What to do in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico? My 25 must-dos

Chichen Itza

Located in southeastern Mexico, the Yucatán Peninsula, bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the east, is a popular travel destination for culture enthusiasts, nature lovers, and those seeking paradise-like landscapes.

With its numerous Mayan archaeological sites, white sandy beaches, typical cuisine, and stunning cenotes, it’s a wonderful region that caters to all types of travelers!

The Yucatán Peninsula is a vast area encompassing 3 states: Campeche, Quintana Roo, and the state of Yucatán.

In this guide, I will show you the best things to do in the Yucatán Peninsula!

Yucatan beach

Visiting the Natural Reserves of the Yucatán

The Yucatán Peninsula is teeming with abundant wildlife and is home to several natural reserves.

1. Exploring Sian Ka’an

Sian Ka’an is personally one of my favorite places in the Yucatán, where I cherish the most beautiful memories. It’s a completely wild biosphere reserve in the southern part of the Yucatán Peninsula.

It is home to hundreds of bird species, crocodiles, dolphins, turtles, and fish.

I recommend visiting Sian Ka’an on a guided tour, as the history of Sian Ka’an and its biodiversity is worth hearing.

In Sian Ka’an, you’ll boat around Bird Island, cross fish banks, and come face to face with turtles and dolphins!

If you have the opportunity, stop by the village of Punta Allen, the only village in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, to stroll, relax on the beach, and dine in a small local restaurant.

Sian Ka'an

Sian Ka’an Boat Tour

Discover the wild beauty of Sian Ka’an by boat! Sail through turquoise lagoons, spot dolphins and turtles, and explore the mysteries of this preserved natural reserve. An unforgettable adventure in Mexico!

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2. Exploring Rio Lagartos

At the northern tip of the Yucatán lies the tranquil fishing village of Rio Lagartos. It’s a natural park spanning over 60,000 hectares.

It’s not a very touristy place, nothing like the mass tourism found in some parts of the Yucatán Peninsula.

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve is stunning.

You can observe hundreds of different bird species there.

The best season to see flamingos is spring, between April and May, when you’ll see many of them. It’s an ideal time for a trip to Mexico!


Observing Wildlife in the Yucatán

The Yucatán is a region of Mexico with a diverse fauna, largely adapted to its tropical and semi-arid environment.

3. Whale Shark

The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is a cartilaginous fish and the largest known fish on Earth.

It can reach a length of 18 meters and a weight of over 20 tons, although most specimens are between 8 and 12 meters long.

Although called a “shark,” this animal is harmless to humans and is often considered a gentle and calm creature.

In the Yucatán, we find this animal off the coast of Isla Mujeres during the summer season between June and September.

This is an opportunity to swim with them while snorkeling. It’s a highly regulated activity; wearing a life jacket is mandatory, and the number of jumps is limited per person.

👉 I recommend to book this tour to enjoy this incredible activity.

Whale shark

4. Crocodiles

The American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) is one of the two species of crocodiles found in the Yucatán region, the other being the Morelet’s crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii).

The American crocodile is the larger of the two and can reach lengths of over 4 meters, while the Morelet’s crocodile typically reaches a maximum length of 3 meters.

American crocodiles are found in coastal areas and rivers in the Yucatán, while Morelet’s crocodiles are more commonly found in freshwater areas such as rivers, lagoons, and swamps.

Both species are predators and feed on a variety of prey, including fish, birds, mammals, and reptiles.

🐊 It is possible to observe crocodiles in the following places in the Yucatán:

  • Rio Lagartos
  • Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
  • Celestun
  • Casa Cenote
Crocodile Yucatan

5. Turtles

Turtles are abundant along the coasts of the Yucatán, and they are a flagship species of the Caribbean Sea that every visitor hopes to encounter.

The most popular places to observe and swim with tortoises in the Yucatán are:

  • Akumal Bay: As mentioned earlier, Akumal Bay is the flagship location for swimming with tortoises in Mexico. The tortoises here are protected, and snorkeling activities are regulated. Therefore, the activity comes with a fee of approximately 600 Pesos MXN per person, including equipment.

  • Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve: This large biosphere reserve located south of Tulum is home to more than 300 species of birds, dolphins, and tortoises. It is not possible to swim with tortoises in Sian Ka’an; observation is done from the boat.

  • Cozumel Island: Cozumel is a paradise for divers due to its reef and rich marine life. Tortoises are among the species that can be observed in Akumal.
Turtle Yucatan

6. Monkeys

Monkeys are part of the landscape in the Yucatán Peninsula. Generally, two types of monkeys are observed:

  • Howler monkeys: They are distinguished by their imposing size and powerful, distinctive vocalizations. Males emit loud roars that can be heard for kilometers. These roars are used to demarcate the group’s territory, communicate with other monkey groups, and attract females during the breeding season. Howler monkeys are considered the loudest mammals in the animal kingdom.

  • Spider monkeys: They are distinguished by their slender appearance and long tail, which is often longer than their body. They have long legs and powerful arms, allowing them to move quickly and skillfully in trees. Their fur can vary in color, ranging from black to dark brown or reddish. Their agility is breathtaking. Spider monkeys are the most frequently observed monkeys in the Yucatán.

🐒 It is possible to observe spider monkeys in their natural habitat in the Punta Laguna Reserve, a few minutes from the ruins of Coba.

Monkey Yucatan

Visiting the archaeological sites of the Yucatán

The Yucatán Peninsula is rich in culture and history due to the imprint left by the Maya civilization, which is visible throughout the region through its historical sites, communities, and inhabitants.

The iconic places in the region are, of course, the numerous Mayan archaeological sites. These are spectacular constructions and landscapes that will awe you if you are an archaeology enthusiast!

7. Chichen Itzá: Wonder of the Modern World

Chichen Itzá is arguably the most popular archaeological site in the Yucatán and one of the most significant for the Maya civilization.

Indeed, it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, and more recently was elected one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

The site is located in the northern part of the Yucatán Peninsula, near the colonial city of Valladolid.

You will find numerous well-preserved Mayan structures dating back hundreds of years to immerse yourself in the history of this legendary city!

The most famous of these is the Mayan temple called “El Castillo” or “Kukulcán Pyramid.”

This is an immense pyramid temple standing 30 meters tall, adorned with Mayan stone reliefs and sculptures.

❌ Note that climbing the main pyramid has been prohibited for several years due to safety and pyramid preservation reasons.

But that’s not all; you can also visit the Chichen Itzá ball court, the observatory, and many other Mayan structures.

It’s a magnificent, well-preserved archaeological site, surrounded by jungle and beautiful cenotes in the surrounding area.

Chcihen Itza

🚗 How to get to Chichen Itzá?

