If you are planning on travelling around the Yucatan, you are very likely to make the journey from Merida to Valladolid. Merida, the cultured capital of the Yucatan state, makes a great base for a wider exploration of the region while the pueblo magico of Valladolid is home to gorgeous churches, plazas and cenotes, and provides travellers with an insight into what life in the Yucatan is really like.
Fortunately, it is very easy to make the journey between the two cities and there are a couple of transport options available to you. There is a distance of 159km/99 miles between Merida and Valladolid and the journey should take just over two hours by road.
You are in good hands here because I have been living in Merida for the last two years and I have made this journey numerous times. In this post, we will look at the various transport options available, their costs, and their travel times so you can figure out which one is the best for you.
How to Get from Merida to Valladolid in 2023
If you want to travel from Mérida to Valladolid, you can opt to rent a car and drive yourself, you can take the ADO bus, or you can try and organise a private driver/cab. From December 15th 2023, the Maya train will also finally be up and running and that ought to be the fastest way to make the journey.
If you are going to be visiting Merida and Valladolid as part of a wider Yucatan itinerary, and you want to travel to other Yucatan pueblo magicos, off-the-beaten-path ruins and undisturbed Yucatan beaches, you might want to consider renting a car.
Renting a car offers you the most freedom and flexibility when travelling in southeastern Mexico as even though public transport links in the area are improving, they are far from extensive, and do not connect you to lesser-known places such as the Ruta Puuc, the Oxkintok ruins, or beach towns like San Bruno and San Crisanto.
The bus is the cheapest way to make the journey, and it is still very comfortable and convenient – perfect for if you are travelling here on a budget.
Take the ADO Bus
The ADO bus runs from Merida to Valladolid at frequent intervals throughout the day. Most services depart from the ADO TAME bus station (Merida’s main central station) which is located at x 68 y 70, C. 69 554, Centro, a short distance from the Paseo de Montejo and Merida’s historic centre. A handful of other services depart from the Plaza Paseo 60 station adjacent to the Fiesta Americana hotel, just off the Paseo Montejo.
The bus journey from Merida to Valladolid is advertised as taking between 2 hours and 25 minutes and 2 hours and 45 minutes depending on which service you choose and the time of the day. (Though you should allow a little flexibility if you are taking public transport because of the various stops made en route).
Ticket prices range from 225 to 332 Mexican pesos ($12.75 – $18.81 USD) one way depending on the specific service you use. Two classes of ADO buses serve this route – the ADO Conecta bus, which is essentially a small shuttle bus, and the ADO Primera bus, which is the most basic class of ADO buses, but still provides air conditioning, reclining seats, and a bathroom on board.
The earliest bus leaves from Merida at 04:07 am and the final direct bus departs Merida TAME station at 21:37 pm.
Purchasing bus tickets to Valladolid
You can purchase your bus tickets online via the ADO website or app, in person at the bus station, or via a third-party booking platform like BusBud. Generally speaking, you are usually fine to just rock up to Merida bus station 30 minutes or so before your chosen bus is scheduled to depart and buy your ticket there and then.
Buses depart between the two cities extremely frequently (every 30 minutes at some points). The ADO app is self-explanatory and easy to understand, even if it’s all in Spanish.
However, unfortunately, sometimes it glitches and doesn’t accept payments with foreign bank cards. Busbud is pretty good if you want the peace of mind of knowing that all of your bus tickets are reserved and organised in advance.
However, the site does charge a small admin fee of $1 or $2. You can check the latest departure times via the official ADO site here or via Busbud.
Drive from Merida to Valladolid
Renting a car in Merida will give you a lot more flexibility during your time in the Yucatan, and is worth considering if you want to venture off the beaten path. (If you are literally just going from Merida to Valladolid, it isn’t necessarily worth it but if you are pairing that with a wider exploration of the area, perhaps it is).
Several reputable international rental companies operate in Merida including the likes of Avis, Alamo and Hertz. You are looking at a total cost of around $20-$40 per day for an economy-sized car rental including full-coverage insurance.
It is a good idea to use a car rental comparison site like Discover Cars so that you can compare and contrast quotes between different providers.
The roads in the Yucatan are generally in excellent condition, and are well sign-posted and driving in this part of Mexico is not all that different from the US and Canada. To get to Valladolid, you simply need to follow Carretera Federal 180 towards Cancun.
