Tulum is a captivating seaside destination along Mexico’s stunning Yucatan Peninsula. With its white sandy beaches, picture-perfect cenotes and ancient Mayan ruins, Tulum offers an idyllic blend of natural beauty and fascinating history.
Yet, how many days in Tulum is enough to experience the magic of the area? Many travellers find that a 1 week itinerary for Tulum is more than enough. One week provides enough time to see all of the top attractions while also leaving plenty of room for some swimming and relaxation at the beautiful beaches.
The best time to visit Tulum is during the dry season, which typically runs from November to April. Since the peak tourist season is between December and February, you might want to consider visiting in November or April if you prefer fewer crowds.
The Tulum Hotel Zone is the most convenient place to stay during your time here, with a range of options to suit different preferences and budgets. One of the best places to stay is the Papaya Playa Project, a 4-star beachfront eco-lifestyle hotel surrounded by the lush Yucatan jungle. Looking for an adults-only all-inclusive accommodation?
Kore Tulum Retreat and Spa Resort ticks all the boxes. However, if you don’t want to spend a fortune, some incredible laid-back 3-star hotel options include the Pocna Tulum Hotel and Beach Club, Maria del Mar Tulum, and Zamas Hotel, all of which have their own unique qualities and charm.
To make the most of your 1 week in Tulum, you can follow along this itinerary. This guide to Tulum will take you on an amazing journey, exploring archaeological wonders, enchanting cenotes and the vibrant local culture. Prepare to be captivated by the magic of Tulum’s ancient past and its breathtaking natural beauty.
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Day 1 in Tulum
Breakfast at El Rincon de la Tia Tulum
Close to the Tulum Mayan ruins is a superb restaurant called El Rincon de la Tia. Opening bright and early at around 7 am (and often slightly earlier), La Tia’s will introduce you to authentic Mexican cuisine.
For breakfast, you can choose from a variety of egg dishes including omelettes and huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, empanadas and fresh fruits. The restaurant also makes their own traditional charcoal-fired tortillas.
Tulum Archaeological Site
On any Tulum itinerary will be a trip to the local Mayan ruins. This fascinating archaeological site is the location of one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Mayans.
At its peak between the 13th and 15th centuries, the city served as an important trading hub for the Mayans, primarily for turquoise and jade. Located on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, there are amazing scenic views here as well.
The Tulum ruins are well-preserved and showcase the unique architectural style of the Mayans, with many buildings constructed primarily with limestone. The most well-known structure here is El Castillo, which is also the tallest building in Tulum.
This ceremonial temple was strategically positioned to guide Mayan sailors and traders through the nearby reefs. El Castillo features a distinctive, rounded design and is adorned with sculptures and carvings.
Another must-see is the Temple of the Frescoes, a small building with a lower gallery and an upper temple with a ceremonial shrine. Although the original paintings in the gallery have faded over time, the Temple of the Frescoes contained some of the most significant surviving examples of Ancient Maya art.
In an effort to preserve the culture, the frescoes seen here are replicas of the original works. On the walls of the gallery, you’ll be able to see a series of columns featuring images of deities, figures in ceremonial attire, and astronomical symbols.
The Mayan calendar can also be seen here, which was essential for tracking celestial events and agricultural cycles.
If you have time, you can also explore some of other structures, including Temple 54, Casa del Chultún, Templo de la Serie Inicial, Casa Halach Uinik, Gran Plataforma and more.
Learn about Mayan cosmology and spirituality at Mystika, a one-of-a-kind immersive experience.
The halls of this art museum are designed to ignite your senses through visual displays, from the starry night skies above Chichen Itza to the sanctuary of monarch butterflies and fireflies.
Not only is this a truly amazing way to learn about the local history and ancient culture, but it’s also a wonderful place to escape the heat for a little while!
Tickets to Mystika cost 450 pesos, with entry beginning at 9 am every day.
Dinner and drinks at Mateo’s Mexican Grill
One of the best places to go at night in the Hotel Zone is undoubtedly Mateo’s Mexican Grill. Despite its ideal location near the beach, the food and drinks aren’t overpriced at all.
The meal of choice here is the fish tacos (as you’ll see from all the signs), though there’s plenty more to choose from if you aren’t into seafood.
There’s a fun and social vibe here that will make your first night in Tulum a memorable one, and for all the right reasons.
The sunset bar has ping pong tables and darts if you want to play a few games and unwind as you drink some margaritas and meet some new friends from around the world. There’s also typically a sports tournament or match on TV and a house band playing.
