We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Lucie, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Lucie is from Canada, and submitted the following report about Valladolid. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Spanish, English
Reasons to go: Valladolid is a nice little colonial town in the state of Yucatán, on the peninsula of the same name, in Eastern México. It is part of the Mexican Pueblos Mágicos (Magic Villages) program, which include cities that are worth the detour due to their history, beauty, or natural features.
It is a very beautiful little city, especially the center near the Zocalo, where you will find some restaurants, tourist shops, hotels, and the Cathedral San Gervaiso. Most of the city is laid out in a grid, with the odd numbers running East-West, and the even numbers North-South, so people will give you directions like “corner of 38th and 41st Street.”
There is a cenote a few blocks from the zocalo, cenote Zací, and 2 other cenotes near the city (Dzitnup – pronounced Citnoop – and Samula). These 2 are more spectacular, but require a taxi ride from the center of town (about 50-70 pesos each way). Aside from the Cathedral, there is an old convent, Convent of San Bernardino, which you access by a photogenic street that runs in diagonal to the grid, the Calzada de los Frailes, or Friars' Road.
Apart from its colonial charm, the real reason to stay in Valladolid is that it makes a great base to visit 3 sets of Mayan ruins: Chichen Itzá, Cobá, and Ek Balam. While the first site is the most famous (and most visited!) the other two have a big bonus: you can climb the main pyramid!
There are several second-class buses from Valladolid to Chichen Itzá in the morning, and it is easy to come back after your visit. Ek Balam requires a taxi ride, and, as for Cobá, there is also a second-class bus. Just ask for the ruins, not the village, and be sure to come back early. I missed the last bus, walked to the police station and inquired about my options in my mangled Spanish. The officer flagged a shared taxi for me, and it ended up costing me a whopping 50 pesos (about $5 US) for a one hour ride. The driver had little patience for slower-moving vehicles, and would pass them at what seemed to me like frenzied speed, while the other passengers didn't bat an eye. Made it back to the Zocalo in one piece, but I'm still not sure if I was smiling with pleasure or fear.
Valladolid is easy to reach by bus. In fact, the whole Yucatán peninsula can easily be travelled that way. The bus station is one block away from the Zocalo, and you can find frequent departures to many destinations in the peninsula, as well as further away in the country.
I stayed at the Hostel La Candelaria, near the church of the same name. Very clean, decorated with taste, well-equipped kitchen, breakfast included. Nice garden in the back, and two hostel cats at the time. Ask them for their hamburguesa place nearby. It features an excellent burger cooked on charcoal.
So, if the Yucatán conjures images of drunken college kids on Spring Break, leave Cancún behind and move to the interior for some authenticity. Valladolid truly is a Pueblo Magico.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 2 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 3 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 2 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult)