For many Yucatán visitors Valladolid is only a tour stop on the road trip, but after our first short visit five years ago we decided it was time for an extended stay. And so we booked a 3 night stay in Valladolid, which is also the perfect base for some of the most iconic day trips you can do in Yucatán. In this guide we’re spilling all our tips for Valladolid and day trips you can do from the city.
How long should you stay in Valladolid?
Before arriving in Valladolid we had stayed on the island of Holbox for 3 nights (see our Holbox guide here) and our next tour stop would be Mérida (see our Mérida guide here). The city of Valladolid is located almost perfectly in the middle between these two classic Yucatán destinations and therefore makes for an ideal stopover.
You can of course decide to only spend half a day walking around the colourful city and marvelling at the pastel facades, but then you would miss out on a few things, that we think are worth an extend stay.
We would recommend 3 nights in Valladolid to make the most of it!
3 reasons to stay in Valladolid longer than a day
Apart from the city itself there’s a couple of day trips you can do ideally from Valladolid:
- Day Trip to the pink lagoon at Las Coloradas: This flamingo clad salt lake paradise is located a bit off-the-beaten-path at the Northern shoreline of Yucatán and therefore best accessed from Valladolid. From here it’s only a 2 hour drive.
Check out our detailed guide for the pink lagoon visit here!
- Early morning visit of Chichén-Itzá: The most important Mayan ruins of the Yucatán peninsula draw crowds of visitors. If you want to experience the pyramids in relative peace and quiet an early morning visit is the best option. From Valladolid it’s only a 45 minute drive and you can be there at 8am when the doors open.
- Road trip stops at Izamal and Uyamon: The yellow city and the small village of Uayma make for great 1-2 hour visits along the way from Valladolid to Izamal.
Itinerary for 3 nights in Valladolid
Let us share our detailed itinerary for 3 nights in Valladolid and how you can make the best out of your time in the city.
Day 1 in Valladolid
- 3pm: Check-in at your hotel
- 5pm: Walk around the city and visit “Parque Principal Francisco Cantón Rosado” with the landmark “Templo de San Servacio” (C. 41, Centro, 97780 Valladolid)
- 6pm: Perfume shopping @ Coqui Coqui (Calz. de Los Frailes 207, Sisal, 97780 Valladolid)
- 7pm: Snack on Empanadas @ Tresvanbien (Calz. de Los Frailes 216, Sisal, 97784 Valladolid)
- 8pm: Vegetarian Dinner @ Le Kaat (Calz. de Los Frailes 210-41 A NRO, Sisal, 97780 Valladolid)
The first stop on most visitor’s Valladolid itinerary after checking in at the hotel is the visit of it’s landmark – the “Templo de San Servacio”, which is conveniently located in the centre next to the famous “Parque Principal Francisco Cantón Rosado”. Here you can buy souvenirs, take photos with staged poodles and buy Marquesitas, the crispy Mexican version of crepes. Immerse yourself in the bustling park atmosphere and soak in the first moments of Valladolid!
From here it’s not far to walk to Valladolid’s most famous shopping street – Calle Calz. de Los Frailes. Here you can buy all the souvenirs you’re dreaming of and also find some good restaurant options – and it’s the street with the most beautiful pastel coloured facades as well.
We recommend shopping the most exquisite perfumes at Coqui Coqui pefumeria and then crossing the street to sample crispy empanadas in the hidden backyard of Restaurant Tresvanbien. For proper vegetarian dinner you can walk over to nearby Le Kaat restaurant.
Day 2 in Valladolid: Day trip to Chichén-Itzá
- 7am: Leave for day trip to Chichén-Itzá
- 8am: Arrive at opening hour at Chichén-Itzá
- 1pm: Visit a typical Maya village – Yalcobá
- 1:30pm: Traditional lunch at Palomitas restaurant (Mayan owned)
- 2:30pm: Explore an underground cenote – Palomitas cenote (open for visitors) & Agua dulce cenote (exclusive for TUI visitors)
- 3pm: Sample Marquesitas (Mexican crepes)
- 4pm: Return to Valladolid
- 5pm: Visit Convento de San Bernardino de Siena (C. 50 210B, Sisal, 97784 Valladolid, Yuc., Mexico)
- 6pm: Vegetarian Dinner @ Elela restaurant (Calle 45 No.211 entre 54 y Calle 54a Sisal, 97780 Valladolid, Yuc., Mexico)
On day 2 we got up early to be among the first visitors at iconic Chichén-Itzá. We could write a full separate blog post about this world famous former Mayan city with it’s pyramids and temples, but let us just leave you with two things: Firstly, don’t expect to be alone there – even at 8am there’s already a line at the gate. But it still doesn’t get more intimate at Chichén-Itzá! Secondly we’d recommend hiring a guide to learn more about the Mayan culture and history as the ruins itself don’t even tell a fragment of the story.
