Yellow Church in Izamal, Mexico

Escape to Izamal, Mexico: Your Ultimate Guide to Mexico’s Enchanting Yellow City

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Are you planning to visit the stunning yellow town of Izamal in Mexico? I have a detailed guide on how to visit and what to do in Izamal!

Nestled in the heart of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Izamal is a captivating colonial town that will charm you with its vibrant yellow buildings, rich Mayan history, and tranquil atmosphere. Known as the “Yellow City,” Izamal offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in authentic Mexican culture. Get ready to uncover the secrets of this magical destination as I guide you through the best things to see, do, and experience in Izamal.

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Escape to Izamal, Mexico: Your Ultimate Guide to Mexico’s Enchanting Yellow City

No Time to Read It All? Here’s a Quick Highlight:

  • Izamal is a designated Pueblo Magico (Magic Town) in Yucatan, Mexico
  • The entire town center is painted a stunning golden-yellow color
  • Explore the impressive Convento de San Antonio de Padua, a 16th-century Franciscan monastery
  • Climb the ancient Mayan pyramid of Kinich Kakmó for breathtaking views
  • Savor traditional Yucatecan cuisine at local restaurants like Kinich El Sabor de Izamal
Yellow Church in Izamal, Mexico

Why is Izamal all yellow?

One of the most intriguing aspects of Izamal is its distinctive golden-yellow color that adorns the buildings throughout the town center. While the exact reason for this uniform color scheme remains a mystery, there are several theories of why Izamal is yellow:

Honoring the Mayan Sun God

  • Some believe that the yellow color is a tribute to the Mayan sun god, Kinich Kakmó, to whom the ancient pyramid in Izamal is dedicated.
  • The vibrant hue represents the warmth and energy of the sun, which was revered by the Mayan civilization.

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Papal Visit Preparation

  • Another theory suggests that the town was painted yellow in preparation for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Izamal in 1993.
  • The color yellow is associated with the Vatican and the Catholic Church, so it may have been chosen to honor the Pope’s presence.

Political Neutrality

  • In 1993, yellow was not associated with any of the prominent political parties in Mexico.
  • Choosing this neutral color might have been a way to avoid showing allegiance to any specific party during the Pope’s visit.

Practical Reasons

  • Some locals claim that the yellow color helps repel insects, particularly mosquitoes, which are common in the region.
  • The bright hue may also help reflect the intense sunlight, keeping the buildings cooler during the hot Yucatecan summers.

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Is Izamal yucatan yellow city worth visiting? What is Izamal Mexico known for?

yes! It’s such a gorgeous city. Here are some the top reasons it should be on top of your Mexico bucket list

  • Izamal Pueblo Magico (Magic Town) Izamal has been designated as one of Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos (Magic Towns), a prestigious title awarded by the Mexican government to towns with significant historical, cultural, or natural treasures. This recognition highlights Izamal’s unique charm and importance as a destination.
  • The City of Three Cultures Izamal is known as the “City of Three Cultures” due to the fascinating blend of pre-Hispanic (Mayan), Spanish colonial, and contemporary Mexican influences. Witness the harmonious coexistence of ancient pyramids, colonial architecture, and modern Mexican life.
  • A Photographer’s Dream The striking golden-yellow color of Izamal’s buildings creates a picturesque backdrop for photography enthusiasts. The uniform color palette, combined with the town’s colonial architecture and cobblestone streets, makes for stunning photographs at every turn.

How To Get To Izamal Yucatan Mexico

The best way to get to Izamal is on a guided day tour. Izamal is centrally located in the Yucatan Peninsula, making it easily accessible from major cities and tourist destinations:

How far is Izamal from nearby cities

Departure PointDistance to IzamalApproximate Travel Time
Mérida70 km (43 miles)1 hour
Valladolid110 km (68 miles)1.5 hours
Chichen Itza75 km (47 miles)1 hour 15 minutes
Cancun250 km (155 miles)3.5 hours
Tulum250 km (155 miles)3.5 hours

The best way to reach Izamal is by renting a car or taking a guided tour from Mérida or Valladolid. Public buses are also available, but schedules may be limited.