Day 2 in Tulum
Breakfast at BOTANICA Garden Cafe
One of the most gorgeous breakfast and brunch settings is the BOTANICA Garden Cafe in the centre of Tulum, opening at 8 am each day.
The healthy and delicious menu items cater to all dietary preferences and include both Mexican and international options. The cosy outdoor seating is surrounded by a green oasis, with live music typically starting at around 10 am.
Explore the cenotes
Tulum is famous for its stunning cenotes, which are underground freshwater pools that have been exposed through collapsing limestone bedrock.
While gorgeous to look at, cenotes also hold a lot of cultural and ecological significance in the region. Some of the top cenotes to check out include:
Gran Cenote: Located just a few kilometres outside of Tulum, Gran Cenote (meaning Great Cenote in Spanish) is one of the most famous cenotes in the area.
Offering a unique blend of open-air swimming and underwater exploration, this cenote is certain to be on any Tulum travel guide. Snorkelers can observe the underwater rock formations, while divers can venture into the deeper sections to explore the caves.
Cenote Calavera: Also known as the “Temple of Doom” or the “Skull Cenote,” Cenote Calavera is named after the three holes in the ground that resemble a skull.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can cool off by jumping from different heights into the cenote’s clear turquoise waters, though there’s also a ladder provided. While it looks a little eerie from above, the water also offers access to an underground cave system.
Lunch at Charlie’s
For lunch, head over to Charlie’s, located on the main road running through Tulum. This down-to-earth spot is creatively decorated with mosaics and cultural art pieces, giving a homey and welcoming feeling.
Some of the best dishes to order here are the mole, chicken nachos, black bean soup, and the shrimp tacos. You can also try a delicious and refreshing fruit daiquiri. To top it all off, the service here is fantastic, with super friendly waiters and even the owner, Charlie, willing to have a chat.
Continue exploring the cenotes
After lunch, there are still more cenotes to explore! Head north and check out:
Cenote Dos Ojos: Named after the two adjacent sinkholes that resemble a pair of eyes, the Dos Ojos Cenote is renowned for its extensive underwater cave systems, making it a popular spot for snorkelling and scuba diving.
The crystal-clear water, decorated with stalactites and stalagmites, offers a mesmerising experience if you’re looking to go diving.
Cenote Caracol: This cenote is an underrated and unforgettable beauty. Characterised by its unique spiral shape, Cenote Caracol has multiple levels or terraces to explore.
The cave here is easily one of the most mysterious in the area, with endless stalactites hanging from above.
Beginning at the entrance, there’s a long wooden dock for you to pop your towels and bags on. It’s worth bringing snorkelling gear with you so that you can swim among the fish, turtles and other stunning creatures.
Dinner at Pandano Restaurant Grill and Cocktail Bar
Sit back and relax with dinner and drinks by the beach at Pandano Restaurant Grill and Cocktail Bar.
The gorgeous views, attentive wait staff, high quality food and amazing atmosphere all make Pandano a memorable dining experience.
The calamari, fresh grilled lobster, grilled octopus and shrimp tostadas are highly recommended. After your meal, indulge in some lime margaritas as the sun goes down.
Day 3 in Tulum
Breakfast at Bretzel Panaderia Alemana
Start your third day in Tulum at this quaint coffee shop called Bretzel. Since it’s outside of the town centre and not directly by the beach, the prices are very affordable.
All the breads and baked goods are freshly made. You can grab a baguette, croissant or pretzel to-go, or dine in and eat a breakfast taco (you’re in Mexico after all!).
Do some shopping
See what kind of local goods are on offer at the markets. Mercado Maya Tulum is the most well-known market in town, where the Mayan community sells textiles and handicrafts, as well as locally-grown fruits and vegetables.
Even if you don’t want to pick up anything, it’s a lovely spot to check out and get a sense of the culture.
Tulum Bazaar, located in Tulum Centro, is another option for shopping. There are rows of souvenir shops here selling artwork, pottery, clothing, jewellery and more.
Lunch at Burrito Amor
As one of the top-rated burrito spots in Tulum, Burrito Amor caters to everyone, from meat eaters to vegans to those looking for something gluten free. Each burrito is wrapped in a banana leaf to cut back on unnecessary waste, and bowls are available too.
The gorgeous ambience and rustic-meets-industrial decor creates a relaxed yet Instagram-worthy vibe, so sit back and order a coconut water, a smoothie or a cocktail from the bar before moving on to your afternoon activity.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a magnificent protected area located near Tulum. The name “Sian Ka’an” translates to “Origin of the Sky” in the Mayan language, reflecting the area’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.
