Tip: Bike when possible to avoid pricey taxis!

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost for you.

Updated 2/5/2024

There are so many things to do in Tulum, Mexico, that planning out the perfect Tulum itinerary can be overwhelming. After visiting the city for my fifth time in 2024, I have decided to update my perfected my 4-day Tulum Itinerary. Tulum has changed so much over the years, so it is important that my articles to can provide you the most updated list of the best things to do in Tulum.

This Tulum travel guide is perfect for anyone visiting Mexico for a long weekend, or if you’re adding a few days in Tulum onto a longer trip. In this guide you’ll find tips on where to stay, the best Tulum restaurants, and the best things to do in Tulum.

exploring tulum mexico - casa pueblo tulum hotel
Hanging by the hotel pool in Tulum, Mexico
Enjoy a smoothie bowl from Matcha Mama
Enjoy a smoothie bowl from Matcha Mama

Getting to Tulum

The closest airport to Tulum, Mexico is the Cancun International Airport, which is located approximately an hour and a half away. You have a number of options to get to Tulum from Cancun Airport, including by bus, private car service, or taxi. The new Tulum airport will soon also be serviced by flights from the US!

The easiest and fastest is definitely by car, but the ADO bus is a super easy option if you’re traveling to Tulum on a budget. A one-way ticket to Tulum from the airport on the ADO bus costs around $24 USD and takes about two hours. There are also shared shuttles with Daytrip. Another option is to book a private shuttle with eTransfers.

Or you could considering renting a car for the duration of your trip to Tulum. I have put together a full guide on how to get to Tulum from Cancun airport.

You’ll find direct flights to Cancun from cities all over the US, as well as from Central America. I found that it is super easy to find affordable direct flights from New York, Miami, Chicago and more, on airlines such as JetBlue, Delta, and United. 

Tips for Visiting Tulum, Mexico

  • Currency: Mexican Pesos, cash is preferred at most places
  • Language: Spanish
  • Taxis are expensive. Plan ahead!
  • Visit during the low or shoulder seasons for cheaper prices
  • Do not drink the tap water in Tulum or anywhere else in Mexico
  • Stay in La Valeta if you’re spending your 4 days in Tulum on a budget 
Spending time on Tulum Beach
Spending time on Tulum Beach
Matcha mama has multiple locations throughout Tulum
Matcha mama has multiple locations throughout Tulum

4 Days in Tulum Itinerary: Where to Stay in Tulum 

The first thing to know about Tulum is that there are a number of different areas: Tulum Beach (the Hotel Zone) La Valeta, Aldea Zama, and Tulum Town (el Centro).

Staying in Tulum Beach is significantly more expensive than the other options, as most of these properties are located right on the beach. Anything away from the beach is going to be a much more affordable option.

Personally, I prefer staying in La Valeta or the main town as it offers a more authentic glimpse into life in Mexico. Furthermore, some of the best, most authentic restaurants are located in the town. 

Budget: Mama’s Home Hostel 

Mama’s Home hostel is a great option if you’re traveling solo and looking for a more social atmosphere. The hostel is a great place for meeting fellow travelers. Dorm beds start at $16 per night and private rooms start around $65/night. This is where I stayed on my solo trip in 2018!

Mid-Range: Turquoise Petit 

I stayed at Turquoise Petit for 5 nights in 2021 and loved it! The rooms were super cute and the little plunge pool was a great touch. The hotel is located perfectly central in La Valeta, close to all of the best restaurants and bars in the neighborhood.

Note: On my recent visit in 2024 I noticed that the hotel has grown substantially. It used to only have 5 rooms, and now it is a full hotel.

Mid-Range: Una Vida

Una Vida is a great, moderately priced accommodation option in Tulum. Located in Tulum center, Una Vida has a large, Instagrammable pool, minimalist decor, and a great location for exploring the city. Prices start around $100 USD/night.

Luxury: Be Tulum

Be Tulum is one of the top hotels in Tulum, but with it comes a steep price tag. A night at Be Tulum averages close to $1,000 USD/night, for what will definitely be an unforgettable experience.

Luxury: Nomade

Everything about Nomade is perfect, from the decor to their various restaurants. Not to mention, your room will be only steps from the beach! Rooms typically range from between $300 USD – $700 USD per night.

Luxury: Azulik

Azulik is a luxury, eco-friendly haven. With no wifi or electricity, this hotel boasts some of the most interesting looking rooms. Whether you stay here as a guest, or stop by for a meal, Azulik should definitely be added to your Tulum itinerary.

