A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Valladolid, Mexico
Whether you’re considering a stop in Valladolid on your way to Chichen Itza or want to dedicate a day trip to this town, you’re in for a treat—Valladolid is swoon-worthy. However, as a wheelchair user, you might be wondering: Is Valladolid accessible? I’ll share my insight with you to help you better prepare for your trip.
Note: The information here is based on my observation as a non-wheelchair user. If you have firsthand experience as a wheelchair user in Valladolid, please let me know about your time there and your recommendations in the comments section. I appreciate it and know that our future readers will, too!
General Accessibility in Valladolid
Overall, Valladolid isn’t a town well designed for wheelchair accessibility, but I’ll show you some workarounds throughout this article. The town has many narrow sidewalks, buildings with steps, and questionable drop-down curbs if you leave the main plaza.
That said, some of Valladolid’s biggest attractions are (mostly) accessible.
I’ll talk about these shortly, but for now, know that the area immediately around Valladolid’s plaza offers the best infrastructure for wheelchair users.
Accessible Parking in Valladolid
Street parking is rampant in Valladolid. And, unfortunately, accessible parking spaces are few and far between.
I recommend making a beeline to the plaza when you arrive and park in one of the spaces around the square.
It’s best to arrive earlier in the day, for mid-afternoon on is when gigantic tourist buses from Chichen Itza start arriving. The plaza gets packed then, and slim parking opportunities get even slimmer.
Accessible Restrooms in Valladolid
I encountered one accessible restroom during my two-week stay in Valladolid. It’s located in the Zaci Regional Handcraft Center.
When you’re in the plaza, turn so your back is facing the cathedral. The block immediately in front of you is home to this large, yellow handcraft center.
The restroom isn’t up to ADA standards, although it does offer a good amount of room. Below is a photo so you have an idea of what to expect:
The restroom is unlocked and free, although there’s usually a cleaning staff member that asks for tips.
Wheelchair Accessible Things to do in Valladolid
Despite its small size, there are several accessible things you can do in Valladolid. Let’s take a look at what this coloful town has to offer.
1. Hang Out in the Francisco Cantón Rosado Plaza
This is Valladolid’s main plaza and the center of where all activities take place. It’s famous for its love seats; two chairs attached to each other that face opposite ways. There’s plenty of space for you to roll up to them for a photo op.
The plaza has massive sidewalks crisscrossing between trees, gardens, and a fountain in the center. It’s a perfect place to snap photos of Valladolid’s cathedral, and the European-style square surrounding it.
Mornings are quite sleepy in the plaza, as busloads of tourists start arriving in the afternoon. At that point, vendors show up selling sweet and salty Mexican treats. I recommend making a beeline for the churro stand—the line is always long there, so you know it’s a good sign!
As the sun goes down, it’s common to see dancers and other performers in the plaza, adding to an already beautiful ambiance.
Travel tip: If you visit in May, you’ll get to enjoy trees thick with yellow flowers around the plaza.
2. Visit the San Servasio Cathedral
The San Servasio Cathedral, often referred to as the Valladolid Cathedral, is located across the street from the plaza.
In theory, the cathedral is accessible; it has a separate flat entrance to the right of the stair entrance and flat entrances around its side. Unfortunately, those entrances are gated with a lock, and because the cathedral is free to visit, there isn’t usually cathedral staff around to open them.
From my experience, they only ever open the cathedral during mass, so most of the time people have to view it from the gate. The sidewalk is wide in front of the cathedral and there’s a nice drop-down curb there, so you’ll be able to roll right up to the fence.
If the cathedral is open and, in the (unfortunately likely) scenario that you can’t find anyone around to open the gate, this is what the steps to get into the Cathedral’s plaza look like:
Should you tackle them, there’s about a 4-inch stone drop by the Cathedral’s main door.
After that, you’ll be on a flat surface and can enjoy rolling around the church.
3. Shop in the Zaci Regional Handcraft Center
If the name sounds familiar, that’s because this is where the accessible restroom is located. However, the Zaci Regional Handcraft Center deserves a visit either way, for it offers the chance for you to see the inside of one of Valladolid’s old buildings.