Covering a vast area of over 5,000 square kilometres, the reserve is a diverse and pristine ecosystem made up of tropical forests, mangroves, marshes, savannas, and an extensive network of freshwater canals and lagoons. It also includes part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef system in the world.
The reserve is home to over 800 plant species and an incredible variety of wildlife, including more than 300 species of birds, such as toucans, herons and flamingos. Animal species like jaguars, pumas and howler monkeys are also found here.
Since Sian Ka’an is so large, it’s worth booking a tour and going with a local guide. While there are some full-day excursions you can pick from, you can still see a lot on a half-day tour.
This kayaking and snorkelling adventure is an incredible opportunity to explore the reserve with a small-group. You’ll kayak through the mangroves, learn about the wildlife and conservation, and swim among the beautiful marine life and coral reefs.
Alternatively, this five-hour tour also takes you to the Muyil Ruins, an architectural site also located in the reserve. Muyil was a significant trading post and ceremonial centre during the Mayan Classic Period between 300 and 900 AD.
The ruins, which are also known as Chunyaxché, contain various temples, pyramids and plazas. You’ll be able to visit the Castillo, the most prominent building here standing at around 17 metres tall, and float down the picturesque Muyil Lagoon.
Dinner at Ziggy’s
One of the top-rated beach clubs in Tulum is Ziggy’s along the Hotel Zone. With alfresco dining and ocean views, the atmosphere here is super romantic yet laid back.
There is plenty of variety on the menu, with different types of tacos and burgers (including vegetarian options), plus some healthy salads, glazed ribs, and various seafoods.
The drinks made at the bar are also top notch. To add to the vibe, there is live jazz music every night.
Day 4 in Tulum
Breakfast at DelCielo
You’ll quickly understand why DelCielo is one of the most highly-rated breakfast and brunch spots in Tulum. This is the ideal place to go for health-conscious individuals, or if you simply want a break from all the tacos you’ve been consuming!
Smoothie bowls, fruit plates, granola, chilaquiles and eggs florentine are some of the popular menu items you can order. Of course, there’s also delicious coffee to help wake you up, as well as a bakery.
Since this spot is a little more upscale, you can expect to pay a bit more for your meal, but the prices are absolutely worth it. Since you don’t have a busy day today, you can take some extra time to enjoy your meal and take in the beautifully-designed surroundings.
Cenotes Casa Tortuga Tulum
Cenotes Casa Tortuga is a stunning natural park that includes four cenotes: Cenote Wisho, Cenote Campana, Cenote Jaguar, and Cenote Tres Zapotes.
The smaller sinkholes have ancient rock formations with stalactites and stalagmites to admire, while the larger ones with deeper waters are great for jumping into and swimming around. Guided tours and equipment like snorkelling gear are available at the entrance.
The almost four-kilometre walking trail through the park, which typically takes just under an hour to complete, is perfect if you want to get some exercise.
Lunch at El Capitan
A fantastic traditional restaurant to have lunch at is El Capitan, particularly if you’re extra hungry. The food comes in large portions at affordable prices, so bring your appetite or prepare to share a dish.
El Capitan is highly recommended by the locals, and is known for its seafood platters, quesadillas and ceviche.
Relax at the beach
The beaches of Tulum are known for their white powdery sand, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and picturesque setting with swaying palm trees. Spend the afternoon swimming, tanning, and relaxing at one of the many incredible Tulum beach clubs.
The main beach close to the Tulum Ruins is Tulum Beach. Lined with boutique hotels and eco-friendly resorts, there are plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas to rent along here. Yet, the most beautiful beach in Tulum is considered to be Playa Paraiso, which is a little further south.
This stretch of soft white sand is typically less crowded and offers a more tranquil experience. If you feel like partying and being among the action, Playa Pescadores has plenty of beach clubs, thatched-roof bars and hippie shops.
Dinner and drinks at Taboo Beach Club
Finish your Tulum beach day at Taboo, one of the top rated beach clubs in the area.
Here you can pop down on the comfy couches underneath the shade, dance to some upbeat and eclectic music, indulge in some shisha, and cool down with one of Taboo’s signature cocktails.
The restaurant specialises in seafood and tasty Mediterranean dishes, though you’ll also find burgers, sushi and steak on the menu.
Day 5 in Tulum
Breakfast at Cafetería Hunab Ku
Get up early and head to Cafetería Hunab Ku, a gorgeous breakfast spot that opens a little earlier than most at 6:30 am. The atmosphere is very laid back, with swings out the front and natural furnishings.
