Mexico | North America | Tulum

Tulum Itinerary | How to Spend the Perfect 3,4 or 5 Days in Tulum

What was just a lush jungle two decades ago today is one of the most desirable vacation destinations in Mexico, a worthy rival to more established Cancun. If you’re planning a trip to this exciting beach town, here, you will find everything you need, starting from the perfect Tulum itinerary, full of the absolutely best things to do in Tulum, the best Tulum restaurants and cafes and useful Tulum travel tips and hacks.

Although Tulum may not be a hidden gem anymore, it is definitely an excellent destination to add to your Yucatan itinerary! But, what is Tulum famous for? Tulum is known for its white-sanded beaches, swaying palms and calm ocean with an incredible turquoise hue.

Tulum itinerary

Tulum is also renowned for being the ultimate Instagrammers’ playground having so many epic Instagram spots, including chic beach clubs, boho boutique hotels and trendy cafes. 

Whether you have 5 days in Tulum or only one day in Tulum, this post will provide you with the ideal Tulum vacation itinerary.

Where is Tulum?

Tulum itinerary map

Click here to access the interactive map.

Where is Tulum located? Tulum is a coastal town situated in central Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula. Here are some distances to other popular places to visit in Yucatan:

Tulum to Cancun | 131 km or 81 miles (under 2 hours drive)

Tulum to Playa del Carmen | 65 km or 40 miles (under 1 hour)

Tulum to Valladolid | 102 km or 63 miles (1.5 hours)

Tulum to Merida | 259 km or 161 miles (3.5 hours)

Quick Tulum Travel Guide

✈️ Browse for cheap flights with Kayak 

🚕 Book your private transfer Cancun to Tulum 

🚗 Need a car? Use Discover Cars for the best deals

🏨 Where to stay in Tulum?

Tulum BeachPapaya Playa Project (unique)

Tulum BeachSelina (great for socialising)

Tulum TownXperience Tulum Hotel (affordable)

🛕 Best Chichen Itza tour from Tulum  

Private Chichen Itza + Cenote Suytun & Samula

Tulum Itinerary 3 Days 

If you’re looking for a 3 day Tulum itinerary, you’ll find it in this section. 3 days in Tulum is not a lot of time, and if you want to see the best of Tulum, your time here will be intense and jam-packed with incredible places and picturesque spots! Also, this Tulum 3 day itinerary assumes you have the whole 3 days. 

Here is how to see Tulum in 3 days, and remember you can always skip places to fit it more relaxing time on the beaches of Tulum. 😉

Day 1 of 5 Days in Tulum Itinerary: Tulum Ruins, Instagram Spots & Playa Paraiso

On day 1 of the Tulum 5 day itinerary, you will be visiting Tulum’s most epic places. It’s going to be the perfect blend of history, nature and the most Instagrammable places in Tulum that you simply cannot miss! All that layered with the most iconic places to eat in Tulum. 

Matcha Mama & ‘Follow that Dream’ Sign

Tulum itinerary
Matcha Mama Tulum
matcha mama tulum
Breakfast at Matcha Mama.

Breakfast | Start your day with a colourful smoothie bowl for breakfast at Matcha Mama. Their smoothie bowls are delicious and include super healthy ingredients such as acai or maca and will fill you up and keep you going until lunchtime! Expect to pay around $10 for a bowl. 

Matcha Mama Cafe also happens to be one of the most famous Tulum Instagram Spots, so at this stop, you can “kill two birds with one stone” (metaphorically, obviously ;). The cafe opens at 8:00 am, and this is also the best time to snap some cool shots for the Gram. You can even arrive a little earlier to make sure you have this cute cafe entirely to yourself for the photoshoot. 

Where | Google location 

Follow that dream sign Tulum
A photo at the famous Tulum sign.

Follow that Dream sign is located very close to Matcha Mama, in front of Lolita Lolita Tulum Shop, and you can stop by it before or after breakfast.  

Follow that Dream sign is probably the most famous most Instagrammable place in Tulum, and also my favourite spot because it carries an important meaning, and it’s free to take photos! Do you follow your dreams? If not, what’s stopping you? 

Where | Google location 

Tulum Ruins

Tulum itinerary
Tulum ruins.
tulum ruins

After breakfast at Matcha Mama, head to Tulum Archeological Zone, often referred to as Tulum ruins, which is one of the most important Mayan heritage sites in Tulum.   

The ruins are what’s left of the 16th-century walled Mayan settlement that today is the best preserved coastal Mayan town and one of Tulum best spots for history enthusiasts. Perched high on the 12-meter tall cliff, with some incredible panoramic views over the Caribbean Sea, Tulum ruins are a delight to visit, even if you’re not the biggest fan of history. 

