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23 BEST Things to do in Valladolid, Mexico + COMPLETE Guide

23 BEST Things to do in Valladolid, Mexico + COMPLETE Guide

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Valladolid, Mexico, is a charming colonial city that’s bursting with history and a never-ending list of things to do and see. From exploring ancient Mayan ruins to taking a dip in a stunning cenote, this area is full of some of the best activities in the Yucatán Peninsula

The surrounding natural beauty of this city is incredible for leisurely walks, bike rides, or popping into a local museum. There is a strip of river beach to catch a few sun rays in the perfect climate that is warm all year round. In addition, you can indulge in some tasty cuisine from amazing tacos to cool and creamy gelato. And don’t even get me started about the cenotes – there are so many beautiful cenotes in and around the city for a refreshing swim on a warm day!

It’s one of the great day trips from Cancun, but to fully take advantage of what this colorful city can offer, I recommend staying for at least 2 to 3 days. 

To help plan your trip, here’s our complete guide to Valladolid, Mexico, including the best things to see and do! We’ve also included tips on getting there, where to stay, what to eat, and so much more!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Valladolid is full of countless impressive sights, and some of our favorites are below:

  1. Learn all about Chicken Itza from an expert guide
  2. Relax and take a swim in one (or more!) of the area’s beautiful cenotes
  3. Experience the beauty of Rio Lagartos and Ek Balam
  4. Immerse yourself in hundreds of displays of Mexican folk art at Casa de Los Venados
  5. Visit the Xkopek Beekeeping Park and learn about the vast importance of these tiny creatures – Don’t worry, these bees don’t sting!

About Valladolid, Mexico  

Calzada de los Frailes in Valladolid, Mexico
Calzada de los Frailes in Valladolid, Mexico

Valladolid is located in the Yucatan Peninsula, with the closest state capital being Merida. It is approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Chichen Itza and a two-hour drive from Cancun.  

It’s a city known for its colorful buildings, historical colonial churches, and beautiful surrounding nature. This city gives you a feel of authentic Mexican life, and is the perfect stop on a Yucatán road trip!

Valladolid is also rated as one of Mexico’s safest and most affordable destinations, so it’s also a fun stop for families to. The friendly locals and various activities make this little gem of a city well worth the visit. 

The busiest time of year tends to be from January until March. If you would like a quieter experience, but still some of the best weather, then visiting in December (before Christmas and New Year’s!) is ideal.  

The BEST Things to do in Valladolid, Mexico  

1. Take a dip in a cenote  

Bailey poses for a photo with Cenote Zaci in Valladolid, Mexico
Cenote Zaci!

One of our favorite things to do in Valladolid is to visit a cenote (or three!) Think, they are the ultimate outdoor swimming pool that Mother Nature created!

Some of the best cenotes in Mexico are actually located right near Valladolid, so you’re in the right place!

These natural limestone bedrock pits exposing groundwater make an exciting water playground for adventurers – those of us who don’t mind a bit of cliff jumping! If that’s not your style, the calm waters are ideal for a relaxing swim.  

Whether you are looking for a popular cenote or a hidden water sanctuary, here are just a few of the best cenotes in Valladolid:

Cenote Ik Kil

Cenote Ik Kil is a gorgeous open-air cenote that is sacred to the Maya people. This cenote is deep in the ground where the cave ceiling collapsed, so it is completely open to the sky. Vines and tree roots cascade into the water creating this surreal atmosphere you HAVE to experience.

There is a 25-meter (80-foot) climb down to the water. Cliff jumping is not allowed, but there are several diving platforms below for you to jump from. 

It’s most well known as the cenote located right near Chichen Itza (only 5 minutes away!) or about 40 minutes from Valladolid. Entrance is 150 MXN ($9 USD) per person. You can take a bus from the Valladolid bus station or catch a taxi or collectivo that will drop you off right at the entrance.

Also, there are several amazing tours that include stops at the cenote along with the Chichen Itza and Coba ruins.  

Cenote Suytun  

Cenote Suytun at Valladolid, Yucatan - Mexico
One of the most famous cenotes is the Suytun Cenote!

Cenote Suytun is easily one of the best cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula, if not all of Mexico! This underground cenote is known for the sunbeams shining through the hole in the cave roof that illuminates a platform you can walk onto. It will be one of the most stunning photos you take!