On the menu are homemade pastries with vegan options, sandwiches, pancakes, quiches, smoothies, Tulum-style coffee with sweetened coconut cream and plenty more.
Day Trip to Chichen Itza
When in the Yucatan Peninsula, a visit to Chichen Itza is an absolute must. This ancient Mayan city is one of the most famous and significant archaeological sites in Mexico. Chichen Itza flourished between the 9th and 13th centuries AD, during the Late Classic and Early Postclassic periods.
It was once a political, economic and religious centre for the Mayans, and is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Two of the most famous structures here are the Pyramid of Kukulcan, also known as El Castillo, and the Temple of Warriors.
The Pyramid of Kukulcan is an impressive step pyramid that stands about 30 metres tall and has four sides, each with 91 steps. During the equinox, the light and shadows create an optical illusion of a serpent slithering down the pyramid’s staircase.
The Temple of Warriors is another large stepped pyramid, adorned with numerous columns depicting warriors. It is surrounded by a complex of other structures, including the Temple of the Chac Mool, the Group of a Thousand Columns, and the Great Ball Court.
Lunch at Taco Maya By Oxtun
Located within the Chichen Itza Architectural Zone is a convenient lunch spot called Taco Maya by Oxtun.
As you might guess by the name, there are a range of tacos on the menu, but you’ll also find other Mexican foods like burritos, nachos and salads, as well as burgers and pizzas.
Rest here for a while, relax with a cold drink and reapply your sunscreen before exploring some more of the ruins.
The Sacred Cenote
Also at Chichen Itza is the Sacred Cenote, known as Cenote Sagrado in Spanish. This natural sinkhole held a lot of spiritual significance for the Mayans, playing a role in religious ceremonies and spiritual rituals.
This cenote is 60 metres wide and around 20 metres deep, with remarkably clear water that has made it a treasure trove for archaeological discoveries.
Surrounded by steep walls and luscious greenery, the Sacred Cenote is a truly special spot to cool down at. There are stairs and a platform leading down to the water, so don’t worry about having to jump in!
Ik Kil Cenote
Another incredible cenote you should consider stopping at on the way back to the Tulum town centre is the Ik Kil Cenote.
It’s absolutely breathtaking here, with hanging vines and tiny waterfalls cascading down the walls. In addition to the plant life, the cenote is also home to colourful fish you’ll be able to swim with.
As with the Sacred Cenote, there’s a staircase leading down to the turquoise water, but there are a couple of spots to dive from too if you’re feeling daring. There are well-maintained bathrooms and areas to change after swimming.
Dinner at Encanto Cantina
An amazing spot to chill out at and eat some incredible food is Encanto Cantina. The outdoor seating is surrounded by bamboo and green palms in a jungle-like setting, with plenty of beautiful, romantic decor.
There are lots of plates to share if you’re with a group or want to try out a bunch of new dishes. Definitely order the ceviche! If you can, come early for happy hour between 3 pm and 6 pm for two-for-one mezcalitas and other tasty cocktails.
Day 6 in Tulum
Breakfast at Ki’bok Coffee Tulum
For a delicious breakfast and even better coffee, pop into a cafe called Ki’bok Coffee Tulum. Located along the main street in Tulum, Ki’bok offers meals like focaccias, fruit and granola, breakfast burritos, smoothies, and other small bites if you aren’t super hungry.
There is plenty of shaded outdoor seating, with large tables and great WiFi. As a bonus for animal lovers, there are typically half a dozen friendly cats roaming around. If you order a coffee to go, the barista may even draw a cute picture on your cup.
Xel-Há is one of the most impressive natural water parks in the world, and luckily, it’s located within the Riviera Maya not too far from Tulum.
Spend your morning here ziplining through the jungle, snorkelling among the coral reefs, exploring the local cenotes and caves, cycling or walking the trails, floating down the river past the mangroves, and even more.
Don’t miss the Scenic Lighthouse waterslide that descends from a height of 30 metres. Bicycles, lifejackets and inner tubes are all complimentary, and there are hammocks and lounge chairs if you want to rest for a while and admire the natural scenery.
There’s also an apiary here where you can learn about the Melipona bee, as well as other aspects of Mayan culture.
For your convenience, you can book an all-inclusive admission ticket here, unlimited drinks and an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch.
OR head to Coba Archaeological Site
The Coba Archaeological Site is one of the largest and oldest Mayan ruins in the region, and is an amazing showcase of Mayan art and architecture.
Located northwest of Tulum, Coba is found among dense tropical jungle and is made up of a network of stone pathways, known as sacbeob. The longest sacbe at Coba is the White Road, spanning for 100 kilometres.
