Valladolid is located in the Yucatan state of Mexico, which is known for its natural beauty, thousands of cenotes and the iconic Chichen Itza. Most people who visit Valladolid only go there for a day trip, but it is definitely worth staying for a couple of days. There is so much to do in Valladolid and to prove it, I’ve created this post on the best things to do in Valladolid, Mexico!
It’s probably one of my most favourite places in Mexico due to its cobbled streets, cute coffee shops, restaurants and delicious food!
And actually, it wasn’t even on Bradley and I’s radar until we met a woman in Guatemala who suggested we definitely go and thank gosh we did!
The best time to visit Mexico in general is during November to March/April. Bradley and I visited in March and Valladolid was perfect!
It was a wonderful temperature, no rain and everything was open and ready to see.
In order to gain the most from your trip to Valladolid in Mexico, I recommend you stay at least 2 nights. You could easily stretch to 3 nights and that’s how long Bradley and I stayed.
We found it to be the perfect amount to see all the top things to do in Valladolid, and day trips to nearby cenotes and of course, Chichken Itza.
When it comes to hotels in Valladolid, you’re truly spoilt for choice. There is something to suit the budget backpacker and those with a comfortable budget!
Bradley and I choose to stay in Gayser Apartments as we liked the idea of having our own space to cook (Although we didn’t cook much in the end- food is cheap!). But the apartments are lovely and I can highly recommend them. It’s only a 10 minute walk to the centre of town.
I’ve also included 3 other hotels in Valladolid that I think are great. I came across them whilst researching where to stay in Valladolid myself.
Read More: Where To Stay In Valladolid
If you’re coming from Mexico City, Canun, Tulum or Playa Del Carmen, then the best way to get to Valladolid is via the ADO bus. It’s not expensive and it's a comfortable journey.
You can check the ADO website for bus timings, but you cannot book your tickets online unless you have a Mexican credit card.
Alternatively, car rental in Mexico is super cheap, so I would recommend renting a car for a couple of days and heading to Valladolid, then you can use it to discover other coastal resorts of Mexico!
I use booking.com for my car rental needs!
Tours: If you are coming from Cancun or Playa Del Carmen then you’ll be given the option of a day trip to Valladolid. Whilst I think it’s better to stay a few days, if you’ve only got a day spare, then I think it’s still worth visiting. Lots of the trips will combine them with a trip to Chichen Itza.
Avoid buying tours in Cancun or Playa del carmen as all they do will try to rip you off. I think buying online is better and below are a couple of tours which look good from Get Your Guide!
I use Get Your Guide or Viator for tours simply because I hate people trying to rip me off. If you don’t want to book via an online tour then that’s fair enough, but I do suggest you look at what the price of a tour should be, so when someone is quoting you at an agency or on the street, you know what’s a fair price.
So if it tends to be around $40-50 online, and someone is trying to sell it to you for $70-90, then you know they’re laughing behind your back.
Okay, so now for the part you came for: the top things to do in Valladolid.
Costing only a couple of dollars for entrance, this beautiful convent is worth a visit. It’s a lovely walk through cobbled streets to get there and if you go around lunch time, you may find you’ve got the place to yourself.
You can choose to go inside and explore the covenant itself.
There is also a small museum inside which explains the discovery of cenotes and items left behind in them underground which is pretty cool.
The grounds around the convent also house the classic “Valladolid” sign which is colourful and a little worn down, but of course you’ve got to get your picture taken there!
Cenote Zaci is the only cenote that’s basically in the town of Valladolid. No need to get transport there, you can easily walk.
It's a 10 minute walk from the town centre. There are many signs, or the tourist information centre provides really great maps (and free information) to help guide you!
You can also swim in this cenote if you wish, or just simply view from the platform. It costs 30 peso to enter which is about $1 ish.
If you do decide to swim or take pictures, please make sure you have something waterproof for your camera!
The main “square” in Valladolid is where all the tour buses stop and there is a little park in the centre which is super cute.
There is also a simple white fountain, which isn’t all that impressive, but it certainly adds to the
romantic atmosphere the little square exudes.
You can get an ice cream and lounge on one of the seats, or do what Bradley and I did which was buy a couple of sandwiches and drinks and create our own little picnic.
Speaking of the main square, dotted around them are a range of fabulous little restaurants. You’d think they’d be overpriced considering the location, but they are not.