To reach the Chichen Itzá site, you can take a bus from the ADO company from Mérida, Playa del Carmen, or Cancún.

However, the simplest way to get to Chichen Itzá is through an organized tour with hotel pick-up, archaeological site visit, certified guide for the day, cenote, lunch & Valladolid.

Travel time from the main cities of the peninsula:

From Playa Del Carmen: 2.5 hours by road
From Cancun: 2.5 hours by road
From Merida: 1.75 hours by road
From Tulum: 2 hours by road

💰 Hours and prices at Chichen Itzá

The site is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm every day of the year.

You can purchase your entrance tickets directly on-site. The rate is 643 MXN per adult and 95 MXN per child under 13 years old.

👉 You can book this tour to Chichen Itza with a guide and transportation.

8. Coba: Play the Indiana Jones Role! 🤠

Coba is a famous Mayan archaeological site located near Tulum.

Coba reached its peak between 600 and 900 AD. It was a prominent economic, political, and religious center.

On the archaeological site stands the tallest pyramid in the region, the Nohoch Mul pyramid, standing at 42 meters tall.

This pyramid perfectly represents typical Maya architecture, with many very steep steps leading to a temple at the top offering stunning views of the site and the jungle.

Unfortunately, like at the Chichen Itza site, climbing the pyramid has been prohibited for safety and conservation reasons since 2020.

In addition to this magnificent structure, the Coba site consists of other buildings from various periods, each as impressive as the next.

You will find several main plazas of the city, ancient residences, temples & palaces, and ball courts whose history will fascinate you.

What further sets Coba apart from other archaeological sites is its network of stone paths known as “Sacbe” in ancient times.

These were a system of roads that the Maya used to connect the different cities in the region, aiming to facilitate trade.

The beauty of the site lies in its complete immersion in the jungle, in a wooded setting.

Moreover, the visit can be done by bicycle (available for rent on-site) for added activities.


🚗 How to get to Coba?

Coba is located near tourist cities in the Riviera Maya such as Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. However, the archaeological site is not well-connected by public transport, so you will need a rental car or a taxi to get to Coba.

Excursions are also available to visit Coba, which usually combine a visit to the Coba ruins with those of Tulum or with the Punta Laguna reserve located 20 minutes from the archaeological site.

Travel time from the main cities of the Riviera Maya:

From Playa Del Carmen: 1h30 by road
From Cancun: 2h30 by road
From Tulum: 40 minutes by road

💰 Hours and prices at Coba

The site is open to the public every day of the year from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Like the Chichen Itza site, you can purchase your tickets on-site.

The rate is 195 MXN per foreign visitor.

Bicycle rental costs 65 MXN.

👉 If you want a tour to Coba, I recommend this one.

9. Ek Balam: Black Jaguar

The Ek Balam archaeological site is slightly less famous than others in the region, but it deserves just as much attention.

Located deep in the lands of the Yucatán Peninsula, near the city of Valladolid, its main pyramid, the Acropolis, stands out for its architecture, considered complex, adorned with numerous sculptures and decorations of unparalleled precision.

Unlike the pyramids of Coba and Chichen Itza, it is still possible to climb the steps of the pyramid for a panoramic view of the site and the lush surrounding jungle. A breathtaking view worth the climb!

In the time of the Maya, Ek Balam was a site where religious ceremonies held significant importance.

Ek Balam is also known for its ceremonial and religious structures, including a ball court and several temples.

Visitors can stroll through the ruins and imagine the daily life of the ancient Maya who inhabited this city.

What sets Ek Balam apart from other archaeological sites in the region is its peaceful and tranquil atmosphere.

The crowds are fewer than at Chichen Itza or Coba, allowing for a more intimate and immersive experience.

The proximity of the surrounding jungle also adds a mystical and mysterious atmosphere to the site.

Ek' Balam

🚗 How to get to Ek Balam?

Ek Balam is not connected by public transportation. To visit this archaeological site, you will need to take a taxi, a rental car, or go there via an organized excursion.

Travel times from main cities:
  • From Valladolid: 35 minutes by road
  • From Cancun: 2 hours and 45 minutes by road
  • From Tulum: 1 hour and 45 minutes by road
  • From Playa Del Carmen: 2 hours by road

💰 Hours and prices at Ek-Balam

Ek-Balam is open every day of the year, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (last entry at 4:00 pm).
Tickets are purchased directly at the entrance. The price is 556 MXN pesos.

In summary, Ek Balam is an ideal destination for travelers looking to escape the crowds and discover a lesser-known but equally fascinating destination.

With its complex architecture, detailed sculptures, and peaceful atmosphere, Ek Balam offers a unique and memorable experience for history and culture enthusiasts.

👉 You can book a combined tour Chichen Itza and Ek’ Balam to visit both sites in one day.

10. Tulum: The Maya City Overlooking the Caribbean Sea

The Tulum Maya archaeological site is one of the best-preserved in the Yucatán Peninsula.

What makes this site unique is the fact that its ruins are located on a cliff overlooking the magnificent Caribbean Sea, offering breathtaking views to visitors of the site.

In history, “Tulum” means “fortress” or “wall” in Maya.

This refers to the nearly 5-meter high and 8-meter wide wall that surrounded the city, aimed at protecting it from potential attacks.

A perfect example of Maya fortifications preserved over time!

The city of Tulum was built in the 13th century and thrived in the 14th and 15th centuries.

It was one of the last inhabited Maya cities and one of the most important for the economy at the time.

Indeed, Tulum was a transit point for goods coming from Guatemala and Honduras, making the city a major commercial and religious center of the time.

The most famous monument of the archaeological site is “El Castillo.” It is an iconic watchtower located in the center of the site.


It served as a lighthouse, but also to monitor boats sailing along the coast in case of attack.

The monument is built on a 12-meter high platform. Its triangular roof recalls typical Maya architecture very well.

El Castillo is adorned with many typical sculptures representing Maya deities on its facade, as well as glyphs, used by the Maya themselves.

Other buildings such as the Temple of the Frescoes or the Temple of the Descending God attract thousands of visitors to the site every year.

Tulum ruins

🚗 How to get to Tulum?

The Tulum ruins are located 5 minutes from downtown, just before entering the city if you are coming from Playa Del Carmen.

The Tulum ruins are very popular and are well served by colectivos and buses from Playa Del Carmen and Cancun.

Travel times from main cities:
  • From Cancun: 2 hours by road
  • From Tulum: 5 minutes by road
  • From Playa Del Carmen: 1 hour by road

💰 Hours and prices of Tulum ruins

Tulum is open every day of the year, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (last entry at 3:30 pm).

Tickets are purchased directly at the entrance. The price is 163 MXN pesos (includes access to the new Jaguar Park).

👉 I recommend to book this tour to Tulum ruins and swimming with turtles in Akumal.

