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Best things to do in Yucatán State: a 4-day itinerary

Valladolid Cathedral in the Yucatan with blue skies and palm trees

From mystical Maya ruins to sun-soaked cenotes, our 4-day itinerary covers the best things to do in Yucatán State

We began our month-long trip through Central America in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. It was my first visit to this part of the world and I was keen to visit the ancient Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá – my seventh world wonder – and to explore the region’s famed cenotes (freshwater sinkholes).

The Yucatán Peninsula comprises the Mexican states of Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo as well as parts of Guatemala and most of Belize. The Mexican portion is one of the most visited destinations on the planet, but Yucatán State provides a refreshing change of pace from the more popular stops on the peninsula.

Of course, there are dazzling beaches, magnificent Maya ruins and plenty of cenotes, but the state also offers rich wildlife, charming colonial towns and a wide array of restaurants.

Things to do in Yucatán State

We spent three nights and four days exploring Yucatán State and have put together an itinerary of the quintessestial sights.


Day 1: Arrive & drive to Valladolid

Our flight from London landed at Cancún Airport in the afternoon. We picked up a rental car from Avis at the airport and drove 2.5 hours from the airport to Valladolid. Driving in the region is reasonably straightforward with traffic manageable outside of the city centres.

Valladolid Cathedral in the Yucatan with blue skies and palm trees
lunamarina/Shutterstock Iglesia de San Servacio in Valladolid

Quiet, intimate and pastel-hued Valladolid is the perfect hub for visiting Río Lagartos (1.5 hours away by car) as well as Chichén Itzá (45 minutes) and several cenotes including Suytun and Oxmán.

We stayed at the Hotel Mesón del Marqués in Valladolid. Set in the grounds of a gorgeous colonial-era 17th-century house, the hotel is located right on the main square with views of Iglesia de San Servacio, the imposing Catholic church at the heart of Valladolid. The hotel has large, cool rooms with an on-site restaurant and rooftop bar, but its main selling point is the pretty central garden where meals are served.

Day 2: Río Lagartos & Valladolid

After a slow breakfast at the hotel, we spent our first morning in Yucatán State exploring the mangrove-lined estuary of Río Lagartos, the ‘river of the lizards’. The UNESCO biosphere reserve is home to abundant birdlife and a visible population of crocodiles that gives the region its name.

We took a boat…

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