There’s a ramp leading into this center, and the ground level is step-free.
Many touristy shops line the walkways. Most of these stores are tiny and tightly packed with goods, making it difficult for a wheelchair to enter them. However, you can view much of what they sell from their displays along the accessible walkway.
While we’re on the subject of shopping, making a loop around the four streets bordering the plaza offers more shopping opportunities (not to mention other amazing angles of the plaza and cathedral!).
Most of these shops have a high ledge to enter (some nearing one foot). However, like the handicraft center, they display many items on the sidewalk.
4. Head to Sisal
Sisal is a neighborhood in Valladolid that’s a short distance from the plaza. Unfortunately, the sidewalks are too treacherous for wheelchairs (narrow and objects blocking the way), so you’ll need to drive there.
Once you’re in sisal, you’ll be greeted with wide, flat sidewalks around the San Bernardino Convent and Plaza. Make sure to do the tourist must-do and take a photo at the Valladolid sign.
The convent was closed the day I visited, and it was clear that the museum attached to it isn’t accessible. However, it looks like the convent itself could be accessible, as there was a ramp leading onto its patio and one leading to the door.
It seems that Sisal is trying to raise awareness about respect for wheelchair users, as there were signs like this one posted around the square:
It reads: “Your pet’s droppings end up on my hands. Be a responsible owner and pick them up.”
5. Drive Down Calzada de Los Frailes
The beautiful Calzada de Los Frailes, which starts a few blocks from the plaza and heads diagonally down to the San Bernardino Convent is a must-see while you’re in Valladolid.
Narrow sidewalks and signs dotting the path make this a near-impossible place for wheelchair users to pass through. Therefore, I recommend driving down the street with your window rolled down so you can enjoy the colorful buildings.
Although Calzada de Los Frailes is among Valladolid’s most famous areas for its colorful architecture and large doors that horse and riders used to pass through, there are lots of other gems you’ll come across if you drive around town.
6. See Cenote Zaci
Unfortunately, Cenote Zaci isn’t wheelchair accessible. However, they offer a beautiful open-air accessible restaurant that hovers on the edge of the sinkhole (cenote).
I recommend bringing a camera with good zoom and some binoculars for better viewing since you’ll be pretty high above the cenote. However, given the normally remote nature of cenotes and few accessibility features, this is a nice opportunity to see a cenote from afar.
Cenote Zaci is open every day from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Make sure to arrive hungry—the restaurant is notorious for its huge portions of Mexican food.
As a side note, if you’re traveling with people who’d like to visit Cenote Suytun, which is located about a 15-minute drive from downtown Valladolid, there’s an accessible parking space, restroom, and outdoor cafe area where you can hang out while they visit the unfortunately inaccessible sinkhole.
Accessible Restaurants in Valladolid
Old architecture is what gives Valladolid so much charm. Unfortunately, most of it hasn’t been adapted for wheelchair accessibility. Nevertheless, below are some great accessible restaurant options:
- Los Portales: A beautiful restaurant framed by arched columns on a corner across the street from the plaza.
- Restaurante Zaci: The restaurant that overlooks the cenote.
- Nena Nena: A little hole-in-the-wall restaurant a couple of blocks from the plaza offering traditional Mexican food.
- Vegetarian & Vegan restaurants: I put together a guide on Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Valladolid. Look for the blue boxes for details on wheelchair accessibility.
Wheeling Around the Yucatan?
If so, good news!
We’ve put together a number of other accessible blog posts on destinations around Mexico’s Caribbean peninsula. Check them out below:
Ready to Explore Valladolid?
Valladolid may not be very well adapted for wheelchairs, but it offers enough accessible things to do to make it worth the visit, especially if you’re on the way to another destination.
Do you have anything to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts, personal experiences, and anything else you’d like to share about wheelchair travel in Valladolid in the comments section.
Laura’s love for traveling started with a trip to Jamaica. Since then, she’s spent over five years living in Latin America and four years wandering the globe. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.