11. Uxmal

Uxmal, in Maya, means “Three times built.” No, this archaeological site wasn’t built three times! It refers to a construction technique involving layers of buildings.

The site is located in the Puuc region in the northwest of Yucatán, near the city of Mérida.

It is famous for its architecture, representing the pinnacle of Puuc architecture: many geometric motifs, stone sculptures, and decorative Maya friezes.

You will find several buildings to visit:

  • The Pirámide del Adivino (Pyramid of the Magician), the tallest structure in Uxmal, measuring over 35 meters.
  • The Cuadrángulo de las Monjas (Quadrangle of the Nuns), a complex of buildings surrounding the central courtyard, used by the Maya for religious ceremonies.
  • The Casa de las Tortugas (House of the Turtles), adorned with stone turtle sculptures.
  • The Palacio del Gobernador (Governor’s Palace), a former royal residence.

Even though the Uxmal site is smaller than others in the region, it stands out and deserves to be added to your travel itinerary, especially if you’re on a road trip!


🚗 How to get to Uxmal?

The Uxmal ruins are 1 hour and 10 minutes from Mérida, which will likely be your starting point for visiting Uxmal.

By bus: Go to the TAME bus terminal in Merida. There is only one daily bus to Uxmal, departing at 9:00 am from the terminal.

The ticket costs 84 MXN pesos. For the return trip, the bus leaves Uxmal at 3:00 pm, returning to Mérida around 4:30 pm.

By rental car: The easiest way to get to Uxmal, the journey takes 1 hour and 10 minutes and is on a paved road.

Travel times from main cities:
  • From Mérida: 1 hour and 10 minutes by road
  • From Cancun: 5 hours by road
  • From Playa Del Carmen: 4 hours and 20 minutes by road

💰 Hours and prices of Uxmal ruins

Uxmal is open every day of the year, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Tickets are purchased directly at the entrance to the archaeological site. The price is 556 MXN pesos for foreigners.

👉 You can check this tour to visit Uxmal from Mérida.

Visiting the Cities of Yucatán

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, nature, or beaches, Yucatán offers a diversity of cities and villages that will appeal to everyone.

Colonial Cities: Yucatán is full of well-preserved colonial cities, bearing witness to the Spanish heritage. Cities like Mérida, Valladolid, and Campeche offer typical architecture with colorful buildings, lively central squares, and historic churches. Strolling through them allows you to immerse yourself in Yucatecan culture and traditions.

Beach Destinations: The Yucatán coastline offers three globally recognized beach resorts: Cancún, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. These cities are renowned for their white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and lively nightlife.

12. Mérida: The Grand City of Yucatán!

Mérida, the capital of Yucatán, is a warm colonial city ideal for discovering the region’s history.

The city completely immerses you in the festive and colorful ambiance of Mexico! It’s actually my favorite city in Yucatan.

I highly recommend spending a few days here during your trip to Yucatán to explore the city and its surroundings.

What to do in Mérida and its surroundings?

Visit the Historic Downtown: This is the very heart of Mérida. Plaza Grande, the main square of the city, is located here, home to the Mérida Cathedral, the Municipal Palace (Palacio Municipal), and the Government Palace (Palacio de Gobierno).

It’s a lively square, particularly in the evenings when there are often small concerts, street performances, and markets.

Paseo Montejo is the main and most iconic avenue in Mérida! It’s a beautiful avenue reminiscent of the style of the Champs-Élysées.

You’ll see magnificent colonial mansions and numerous historical buildings during a pleasant stroll.


Free Walking Tour: From Monday to Saturday at 9:30 am, the Mérida Tourism Office offers visitors a free city tour, with a guide in Spanish or English.

The tourism office is located on the main square of the city, so head there to enjoy the free walking tour. You’ll discover Mérida’s history narrated by a local.

Visit the Markets: San Bénito and Lucas de Galvez markets are the two most popular and comprehensive markets in Mérida. You’ll find a wide variety of fresh products and local crafts souvenirs there.

Chichen Itza: Less than 2 hours by car from Mérida is the famous Chichen Itzá archaeological site mentioned earlier. It’s a must-see during your trip to Yucatán.

Chichen Itza

Uxmal: The Uxmal site, located 1 hour and 15 minutes from Mérida, is less visited than other sites in the region but is still worth a visit.

Today, it’s considered one of the most beautiful examples of ancient Maya architecture.

The Museums: Mérida is a city rich in history and has a fascinating culture that you’ll find in various museums.

I recommend visiting the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, which traces the origins and glory years of the Maya civilization, from conquest to the Caste War and current heritage in Mexico.

More than 1,160 pieces are exhibited in 4 different rooms. The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm, and the entrance fee is 150 MXN pesos per person.

The second museum to visit, in my opinion, is the Regional Museum of Anthropology and History of Mérida (Museo Regional de Antropología e Historia de Mérida).

Like the Gran Museo del Mundo, it has a wide collection of cultural works such as jewelry, weapons, and sculptures from Yucatán, focusing more on the city of Mérida.

Mercado 60: Just a few minutes from downtown is Mercado 60, one of Mérida’s hidden gems!

In this hidden place, you’ll find 18 restaurants and bars and can enjoy a festive atmosphere in the evening.

Here, there are usually small concerts of traditional music, which adds to the charm of this unmissable place.

🕒 Mercado 60 is open every day from 6 pm to 3 am.

You can find more information on the Facebook page.

La Negrita: One of my favorite spots in Mérida. It’s a traditional bar with a rustic decor, a beautiful outdoor terrace where you can enjoy a lovely evening while sipping delicious cocktails and typical dishes, all while enjoying a live concert.

Cenotes: There are many cenotes to discover around Mérida, such as Santa Maria or Caliskutz. Check out my guide to the best cenotes in Mérida.

Cenote Mérida

13. Valladolid: The Charming Colonial Town of Yucatán

The town of Valladolid is a charming colonial town full of charm.

It’s the perfect place to stop and explore the surroundings, such as archaeological sites, cenotes, and other nearby colonial towns.

Here are, according to me, the best things to do in Valladolid and its surroundings!

What to Do in Valladolid?

Stroll through Valladolid’s main square: “Parque Francisco Canton Rosado” is located in the center of Valladolid.

It’s a popular small park surrounded by colorful colonial-era buildings.

You can stroll around, relax on the benches and typical double chairs in front of the main fountain, all in a peaceful atmosphere.

In the park, there are occasional impromptu concerts, traditional dance shows, or other entertainment.

It’s the ideal place to taste a Marquesita, those famous crispy crepes typical of the region.

Visiting the Historic Downtown: As I mentioned earlier, Valladolid is a colonial town with all its buildings colored, which makes up the charm of the city!

