In the spring of 2019 we moved to Mexico for a few months. First we lived in Yucatán, and then we moved to Guanajuato. Today we bring you the elaborate itinerary we put together for our the Yucatán. Find out where to see, where to eat and what you should definitely shouldn’t be missed.
How long to go to the Yucatán?
If you are flying from Europe, we recommend you allow at least 14 days for your holiday. You must expect a few days to acclimatise to the change of time and environment.
But if you have more vacation time, you’ll be happy to go for three weeks yourself. The extra time allows you to explore less touristy places and spend a few days in cenotes and on the beach. And it’s worth it!
Before planning your holiday, we recommend checking for the overgrowing sargassum seaweed (real-time watch here ). In recent years, the beaches have suffered from this more and more often. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go if that’s the case, just plan your holiday so that you spend more time in cenotes and less time on beaches.
Map of the Yucatán
Arrival Cancún (1-3 nights)
Cancún is a Mexican party town in the Caribbean, where most tourists go mainly for “rollicking” holidays. But it offers so much more. Head to the beautiful island of Isla Mujeres for at least one full day, and don’t forget to rent a golf cart (article Things to do on Isla Mujeres ).
For more tips, read our article about Cancún for more information.
Where to stay in Cancun
Playa del Carmen and Cozumel (2-3 nights)
From Cancún, an hour’s drive south takes you to Playa del Carmen. As well as endless beaches, bars and fried churros, Playa del Carmen is the starting point for many excursions. From the local harbour you can reach the beautiful island of Cozumel (and a completely different island from Isla Mujeres) and there are also many beautiful cenotes around the town.
All cenotes are easily accessible by Colectivos minibuses, which run almost every minute on the main roads.
We particularly recommend the Jardin del Eden, Cenote Azul and Cenote Xunan-ha. Go to Cozumel for at least one full day. Explore the town, go snorkelling or just lounge on the beach (we recommend Playa El Cielo, Playa Azul). Another advantage in Cozumel is that we have never had a problem with algae there, unlike Playa del Carmen.
If you have kids, also check out the Xcaret theme park, located on the road to Tulum. You’ll need a full day to see it, but you don’t have to worry about getting bored. The park will entertain children and adults alike.
For tips on good restaurants or beaches to swim with turtles, read our article What to do in Playa Del Carmen? 10 things you need to do.
Where to stay in Playa del Carmen
Tulum (1 night)
Less than an hour’s drive from Playa del Carmen is the most popular and most Insta-friendly city in the Mexican Yucatán.
Tulum’s hotel zone is a boho-style paradise where you can practice yoga on the beach, enjoy a delicious selection of coffee and vegan ice cream. It is also one of the most expensive destinations, with premium restaurants and hotels where influencers go.
It’s not your typical Mexico, but it’s definitely worth a stroll around the hotel zone, checking out the beaches and exploring the local Mayan ruins.
Find out everything important in our article What to do in Tulum .
Where to stay in Tulum?
Hostel right in the hotel zone in Tulum, which has its own cenote and restaurant with affordable prices. That’s almost a miracle in a hotel zone.
Zamunda Garden View Apartments may not be right on the beach in the hotel zone, but you get a great apartment at a great price. Accommodation is located in the city center.
One of the most stylish hotels in all of Mexico.
Bacalar (2 nights)
A two-hour drive from Tulum, you’ll find yourself in a paradise for non-tourists. The quiet town of Bacalar lies on the shores of a crystal clear freshwater lagoon.
If I wanted to go somewhere on a “rolling” holiday, it would probably be here. I would go to the beach for 3 CZK with locals, swim in the freshwater lagoon and kayak. And tonight I’d be sitting in the best pizza place in Mexico. You only need one day for Bacalar, but most people regret not staying at least a week.
Before you book a hotel, check out our article: Laguna Bacalar: 8 things to do there + where to eat .
Where to stay at Bacalaru
Cheap hostel with a nice night bar and a swimming pool. You live in stylish concrete tubes where only the bed fits and the bathroom is in a shared space. Careful, not much internet going on here.
Newly built apartments near Bacalar that really surprised us. They are modern, clean and quiet. Plus, you can count on stable wi-fi, which is often a miracle in the Yucatán. Unfortunately they are out of the centre, you can’t get to the bar for a drink. But the price is amazing.
Villa by the shore
If you’re coming to Bacalar for a holiday, we recommend checking out this gorgeous villa, which is a short walk from the centre of town in a quiet area right on the shore of the lagoon. And the view from the rooms is breathtaking!
Xpujil, Campeche (2 nights)
If you are as fascinated by the Mayan civilization as we are, you will enjoy the next two days. On the way to Xpujil, you will visit the Kohunlich ruins in the middle of the jungle in the southern Mexican province of Quintana Roo, located 9 km from the nearest asphalt road. The journey will take at least an hour and you can expect to spend another hour sightseeing.
If you have more time, you can see the remains of the Mayan city – the ruins of Becan . These are located just off the road just outside Xpujil.
The next day go to Calakmul , one of the largest urban complexes, where you drive 1.5-2 hours through the jungle, but it’s worth it. Calakmul is a little visited but gigantic Mayan city that was once very important. It is still possible to climb the majestic pyramids, including the second largest pyramid ever discovered. It’s 55 metres long.
