tunich Naj Calle 38 #202A entre 43 y 45 Centro, Valladolid, YU. Hostel with spacious 10 bed dorm (M$175 per night) and various private rooms. Clean and central. Nice staff.
Valladolid has a good modernised bus station (near the main square) which connects it with the surrounding towns and tourist destinations. There are frequent services to all major destinations.
- Visit the Maya ruins of Ek Balam, an impressive archaeological site only about 15 minutes drive north of Valladolid. You are allowed to climb the tallest ruin which has been partially restored. This gives you a 360° view of the surroundings.
- Chichén Itzá, the largest and most famous ancient Maya site in Yucatan, is to the west; Valladolid is close enough to the ruins to be a convenient base.
- Cancún and the popular tourist coast of Quintana Roo is to the east.
- Further west than Chichen are another charming small Yucatecan city, Izamal, and beyond that Mérida, the Yucatan's capital and largest city.