Tulum Itinerary Guide: 7 Days of Bliss and Exploration

Looking for the ultimate Tulum itinerary that combines relaxation, exploration, and cultural immersion?

Picture yourself basking in the golden sun, exploring ancient Mayan ruins, swimming in crystal-clear cenotes, and indulging in delectable local cuisine.

But with so much to see and do, how can you possibly uncover the true essence of this tropical haven? 

With my help 🙂

I have spent countless hours crafting the most extraordinary Tulum itineraries, drawing upon my extensive knowledge of the Yucatan Peninsula

Join me as we embark on a 7-day adventure through Tulum’s hidden gems, where every moment is a treasure waiting to be discovered.

👉 Don’t hesitate to read our Tulum guide to plan your vacation and not make any more mistakes. You will find all our articles about this destination. 

Dream makers 😎

Who are we 👋

In 2 months, I’ve spent more than 10,000 USD to test the best activities in the Riviera Maya. Stay with me to quickly decide which experiences you should do and learn how to make the most of your trip.

Tulum Itinerary: Your Takeaway + Map

Tulum cenote tours - small group

Day 1: Immerse yourself in the rich history of Tulum by exploring the ancient ruins, followed by relaxing on the stunning Tulum beach strip.

Day 2: Dive into the magical world of cenotes, natural sinkholes filled with crystal-clear waters, and explore the charming Tulum Pueblo. | My favorite Cenote tour

Day 3: Embark on a journey through the remarkable Muyil Ruins and experience the stunning biodiversity of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. | My favorite Sian Ka’an Tour

Day 4: Discover the archaeological wonders of the Coba Ruins and take a refreshing dip in mesmerizing cave cenotes. | My favorite Coba Ruins Tour

Day 5: Indulge in relaxation at Laguna Kaan Luum, a serene lagoon where you can swim, picnic, and bask in the beauty of nature.

Day 6: Dive beneath the surface and explore the vibrant marine life through scuba diving or snorkeling adventures. | My favorite scuba diving experience

Day 7: Embark on a day trip to Valladolid, a charming colonial city, and marvel at the majestic Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. | My favorite Chichen Itza Tour

How to Get to Tulum

Car transportation (cancun - cozumel)

So, you’ve just landed at Cancun International Airport and are itching to start your Tulum adventure. You’ll need to cover about 2 hours of ground to get there, and lucky for you, I’ve got the inside scoop on the best ways to do it

→ Renting a car is a popular option, especially if you can pick it up directly at the airport. This gives you the freedom to explore Tulum and the surrounding areas at your own pace. Just make sure you’ve got parking sorted out in advance because, trust me, it can be a bit of a headache in Tulum. An easy way to get your car is to use DiscoverCars.

→ If you’re after a more budget-friendly option, consider taking an ADO bus. These comfortable buses will get you to Tulum in around 2 hours and drop you off at either the downtown bus terminal or near the Tulum ruins. Colectivos, or local buses, are another cheap option, but I wouldn’t recommend them if you’re lugging around a lot of baggage. They’re not as spacious as the ADO buses, and you’ll need to switch buses in Playa del Carmen.

→ Traveling with a big group? Booking a private transport van could be the way to go. It’ll set you back around $250, but you’ll have the whole van to yourselves, and the transport company will whisk you straight from the airport terminal to your hotel in Tulum.

Exploring Tulum

Bike in Tulum (6)

Once you’ve arrived in this tropical paradise, you’ll find a few different ways to get around. 

Renting a bike or scooter is popular, especially if you’re staying near the beach or downtown. You don’t need to be a pro cyclist to reach some of the more famous cenotes – I promise!

→ If you’re staying in the middle beach zone, you’ll likely be surrounded by bars and restaurants, so no need to worry about transportation – just lace up your walking shoes (or flip-flop) and hit the pavement.

→ When it comes to clubbing and partying, a taxi is your safest bet. Just remember to agree on the fare with the driver before you hop in, as Tulum cabs can be a bit on the pricey side.

→ For those who want to explore farther afield, like Coba, Chichen Itza, or other Yucatan Peninsula attractions, renting a car is a smart choice. Just reiterating my earlier point: make sure you’ve got parking at your hotel, or you could end up shelling out at least $20 a day for a spot.

Walking is always an option if you’re downtown or in the middle beach area, but don’t even think about walking from Tulum Beach to downtown – it’s just too far! Colectivos can be a good way to get around downtown and also make the journey from Tulum Pueblo to the beach.

The Best Tulum Itinerary: What I Would Do Again

I’ve created this itinerary by order of “Must-do.” I advise you to stay at least 3 days in Tulum. I’ve kept Chichen Itza for day 7 as you can visit it more easily from Valladolid (if you decide to include this city in your Yucatan Itinerary).