Since the entire site covers an area of 70 square kilometres, the best way to get around is by bike. After entering Coba, you’ll quickly spot the plethora of bicycles available for rent for a small fee. You might also consider booking a private tour guide to learn more about the history of the ruins.
The main attraction at the Coba Archaeological Site is the Nohoch Mul pyramid, standing at around 42 metres. Visitors are allowed to climb the pyramid, and you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the surrounding jungle.
Most of the structures here are centred around two lakes, Lake Macanxoc and Lake Coba. As you’re riding around, be sure to check out the Temple of the Church, the Ball Court, the Observatory, and the Painted Lintel as well.
Dinner at Tora Tulum
Take a break from all of the Mexican food to indulge in some Japanese, izakaya-style cuisine. The menu at Tora Tulum includes plenty of freshly-caught fish, sushi and sashimi, gyozas, hot rice pots, and innovative desserts.
If you don’t eat seafood, there’s an assortment of vegan options to choose from as well. There’s a never-ending drink selection too, from Japanese whisky and sake to signature cocktails and mixologist creations.
The chic and intimate ambience here creates a perfect excuse to dress up in the nicest clothes you’ve brought with you!
Day 7 in Tulum
Breakfast at Fresco’s Tulum
Along the Hotel Zone is Fresco’s, a terrific spot for breakfast. The food here is healthy and nourishing, perfect to help your body recover from all the tiring adventures and endless tacos of the week.
Opt for some smoothie bowls, oats, avo on toast, quiches and more. Those with a sweet tooth might like the French toast or coconut pancakes.
Enjoy your meal and morning coffee under the swaying palm trees and beach umbrellas. Fresco’s opens at 7 am, giving you plenty of time before you head out for your first activity of the day.
Kaan Luum Lagoon
South of central Tulum is Kaan Luum Lagoon, an absolutely stunning lake full of clear turquoise water. In the shallow areas, there are cute swings and hammocks to sit in and take some photos.
Keep in mind that you are not allowed in the water with sunscreen on, so you may want to bring a long-sleeved swimming top if you are prone to burning easily.
This rule is in place to protect the ecosystem and to avoid contaminating the lagoon. There are amenities here including toilets and a kiosk to buy fresh coconuts and snacks.
One of the best ways to explore this stunning national attraction is with a half-day stand-up paddleboarding adventure departing at 9 am. No matter your skill level, your experienced guide will lead you through the lagoon’s loop.
This tour experience includes tacos for lunch, and you can even capture footage of your day on a GoPro provided free of charge.
Dinner and drinks at Tulum Tower
For your last evening in Tulum, Mexico, see the town from a different point of view at the Tulum Tower. Rotating 360 degrees at a height of 118 feet, the experience takes about 45 minutes and includes a photoshoot.
This is perhaps the best spot to see the sunset from, though it is so much more than a viewing platform. Treat yourself to a drink inside a pineapple, enjoy the DJs and live musicians, and even partake in karaoke. Mexican food with a Caribbean influence is also served.
Tour Ideas for Tulum
- Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve Kayaking and Snorkelling Experience
Experiencing the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve on a kayak is an unforgettable experience. This small-group trip includes healthy snacks and water, as well as all the kayaking and snorkelling equipment you would need. You’ll gain plenty of information about the reserve and its wildlife from the knowledgeable guide.
- Sian Ka’an and Muyil Archaeological Site Tour
This Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve excursion also includes a trip to the Muyil ruins. Explore the former trading post with your guide before taking a boat ride on the Muyil Lagoon.
Your guide will teach you about the ecology of the area as you drift past beautiful mangroves and other unique vegetation. Pick-up and drop-off at your hotel is included, as are delicious seasonal fruits to snack on.
- Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid Small Group Day Trip
This tour of the must-see Chichen Itza also includes a trip to Valladolid, a charming and historic little city with colourful colonial architecture.
After stopping for lunch, you’ll also get to go swimming at Cenote Xux Ha. Hotel pick-up and drop-off is included, so you don’t have to worry about planning anything.
Final Thoughts: 1 week in tulum itinerary
Tulum is the perfect mix of culture, relaxation, and adventure. With its beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and delicious cuisine, there’s something here for everyone!
Whether you’re looking to explore the region or just want some rest and relaxation, Tulum makes a great destination for a week-long trip. Use this guide to mix and match different activities to build your ideal itinerary – or even create your own.
Regardless of what your plans are for spending a week in Tulum, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience! So why not start planning your dream vacation today? Mix this itinerary with other ideas to craft the perfect journey – all you need is a little time and creativity.
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