Cities & Magical Towns in Yucatán

Cities and magical towns in the Mexican state of Yucatán each have an individual personality. For urban, cosmopolitan things to do, head to the capital of Mérida where museums and entertainment abound. Smaller magical towns also offer authentic experiences.

MERIDA

Mérida, the state capital of Yucatán, was founded on the site of the ancient Mayan city of Tho. Also known as “The White City,” modern-day Mérida is a vibrant city composed of elegant and colorful Colonial-era houses. Mérida’s main street, Paseo Montejo, is a beautiful tree-lined boulevard filled with mansions influenced by European design, home to the Museo Regional de Anthropologia and a variety of restaurants, hotels, shops, and local businesses. The Cathedral of San Ildefonso, located in the center of Mérida, is the oldest cathedral in Latin America. It faces the Plaza Mayor, where locals gather at all hours of the day. Just north of the city center is The Gran Museo de Maya, one of Mérida’s newest museums and the only museum in Mexico dedicated to the history of Mayan culture. Book a hotel in Merida >

IZAMAL

Located in the middle of the Yucatán peninsula, Izamal is one of Mexico’s “Magical Towns,” known as “The City of Three Cultures” because of its life and history during three historical periods: pre-Hispanic, colonial, and contemporary eras. The city contains Mayan temples, colorful Colonial era houses that date back to the 16th century, and a population rich in Mayan culture. The streets, buildings, squares, houses, and churches are all painted yellow. In 1993, the town of Izamal painted the entire village yellow in anticipation of Pope John Paul II’s visit. In the center of this town is the Convent of San Antonio de Padua, which is a majestic, quiet, and charming monastery built by the Franciscan movement that remains an important centers for the Catholic population of Yucatán. Book a hotel in Izamal

VALLADOLID

Formerly the regional capital of the Spaniards, Valladolid is a picturesque city east of Mérida and one of Yucatán’s “Magical Towns.” The city of Valladolid boasts majestic neighborhoods and architectural beauty. The Convent of San Bernardino of Siena, which dates back to the 16th Century, and the Baroque style Cathedral of St. Gervasio are a few of the top architectural wonders to be seen in Valladolid. Just outside the main town square is the Cenote Zaci, one of the region’s top underground swimming holes. Book a hotel in Valladolid >

PROGRESO

Yucatán’s largest port and the point of arrival for cruises from all over the world. The waterfront promenade of this coastal town spans over four miles with restaurants serving up delicious regional cuisine. The natural charm and history of the port combined with the tranquil sun and sand of the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico make Progreso an ideal travel destination. Various tourism routes extend from Progreso, conveniently located approximately 20 miles from Mérida. These routes are designed for day or overnight trips. Tours include traveling to the local coast towns and villages and discovering the nearby archeological site of Dzibilchaltún. Book a hotel in Progreso >

CELESTUN

Celestún is a tranquil, laid-back fishing village located west of Mérida along the coast of Yucatán, home to secluded stretches of beautiful beachfront and palapas serving up some of the best seafood in the area. The Celestún Biosphere Reserve is a large coastal wetland reserve and wildlife refuge spanning 146,000 acres. Boat tours are available to explore the lagoons and mangroves that are home to over 300 species, including approximately 40,000 flamingos. Celestún is the perfect destination for those looking to escape the city crowds and experience adventures in nature. Book a hotel in Celestun >

DZILAM BRAVO

Besides the natural scenery and beautiful beaches, Dzilam Bravo offers tours of colonial heritage. Visit the churches of San Antonio de Padua, the Immaculate Conception and San Pedro, built in the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as the Municipal Palace built in the 19th century. You can also enjoy the quiet beaches of the Emerald Coast, which are suitable and safe for water sports, relaxation or admiration of flora and fauna. Book a hotel in Dzilam de Bravo >

UXMAL

Located 50 miles south of Mérida, the Mayan town of Uxmal is a jewel of classic pre-Hispanic Mayan architecture. Declared a UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Humanity site in 1996, the Mayan city was once believed to have over 25,000 inhabitants. The site encompasses 15 groups of buildings spread over a little more than one mile. Highlights include the Governor’s Palace, with a façade made of more than 2,000 tiles. The Museo del Chocolate, hotels, and restaurants are conveniently located near the archeological site making Uxmal the perfect day or overnight trip. Book a hotel in Uxmal >