Take the time to stroll through the small streets of the downtown area to discover its architecture and cobblestone streets.

In the main street, Calzada de Los Frailes, you’ll find most of the artisan shops where you can find all kinds of Mexican souvenirs and fresh products.

Valladolid street

Catedral de San Gervasio: Across from Parque Francisco Canton Rosado is the Cathedral of San Gervasio.

It’s one of the main historical monuments of the city, built by the conquistadors above a Maya pyramid!

You can visit the interior to discover the architecture of the time.

In front of the cathedral, there are many Marquesita stands and fresh drinks to enjoy during your visit to the square!

Valladolid Yucatan

Monastery of San Bernardino de Siena: The Monastery of San Bernardino de Siena is a historic building to visit in downtown Valladolid.

It’s the second-largest monastery in the region, behind that of the city of Izamal.

It’s also in front of the monastery that the colorful letters of “Valladolid” are located, a good opportunity to take a souvenir photo.

Discover the cenotes in the surroundings: Cenote Zaci is only 5 minutes from the main park in Valladolid.

This is a very imposing semi-open cenote where you can swim, jump from different platforms, and eat at the restaurant just above to enjoy a breathtaking view.

The entrance fee is 60 MXN pesos, and the life jacket is also 30 MXN pesos.

Cenote Oxman (pronounced Oshman) is one of Valladolid’s hidden gems. Probably the most popular cenote in the area.

Its long vines dipped in water will make you want to play Tarzan! In my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful cenotes in the region to relax.


Cenote X’Keken: Located about ten minutes by car from Valladolid, it’s a very beautiful underground cenote illuminated by a skylight.

You’ll see stalactites and stalagmites there. Changing rooms and showers are available as in the majority of cenotes.

My three favorite underground cenotes around Valladolid are:

  • Xcanahaltun
  • Palomitas
  • Choj-Ha

These three cenotes have hundreds of impressive stalactites and stalagmites!

Visiting the archaeological sites nearby: Valladolid is often a stopping point for travelers heading to explore archaeological sites in Yucatán.

Ek Balam and Chichen Itzá, mentioned earlier, are respectively 30 and 45 minutes from the town of Valladolid.

I repeat once again, these are must-sees in the region!

Where to Eat in Valladolid?

The must-visit address in Valladolid is the restaurant “Hacienda del Marques,” a sublime restaurant located in a renovated hacienda in the heart of Valladolid.

The restaurant Meson del Marques offers a wide choice of typical Yucatecan dishes. Moreover, the prices are relatively affordable, and the service is excellent.

I recommend:

  • Cochinita pibil: This is a typical dish of Yucatecan cuisine in Mexico. It is traditionally prepared by marinating pork in a mixture of sour orange juice, achiote (a paste made from achiote seeds, spices, and vinegar), garlic, cumin, and other spices. Then it’s wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an earth oven called “pib” (hence the name “pibil”) or in a conventional oven.
  • Chile relleno: Chile relleno is a Mexican dish consisting of a sweet pepper stuffed with cheese or meat, covered with a batter, and fried until golden and crispy. The peppers used for this recipe are usually poblano peppers, which are sweet and slightly spicy peppers native to Mexico.
  • Guacamole “a la mesa”: Guacamole needs no introduction, a typical Mexican appetizer. The Guacamole offered at Meson del Marques is prepared before your eyes at your table. A superb experience.

14. Izamal: The Yellow Town of Yucatán

Izamal, also known as “the yellow town,” is a charming small village in Yucatán located just an hour from Mérida.

You’re probably wondering why it’s called the “yellow town.”

Well, if you visit it, you’ll quickly understand: the town is simply entirely yellow. The majority of the buildings are painted this color.

Considered one of the most beautiful colonial villages in the region, it’s a must-visit if you’re arriving or departing from Mérida!

San Antonio de Padua Convent: You can’t miss it, as it’s the largest convent in the region. An iconic place filled with history.

This convent dates back to 1549 and was led by Fray Diego de Landa at the time, unfortunately accused later of burning many Maya manuscripts.

👉 It’s the must-visit place in Izamal!


Taste a Marquesita in the main square: Marquesita is a specialty of the Yucatán region. It’s a thin crispy crepe made with pancake batter filled with Nutella or cheese and fruits.

It’s cooked on a hot plate, then rolled into a cone shape often served with sweet toppings like spreadable chocolate, jam, bananas, or others.

In Izamal, you’ll find many small vendor stands offering you the best Marquesitas in the region.

Marquesitas are truly part of Izamal’s culture; you can’t leave without tasting this delicacy!

Carriage ride: Upon your arrival, you’ll notice in Izamal that around the main square, there are a few colorful carriages ready to take you for a ride around the town.

For about 150 MXN pesos, you can explore the colorful streets of Izamal for about 35 minutes and admire its colonial buildings with a local coachman who will tell you about the city’s secrets! An authentic and unique experience.

Visit the Mayan ruins: There are three small archaeological sites to visit in Izamal. The Kinich Kakmo pyramid, standing at 34 meters high, is the 3rd highest pyramid in all of Mexico.

If you still have the strength, you can climb all the way to the top, and you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent panoramic view of the site and the jungle.

The other sites nearby are the pyramids of El Itzamatul, El Conejo, and Habuc. Nice and less touristy visits to combine!

🕒 All sites are free to enter and open every day from 8 am to 5 pm.


Kinich Restaurant: To give you an idea, this restaurant is ranked among the top 120 restaurants in Mexico.

You’ll taste the best local Yucatecan cuisine here. It’s the family atmosphere of the restaurant that adds to its charm and popularity.

Kinich is only a few steps from Kinich Kakmo, so there’s no excuse not to try it after your efforts!

15. Tulum: The Chic Bohemian Town of Yucatán

Located by the sea, the town of Tulum is famous for its stunning beaches and relaxed atmosphere, attracting travelers from around the world every year to enjoy its bohemian charm.

Yet, contrary to what one might think, Tulum has much more to offer than cocktails sipped while watching the sunset.

This new coastal town is indeed full of cultural gems, hidden landscapes, and fascinating history.

Moreover, it’s quite easy to travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, as you have many transportation options available.

Here, I’ll present to you the best activities to do in Tulum and its surroundings!

What to do in Tulum?

Tulum Ruins: Formerly known as “Zama,” Tulum is one of the most spectacular ancient Mayan cities in a paradisiacal setting.

Its buildings were constructed between the 13th and 15th centuries, and this city was mainly a landmark for trade between different civilizations of the time, being the only city by the sea, allowing it to dominate maritime trade.

The sublime location of the Tulum ruins makes this site a unique place not to be missed if you’re in the region.

Tulum ruins

Tulum Town Center: Also known as “Tulum Pueblo,” the town center of Tulum is ideal if you want to get away from the beach clubs and hotels that may seem too superficial and crowded with tourists.

