The Ultimate Tulum Itinerary
June 12, 2020
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There are so many things to do in Tulum, Mexico, that planning out the perfect Tulum itinerary can be overwhelming. After visiting the city three times, with friends and as a solo traveler, I have perfected my 4-day Tulum Itinerary. 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.
The Ultimate Tulum Itinerary
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 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 just $14 USD (288 MXN pesos) and takes about two hours. Another option is to book a private shuttle with eTransfers, starting at $24 USD. 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.
Direct flights from NYC to Cancun are just under four hours, while flights from Miami are under two hours. To find the cheapest flight options from your city, you can use this search form below:
Tips for Visiting Tulum, Mexico
- Currency: Mexican Pesos, cash is preferred at most places
- Language: Spanish
- 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 Tulum town if you’re spending 4 days in Tulum on a budget
4 Days in Tulum Itinerary: Where to Stay in Tulum
The first thing to know about Tulum is that it is broken up into two main parts: Tulum Beach and Tulum Town. Staying in Tulum Beach is significantly more expensive, as most of these properties are located right on the beach. Tulum Town, or Tulum City Center, is a much more affordable option. Personally, I prefer staying in the 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: Amorcito Corazon Hotel y Hostel
The rooms are clean and the staff is super friendly and helpful. The property has both a downstairs common area and a rooftop with a small pool. Dorm beds start at $16 USD/night, while private rooms start at $50 USD/night, making it a great option for anyone traveling to Tulum solo or on a budget. Breakfast is included in the price of the room.
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. Dorm beds start at $16 per night and private rooms start around $65/night.
Mid-Range: Turquoise Petit
I recently spent 5 nights at Turquoise Petit and couldn’t recommend it more! At about $75 per night, it is a great mid-range option in La Valeta in Tulum Town. The rooms are small but cute, there are two pools, the best jungle vibes, and free breakfast. They also have free filtered water, complimentary bikes, and great security.
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, minimilist decor, and a great location for exploring the city. Prices start around $90 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.
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.
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 warter. 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 (I love the BioClarity vegan sunscreen)
- Hat for protection from the sun
- Casual shorts
- Maxi dresses or skirts for evenings out in Tulum
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 pair of good walking shoes for visiting the ruins
- 1 pair of nicer sandals
- Passport for non-Mexican citizens
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
To cool down, head to either La Pizzine for a glass of wine on their rooftop or 2 for 1 cocktails at Mulberry Project on Tuesdays.
The Best Cheap Tacos in Tulum
If you’re staying in Tulum Center 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:
- El Asadero – although they are known for their meat selection, I love their quesadillas and tacos!
- Antojitos La Chiapaneca – don’t expect anything fancy coming here, but the 10 MXN tacos are delicious!
- Burrito Amor – this place is actually known for their burritos, and it is a bit fancier, 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!
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.
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!
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.
Lunch + Relaxing
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 in the town, then I recommend booking a place with a pool!
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. Here is my original list of 7 best Tulum restaurants.
I think that a beachfront 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 Azulik.
Tip, if like me, you’re always trying to shoot lots of content for your blog or Instagram, I recommend taking a few different outfits. I swear every inch of Tulum’s beach strip is Instagrammable, so it always helps to have a few different outfits to change into. Of course, if photos aren’t your thing, then one outfit is definitely enough!
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. Check out Taqueria La Eufermia for cheap tacos and cocktails, plus great beachfront live music. There is a public beach right in front, where you can set up your towel and lay out. Many of the other beaches are private, but if you purchase a drink or food (with a minimum), you can often use their beach chairs!
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 must 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.
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.
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! On my recent trip to Tulum, I 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. There is a bike path along the main road 109.
🏘️Book your accommodation
Booking.com will help you to book accommodation in advance and check availability
✈️Book your flight in advance
To find the cheapest flight options, you can use WayAway and find the most suitable option for you
If you have some extra time, I highly recommend a day trip to Valladolid, and my favorite cenote, Cenote Oxman.
If you’re visiting Tulum, here are some other travel articles that you should check out:
- Tulum on a Budget
- Restaurants in Tulum: Comprehensive Guide
- Tulum Solo Travel Guide
- Best Tulum Instagram Spots
Here are some guides to visiting my favorite cenotes:
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