How to Visit Izamal: One Day in the Yellow City

How to Visit Izamal: One Day in the Yellow City

How to Visit Izamal: One Day in the Yellow City

A visit to Izamal is one of the best things to do in Mexico. Izamal is a small colonial town in Yucatán, founded by the Spanish on the site of an ancient Mayan city in the 16th century.

Izamal is famous for its yellow-painted buildings, photogenic streets, and beautiful Convento de San Antonio de Padua. Because you can discover Izamal in a few hours, it is well worth a visit from Merida or Valladolid.

In this post, you can find out how to visit the Yellow City of Izamal and the best things to do.


Where is Izamal, Mexico

The Yellow City of Izamal is located in the Mexican state of Yucatán, not far from Merida and Chichen Itza.

Read more → Yucatan Peninsula Itinerary

Why you Should visit Izamal

Izamal is a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the Magical Towns (Pueblos Mágico) Programme. The Magical Towns are usually selected for their natural beauty, rich history, traditions, and culture or because they have preserved their original architecture.

There are currently 132 Pueblos Mágicos in Mexico, all of which are beautiful and well worth a visit.

Another Pueblos Mágico → Things to Do in Bacalar

Visit Izamal

Izamal is often called the “Town of Hills” as of its many pyramids and Mayan archaeological sites.
It is also known as the “City of Three Cultures” because of its fascinating mix of pre-Columbian (Mayan), Spanish colonial, and Mexican cultures.

But the most well-known nickname is Yellow City since all the buildings are yellow-painted.

Why is Izamal yellow?

No one knows for sure why the city of Izamal is yellow. Some people think it was yellow-painted to celebrate the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1993. But Izamal was already yellow before that. Another popular theory is that Izamal was painted yellow in honor of the Mayan sun god Kinich Kak Moo.

No matter the reason, the Yellow City of Izamal is a unique place and a must-visit in the Yucatán Peninsula.

Read our → Valladolid itinerary

Best things to do in Izamal, Mexico

1. Stroll around the yellow streets

The most important things to do in Izamal are to explore the yellow-painted city, wander the streets and take many photos. Izamal is stunningly beautiful, and every corner of it provides the perfect backdrop for creative content creators.

Izamal Yellow City
Pueblo Mágico Izamal, Mexico

2. Climb the Kinich Kak Moo pyramid

The Kinich Kak Moo is one of the largest pyramids in Mexico, which was named after the Mayan sun god. The pyramid is about a 5-minute walk from the Convent of Izamal.

You can visit the Kinich Kak Moo pyramid for free every day from 9 AM to 5 PM.

You can climb to the top of the pyramid and enjoy a stunning view of Izamal from the platform.

See also → Best Cenotes near Valladolid, Mexico

Kinich Kak Moo pyramid

3. Visit Convento De San Antonio de Padua

When the Spanish conquered Yucatán, they destroyed an important Mayan structure in Izamal in the 16th century. They then built one of the oldest Franciscan convents, the beautiful Convent de San Antonio de Padua, on top of the Mayan ruins.

Did you know? After the St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Izamal has the second-largest enclosed atrium in the world.

Izamal’s convent is free to visit, and the museum is just 10 MXN.

Convento De San Antonio de Padua
Izamal convento

4. Shop at the Mercado Municipal

Next to the monastery is the Mercado Municipal local market, where you can buy cheap food, clothes, shoes, and souvenirs. If you don’t know where to eat in Izamal, Los Portales is a great place to eat authentic Mexican food.

Best restaurants in Izamal

  • Kinich Izamal
  • Restaurante Zamna
  • Restauranta La Conquista
  • Restaurant muul

After lunch, visit Plaza Izamal park, sit on one of the benches, buy delicious ice cream and enjoy your time in Izamal. Don’t miss taking a photo of the colorful Izamal sign.

5. Take a day trip to Merida

Yucatan’s capital Merida is a beautiful city that is totally different from Valladolid and Izamal. Merida has many historic colonial buildings, but there’s no shortage of expensive restaurants, trendy boutiques, and popular events.

We arrived in Izamal from Valladolid, and the journey took about 1.5 hours by car. Then, after spending a few hours exploring the Yellow City, we drove on to Merida.
As there is not much to do in Izamal, we recommend spending the night in Merida.

Recommended Post Best Things to Do in Merida

Day trip to Merida

How to Get to Izamal

There are several ways to get to Izamal. Most people visit Izamal from Merida (1 hour) or Valladolid (1,5 hour), as the journey time from other cities is at least 3 hours.
The nearest airport to Izamal is in Merida, 1 hour away.

  • Take the ADO buses, which run several times a day and connect most cities such as Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen. The bus is the cheapest way to get around, and ADO buses are air-conditioned, clean, and very comfortable.
  • You can also get to Izamal by Colectivo (minivan), which is very cheap and comfortable. The disadvantage is that they don’t have a schedule. They usually depart when they fill up with enough people.
  • If you rent a car in Mexico, you can easily get to Izamal and park for free in most places in the city. Driving in Yucatán is safe, as the roads are in good condition, and there is little traffic.

Read more How to Renting a Car in Cancun

How to Get to Izamal

How to get Around Izamal

The Izamal city center is easy to walk around, and attractions are just a few minutes away. We suggest wearing comfortable shoes, as flip-flops are not safe for climbing the pyramid.

Alternatively, you can rent a bicycle or take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the city if you don’t want to walk on a hot day.

Izamal is well worth a visit, but if you have more time, stay a night and enjoy the lovely atmosphere of the town.

See also → Best Places to Visit in the Yucatan Peninsula

Best Time to Visit Izamal

The best time to visit Izamal in the dry season is between mid-November and April. During this period, the temperature on the Yucatan Peninsula is comfortable, and rainfall is rare. From May, the weather is warmer, with lots of rain and high humidity.

We visited Izamal on a hot day, and the weather wasn’t pleasant for walking. For this reason, we recommend you visit early in the morning or late afternoon and enjoy exploring the Yellow City of Izamal.

How to get Around Izamal

We hope this post will inspire you to visit the Yellow City of Mexico, Izamal.
If you have any questions or thoughts, let us know in the comments below.


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