If you are in Tulum and really want to explore the area for places to admire and enjoy, there is this beautiful place located in the State of Yucatan, called Valladolid. It is a truly magical and peaceful city, full of attractions such as colonial buildings and beautiful hotels with the same style of architecture. It is also an excellent point of reference to visit other equally exciting sites such as Chichen Itza, Ek Balam or the beautiful cenotes of the surroundings. What is there to do in Valladolid? Read on for a quick guide of the most iconic spots of this beautiful town.
The main park
Right in the center of the city is the central park of Valladolid, a site full of gardens and imposing trees where you can take a walk and try a delicious and refreshing coconut ice cream sold here. In the center of the park, there is a fountain known as “La Mestiza” that pays homage to Yucatecan women. It is also the place where you can begin to immerse yourself in the local culture and language during the day and feel its vitality and local activity at night. The streets surrounding the central park are often closed late at night, while there are dance and musical shows.
Cathedral of San Gervasio
Located on Calle 39 between 40 and 42, in front of Francisco Canton Park on the south side. This cathedral overlooks the central park and is a beautiful church with detailed architecture.
The cathedral still has daily services, which are open for anyone to visit them. It is beautifully lit at night, and there are often beautiful Mexican weddings.
The colonial cathedral is appreciated for its architectural beauty and dates from 1545. It is built with a surface of carved stone. Its interior is simple and has an area of catacombs with niches dating from the eighteenth century, fully accessible to the public.
In front of the central park, the municipal palace is a sixteenth-century building with two floors, and on the second floor, there are oil paintings that narrate passages on the history of Valladolid. The view from the balconies is beautiful because the park and the Cathedral of San Gervasio can be seen here. Undoubtedly, a place worth visiting, where you can relax a bit and appreciate the view, take pictures and enjoy the quiet atmosphere of the city of Valladolid.
Church of the Candelaria
In front of this church, there is a beautiful and quiet park in which cultural and community events are held every weekend; Also, if you are here on February 2, you can participate in the party that takes place in the church, live local music, typical Yucatan food, and the best atmosphere. The Spaniards built this church on a Mayan pyramid that was demolished, using some of the stones of the monument to build the church itself.
Take a picture of this iconic symbol of Valladolid is definitely one of the best things to do in Valladolid. Just make sure you see it during the day and at night since the view is entirely different.
Museum of San Roque
Inside a 16th century house, the museum is modest, but quite exciting, as it exhibits archeological pieces, medicine utensils of the ancient Mayan culture and crafts of a considerable antiquity, without a doubt a place to visit if you are interested in knowing La History of Valladolid and the life of the ancient Mayan culture. Give it a try, we are sure you will not regret it.
Convent of San Bernardino de Siena
It used to be one of the abbeys of the Franciscan Order in 1552, has large hand-painted murals and vast courtyards enclosed by walls and also has a cenote with the name of Sis-Ha, and there is a spacious esplanade in the surrounding area where It is lovely to walk around and contemplate the construction and the gardens.
A visit to Valladolid is excellent to get a glimpse of the real Mexican culture and history. So if you want to give your vacations in Tulum a twist and enrich your visit, it is a tour that you can’t miss.
Visiting Chichen Itza
The world famous archaeological site of Chichen Itza is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World by UNESCO, and also a world heritage site. This vestige is located directly in the heart of the Mayan region and was once one of the most important cities for the Mayan civilization, due to this and more, Chichen Itza is a visit that must be made if or if you are on vacations in Tulum.
Here’s a recap on the most remarkable points of the archaeological zone of Chichén Itzá, and they are not few!
The archaeological zone of Chichén Itzá is full of monuments, temples, and new locations. We will mention some of the most remarkable ones, and when you visit them, you will be amazed, without you having ruined the surprise.
This imposing pyramid is located right in the center of the archaeological zone and is the most known symbol of the ancient Mayan culture worldwide. It is also known as “El Castillo,” and it is a monument dedicated to the god Kukulkán, the feathered serpent, and god of the sun. A spectacular temple, especially if your visit is made during the spring or autumn equinox because during these dates you can see a shadow show designed centuries ago by the Mayans themselves, in which a Snake-shaped shadow is projected above the steps of one of the faces of the pyramid and begins to descend through them. An impressive optical illusion that you must observe at least once in life.