Day 1: Tulum Beach Strip and Mayan Ruins

Tulum cenote tours and cenote ruins

It’s a smart move to take on a different part of Tulum per day. 

Kick off your adventure with the Tulum ruins because, trust me, by day 5, you might struggle to convince yourself to venture out in the sun for an extended period. 

You should rent a bike or a scooter for today ;).

To make the most of your visit to the Mayan ruins, plan to arrive early – around 8 or 9 am should do the trick. Just because you’re an early bird doesn’t mean you’re immune to the sun, so come prepared with sunscreen (no shade inside the park!), a hat, and an eagerness to explore.

Wander through the Tulum ruins, where ancient stone walls and towering structures create an atmospheric backdrop, inviting you to explore the remnants of a once-thriving Mayan city overlooking the mesmerizing Caribbean Sea.

Once you’ve had your fill of the Tulum ruins, walk South to the Tulum beach strip (you can exit by here) and discover Playa Paraiso, the only public beach in Tulum. If you’re lucky enough to visit when there’s minimal sargassum on the beach, grab a towel and unwind.

Feeling already in where-is-my-cocktail mode? 

Check out one of the nearby beach clubs. Cinco Tulum is the closest to the Tulum ruins and tends to be more laid-back and wallet-friendly than most others on the beach. But if you’re itching to get the party started, make a beeline for Akiin Beach Club, where upbeat electro tunes will keep your spirits high.

Your next stop for the end of the afternoon will likely be a restaurant or club in Middle Beach area. If you want to keep the party vibes alive, Rosa Negra is a solid choice. With a poolside area perfect for chilling before the club scene kicks in, you’ll be dancing the night away in no time.

For those who opted for a more relaxed day at Cinco or Playa Paraiso, consider a quieter restaurant in middle or south beach. 

Nestled in the heart of the Tulum jungle, Arca is an ideal spot for a romantic dinner and stargazing. Don’t be intimidated by unfamiliar menu items – take a leap of faith and try something new. Since Arca closes at 10 pm, you’ll have ample time to rest up and prepare for another exciting day in Tulum.

Day 2: Cenote Exploration and Tulum Pueblo

Cenote Taak Bi Ha

The second day in a perfect Tulum itinerary should be reserved for visiting cenotes. 

Cenotes are natural sinkholes filled with fresh water, and some are entirely enclosed within caves, making the swimming experience unmissable.

Just like with the Tulum Mayan ruins, you want to get there early to dodge the crowds and the sun. 

Each cenote is a unique world of its own. That’s why it makes sense to visit more than one. 

Some of the best cenotes near Tulum include Gran Cenote, arguably the most popular one in the area. It offers an enthralling cave swimming experience that won’t take up too much of your day if you follow the 20-minute circuit they have.

If you’re staying in downtown Tulum, you can easily reach Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido, which are conveniently close to each other. It’s only about a 2-mile bike ride from the Tulum town area to these cenotes. 

You can gain access to both of these cenotes with a combo deal ticket. Cenote Escondido offers breathtaking views as the sun illuminates the water at noon. There’re usually not a lot of people here, so it’s an ideal second stop of the day.

If you want both the closed and open cenote experience in one place, then Cenote Dos Ojos is your go-to spot. This location has well-organized facilities around the cenote, where you can enjoy light swimming or snorkeling, as well as a complete scuba diving experience.

There are tons of cenotes to explore. And to be frank with you, my favorite ones aren’t the most popular ones! 

If you prefer not to venture out on your own, book a tour that includes transport and tickets to different cenotes. Just sit back and enjoy the ride, along with any food they typically offer.

After getting your fill of swimming, it’s time to party in Downtown Tulum

El Grifo or Batey Mojito should be on your bar-hopping list. The mezcal-infused concoctions are the perfect way to cap off a day in the water.

And you’ll find plenty of laid-back spots to enjoy truly authentic Mexican cuisine. Taqueria Honorio, serving cochinita pibil tacos, is an excellent example. 

Winner
Small-Group Cenote Adventure Tour Tulum
5.0
Pros:
  • Grand Cenote, Taak Bi Ha Cenote + cave cenote
  • Excellent value (alll-included)
See on Viator See on GetYourGuide

Day 3: Muyil Ruins, Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, and Tulum Town

On the third day of your Tulum adventure, you’re in for a treat as we explore the stunning Sian Ka’an Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site teeming with biodiversity.

If you’re all about wildlife spotting, this is the place for you! 

