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One of the most famous archeological sites in the world, Chichen Itza is one of the biggest cities of the Maya empire, an ancient civilisation that lived in the Yucatan more than a millennium ago. The mysterious Maya enjoyed a golden period from around 300 to 900 AD (although they were around long before and still exist in large numbers today). Their empire was large, stretching right down the coast to Honduras, and was very advanced. Today Chichen Itza stands as a remarkable memorial to this lost civilisation. And the charming city of Valladolid is the closest port of call, and well worth exploring in its own right.
Chichen Itza - About 45 minutes from Valladolid, it’s the largest Maya site in the Yucatan Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and recently named as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Parque Francisco Canton Rosado - The central town square in Valladolid is where you can discover colonial buildings and the town’s historic character.
Calzada de los Frailes - Just a few minutes from the historic centre, this starts the ‘cinco calles’ part of town and leads to the park at the former convent San Bernadino de Siena.
Rio Largotas - A sleepy town on the northern shore of the peninsula with a natural lagoon and nature reserve.
Ek’ Balam - Another hugely impressive Mayan archeological site within easy reach of Valladolid, with more temples to explore.
Discover the mysteries of the Maya world at this hugely impressive site at Chichen Itza. It’s one of the biggest and best restored Mayan sites in the region, with gruesome sacrificial altars and vast temples rising out of the canopy. The temples were built very specifically in line with the sun and moon, casting shadows at certain times of year. Back in the city, wander the pastel coloured streets of the old colonial centre. Valladolid is a small and compact city that’s easy to get around on foot. Sit in the Parque Francisco Canton Rosado or marvel at the Catedral de San Gervasio. You can also visit some of the nearby cenotes, or sinkholes, including Zaci just a few hundred metres from the main square.
Valladolid is a great base from which to explore more of the surrounding area. There are plenty of tour options available, with a good transport network. Day trips to Tulum and, of course, Chichen Itza are very popular. See the wildlife - with flamingos and crocodiles - at the Rio Lagartos lagoon, or rent bikes and explore the cenotes and colonial churches that are found in abundance here. Then strap on a tank and go on a scuba diving adventure in the crystal clear waters of the cenotes.