What to Pack for 4 Days in Tulum

Packing for Tulum is relatively easy, as you’ll be probably spending a good amount of time on the beach and in the water. However you’ll also want to bring some nicer outfits, as Tulum has quite the dinner and bar scene. Here are a few items you shouldn’t forget:

  • Bikinis and cover ups for lots of time on the beach
  • Travel beach towel or sarong
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat for protection from the sun
  • Casual shorts
  • Maxi dresses or skirts for evenings out in Tulum
  • 1 pair of flip flops or sneakers (a lot of the roads are muddy)
  • 1 pair of nicer sandals
  • Passport (valid for at least 3 more months)
  • Camera

Tulum Itinerary: 3-4 Days in Tulum

Day 1: Welcome to Tulum 

For most flights from the US, you will be arriving in Tulum in the afternoon. You can book a flight ticket here, or directly with the airline.

Take the rest of the day to settle in, enjoying the beautiful weather and all of the best food that Tulum has to offer.

If you have the energy, a trip to the Tulum Ruins is a great way to see the city. Located on the outskirts of town, you can visit by bike or by taxi. Go just before sunset for less crowds, less heat, and gorgeous views over the water. Check out the best tours to Tulum Ruins.

Top-5 popular tours to Tulum Ruins

  • 🏔️ Combine a visit to Tulum archaeological site with a swimming and snorkeling excursion during this full-day combo tour
  • 🚘 Avoid the midday sun on a morning tour of Tulum’s ruins, with included round-trip transfer by air-conditioned vehicle
  • 🏞️ Visit the Tulum ruins and the Yucatán Peninsula cenotes the easy way, with this day trip from Cancun
  • 🤿 Combine ancient temples with a cenote and sea turtles on a full-day tour that includes a lunch at a local restaurant
  • 🌄 Combine ancient history with adventure on this tour of the Tulum archaeological site and an underground cenote
tulum ruins
Tulum Mayan Ruins

If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxing you can head to the beach for sunset to enjoy a cocktail and some tuna nachos from Ziggy’s Beach Bar. If you’re heading back to La Valeta, El Asadero Mezcaleria is a great option for drinks as well!

Delicious cocktails on the beach at Ziggy's Beach Club
Delicious cocktails on the beach at Ziggy’s Beach Club
Traditional ceviche from Ziggy's
Traditional ceviche from Ziggy’s

The Best Cheap Tacos in Tulum

If you’re staying away from the beach then I recommend checking out a number of the more local taco spots in the area. There are so many amazing restaurants in Tulum but this should give you a feel for great Mexican cuisine — without breaking the bank! 

Admittedly my eyes are always bigger than my stomach, but here are a few of local spots that I recommend checking out:

  • Antojitos La Chiapaneca – don’t expect anything fancy coming here, but the tacos are delicious and cheap! 
  • El Sabor de Las Cazuelas – a small roadside taco stand. Make sure to get the pastor!
  • Burrito Amor – this place is actually known for their burritos, and it is a bit fancier than the otherr options on the lsit, but the food is affordable and delicious!
  • Corner Stand – a few shops in from the corner of Avenida Satellite and the main road, right next to the Money Exchange, you’ll find a stand serving Cuban specials. Everything on the menu is cheap, delicious, and filling! 
  • Los Aguachiles – local ceviche and aguachiles, located right between the Centro and La Valeta neighborhoods.
Antojitos La Chiapaneca
Antojitos La Chiapaneca
Los Aguachiles
Los Aguachiles

Day 2 – Coba + Cenotes + Cooking

Coba Mayan Ruins

After a more relaxing first day in Tulum, today will be packed with nonstop adventure. Start your day early, with a trip to the Coba Mayan Ruins. You can book one of these excursions to visit the ruins. You’ll want to leave your hotel no later than 7:30 AM, as it takes about an hour to get to the ruins. They are best enjoyed before the sun is too strong, and without too many other people. 

coba maya ruins tulum
Coba Mayan Ruins
restaurant at coba ruins
Dining near Coba ruins at Restaurante Nicte Ha

Spend a few hours exploring the ruins, making sure to climb the largest pyramid at the far point of the park. Once you’ve had your fill, grab some breakfast, or an early lunch at Restaurante Nicte Ha. The food is delicious, and it is located right in the car park for the Coba ruins. 

