IZAMAL TRAVEL GUIDE
Where to Stay - Click here for price key
Hotels are mainly modest, two- or three-star accommodations. In other words, just right for budget travelers who don’t expect ice machines and on-site boutiques. In recent years, a few more upscale options have appeared, but things are still pretty simple. Some places accept cash only, so be sure to check.
Los Arcos ($; Calle 30 #260 between Calles 21 and 23, tel. 988/954-0261) is a great deal. There’s a swimming pool, and rooms have quiet a/c, ceiling fan, and cable TV. Parking right in front of your room. Some rooms have Wi-Fi access, no charge.
Green River Hotel ($$; Av. Zamná 342 between Calles 38 and 40, tel. 988/954-0337) has been around for many years. The owners offer an informal bar, restaurant, swimming pool, parking, and Wi-Fi (in and around the lobby only). Rooms have cable TV.
Macan Ché ($$--$$$; Calle 22 #305 between Calles 33 and 35, tel. 988/954-0287, www.macanche.com) is friendly and fun, with themed bungalows set among huge tropical plants. Price includes a full breakfast; dinner is mainly for guests, but others can eat by reservation. There’s a small pool but no TV or room phones; Wi-Fi in the lobby/restaurant only. Massage is available, along with yoga classes, some spa services, and astrology readings. Credit cards accepted with fee.
Rooms at the remodeled Hotel San Miguel Arcángel ($$; Calle 31 #308 between Calles 30 and 30A, tel. 988/954-0109, www.sanmiguelhotel.com.mx) have a/c, cable TV, Wi-Fi in rooms, and a great location facing the plaza. Continental breakfast is included in the room price.
The new kid on the block is Romantic Hotel Santo Domingo ($$$; Calle 18 between Calles 33 and 35, tel. 988/967-6136, www.izamalhotel.com). About seven blocks from the center of town, its large rooms have ceiling fan and a/c. There’s a pool and parking; Wi-Fi is available. Breakfast is included in the room price.
Where to Eat - Click here for price key
Restaurants in town serve mainly Yucatecan fare, with Mexican and international food vying for a distant second.
It’s fun and inexpensive to eat at the stalls of the diminutive town market el mercado ($-$$, Calles 30 and 33), right in the town center. Try panuchos, salbutes, papdzules, fresh juices, smoothies, and tortas (bread roll sandwiches). Some stalls are allegedly open by 7AM, and most are shut down by 3PM.
Friendly Los Mestizos ($$, Calle 33 #301, tel. 988/954-0289) has the usual Yucatan food. Menus in English accommodate small tour groups. It opens at 7:30AM and closes late in the evening. Portions are generous.
El Toro ($$, Calle 33 #303-G, between Calles 30 and 32, tel. 988/954-1169), is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serves Yucatecan food as well. Menus are in English and Spanish.
Families out for a special meal, business associates, and tour groups flock to Kinich ($$$, Av. 27 #299 between Calles 28 and 30, tel. 988/954-0489). The covered patio is pleasant, portions of Yucatecan food are generous, and the wait staff is professional. Credit cards are accepted, and the bar serves typical Yucatecan mixed drinks and liqueurs.
More of a bar that serves food is La Palapa ($--$$, Calle 29 between Calles 26 and 26A). With each drink you order you usually get a free appetizer. Often dead during the day, it livens up in the afternoon and evening.
Things to Do
Parked around both downtown plazas are horse-drawn carriages. You can take a spin around town for about 100 to 150 pesos per hour, or use the calesa as a taxi and negotiate the price.
Looming above downtown are the remains of Maya pyramids which you can climb between 8 and 5 every day. There’s no charge to see Kinich Kalmo (Calle 27) and smaller (though still massive) Itzamatúl (Calle 31 near Calle 26). Carriage drivers point them out on downtown tours.
The 30-minute light and sound show, projected on the walls of the temple-monastery, is a pleasant distraction presented Monday through Saturday nights at 8:30PM. Cost is about 60 pesos.
The Banamex-sponsored Museo de la Comunidad (at the plaza) displays folk art from all around Mexico for a small fee. You can browse the adjacent shop for free and find some nice folk art for a souvenir.
There are several handcrafts shops around the two main plazas downtown. You can also ask the carriage drivers for tips about visiting artisans’ homes, for example hammocks (hamacas) and jewelry of henequen and a small type of coconut called cocoyol. Shop for huipiles (the white, embroidered or printed, sacklike tunics worn by many women) and utilitarian handcrafts at the town market (see Where to Eat, above).
Hecho a Mano (Calle 31 #308, inside Hotel San Miguel Arcángel, tel. 988/954-0344) is a small shop well-respected for its photography and handicrafts.
There’s no fee to browse the shop at Museo de la Comunidad, facing the plaza. A row of artisans show their stuff next to the tourism office, at Calles 31 and 30A. There are embroidered huipiles and napkins, coconut jewelry, and other simple crafts.
The Tourism Office, facing the plaza at Calle 31 at 30A, is open weekdays 9 to 1 and 4-8, Saturdays 9-1.
From Merida, catch a direct bus to Izamal from the Autobuses del Centro station at Calle 46 between Calles 65 and 67 (tel. 999/923-9962).
Frequent, inexpensive buses from the Izamal bus terminal---located just a block west of the town square and the Convento San Antonio de Padua---connect Izamal with Valladolid (2 hours), Mérida (1.5 hours), and Cancun (4.5 hours), among other destinations. There are buses to Chichén Itzá, but these are not direct.
By car, Izamal is approximately 66 km (41 miles) from Merida on Highway 180. Or take the toll road towards Cancun, exiting at Km. 48, at the Hoctún exit, and following the signs.