Thanks to its strategic location being a port as well as having access to land trade routes, the pre-hispanic Tulum was an important trading hub between the 13th and 15 the century.  

The most iconic building of the site is El Castillo – Tulum’s tallest (7.5 meters) pyramid that served as a watch tower, from where the Mayans could spot potential incoming enemies.  

In the 16th century, the Mayan population of Tulum was decimated by the diseases brought by the Spaniards. 

A curious fact that you should know is that Tulum signifies “fence” in Mayan, which means that the present Tulum city was named after the pre-hispanic fortress.  

Where | Google location 

Admission to Tulum ruins | 85 MXN ($4)

Opening Time | 8 am to 4 pm

If you would rather visit Tulum ruins with a knowledgeable guide that can explain more about the meaning, architecture and history of the Tulum settlement, I recommend you book this highly rated tour with Viator. This half-day tour combines the visit to Tulum Archeological Site with fun activities such as snorkelling at a nearby reef and cenote swimming!    

tulum itinerary, tulum ruins price, tulum ruins cost

Lunch | After visiting the ruins, take a lunch break at Ziggy’s. The restaurant is located right on Tulum beach and also features a beach club. Ziggy’s menu includes a selection of healthy salads, light bites, delicious tacos and burgers. They have some good options for meat and fish eaters as well as vegetarians. The restaurant also boasts a delightful ambience and a beautiful beach view.  

If you want to extend your stay at Ziggy’s, you can use their beach club facilities. They currently don’t have an entrance fee but require a minimum spend of $70 per person.    

Ven a La Luz Sculpture 

Tulum itinerary, ven a la luz tulum sculpture

After lunch, make your way to Escultura Ven a la Luz (in Spanish, “come to light”), situated just 500 meters south of Ziggy’s restaurant. 

This impressive 10 meters sculpture, created by the artist David Poppers with wood, bamboo, rope and plants, used to be an entrance to the Ahau Tulum Beach Resort. 

The statue that showcases a female opening her heart full of vegetation symbolises the unity of humans with nature. After the images of the sculpture went viral on Instagram, the statue has been, and now the owners require a small entrance fee for those that want a photo. 

Ven a La Luz sculpture is super beautiful and a must-see place on your Tulum trip. Make sure you have enough cash to pay for the ticket, and in case the line is too long, try later, just before the closing time. 

Where | Google location 

Ahau Tulum sculpture entrance | 60 MXN 

Opening Time | 9 am to 6 pm 

Playa Paraiso

Tulum itinerary

Playa Paraiso is one of the most beautiful and free beaches in Tulum, and it’s the last stop on day 1 of your 5 days in Tulum itinerary. Paradise beach has a broad sweep of white sand and swaying lush palm trees on the back. 

For the rest of the afternoon, you can either spread your own towel somewhere under a palm tree or pay for sunbeds and umbrella rental at one of the beach clubs. This beach is truly idyllic and has everything you can expect from a perfect Caribbean beach. The only thing to be aware of is the sargassum issue, which is a seaweed that gets washed onto the Tulum beach between April and October.  

Where | Google location 

Dinner | Head to Santo Mercado for tacos and a few cocktails! 

Day 2 of 5 Days in Tulum Itinerary: Best Tulum Cenotes & Afternoon at a Beach Club

On day 2 of 5 day itinerary Tulum, you will get to explore some of the most incredible cenotes in Tulum, such as Grand Cenote and Cenote Calavera. And, after the trip to Tulum best cenotes, day 2 ends on one of Tulum’s best beach clubs!   

Raw Love Cafe
Smoothie bowls at Raw Love.
Tulum itinerary, tulum travel blog
Raw Love Cafe, Tulum.

Breakfast | Start your day with breakfast at Raw Love. The cafe has two locations – one on Tulum beach and the second one in Tulum town, so choose the closest restaurant depending on where you’re staying in Tulum. I recommend choosing the one in Zona Hotelera, which is tucked in a lush jungle right by the beach. Raw Love serves healthy, plant-based cuisine encompassing beautiful smoothie bowls, avo toasts and salads. 

You may also like: 10+ Best Tulum Cenotes Tours

Cenote Calavera 

Cenote Calavera Instagram
Cenote sinkhole.
tulum itinerary: 3 days

Start day 2 of your Tulum itinerary by visiting Cenote Calavera, which is one of the most unique Tulum cenotes. 

What’s special about Cenote Calavera is that the cenote roof is not fully collapsed, and to enter the cenote, you need to climb a huge ladder through a narrow cave entrance! And if you dare, an alternative way to access the cenote is to jump through its ceiling! Another special feature of this cenote is a swing and a few other smaller cenote holes through which you can also jump into the cave. 

