The Best 2-Week Yucatán Road Trip Itinerary

Yucatan Road Trip

Going on a road trip in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico is a unique experience where you’ll immerse yourself in the region!

Booking a car rental in Cancun upon your arrival is the ideal solution to make this project happen.

In this article, I’ll provide you with all my tips and an itinerary to discover the best of the Yucatan Peninsula on an unforgettable Yucatan road trip.

Yucatan Road Trip

Renting a car at Cancun Airport for your Yucatan Road Trip

If you plan on renting a car in Cancun, I recommend starting your road trip right after your plane lands at Cancun Airport (CUN).

Cancun Airport will most likely be your gateway to the Mayan world and the Yucatan Peninsula.

👉 I recommend to use the Discover Cars platform to rent a car in Cancun for your Yucatan road trip.

Using Discover Cars to book a car rental in Cancun offers several benefits:

  • International and local rental agencies
  • Free cancellation up to 48 hours
  • Competitive prices
  • Secure payment
  • Full coverage insurance available
Yucatan Road Trip

Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary

I’m going to outline an itinerary for a Yucatan road trip in Mexico, to be done with a rental car.

Here’s an ideal itinerary for a two-week Yucatan road trip that you can adjust based on the number of days you have.

If you want to go on a Yucatan road trip without renting a car, you can also visit Yucatan by bus or using the Mayan Train.

1. Playa del Carmen (2 days)

After picking up your car at Cancun Airport, head towards Playa del Carmen (1-hour drive) where you’ll spend your first night after a long journey.

In Playa del Carmen, I stayed at the Casa de las Flores hotel. It is a true haven of peace, quiet with a flowered garden, and close to the city center and all the entertainment.

  • Day 1: Explore downtown Playa del Carmen with its famous tourist street, Quinta Avenida.

In the morning, stroll along Quinta Avenida and visit one of the city’s museums: Choco Story, the Frida Kahlo Museum, the Wax Museum, or the 3D Museum of Wonders.

Have brunch at P’tit Shoux restaurant before heading to the tranquil Playa 72 beach, just a few minutes’ walk north of the city.

Playa del Carmen

Spend the afternoon enjoying the beach and the Mexican Caribbean sun. You can even walk to Punta Esmeralda with your feet in the water.

Head back to downtown via Quinta Avenida and experience the lively atmosphere of Playa del Carmen in the evening.

Enjoy an excellent dinner at one of the many restaurants in Playa del Carmen.

  • Day 2: Visit to Cozumel Island, across from Playa del Carmen

Take the 8:00 am ferry from the Playa del Carmen ferry terminal to Cozumel Island.

Enjoy this day to explore the exceptional underwater world of the island, with the second largest coral reef in the world passing just off its shores.

You can book a day trip to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen or, once there, you’ll find captains to take you out to the reef.

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

I decided not to stay overnight in Cozumel, but if you want to give it a try, I recommend the Casa del Solar hotel.

Cozumel

2. Tulum (4 days)

  • Day 1: Visit to a cenote and the paradisiacal beach Xpu-Ha.

Drive towards Tulum in the morning and make a stop along the way at one of the open-air cenotes in Tulum: Cenote Azul, Cenote Cristalino, or Cenote Jardin del Eden.

I recommend going there early in the day to enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.

Next, head to the stunning Playa Xpu-Ha beach, less than 5 minutes from the cenotes. You can have lunch at the beach restaurant and then enjoy the paradisiacal setting.

Playa Xpu-Ha

Don’t hesitate to venture into the water with a mask and snorkel for an incredible snorkeling experience.

In the late afternoon, I hit the road again toward Tulum to reach my hotel, Howlita Tulum (€45 per night). This hotel has the advantage of having a parking lot to securely park your car.

Then I headed to downtown to explore the main street and savor some tacos at the typical taqueria, Antojitos la Chiapaneca.

  • Day 2: Explore the Tulum ruins, swim with turtles, and discover a beautiful cenote!

In the morning, head to the Tulum ruins to explore the archaeological site and uncover the secrets of the Mayan civilization.

The archaeological site of Tulum is located in a stunning setting, perched on cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Tulum Ruins

In the afternoon, head towards the quaint village of Akumal where you can snorkel with turtles right off the beach.

I recommend the small family restaurant, Imelda’s Ecocina, right next to the beach for an authentic lunch.