Mornings are good to avoid crowds, but the best time to see those incredible sunbeams is late in the morning or early in the afternoon. The entrance fee here is 150 MXN ($9 USD) and includes a mandatory lifejacket rental. The cenote is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm daily.

Cenote Suytun is located about 15 minutes from Valladolid, so you easily drive, ride a bicycle, or catch a taxi. You can also buy tickets online here which gives includes your entrance fee as well as access to a lunch buffet for $20 USD.

Cenote Saamal 

Cenote Saamal is a vast open-air cenote with a 4.5 meter (15 foot) cliff to jump off into the refreshing waters. This cenote is slightly off the beaten path, so it’s ideal if you’re looking for a less busy cenote experience.

The limestone shelf surrounding the water is home to many bats and swallows. The water here is really cool – perfect on a hot day. After your swim, there’s an on-site buffet-style restaurant with delicious food. 

Cenote Saamal is located about 15 minutes from Valladolid. You can hire bicycles for 150 MXN ($9 USD) per day per person, catch a taxi, or go by bus.  

Cenote Zaci  

Bailey in a cenote in Valladolid in Mexico
Such a refreshing way to cool off!
Bailey swims in a cenote in Valladolid, Mexico
Just floating around!

Cenote Zaci is a stunning open-air cenote that is located right in the center of Valladolid! As it’s in town, you can easily walk here if you’re staying in Valladolid, so this makes it a convenient spot to visit.

Once you’re here, the swimming is awesome, and brave cliff jumpers can take the leap off the edge. There is also a fabulous restaurant on-site to enjoy a meal after exploring the cenote. 

Entrance is 30 MXN ($1.75 USD) per person, making it excellent for budget travelers or if you want to come more than once. 

Cenote Maya Native Park  

Cenote Maya is the biggest vaulted cenote in Mexico and is truly magnificent. The water is so clear, you can see right to the bottom!

There is so much to do here too, from jumping off two ledges at different heights, floating on tubes, and exploring on a kayak, or ziplining. 

A visit to Cenote Maya is an opportunity to learn more about the sacred ways of the Maya people. Including a ritual with a Maya shaman. In addition, the authentic food is outstanding. 

Cenote Maya is located about 40 minutes from Valladolid. If you come via bus or taxi, the entrance is 500 MXN ($29 USD) and includes life jackets and ziplining into the cenote.  

You can also buy a tour package online that includes entrance to the cenote and adventure park as well as getting to participate in a Mayan blessing ceremony and eat a traditional lunch buffet with organic vegetables. Tickets are $59 USD per person.

Cenote Bike Tour Option:

Give your feet a break and go on a cenote bike tour to enjoy the scenery and cool off at some incredible natural pools. You’ll visit two different cenotes, travel on paths surrounded by stunning flora and fauna, visit the local market, and prepare traditional food with the locals in Valladolid. The guides are really awesome and highly knowledgeable. Definitely, well worth the $79 USD!

Related Read: If you think jumping off a small cliff into a cenote is scary, check out the legendary cliff divers while you’re visiting Acapulco, Mexico!

2. Explore Chichen Itza

Bailey poses for a photo at Chichen Itza with the main temple in the background
Chichen Itza!
Bailey stands at the Group of the Thousand Columns which is part of the Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza
Group of the Thousand Columns.

Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Mexico is to see the Mayan site of Chichen Itza. Luckily, this attraction is located very close to Valladolid at about a 40-minute drive.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World is a bucket list place to visit and a must for those visiting Valladolid! Before you go, make sure to read our complete guide to Chichen Itza for all our tips and tricks!

The archeological site is most well known as the home of El Castillo – the main temple at the site. It’s a true show of the Mayan peoples’ knowledge of the earth and planets.

Chichen Itza is also home to The Great Ball Court. This is the largest in Mesoamerica and is 168 x 70 meters (551 x 230 feet). The game played here was called Pitz. Overall, it’s one of the coolest sites I have visited and a must-do activity while you’re staying in Valladolid.

Getting to Chichen Itza is best done either with a rental car or on an organized tour. If you can drive yourself, it’s about 40 minutes each way. The entrance fee for basic admission is 614 MXN ($35 USD) and the site is open from 8 am to 5 pm. If you’re looking to be super organized before you leave, it’s a good idea to book your tickets in advance on their website.

