Things to do in Valladolid Mexico

Valladolid was my absolutely favorite stop on my 3 weeks traveling around the Yucatan & Quintana Roo regions of Mexico. I loved my time in Valladolid and every day that I spent in this wonderful city it continued to surprise and excite me. There are so many things to do in Valladolid, in the city itself and nearby.

Most visitors to Valladolid use it as a base for exploring the region’s most famous site, Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, and the incredible cenotes. If you’ve been hesitant or unsure of whether to add Valladolid to your Yucatan peninsula itinerary then I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful Valladolid is.

Valladolid is a beautiful and oh-so-charming colonial town, as well as an esteemed pueblo mágico, so you know you’re going to be experiencing the true natural beauty of Mexico.

It’s easy to see a lot of Valladolid in a day, but I think you’d be missing out on what makes this city so special. Valladolid is to be savoured. And the more time you spend exploring, the more rewarding it is. Valladolid is a city that brims with beautiful architecture, fantastic restaurants and street food, and photo opportunities at every corner.

Things to do in Valladolid Mexico

Starting with the center of Valladolid, you’ll find that Parque Principal Francisco Cantón Rosado sits in the city center, and from there you can fan out and explore the city in each direction.

Casa de los Venados

Casa de los Venados is an absolute must when visiting Valladolid. This private home belongs to owners John & Dorianne Venator, an American couple who fell in love with Mexico and is a cultural explosion of local Mexican artisans and folk art.

The art collection of Casa de los Venados sits at over 3000 pieces and continues to grow as the couple continues to collect or commission pieces from Mexican artists. This is not a museum but a private residence where you will be guided through the collection over the course of an hour.

The tour guides are fantastic, and humourous and make learning about local artisans thoroughly enjoyable. The care and attention that John & Dorianne have taken into creating an incredible home filled with outrageous and incredible pieces of Mexican folk art is astounding. You’ll also leave the home wishing you could stay in one of the private apartments that John & Dorianne lend to their friends.

Casa de los Venados offers daily tours and welcomes donations at the end of each visit. The house can only be accessed via a guided tour. Tours take place at the following times (but check the front door in case these times have changed):

10 am, 11.30, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm

To access Casa de los Venados ring the doorbell of the home, and a guide will let you in, but only a few minutes before each tour starts.

Convento San Bernardino Lightshow

Do not miss the excellent San Bernardino Lightshow that tells the remarkable history of Valladolid and the region in an incredible light show across the stunning convent.

The Convento San Bernardino Lightshow starts at 9 pm in Spanish before it starts again at 9.20 pm in English. The light show is free and truly wonderful and hugely impressive.

Convento San Bernardino Lightshow

Calzada de Los Frailes

One of the most popular things to do in Valladolid is visit the stunningly beautiful Calzada de Los Frailes, a street with beautiful multicolored colonial buildings that are home to restaurants, rooftop coffee shops, and stunning boutiques.

You’ll spend a lot of time shopping and exploring Calzada de Los Frailes, the stores are exquisite and you’ll find several wonderful antique stores.

Best Restaurants In Valladolid

Valladolid has a superb culinary scene and if you’re only here for a short amount of time you’ll be furious that you can’t munch your way around the city. The food in Valladolid is truly excellent, from wonderful street tacos and tortas to restaurants overlooking the beautiful San Servacio church, here are a few places I recommend. For more details, check out my post on the best restaurants in Valladolid to visit.

Valladolid Walking Tour

If you’re eager to learn more about the history of Valladolid, then you should consider the free walking tour of Valldolid to learn about the city’s colonial past and history. With daily departures from the Parque Principal Francisco Cantón Rosado at 10 am, 5 pm & 7 pm.

Look for the red umbrella in the park, and your guide will explain that donations are highly encouraged if you’ve enjoyed the

Templo de San Servacio

There’s something about the churches in Mexico that I just adore and I think Valladolid’s San Servacio church is stunning. Every time I walked past it I sighed with happiness because this church is just gorgeous.

And it could be the setting amongst the backdrop of the beautiful Parque Principal Francisco Cantón Rosado that throngs with people throughout the day and night, and vendors selling local delicious treats.