Do keep in mind that this is a toll road, and the tolls from Merida to Valladolid are 233 pesos. (Try and keep some small bills and change with you).
Take the Maya train to Valladolid
After years of construction and a lot of anticipation, the Maya train will be up and running and open to the public from the 15th of December 2023. The train will run from Cancun to Merida and Campeche via numerous towns and archaeological sites in the Yucatan, including the pueblo magico of Valladolid.
The extended track that runs all the way out to Palenque in Chiapas is scheduled to be ready in February 2024. Since this new high-speed train is supposed to connect travellers from Cancun to Merida in just two hours, the journey from Merida to Valladolid is likely to take less than an hour.
A modern, contemporary station has been constructed on the outskirts of Valladolid, and the Merida station sits in Teya, just east of the city centre. (Eventually, a tram will connect Merida city centre with the Tren Maya station but for now, you will need to take a cab or an Uber there).
This is exciting news if you are planning on visiting the Yucatan this winter because it means that you will be one of the first people in the world to ride the new train. Train tickets are expected to go on sale from the 1st of December 2023, however, the new Maya train website is not yet live. I will share it here as soon as it’s up and tickets are available for purchase.
Take a taxi or an Uber
You can take a taxi from Merida to Valladolid if you prefer more comfort than depending on public transport. Uber is available in Merida and is preferable to taking a street taxi which is likely to try and overcharge you.
Didi is another ride app available in Mexico and its rates are often lower than Uber. You will have to change your phone location (and Apple ID location, if applicable) to Mexico in order to be able to use it.
Both apps are relatively safe and drivers are verified. You are likely to be quoted between 1900 and 2500 pesos for an Uber or a Didi from Merida to Valladolid due to the distance.
However, due to the distance, you might find that some drivers are unwilling to accept the fare (since they won’t be able to find a return fare). If you prefer to travel in a licensed cab, you can ask your hotel/Airbnb host to organise a trusted driver for you.
Visiting Valladolid in 2023 and Beyond
Valladolid is one of several Mexican towns that has been designated a “pueblo magico“. These are settlements that have a distinctly special culture, gastronomy, or architecture and when a place is designated as such, it is usually a good indication that it is worth visiting.
Valladolid may be small but it is charming. It was relatively off the beaten path until recently when travellers basing themselves in Cancun and wider Quintana Roo started stopping here overnight en route to visiting Chichen Itza.
The city dates back to 1543 and was developed by the descendants of Spanish Conquistadors. It was originally built close to a lagoon but then relocated inland, to its current location on the site of a Maya town.
This led to several violent clashes and fights between the Spanish and the Maya that would last for centuries. Modern-day Valladolid is sleepy and tranquil which is a stark contrast to its violent beginnings.
This is one of the best places in Yucatan to visit, particularly if you stop by in November when the city hosts an annual Yucatan jazz festival. You can easily explore Valladolid as a day trip from Merida but you can definitely spend longer in the area if you want to use it as a base to explore hidden cenotes and ruins like Ek Balam.
Spending at least one night here is a good idea. You can find many great hotels and Airbnbs around the central square in Valladolid for as little as $30 a night.
Valladolid is a highlight of any Yucatan itinerary. There are a few things you can do in charming Valladolid to keep you occupied for a day or so.
A few suggestions are provided below for your consideration.
- Visit the colourful Convent San Bernardino – one of the oldest convents in the Yucatan
- Swim in the clear waters of nearby cenotes
- Stay in an old, converted hacienda
- Visit the nearby yellow town of Izamal
- Indulge in traditional Yucatan food at La Casona de Valladolid
- Start your day with huevos con longaniza – a traditional Mexican breakfast that originated here
- Grab a coffee in one of the quaint cafes that surround the Parque Principal Francisco Cantón Rosado
- Admire the impressive 16th-century Iglesia de San Servacio
Final thoughts on travelling from Merida to Valladolid
Valladolid makes a nice stopping point on any Yucatan trip and as you can see here, it is pretty easy to get to. Do you have any further queries or concerns about organising your trip to Mexico?
If this is your first time travelling to Mexico, you might also enjoy reading these facts about Mexico or this post on the best time to visit the Yucatan. I live in Merida and I am always happy to help out where I can so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need anything.
Have a wonderful time exploring Southern Mexico!
Buen Viaje! Melissa xo