- Cenotes nearby
- Colorful and colonial architecture
- Nightly light show
- Yucatán lime soup
- Relaxing strolls in a small town
If you’re in Mexico and thinking of seeing Chichén Itzá, consider spending a night in Valladolid first. Here are three reasons why:
1) Valladolid is quaint, colorful and full of colonial architecture. In the past, I’ve recommended spending a night in Valladolid because doing so will get you closer to one of the seven wonders of the world; Chichén Itzá. You can arrive to Valladolid, spend the day admiring its charm and then leave the next morning at a reasonable time – all the while beating the crowds coming in on a day tour from Rivera Maya.
However, Valladolid isn’t just a small town with nothing to do. Although quiet, there are still markets, traditional dances, a gorgeous baroque-style San Gervasio Cathedral and a nightly light show on the 16th-century Convent of San Bernardino of Siena. The show is offered in both English and Spanish and there are tasty treats being sold in the area so you can enjoy an ice cream with your show too!
2) This town is also home to two cenotes! Now, what the heck is a cenote you might ask? For those curious, a cenote is a deep natural well, or sinkhole, in limestone that is created when the roof of an underground cavern collapses. So, you’re left with this AMAZING pool of the clearest and purest water you can imagine! Well, sometimes….the cool thing about cenotes is that they can be filled with either fresh or salt water, be incredibly massive or quite small and are almost exclusively found in the Yucatán Peninsula! Cenotes can also be open and filled with beautiful fish and turtles, or be hidden and home to bats. Some might even be swampy (like the Sacred Cenote at Chichén Itzá). It really just depends! Some are great for diving, others more for wading in the water. Either way, cenote exploring is just something you MUST do in this part of the world – so why not try it out in Valladolid? Here, you’ll find the underground cenotes of Samulá and X’Kekén. Just take a look!
To enter, you pay a small fee and then make your way down the steps of a cave. I remember immediately feeling the mugginess and spotting some bats! However the water was so fresh, clean and clear. There were little black “pedicure fish” that nibbled at our feet and stalagmites everywhere.
3) Sopa de lima anyone? YES YES YES! This Yucatán-style chicken lime soup was delicious! I had heard that it was a specialty and decided to try it out in the main food court of the town center. We ordered this along with a warm tamale (yumm), a chicken dinner and two goblets of homemade aguas frescas. We went specifically for an horchata and agua de tamarindo here. Ahhhh just talking about this suddenly has me feeling so hungry and thirsty again….
Anyway, if you decide not to go to the food court like we did, there are also some restaurants serving up local Yucatán fare.
ONE LAST TIP TO HELP YOU PLAN: After spending the day in Valladolid and leaving the next morning to discover Chichén Itzá, try going for a swim at Cenote Ik-Kil. It’s simply stunning and there’s an area where you can jump into the water from quite a height! Plus, your body will be begging you for a refreshing swim after being under the hot Mayan sun at the ruins.