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Why This Magic Town Near Cancun Is Growing Popular With Americans This Summer 

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With the Mexican Caribbean’s boundless popularity spilling out from areas like Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, cities like Valladolid are experiencing a rebound in their hotel and restaurant sectors, with the expectation that it will continue to grow throughout the month of August. 

Located between Mérida and Cancun, this “Magic Town” is known for its historic colonial buildings, its unforgettable cuisine, and its close proximity to the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá.

colonial architecture in Vallalodid

Alfredo Fernández Arceo, the municipal president, noted that the city “had a good flow of tourism both national and international,” with “mainly North American” tourists making up the majority of the visitor count in the area. 

With the city named “Pueblo Mágico” in August 2012, Arceo recognized this ratification had made people more interested in the city’s colonial past and its traditions, and has since been driving growth in sales in the area, with an expectation that it will spike throughout the rest of the summer vacation period.

Valladolid is also known as “The Sultan of the East”, gaining its title for the beauty of its architecture with such buildings as the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena, the Municipal Palace and the Museum of San Roque, with some dating back to the 1500s.

Mexican dancer during summer festival

Arceo highlighted that the festivals which are scheduled to take place in the city this summer will be another big draw for international tourism, with visitors looking to expand their cultural itineraries; confirmation of the rising popularity of archaeological and historic sites amongst tourists. 

Valladolid had not always been a popular destination, with the president of the National Chamber of Commerce, Services and Tourism, Gerardo Vidal Cruz, acknowledging that the area struggled to regain its footing in the early post-pandemic period when areas such as Cancun and Riviera Maya offered cheaper packages, deterring visitors from overnight stays at the now bustling city.

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Valladolid city at dusk with church in the background

Cruz remains hopeful that this summer’s influx of tourists will continue to improve growth and revenue, looking to the city’s gastronomic offerings as a main draw, as well its convenience as a starting point for visitors to the infamous Chichén Itzá, which is a mere 20 minutes away.

So what is it about this city that is so “magical” to Americans?

Cathedral in Valladolid city

Firstly, the history surrounding the area is in abundance, with The Church of San Servacio dating back to 1545. 

With historical and architectural beauty on every corner, the colorful, colonial buildings certainly give off the “magic town” feel Vallodilid has been so aptly named after.

Secondly, if good Yucatecan cooking is on your bucket list, you need look no further.

Delicious Mexican tacos in a restaurant

Valladolid’s food scene is certainly noteworthy, with a whole festival dedicated to the Longaniza de Valladolid happening at the end of this month: a locally made sausage that is a must-try. 

Other notable dishes are lomitos de Valladolid, longaniza, and chicken escabeche, each one of them giving you a true taste of Mexican delicacy which will have your mouth watering. 

Hotels are also fairly reasonable in Valladolid and act as a perfect base if Chichén Itzá is on your itinerary.

chichen itza in the early morning

Arceo highlighted that August would act as economic relief for the city’s local businesses, with the most popular areas of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen selling tickets to Chichén Itzá, inevitably driving footfall to Valladolid, with many tourists choosing to stay in the area for one or two nights as part of their trip. 

The city also finds itself surrounded in close proximity to a number of notable cenotes, such as Dzitnup and Ik-Kil, and is the perfect thing activity for escaping the heat of the afternoon in the summer months. 

If you find yourself in midtown, you will be able to visit Cenote Zací, which has a fee of USD 1.50 but is also free to enter if you buy food and drinks at its restaurant. 

Valladolid Cenote

Cenotes are natural sinkholes filled with groundwater which are perfect conditions for swimming, and some even date back to being in use in ancient Mayan culture as sacrificial sites.

If tourists want to see through a more authentic lens of Mexican culture, away from the busy crowds of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, Valladolid offers everything from stunning colonial architecture to traditional Yucetenan delicacies and a community of people keen to show you the ‘magic’ and charm of its historic city.

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