VALLADOLID, A MAGIC TOWN IN THE SOUTH OF MÉXICO
Valladolid is a city in the Mexican state of Yucatán, located in the south. It became a part of the Mexican tourism department's Pueblo Mágico promotional initiative since 2012.
Way before this time, on May 27, 1543, the first Valladolid in Yucatán was founded by Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Montejo's nephew at a lagoon called Chouac-Ha in the municipality of Tizimin, some distance from the current town. Early Spanish settlers, however, protested to the city's original location because of the mosquitos and humidity, and petitioned to have it moved further inland. Valladolid was moved to its current location on March 24, 1545 and was built atop a Maya town called Zaci or Zaci-Val, whose buildings were dismantled and the stones reused to build the Spanish colonial town. The Maya revolted the following year but were crushed by additional Spanish troops dispatched from Mérida.
Valladolid was the third largest and most important city on the Yucatán Peninsula (after Mérida and Campeche) until the turn of the twentieth century. It had a sizable well-to-do Criollo population, and the old city had a number of old Spanish-style mansions. The Sultana of the East was a popular nickname for Valladolid.
This modest wonderful small town is great for a brief escape from the crowds, a stop on your road to Merida, or even a 1 night 2-day adventure out of Cancun because it is just 2 hours from Merida and 2 hours from Cancun.
History, wonderful food, gorgeous natural landscapes, and amazing picture possibilities abound in this little town. So, ahead, you will discover my recommendations for the best places to see and activities to do in Valladolid.
GO FOR A WALK AROUND TOWN
The entire downtown area is walkable, and I recommend following this schedule to see all of Valladolid's must-see attractions:
Begin by unwinding in this little park, which has comfortable benches, street cuisine, and a view of the beautiful Iglesias de San Gervacio. Around this beautiful park you can find small restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and stores.
2. Calle de los frailes
Then continue going along what I like to call Valladolid's "5th Avenue," which is lined with trendy boutique hotels and restaurants, quaint café shops, and photo opportunities everywhere!
3. Ex Convento de San Bernadino de Sienna
Finish with a visit to this former nun monastery, which is currently closed due to COVID, but if the outside is as beautiful, I can only image how beautiful the inside is. There is also a light display at night, and it is surrounded by beautiful cafes and restaurants.
EXTRA: In most Mexican towns, the tourist department has placed these colorful letters for tourists to photograph with the place's name. The letters of Valladolid are directly in front of the convent.
Swimming in Cenotes (natural pits or sinkholes formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock exposing groundwater) is one of my favorite things to do in Valladolid. If you look online, there are so many options!; just like if you’re looking for a pizza place in New York. Don't be intimidated; they're all wonderful and have their own unique touch. Here is a rundown of the four cenotes I recently visited:
This cenote is a short distance from the main plaza central. It is located in the heart of the city. You have two options for getting into this cenote: pay 30 pesos per person or eat at the restaurant and get in for free (which is what I did, beers are cold, and food is delicious).
2. Cenote Suytun
I must admit, because to social media, I have grown a little attached to going to the "cool" areas to take photographs in every new location I visit and do not get me wrong, I am not a blogger or a model, and I have no intention of becoming either. But, because of social media, it has become a new kind of "magazine" on where to go. So, the main reason I wanted to see this cenote was because of the wonderful photos I had seen on the internet. This location is barely 10 minutes from town and is such a popular attraction that large buses and automobiles were coming in and out every few minutes, but “thanks to COVID,” they only let a set number of people into the cenote for a maximum of 1 hour. It was also inundated due to the recent rainy season; therefore, life jackets were required. So join me in by searching on Instagram to see my "failure" of photo. And please understand that this is simply me joking about how social media is not always accurate and that I swear images do not do this location justice.
The cenote's standard admission fee is 150 pesos per person (a 250 pesos per person lunch option is also available). It provides you access to a second cenote with the standard entrance fee. Here is the image:
3. Cenote SACUA
Located 45 minutes from town (rent a vehicle or take a cab), the admission fee is 190 pesos per person and includes a guided tour of a cave and this magnificent cenote. So, I have to say, I've always disliked crowds, even before the pandemic. So, I was overjoyed that I had discovered this cenote for us.
We began with a guided tour of the cave, where there were still traces of Mayan civilization and archaeologists have not yet completed their investigation. I am speechless!
Then we went to rehydrate ourselves at a location where you can swim and rent kayaks for free.
4. Cenote Secreto Maya
This location was not on my list, but as we exited cenote SACUA, we noticed some signs and decided to give it a try; it was just 20 minutes away and well worth the trip.
They provide cabanas for an additional fee if you want to stay the night, a little restaurant, hammocks, and really good bathrooms. The cenote's surrounds have a lovely natural arrangement.
It was actually incredible; you could see how the tree roots reached the water, you could jump from a rope if you wanted to, and they provided life jackets and floaties if needed. Even though there was only one other family in the room with us, it felt extremely private.
Observations and suggestions
Regardless of when you plan to visit Valladolid, I strongly advise packing insect spray, a sun hat and water-resistant clothing. If you are visiting the cenotes, avoid using sunscreen because it pollutes the water.
Always carry a day to go Chuupul bag with you that can accommodate your camera, towel, change of clothing, and any other essentials.
Good luck on your journey!