1686578575 These 4 towns near Cancun will give visitors an authentic | phillipspacc

These 4 towns near Cancun will give visitors an authentic Mexican experience


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Cancun remains the number one destination for Americans taking international vacations this year, surpassing popular tourist hotspots like South America and Mediterranean Europe.

Famous for its world-class resort areas, which straddle the turquoise ocean, and its unrivaled luxury scene, the city has seen a record increase in bookings for the June-August period.

Town square in Valladolid, a colonial city in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, Latin America

If you’re one of those people who couldn’t resist spending another year in the Riviera Maya, but now you’re craving something more than lounging by the pool all day sipping mimosas, and you’ve set out to have a more authentic Mexican experience this time around, we got you covered.

Are here 4 incredible little towns near Cancun where development is more limited and still feels like ‘old-time’ Mexico:


Population: 56,494

Distance driving from Cancun: 2h09

Church of San Gervasio seen from a row of colonial-era arches in Valladolid, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, Latin America

Valladolid is an excellent choice for a weekend getaway if you hope to witness first-hand a colonial-era settlement where centuries-old customs are maintained.

Originally colonized by the Mayans, Valladolid was captured by the Spanish in the mid-16th century, who named it after an existing city in Spain, and would come under the control of the colonizers to flourish as a important commercial and cultural center in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Tourists often point to the beautiful Cathedral of San Servacio, which towers over the town square, and Valladolid’s well-organized grid-like structure, a remnant of the Spanish period, as some of the main landmarks to be seen. .

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Tourists and locals eating under the colonial arches in Valladolid, a colonial-era city in Mexico, Yucatan Peninsula, Latin America

A short drive from the city are a handful of world-class attractions, including one of the seven New Wonders of the Worldthe Mayan archaeological complex of Chichén Itzá and the pristine Cenote Zaci, which, unlike other bathers closer to Cancun, such as Cenote Azul and Cenote Dos Ojos, receives very few tourists.

Felipe Carrillo Puerto

Population: 25,744

Distance driving from Cancun: 2h45

Sian Kaan Natural Biosphere Reserve near Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Less than a three-hour drive south of Cancun along the coast, Felipe Carrillo Puerto may take its name from a Spaniard, but at its core it remains a quintessential Mayan enclave.

Sitting on the edge of the famous Sian Ka’an Reserve, still relatively unknown to most hikersit’s one of a handful of towns on the overdeveloped Riviera not yet blighted by overdevelopment, and a traditional « family first » community, where some locals continue to speak Mayan dialects in addition to Spanish.

Linguistic heritage is, in fact, a large part of the tourist offer in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, where a visit to the Institute of Na’atik Language and Culture ranks as the number one activity in tripadvisor.

Young couple looking happy in a Latin American city, possibly in Mexico

He is credited with helping to keep the Mayan culture alive and bridging the gaps between foreigners and locals.

The city is also home to the Catholic Church of the Holy Cross, an important part of post-colonial Mayan history, and the town Mayan Museum Santa Cruz Xbaalam Naja free museum that tells the story of the natives during the Caste War when the Mayan population rebelled against the Hispanic colonists.


Population: 15,101

Distance driving from Cancun: 3h53

Tourist girl in a sombrero in the yellow Mexican city of Izamal, Mexico

Another treasure from the state of Yucatan, easily accessible from CancunIn neighboring Quintana Roo, Izamal is a postcard-ready ‘yellow city’ that has been stealing the hearts of visitors for years.

It’s the furthest away, at just under 4 hours of driving, but can be covered as a day trip if timed wisely, although it’s best visited as an overnight destination.

After all, Izamal’s cultural wealth is truly limitless.

Yellow houses in Izamal, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Stroll through its cobbled streets, flanked by vibrantly colored buildings dating back centuriesand you will be transported to the 16th century when the Spanish first made landfall and drove the native Maya from the land.

Although at least five pre-Columbian structures can be seen in Izamal to this day, including a Mayan pyramid, the main attraction at the site is the Franciscan Monastery, with an open atrium that is second in size to the Vatican.

The Whose

Population: 1,567

Distance driving from Cancun: 2h36

Young man practicing yoga on a beach in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

The smallest settlement on this list, El Cuyo, is a picturesque place on the shores of the Caribbean that has successfully eluded international developers and brands.

Located in the state of Yucatán but only two and a half hours from Cancun, it was recently named by The Sun of Cancunthe largest independent news website for the Riviera Maya, a ‘traveller’s paradise’, and we are inclined to agree.

Described as having gritty streets and a « fishing village vibe, » it offers Cancun-based resort guests a much-needed escape from the hectic atmosphere of the chaotic metropolis and its tourist-packed arenas.

woman on the beach in mexico

The Whose may lack the most advanced infrastructure in the Riviera MayaBut it has made big strides to improve its appeal to guests in recent years, from investing in better internet connectivity to opening ten boutique hotels and preserving the city’s beaches.

Very soon, El Cuyo could be included in the list of Magical Towns of Mexico, recognized for their historical importance and/or inestimable value for the tourism industry.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com