When people think about Mexico, most of them just picture Cancun. But you can discover stunning scenery just off the beaten path in Yucatan Mexico is a country rich in culture, traditions and the most welcoming people. It will always be a home for expats and unstoppable travellers in search for unseen places. Just a few hours away from Cancun, you can find the beautiful and relaxed Yucatán.
Before Mexico was formed, the land in which I proudly call home was habited by the Mayan people. These people were living in a paradise without knowing.
Nowadays Yucatán is one of the most ancient and beautiful colonial regions in Mexico. Not to forget the only one with marquesitas (just give them a chance!).
Here are just a few of the treasures that Yucatán posses.
Mérida is today the capital of Yucatan and one of the preserved colonial cities in Mexico. It feels like a modern city but the history is just around the corner.
Some activities you can do here are:
- Visit St Ildephonsus Cathedral
- Visit the ‘Centro Histórico’ and art galleries close to the city center
- Enjoy first class performances downtown
- Walk the ‘Plaza Grande’
- Get a refreshing raspado
- Ride a bike on a Sunday around Paseo de Montejo
- Visit Chichén Itzá
Mérida is for me is the perfect base for road trips around Yucatán. It is also one of the hottest places I know. It has dry hot weather most part of the year. A normal summer day can be around 35 degrees, so stay hydrated.
Valladolid is the most charming village in Yucatán. The colors, the people, the nature and the food are just the beginning to describe this lovely town. If you are looking for an authentic experience of Mexico, then Valladolid should be on your travel list.
- Roam Ek Balam ruins
- Visit Chichén Itzá
- Eat at Cenote Zaci
- Cenote Oxman
- Cenote Samula
- Morning coffee at the main square
- Art gallery at the mayor hall
- Saint Gervasio cathedral
Have a look at the best cenotes around here.
Located in the heart of Yucatán, 45 min away from Merida. Izamal is famously known as the ‘Yellow Painted Town’. This photogenic village is full of natural beauty, cultural richness and history.
- Explore by foot across its cobblestone streets
- Climb the small pyramid in the middle of town
- Chill at the main square
- Get salbutes from the local markets.
- Take photos of the yellow houses
In regards to getting to Izamal, it’s fairly simple. It can be by car, or using the local transport (colectivo) for less than $30 pesos for a one way ticket. You’ll find colectivo between calle 65 and 54 at Merida.
This famous Mayan complex tends to be the main attraction in Yucatán, so is not really hidden but it can’t be ignored.
- Buy souvenirs (negociate the prices)
- Get a tour (if you like history)
- Walk around the mayan complex
- Clap your hands at the peach to hear the eco
If you go on your own you’ll need to pay approximately $250 for your entrance to the archeological site. If you can, try to avoid going on Sundays, it is cheaper for Mexican nationals then, making it the most busy day of the week.
I recommend you bring your own bottles of water and snack in a small backpack. Otherwise expect to pay a small fortune at vendors inside the park.
Located only 30 min away of Merida, it is a really easy place to access.
The Dzibilchaltun ruins may not be as big and impressive as Chichén Itzá. But this small Mayan complex holds a few pyramids that you can still climb to see Merida’s skyline.
You can get there by your own with a rented car, a taxi for $250, or with the local bus for $11. Also it is actually soooo nice to visit Dzibilchaltun during a hot day, because it has a cenote right next to the pyramids.
- Get fresh seafood such as fish, shrimps or lobster
If you like to try a different cuisine and traditional food, I recommend you to visit ‘Heladios’. It is a Yucatecan restaurant really popular with locals, this is partly because as soon as you get a table and order your first drink, waiters start to serve you typical dishes in a small plate as a snack while you wait for your meal.
Nowadays everyone is dreaming about this magical place with a stunning view and its famous pink lakes. I’m sure you must have seen this place on Instagram or in a travel video on Facebook It surely has to be on top of your list of places to go.
- Visit Rio Lagartos.
- Rest a little boat
- Eat fresh fish
- Visit the salt mounds.
From this town you can take the Coloradas tour and many others. To get there is quite simple. I recommend you rent a car or take an ADO BUS. You can find them at almost any town here in the Yucatán peninsula, have a look on their website.
You see, Las Coloradas are constantly changing colors depending on their salt level.
Also known as Selva Maya, it is located 30 minutes away from Valladolid in the middle of Yucatán’s jungle. There you can find a Mexican Hacienda, now a delicious buffet restaurant. It is one of my favorite cenotes.
- Swim in the clear blue water of the cenote
- Jump from an small stap platform
- Enjoy the waterfall inside
It truly is a must see cenote.
This ruin site is located 25 minutes drive away from the colonial town of Valladolid.
Ek’ Balam, which in Mayan means ‘Black Jaguar’, is one of the most preserved complexes in Yucatán. It has a relaxed atmosphere, and is found in the middle of the dense jungle. Rarely busy.
You can still climb it if you fancy.
The local traditional dishes are the heart of Yucatán’s identity. They are a mix of native Mayan and Spanish cuisine that will absolutely blow your mind.
- Pipián: it is a delicious cooked turkey covered with a pumpkin seed base sauce.
- Cochinita pibil: it is pulled pork marinated with a mix or sour oranges, local herbs and annatto (achiote). For this plate people dig a hole on the ground and finally cook the pork underground. This is the central dish in Yucatán.
- Queso relleno:A piece of holand cheese filled with ground beef previously cooked with fresh tomatoes and onions.
- Salbutes: this is handmade tortilla softly fried and prepared with chicken or pork, lettuce, beans, avocado and red onions.
- Relleno negro: it is a black stew made from burnt chiles and spices that is served over pork. Personally not my favorite.
- Marquesita: it is basically a hard crepe, rolled into a taco shape filled originally with holand cheese and any other sweet flavor you want. Try with Nutella.
- Esquites: are corns from the cob, dipped in mayonnaise, fresh cheese and lime. Served in a cup.