During our visit we met only a few tourists, but we enjoyed most of the views all by ourselves. This allows you to observe families of howler monkeys (extremely noisy monkeys) during the tour. Sleep again in Xpujil, in the morning you will have a longer crossing.
Where to stay in Xpujil
Xpujil is not a very touristy town, so expect more basic accommodation and restaurants.
We’ve been all over the city and we can only recommend one hotel with a calm heart. Hotel Villa Calakmul costs around 500 CZK a night and the owner is a very helpful gentleman. The rooms are clean, coffee is available at the reception and the internet works well.
San Francisco de Campeche (1-2 nights)
A town where we came for one night and stayed for three. We didn’t expect anything from San Francisco de Campeche, but we discovered a pearl of the Yucatán. This laid-back, colourful town is full of cafes and restaurants, has a relaxed atmosphere and we experienced one of the most beautiful sunsets.
If you are interested in Mayan civilization, be sure to go to Museo de La Arquitectura Maya . It’s a small museum, but you can learn a lot of things there. No one in Campeche should miss La Calle 59, the most colourful street in town, where you’ll find a number of lovely cafes and shops. In the evening, head to the local promenade to see the light show.
For more tips on nearby beaches, excursions and restaurants, see our article on San Francisco de Campeche .
Where to stay:
Merida (1-2 nights)
On your way to Merida, the capital of Yucatán, stop at the ruins of Uxmal . Ruins that were built entirely in the Mayan Puuc style. It’s worth arriving here very early in the morning (ideally at 8:00) so you don’t have to walk around Uxmal in the crazy heat. Uxmal can be found 2 hours from Campeche and the temperatures here are indeed considerably higher.
Merida has been voted North American Capital of Culture several times and is therefore the best place to soak up the Mexican atmosphere. Every day there is something going on in the centre, whether it is festivals, dance performances or imitations of the Mayan ball game Tlachtli.
Take a stroll through the historic centre and, if you speak English or Spanish, enjoy a guided tour. Don’t forget to visit the local boulevard , Paseo de Montejo, for a taste of Mexican colonial history. Along the promenade you will find a number of luxurious villas and haciendas, many of which still retain their original appearance.
If you are wondering what else to see in Merida or where to go on a trip, check out our article about Merida .
Where to stay in Merida
Valladolid (1-3 nights)
On the way to Valladolid, stop in the yellow city of Izamal, often called the “city of three cultures”. If you are tempted by carriage rides, they are available here at a great price.
Valladolid itself is a very charming, colourful city that is a great starting point for many excursions in the surrounding area. You can take a day trip to the pink lakes of Las Coloradas, or explore the most famous Mayan ruins of Chitzen Itza . However, the most beautiful cenotes in the Yucatán are also located around Valladolid: Zaci and Suytun.
If you are interested in more tips and want to know where to go for the best quality hammock in the Yucatán, read our article: What to do in Valladolid?
Where to stay in Valladolid
Paradise on Earth: Holbox Island (2-3 nights)
Return the car in Cancun before heading to Holbox. It’s easier to take a bus to Holbox, because they won’t let you on the island with a car and you’d be paying for parking and risk having your car stolen or, more likely, scraped. From Holbox you can head straight to the airport.
In our opinion, it’s the perfect end to a Yucatán vacation, beautiful white beaches, glowing plakton and swimming with the giant shark. Put your at least 3 days, the journey from Cancun takes 3.5 hours.
You can read how to get to Holbox and what to do there in our detailed article what to do at Holbox.
Where to stay at Holbox
Stylish accommodation with a private beach at a comfortable price. Beware, it sells out fast. It is the ideal choice for those looking for the best value for money. Plus, you can cook here, which is always a plus when you’re getting sick of eating out or want to save a little money.
Tasteful hotel with an outdoor pool, which is normally priced at 4500 CZK, but you can find it for 2000 CZK on booking! The hotel is for adults only, so it is not suitable for families with children.
One of the most luxurious and best rated accommodations in Holbox, where breakfast is included and most rooms have a balcony overlooking the beach.
Cheap Flights to Yucatán, Mexico
When to go to Yucatán
Depends on what you plan to do in the Yucatán. The best weather is from December to April. Watch out for March and early April, when the US is on “spring break” and many Americans are heading to Mexico.
The highest prices are at Christmas and Easter. If you plan to swim with whale sharks, their season is from June to September, with the most sharks seen in July and August.
But in the summer, Mexico is incredibly hot, humid, rainy and from June to November it is hurricane season.
How to save on holidays in the Yucatán
As mentioned above, the highest prices are at Christmas and Easter. Last minute prices don’t work in Mexico either, so it’s better to book accommodation in advance. What is not worth saving on is car insurance. Rent a car through
and get it insured directly with them.
Security in Yucatán, Mexico
If you’ve just watched Narcos: Mexico, you’re probably getting chills from the drug cartels. The truth is that the cartels, whether drug or oil, are still in Mexico and clashes between them are a daily occurrence. But tourists are not the target of attacks and the Yucatán is the safest place in Mexico.
Theft is not common in the Yucatán, but be on the lookout in crowded areas. You never know. There are hardly any muggings, but if you are mugged, give up your valuables rather than defend yourself. There’s a good chance the perp could have a gun. As in the US, gun ownership is certainly not unique here.
Where to next?
If you are interested in Mexico, check out our more articles about Mexico we wrote about this beautiful country during our stay. We’d love any feedback you can give us in the comments.