They also serve up excellent Yuctan cuisine, which I absolutely loved!
Bradley and I dined in these ones so can recommend them:
If there is one thing I love, it's a cute coffee shop. Combine that with cobbled streets then you’ve stolen my heart.
What I love about the coffee shops in Valladolid is that they’re quirky, independent and serve great coffee.
We went to one with an awesome outdoor garden area, and another which served up delicious vegan and vegetarian cuisine.
There is so much choice so I suggest you wander and stumble across one you like.
We didn’t do this, but I did see it advertised at the Tourist information centre in the main plaza.
It’s an evening walking tour and it’s free (other than your tip you give). So if you want to find out more about Yuctan culture and Valladolid in general, then I think this is a really good option!
Valladolid is close to some amazing cenotes and I’ve written a whole post about them here including the fantastic Cenote Suytun which i’m sure you will recognise from social media.
Valladolid is a 10 minute (moped ride) away from Cenote Suytun and super close to many other cenotes in the area so it’s a brilliant place to base yourself.
You need about 2 days to see ALL the cenotes in the area, you’ll be surprised at how many there are.
Chichen Itza is a wonderful place to visit and if you’ve only got time to see one set of Mayan ruins in Mexico, then this is your choice.
It has to make the list of top things to do in Valladolid, because people associate the two of them so much!
Since it’s so popular, it’s STUPIDLY expensive and this is all for the sake of charging more money, because I’ve been to better ruins in Mexico and they are 1/12 of the costs!
Anyway, mini rant over. Tours to Chichen Itza can be expensive, so stay in Valladolid and either go there via moped (rental is $20 for 24 hours), or get the collectivos (shared mini buses) for a couple of pounds. These leave next to the bus station and leave quite frequently.
Or of course you can get a taxi or organised tour there. Either way up to you. Bradley and I visited via moped with a combined day of discovering cenotes and the drive was wonderful (until the rain started to pour from the heavens and even our little plastic raincoats couldn't save us haha)
If you want to avoid the crowds at Chichen Itza then I suggest you arrive as soon as it opens. We went about an hour before it closed (thinking that would reduce the number of people) but it is still VERY BUSY!
If you want a picture of you and that famous pyramid without lots of people in it, then I suggest you use the far side of the temple as it’s a little more worn, so less people at it.
Also the one thing that kind of ruins the atmosphere at Chichen Itza is the thousands (perhaps a slight exaggeration for effect) of people selling the same crap. But it’s not the selling that bothers me, it’s trying to sell a piece of plastic to me for $30 when I’ve bought one before for $1, then acting shocked that I’ve even suggested that…..
I blame the people that have paid stupid amounts of money for bad quality stuff as it drives the price up for everyone else which then leads me into a haggling match I simply can’t win even a little..
Sorry if you’re one of those people...but you should have known better lol
Haven’t had a margarita in Mexico yet? Well, that’s basically a sin, so fix that with one of the great options on offer in Valladolid.
Head to the main square and there are little bars and restaurants serving up a nice selection of drinks.
If you don’t feel brave enough to rent a moped (Don’t blame you, I make Brad drive!), then you can easily rent bikes in Valladolid.
It’s such a bike friendly town and I think it’s a great idea to just get a bike and cycle around and see what you discover.
Renting a bike is also a great way to tick off the things to do in Valladolid list!
You may be surprised!
So there you go, my top 10 things to do in Valladolid. I hope that’s given you some inspiration for great activities to partake in on your trip.
Valladolid is pretty safe, we never had any issues and everyone was super friendly. Just be sensible, don’t flash the cash, don’t make yourself vulnerable etc and you should be just fine!
However, if you want to experience more of authentic Mexico (not the tourist illusion), then head up to my favourite place in Mexico: Palenque.
Just so you are aware, the time zone in Yucatan is one hour different from Cancun before daylight saving changes. So we basically got too late to our first bus and too early to our second because we were switching time zones so much. As of April, it’s all the same, but just be wary!
So there you go!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my post on the great things to do in Valladolid, Mexico! It’s truly a unique place and it’s one that will stay in your memory.
With amazing people, cheaper prices, beautiful sites, it will give you a different insight into Mexican life than the coastal resorts give.
Check out my full backpacking Mexico guide here.