Our road trip continued and after Quintana Roo we headed to Yucatán state. Here comes our top 5 list of the best places to visit in Yucatán.
(Ek Balam – NO) & Cenote Xcanche
We have been planning to visit Ek Balam, the famous archeological site first and then to go to Cenote Xcanche, since they are located next to each other, and at some sources this Cenote is mentioned as the Cenote of Ek Balam. Well, in the end we have not visited Ek Balam, for the ridiculous price that they asked from us – as foreigners – as general admission above the entrance fee. It’s not only that the basic entrance fee is already more expensive for tourists than for locals, but on top you need to pay additionally 5 times more for this so-called general admission. We think this is absolutely disgusting, especially that after visiting later many other archeological spots, much more famous ones than Ek Balam, without paying any general admission. So for us Ek Balam is a big NO go!
But since we were already there, and it was crazy hot, we did not want to miss the chance to put our bodies under water in the hope of cooling down a bit. Cenote Xcanche is great, very few people, and the water is crystal clear and super refreshing. This was the coldest natural water that we were able to find during 4 weeks – including some bigger players in the league, such as the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Ocean. When it’s almost 40 degrees and 90% humidity – this Cenote was definitely the best place to cool down.
There are some basic facilities, such as lockers and showers, and you can meet bats in the caves & observe many fishes in the lake. Net-net it is an unbelievable experience, if you are in Mexico don’t miss the visit of a Cenote!
The city of Valladolid is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also conveniently located in the middle of the peninsula making it a perfect stopover from whichever direction you arrive. The city center – likewise all around in all Mexican towns and cities – is relatively small, we have rented two bikes to visit it, but frankly speaking by feet as well wouldn’t have been too tiring, if we disregard the crazy hot weather.
In order to develop tourism activity in Yucatán, Valladolid was elected Pueblo Magico (Magic Town) in 2012. Its colourful houses and haciendas make this colonial city one of the most iconic of the Peninsula.
The city was founded 1543 by Francisco Montejo. It was the second city built by Spanish colonisers (after Merida in 1542).
- The Cathedral of San Gervacio, located on the main place (built in 1545, destroyed in 1705 and rebuilt in 1706).
- The Ex-Convent of San Bernadino de Siena, especially during the night. At 9pm in Spanish, and at 9:15pm in English they do video projection on the walls of the convent that explains the history of Valladolid. This show goes on every night at the same hour.
Many people spend the night in Valladolid just to access nearby Chichén-Itzá next day early morning. We did the same way! It was quite easy for us to get there right when the gates open to see the ruins before the crowds came.
Chichén-Itzá was one of the largest Maya cities and it was likely to have been one of the mythical great cities, or Tollans, referred to in later Mesoamerican literature. The city may have had the most diverse population in the Maya world, a factor that could have contributed to the variety of architectural styles at the site.
Chichén-Itzá is one of the new seven wonders of the world, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the most famous of the Mayan ruins in the world. It opens at 8 am and it’s worth to arrive early, so you can enjoy this famous archeological site before the crowds and the heat of the day kicks in. Chichén-Itzá is one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico with over 2.6 million tourists in 2017.
Mérida is the capital and largest city in Yucatán state, as well as the largest city of the Yucatán Peninsula. The city is located in the northwest part of the state, about 35 kilometres off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
We were told or have read somewhere before that it is considered the most European city of Mexico. Well, if you arrive to the center by car, the surroundings and the outskirts of the city (like every city in Mexico) could be shocking. There, the old colonial buildings are in very bad condition, the people are all over on the streets and the overall feeling is not that pleasant. But if you move to the city center, suddenly the city will have a completely different vibe, with nicely repainted and renovated colonial villas, cool wine bars, European looking like bars and restaurants, bike lanes and parks, like we would be in a completely different city.
This village may not have the classic beaches of the Caribbean, and honestly – besides the beach there is not much to see there – but it does have several kilometres of lovely coastline, that is perfect for long walks, sunbathing & admiring the sunset. There are no crowds, even at the main beach in town, and the water is a pretty green-emerald colour.
It’s especially worth to visit during the sargassum season, since this part of the Gulf of Mexico is hidden by the currents, and usually stays seaweed free! Not to mention their amazing gastronomy, already influenced by Campeche state, and the fresh seafood at every beach bar – cockteleria!
Marquesitas are a dessert native to the state of Yucatán. They consist of a crepe, rolled like a taco, filled with cajeta or dulce de leche, condensed milk, jam, chocolate or edam cheese, also known as queso de bola. They are sold in squares, parks and streets and always freshly done ina special crepe maker pan. Be aware that only with cheese – as we tried for the first time – is a bit too dry. But be careful with the sweet sauces, better to choose only one on top of it, otherwise you end up with a super sweet version. No matter what, don’t miss it & enjoy!
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