The cenote area is relatively small, and with just a few people, it can feel overcrowded, so coming in the early morning, just after the opening time, makes a lot of sense. 

After swimming, jumping and taking photos at the cenote, you can chill on one of the colourful sun loungers or a hammock.   

Entrance | 250 MXN ($12) + 200 MXN ($10) professional camera fee

Opening Time | 9 am to 5 pm 

Where | Google location 

Gran Cenote 

tulum itinerary 4 days
Gran Cenote, Tulum.
Gran Cenote Tulum

The next one up on day 2 of your Tulum Mexico itinerary is Gran Cenote, situated just a short drive from Cenote Calavera.

Gran Cenote is an open cenote with crystal clear water, which is perfect for cenote snorkelling. The entrance ticket includes the use of snorkelling equipment, so make sure you take advantage of it! In the water, you can spot various fish species and small turtles! Yes, you heard me right, tinny and super cute turtles

There is also a picturesque decking where you can snap some cool pics and a cave. Make sure you also swim through the cave to explore the other side of the cenote.

*The cenote ticket includes a snorkel mask, but you have to hand in your ID card as a deposit because, without it, you won’t be able to use it! The entrance fee is also cash only, so make sure you have enough cash on you. 

Where | Google location 

Gran Cenote Tulum entrance fee | 500 MXN (almost $25)

Opening Time | 8 am to 4:45 pm

Cenote Zacil Ha 

cenote zacil ha
Credit: Flickr

After snorkelling at Gran Cenote, head to the last Tulum cenote of the day – Cenote Zacil Ha, which is located a further 4 km north, just off the main road in the direction of Coba. Cenote Zacil Ha is also an open cenote with bright emerald water. 

Take a leisurely dip or plunge into the cenote from the jumping platform. The cenote also has a zip line from which you can jump into the water for a small, additional charge.

Lunch | Grab a light bite at Cenote Zacil Ha, which boasts a restaurant that serves food and cocktails. 

Entrance | 300 MXN 

Opening Time | 10 am to 5:30 pm

Where | Google location 

Spend the Afternoon Chilling at a Beach Club   

tulum itinerary
The entrance to Vegalume.
5 days in tulum
Tulum Beach.

Finish off your 2 days in Tulum itinerary with a relaxing time at one of the beach clubs of Tulum. The town has an excellent selection of fancy beach clubs that offer a free entrance but require a minimum spend per person ranging from $50 to $100.  

Vagalume is one of Tulum’s most famous beach clubs, situated along the main Tulum beach strip near Escaltura ven a la Luz. It has an epic entrance – a massive sculpture of hand made of wood hanging over the gate! They require a $100 minimum spend per person for the use of their beach club facilities, including a picturesque pool with a bridge supported by hand sculptures going across the pool. 

Where  | Location on Google 

Entrance | $100 minimum spend per person

Opening Time | 11 am to 11.30 pm

Another excellent beach club where you can spend the rest of your day is Selina Tulum. Selina is a little more affordable, it requires a $50 minimum spend per person, and it also boasts excellent beach club facilities. Selina is also a great place to stay if you enjoy socialising and nightlife. The property features a range of boutique rooms, a coworking space, daily yoga classes and even hostel-style rooms.  

Where  | Location on Google

Entrance | $50 minimum spend per person

Dinner | Have dinner at a beach club of your choice. 

Day 3 of 5 Days in Tulum Itinerary: Laguna de Kaan Luum, Cenote Escondido + Tulum Town

I hope you enjoyed the activities of the first 2 days, which are perfect for a weekend in Tulum or even if you only have 36 hours in Tulum. But, I hope you are travelling to Tulum for a little longer and can enjoy the activities of day 3 of the Tulum itinerary! 

Today, you will visit the incredible Laguna de Kaan Luum, another cenote and Tulum downtown. 

Breakfast | Before you head off on day 3 Tulum adventure, pop to BOTANICA Garden Cafe for a healthy breakfast fix. The cafe opens at 8 am and is located in downtown Tulum. Try their broccoli bagel, which is super delicious, hotcakes or avo on toast accompanied by a fresh juice. 

Laguna de Kaan Luum

Laguna de Kaan Luum tulum
Laguna de Kaan Luum.

After a quick breakfast at Botanica, head to Laguna de Kaan Luum, which is located a short drive from Tulum town centre. The lagoon area opens at 9 am, and it’s also the best time to visit to enjoy the place being quiet. Kaan Luum lagoon is a bit of a hidden gem skipped by most tourists. But, I believe that visiting the lagoon is one of the best things to do in Tulum! 