How to get Around Izamal yucatan Mexico

Izamal’s compact city center is easily walkable, allowing you to explore the main attractions on foot. Alternatively, you can take a delightful horse-drawn carriage tour (calesa) for a leisurely and romantic way to discover the town.

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Best Time to Visit Izamal Yellow city

The best time to visit Izamal is during the dry season, from November to April, when temperatures are cooler and rainfall is minimal. Avoid the hot and humid months of May to September.

Arched Entrance to the Yellow City in Izamal, Mexico

Where to Stay in Izamal mexico

Best hotels in Izamal Mexico

  • Hotel Boutique Coqui Coqui Casa de los Santos: A luxurious one-suite hotel with exquisite design and perfumery products.
  • Hacienda Sacnicte: A charming hacienda-style hotel located just 15 minutes from Izamal, offering a peaceful and authentic experience.

best restaurant in izamal Yucatan mexico

Izamal offers a delightful culinary scene, featuring traditional Yucatecan cuisine and locally-sourced ingredients. Here are some of the best restaurants to try during your visit:

Kinich El Sabor de Izamal

  • Widely regarded as the top restaurant in Izamal, Kinich El Sabor de Izamal is a must-visit for foodies.
  • The restaurant specializes in authentic Yucatecan dishes, such as cochinita pibil, panuchos, and sopa de lima.
  • Don’t miss their handmade tortillas, prepared fresh by skilled local women.
  • Address: Calle 27 #299, Centro, 97540 Izamal, Yucatán, Mexico

Restaurante Los Arcos

  • Located right on the main square, Restaurante Los Arcos offers a pleasant dining experience with a lovely ambiance.
  • The menu features a mix of Yucatecan specialties and Mexican favorites, including delicious cochinita pibil and empanadas.
  • Address: Calle 31 #294, Centro, 97540 Izamal, Yucatán, Mexico

Restaurante Zamna

  • Restaurante Zamna is another excellent choice for sampling traditional Yucatecan cuisine in a welcoming atmosphere.
  • The restaurant prides itself on using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients to create flavorful and authentic dishes.
  • Address: Calle 22 #273, Centro, 97540 Izamal, Yucatán, Mexico

Restaurante Muul

  • Restaurante Muul offers a cozy and intimate dining setting, perfect for a romantic dinner or a quiet meal with friends.
  • The menu showcases a variety of Yucatecan dishes, as well as some international options, ensuring there’s something for everyone.
  • Address: Calle 26 #180, Centro, 97540 Izamal, Yucatán, Mexico

La Casona de Izamal

  • La Casona de Izamal combines delicious Yucatecan cuisine with a unique shopping experience.
  • The restaurant is located inside a home goods store, where local artisans often craft their wares while you dine.
  • After your meal, browse the shop for authentic souvenirs and handmade items.
  • Address: Calle 31 #308, Centro, 97540 Izamal, Yucatán, Mexico

Tip: When dining in Izamal, don’t be afraid to try new dishes and flavors. Ask your server for recommendations or opt for a selection of small plates to sample a variety of Yucatecan specialties. Be sure to save room for dessert, as many restaurants offer delectable traditional sweets like caballeros pobres (bread pudding) and dulce de papaya (candied papaya).

Best Things to Do in Izamal Mexico yellow city

Explore the Convento de San Antonio de Padua. What is the Yellow Church in Yucatán?

  • Visit the 16th-century Franciscan monastery, built atop a destroyed Mayan temple
  • Admire the stunning yellow facade and the second-largest open atrium in the world
  • Tip: Hire a local guide for about 200 pesos ($10 USD) to learn more about the convent’s history: Horse and buggy 

Climb the Kinich Kakmó Pyramid and Visit izamal ruins

  • Discover the ancient Mayan pyramid dedicated to the sun god, Kinich Kakmó
  • Climb to the top for panoramic views of Izamal and the surrounding jungle
  • Tip: Visit early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday heat

Stroll the Colorful Streets

  • Wander through the picturesque yellow-painted streets of Izamal
  • Capture stunning photos of the colonial architecture and vibrant facades
  • Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and bring a hat and sunscreen for protection from the sun

Shop for Handicrafts

  • Browse the local shops for high-quality handmade souvenirs and artisanal products
  • Visit Hecho a Mano and Taller Maya Izamal for a wide selection of pottery, figurines, and hammocks
  • Tip: Support the local economy by purchasing directly from the artisans