In terms of a guided tour, this particular experience is perfect! It includes hotel pick-up and drop-off in Valladolid. You’ll get a guided tour around Chichen Itza before cooling off in a cenote and then visiting Izamal (the “yellow” city!) On top of being a fun day full of adventure, the tour has only 5-star reviews!

Related Read: If you’re staying nearby, check out the spectacular Chichen Itza Night Show! The ruins are beautiful at night and the site isn’t nearly as busy as during the day.

3. Learn about chocolate at Choco-Story  

Display at the Choco-Story museum in Valladolid
Display at the Choco-Story museum in Valladolid
Bailey browses chocolate at Choco-Story in Valladolid
The chocolate was really good!

I can’t imagine my life without chocolate! A visit to Choco-Story takes you on a delicious journey into the history of the Mayan culture and cocoa.  

This chocolate lover’s paradise is located in the heart of Valladolid and has 12 different rooms to wander through. You’ll learn a lot about cocoa and gain a deep appreciation for this treat we all love. 

You’ll take a self-guided tour around the museum for about 30-45 minutes and the displays have multiple languages available including English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and Russian. 

Adult fees are 180 MXN ($10.50 USD), and there are discounts for students, seniors, and children. The best part is the chocolate tasting at the end! Their hours are daily from 9 am to 7:30 pm.

Note: If you don’t want to visit the museum, you can still visit the storefront and buy some tasty chocolate!

4. Go on a free walking tour

Main plaza with views of the cathedral in Valladolid, Mexico
Main plaza with views of the cathedral in Valladolid, Mexico

Yes, you read correctly, you don’t have to spend a lot to experience this city! This free walking tour of Valladolid is a great way to see and learn about this colonial city.  

Some of the best local experts and storytellers will share their knowledge with you as you learn about the history, lifestyle, and culture of Valladolid and its people. It’s a fun experience with lots of laughs and a great way to meet locals and fellow travelers. 

Daily tours depart from the Central Plaza at 10 am, 5 pm, 6 pm, and 7 pm. All you need to do is look out for the red umbrellas, and off you go! 

Note: It’s important to tip your guide on any free walking tour. The guides rely on tips for their wage, so be generous!

5. Visit Zona Arqueológica de Ek Balam  

Mayan archeological site of Ek Balam in Valladolid, Mexico
Chichen Itza isn’t the only ruins to see!

The ancient Mayan ruins of Zona Arqueologica de Ek Balam are a treasured historic site without the crowds of Chichen Itza. You are also still allowed to climb the pyramid here all the way to the top (you can’t climb the ruins at Chichen Itza), and the view is incredible!

Recently excavated and restored, exploring and learning about this Mayan village with its temple and pyramid is one of those must-do Valladolid activities.  

These ruins are located 35 minutes from Valladolid. You can drive yourself or buses leave every hour and cost 50 MXN ($3 USD); a taxi is approximately 350 MXN ($20 USD).  

The entrance fee to the site is around 420 MXN per person ($24.50 USD), and a private guide is approximately 700 MXN ($41 USD). These costs may be higher compared to other ruin visits in Mexico, but it is worth every cent! 

If you want to visit on a guided tour, you can join this combo tour from Valladolid. It includes hotel pick-up/drop-off, and besides visiting Ek Balam, you’ll also visit Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas (next on this list!) It’s a great full-day tour that really checks off a couple of the best things to do in Valladolid in one go.

Whichever way you choose to visit, Ek Balm is one of the best Mayan ruins to visit in all of Mexico!

6. Visit Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas 

Las Coloradas pink lake, Mexico
Las Coloradas! How cool is the color?!

It’s all about the color pink when you visit Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas lakes! 

Rio Lagartos is a small fishing village about 1.5 hours from Valladolid. It’s part of a huge protected area along the coast of the Yucatan Penisula.

This area is teeming with wildlife with an incredible 400 species of birds. Not surprisingly, the exquisite pink flamingos steal the show! This is the densest concentration of flamingos in the entire country. You’ll find flamingos here all year round, but the best time is from March to June when you’ll see hundreds!

Not far from the village (about 30 minutes) you’ll find Los Coloradas. These salt flats have been created by a salt extraction company nearby and can be pretty cool up close. Make sure to have your camera ready, because the stunning pink lakes make for amazing photos!