The town center brings out Tulum’s local charm, sometimes forgotten. The streets are lined with small artisanal shops, restaurants, and local bars.

For a local meal, I recommend dining at “El Camello JR,” a delicious Mexican restaurant specializing in Ceviche, which is also one of the best we’ve tasted in Mexico.

For tacos and typical local cuisine, I recommend the restaurant Antojitos La Chiapaneca in downtown Tulum.

Tulum Beaches

Tulum’s beaches stretch for 9km, between the north of its hotel zone and the ruins mentioned just above. Here are its prettiest beaches, in our opinion:

Paraiso Beach: Probably the most iconic beach in Tulum, as it perfectly lives up to its name: it’s a true paradise!

Between its white sand, turquoise water, and coconut trees, you can’t ask for a better place to relax for a day.

It’s only 1km from the Tulum ruins. After the effort, comes the comfort!

Tulum Beach

Santa Fe Beach: This second beach is also right next to the Tulum ruins.

It’s the northernmost beach in the strip of white sand, so one of the prettiest, but also one of the most crowded.

Don’t worry, walk a few minutes south, and you’ll probably find the perfect spot to settle away from the crowd!

Pescadores Beach: In Spanish, “pescadores” means fishermen; the beach is simply named this because this is where fishermen set off early in the morning for their day’s work.

So, along this beach, you’ll find the most small local restaurants specializing in ceviche.

You can also take a boat from the beach to snorkel in Tulum on the reef with colorful fish, turtles, and rays.

Bahia Soliman: Ideal if you want to get away from the large hotels and beach clubs in Tulum, Bahia Soliman Beach is one of the most secluded and peaceful in the area.

The beach is between Tulum and Akumal. The water is shallow, making it perfect for families with children and for exploring the underwater world with your mask and snorkel.

Tulum Beach
The Cenotes in Tulum

There are many cenotes in Tulum with beautiful landscape and cristal clear water to snorkel.

Cenote Zacil Ha: Zacil Ha cenote is only about twenty minutes from Tulum. Zacil-ha, “clear water” in Maya, suits this place perfectly!

The water is completely transparent, making it ideal for snorkeling.

You can even dive here if you venture into the deeper cave system that connects with the Carwash cenote and the Grand cenote.

Ideal for families, as there are dressing rooms, toilets, and a nearby restaurant, etc.

Cenote Calavera: In Spanish, “calavera” means skull; the cenote is named this because the only way to enter is directly through the hole!

This cenote is a beautiful open-air cave. You have to dive in to see the beauty of the cave, a 3-meter jump for the brave!

For others, you can simply descend by a ladder. Once in the water, you’ll be amazed by the many fish below your feet.

You’ll also see many bats!

This is one of the most “Instagrammable” cenotes in the region.

Cenote Corazón: Cenote Corazón is one of my favorite cenotes. Its name, “heart” cenote, comes from its shape, which resembles a large heart.

The cenote is surrounded by greenery, creating shaded corners where you can easily relax, have a picnic, or simply admire the view.

The cenote is not very deep, and there’s no need to jump 3 meters to get wet!

The advantage of this one is that it’s relatively large, so even if it can fill up quickly, you won’t be on top of each other and can swim in peace.

Yal Ku Laguna: Close to Akumal Bay, Yal Ku caleta is a very quiet place for snorkeling without agitation with a mask and snorkel.

It’s a completely authentic cove, less known by tourists as it’s mostly visited by locals.

The lagoon is surrounded by limestone rock and wooden platforms where you can sit and leave your belongings before exploring the marine life!

You’ll probably see dozens of different species of fish, of all colors. A real spectacle in fresh and crystalline water.

The advantage is that the lagoon extends in length, so even if it can be very busy, you can easily swim alone without being disturbed.

A spectacular experience that we believe shouldn’t be missed!

Kaan Lum: Located about 15 minutes from Tulum, Kaan Lum lagoon is a spectacular and unique place.

It’s located right in the middle of the jungle and therefore not yet too popular with tourists.

Its particularity is that in the lagoon is a huge cenote!

This 80-meter water abyss is connected underground to the Caribbean Sea, hence its beautiful turquoise blue color.

The contrasts of the lagoon due to the different depths of the water are simply magical.

Ideal for spending a few hours of relaxation!

16. Playa del Carmen: A Jewel on the Caribbean Coast

Located on the beautiful Caribbean coast, Playa Del Carmen is a town on the Yucatán Peninsula known for its stunning beaches and turquoise waters.

In addition to its magnificent landscapes, it’s a city steeped in history and culture. The advantage of Playa del Carmen is that it’s a city suitable for everyone, whether you’re alone, with family, or with friends!

You won’t get bored in this lively city, so here are the best activities to do according to me.

Playa del Carmen

What to do in Playa Del Carmen?

Stroll along Quinta Avenida: Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue is the main and most popular avenue in Playa Del Carmen.

Quinta Avenida is the street parallel to the sea where you’ll find many small souvenir shops, well-known brand stores, lovely restaurants, and you might even stumble upon one or more street performances.

The atmosphere is very different during the day and at night, making this street even more special.

During the day, it’s ideal for a leisurely stroll, and at night, if you want to go out and party, this is where you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Quinta Avenida

Frida Kahlo Museum: The Frida Kahlo Museum is located right in the center of Quinta Avenida at the intersection of Calle 8. The museum isn’t very large; plan about an hour to visit.

It’s a museum rich in history and information about the exciting life of Frida Kahlo and her works, but also about Mexican culture in general.

You can visit and hire a guide in English or Spanish to not miss any information.

A quick and enriching activity to do during your stay!

Attend a show at Parque Los Fundadores: Parque Los Fundadores is located at the entrance to Playa del Carmen’s main beach at the end of Benito Juárez Avenue.

You can’t miss the huge statue at the entrance of the beach, called the Portal Maya, a symbol of Playa del Carmen as it represents humanity and the beginning of a new era, a symbol of hope!

This lively square is full of roaming vendors selling fruits, marquesitas, and snacks to enjoy while watching a show.

Indeed, from morning to night, traditional dance shows take place here. Two groups alternate their performances, which will surely amaze you.

We’ll let you discover them for yourself!

Playa del Carmen
Diving into the Cenotes around Playa del Carmen

You’re probably aware that cenotes are particularly numerous on the Yucatán Peninsula, being a typical geological formation of the region.

Here are the most beautiful cenotes to visit just a few minutes from Playa del Carmen!

Cenote Azul: Azul Cenote is probably the most famous cenote in Playa del Carmen.

It’s only 25 minutes from Playa del Carmen and is easily accessible by car or simply by colectivo from Playa del Carmen for 35 pesos.