Boat tours through the mangroves and snorkeling excursions are must-do activities for your multi-day itinerary.

To fully experience this natural wonder, I highly recommend booking a tour, as getting to the reserve can be quite a challenge, even more so than reaching some of the cenotes I’ve mentioned earlier. 

You’ll have two main route options for your tour.

For history buffs looking to add another ancient site to their Tulum itinerary, I suggest the tour that includes a visit to the Muyil ruins. Nestled in the jungle, these fascinating remnants of the past offer more shade than the Tulum ruins, making exploration a bit more comfortable. 

After a scrumptious homemade lunch, you’ll experience a “swim” in a lazy river inside the Sian Ka’an reserve. Trust me, the scenery is jaw-dropping!

👉 I did this tour with them. You won’t find a better agency in Tulum.

The tour guides can really make or break your experience, so it’s essential to have knowledgeable companions, especially in the ruins area. I had a fantastic trip with these guys, who truly know their stuff.

→ If you’re more interested in spotting dolphins, turtles, and potentially visiting some unique beaches amid the jungle, the Punta Allen route is the way to go. 

Punta Allen is a charming fishing village within the biosphere, boasting pristine beaches (out of the sargasso season), perfect for snorkeling or simply chilling out.

Whichever tour you choose, remember to pack plenty of sunscreens and bug spray, as well as comfortable footwear and clothing, especially for the ruins route. 

Listen to your guides to ensure you’re respecting the environment and have an unforgettable time!

Easy & Gorgeous
Sian Ka'an and Muyil Tour
5.0
Pros:
  • Less-known and majestic ruins
  • An unforgettable lazy river adventure
See on Viator See on Getyourguide

Day 4: Day Trip to Coba and Cave Cenotes

The fourth day is perfect for exploring beyond Tulum’s borders. Venture out to the Coba ruins, the second most significant archaeological site in the Riviera Maya. 

These ruins boast Nohoch Mul, the tallest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatán peninsula—although climbing it is no longer allowed. 

The ruins sprawl over a vast area, so consider hiring a local tour guide or booking a tour from Tulum. Alternatively, rent a bike or bici taxi to avoid excessive walking.

Just like with Tulum’s ruins, arrive early to dodge the crowds and sweltering noon heat.

From Coba, hop in a taxi (about 150 pesos) from the ruins to the cenotes. 

  • Cenote Choo-Ha is a favorite, as it’s a cave with shallow water. 
  • Cenote Tamcach-Ha is another popular cave cenote, but the water isn’t as clear. For these two, a flashlight will enhance your experience.
  • Cenote Multum-Ha offers clearer water, though it lacks the cave swimming vibe. It’s more relaxing for those who aren’t fans of enclosed, dark spaces. 

If you want to experience all the cenotes, grab a combo ticket. Remember to shower off bug spray and sunscreen before entering any cenote to prevent water contamination.

Instead of visiting these 3 cenotes, I decided to book a tour from Tulum to visit Coba and the less-known Punta Laguna.

It’s a nature reserve run by a friendly local family.

Here, you can gently canoe through the lagoon—an off-the-beaten-path experience where you might spot howler monkeys! The tour also provides transportation to and from Tulum.

Informative, cultural & fun
Coba Ruins & Punta Laguna
5.0
Pros:
  • Amazing guides
  • Several activities in one day
  • Interact with a local family
See on Viator

Day 5: Laguna Kaan Luum and Relaxation

Kaam Luum

You’ve been on tours and exploring ruins for a couple of days. Now it’s time for a more relaxing experience. 

The Laguna Kaan Luum is just the spot where you can swim in calm waters and enjoy a picnic by the lagoon.

If you want some alone time, here’s a pro tip: skip the tours and consider taking a cab (about 10 USD). 

While public transport can make getting here a lot cheaper, it comes with a downside. The lagoon is about a 30-minute walk from where colectivos drop you off. If you don’t want to make that 30-minute walk, a cab will drop you at the entrance. 

Aim to get here early to set up your “camp” and, if possible, come on a weekday to avoid the massive crowds of locals that flock here on weekends.

For those spending just five days in Tulum, Laguna Kaan Luum is the perfect place to unwind, relax, and get ready for your trip back. Plus, you can buy snacks and coconut cocktails (Strong and delicious, I loved them) from a local store to set up your lunch picnic. 

To really double down and make this day your ultimate chill day within your Tulum itinerary, end the day on Tulum Beach with a massage or a temazcal treatment. Or a Yoga class!