Then, make your way to the beach where you’ll easily find guides to accompany you on a snorkeling session where you’ll swim with turtles.

On your way back to Tulum, visit the stunning underground cenote, Taak Bi Ha, with its hundreds of stalactites and stalagmites.

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

Cenote Taak Bi-Ha
  • Day 3: Discovery of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a natural reserve located just a few kilometers from Tulum, housing exceptional wildlife.

You can discover over 300 species of birds, crocodiles, dolphins, turtles, and colorful fish here.

You’ll embark on a boat with a guide to discover all these animals in their natural habitat!

🐬 Sian Ka’an Biosphere

👉 Check out my comprehensive guide on how to get to Sian Ka’an?

The fishing village of Punta Allen is located at the end of a rough track that is quite difficult to reach by car.

❤️ That’s why I recommend exploring Sian Ka’an through a full-day excursion from your hotel in Tulum.

Moreover, most car rental companies prohibit access to the reserve for rental cars due to the very poor condition of the road.

Sian Ka'an Biosphere

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!

Book Now
  • Day 4: Visit to the Coba ruins and a cenote.

The Coba ruins are located north of Tulum.

You’ll discover an exceptional archaeological site in the heart of the jungle that you can explore on foot or by bicycle.

The Coba site is home to two Mayan pyramids, including the tallest in the region, with a summit reaching 42 meters in height.

Coba ruins

I recommend dining at a typical restaurant in the village of Coba to savor Mexican cuisine.

In the afternoon, head to an underground cenote near Coba, such as the Choo-Ha cenote.

After this day in Coba, I hit the road again in the mid-afternoon towards the Bacalar Lagoon in the south of the Yucatan Peninsula.

I chose to stay at a beautiful hotel by the lagoon, Amigos Hotelito, which offers an incredible view of the lagoon’s seven shades of blue.

3. Bacalar (1 day)

Start your day in Bacalar by watching the magnificent sunrise over the Bacalar Lagoon from your hotel.

Sunrise in Bacalar

I recommend taking a boat tour on the lagoon afterward to discover the best spots and swim in the incredibly clear waters of the Pirate’s Canal.

I recommend this ecological boat tour on the Bacalar lagoon.

For lunch, head to the La Playita restaurant on the lagoon’s edge for a lunch in a dreamlike setting.

After lunch, head to downtown Bacalar to explore Fort San Felipe and the Bacalar letters with a view of the lagoon.

In the evening, hit the road towards Xpujil.

Bacalar lagoon

4. Calakmul (1 day)

Head towards the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve early in the morning to discover a site that is both a breathtaking natural reserve and an ancient Mayan city.

This grandiose site is a must-see during a road trip in Yucatan and it’s one of my favorites in Mexico.

After the visit, I spent another night in the town of Xpujil. I stayed at Hotel Villa Calakmul, which offers rooms with an excellent value for money.

If you want to book a tour with guide and transportation, you can book this tour from Xpujil.

Calakmul

5. Campeche (1 day)

The next day, hit the road towards Campeche, the capital of the least touristy state in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Explore its downtown area and its walls. A day is more than enough to discover the city of Campeche.

Spend the night there before continuing your road trip towards the state of Yucatan.

I personally chose a unique and cozy accommodation in Campeche, where I was warmly welcomed by an attentive owner: Habitacion Roja / Casa del Café.

Campeche

6. Merida (3 days)

The city of Merida is one of my favorite spots in the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s actually the capital of the state of Yucatan.

Vibrant, lively, and rich in history and culture, Merida will captivate you during your stay.

Hit the road in the morning towards Merida and arrive there by late morning.

In Merida, I chose to stay at the Santa Ana Hotel, where you can securely park your car in a safe parking area.

  • Day 1: Explore downtown Merida

Downtown Merida is typical of the Spanish colonial period with numerous haciendas dating back to that era.

The lush central square is lined with historical buildings such as the cathedral, Casa Montejo, the Passage of the Revolution, and the Government Palace.

Mérida

If you have time, also visit one of the downtown museums, which are free to enter: Museum of Popular Arts, Macay Museum, Museum of the City of Merida.

For lunch, savor a typical Yucatan dish at one of the many restaurants in Merida. I recommend El Barrio Comfort Food or Bistro Cultural.

In the afternoon, explore the area around Paseo Montejo, a wide avenue lined with magnificent palaces and buildings.

Walk to the Monument to the Homeland located on Paseo Montejo.

