Izamal is a picturesque colonial town, dubbed ‘The Yellow Town’ for it’s gold painted buildings, about a four hour drive from Playa del Carmen.
The town is centered around a large Franciscan monastery, which is lovely to stroll through. It houses a museum, which we didn’t get to, but we enjoyed walking along the shady pathways and taking refuge from the the heat inside the church.
Horses dressed in ridiculous floral hats pull carriages of tourists around the town.
Some small crumbling ruins just outside the center of town serve as reminders of the ancient Mayan city which once stood.
Aside from that, Izamal is a sleepy little town, which is part of the appeal. I liked it but I mostly enjoyed all the tiny towns leading to it on the drive there. We took the Number 79 road from Valladolid, which is not the fastest way to get there, but it’s rather scenic and sees very little traffic.
North of Valladolid, Tizimin is a tidy, thriving town that doesn’t see much of the tourist trade (which I quite like). It’s neatly dressed residents, clean streets and busy central plaza signal a good local economy and happy community. Did I mention how neat and tidy it is?
For me, walking around the bustling plaza of Tizimin was like walking onto a set of a fifties movie, where stout men in freshly pressed plaid shirts led around smartly dressed children clutching colourful balloons and dripping ice-creams.
It’s a great place to stop for lunch on a road trip through the Yucatan.
We stumbled upon the ‘Tres Reyes’ (Three Kings) Restaurant on the square, and were very thankful we did. The place is somewhat of an institution, run by ‘Don’ Willy Canto (seen in the photo below reading the newspaper with a magnifying glass).
I don’t know about you, but I just love places like this. It’s a family run establishment with memorabilia and history completely covering the cluttered walls.
Plus, the food is good. Delicious handmade tortillas and perhaps the best flan in the Yucatan (we have tried many).
The convent with its crumbling old cathedral is also worth a visit, if only from the outside.