There are plenty of hotels that offer these wellness options. Just make sure to check if the spa area is available for non-guests at the resort

  • If you’re staying at a Tulum Beach hotel, this may be the perfect day to book a massage or do some yoga as the sun sets on the Caribbean Sea.
  • AZULIK Healing is one of the spas available for non-guests at the hotel. It offers yoga classes and wellness experiences based on Mayan rituals. Getting cleansed through a Mayan ritual could certainly be a good way to end the day.
  • Nomade Tulum offers many yoga classes.

Day 6: Scuba Diving or Snorkeling

Ready to take the plunge on day 6 of your Tulum itinerary? It’s time to gear up for an underwater adventure that’ll have you swimming alongside a vibrant array of marine life. Trust me; you won’t want to miss out on this experience.

Akumal Bay, located a mere 30-minute drive from Tulum, is the ultimate spot to swim with turtles. 

Pro tip: arrive early (8-9 am) to avoid the midday rush. If you’re not staying at a nearby hotel, you’ll need to cough up a small fee for beach access and a guide to show you the turtles – but it’s totally worth it.

While you could always hail a cab, I recommend hopping on a tour with a reputable company. This is particularly handy if you don’t have your own snorkeling gear – most tours include gear, transport, and even a boat ride out to the reefs near Akumal Beach in their package.

Feeling extra adventurous? 

Make it a full-day snorkeling experience by heading to Cenote Dos Ojos after Akumal. But before you leave, make sure to grab a bite at Imelda’s Ecocina, a hidden gem where you can savor authentic, home-cooked Mexican food at wallet-friendly prices.

Sure, diving into a cave cenote might seem a tad intimidating – after all, you’re plunging into the unknown. 

Don’t worry, my fellow explorers! 

In most cases, you’ll find yourself immersed in a mesmerizing underwater world teeming with colorful fish and crystal-clear waters. 

Besides Dos Ojos, you explore cenotes like Sac Actun, where the real draw is the awe-inspiring rock formations rather than the fish—if it’s your first time diving, go with these guys.

Trust me. Each cenote offers its own unique charm and thrill.

Small groups
Advanced diving in 2 cenotes - Tulum
5.0
Pros:
  • Expert & charming guides
  • Out-of-this-world experience
  • Safe, professional and fun dives
See on Viator

Day 7: Day Trip to Valladolid and Chichen Itza

No Tulum itinerary would be complete without a visit to one of the 7 new wonders of the world, Chichen Itza. 

This archeological marvel is a mere 75 miles from Tulum, making it an easy 2-hour jaunt. 

As I mentioned when discussing Coba, if you truly want to grasp the essence of this ancient site, joining a tour is your best bet. 

Not only will the tour company provide transportation from Tulum, but they’ll also offer a knowledgeable guide to bring the city’s vibrant history to life. 

I opted for this tour, which includes a 3-hour visit to the Chichen Itza archeological site. The guide’s captivating storytelling transports you to the city’s prime, making the experience truly engaging.

After exploring Chichen Itza, the tour continues to Valladolid, a colonial city with colorful buildings and intriguing historical sites. Valladolid is a fantastic spot for souvenir shopping, as the downtown shops offer a treasure trove of trinkets to remember your Tulum adventure.

You’ll also enjoy a local restaurant where you can savor typical Yucatan cuisine. Don’t miss out on the cochinita pibil tacos and panuchos, but be cautious with the hot sauces—they’re notorious for their fiery kick! 

To wrap up the day, you’ll have a chance to cool off in a cenote near Valladolid. Trust me, after all that exploring, you’ll relish a refreshing splash.

To make the most of your day, aim to arrive at Chichen Itza around 8 or 9 a.m. This early start helps you dodge the massive crowds and the scorching noon sun. Plus, it allows you to visit Valladolid in the afternoon when the city is bustling. 

Keep in mind, though, that weekends tend to attract larger crowds in Valladolid, so plan accordingly.

Chichen Itza Small Group Tulum
5.0
Pros:
  • 3-h inside Chichen Itza with a passionate guide
  • Little-known and fantastic cenote
  • Delicious lunch
See on Viator See on Getyourguide

Craft Your Tulum Itinerary Like a Pro

So you’re ready to explore the stunning paradise of Tulum? 

Let me help you craft the ultimate Tulum itinerary like a true expert. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to consider when planning your trip.

How Many Days to Spend in Tulum

Bike in Tulum beach-Mexico

Your Tulum adventure can be as short as 3 days or as long as a week (or more!). 

  • A 3-day trip can include a mix of partying, relaxation, and tours to historical sites. 
  • With a 5-day stay, you can add a couple more day trips, such as visiting the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve or exploring the Mayan ruins. 
  • If you really want to dive deep into the Riviera Maya region, extend your stay beyond 7 days.