The vibrant shade of pink is due to the types of algae, plankton, and shrimp that like to live in these salty waters. The best time to visit the pink lakes is on a sunny day around 12-2 pm. If it’s cloudy or rainy (or has rained recently), the lakes can be a bit browner and not look nearly as pink.

Entrance to Los Coloradas is 75 MXN ($4 USD). While you used to be able to swim or walk in these lakes, you can’t anymore. They became so crowded with people that it was interfering with the wildlife and the lakes were losing that trademark pink color.

Another great way to think pink while you’re in the area is with this day tour to Rio Lagartos that combines the best sites and transportation from Valladolid. We loved the boat tour around Rio Lagartos to spot flamingos and crocodiles, the stop at the pink lakes for photos, and the ruins at Ek Balam. Three incredible sites in one day for $179 USD!

Related Read: While you can’t swim in the pink lakes, make sure you check out all the amazing beaches near Cancun where you can take a dip!

 7. Valladolid Mayan bees tour 

honey at Xkopek Beekeeping Park in Valladolid, Mexico
Photo credit: Xkopek, parque apícola.
honey tasting at Xkopek Beekeeping Park in Valladolid, Mexico
Photo credit: Xkopek, parque apícola.

The Mayan culture has always had a deep understanding and respect for bees. Nowadays, bee awareness is spreading as they play such a vital role in our ecosystem. Plus, their sweet honey is not only a tasty treat but carries substantial medicinal properties that the Maya people used to help with the treatment of diseases and infections.

The Xkopek Beekeeping Park is where you can see these tiny little creatures at work. It’s a short 5-minute drive from central Valladolid.

This unique place is buzzing with several species of native bees. During this bee tour, you begin by descending a staircase into a stunning dry cenote. Here you’ll see bees in their natural environment and get a close-up look through viewing boxes to see the inside of the hives.

Your guide is a passionate and knowledgeable Mayan beekeeper who will tell you all about honey production and facts about the bees – including that these bees don’t sting. Good to know! At one point, your guide will even open a beehive, so you can get an up-close-and-personal glimpse into life as a bee.

The experience ends with a honey tasting, so you can see why these bees have been working so hard. You’ll truly look at this golden liquid and bees in a different light after this tour.

The tour is under $17 USD and lasts for about 1.5 hours. It also includes lunch! You can book it easily online here!

8. Zoologico Valladolid

Zoologico Valladolid, Mexico
Come learn about the local wildlife!

This small zoo is actually a wildlife reserve located just outside Valladolid.

Zoologico Valladolid is a sanctuary to come and see animals and plants from the Yucatan Peninsula. There’s a big alligator pool, a large bird enclosure, lots of monkeys, and even jaguars. Kids will love the farm animals here too and the opportunity to feed some of the animals like the friendly goats!

I will say it is on the smaller side for a zoo, so don’t build your expectations up too high.

Because this is a smaller facility, it doesn’t tend to get very busy. If you head here on a weekday morning, you can be among the only people there! Plus, it’s best to come early in the morning before the heat of the day sets in as you’ll be walking around a lot and you’ll want to see the animals before they hide to escape the heat.

Besides seeing the animals, there are other activities, so you can plan to stay awhile. There’s a lake to paddle on, mini golf, a restaurant, and campsites available.

Entrance to the zoo is 150 MXN ($8.70 USD) per person.

9. Eat Mayan cuisine at IX CAT IK  

Corn tortilla scrambled egg Oop waaj at IX CAT IK in Valladolid, Mexico
Photo credit: https://ixcatik.mx/menu/
Kuum Steamed local pumpkin at IX CAT IK in Valladolid, Mexico
Photo credit: https://ixcatik.mx/menu/

IX CAT IK is a restaurant offering unique and delicious authentic Mayan food in the heart of Valladolid. 

The setting is gorgeous. You’ll feel as though you have been transported somewhere else with the fantastic decorations, greenery, and even live music. The servers here go out of their way to create a memorable experience.  

IX CAT IK uses local ingredients and vegetables from their garden and prepares all the meals from scratch. The Kuum steamed pumpkin is a popular dish and is super yummy. Remember to order a Mayan chocolate dessert for a little bit of chocolate heaven! 

They also offer a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails. The Mango Daisy is sublime, and the Pina Colada has a terrific coconut kick.  

We loved the warm and hospitable atmosphere, and the presentation of the dishes was a work of art. Very colorful and bursting with distinctive traditional flavors! 