The water at the lagoon is crystal clear and shallow on the edges, with deeper water with a more intense blue colour in its centre.  

In the centre of the lagoon, there is an 85 meters deep cenote with a diameter of 25 meters. The lagoon cenote is one of the oldest cenotes in Yucatan, millions of years old, with its roof and cenote walls completely sunken. In the Mayan language,”kaan luum” means yellow earth, and it refers to the type of mud that can be found at the bottom of the lagoon, which was believed to have medicinal properties. 

Swimming in the centre of the lagoon is, however, not allowed due to strong currents that can potentially suck you inside. But, it is entirely safe to enjoy the edges of this large lake! 

Laguna de Kaan Luum tulum

You can also jump off the jetty or relax in one of the lagoon water hammocks or swings. It is also possible to rent a kayak or a paddleboard for 150 pesos ($8) an hour. 

Where | Google location 

Entrance | 300 MXN ($15)

Opening times | 9 am to 4 pm

Cenote Escondido

Cenote Escondido

On the way back from the Laguna de Kaan Luum, stop at Cenote Escondido, which is another hidden gem worth adding to your itinerary for Tulum Mexico. Cenote Escondido in Spanish means “hidden cenote”, which is the perfect name for this gem of a place. 

The cenote has super clear water, and at first glance, it looks more like a river due to its shape. It is an ideal place for snorkelling as well as jumping from a swing robe or a platform. The cenote also features a picnic area and a couple of hammocks for when you need to take a break. 

You can easily visit the two places independently by car or scooter or take an organised tour!

Where | Google location 

Entrance | 150 MXN ($8)

Opening times | 9 am to 4 pm

Lunch | After the morning full of fun at the cenotes, have your lunch at Burrito Amor. Burrito Amor, as you may guess from its name, specialises in burritos, and their burritos are so good! They have a great selection, including vegan and vegetarian options.

Tulum Downtown (Tulum Pueblo) 

Tulum town
Tulum Pueblo.
Tulum town

After a scrumptious burrito, spend the afternoon visiting Tulum Mexico downtown, also known as Tulum Pueblo. Despite the rapid development, Tulum Pueblo has managed to retain a little of its original character and the best way to discover it is by getting lost in its streets. 

Start with the main road that runs through Tulum downtown and venture south of it, where you can find some excellent restaurants, cafes and shops. Make sure you stop at Panna e Cioccolato for the best ice creams in town!

Ice creams from Panna e Cioccolato.
tulum itinerary

Here are some of the best shops in Tulum you should check out:

Mixik | hand-made souvenirs & home decor: blankets, table clothes, glasses, clothes, wooden artwork, crafted children’s toys.

Mexicarte Tulum | lucha libre action figures and masks, wall ornaments, magnets, children’s toys.

Organic Beauty Shop La Madre Tierra | a wide selection of organic, natural products and zero-waste toiletries.

Pura Vida Tulum | Organic & unique fashion and accessories.

If you have any time left, you can either chill by the pool at your hotel or on the beach. 

Dinner | For dinner, you can either choose the bohemian-style Safari restaurant located in Aldea or, if you prefer beach dining, choose an 8-course tasting menu at Wild.  

4 Days in Tulum Itinerary

Day 4 of 5 Days in Tulum Itinerary: Coba + Cenote Dos Ojos

If you’re planning to visit Tulum in 4 days, read this section for the perfect day 4 of your Tulum itinerary. Day 4 is all about visiting the incredible Coba ruins, where you can still climb to the top of the main pyramid!

Breakfast | Wake up early and get breakfast to go at Cafeina Cafe in downtown Tulum, which opens at 7:30 am and head to Coba ruins.   

Coba 

Coba Mexico
The view from Nahoch Mul pyramid.

The ruins of Coba are located 47 km from Tulum, and visiting Coba is the perfect Tulum day trip for ancient history lovers and explorers! 

Coba was another super important Mayan settlement, and Coba means “waters stirred by the wind” as the settlement is surrounded by two large lagoons.

What’s unique about Coba is that it is a cluster of multiple Mayan cities, all connected to the central pyramid – Nohoch Mul, with a network of sacbéob, which are ceremonial white roads. The whole site is still largely undiscovered, but it is believed that there are over 6,000 structures! 

The main pyramid of the site – Nahoch Mul is the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan Penisula, measuring 42 meters which is more than El Castillo at Chichen Itza. And, the best part is that you can still climb its 120 steps. For the best experience, arrive early in the morning, before it gets too hot. The climb is challenging, but at the top, you will be rewarded with impressive panoramic jungle views. 