The entrance fee is 150 pesos per adult and 80 pesos for children.

Cenote Azul is a beautiful natural freshwater pool, hidden in the jungle of Mexico! Don’t forget your mask and snorkel because you’ll see many fish.

The most courageous will let the Garra Rufa, skin-eating fish, nibble on their feet for a free spa session!

cenote Azul

Cenote Cristallino: Cenote Cristallino is just a few steps from Azul Cenote.

It consists of several pools, including a large main one where you can jump from a small cliff!

The other pools are less crowded, more shaded, and quieter. Try to go early in the morning to avoid the crowd and relax in the sun.

Cenote Jardin del Eden: This cenote is completely integrated with the jungle.

It’s entirely open-air, but you’ll easily find shaded areas around to relax quietly.

The advantage is that the cenote is very large, so you’ll have a very wide space to swim without being disturbed! One of the most beautiful cenotes in the region.

The entrance to Jardin del Eden cenote costs 200 pesos per person, and the cenote is open every day except Saturday.

Cenote Dos Ojos: Ideal for diving enthusiasts! Its name “cenote of the two eyes” refers to the shape of its two pits that resemble two large eyes.

These two pits join together, creating an underground cave.

If you’re not a great diver, no problem, you can obviously swim or snorkel here with your mask and snorkel.

The entrance to Dos Ojos Cenote costs 400 pesos, including a life jacket. It’s open every day from 9 am to 5 pm.

Cenote Dos Ojos

Cenote Tajma Ha: This cenote is perfect if you’re a diver. It’s one of the best in the region for scuba diving!

A higher level is recommended to cross the different tunnels without taking any risks in the depths of 15 meters at the bottom.

If you don’t dive, you can obviously also go there simply to swim, but there are, in my opinion, other cenotes more suitable for relaxation.

Exploring the Underground River of Rio Secreto: Just 15 minutes from Playa del Carmen is a wonderful underground river.

You can explore this river on an excursion by walking and swimming amidst the limestone rock and its stalactites and stalagmites.

You start the exploration with a guided tour of the caves, observing the different fascinating sculptures carved by water, then you descend into the river for a refreshing swim in this unique place.

It’s an experience that will immerse you 100% in an underground world full of mysteries, which you’ll discover once you’re there!

👉 Book your tour to Rio Secreto now !

Rio Secreto
Partying in Playa Del Carmen

You probably already know that Playa del Carmen is one of the liveliest cities on the Yucatán Peninsula. The city is known for its numerous bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.

If you’re looking to go out in Playa del Carmen, look no further than Quinta Avenida: this is where the magic happens.

It’s on this street that most of the lively places are located, for a complete evening from the aperitif to the nightclub.

If you’re looking for a nice restaurant before going out, one of my favorites is Aldea Corazón. It’s not an ordinary restaurant, as it’s simply located around an open cenote.

You’re in the heart of the city, but you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the jungle in absolutely spectacular surroundings.

To end your evening, I recommend Santino, a nightclub with two atmospheres: the first room has a reggaeton vibe, then on the rooftop, you can dance to electro music in a splendid setting.

Mandala is one of the most popular nightclubs in Playa del Carmen, with more commercial music. It’s open at the corner of Quinta.

Finally, Coco Bongo is more than just a nightclub. It’s a true American-style show different every night until 5 am. Expect to pay a minimum of €60 for entry to Coco Bongo to attend this show!

Relaxing on the beaches of Playa del Carmen

How can you talk about Playa del Carmen without mentioning the city’s magnificent beaches

This is mainly why Playa del Carmen is considered THE paradise destination in Mexico.

Between activities, what’s better than cooling off by the turquoise water. Here are, in my opinion, the 4 best beaches in Playa del Carmen:

Playa 72: This quiet beach located a few minutes’ walk from downtown is worth a visit for its calm compared to the beaches downtown.

Here, there are no beach clubs or restaurants, only the beach to lay your towel and enjoy the paradise-like setting.


Punta Esmeralda: This one is about a 45-minute walk from downtown Playa del Carmen.

It’s different from the other beaches in the area because it’s the only beach where you can enjoy a sunset.

It’s idyllic in the late afternoon for a little picnic by the water!

In the middle of the sand is a “mini” cenote, creating a kind of natural pool.

This beach is more popular with locals than tourists. Since Sunday is the only day off for Mexicans, I advise you to go during the week to avoid the crowd.

Xpu Ha: My favorite beach! It’s located between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, near Akumal.

It’s a true hidden paradise. Here, you can rest quietly under the palm trees or snorkel on the coral reef in its crystal-clear water.

It’s actually my favorite spot for snorkeling in Playa del Carmen!

There are a few small beach clubs, but you just need to walk a few tens of meters to the right when you arrive to settle in a quieter spot on the beach.

Playacar Beach: Playacar is a residential area of Playa del Carmen. Here, there are many houses, Airbnb rentals, and hotels by the sea.

The beach stretches for several kilometers, facing the different sun loungers reserved for each hotel.

Don’t worry, if you don’t stay in these hotels, you can easily lay your towel on the sand and enjoy the beach just as much.

To get there without going through the hotels, just leave from the central beach of Playa del Carmen and walk along the sea to your right until you find your ideal spot!

17. Visiting Bacalar

It’s not a nature reserve, but Bacalar is a true paradise on Earth.

It’s actually a lagoon with 7 breathtaking shades of blue, considered one of the most beautiful in the world.

The clear waters of the lagoon harbor a huge variety of aquatic flora and fauna.

To enjoy the lagoon, you can go kayaking, paddleboarding, but be careful, you can’t swim everywhere.

You can also book a guided tour with a boat captain who will take you to the submerged cenotes, through the lagoon, and along the pirate canal, while telling you the history of Bacalar.

It’s the place where the water is the clearest and where you can peacefully swim surrounded by nature.

There are many other highlights in Bacalar, starting with the stromatolites, fossilized structures dating back approximately 3500 million years, found in certain areas of the lagoon.

Los Rapidos, “the rapids”, is actually a canal where you can comfortably swim while being carried by the current.

After enjoying the lagoon, take a stroll through the charming downtown area of Bacalar!


18. Visiting the Xcaret Group Parks

The 6 Xcaret parks (pronounced “Ich Karette”) are located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Each park has its own specialty:

Xcaret Park: This is the main, largest, and most comprehensive of the 7 parks. It traces the history and culture of Mexico through a wide range of activities suitable for everyone: traditional Mexican shows, water activities, cave tours, and more.

Xplor Park: This park is tailored for thrill-seekers! It offers adrenaline-pumping activities such as rafting, paddleboarding on underground rivers, swimming in caves, and is primarily known for its two circuits of seven zip lines.