Cenote Zaci

If you’ve yet to visit a cenote in Mexico, then you’ll find Cenote Zaci in the center of Valladolid. A cenote are sinkholes and a fantastic watering hole to cool off from the midday sun. There are thousands of them across the Yucatan Peninsula and its worth exploring a couple in each place that you visit.

Cenote Zaci allocates a certain number of spaces throughout the day, so visit the ticket booth, put your name down and pay the entrance ticket fee and wait to be called. Waiting time can vary from 30 – 50 minutes. Either visit Cenote Zaci when it opens up for the day or 30 minutes before closing.

Cenote Zaci

Valladolid Museum

Covering the 450 years of its foundation as a city, and also looking into its Mayan past, Valladolid has curated a collection of memories, memorabilia and artifacts that expand on Valladolid’s history.

The Valladolid Museum is housed in a former hospital, San Roque, that in the 17th century was one of the region’s most important hospitals. The Valladolid Museum is small and has a handful of exhibits.

Around Valladolid

Chichen Itza

One of the most popular reasons people visit Valladolid or base their stays in the city is the visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza was a city built by the Mayans which dates back to the year 600 A.D and was a city of major importance in the history of the Mayan people and indigenous Mexicans. It is one of Mexico’s most visited historical sights and the restoration has been hugely important for its conservation.

The site of Chichen Itza is small, and tours tend to last less than an hour. It’s best to visit Chichen Itza as part of a guided tour, as learning about the history of the most important Mayan city is incredibly fascinating. Especially when you learn about the murderous ball game on the Great Ball Court that typically resulted in the winners being sacrificed to the gods (a great honor).

The entry price for Chichen Itza is $614 Mexican Pesos.

Entry for Chichen Itza starts at 8 am and I highly recommend arriving as early as you can in order to avoid the excessive crowds, heat, and traffic. I arrived just after 8 am and the place was fairly empty, the vendors were setting up their stalls and you could walk around without seeing barely any other people. Last entry to Chichen Itza is at 4 pm.

Kukulkan Nights at Chichen Itza

Visiting Chichen Itza during the night as the buildings are illuminated during a spectacular light show is a particular highlight that should not be missed. Kukulkan Night starts at 7 pm Friday to Sunday and tells the history of the Mayan people on the main pyramid over 30 minutes. You can purchase the tickets at the entry gate or as part of an organized tour.

Entry tickets for Kukulkan Nights are $708 MXN Pesos.

Ek Balam

Ok, I LOVED Ek Balam a LOT more than Chichen Itza. It felt like stepping back in time with hardly any visitors and gave me Tomb Raider vibes. Hidden amongst the jungle, Ek Balam is truly incredible and came highly recommended. Trust me, it did not disappoint.

Ek Balam was once a formidable Mayan city that was home to 12,000 people during its popularity in the years 770 to 840 A.D. Named after the ‘Black Jaguar’ in Mayan, it’s a series of buildings and structures that have been really well preserved and remained hidden until the late 1800s.

Perhaps what makes it so exciting to visit is that you can climb upon the ruins of the pyramids of Ek Balam which are not for the faint of heart! The Acropolis of Ek Balam soars 100 feet high and is truly daunting to climb up and down. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views across treetops and the former city of Ek Balam, but returning down the steep stairs is absolutely terrifying!

If you’re torn between Chichen Itza and Ek Balam, I would highly encourage a visit to Ek Balam instead. Guided tours are offered outside the front entrance or you can take a guided tour of Ek Balam, Chichen Itza, and a cenote that covers all bases.

Photos do not do the acropolis of Ek Balam justice. It is terrifyingly steep.


The Yucatan state has thousands of cenotes to visit and visiting them all would take a couple of lifetimes. However ones that I kept coming across during my research and also visited were;

  • Cenote Chichikan
  • Cenote Suytun
  • Cenote Hubiku
  • Cenote Ik Kil
  • Cenote Chukum
  • Cenote Xcanahaltun
Cenote Xcanahaltun


Valladolid is much more than just a stopover for visiting Chichen Itza. It’s a wonderful place to visit for its excellent restaurants, low-key Mexican city vibes, and colonial architecture.

What started as a quick 2-day trip to Valladolid ended up as a 5-night stay and I was genuinely sad to leave. It’s slow pace is wonderful and one of the best things you can do in Valladolid is to slowly amble around the city, stopping for coffee and beers and hunting for your next street taco.

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