The pyramid is a direct reference to the Mayan calendar since each of its four sides is composed of 91 steps, which when added to the central platform gives a result of 365, just like the days of the year. It has 9 terraces divided into two sections each that result in 18, reminiscent of the 18 months of the Mayan calendar. This impressive building is a reminder of the incredible observation skills of the Mayan astronomers.
Arena of the ball game
Within the archaeological zone of Chichén Itzá, there are at least 8 arenas for the ball game. A formal ceremony that the ancient Mayans practiced honoring the gods, in which the goal was to pass a rubber ball through a ring located in the center of the arena. The players could only pass the ball between team members and through this ring using elbows, shoulders, hips, and ankles. At the end of the game, the winning team members were sacrificed; That’s right! That was the prize! For the ancient Mayan culture serving the gods was a practice of honor.
The main arena is carefully detailed with engraved representations of snakes in the rock of the walls and the ring of the game, murals representing the game itself taking place. Which gives us more information about the game itself which seemed to be quite violent, but here the most important thing is that you see it with your own eyes and witness its magnificence and we hope that this information will be useful for you to know a bit better what this is all about.
The temple of the skulls
Right next to the arena of the ball game is the Tzompantli or temple of the skulls, this is one of the most unique sites or temples in the entire archaeological zone of Chichén Itzá and a bit spooky as well. It is a low platform covered by carved skulls on all sides. Here were exhibited the heads of the sacrificed by ceremonies and also by the ball game, this platform draws much attention for its aforementioned very particular aspect, similar platforms are found In the old Tenochtitlan in the center of Mexico, it is a monument that is worth knowing, but it is not the last one so let’s continue.
The observatory or Snail
This is a circular building on top of a large square platform dating from around 906 BC. It is believed to act as an observatory where ancient Mayan astronomers could observe celestial phenomena. Focused on the trajectory of venus due to its location, an exceptional building because it highlights one of the main functions that developed in this ancient Mayan city and the importance that the ancient Mayans lent to the stars and other celestial bodies, being there you can feel the passion of these astronomers of antiquity. As the last curious fact the name given to “the snail” is due to the spiral-shaped stairs that are inside.
Temple of the Warriors
This temple is a large stepped pyramid, and its name is due to the carved columns that surround it. Each of these representing standing warriors that give the feeling of being guardians in the temple’s watchtower. This building is similar to the one found in Tula. Of the Toltec capital, known as temple B, which gives us hints of a cross between the two cultures. However the temple of the warriors from the archaeological site of Chichén Itzá is more extensive, in the upper part of the staircase and at the top of the temple is a statue that represents a reclining figure leaning on his elbows with a disk on his stomach, which is known as Chac Mool. This temple is impressive like many other monuments that are found in this archaeological zone.
Reading about Chichen Itza may not be as exciting as an actual visit, so if you’re visiting Tulum be sure to get a tour to the impressive site for an unforgettable experience!
One of the most important archaeological sites near Tulum is Cobá, but you’ve probably haven’t heard that much about this place in comparison to other popular sites like Chichen Itza, though Coba is genuinely a beautiful vestige that you can’t miss when visiting Tulum.
Coba was a significant city for the Maya civilization with an estimated population of more than 50,000 inhabitants at its peak, back in the days. Many tall monuments and buildings can be found through its streets and roads (called sacbes), and since it remains a bit unaltered by the hand of modernity, a visit to this site gives the sensation of truly exploring an undiscovered place.
It is believed that Coba was once the most powerful city in the region, controlling farmland, commercial routes, and critical water sources. However, due to its location in the middle of the jungle, the site is not as popular with tourists as other sites in Mexico, like Chichen Itza or the Tulum Ruins. This represents an advantage as the place is never really crowded, so you can enjoy plenty of time admiring the carved stone, the impressive buildings and of course, the view at the top of the highlight of the vestige: the big Temple of Nohoc Mul, an impressive pyramid 138 feet height with 120 stone steps that you can actually climb. It may not be easy, but once you get to the top, you’ll understand that it was totally worth the climb. The lush jungle landscape that extends in all directions is a mesmerizing spectacle that you definitely need to contemplate.