Savor Traditional Yucatecan Cuisine

  • Indulge in the flavors of Yucatecan cuisine at local restaurants like Kinich El Sabor de Izamal
  • Try traditional dishes such as cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork), panuchos, and sopa de lima (lime soup)
  • Go on a food tour and experience all the greatest dishes in Izamal
  • Tip: Don’t miss the sweet corn ice cream (helado de elote) for a unique and refreshing treat

Take a Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour

  • Explore Izamal in style with a delightful calesa (horse-drawn carriage) tour
  • Learn about the town’s history and culture from your knowledgeable driver
  • Tip: Agree on the price and duration of the tour before embarking

Suggested Tours and Car Rental

  • Viator: Offers guided day tours to Izamal from Mérida, often combined with visits to other nearby attractions like Chichen Itza and cenotes.
  • Discover Cars: Provides car rental services for those who prefer to explore Izamal and the Yucatan Peninsula at their own pace.

Things to Do Near Izamal (Day Tours)

Izamal’s central location in the Yucatan Peninsula makes it an ideal base for exploring nearby attractions. Here are some exciting day tour options:

Chichen Itza

  • Visit one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza.
  • Marvel at the iconic El Castillo pyramid and learn about the fascinating history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Tip: Beat the crowds and heat by arriving early in the morning, and consider hiring a guide for a more in-depth experience.
  • Distance from Izamal: 75 km (47 miles), approximately 1 hour 15 minutes drive

Valladolid and Cenote Zaci

  • Explore the charming colonial city of Valladolid, known for its colorful streets and historic architecture.
  • Take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters of Cenote Zaci, located right in the heart of Valladolid.
  • Tip: Spend some time wandering the picturesque Calzada de los Frailes, a pedestrian street lined with vibrant buildings and boutiques.
  • Distance from Izamal: 110 km (68 miles), approximately 1.5 hours drive

Ek Balam and Cenote Xcanche

  • Discover the lesser-known Mayan ruins of Ek Balam, an impressive archaeological site with well-preserved structures and intricate carvings.
  • Cool off in the nearby Cenote Xcanche, a beautiful natural sinkhole surrounded by lush jungle.
  • Tip: Climb to the top of the Acropolis for breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Distance from Izamal: 140 km (87 miles), approximately 2 hours drive

Merida City Tour

  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant capital of Yucatan, Merida, known for its rich history, cultural attractions, and delicious cuisine.
  • Visit key landmarks such as the Cathedral de San Ildefonso, Paseo de Montejo, and the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya.
  • Tip: Don’t miss the lively markets, like Mercado Lucas de Galvez, where you can sample local specialties and shop for souvenirs.
  • Distance from Izamal: 70 km (43 miles), approximately 1 hour drive

Cenote Hopping

  • Go on a cenote hopping adventure, exploring the unique underwater world of the Yucatan Peninsula.
  • Visit popular cenotes like Ik Kil, Samula, or Suytun, or opt for lesser-known hidden gems.
  • Tip: Bring a waterproof camera or GoPro to capture the stunning beauty of these natural wonders.
  • Distance from Izamal: Varies depending on the cenotes chosen, but many options are within a 1-2 hour drive.

 Izamal, Mexico’s enchanting Yellow City, is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic and captivating experience in the Yucatan Peninsula. With its striking golden-yellow buildings, rich Mayan heritage, and warm hospitality, Izamal will leave you spellbound. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to immerse yourself in the magic of this extraordinary Pueblo Magico.

Frequently Asked Questions about mexico yucatán


Is Izamal safe for travelers?

Yes, Izamal is considered one of the safest destinations in Mexico. However, as with any travel destination, it’s essential to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings.

Do I need to speak Spanish to visit Izamal?

While some English is spoken in Izamal, it’s helpful to know basic Spanish phrases to communicate with locals and navigate the town more easily. Consider bringing a phrasebook or using a translation app.

How long should I spend in Izamal?

Half a day to a full day is sufficient to explore Izamal’s main attractions. However, if you wish to take a slower pace and fully immerse yourself in the town’s charm, consider staying overnight.

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