Valladolid – travel guide for the must visit places and best activities
After enjoying the water fun in the Caribbean Sea and the Bacalar Lagoon, we headed into the interior of the Yucatan Peninsula. Our goal is to visit several cenotes, one of the seven wonders of the world, Chichen Itzá, the yellow city of Izamal and Valladolid colonial architecture.
Our 3 days itineary for Valladolid
DAY 1 – cenote Oxman and Suytun
Early in the morning, we went to pick up the motorbike (I wrote to the Ko´ox Balak rental company in advance via WhatsApp to check availability) and then we went straight to Cenote Oxman. We wanted to be there as early as possible to beat the crowds and tour buses that start to arrive around 11 am.
This cenote became our favorite because it had beautiful blue water, we could swing and jump into the water and after having fun around in the cenote we had a drink (I recommend Paloma – an alcoholic drink with tequila and it is really tasty:D) and sunbathed by the pool. We spent about 2 hours here in total and it was great.
The best time to visit the cenote is as early as possible (it opens at 7 am). We arrived after 8 AM and were almost alone there. If you come later, around 11 am, you probably have to wait in line for the swing and it could be overcrowded in the water. The basic entrance fee to the Oxman cenote costs 150 MXN and they also offer various combo packages that include refreshments at a local restaurant, etc. The entrance fee also includes life jackets and we also paid extra for locker locks for keeping things (your own lockers are not allowed).
We got hungry in the cenote and the food in the restaurant there was quite expensive, so we got on the motorbike and drove back to Valladolid. Actually, we wanted some change, so we were looking for an alternative to Mexican food. Finally, we ended up at the vegan restaurant Cafeina, where Tom had a Burger (no comment :D) and I had pasta. It was a little out of our budget, but damn good.
This cenote is hidden in a stalactite cave and is truly beautiful. At the same time, it was one of the biggest disappointments for us. First of all, we had to stand in line for the photo below, and when the security lady felt that we were taking photos for too long (not even a minute), she started whistling at us to get out. Secondly, the water was so cold that we didn’t even want to swim in it for a long time. The cenote is entirely hidden in a cave with minimal sunlight, so it soon became cold for us. In summary, it’s a beautiful cenote, but there’s no fun 😀
DAY 2 – Chichen Itza and cenote Ik-kil
Chichen Itza is a must-visit place if you come to Yucatan Peninsula. This Mayan city ruin and archeological center is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and has a venerable history 🙂
How to get from Valladolid to Chichen Itza
There are several ways to get there. We decided to stay in Valladolid and drive from here on a rented scooter. The journey took us about an hour and was very boring as it is a flat road, with no hills or anything.
Another way to get there is by car. There is a paid parking lot right next to the monument, where you can park your car. This is probably the easiest and most convenient way. The third option is to take the bus – colectivos in Valladolid, which starts running at 7 am and goes every hour. It should cost around 40 MXN so it’s also the cheapest way. You can find the bus stop at Calle 39, between C.46 and C.48. Here is the exact address on Google Maps.
Well, if you don’t mind going with a tour, it’s also an option to visit this monument. In Valladolid, they are offered in the center on every corner. We went on our own, so, unfortunately, we don’t know the price.
Tips for visiting Chichen Itza
- Come really early in the morning – we got on the motorbike right at 7 am and drove to Chichen Itza to avoid the crowds and the peak heat around noon. Even though we arrived here before the beginning of the opening hours, we stood in line for tickets.
- Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat. There are a few trees, but most of the time you will be in direct sunlight and the heat was really exhausting!
- Tripods or drones are not allowed in Chichen Itza area.
We couldn´t wait to cool down after the crazy heat weather. That’s why we decided to go to the nearby cenote Ik-Kil. The entrance fee was 150 MXN and it’s very touristy, but we still enjoyed it. Especially Tom, who enjoyed jumping into the water here again.
On the way back, we made a small detour to the town Uayna, where this cute red church is located. In the afternoon we walked through the center of Valladolid – Parque Principal Francisco Cantón Rosado, a street with colorful houses called Calz. de Los Frailes, and we reached Valladolid sign, which is located in front of the Convento de San Bernardino de Siena.
DAY 3 – trip to yellow city Izamal
A few years ago we visited the blue city in Morocco, so we wanted to add another color to our list, this time yellow 😀 The center of the yellow city of Izamal is really magical and we explored almost all the streets there during a two-hour walk (it’s really small :).
We arrived at Izamal by local bus Valladolid. The bus stop is located at Calle 37, not far from ADO Bus, you can find the exact address on Google Maps here. The bus runs every 1-2 hours and the schedule varies quite a bit. We went to the bus stop the day before and found out what time the bus would actually leave, and even then it was half an hour late. A one-way ticket cost around 60 MXN and bus ride took an hour and a half. The bus looked like it was going to fall apart at any moment and the driver was driving like a madman, but we survived 😀
Must visit places in Izamal
The center of Izamal is really small, so all tourist attractions are located not far from each other. Among the yellow places you must visit are the Convento de San Antonio, Plaza Izamal, and the streets around Calle 31 and Calle 32. There is one more attraction in Izamal and that is the Mayan pyramid and the archaeological site of Pirámide Kinich Kakmó.
Where to eat in Izamal
We can recommend Restaurante Los Arcos. It was a bit more expensive, but the food was really worth it and they also have a very nice seating area. 🙂
We missed the bus back to Valladolid so we spent 2 hours waiting near the bus stop at El Toro restaurant. We can’t recommend the food here, but the drink (beer) was good, they were open for a long time and it’s right next to that stop 🙂
How to get to Valladolid
We arrived in Valladolid by ADO bus from Bacalar, but generally, this city is accessible from Cancun, Tulum and other larger cities. Traveling by bus in Mexico is very easy, comfortable and relatively cheap, so we recommend this option. We always bought bus tickets in advance directly on the company’s website. Thanks to this, we often found cheaper tickets as part of special promo prices.
Another option is to rent a car, which is very easy in Mexico and can be done at the airport or directly in the larger cities. But we went everywhere by bus and for short distances we rented a motorbike or a bicycle, so, unfortunately, we don’t have any advice on renting a car.
How to get around Valladolid
If you do not have a rental car, we recommend renting a motorbike directly in Valladolid. It’s cheap, easy and fun 😀 Also, Mexican roads are often wide or have a special lane for motorbikes, so we have never felt unsafe. We rented a scooter from Ko’ox Balak – Rent a Car, Scooters, Motorcycles & Bicycles for 400 MXN/24 hours and we were very satisfied. In addition, we received a coupon for 2 free drinks at the Cenote Oxmán from the rental company, so it was a pretty good deal 😀