A quick 5-minute drive from the center of Valladolid gets you there, and you can expect to pay around 195 – 385 MXN ($11-22 USD) for a main.  

Certainly, one of the best meal experiences we have had on our travels through Mexico! 

10. Go on a bike tour 

Our bike on a bike tour in Valladolid, Mexico
Exploring by bike is fun!

Hop on a bike to explore Valladolid and cover more ground!

On this cenote bike tour, you’ll pedal to 2 sacred cenotes around the city. It’s a blast to ride with fellow travelers on a sunny day and then cool off in the refreshing waters.

The tour departs from this meeting point close to the central plaza at 8:15 am and takes about 8 to 9 hours. Your first stop is a 35-minute bike ride to a local market where you can buy some fresh fruit for the day ahead. After that, you’ll head across to Cenote Xkeken where you can have a swim and cool off. And that’s just the start!

Your guides make sure you have a safe journey and have heaps of fun. Furthermore, they give you more than enough time to explore the cenotes. The tour is $79 USD per person and can be booked online here.

11. Drink with the locals at La Joyita Cantina

Bailey enjoys a drink at La Joyita Cantina in Valladolid, Mexico
It’s so cool to hang with the locals!
Beer and traditional bar snack at La Joyita Cantina in Valladolid, Mexico
The free bar snack!

One of our favorite local finds in Valladolid was La Joyita Cantina, a cozy but lively bar that’s right in the heart of town. This authentic cantina is the perfect place to sip cheap beers while sitting next to locals and practicing your Spanish!

When we visited, the friendly bartenders kept surprising us with different bar snacks like slices of orange with chili-lime salt to see if we liked them. It’s definitely not one of those touristy bars you’ll find in many tourist towns in Mexico – La Joyita is a true local favorite that warmly welcomes visitors.

The cantina has a casual, energetic vibe and gets quite lively later at night. So if you want an authentic and affordable night out mingling with residents, La Joyita Cantina is a must-visit while in Valladolid! The bar is open from 12 pm to 10 pm daily.

12. Wander down Calzada de los Frailes

Bailey walks past a cute building along Calzada de los Frailes in Valladolid, Mexico
So cute!
Bailey walks down the cute street of Calzada de los Frailes in Valladolid, Mexico
It’s so photogenic!

When you are in the mood for a stroll in the city of Valladolid, wander down the Calzada de los Frailes

This renowned picture-perfect cobble street built in the 16th Century connects Valladolid to the popular Sisal neighborhood. Today, travelers frequent this Valladolid attraction to explore the colorful buildings and several shops. 

Delightful cafés and fabulous restaurants are along here offering delicious meals and treats. We took our time exploring, and I could not help but notice some of the doors on the buildings. Just beautiful!  

There are some stunning boutique hotels to consider if you want to stay right on this street in the middle of the action.

Noticeably, some of the price tags in the shops along here are pretty high – probably due to the popularity of the street. With this said, you can always browse or treat yourself! 

We love that you can walk down a street without cars. The quiet adds to the charm this street has to offer. So, when you need a break from nature adventures in Valladolid, Calzada de los Frailes is a perfect choice! 

13. Visit the Convent of San Bernardino  

Convent of San Bernardino in Valladolid, Mexico
Convent of San Bernardino in Valladolid, Mexico
Bailey explores the Convent of San Bernardino in Valladolid
It’s an interesting building!

The Convent of San Bernardino plays a vital role in the history of Mexico. Constructed between 1552 and 1560, it represents the Spanish conquest and the Christianization of the Maya region. Located in the Sisal neighborhood, it is a stunning convent to explore. An admission fee of 40 MXN ($2.30 USD) per person gets you in.  

The interior is relatively plain. However, recently discovered 16th-century frescoes have raised questions about why they were hidden from view. Fascinating! 

You can visit the museum on the premises, and there is a massive park outside for children to run and play. 

Views from the top of the Convent of San Bernardino in Valladolid, mexico
Views from the top of the Convent of San Bernardino in Valladolid, mexico

The best part is the Sound and Light Show. It tells the story of the convent in a bright and beautiful way in the evenings. The show takes place Tuesday through Sunday at 9:30 pm in English and is free!  

After our wander through the Calzada de los Frailes, we popped past to watch the show. It is only 20 minutes long and well worth it! 

