Valladolid, Mexico: One of our Favorite Destinations

Source: Linda Kurtzweil

I rarely dedicate an entire post to a particular city or region — in fact, I think this is only the second time — however, I felt that Valladolid was worthy of the extra attention.

This beautiful colonial city of approximately 50,000 residents is often overlooked by tourists. When we recommend the city to tourists visiting the Riviera Maya, most tell us that they’ve never heard of it. The few that have heard of it, only know it because the tour bus drove through it on the way to the Chichen Itza Mayan ruins. Well, they don’t know what they’re missing.

Valladolid is one of our favorite destinations in the Yucatán and we try to visit it at least once every couple of months. The city is less than two hours from our home in Akumal; however, we always stay the night so we can enjoy the city to the fullest.

Source: Google maps

Things to Do

Main Plaza – The heart of any Mexican town is the main plaza and Valladolid is no exception. There are always people enjoying the plaza during the day but once the sun goes down, the plaza really comes to life. There are families enjoying time together, food vendors and often musicians. On one occasion, we enjoyed an orchestra made up entirely of young children — they were very good.

La Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Valladolid (Source Q-Roo Paul)

Convento de San Bernardino de Siena – This is a convent built in 1552 and the public can tour the inside of the convent during the day. At night, there is a fantastic light show outside that walks you through the history of the city. The show is shown in English and Spanish.

Convento de San Bernardino de Siena en Valladolid (Source: Linda Kurtzweil)

Mayan Chocolate Factory (Cacao) – They make handmade chocolate in the same manner that their ancestors did. They offer free daily tours and tastings.

Cenotes – There are several breathtaking cenotes located near the city.

Mercado Municipal – There is a large marketplace where you can buy clothes, fresh meats, fruits, vegetables and a variety of crafts.

Mercado Municipal en Valladolid (Source: Linda Kurtzweil)

Man making shoes in Valladolid, Mexico (Source: Linda Kurtzweil)

Lodging

We always stay at the Hotel El Mesón del Marqués located right across the street from the plaza. The hotel is very clean and is relatively inexpensive when compared to lodging closer to the coast. In fact, everything from the food to the taxi fares are less expensive in Valladolid — that makes the thrifty side of me pretty happy.

The hotel has free onsite parking and an excellent restaurant. It’s worth it to pay a little extra to have the breakfast included in the room price.

Pool area of Hotel El Mesón del Marqués (Source: Q-Roo Paul)

Favorite Restaurant

There are several restaurants that we like within walking distance of the hotel, but our favorite is El Atrio del Mayab (or just El Atrio for short). They specialize in Mayan dishes and I love their cochinita pibil.

Cochinita pibil is a traditional slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatán. The meat is marinated in bitter orange and it is absolutely delicious. El Atrio serves theirs with fresh corn tortillas that are handmade onsite.

El Atrio is located near the Cathedral in the main plaza. Once you enter, you’ll pass through to a beautiful walled courtyard.

Courtyard area at El Atrio (Source: Q-Roo Paul)

Woman making fresh tortillas in El Atrio (Source: Q-Roo Paul)

Cochinita Pibil at El Atrio (Source: Q-Roo Paul)

Let’s Wrap This Up

The next time you plan to visit the beautiful beaches of the Riviera Maya, why not take a day or two to explore Valladolid? It will give your sunburn a chance to heal a little bit and you’ll be able to experience more of the culture and history of the area.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul

Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years and retired at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He moved to Mexico with his wife six days later to enjoy a laid-back, Caribbean lifestyle on a tight budget.

In 2016, Paul started a blog to share information with other people who may be thinking of making the move to Mexico. The blog, Two Expats Living in Mexico (qroo.us), has been viewed over a million times and Paul’s articles appear in periodicals across Mexico.

30 Comments on "Valladolid, Mexico: One of our Favorite Destinations"

  1. Ron and Lynne Gallant | March 10, 2017 at 11:01 am | Reply

    Thanks, Paul . . . perfect timing! We are taking a break from our winter on Cozumel to spend a couple of days in Vallodolid next week. It looks fantastic!

  2. Have been to Valladolid and love the place :). Just came back from the Pink Lagoons yesterday very nice to see, have you been there yet?
    Love your post very interesting to read Thanks

  3. Hi Paul. Love your suggestions for Vallodolid. Your blog is great! I’ve heard the Casa de Los Venados in Valladolid is a must see for fabulous Mexican folk art.

  4. Lori Quakenbush | March 10, 2017 at 11:09 am | Reply

    We also loved Valladolid, when we were there in 2015. We only had 2 nights there, but thought the town was charming. We also ate at El Atrio! The town square was such a delight at night! We spent one afternoon at the Ik Kil cenote–beautiful, but a bit too commercialized. We prefer seeing things on our own, but there were many tour buses there. We hope to make it back to this town some day. I can’t recall the little bed and breakfast we stayed at–about half a block from the town square. Great service, nice pool, good food and reasonably priced if I recall.

  5. Dave Johansen | March 10, 2017 at 11:21 am | Reply

    It is places like this why I love Mexico

  6. way cool Paul. Deb and I drove through Vallodolid on our way to Merida, despite Google maps directing us around, so that we could see the place. Nice little town. We’ll go back soon!

  7. Roberta A Laity | March 10, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Reply

    Perfect timing for this article! We are coming down from snowy Canada for a couple of weeks in a few days and have 3 nights booked at Valladolid. We stopped there once for a couple of hours during a tour to Chichen Itza and have always wanted to go back. We are staying right across from the town square and so looking forward to it! Will be sure to check out El Atrio.

  8. Nice review. I’d love to visit there some day.

  9. Carmen Moreno | March 10, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Reply

    I want to go there now that I’ve read your review!

  10. We were there last year. Charming city. Beautifully co,ores buildings

  11. Ms Suzanne Nye | March 10, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Reply

    I live in Merida for the winter and often fly into Cancun, as the fares are much cheaper and I can get a direct flight. I fly with 2 dogs so I have a driver pick me up in Cancun and drive me to Merida. We always stop in Valladolid for lunch and a break. Very nice city. Some very good artist studios too. I have done the Cenotes there too and they are excellent. Very few tourists and in fact we are usually the only ones there. I would encourage folks to come to Merida too… great music, dancing and restaurants as well as museums, and a symphony orchestra only second to Mexico city. One of the 32 safest cities in the world too!

  12. In response to Loris question regarding the B and B they stayed in it was probably Casa Tia Miche, we stayed 2 nights and had a great time. We ended up eating at the Hotel El Meson twice and agree, it is delightful, we had excellent waites and the tableside guacamole is the best. Next time you go take a taxi to the Ek Balam ruins, not as restored as Chichen but a little more “wild” and much less crowded. Especially see the plaster masks that are still preserved on the exterior.

  13. Hi Paul
    I enjoy your blog very much. Not only the contents, it is just long enough, always informative and just love the “wrap up”.
    I returned from San Miguel de Allende recently, as I begin my retirement there in the next few years. You recently wrote about
    Kerry Baker’s Guide to Learning Spanish on line. I can only find it on ebooks/kindle. Can I purchase it as a regular book?
    Thank you

    • Thanks for following the blog. Kerry’s book is only available as an E-book because it contains links to additional materials on the web.

  14. Valladolid is one of our favorite places. We loved visiting la Casa de Los Venados and meeting it’s owner. Their collection is amazing. Ek Balam is so much more pleasant to visit than Chichen and the cenote there is amazing. Highly recommended!

  15. The “rope chorizo” from there is to die for!

  16. We discovered Valladolid years ago… we love the culture and the fact that it is not a tourist hub. We felt comfortable driving there from the coast and mingling throughout the city. The Catholic church in the square was inspirational.We bought many items from the locals…Thanks for posting Paul!

  17. Just to confirm Cherry’s comment that Casa de Los Venados is a ‘must see’. It absolutely is! For me, it was the high spot of our first visit to the Riviera Maya area in 2011. I am confident that when you and Linda visit next time you’re in Vallodolid, Paul, that it will immediately sky-rocket into Paul’s Picks …. I see that it is currently #1 of 31 things to do in Valladolid on Trip Advisor.

  18. Hi Paul….yes definitely go to la casa de los venados. It’s free, just donations. Guided tour in the morning. The best place we’ve ever visited. Very close to the plaza.

  19. Sounds lovely–I’m adding it to our growing list of places to visit. By the way, what’s a cenote?

    • A cenote is a fresh water spring, there are many in the area. It is a great way to cool off on a hot day!

  20. Peggy ankney | March 11, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Reply

    We stayed at Zentik boutique hotel for two nights. A little pricey, but the heated underground pool made it worth the price. They have a restaurant as well which serves delicious food, and every guest is treated to homemade tequila upon arrival. And if you visit the convent, try Yerbabuena del Sisal for lunch, just across the park.

  21. I took the bus from Tulum to Vallalodid fall of 2016, I had a map with a walking tour of the town. I brought my camera and snapped a ton of photos. Lugging my camera gear and back pack around all day while only walking was a drain, and I stopped toward the end of my day to sit at a restaurant on a plaza and enjoy the people watching. I lost my map near my last stop, I must have dropped it, and I had no idea how to get back to the bus station. I ended up taking a taxi back to the bus station. The churches were amazing as was the cenote located in town. I would enjoy a trip back and would like to stay over so I can see some of the night life and also churches in the surrounding areas.

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