Best Time to Visit Tulum

Tulum (1)

Peak season in Tulum runs from December to April. While the weather is fantastic during this time, don’t expect many hotel deals. 

If you prefer a slightly cooler climate and smaller crowds, consider visiting in November. For more sunshine and fewer tourists, May is another great option.

However, I’d advise against visiting Tulum in the summer. 

Rain is more common, which can lead to an abundance of mosquitoes. Plus, prices aren’t particularly budget-friendly, despite the less-than-ideal weather. And there’re tons of Sargazzo on the beach (April to October).

Where to Stay in Tulum

Hotel esencia tulum (5)
Credit: Hotel esencia tulum

Choosing where to stay in Tulum can greatly affect your budget and overall experience. If you’re looking for luxury and VIP treatment, head to Tulum Beach. You’ll find numerous boutique hotels, top-notch restaurants, and popular clubs. While it’s pricier, it can be worth it for the right experience.

On the other hand, Downtown Tulum offers budget-friendly accommodations and dining options. This area maintains the laid-back, hippie vibe that Tulum is known for. The bars here cater to those who enjoy a lively party scene or a chill spot to grab a drink. Plus, you’ll have an easier time organizing day trips from this location.

For long-term stays (or if you’re looking for an apartment), consider renting a place in the residential areas of Aldea Zama or La Veleta. Both neighborhoods have large expat communities and are conveniently located if you have a car.

Is Tulum Safe?

Tulum Downtown (3)

In general, Tulum is a safe destination for travelers

However, it’s important to make smart decisions to stay out of trouble

Avoid engaging in illegal activities, such as buying drugs or visiting sketchy locations late at night. Stick to common sense practices, and you should have a worry-free trip.

Get Ready to Splurge in Tulum

Mexican Food in Tulum Downtown

Be prepared to shell out at least $150 a night for your Tulum hotel, especially if you want to stay in the main Tulum hotel zone on the beach area. 

With these prices, it’s no wonder that people consider staying in the Tulum town area or in Aldea Zama. 

Pay your bills in Mexican Pesos whenever possible. Most places will happily take dollars off your hands at unfavorable exchange rates. 

Also, be aware that high-end restaurants and bars often expect a 15% tip. Although this is technically illegal, it’s still a common practice. 

Most establishments now accept cards, but if you want to buy souvenirs from local shops or the market in the Tulum town area, bring cash. This area is where you may find budget-friendly options. 

For those of you on a tight budget, consider keeping your stay in Tulum brief. 

What to Pack for Tulum

Zulik Museum - Tulum
  • Swimsuits are essential when visiting Tulum, so pack at least two. 
  • You’ll also need cover-ups for when you transition from swimming to a bar. 
  • Donning a T-shirt and sandals all day is perfectly acceptable in downtown Tulum, as most of the restaurants and bars in the area aren’t picky about attire.  
  • However, these casual outfits won’t fly in most high-end restaurants along Tulum beach. Ladies, seize the opportunity to rock sun dresses. Opt for light, breathable fabrics with a Bohemian touch, and you’ll be stylish in most parts of Tulum. It’s wise to check dress codes at beach clubs or restaurants you plan to visit before you pack. 
  • In addition to sandals, bring comfortable shoes for exploring the Tulum ruins or other impressive spots in the Yucatan peninsula like Chichen Itza. 
  • A fashionable hat is also a handy accessory. If you plan to hit the party scene, pack club-appropriate outfits. 
  • Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and bug spray. The sunscreen situation can be confusing at some Tulum cenotes, as they don’t allow sunscreen while swimming. Nevertheless, be sure to carry some with you for the beach. 
  • A waterproof bag is a great investment for carrying your belongings. 
  • You’ll need your wallet handy, as you’ll be paying for things throughout the day. 
  • Your phone can also go in a waterproof bag. 
  • If snorkeling is on your agenda, consider bringing your own gear.

What now?

In the realm of Tulum‘s mesmerizing beauty and rich cultural heritage, a transformative journey awaits. Let the allure of pristine beaches, mystical cenotes, and ancient ruins ignite the adventurer within you. Embrace the vibrant energy, indulge in the local flavors, and immerse yourself in the laid-back charm of Tulum.

INFORMATION: PLEASE NOTE THAT SOME LINKS ARE AFFILIATE S AND AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU, I EARN A SMALL COMMISSION IF YOU MAKE A BOOKING. IT’S A NICE GESTURE TO THANK US FOR THE MANY HOURS WE DEDICATE TO TOMPLANMYTRIP 🙂

I have been traveling around Colombia and Mexico since 2015 to discover new experiences and help travelers make the right choices.

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