Tip: This is a place of worship, so wearing appropriate attire is required. 

14. Get a photo with the Valladolid sign 

Bailey poses for a photo with the Valladolid Sign
it’s a beautiful sign!

One thing we always do on our travels around Mexico is a photo by the city sign. I get super excited when I arrive in a new city and see these signs. They are so bright and colorful!

Valladolid is referred to as a “Pueblo Magico”, meaning magical town and after wandering around here, you’ll see why. All Pueblo Magicos in Mexico have these colorful signs that are just begging for a photo-op! Prove you were here by posing for a quick photo.

You can find the Valladolid sign at the end of the Calzada de los Frailes, next to the Convent of San Bernardino. 

So, get some happy snaps in and make some memories! 

15. Eat at Elela Organic Vegan Cafe and Restaurant

Bailey with her food at Elela Organic Vegan Cafe and Restaurant
Yum!
vegan meal at Elela Organic Vegan Cafe and Restaurant
How good does that look!?

One of the best meals we had in Valladolid was at the tiny but mighty Elela Organic Vegan Cafe and Restaurant. Even as non-vegans, we absolutely loved everything we tried here. The dishes burst with colorful vegetables, spices, and textures – like their famous Spanish omelet made with ibes and papa that comes with sautéed veggies. At just 144 MXN ($8 USD), it was such a delicious and affordable meal!

While we didn’t try them ourselves, I’ve heard that their tacos and burgers truly rival any non-vegan version, again showing how skilled they are at preparing some seriously flavorful meatless meals. Many of the ingredients used come straight from the owner’s organic farm, making the food extra fresh.

Be sure to leave room for the mind-blowing sesame ice cream – it’s so good we kept coming back for more! Elela is a must-try in Valladolid for vegans and non-vegans alike. It was one of our favorite discoveries in town, and I’m sure it’ll be one of yours too.

You’ll find Elela right across from Valladolid’s Instagram-famous sign, and they’re open from 8 am to 10 pm daily but are closed on Wednesdays.

16. Get ice cream at Wabi Gelato 

Ice cream at Wabi Gelato in Valladolid, Mexico
Photo credit: Wabi Gelato
Fior di latte with amarena at Wabi Gelato in Valladolid, Mexico
Photo credit: Wabi Gelato

Calling all ice cream lovers! There is nothing like an expertly made gelato on a hot Mexican day. 

Wabi Gelato is located in the heart of Valladolid, so you may find it difficult not to pop in daily! The owner is well known for his bubbly and friendly personality, and he’ll make your day while you’re visiting this cute ice cream shop.  

Naturally, the chocolate gelato is fit for a Mayan king! There is an incredible assortment of flavors, such as pistachio, almond, pineapple-cilantro, and salted caramel. One of my favorites is the lime and habanero – a deliciously smooth and spicy gelato. The menu changes daily, so you’ll always have some new combinations to try.

You can expect to pay around 50 MXN ($3 USD) for the most scrumptious ice cream treats that taste like they belong in Italy. We met some travelers who made a detour via Valladolid just to get gelato from here!

So, swing by to discover a world of pure gelato indulgence. 

17. Go birding 

Blackburnian warbler in Valladolid, Mexico
Blackburnian warbler in Valladolid, Mexico

You don’t have to be a keen bird watcher to enjoy this fantastic opportunity while you’re checking out all the things to do in Valladolid. The Yucatan Peninsula has around 700 bird species! The Maya have a deep connection and respect for nature and strive to inform others about the importance of our feathered friends.

To learn more not only from the cultural side, but also from an ecological and conservation point of view, this great Mayan birding tour fits the bill. The guide, Ichi, is passionate about birds. He is a master at spotting them (he knows every bird’s song or call!), alongside a wealth of knowledge in the Mayan culture connection and conservation.

Together you explore the Yucatan surroundings in search of as many birds as possible. Ichi oozes excitement and enthusiasm every time we spot a bird. He is a super person and makes this tour so exciting and fun. Moreover, if you are a budding photographer, you are in for some incredible shots. 

The meeting point is in the center of Valladolid. Alternatively, you can arrange for a pick-up. You are welcome to bring your binoculars, but there are some available alongside tea and coffee as part of the tour. Rates start from $120 USD per person. You can easily book this Mayan birding tour online here.

