Valladolid, Mexico – City Guide for Nomads and Expats

Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico.

Founded in 1543, Valladolid is an authentic Yucateco colonial town. It’s the closest colonial town to the state of Quintana Roo, which is why it draws so many visitors from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. Most tourists only visit Valladolid on organized tours heading to Chichen Itza. It’s an interesting dynamic where many people have been to Valladolid, but not many have spent a night there (much less a month). Valladolid is a 2hr drive from Cancun, Tulum or Playa del Carmen, and a 2 hr drive from Merida in the opposite direction. In that sense Valladolid is very centric to the rest of the Yucatan peninsula. 

POPULATION: 50,000 – 100,000


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CULTURE IN VALLADOLID

Valladolid is smallish, sleepy town full of colonial architecture and cenotes. Despite all the tour buses, the city has managed to retain a lot of the origin pre-hispanic Mayan culture. The state of Yucatan has one of the most distinctive cultures in all of Mexico – from traditional dances to clothing to foods. Yucatan state is also known for it’s distinctive Spanish accent that other Mexicans find humorous. 

The center of the city is one big open air market. Expect to see abuela after abuela selling honey, fruit, and locally made items. Be sure to try the honey, strawberries, and pibil (pork) tacos. In the main plaza they sell some awesome strawberry drinks to help beat the heat. The food here is really good. 

 

BEST CAFES IN VALLADOLID FOR NOMADS

Despite being a small town, Valladolid has some pretty good options for coffee shops with good wifi. Digital nomads and remote workers should have no problem finding a cafe to post up and get some work done.

Coffee shops that My Latin Life recommends:

Café Arte: Strong wifi and central location.

Cafeteria Don Dolce Caffe: Tranquil cafe a few blocks from the center.

ConKafecito: Popular cafe near the Convento.

 

BEST BARS & NIGHTLIFE IN VALLADOLID

4/10

Don’t expect much nightlife in Valladolid. There are some great restaurants and it’s great for couples, but not so much for singles. You’d be hard pressed to find a spot playing reggaeton music. Don’t expect to meet many locals in their 20s – anyone with a party spirit probably moved cities to work or study. Your best bet is probably a hostel bar, or finding some tourists at a bar/restaurant near the main square. Remember most tourists don’t stay overnight.

Bars that My Latin Life recommends:

Cantina La Joyita: Cool spot in the center near the plaza. You’ll see tourists drinking here for sure.

Condesa Cocina Bar: Good set up with lots of tables. Easy enough to approach other tables and get a convo going.

Absenta Pub: Basically only locals go here. It’s also far from the center. If you get bored of the center, maybe head here for live music.

 

DAY TRIPS & THINGS TO DO IN VALLADOLID

Visit the Convento de San Bernardino de Siena, founded in 1553. It’s pretty amazing to see such an old and historic structure in town.

Hit a cenote! There are many to choose from. Cenote Xkeken,Cenote Saamal, Cenote Suytun, and Cenote Dzitnup are among the more popular ones.

Visit Mayan ruins. Chichen Itza is only a 45 minute drive away. There’s another lesser-known site called Ek Balam that’s close to Valladolid as well.

 

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT VALLADOLID

The best time of year to visit Valladolid, Yucatan is between late October and early March. This is high season, when humidity is low and temperatures are manageable. In Valladolid you’ll be pretty far from the beach, so don’t expect a sea breeze. 

 

HOW LONG TO STAY IN VALLADOLID

A weekend is enough to see it all. You could even stay a full week to do more day trips to Mayan ruins and various cenotes in the area. A month is definitely too long. 

 

WHERE TO STAY IN VALLADOLID

The best place to stay in Valladolid depends more on the hostel/hotel/Airbnb than the location. Some of the hostels here are super cheap. Everything is walking distance so choosing the right neighborhood doesn’t matter too much. Maybe ensure you’re on a side street so that there’s not too much traffic and vehicle noise.

 

HOW TO GET TO VALLADOLID

Most people will arrive in Valladolid on an ADO bus from Tulum, Playa, Cancun, or Merida. A bus ticket runs about $10. If you rent a car and drive to Chichen Itza you’ll almost definitely pass through Valladolid. To arrive in Valladolid by plane you can fly into Cancun or Merida airports. You could even fly into Cozumel airport if needed. There are dozens of daily flights from Mexico City to the area.

Map of Valladolid, Yucatan
Map of Valladolid, Yucatan

 

IS VALLADOLID SAFE FOR TOURISTS?

Very, very safe. Probably even safer than Merida. This is one of the rare Mexican towns where you can walk around at night wearing Airpods no problem.

 

COST OF LIVING IN VALLADOLID

Valladolid is pretty cheap. There are hostels for less than $10 a night. Food is super cheap once you get outside of the plaza. Cenotes can be expensive because of all the tourists and buses. The Yucatan is very cheap once you get out of the tourist areas.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS ON VALLADOLID

If you’re in Quintana Roo, Valladolid is definitely worth a visit. The city is a blast from the past and has managed to maintain a decent vibe. The colonial architecture and old convents are awesome to see. It is touristy but doesn’t feel overly touristy. You won’t get harassed by vendors. The Mayan culture is very apparent, but at the same time there’s wifi in the cafes. There’s more than enough day trips to keep you busy for a week. Expats could even buy a casa colonial and turn it into an Airbnb or boutique hotel. We wouldn’t recommend living here long term, but Valladolid is in a great location on the Yucatan peninsula and you’ll probably stop by at some point. 

 


OVERALL RATING: 6/10


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