The best way to explore the Coba ruins is to hire a bicycle as the site is pretty large. You can also visit Coba on an organised tour from Tulum. 

Coba Mexico

Lunch | After exploring the archaeological site of Coba, stop at Pischán Restaurant for lunch.  

Entrance Fee | 100 pesos ($5) + 60 pesos ($3) parking

Opening times | 8 am to 4 pm

Where | Google location 

Cenote Dos Ojos

Cenote Dos Ojos

Entrance Fee | 350 MXN ($18)

Opening times | 9 am to 5 pm 

Where | Google location 

After lunch, head to Cenote Dos Ojos, which translates to “two eyes”, which is the perfect way to describe this cenote which consists of two separate sinkholes. Dos Ojos is also part of the Sac Actun, which is the world’s largest underwater cave system! 

Cenote Two Eyes is famous for being a cenote where you can dive! If this is something you would like to do, then make sure you book a diving tour! If you’re not a diver, no worries, you can still enjoy swimming and snorkelling in the cenote. 

Cenote Dos Ojos has crystal clear water with an intense blue hue, and its walls are covered with million years old stalactites and stalagmites. 

Cenote Diving Tour for certified divers 

Dinner | The last stop of the Tulum 4 day itinerary is Carveceria Tulum, which offers fine dining in unique settings. Don’t forget to snap a quick photo at the giant Tulum letters in front of the restaurant. 

Tulum Itinerary 5 Days

Where to go in Tulum if you have 5 days? This section answers this question! 

Day 5 of 5 Days in Tulum Itinerary: Chichen Itza, Valladolid & Cenote Suytun. 

Day 5 of 5 days in Tulum itinerary is about venturing a little further away to visit the New World Wonder – the incredible Chichen Itza – one of the best day trips from Tulum Mexico, the Instagram famous cenote and the charming colonial town of Valladolid. 

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza Valladolid
El Castillo at Chichen Itza.
Chichen Itza Valladolid
Chichen Itza.

Where | Google location 

Opening Time | 8 am to 4:30 pm 

Entrance Fee | 571 pesos ($29)

The best way to visit Chichen Itza from Tulum is either independently by car or with an organised tour and a knowledgeable guide that will share with you interesting facts. If you decide to rent a car and tour Chichen Itza on your own, make sure you leave as early as possible to get to Chichen Itza gate, just before the opening time. Buy some sandwiches or pastry the night before and have your breakfast on the go. 

Apart from being one of the Seven New World Wonders, Chichen Itza is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site; but what is it actually? Chichen Itza was a super important Mayan city back in 600 AD that boasted a robust economy and architectural superiority. 

The most famous part of Chichen Itza is the Kulkulan Pyramid (also known as El Castillo), a temple devoted to Kulkulan and a giant calendar! The temple has 365 steps representing days in the year and four sides representing four seasons. The Mayan leaders used the pyramid to teach common people when to plant seeds and harvest crops. Another curious fact about Chichen Itza is that it takes its name from the nearby cenote – Sacred Cenote, a place of sacrificial offerings. Chichen means ‘mouth of the wells’, and Itza refers to the name of a Mayan tribe that lived nearby. 

Valladolid 

Valladolid Mexico
Valladolid
Valladolid Mexico
Valladolid Mexico.

After visiting the mighty Chichen Itza, head to Valladolid, where quaint churches and pastel-painted buildings adorn the colourful streets. And, where you can relax in

tranquil parks, taste some of the best street food and watch the local, laid-back vibe. 

Some of the best things to do in Valladolid include a stroll along the La Calzada de Los Frailes lined up with boutique shops and quirky cafes, exploring Convento de San Bernardino de Siena and Iglesia de San Servacio. 

Lunch | Valladolid has a fantastic dining scene and is the perfect place to stop for lunch. Try Le Kaat, a hipster cafe with a courtyard on La Calzada de Los Frailes. They serve excellent pokeh bawls, fresh juices, smoothies, and burgers. Other places to consider are Burrito Amor and Yerbabuena del Sisal.  

Where | Google location 

Cenote Suytun

Cenote Suytun Valladolid
Cenote Suytun

The last stop of day 5 of 5 days in Tulum itinerary is the Instagram famous Cenote Suytun, located just over 8 km from the Valladolid city centre! If you’ve ever scrolled through Instagram photos from Mexico, you must have seen the picture of it! 

Suytun is a cavern cenote, which means that there is only a small opening in the cenote ceiling that is located directly over a circular platform in the middle of the cenote pool. If you visit the cenote around midday, on a sunny day, an incredible light beam illuminates the cave creating an extra-terrestrial sight! Cenote Suytun Mexico is also unique for its stunning stalactites hanging from the ceiling. 