Xenses Park: A park quite different from the others. It’s a sensory park that offers a very unique experience. There’s a terrestrial section and an aquatic section, connected by a small village filled with optical illusions. You’ll come out with your senses turned upside down but with your head full of memories!

Xavage Park: Xavage Park is for adrenaline junkies. Here, you can go rafting, do aerial activities above the void, navigate through the air, zip line, all amidst the jungle. Don’t worry, the courses are suitable for various skill levels, from beginner to expert.

Xel-Ha Park: Xel-Ha Park is a water park within the Xcaret group. Here, you can snorkel and observe dozens of species! There are numerous cenotes, mangroves, and gardens in the middle of the jungle where you can leisurely walk or even bike. It’s the perfect option for families with children.

Xenotes Park: As the name suggests, Xenotes Park revolves around cenotes. You can enjoy them through a guided tour to discover numerous types of cenotes, whether open, underground, or semi-open! Activities like zip-lining over cenotes or canoeing are also available.

Snorkeling in the Yucatán

In addition to its beautiful beaches and the cenotes mentioned earlier in this article, the Yucatán is also known for its excellent snorkeling spots, swimming with turtles, or its extraordinary nature reserves.

Whether you’re a lover of marine life or not, you will probably become one after snorkeling in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula!

19. Akumal: The Turtle Bay of the Yucatán Peninsula

Akumal is famous in the Yucatán Peninsula as THE place to swim with turtles in Mexico.

Various species of turtles can be observed here:

The green turtle (Chelonia mydas): This is the most common turtle in Akumal. It can reach a length of over one meter and weigh up to 200 kg. Green turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs between May and October.

The loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta): This is the second most common turtle species in Akumal. It has a shell of reddish-brown color and can reach a length of over one meter. Loggerhead turtles come to lay their eggs on the beaches between April and July.

The hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata): This is the smallest of the sea turtle species and has a shell with colorful overlapping scales. It can reach a length of 75 cm and lays its eggs on the region’s beaches between April and August.


Hours and Prices at Akumal

🕒 The site opens at 8 am, and I recommend arriving at the opening for more tranquility. The last swim usually starts around 4 pm as the site closes at 5 pm.

👉 You can book this tour to swim with turtles in Akumal !

20. Cozumel: Diver’s Paradise in the Yucatán Peninsula

As mentioned earlier, Cozumel Island is undoubtedly the best place for scuba diving and snorkeling in Mexico, if not one of the best in the world.

It’s one of the most beautiful experiences to have in Mexico.

On Cozumel, there are several major dive sites known for their diversity, featuring turtles, hundreds of fish species, small sharks, and corals of all colors.

With completely transparent water, you’ll have perfect visibility. The most famous is the Palancar Reef, which is also the most visited.

If you want to get away from the crowds, opt for dive sites like Santa Rosa Wall, Columbia, Punta Tunich, and many others.

For more advanced divers, the Garganta del Diablo is a 30-meter-deep hole in the ocean where you can see sharks and barracudas.

In short, Cozumel is truly ideal for both expert and beginner divers.

For those who simply want to swim along the shore or snorkel, you can do so comfortably at the beach.

It would be a shame to leave the Yucatán Peninsula without trying diving in Cozumel and missing out on unique memories.

👉 I recommend to book this tour to explore the best snorkeling spots in Cozumel.


The Islands of Yucatán

Yucatán undeniably harbors the most beautiful islands in Mexico.

As a reminder, the peninsula is bordered by the Caribbean Sea, and it is obviously in this area that the country’s most beautiful islands are found.

21. Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is an island located off the coast of Cancún and is the most popular in the Yucatán, mainly due to its easy access, just a 20-minute ferry ride from the hotel zone of Cancún.

Isla Mujeres boasts one of the most beautiful beaches in the world called “Playa Norte,” a paradisiacal beach located on the northern tip of the island.

It is a small island in the Mexican Caribbean, stretching 8 kilometers in length.

One of the best activities is to tour the island in a golf cart. I highly recommend this activity during your visit!

This allows you to move away from the highly touristy area in the north of the island and head to the southern tip, which offers a completely different landscape.

The island offers a wide range of restaurants, beach clubs, and hotels.

👉 You can book a tour in Catamaran to Isla Mujeres.

Isla Mujeres

22. Holbox: The Bohemian Chic

Holbox is the “trendy” island of the Mexican Caribbean. This island offers a “bohemian chic” atmosphere somewhat similar to Tulum.

Holbox is characterized by its tranquility, being a car-free island where the streets are made of sand.

There are plenty of activities to do in Holbox. Its beaches are beautiful and its waters are calm and shallow.

Holbox is part of the Yum Balam reserve and thus harbors breathtaking fauna: flamingos, dolphins, pelicans, herons, and even crocodiles…


23. Cozumel: Diver’s Paradise

Cozumel is the preferred destination for divers. This island is home to the most beautiful seabeds in the Yucatán.

Cozumel is also renowned for being a popular stopover for cruise ships venturing into the Caribbean.

Indeed, every day, large cruise ships dock at Cozumel, attracting a influx of tourists.

Cozumel is one of the largest islands in Mexico. It is connected by a ferry line to the city of Playa Del Carmen (about 40 minutes crossing).

In addition to snorkeling activities, Cozumel offers many things to do, including:

  • The El Cielo beach, with its crystalline waters and starfish.
  • The Playa Mia water park.
  • The Chankanaab Park.
  • Punta Sur to admire the wild side of the island.

24. Isla Contoy

Isla Contoy is the only untouched island in the Mexican Caribbean. It is accessible only by excursion from Cancún, as there is no ferry service connecting it.

Isla Contoy is a small island off the beaten path in Mexico. Its main attraction is its paradisiacal beach and incredible wildlife.

It is possible to observe stingrays just a few meters from the beach, turtles surfacing for air, and many species of birds.

Excursions to Isla Contoy usually include a stopover on Isla Mujeres on the way back.

👉 I recommend to book this tour to Isla Contoy !

Isla Contoy

Other Wonders of the Yucatán Peninsula

25. Visit the Pink Lake of Las Coloradas

The Pink Lake of Las Coloradas is located in the northeast of the Yucatán Peninsula, near the mangroves of Rio Lagartos.

It is famous for its pink color, which is the result of the presence of an algae and bacteria thriving in the salty waters of this shallow lake.

It is best to visit the Pink Lake of Las Coloradas during the dry months from November to March, especially on sunny days, as this is when the color is most intense thanks to the sunlight.

The entrance fee is 320 Pesos MXN per person. A guide (mandatory) will be assigned to you, who will give you a guided tour of about 45 minutes.

👉 You can book a tour with transportation to visit Las Coloradas.

Las Coloradas

Is the Yucatán region dangerous?