Choo Ha Cenote

There are three different cenotes within ten minutes of Coba, but I recommend spending your time at Cenote Choo Ha. You’ll need to descend a long flight of stairs deep into the cave to reach this cenote. Unlike the super popular cenotes closer to Tulum, this one is a bit more off-the-beaten path, especially if you arrive early in the day. We were able to swim around for a full hour without any other people arriving! 

tulum itinerary - choo ha cenotes
Cenote Choo Ha
Exploring Cenote Choo Ha
Exploring Cenote Choo Ha

Azulik Uh May

As you make your way back towards town, stop at Azulik Uh May. Azulik Uh May is an interactive art exhibit located in the jungles surrounding Tulum. The exhibit is located 25km northeast of Tulum, approximately 30 minutes from the Tulum city center. Entrance used to be free, but they’ve recently raised the price to $20 USD. Make sure to book a ticket ahead of time. 

Get your tour to the Azulik Uh May here

exploring azulik uh may - a must on any tulum itinerary
Azulik Uh May, Tulum
girl at ziggys beachclub
Ziggy’s Beach club and Posada Margherita are two of my faves.

Head back to your hotel for a bit of lunch and a few minutes to relax. If you’re staying on the beach, this is the perfect time to soak up some sun. If you’re staying somewhere in the town, then I recommend booking a place with a pool!

Cooking Class

Whatever you do, you’ll want to keep your lunch small, because you’ll be doing lots of cooking tonight! I recommend spending the evening at Lily’s home, learning all of the secrets to making the perfect taco. You can even get adventurous and try some fried grasshoppers as an appetizer with your mezcal tasting. 

The cooking class is a bit pricier, but it is truly an unforgettable experience that is worth every penny. Plus, the tacos you’ll make are some of the best that I’ve ever tried! 

Day 3: Yoga + Beach Time

It wouldn’t be a trip to Tulum if it didn’t include some much needed time on the beach – preferably with a cocktail in hand!

On the beach strip is where you’ll find all of Tulum’s trendiest restaurants, including Raw Love, Macondo, and the Matcha Mama stand.

Yoga

I think that yoga class is an absolute must while visiting Tulum, so I always add it to my Tulum itinerary. There are tons of options, but my favorites are the studios at Sanara Tulum and the Dome at AzulikIf you’re not venturing to the beach, then Holistika is another great option!

Lunch on Tulum Beach

Many of the restaurants around Tulum Beach are quite pricey. However, if you’re visiting Tulum on a budget, there are still some great spots. Many of the beaches are private, but if you purchase a drink or food (with a minimum), you can often use their beach chairs! Ziggy’s Beach club and Posada Margherita are two of my faves for casual beach hangs. There is a minimum at Ziggy’s, but if you order a drink at Posada Margherita they’ll usually let you lay out!

Day 4 – Cenotes

Before heading back to the airport, or continuing on in your Mexico journey, a trip to Tulum’s famous cenote is a must. Although quite touristy, Grand Cenote is a fun addition on any Tulum itinerary. I recommend arriving early to avoid the crowds! Skip the first set of stairs and continue on to the next to find the famous location pictured below. Note, cameras are no longer allowed but you can still take photos with your phone.

If you’re looking for something a bit more budget friendly then you can avoid the popular cenotes completely and head to one of the lesser known cenotes like Cenote Escondido.

Another option is to stop at Cenote Azul on your way towards Cancun Airport, as it is located between Tulum and Playa del Carmen. It can also get quite crowded, so many sure to arrive early! Check out this tour that covers three different cenotes in one go.

cenote azul near playa del carmen
Cenote Azul
grand cenote tulum
Gran Cenote

Getting Around Tulum

Tulum by Taxi

Taxis in Tulum can be quite pricey, so it is important to make sure that you are getting the right price! Over the years I have had a great experience with a local taxi driver, Juan de la Cruz. You can trust that he will provide a reasonable rate and a safe ride. You can reach Juan on WhatsApp at +52 984 137 7794. Note, Juan does not speak any English so all communications will need to be in Spanish. 

Tulum by Bike

Biking around Tulum is probably my favorite way to get around, and a great option if you are visiting Tulum on a budget. Staying in the city center means biking 20-40 minutes to reach the beach resorts and restaurants in the hotel zone, where you’ll find many of the spots on this list.

If you have some extra time, I highly recommend a day trip to Valladolid, and my favorite cenote, Cenote Oxman.

Cenote Oxman - 1.5 hours from Tulum
Cenote Oxman – 1.5 hours from Tulum
day trip to Valladolid
Take a day trip to Valladolid

If you’re visiting Tulum, here are some other travel articles that you should check out:

Here are some guides to visiting my favorite cenotes:

Like what you read in my Tulum Itinerary? Be sure to pin it for later!

Tulum Itinerary: The perfect weekend in Tulum pin
Tulum Itinerary: The perfect weekend in Tulum pin

 

Let's get to know each other

keep me updated

newsletter