Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is most often associated with the turquoise water and beach resorts. However, there is much more to it than the coastline. From cenotes and archeological Mayan sites to magnificent cities – Yucatan can be a very diverse place to travel. Therefore, put your swimsuit back in your backpack, change into shorts, and begin your journey through the peninsula. The spot that I would recommend you not to skip is Valladolid – a hidden gem in Yucatan.
There are quite a few cities carrying the colonial heritage, though Valladolid was our favorite by far. And there are a few reasons for it. Firstly, the city is very lively, which in 2020 is an important factor to consider. Secondly, it’s not packed with international tourists, meaning it’s not cheesy nor expensive. Thirdly, it’s perfectly located for day trips in the area. Lastly, it has cenotes within the city’s boundaries. Which is an ideal place for cooling off after the day’s heat. Considering all these factors Valladolid is truly a hidden gem in Yucatan.
Valladolid is very lively
Even though the city has less than 100 thousand inhabitants, it feels very lively. Its main plaza is filled with couples and families just hanging out. The streets are bustling with vendors selling tacos, tortas, and marquesitas. While its restaurants are beautiful and inviting. On top of that, Valladolid’s locals are very friendly and talkative. So, don’t be surprised if someone will stop you on the street just to have a little chat. (Of course, some of them just want to sell you something. Though others are genuinely happy that you visit their country and just want to talk to you). Overall, having corona in mind, the city didn’t seem to be affected by it that much. Most of the places are open, so you won’t have any trouble finding a museum to visit or grabbing a bite to eat.
The city is not overflooded with tourists
Another reason why Valladolid is a hidden gem in Yucatan is that it’s not THAT popular among Western tourists. Not that they’re evil or anything like that. But usually, places with less mass tourism are more authentic, more pleasant to spend time at, and, of course, more affordable. Surprisingly, we found many more local tourists roaming the streets than foreigners. Hence, there the number of hasslers on the streets was significantly lower compared to Riviera Maya. And believe me, the peace of walking around undisturbed is priceless in Mexico.
Valladolid is perfectly located
Valladolid is ideally located for day trips to Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, Coba, various cenotes, or even Rio Lagartos. All sites can be easily reached by both a rental car or public transport (in some cases even cycling is an option). Therefore, setting a base here for a few days is not only more affordable but also saves you time. It’s important to understand that most tourists coming in for their vacation stay around the Caribbean coast. Yes, they can chill by the beach after their day trip. However, the drive to all touristic objects is significantly longer and more expensive. Thus, the question is how much energy do you have left after a full day of driving? In my opinion, the perfect location of Valladolid makes your life easier. Therefore I would highly recommend staying in this hidden gem of Yucatan.
Valladolid has amazing cenotes
Yes, staying on the coast of the Caribbean is nice. But, Valladolid has places to refresh after a day of exploring too. And, believe me, they are quite impressive. Perhaps, when doing your Mexico research you came across these water bodies called cenotes (sinkholes). If not, they are these amazing half-closed or fully open caves with crystal clear water in it. Whether you have heard of them or not, you will definitely want to check out San Lorenzo Oxman and Zaci cenotes. The former is located less than 5km (3mi) away from the town’s center and has very impressive tree roots hanging from the top. Whereas, the latter is literally located in the city and you can reach it by foot. On top of that, you will be able to jump off the cliffs (if you’re into that). We both tried, so don’t worry it’s pretty safe. Overall, cenotes are an amazing way to cool down after a long day. The water in them is super clean, clear, and refreshing. And there’s nothing better when you have access to them on your doorstep.
All in all, Valladolid has it all for a perfect stay. It’s a town of a moderate size that is easily walkable. There is plenty of liveliness as its plazas, restaurants and other attractions are open (with reduced hours though). In addition, the place is not packed with international visitors, thus is really affordable and can serve as a good base for regional explorations. Lastly, in super close vicinity, you have several cenotes which are perfect after a day spent in blasting heat. Hence, I can with confidence state that Valladolid is a hidden gem in Yucatan.
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