Photography | If you want the Instagram-worthy photo of the circular platform of the cenote, you may have to wait in line. The staff at cenote Suytun allows only 60 seconds per person for a photo on the platform, so prepare the camera settings and the poses ahead. If you’re an avid photographer, bring a tripod and shoot at a low shutter speed to help your camera lens capture as much light as possible. 

Where | Google location 

Cenote Suytun Opening Time | 9 am to 5 pm 

Entrance Fee | 150 pesos ($8)

Dinner | For dinner, you can choose the bohemian-style Safari restaurant in Aldea or go to Wild if you prefer beach dining.  

Tulum Itinerary 7 Days

If your trip to Tulum Mexico is longer than 5 days, you can do more day tours from Tulum and see more incredible places in Yucatan. 

Isla Mujeres

Things to do on Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is one of the best day trips you can take from Tulum or Cancun! There are many incredible things to do in Isla Mujeres, but if you only have one day to visit the island, I recommend taking a catamaran cruise, which is the most fun way of exploring Isla Mujeres!

Holbox  

holbox mexico
Isla Holbox.
holbox mexico

Holbox is another beautiful island in Mexico with picture-perfect white-sand beaches. The best way to enjoy the island is spending a few blissful days there, but if your Yucatan itinerary doesn’t allow for that, you can take a day trip to Holbox from Tulum. 

Holbox is renowned for its rich fauna and flora. Here you can spot pink flamingos and various species of tropical birds! 

Rio Lagartos & Las Coloradas Pink Lake

Las Coloradas

A visit to Rio Lagartos is another excellent day trip from Tulum. Rio Lagartos has been recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for its rich fauna and flora and its importance as a nesting ground for many endangered species. 

The best way of exploring Rio Lagartos is by taking a boat tour through its mangroves and wetlands. Here you can spot Carrabean Pink Flamingoes, turtles, crocodiles and hundreds of different species of birds. Pink Flamingoes can be spotted in Rio Lagartos all year round, but the best chance of seeing lots of them is between March and June, which is hatchling season.

It is also common to combine a visit to Rio Lagartos with the pink lake – Las Coloradas. The lake contains a high amount of salt, a perfect environment for the growth of a certain type of algae that gives the water a pink/reddish colour. The lake is private property that charges an entrance fee for a guided tour. 

Adventure Tour 

Another excellent way of filling up your longer Tulum itinerary is taking one of the adventure tours! 

What Are The Best Places to Stay in Tulum?

Tulum Beach 

The area along Tulum Beach is known as Zona Hotelera. Here, you can find all the chic Tulum beach clubs, excellent restaurants and boutique shops. Also, all top resorts in Tulum are located along Tulum Beach. They often feature premium accommodation with a sea view and access to a private beach. 

beat places to stay in tulum
Papaya Playa Project via Booking.com
beat places to stay in tulum
Selina via Booking.com

Tulum Town 

Tulum Downtown is situated just under 5 km from Tulum Beach. The advantage of choosing this area of Tulum is well-priced and affordable Tulum accommodation. Tulum Town also doesn’t come short of excellent restaurants, cafes and bars. 

beat places to stay in tulum
Xperience Tulum via Booking.com
5-Star Tulum Hotels With Private Pool
Hotel Bardo via Booking.com

Aldea Zama

Aldea Zama is a new, up-and-coming neighbourhood of Tulum, situated between the downtown and Zona Hotelera. It boasts an excellent selection of Tulum Airbnb style accommodation, private villas and apartments. A lot of the apartments are brand-new and offer competitive rates.  

best area to stay tulum
Jade Tulum via Booking.com
where to stay in tulum
Orchid House Tulum via Booking.com

Akumal 

Akumal is a small beach town located 28 km north of Tulum and is known for its all-inclusive beach resorts. Akumal is also famous for its rich marine wildlife, including sea turtles! 

best area to stay tulum
Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya via Booking.com
best area to stay tulum
Bahia Principe Grand Tulum via Booking.com

How to Get to Tulum?

Cancun Airport to Tulum

There is 118 km (or 73 miles) from Cancun to Tulum, and the most convenient way of getting from the Cancun airport to your Tulum hotel is with a private transfer

For those that want to see a lot of places during their vacation in Tulum, renting a car is also a great option. I recommend pre-booking your car through a reputable car rental comparison website such as Discover Cars to avoid any local scams. 

ADO Tulum

Tulum Pescadores Beach

Another good way of travelling in Yucatan is with ADO buses, especially for travellers on a budget. ADO buses are modern, very reliable and also extremely affordable. ADO offers regular bus services throughout the day on the most popular connections, such as Cancun to Tulum and less frequent schedules on routes such as Tulum to Bacalar. 

