7 Things to do in Yucatan

Chichen Itza Light_Sound Show (Image: Google)

Yucatan is amongst the most beautiful and historically-important Mexican States. It’s far from the biggest or most-populated but Yucatan has its own charms. Of course, it is best known for the significant historical sites like Chichen Itza and Ek Balam. They find a place on many peoples’ bucket lists but there is so much more to the state. So, whether you’re a Merida native or just visiting the area for a few days, let’s take a look at some of the best things to do in Yucatan.

Chichen Itza

The ancient Mayan city became a global bucket list destination several years ago. In 2007, Chichen Itza was named one of the New7Wonders of the world in a ceremony in Lisbon. The Yucatan site made the final list at the expense of other landmarks like Stonehenge, the Athens Acropolis, and Moscow’s Red Square.

With that in mind, it’s fair to say that Chichen Itza is worth visiting. The site dates back to the 700s and was a major Mayan city before the Spanish invasion in the 16th century. Much of the site still stands today complete with temples, pyramids, and the Sacred Cenote. The most recognisable structure is El Castillo, the Temple of Kukulcan at the city’s centre. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must.

Ek’ Balam

Chichen Itza is the best-known historic site in Yucatan but it is certainly not the only one. Ek’ Balam was established in a similar time period but there are some major differences to Chichen Itza. The most significant of the site’s 45 structures is El Trono, The Throne. This is the resting place of the city’s former leader, Ukit Kan Le’k Tok. Today, the structure which houses it is a popular tourist destination and provides sweeping views across the Yucatan forests.

Sample the Nightlife

The nightlife across Yucatan is worth sampling but the major cities are your best bet. Merida’s city centre is a great place with bars and clubs to suit everyone’s tastes. Calle 62 has La Negrita Cantina, the Mayan Pub, and the popular Caranegra within a few hundred feet. Cocktail joints like Bar Campeche and Malahat are also within close proximity.

Another popular spot is further west. Miguel Hidalgo has a range of authentic places to drink especially if you want your night lasting into the early hours. Revellers can also visit the Winpot Casino Plaza Las Américas in the area which is open late. Just be sure to practice your skills at an online casino like Betway beforehand. You may even win enough money to stay around an extra few days.

Visit the Local Caves and Cenotes

Some areas of Yucatan are known for their vast underground caves and underwater cenote. One such site is Cenotes Dos Ojos, believed to be part of the largest underwater cave network on the planet. Dos Ojos – or two eyes – is linked with another nearby system called Sac Actun. Both sites are incredible areas of natural beauty which have become a hotspot for tourists across the world. Companies like Dos Ojos Tours offer diving or guided tours of the site. Be sure to bring swimwear and a waterproof camera.

Hit the Beach

Yucatan is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches and clearest water in the world. The Gulf of Mexico has white sandy spots aplenty like the popular Progreso Beach. There are also a number of wonderful spots along Chuburna Puerto. But beach-dwellers often venture outside of Yucatan to get their feet sandy. The tourist hotspot Cancun is just a short day-trip away with far more popular beaches close by.

Sample the Food

Mexico is known for its food the world over and Yucatan is no exception. The state has a wonderful array of local and international cuisine which will set your stomach rumbling. Local dishes like chiles relleno, chilaquiles, and ceviche are all must-haves, as are better-known meals like tacos, quesadillas, and huevos rancheros.

In terms of destinations, Merida has popular spots like Apoala and Kuuk. Valladolid boasts traditional eateries like Yerbabuena del Sisal Restaurante and IX CAT IK as well as the popular Italian restaurant Trattoria San Giovanni.

Dive into the Water at Xel-Ha

Who said water parks were just for kids? Xel-Ha is the exception to the rule with its theme park/natural wonder hybrid. The site offers typical water activities like snorkelling, cave tours, and cliff-diving as well as some newer additions. There are zip lines, speedboats, and a 100-feet lighthouse and waterslide which overlook the park.

 

The Yucatan Times
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