18. Eat homemade ravioli at San Giovanni Trattoria

Bailey enjoys a pasta at San Giovanni Trattoria in Valladolid
Cheers to good pasta!
ravioli at San Giovanni Trattoria in Valladolid
Seriously how good does that look?

Tucked away just a couple of blocks from the main plaza in Valladolid is a cozy family-run restaurant called San Giovanni Trattoria, which serves up some of the best homemade pasta we’ve tasted this side of Mexico. We couldn’t resist sampling a few of their incredible homemade ravioli dishes – the chef is the mother of the family, and she takes great pride in her food – she even came out to ensure we were happy with everything!

The courtyard out back is like its own tranquil oasis away from the hectic streets, with lush plants and twinkling fairy lights. Perfect for lingering over a bottle of wine! Dan and I loved the intimate, authentic atmosphere and fantastic flavors – and when the raviolis with all sorts of tasty fillings came shortly after ordering, they were fantastic.

From the warm welcome to the thoughtful decor touches to the delicious pasta, it’s clear this trattoria puts love into their food. Just be sure to come hungry and ready to try several dishes. Just note they are cash only, so make sure to bring a little on hand with you.

San Giovanni is open from 1:30 pm to 10:30 pm Monday to Sunday.

19. Join a cooking class 

traditional cuisine at México Lindo Cooking in Valladolid, Mexico
Photo credit: México Lindo Cooking

I love food, especially the spices and flavors of Mexican cuisine. When I found out about this cooking class, I had to participate! 

The class is highly interactive, which is perfect to brush up on your skills or learn something completely new in the kitchen. In fact, it’s one of the best tours in the Yucatan!

You begin by exploring the local market to gather all the necessary ingredients and snacks. Then, you return to the traditional kitchen at a private cooking school, where your hands-on experience begins with an expert chef. You’ll learn all the secrets of authentic Mayan cuisine alongside traditional cooking methods.

This delicious 6-course meal consists of appetizers, main dishes, and decadent desserts. I loved sitting with my fellow class participants and eating all the food we prepared together. Truly scrumptious! Moreover, the group is small, making this an incredibly intimate experience.  

The class takes place in central Valladolid and begins at 10 am. It’s $95 USD per person and includes your meal, of course, as well as soft drinks, two beers, and a tequila shot. How fantastic! You can book your spot online here!

I can’t wait to use the skills I learned to treat my family and friends to some Mexican cuisine.

20. Relax in Parque Principal Francisco Cantón Rosado  

Main plaza in Valladolid, mexico
Parque Principal Francisco Cantón Rosado  

After so many tours and adventures around Valladolid, you’ll need a little time to relax at some point! 

A visit to the Parque Principal Francisco Canton Rosado, located in the central square, is a great choice. The park is the main square in the center of town, and has a distinct Spanish influence, made apparent by the gorgeous fountain and fancy benches. The statue in the center of the fountain is an homage to the Yucatec women of Spanish and Mayan cultures.

There are so many beautiful trees for shade from the sun and this is a fabulous spot to read a book on a bench or do some people-watching. It is in the middle of the hustle and bustle, yet, there is a calm and tranquil atmosphere while you’re here. We love to hang out here and plan our next tour or travel routes.

There are also lots of different market stalls that set up here, and you might even be lucky and see some live entertainment! We stopped by one evening and happened to see some traditional dancers. Plus, as the park is so central, you can easily reach nearby shops, restaurants, museums, and more.

21. Visit Casa de los Venados  

inside Casa de los Venados in Valladolid, Mexico
Photo credit: http://www.casadelosvenados.com/

Casa de los Venados owners, John and Dorianne, share their life’s journey and passion for art in this private museum in their house. They open their home daily for you to view the most extensive private collection of museum-quality Mexican folk art.  

There are more than 3,000 various pieces including sculptures, statues, and furniture, to name a few. Exquisite paintings adorn the walls, and some of the walls have Mexican-inspired murals.  

Mexican art is all about color, and there is no shortage here! Each piece is unique, diverse, and intricate.

Located in the heart of Valladolid, tours are available every day at 10 am. No reservation is required, and the requested donation of 100 MXN ($6 USD) goes to local charities.  

When you leave Casa de Los Venados, you cannot help but have a considerable appreciation for Mexican art.

22. Eat authentic tacos at Sabrositacos 

al pastor tacos
Al Pastor!