We hired a private guide for the whole day and this way not only got to visit Chichén-Itzá together, but also had a couple more tour stops afterwards. She brought us to a typical Mayan village called Yalcobá, where she had us visit the local panaderia and chat with the indigenous people who live here. Afterwards we had lunch at Palomitas, which is a Mayan owned restaurant. This way you can also support indigenous-led tourism in Yucatán, which isn’t the case all to often.
The best part about the lunch at Palomitas is of course the adjacent cenotes, underground caves with some of the most clear and pure water you can find. There’s two cenotes on the grounds – one is open for all visitors, the other one called “Agua Dulce” is only open for visitors who book a tour with TUI (which we did). Although we had a private tour we unfortunately ran into bad luck and shared the denote with a tour bus as well, so it wasn’t as private as we had hoped for, but that really came down to timing.
After the dip in the refreshing cenote water the team of Palomitas baked fresh Marquesitas (for me always with Nutella) and we then went back to Valladolid. In the evening we visited the second landmark of Valladolid – the “Convento de San Bernardino de Siena” followed by the most amazing vegan dinner at Elela restaurant.
Day 3 in Valladolid: Day excursion to Pink Lagoon Las Coloradas
- 9am: Breakfast @ Hotel
- 10am: Cenote Zaci (Sta Ana, 97780 Valladolid)
- 11:30am: Leave for day trip to Las Coloradas
- 2pm: Tour of pink lakes & flamingos
- 5pm: Sunset at Las Coloradas
- 6pm: Dinner @ Río Lagartos
- 9pm: Back in Valladolid
On day 3 we would recommend to take it easy in the morning and if you’re up for it you can take a morning swim at the Cenote Zaci, which is located in the middle of the city of Valladolid. When we were there the cenote was unfortunately under renovation, but we got a short glimpse and would’ve definitely took a dip! The water looked fantastic and it’s hard to believe that you’re in the middle of the city here.
After this refreshment you can pack your things for the second day trip that is ideal from Valladolid. We already visited Las Coloradas – the pink salt lakes with it’s flamingo colonies – twice in the last five years and always love going back. Things have changed significantly since our first visit in 2017 and it’s much more organised with entry fees and an official visitor centre and guides now, but the experience is still magical.
Our tip: Stay until sunset – then you’ll be alone and have all the flamingos to yourself. You could also sleep here at the brand new Piña Coloradas – Ecolodge!
Find out more in our blog post about Las Coloradas here.
The drive to Las Coloradas is two hours and before returning to Valladolid in the dark you can make a small detour and have dinner at Río Lagartos. So far we haven’t really warmed up to this town, but there’s effectively no other option when it comes to food in the vicinity. Our dinner at Maleconcito Gourmet was good enough though (Calle 9 por 12 y 14, 97720 Río Lagartos).
Day 4 in Valladolid
- 9am: Breakfast @ Hotel
- 12pm: Check-Out & Leave for Mérida
- 1pm: Take the side road and stop at Iglesia de Uayma and yellow city of Izamal
- 4pm: Arrive at Mérida
After three nights it was time for us to leave Valladolid again. There’s a main toll road from here to Mérida, but we opted for the small side streets as we wanted to take tour stops on the way. Our first stop was at Uayma, a small sleepy village that has gained some notoriety for Iglesia de Uayma – with it’s intricate pink church facade. We got lucky and were here just as the locals celebrated “Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe”. This day in December is a national holiday in all of México and it’s said that the Virgin Mary had appeared to an indigenous boy, Juan Diego, in 1531 on that day.
The village is worth a short stop on any day though as it’s not only the church, but also some of the adjacent buildings that make for colourful photos. Other than that there’s not much to do here, so we continued to the yellow town of Izamal. We had already been here five years ago, but also during our second visit we didn’t really get a good feel for the place. Yes, it’s photogenic, but other than that it feels a bit like a circus (well there was also a fun fair in town this day with lots of action and tourists).
The only reason for us to stay longer in Izamal would be a stay at the Coqui Coqui residence and perfumery – once again one of the highlights in town.
Where to stay: Hotel tip for Valladolid
We stayed in a small boutique hotel called “Le Muuch Hotel” (Calle 42 x 33 y 35 #188 A, Centro, 97782 Valladolid). It’s an affordable option and we can recommend the cute hotel if you don’t want to spend too much for your stay. The rooms are spacious and the breakfast is creative, with colourful juices and many modern Mexican options. The highlight is definitely the hammock-clad rooftop with views over Valladolid.
But: After staying at the Coqui Coqui residence in Cobá we would definitely opt for one of their two luxurious one-room residences in Valladolid next time! The architecture and details of Coqui Coqui are unparalleled in Yucatán. And their collection of unique handcrafted scents adds to the very special atmosphere.
Next stop: Mérida?
From Valladolid we headed on to the capital of Yucatán – the bustling city of Mérida.
Continue to our blogpost about all things you can do in Mérida. Or if you are looking for more tips for a Yucatán road trip check out this post with our detailed recommendations for Yucatán itineraries.