North of Highway 180 between Mérida  and Chichén Itzá , Izamal is a fine old colonial city with a beautiful and famous convent , friendly residents, and a fascinating history. Most tourists arrive here on a tour bus, visit the convent and the city center for an hour or so, and then motor off again. But Izamal is a great place for independent travelers to stay a night or two, soaking in atmosphere and rich history of this classic Yucatecan town.
The first thing you notice about Izamal is the color: Virtually all the buildings and facades in Izamal are painted a rich mustard yellow, as is the convent. And Izamal has not one but two large tree-filled plazas—Parque la Estrella and Parque Dr. Crecencio Carrillo y Anacona (named after an Izamal-born dramatist)—which form the heart of the city. It is a very walkable city, and part of the pleasure of Izamal is simply wandering about its narrow streets, discovering picturesque facades, stone churches, artistic workshops and even Maya pyramids behind every other corner.
Izamal’s bus terminal is one block west of the Palacio Municipal, at the end of Calle 31-A. There’s only one first-class bus (to Cancún); the rest are second-class, on Oriente (tel. 988/954-0107) and AutoCentro (tel. 999/101-9167).
From Mérida, the quickest route is on the Mérida-Cancún highway. Follow the signs for the cuota (toll road) until just past the turnoff to Kantunil at Km. 68. The exit for Izamal will be to the left and is very well marked, and comes before the toll plaza so you don’t have to pay any tolls. (This is the same exit you’d take coming from Cancún). Headed north, it’s four kilometers (2.5 miles) to the small town of Xanaba and another four kilometers (2.5 miles) to Sudzal. Turn off here if you are going to Hacienda Chalanté (2.7 km/1.7 mi farther; follow the signs) or continue straight to reach Izamal proper.
You can also take a more scenic route to Izamal. From Mérida, follow Calle 65 out of town and across the Periférico. Using rural roads, you’ll pass through the town of Tixcocob, and can make side jaunts to Aké ruins and Hacienda San José Cholul.