You know the food is excellent when you see locals and travelers flock to a restaurant. Sabrositacos is the spot for some of the best authentic Mexican cuisine in Valladolid. 

The décor is simple, and there is nothing flashy about the food presentation. However, the ingredients are super fresh, and the flavors are amazing! 

The menu has all your Mexican favorites, like quesadillas and tortas. What you really want to order here though are the fantastic tacos! The tacos have a variety of fillings, including chicken, pork, and vegetarian options. All are marinated with spicy sauce and topped with garden-fresh vegetables. A burst of flavor with every bite! 

Also, I ordered some excellent nachos to start. It was a generous portion, and the guacamole was delicious. 

You can expect to pay around 23 MXN or about $1 USD for a taco here – excellent value for money! Wash your tacos down with a refreshing beer, and you will be more than satisfied. 

This is a popular spot, so you may have to wait a while for your meal. Be patient; it is worth the wait!

Related Read: If you aren’t too full, make sure to save room to eat at one (or more!) of the best restaurants in Cancun!

23. Visit the Museo San Roque  

Museo San Roque in Valladolid
Museo San Roque in Valladolid

The Museo San Roque is a small but mighty museum that showcases some of the astonishing beauty that Mayan culture has to offer. Located near the central square, the museum has all sorts of displays, from exquisite tapestry-like murals that depict Mexican history and Mayan culture to an assortment of astonishing archeological artifacts.  

Every piece is beautifully displayed, although the exhibits here only have Spanish labels. The building is a gorgeous old church with a tranquil garden at the back to escape the busy streets. 

Entrance is free, and a guide is available to take you around if you wish. So, when wandering the streets of Valladolid, be sure to pop into this fabulous spot! 

Related Read: Learning some Spanish can help with museums like this or even ordering tacos! One of the cheapest places to learn Spanish is in Mexico City.

Where to Stay in Valladolid

the outdoor pool and courtyard at Le Muuch Hotel
Photo Credit: Le Muuch Hotel
the garden at Le Muuch Hotel
Photo Credit: Le Muuch Hotel

The Yucatán Peninsula will steal your heart, and Valladolid is a great base to explore it. You’ll want to stay at least a few days to explore the city itself and the surrounding area of incredible ruins and magical cenotes.

You definitely don’t need to break the bank to stay here as there are tons of budget and mid-range accommodations. Don’t get me wrong though, you can still find gorgeous luxury spots here too!

These are our top picks for various price ranges, so you can book your getaway to Valladolid!

Hotel Casa Bamboo – $

This affordable oasis has a lot going for it, from the price to the location! Hotel Casa Bamboo is close to the center of Valladolid, so you can easily walk to see the best sights. The rooms are spacious and clean and there’s a cute pool too. The hotel is super close to the bus station, which is great if you’re planning a few day trips while you’re here. Rooms here are around $40 USD nightly.

Hotel Fundadores – $$

Easily within walking distance to explore the center of Valladolid, Hotel Fundadores is a beautiful hotel with spacious rooms. You can get a junior suite with a private balcony here for around $60 USD! Cool off in the hotel pool and enjoy the colonial-style building around you or take a walk through the nice courtyard. This is a great option for families who want a bit more space but still want to be centrally located.

Le Muuch Hotel Boutique – $$$

Located right in the historic center of Valladolid, Le Muuch Hotel Boutique has that touch of luxury to make your stay extra special. There are gorgeous gardens and terraces, two pools, and incredible staff to help you during your stay. The included breakfasts are scrumptious, and the cocktails served here are really good too. You’re looking at $150-200 USD per night to stay here.

Renting a Car in Mexico

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while driving around Mexico
A rental car means freedom to go to the beach whenever you want!

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car. 

I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically. 

I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend. 

The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too. 

Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit. 

Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper! 

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie in Valladolid, Mexico
Thanks for reading!

Valladolid is a colonial city with so much to discover, it’s just calling your name! We love how close it is to some of the best cenotes in Mexico and the spectacular Mayan ruins. But as you can see, there’s also lots to discover right in town before you venture out of it.

Hopefully, you’ll add a stop to Valladolid to your travels while you’re in Mexico. Take a look around at our other Mexico blogs for more ideas and inspiration. We’ve visited and lived in Mexico a lot over the years and have tons of secrets to share and spots to recommend.

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