Destinations, Traveling & Getting around

The B-Side of Valladolid

Valladolid is a charming colonial city with its own personality and great attractions that make it a must on your visit to Yucatán. Its geographic location leaves it at the center of tours departing from the Riviera Maya as well as for those who go to Mérida to discover more of the state.


Magic Town

In its roads and cobblestone streets, you’ll find houses that stand out for their architectonic beauty. Surely a lot of these will be “the place” you were looking to take that unique picture. Stroll through the Calzada de Los Frailes with its lively shops, boutiques, and homes. Don’t miss out on visiting the former convent San Bernardino, the private museum La Casa de Los Venados, the market, and many other gems during your visit.

How to get there: From Mérida, by car, take the toll highway towards Cancún. It’ll take two hours to get there. By bus, ADO has daily departures.

The “Sultana del Oriente” (Sultan of the East), has many hotels and places to stay for two or three days, making it easy for you to check out sites close by such as Ek Balam, Uayma, and different cenotes.


Ek Balam

20 minutes north of Valladolid, only 30 km away, you’ll find the archaeological site Ek Balam. Being so large and majestic reveals its great importance. The jungle and vegetation around it complement the pre-Hispanic mysticism of its buildings.

Inside la Acrópolis, the main building of more than 30 meters, admire a monumental sculpture of a jaguar’s mouth with Maya hieroglyphs. Go around the Arco Maya (Maya Arch), el Palacio Oval (the Oval Palace), the stella, the Estructuras Gemelas (the Twins), and the Juego de la Pelota (Maya Ball Game). Surround yourself with the history of Maya culture and even climb some of the structures yourself!

To complement your visit, 1.5 km away is cenote X’Canché. You can walk, rent a bike, or ride a Tricitaxi. You can partake in rappel, zip-line, swim freely, or lay in the hammocks. There is an additional cost at the entrance.


The star of the show of this small town Uayma, located 15 km from Valladolid, is the beautiful facade of its church. With colonial-era elements and decorated with red and blue rosettes, you’ll want to photograph it time and time again. Once inside, you’ll be amazed by the details on the roof, walls, and doors. It’s truly an architectonic beauty!


Cenote Sac Ahua

 29 km from Valladolid, there’s Dzalbay, a town part of the Temozón municipality where there is a one of a kind cenote. To get there, take the road to Yalcobá from Valladolid and further on, you’ll see the deviation to the cenote. It’s semi-open and surrounds an island of land and stone. Using the wooden staircase, head down to the middle ground where you can place your belongings and proceed to take a dip on its platform, rent a kayak, go around this small island, or just relax in its crystalline waters.

Another recent discovery is the cave found on the other side of the cenote. It’s an easily accessible cavern. You’ll explore this underwater world by foot where you can marvel at formations with a mind of their own in rocks, minerals, and pieces of pottery, It’s still under exploration, so you can be one of the first to visit. It’s awe-inspiring! You can do rappel and kayak. It has showers and parking.

Cost: cenote and cave: $150 pesos; lifevests: $20 pesos; kayak: $40 pesos.


Cenote Palomitas

5 km from cenote Sac Ahua, in Yalcobá, there is a rest stop where you can visit two cenotes to swim in (Palmotas and Agua Dulce) as well as two water springs (Dzonot Ak or cenote Tortugas), and cenote Seco. Exploring all of them will take you three to four hours. The main (and prettiest one) is Palomitas, with its transparent waters and a roof where stalactites continue to form. The light coming in makes it a crystal-like mirror. It has parking, showers, and a restaurant.

Cost: Two large cenotes and two water springs: $300 pesos, meal included: $400 pesos


Cenote Xcanahaltún

Also in Yalcobá, there is cenote Xcanahaltún. Access this majestic body of water by stepping down six meters on a wooden staircase. Reach a platform where you can admire the effects the light makes on the rock formations coming from the roof and cenote itself. Since it’s not that busy, you can spend hours there with the fish who will keep you company while you swim. It has showers and parking and you can also repel and kayak. It’s beautiful!

Cost: $125 pesos; life vests: $25 pesos; kayak: $60 pesos.


Restaurante Ix cat ik
FB: Iixcatik

Ek Balam
Mon. – Sun. 8 am – 5 pm
Entry: Mexicans $153 pesos, visitors $413 pesos. Sundays are free of charge for Mexicans with official ID.

Cenote X’Canché, Ek Balam
Mon. – Sun. 9 am – 5 pm
FB: Cenote Ecoturistico X-Canche Oficial

Cenote Sac Aua
FB: cenotesakawa

Cenote Palomitas
FB: Cenotes Agua Dulce Aventurass

Cenote Xcanahaltun
FB: Cenote Xcanahaltun

Editorial by Violeta H. Cantarell
Photography by Nora Garrett, Violeta H. Cantarell y AJ Kim for their use in Yucatán Today

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