Say Hola To The Insanely Colorful Gem That Is Valladolid Mexico

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Valladolid Mexico is Colorful


Dusk falls as we stroll from our Airbnb rental in the San Juan district into centro, fresh-faced after a week at the beach and excited to explore Valladolid Mexico, a small city near the eastern border of Yucatan state. As we walk along Calle 42 to the central Parque Francisco Canton, the sounds of Mexico we’ve come to know — the raucous barks and howls of countless dogs, the roars and smoky puffs of old diesel buses, and the loud rhythmic music of everyday life — fades into the barely discernible distance, replaced by a high-pitched, multi-layered screaming that halts all conversation and overpowers…everything.

We reach the southwest wall of San Gervasio Church, and see what’s causing the commotion: hundreds of screeching black birds coming in to roost in the laurel trees of Parque Francisco Canton.

We cross the road — unwise, in hindsight — walking into Valladolid’s defacto zocalo to check out the evening happenings, and to peruse the marquesita vendors on the fringes. Geoff points at the copious splatters of bird crap on the pathways, and we edge left to decrease our chances of being targets.

Too late.

Seconds after Geoff’s observation, I get pooped on by an unknown, feathered assailant. This is the first of two poopings I’ll suffer in as many days, and yet, I already love Valladolid.

After being generally disappointed with Merida, Valladolid feels like a deep, calming breath, and like a place we want to be. Fairly or not, we often judge cities immediately, treating our knee-jerk reactions to the city’s intangible vibe as truth, after only a few hours or days. In Oaxaca, we turned out to be wrong, and the city grew on us slowly and steadily over time. Maybe the same thing would have happened with Merida had we stuck around long enough. But with Valladolid, we almost immediately liked the place, even after being on the receiving end of a “welcome” pooping.


Less than two hours from Playa del Carmen or Cancun, Valladolid feels like a world away.

For one, it’s clean and calm. There are no tourists wandering the streets wearing lucha libre masks, drinking from open cans of Corona, and yelling obnoxiously in English (a description of an actual person that we saw this past week in Playa Del Carmen). Most tourists pass through on a day trip to nearby Chichen Itza, and the few that stick around seem to do so for a genuine interest in Mexican and Yucatecan culture, food and life. Ditto, the international brands of Playa and Cancun. H&M and Starbucks are nowhere to be found, with local shops and restaurants dominating, and a few South American and European-owned boutiques thrown into the mix.

But you can’t describe a great city by saying only what it isn’t.

Like Oaxaca, Valladolid is a mix of both indigenous and Spanish influences, being built, in fact, atop the forcibly dismantled Maya town of Zaci.

The Mayan influence is everywhere: extraordinarily petite women in crisp white huipil blouses and dresses, decorated with bright, embroidered flowers in every colour; an abundant selection of Yucatecan food, pulling from the Mayan heritage and ingredients of the area; and, of course, nearby Chichen Itza, one of the largest Mayan cities.

On the Spanish side, the central part of town could easily serve as a movie set for “colonial Mexico:” cobblestones; low-rise, colourful buildings; a Spanish colonial cathedral.

It’s the combo of all of this, and the fact that Valladolid is so clean, and feels so safe, that make it such a find, a place worth more than a few hours.


Valladolid Mexico
Lazy dogs are everywhere in Mexico, until nightfall, when they erupt into furious fits of barking at the slightest sound. Pack your ear plugs.


San Gervasio Church Valladolid Mexico
First Glimpse of San Gervasio Church, which stands tall right across from the main park/square


Catedral de San Gervasio Valladolid Mexico
Same church, different angle


Parque Francisco Canton Valladolid Mexico
Hanging out with friends and family at dusk in Parque Francisco Canton


valladolid mexico at night
City Hall at night. The crazy streak above the others is from a party bus that looks like it was built by an unhinged clown


Valladolid Mexico Colorful Buildings
Daytime brings colour in Valladolid…lots and lots of colour


unique flowers valladolid mexico
These flowers remind me of tiny pink feather dusters.


pink bougainvillea spilling over a whitewashed wall
Can’t keep the bougainvillea down


bougainvillea blue sky
Hola Rosa!


VW bug in Valladolid Mexico
Valladolid has a large population of well-preserved bugs, which look fa-bu-lous against the Spanish colonial buildings


Green VW in Mexico
Case in point


a motorcycle and palm tree and colorful buildings
Also in the ‘transportation and pretty buildings’ category of Valladolid pics


A bicycle with a basket against a colorful building Valladolid Mexico
Can’t stop, won’t stop (taking pictures)


motorcycle in Valladolid Mexico
Oddly tempted by this


Geoff, being Geoff
Geoff, being Geoff


Calle De Los Frailes Valladolid Mexico
A row of colourful buildings along Calle De Los Frailes, Valladolid’s prettiest street


Colorful doors and buildings Mexico
Another colourful combo


Yellow building Valladolid Mexico
Seriously, this city never stops. It’s just this colourful


Pink and white buildings Valladolid Mexico


Calle de los Frailes Valladolid Mexico


Calle de los Frailes Valladolid



A skeleton and planter Valladolid Mexico
Details and skeletons


skeleton in Valladolid Mexico
Everybody needs a friend…even skeletons


square in Valladolid Mexico
A tiny square, across from the convent


Bernardino de Siena Convent Valladolid Mexico
Arches outside the San Bernardino de Siena Convent


Convent of San Bernardino de Siena Valladolid Mexico
A wider angle of the convent


colorful houses valladolid Mexico
Valladolid’s colour doesn’t seem to stop at the tourist quarter…these are houses in a residential area


Bright house valladolid Mexico
Another really, really colorful (and imaginative) house



If you’re still reading this – thanks! We’ll be including pictures from Valladolid in our second travel colouring book, which is all about Mexico. If you’re interested in updates about that and our travels, sign up for updates below :)

5 thoughts on “Say Hola To The Insanely Colorful Gem That Is Valladolid Mexico”

  1. I LOVED looking at your photos of Valladolid! You took some really incredible shots. I love how unique all of the doors are!

    I am also really looking forward to seeing your Mexico-themed colouring book. When is it being released?

    Your post made me remember all of the amazing memories I have of spending time in Valladolid. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Katie Matthews

      Thanks Brittany – that’s great to hear! We found Valladolid to be a bit of a photographer’s dream…so colourful and cute! As to Book #2, we don’t have an exact date yet, but will likely be publishing in mid-April. Stay tuned for updates here :)

    1. That’s great Christine – we’re so happy to hear that. Valladolid, in our opinion, was absolutely worth the trip! Have fun, and I hope the city lives up to expectations :)

  2. Pingback: Top 8 Things to Do in Campeche Mexico

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