Coba is also a fun tour to enjoy with family and friends for its versatility. You can explore it hiking through the jungle paths, but you can also rent a bike at the entrance for a completely different experience. People with difficulty to walk or that just don’t want to, can rent a “bicitaxi” that takes you all the way into the jungle to each of the site’s highlights. You can also hire a professional guide to make the most out of your visit and learn all about the place, but it’s not necessary.
For the best Coba experience, remember to bring comfortable clothes, appropriate walking shoes or snickers (no flip flops, here, you’ll regret bringing them), biodegradable sunscreen and bug repellent, hat or cap and cash for souvenirs.
A visit to Coba is not complete without taking a dip in the refreshing crystal waters of a cenote. There are many of these spectacular natural pools in the surrounding open for visitors, so bring your swimwear and snorkeling gear.
So now you know! visit Coba from Tulum and make your vacations unforgettable!
Different type of cenotes close to Tulum
Tulum is more than white sandy beaches of turquoise waves crashing on the shore, and the sun kissing your skin while sipping a natural cocktail or a fresh coconut on your Bali bed. Though this sounds like a perfect way to spend the day (or life), there’s a lot to do in Tulum that will make your already fantastic experience even better! One of the best activities available is to visit the cenotes. Have you heard of them?
Cenotes are natural sinkholes of crystal clear waters and stunning vegetation formed by the crashing of a meteorite on the Yucatan Peninsula thousands of years ago – the same responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs – and by other natural events happening since then, including the filtration of rainwater to the limestone.
These natural wonders have been around for ages now. For the Mayan civilization, they were associated with mysticism and were considered a connection or entrance to Xibalba, the underworld. They were also important sources of water. These marvelous ecosystems are the habitat for an extensive and diverse flora and fauna such as fish, frogs, birds and lots of colorful trees and exotic plants.
Nowadays, cenotes are one of the main attractions of the Riviera Maya – hence Tulum – as they cannot be found anywhere else in the world, visiting at least one cenote A MUST when staying in Tulum. There are different types of cenotes available, all of them different but gorgeous, take a look at this quick guide and recommendations for some of the most amazing cenotes that you can visit while staying at Alma Tulum.
This type of cenote is the most popular for families and friends in search of having fun in the water. They are like big ponds of crystal water where the sun rays hit the underwater rocks and vegetation, providing a unique spectacle of color and life. Open cenotes are great for snorkeling, taking thrilling dips from platforms or even ziplines and most of them are not that deep. One of the most beautiful open cenotes near Tulum is Cenote Nicte-ha, a very calmed piece of paradise great for those in search of peace in harmony with nature, but also to spend a fun day swimming. The plants floating on the surface and the beauty of the surrounding trees make it one of the most amazing natural spots you’ll ever see. Find it 22 km North of Tulum.
These cenotes have the best of two worlds: an open part surrounded by palm trees and vegetation and a system of caverns where light still streams making it a snorkeling delight! Once you enter the cave, you’ll get to see stalactite and stalagmite, and you’ll even have the chance to spot some small turtles. It’s an excellent spot for diving too. Gran Cenote is one of the most popular, so be sure to visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Find it 1.5 miles from Tulum on the road to Coba.
Cave cenotes locate underneath the ground. Extensive cave systems connect most of the underground cenotes, yet to be fully explored. One of the top cave cenotes is Dos Ojos, a divers paradise, with more than 67 km of underwater courses discovered. It is 120 meters deep. Would you dare to confirm it? The visibility in this cenote is excellent for both snorkeling and diving, and you can get there 20km north of Tulum.
Keep in mind that there’s no better way of cooling yourself from the tropical weather (especially during Spring and Summer) than swimming in cenotes, so be sure to save a day of your vacations in Tulum for visiting one (or two) of these unique natural wonders.