If you know your travel dates in advance, I recommend booking your ADO bus ticket at least 2-3 days in advance, as they are normally very popular and can fill up quickly.    

The best way for foreigners to book a bus ticket for Mexico is the BookaWay site. ADO has its website, but weirdly is super temperamental and doesn’t seem to work outside of Mexico. Also, you will need a Mexican credit card to purchase the ticket. Alternatively, pop by the main ADO Tulum Centro Terminal to get your bus tickets. 

ADO Tulum bus stop location

ADO bus Tulum to Cancun

ADO Tulum to Cancun buses leave multiple times a day from the central ADO bust station in central Tulum. The first departure is at 7:20, and the last is at 16:20. The earliest arrival at Cancun Aiport is at 09:15, and the latest arrival is at 18:10. If your flight is outside of these times, you will need to book a private transfer.

Ticket cost | $12 to $20 per person, each way. 

Trip time | between 2 and 2.5 hours.

ADO Tulum Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is an excellent destination for a day trip from Tulum, with multiple connections running throughout the day. The first ADO bus Tulum to Playa del Carmen, leaves at 8:15 in the morning and the last at 20:00. 

Ticket cost | $6-$7 per person, each way. 

Trip time | about 1 hour.

ADO Tulum Bacalar

If you’re planning to take the ADO bus Tulum to Bacalar, opt for the first class service, which costs a few dollars more but will give you greater comfort during the 3-hour trip. The first ADO Tulum to Bacalar bus leaves at 9:00 in the morning, and the last departure is at 20:00.

Ticket cost | $17 to $20 per person, each way. 

Trip time | about 3 hours.

ADO Tulum Merida

There are 8 ADO Tulum to Merida buses per day, and the journey takes just over 4 hours. The first ADO bus Tulum to Merida leaves at 1:50 at night, then at 8:57 approximately every two hours, with the last service at 21:27.  

Ticket cost | $27 per person, each way. 

Trip time | over 4 hours.

ADO Tulum Valladolid

Valladolid is also doable as a day trip from Tulum. You can catch the first bus from Tulum downtown at 7:50, which will get you there well before 10 am. There are several connections per day, with buses leaving every hour until 15:00. 

Ticket cost | $10 per person, each way. 

Trip time | 1 hour 35 minutes.

ADO bus Tulum to Chetumal

There are multiple ADO Tulum to Chetumal buses that run almost every hour, the first one leaves at 9:00 and the last one at 22:55. 

Ticket cost | $25 per person, each way. 

Trip time | almost 4 hours.

How to Get Around in Tulum?

Tulum zona hotelera
Tulum Zona Hotelera.

Tulum Car Rental

I normally only advise pre-booking car rental online during the high season, but in the case of Mexico, it is super important that you get your booking through a reputable car rental service such as Discover Cars and opt for full cover.  

The car rental price, including full coverage, which I recommend, can vary from $20 to $60 per day, depending on car rental duration, whether it’s high season or not, age and origin of the driver. 

You can either pick up your car right at the airport in Cancun or rent it out later on with delivery to your hotel in Tulum. Most hotels in Tulum provide free parking.

By Scooter

You can also rent a scooter in downtown Tulum. Ask your hotel for a recommendation or check the nearest scooter rental shops near where you’re staying. Expect to pay 500 to 900 pesos per day ($25 – $45), and don’t forget to ask for a discount if you’re renting for more than one day. Riding a scooter around Tulum is relatively easy as the roads are wide and not too busy. 

Scooters are suitable for short routes and trips that take less than one hour each way, such as Tulum downtown to Tulum Beach, Cenote Calavera, Gran Cenote and Kaan Luum Lagoon. Coba, which is situated 47 km away from Tulum, is already a little too far for a motorbike trip. 

Also, make sure you are a confident motorbike rider! Mexico is probably not the best place to ride a scooter for the first time! 

Driving licence

Check if your driving licence allows you to ride a scooter and, if so, what size. This will vary depending on your country. I, for example, owe a full UK driving licence, which gives me the right to ride motorbikes and scooters up to 125cc

Insurance 

Another thing to check is your insurance. Make sure your travel insurance covers you when you have an accident on the scooter. Injuring yourself on a scooter is one of the most common reasons for hospital admissions for tourists abroad! Travel insurance typically covers motorbikes up to 125cc, but don’t rely on this information, and verify your own insurance contract. 