It’s always a bit intimidating to travel to a foreign country. Mexico doesn’t have the best reputation in that regard. Yet, once you’re there, you won’t feel unsafe at all. On the contrary!

For example, the Yucatán is one of the safest regions in Mexico, heavily patrolled by the police as it’s the most visited region in the country.

Safety really depends on the places you go, just like anywhere else. Dangers in Mexico are mostly related to gang-related issues.

My personal viewpoint:

Crime exists in Mexico. We often hear about it through the media, but we don’t see it firsthand because it happens in poorly frequented areas and mostly affects people involved in organized crime.

In short: if you have nothing to hide, you have no reason to worry. Additionally, locals are very welcoming, and you immediately feel at home wherever you go.

I’ve always felt safe, and like in any European or American city, I walk around without flaunting valuable objects and respect common-sense rules.

When is the best time to visit the Yucatán?

The Yucatán region is relatively warm throughout the year, with temperatures around 25 – 30°C.

What varies are the dry and rainy seasons. Don’t panic, the rainy season doesn’t prevent you from traveling there.

Ideally, the best time to travel to the Yucatán is from December to March, as the temperature is still pleasant.

It’s the perfect season for the beach because the seaweed hasn’t arrived yet on the beaches. These are clearly ideal conditions for a sunny trip!

If you want to travel at a time when tourists are fewer and prices are lower, I recommend going between April / July and September / November.

These are the low seasons in Mexico, hence where prices are the most interesting for plane tickets, hotels, etc.

beach Yucatan

Where to land to visit the Yucatán?

The main international airports in the Yucatán Peninsula are in Cancún, Tulum, and Cozumel. Cancún receives international flights from all over the world.

It’s easy to find direct flights or flights with layovers.

Cozumel and Tulum receive some international flights, only from neighboring countries or regions. Most international flights arrive at Cancun Airport.

Why visit the Yucatán?

The Yucatán offers a plethora of activities for all tastes and ages, promising an unforgettable travel experience.

Indeed, the region is teeming with remarkable archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, or Coba in the Yucatán Peninsula.

But that’s not all, you can savor delicious typical Mexican cuisine with Caribbean and Spanish influences, relax on the magnificent beaches along the coast in Cancún, Playa del Carmen, or Isla Mujeres, explore the numerous cenotes, nature reserves, and more.

In short, rest assured you won’t get bored during your visit.

And there you have it! You are now ready to embark on the discovery of our beautiful Yucatán.

It’s up to you to choose your activities and make the most of your trip!

what to do in Yucatan

Itinerary for a road trip in Yucatan

The Yucatán Peninsula is the perfect region for a road trip to discover all the treasures it holds.

Between the architectural gems of the Mayan civilization, the natural wonders, and the incredible animals, visiting the Yucatán Peninsula will leave you with a memorable experience.

Here’s the itinerary I recommend for a two-week road trip in the Yucatan Peninsula:

  • Playa del Carmen (2 days)
    • Downtown
    • Beach
    • Cozumel
  • Tulum (4 days)
    • Cenotes
    • Beach
    • Archaeological sites of Tulum and Coba
    • Swimming with turtles
    • Sian Ka’an
  • Bacalar (1 day)
    • Lagoon
    • Fort
  • Calakmul (1 day)
    • Nature reserve
    • Archaeological site
  • Campeche (1 day)
    • Downtown
  • Mérida (3 days)
    • Downtown
    • Paseo de Montejo
    • Great Museum of the Maya World
    • Archaeological site of Mayapan
    • Cenotes
    • Archaeological site of Uxmal
    • Celestun Reserve
  • Valladolid (2 days)
    • Chichen Itza
    • Cathedral
    • Cenotes
  • Holbox (1 day)
    • Boat tour
    • Punta Mosquito
    • Bioluminescence
road trip Yucatan

How to visit the Yucatan?

With excursions

To visit the highlights of the Yucatan, you can opt for small-group excursions with a guide and transportation from your hotel.

The tour agency PIXAN KA’AN offers excursions to discover the Sian Ka’an biosphere in the Yucatan Peninsula.

By rental car

Renting a car in Cancun will allow you to embark on a road trip across the Yucatan Peninsula, delving even deeper into Maya culture.

I highly recommend a car rental agency with excellent customer service.

Exploring the region via a Yucatan road trip is the best way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

By bus

If you decide not to rent a car in Yucatan, you can also travel around the Yucatan Peninsula by bus.

The most pouplar bus company running in Yucatan is ADO.

By train

The Maya Train now offers the opportunity to explore the Yucatan Peninsula with its panoramic trains, providing an immersive experience into the Mexican jungle.

From Cancun to Palenque, discover the main cities of the five southwestern states of Mexico and over 50 archaeological sites accessible via the Maya Train.

The ruins of Palenque, Chichen Itza, Tulum, and the Calakmul nature reserve are natural and cultural sites not to be missed during a trip to Mexico!

The History & Culture of the Yucatan Peninsula

The history of the Yucatan, a region considered the cradle of civilization, is fascinating.

The Mayans have left behind numerous traces of their life, vestiges, pyramids…

That is why traditions are still present today throughout the Yucatan through ceremonies, cultural events, or festivals.

The History of the Yucatan & the Mayan Civilizations

The Maya civilization has great importance in the history of the Yucatan. It emerged over 2000 years ago.

The people dominated the region for decades, and implanted their culture through architecture, art, and writing: they built the largest cities like Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Tulum.

When the Spanish arrived in the region in the 16th century, they discovered the last remaining Mayan communities in the region but also many abandoned cities.

Today, the Maya empire no longer exists but the Mayans are still present in the Yucatan region. They have preserved their languages and traditions which are still practiced and celebrated!

Mayan ruins

Local Traditions and Current Culture of the Yucatan

Indeed, the cultural heritage of the Yucatan has been preserved over the centuries. Current culture blends modernity, Spanish influence, but above all, Mayan heritage.

Religious traditions are very present. The most famous religious festival is the Feast of the Virgin, mainly celebrated in the yellow city of Izamal, which attracts thousands of pilgrims each year for the occasion.

Dance and music are also important in Yucatecan culture. The “Jarana Yucateca” is a traditional dance of the Yucatan Peninsula performed in pairs. Accompanied by music and local instruments such as the “jarana” and the maracas, it brings a festive atmosphere to religious celebrations.

Yucatecan cuisine is one of the most emblematic cuisines of Mexico. It is characterized by several local products used in typical dishes such as corn, chicken, black beans, and fish. One of the typical dishes of the Yucatan is the Cochinita Pibil; it is pork marinated in numerous spices. Its particularity is that everything is cooked in banana leaves.

The Yucatan is a blend of traditions, religion, music, and craftsmanship that will surely surprise you.

Mayan food
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