Vogue magazine contributor Alison Beckner provides these recommendations for a road trip through the Yucatan Peninsula with stops in Valladolid, Merida, Izamal, and other high points…
The Yucatán Peninsula is well known for oceanfront hot spots Tulum and Holbox, as well as progressive Mérida, aka “the new San Miguel de Allende.” But beyond the salt and sand lie lesser-known gems imbued with Mayan culture, colorful colonial architecture, artisanal products, and local flavors.
Below, an itinerary for experiencing the Yucatán in a unique and luxurious way, with a pleasant drive through the back roads of the tropical jungle.
Valladolid is a “Pueblo Mágico” located about two hours inland from both Cancún and Mérida airports. The small city of just under 50,000 inhabitants was created by the Spaniards in 1545, built atop a Mayan town called Zaci-Val or “White Eagle.” Today, this vibrant city has an interesting mix of Spanish-style architecture, such as colonial-era mansions and cathedrals, combined with a local culture that is distinctively Mayan.
Valladolid is a popular stopover on the way to neighboring ruins like Ek Balam and Chichen Itza. However, a two-night stay is more than justified given the following options for sights, food, beverage, shopping and other activities.
Convento de San Bernardino de Siena
San Bernardino is, in fact, a former monastery. Visit in the morning before it gets too hot, and be sure to step across the street for a juice, breakfast, or lunch at veggie-friendly Yerbabuena de Sisal. In the evening, don’t miss the impressive video-mapping on the monastery walls recounting the history of Valladolid. The town’s most upscale restaurant, Taberna de los Frailes, is the perfect setting for an after-show meal. Try the mezcal and flor de Jamaica (hibiscus) cocktail, fish poached in chaya broth (a sort of wild, local green), or the spicy longaniza, a popular local sausage.
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