Tulum itinerary

By Bicycle

Another very common mode of transport in Tulum is a bicycle. Renting a bicycle can be a very pleasant way of exploring Tulum Pueblo and getting to the beach from downtown while getting in some workout!  If you’re super active and have the time, you can also cycle to some of the Tulum cenotes, such as Gran Cenote and Calavera. Some hotels offer free bicycle rental to their guests, but if yours doesn’t, expect to pay 200 pesos per day ($10). 

By Taxi 

Taxis in Tulum are plentiful, but the taxi drivers are notorious for overcharging tourists, so it’s entirely up to you if you want to deal with it or not. I personally use taxis as a last resort only and always absolutely always agree on a price before I get into the car.  

More Tulum Itinerary Travel Tips

Tulum town

What’s the Best Time to Go to Tulum Mexico?

What’s the best time to travel to Tulum? If you’re looking for perfect weather conditions, the best time to visit Tulum is between December and April, which is the high season in Mexico. These months are the driest, with low humidity and pleasant temperatures. The downsides of visiting Tulum during this time are high prices, and you may feel that it is busy, especially during Christmas time.  

The rainiest months are June, September and October, with the highest possibility of storms and even hurricanes between August and October. As you can imagine, this is the least busy period with many hotels and attractions offering fantastic discounts. 

So, what’s the best time to visit Tulum Mexico? The best month to go to Tulum is either November or May, which is just before the high season starts or right after. During these two months, Tulum is not yet as busy as during the middle of the high season, and the weather is already more stable with not too much rain.    

How Many Days in Tulum?

While this is always a tricky question to answer because it depends on your travel style and on how many places you want to explore, I’d say stay in Tulum for a minimum of 3-5 days

3 to 5 days will give you enough time to spend on the beach and see the most famous Tulum landmarks, a few cute cafes and a couple of cenotes.  

Definitely set aside one full day for visiting Chichen Itza and another half a day if you also want to explore a little lower-profile but equally incredible ruins of Coba.   

What’s the Cost of Tulum Vacation?

This is another tricky question, and your Tulum vacation costs will hugely depend on your budget and expectations. 

Expect to pay at least $60 – $120 per night for a modest double room in Tulum town away from the beach and from $300 to $500 per night for a boutique accommodation by the beach. 

In terms of the daily food budget for eating out, set aside between $30 to $50 per day, which is still fairly modest and obviously doesn’t include drinking. 

For activities, expect to pay from $50 to $100 per day. Here are some examples of how much things cost:

Gran Cenote entrance fee – $25

Bicycle rental – $10 per day 

Basic Chichen Itza tour – $75

Beach club minimum spend per person – $50 – $100

Is It Possible to Visit Tulum on a Budget?

Tulum is not really a budget travel destination, and visiting it on a so-called shoestring will be extremely hard. There are, however, a few things you can do to make your backpacking in Tulum trip more affordable. 

Travel in the low season for the best rates. 

Stay in one of the affordable Tulum hotels located in the downtown area.

Rent a bicycle or, even better, choose a hotel that provides free bicycles, and cycle everywhere

Eat in the local restaurants in the downtown area.

Stay in a hotel with a kitchenette and prepare your own breakfasts or lunches.   

Use ADO buses. 

Tulum beach

Where Do You Fly Into for Tulum?

Does Tulum have an airport? The answer is no. Tulum does not have an airport; the nearest airport to fly to is the Cancun International Airport

What Are the Best Day Trips from Tulum?

Some of the best day trips from Tulum include the local cenotes such as Cenote Calavera, Gran Cenote and Cenote Dos Ojos, Laguna de Kaan Luum, Chichen Itza & Valladolid, Cenote Suytun, Coba ruins and the Las Coloradas Pink Lagoon.  

Is Tulum Safe?

Tulum is generally safe for foreign travellers. However, there are a few things you should be aware of. Also, always check the up-to-date travel advisory before your trip. 

ATMs | Only use the supervised cash points that are inside the bank.

Car rental scams |  Mexico has been known for car rental scams where they either add an astronomical insurance cover to your daily rental or try to blame you for damages you’re not responsible for. Use a reputable car rental service such as Discover Cars to protect yourself from scams.

Petty theft | This problem is no different from petty theft problems experienced in big cities in Europe or the US. Always be aware of your surroundings, and don’t leave your belongings unattended. Also, get travel insurance! 

Drug cartels | Tulum does have a problem with drug cartels; however, you are very unlikely to be of any interest to them. Again, be aware of your surroundings and take a taxi back to the hotel if you go out at night. 

Is Tulum Worth It?

That depends on your expectations and budget. Yes, Tulum has some of the most incredible beaches in the world, and you will love its hip cafes, yoga parlours and boho beach clubs. However, Tulum is also hugely overpriced, a little snobbish and has nothing to do with experiencing the real Mexico. 

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