Valladolid ended up in our travel plans because it is a great place to base yourself if you plan on visiting the incredible and famous ruins of Chichen Itza (which I need to devote a whole post to!). We wanted to avoid the crowds by arriving at the site early, so it made sense to stay overnight in Valladolid which is only a 45-minute drive away.
But we were surprised to find that Valladolid was worth a trip on its own. It was great to spend a day wandering around the town, taking in the atmosphere, eating tacos and meeting locals. I really loved the small-town atmosphere of this place, although driving through and navigating the one way streets in a car proved pretty difficult!
Nevertheless it is a small town- so this is a small post accompanied with lots of pretty pictures from this little gem!
An Old Colonial Town
The highlight of any visit to Valladolid are the colourful buildings located on almost every block of the centre of the town. It’s a kaleidoscope of splashes of colour and makes for an awesome photo opportunity. We couldn’t go anymore without me having to stop, full my camera out and snap some photos. I’m sure Dad was sick of me by the end of it!
The only thing I’d planned for Valladolid was some of the great places to eat, so many of our favourite parts of the town were stumbled upon en route to a delicious restaurant.
Plaza e Parque Francisco Canton
This beautiful plaza is the centre of life in the town. It’s a great spot for people watching and it’s always full of people trying to sell ridiculous things like balloons, stuffed toys and the typical Mexican shaved ice with all the toppings. We loved just finding a quiet bench and taking it all in.
Convent de San Bernandino de Siena
This is one of the oldest and most beautiful parts of town. Unfortunately, we missed the opening hours so we were never able to venture inside, but it was a pretty imposing building from the outside. It looks like all of the colonial churches or convents I stumbled upon in Latin America. But as Mexico was my first stop in the region, this convent was one of my firsts!
What to Eat in Valladolid
Valladolid offered some of the best value food we ate in all of Mexico. There were so many super local places that we hunted out, where we found ourselves the only tourists in the restaurant. Come to think of it there weren’t a lot of foreigners in Valladolid at all, so we often had the place to ourselves.
We sat down with the locals and ate delicious tacos at MAQtacos, which is basically just a taco stand run out of someone’s garage.
We spent next to nothing on empanadas and fajitas at Conato 1910. Lucky my broken Spanish got us by because there was no English to be found in this place!
We splurged a little at El Jardin de los Frailles and after hunting them out for over a week, we finally found some tamales worth ordering! Their mole (kind of a chicken curry made from cacoa that is popular in the Oaxaca region) was particularly good.
And on our final night in the city, exhausted from our day at Chichen Itza, we found La Calzada, just a few blocks from our hostel. It was my favourite meal in Valladolid even though we ordered our typical Mexican food order of guacamole and quesadillas. I loved the atmosphere in this little place; the service was fantastic and the cocktails were delicious!
Where to Stay?
We stayed at Hostal Tunich Naj which was incredibly cheap and had easy and free street parking. It was located right in the centre of town and it was never more than a ten-minute walk to anywhere that we wanted to go. No one spoke English but we could get by with my broken Spanish.
Valladolid as a base
Valladolid isn’t just the perfect base for visiting Chichen Itza. If you have another spare day it isn’t too far to the nearby town of Izamal, a town made up of completely yellow buildings that we unfortunately didn’t make it to. There are also some incredible cenotes in the area that are bound to be quieter and less busy than the ones closer to Cancun.
One final word
The more popular and well known Valladolid is actually in Spain. BE VERY CAREFUL when looking up restaurants, accommodations and things to do, especially on Tripadvisor. More than once I found myself almost trying to find a restaurant that was actually in Spain.