Then, visit the Museum of the Maya World located north of the city.

In the evening, enjoy one of the free shows offered by the city of Merida:

  • Free show at 8 p.m.
    • Wednesday: Video projection on Casa Montejo
    • Thursday: Dance in Santa Lucia Park
    • Friday: Video projection on the cathedral
    • Saturday: Demonstration of the ball game in front of the cathedral

Finally, soak in the lively atmosphere of Merida for dinner at a restaurant, have a drink at La Negrita, and dance at La Mezcaleria.

  • Day 2: Visit to the Mayapan ruins and cenotes in Homun & Cuzama

The Mayapan ruins are beautiful and in excellent condition.

Located about forty minutes south of Merida, this less-visited site is well worth a visit.

At the Mayapan site, it’s possible to climb to the top of all the temples, including the main pyramid, to have a viewpoint of the entire site and the surrounding jungle.

Mayapan

Then, head towards the small villages of Homun or Cuzama located on the “Anillo de los Cenotes” (Ring of Cenotes).

I particularly recommend the 3 cenotes of Cuzama for an authentic and comprehensive experience, as well as the Santa Maria cenote in Homun.

On your way back to Merida, I recommend making a stop in Izamal, the yellow city of Yucatan.

Izamal
  • Day 3: Visits to the Uxmal archaeological site and the Celestun Biosphere Reserve.

From Merida, make the most of your last day to visit two must-see attractions in the region.

In the morning, head to the beautiful Uxmal archaeological site with its majestic main temple overlooking the jungle.

Guided tours are also available from Mérida to visit Uxmal. You can check this tour if you are interested.

In the afternoon, make your way to the Celestun Biosphere Reserve to observe hundreds of pink flamingos during a boat tour.

Celestun

7. Valladolid (2 days)

  • Day 1: Visit to Chichen Itza and discovery of a cenote.

Enjoy the road trip towards Valladolid by stopping at the must-see archaeological site of Chichen Itza.

Its central pyramid, elected as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, is a must-visit for any traveler on a road trip in the Yucatan.

In addition to the famous Kukulcan Pyramid, you’ll discover numerous buildings and temples dating back centuries that will help unravel the mysteries of the Mayan civilization.

At the Chichen Itza site, take the opportunity to shop for souvenirs. Many vendors offer souvenirs at affordable prices (remember to haggle)!

After visiting Chichen Itza, head to one of the many cenotes around Chichen Itza for a well-deserved refreshing swim after the tour.

In the evening, I stayed in Valladolid to rest at Hotel Boutique Refugio 41, a true haven of peace.

👉 You can book this guided tour to Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza
  • Day 2: Visit to Valladolid and the magnificent underground cenotes around the city.

Take advantage of the morning to explore the downtown area of Valladolid. The downtown area is quite small and can be explored quickly.

Stroll around the central square, towards the San Bernardino Convent, and through the colorful streets.

Then, head towards the magnificent underground cenotes near the small village of Yalcoba:

  • Cenote Palomitas
  • Cenote Xcanahaltun
  • Cenote Choj-Ha

In the late afternoon, hit the road towards our next and final stop: the paradisiacal island of Holbox.

Cenote Suytun

8. Holbox (1 day)

Head to the port of Chiquila where you can leave your car for 24 hours. From there, take the ferry to Holbox.

Upon arriving on the island, I dropped off my belongings at the Brisa del Mar Hotel in the city center, and then headed to the beach.

Enjoy a drink on the beach at sunset and then find your dream hotel on the island of Holbox.

In the evening, head to Punta Coco where you can observe the bioluminescence, a unique experience to live on the island of Holbox.

The next morning, walk towards Punta Mosquito, a stretch of white sand along the island of Holbox for a walk in a dreamy setting.

If you wish, you can also take a boat tour that will take you to visit Passion Island, Bird Island, Yalahau cenote, and Punta Mosquito.

Holbox

To go further

Chiapas

Embarking on a road trip in the state of Chiapas is always an adventure. There are numerous extraordinary places in this state, such as Palenque or San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

Close to the Yucatan Peninsula, don’t hesitate to venture there if you have more time.

Chiapas

Belize

Driving to Belize from Mexico in a rental car can be tempting. However, some rental agencies may not allow you to cross borders.

Be sure to check at the time of booking your rental car. Some agencies offer an extra package allowing you to travel to Belize by rental car.

Belize
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