Valladolid, located approximately half way between Riviera Maya cities and the capital city of Merida, is a colonial Yucatan city packed with historical, natural and cultural treasures. With a picturesque historical center, impressive cathedrals and a lively zocalo, it is definitely worth a stop to absorb the culture and colonial atmosphere.
In 1545, Valladolid was relocated from a position further north to its current location. the current city was built on top a Maya town called Zaci, whose buildings were dismantled to build the Spanish colonial town we see today. The Maya people revolted, but were no match for the Spanish troops from nearby Mérida. The city and the surrounding region was the scene of a bloody battle during Yucatán’s Caste War, which began in 1847 between the Maya people and the Spanish. The Latino forces were forced out of Valladolid in March 1848, with half being killed by ambush before they reached Mérida. The city was sacked by the Maya rebels but was recaptured again later in the war.
There is lots to do and see in Valladolid, but if you are there on a day trip here are our recommendations of historical sites you should visit.
San Servacio Church – The central square of the Valladolid is defined by the Cathedral of San Servacio. This was the first Spanish colonial church built in the area, but has since been rebuilt due to a Spanish invasions in the early 1700s. Whether you view the cathedral during the day or night, it is an impressive site!
Convent of San Bernardino Siena – A 10 minute walk from the city center will take you to the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena. The Convent is open to the public and worth the tour led by one of the resident nuns. The property has its own church, public square and quiet park areas.
Zaci Cenote and surrounding Yucatan fresh water caverns – Located a few blocks from the city center is Cenote Zaci, a large freshwater cenote or sinkhole. There is a small entry fee for this refreshing swim hole, which is well worth the ticket price. The restaurant next to the cenote is a great place for lunch with local Yucatecan dishes served daily.
Finish off your visit browsing through the local handicraft stores selling artisan souvenirs. Valladolid is a popular base for visiting nearby Mayan ruins such as Chichen Itza and Ek’ Balam. If you are searching for a quick trip to another cenote, Cenote Ik Kilso is located just 10 minutes outside the city limits on the way to Tizamin.
Valladolid is easily accessed from Cancun, Merida or the Riviera Maya. From the Riviera Maya, make your way to Tulum and the Coba road. At the famous Coba roundabout, take the turn off to Valladolid, an exit that is clearly marked and easy to follow. From Cancun, take the toll highway or free road heading west. Follow the highway signs to Valladolid, each route being a bit different depending on the highway you choose to take. If you want an adventure take the free road out of Cancun or the route through Tulum. If you are looking for a quick route, take the toll highway from Cancun. Note: toll roads in Mexico are expensive, so make sure this is how you want to go.