Yucatán is magical!…
In May 2017, me and my family decided to take a road trip around the Mexican region of Yucatan and it’s two magical towns. This post is an insight to our experience and why you should consider these places if travelling to Mexico!
Firstly we visited the ‘Yellow Painted Town‘ known as Izamal. This is a charming town considered as one of the 111 ‘Magical Towns’ in Mexico (Pueblos Mágicos in Spanish).
It’s an award given to Mexican towns that bask in their natural beauty, cultural riches or historical relevance to the country. It is one of the reasons why Izamal has made part of my list of places to go.
Located in the heart of Yucatán Peninsula, 45 min away from Merida. Izamal is famously called the ‘Yellow Painted Town’ because in 1993, Pope John Paul II planned to perform mass at the local Cathedral. This inspired the locals to especially prepare and paint the town yellow for his arrival.
How to get there?
In regards to getting to Izamal, it’s fairly simple. There are two different ways to get to Izamal. The first one I recommend is to pay for an ADO ticket bus to Merida, the price depends on the season of the year but you can get a good deal using your an student ID. Once you get to Merida its just as easy to get to Izamal, just take a minibus (or colectivo) to Merida at calle 67, between 50 and 52, there’s a bus every hour.
Cost: $27.00 pesos for a colectivo
You can also drive to Izamal. We drove for 3 hours in our minivan from Cancun to Izamal all along ‘Mérida cuota’ highway, and paid a toll. If you are not in a rush and have a flexible agenda you can take ‘Merida libre’. A road which is two hours longer but is free.
Toll cost: $276.00 pesos
Izamal is not a big town but when we finally got there we were a little bit lost. Most of the locals know their town very well and helped us with directions; even a police officer was trying to join our trip and wanted to take us to a few cenotes around there! Don’t worry, if you are planning to go and unsure about something, there are a lot of helpful people residing in the area.
Where to stay?
You can see most of what Izamal has to offer in a day. But if you want to enjoy more of this mustard yellow town, I recommend staying at Hotel Hacienda Izamal like us. We stayed at this lovely hotel for a night. It’s a cozy, clean and nice yellow hotel with a swimming pool, necessary for the unbelievable weather in Yucatán. They also have a/c in the rooms, free towels and free bikes to use and ride around the town.
Cost: $500+ per night for 2 double beds
A popular activity at this town is explore by foot its cobblestone streets and photograph the yellow frontages.
Visit El atrio del Convento de Izamal. A beautiful ex-convent and impressive peace of history in Yucatán, built over a Mayan Pyramid. It’s a unique mixture of Spanish and Mayan history.
Cost: Free! In the center of the town there’s a small Pyramid which is open to the public and people can still climb. It’s called Kinich Kak Moo Pyramid and it gives a panoramic view of the city. It might not be as big or stunning as Chichén Itzá or Coba but one of the most unique because is within the town.
Cost: Free!!! For me it felt like time stopped at Izamal. Especially while we sat and chilled at the main square. It’s located right next to the convent, from where you can observe the local life around you. This place is perfect to runaway from the city for a few days.
Where to eat?
Later in the afternoon we went for dinner to a popular restaurant with the locals called ‘Kinich El sabor de Izamal’. It is a popular restaurant 3 blocks away from the main square. The menu is small but really nice and it has reasonable prices. The restaurant has a souvenir shop inside as well. There you can get a free homemade tequila shooooot!
Cost: $150.00+ per person Don’t forget to try the local market’s menu, for me they are as good as any restaurant and way cheaper. If looking for some local dishes, this is the right place. Here I had best salbutes of the region!
The town was declared in 2012 one of the 111 ‘Magic towns’ in Mexico.
This charming village in Yucatán located 45 min away from the capital. Full of bright colors, nice people, and delicious food is just the beginning of how to describe this lovely town. If you are looking for an authentic experience of Mexico, then Valladolid should be on your travel list.Where to stay?
For accommodation in Valladolid we checked into Hotel 41, at Calle 41 (not kidding haha). It was a clean, brand new hotel with an outside swimming pool, staff were really nice as well. Good for car owners and road-trip travelers. Rooms look quite sad and clinical because everything is white, not my favorite hotel but funcional.
0.00+ por nocheActivities
In the morning you can enjoy a homemade drink in a coffee shop close to Francisco Cantón Rosado square, which is the main park in Valladolid. Or try a coconut ice cream during the warm afternoon.
Cost: aprox $20.00 pesos
Even though it is a small village, it is full of history. Containing historical buildings like the mayor hall, where you can find an small historical art gallery in the second floor.
San Gervasio cathedral located between Calle 39 to 41. Even if you are not religious you should visit it. It has simple but beautiful details inside.
We went to Cenote Zaci located in Valladolid, calle 37 x 39. This one of the most popular cenotes around this area because of it’s privileged Zone, offering a freshwater underground and illuminated cenote. Just above the cenote there’s a traditional food restaurant with a delicious menu, and good value for money. Also there is no fee for the cenote if you eat at the restaurant.
Cost: $150.00 pesos for a meal. Atraditional Yucatecan slider platters was enough for 6 people and less than $450.00 pesos.
Cenote Maya Park was over and above my expectations.
It is located 45 minutes away from Valladolid in the village of Kantunil, lost in the jungle. Cenote Maya Park is an ecopark that preserves the Mayan native spirit. It has 3 different zip lines inside with different highs, the highest one is 7 meters. You can also practice abseiling and snorkel. If you are not attached to a specific schedule and you are willing to experience new things, then this cenote is a must visit place for travellers.
Cost: $350 for locals and over a $1300 pesos for foreign travelers. But totally worth it.
I was amazed by this Cenote which is probably my favorite to date. It is also known as Selva Maya and it is located 30 minutes away from Valladolid in the middle of Yucatán’s jungle.
At Zahamal you can find a Mexican Hacienda, now a delicious buffet restaurant. It’s perfect for a Mexican dinner ($$) surrounded by a lush jungle forest, then chilling and swimming in the cold turquoise pool. For an adrenaline rush it has a small step platform where you can jump from and also a natural waterfall inside. Its definitely worth a stop and a short tour.
Cost: $100.00 mx for the entrance Also experience the nightlife in Valladolid. We ended up in a nice bar close to cerrada 39. Different from The Riviera Maya but fun.
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