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Tulum Itinerary – How to Spend Up to 1 Week in Tulum (1-day to 7-days)

Tulum Itinerary – How to Spend Up to 1 Week in Tulum (1-day to 7-days)

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Tulum is our go-to vacation destination on the Yucatan Peninsula. It has some of the best beaches and thrilling water activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming with sea turtles. Combine all that with the vibrant energy in the city, and you’ll need at least a week to enjoy Tulum!

Tulum is tranquil and enthralling all at the same time, so it makes for a great balance of activities for a Mexico vacation. But if you’ve never been to Tulum before, it can be a little difficult to know where to start! Lucky for you, we’ve traveled to Tulum a bunch of times and have picked out the best activities to fit any type of traveler, whether you’re a beach bum, a thrill seeker, or a history buff. 

We’ve put together this one-week Tulum itinerary that covers our favorite activities, restaurants, and tours. You can either follow it step by step or pick and choose the best options that suit your travel style. Regardless of what you do, you’re in for a fabulous week in Tulum!

Don’t have time to read the full article? No matter how long you’ll be in Tulum, make sure to see the highlights, including touring the Tulum Ruins, swimming at Akumal Beach, and visiting the cenotes. The restaurants here are amazing, and we highly recommend this walking food tour to try even more delicious cuisine.

Day 1

(Breakfast) Brunch at Botanica

Bailey with her meal at Botanica Garden Cafe in Tulum, Mexico
Botanica Garden Cafe in Tulum
Huevos Rancheros at Botanica Garden Cafe in Tulum, Mexico
Huevos Rancheros at Botanica Garden Cafe in Tulum, Mexico

Start your first morning in Tulum on the right foot by stopping for brunch! There is no shortage of amazing restaurants in Tulum, but Botanica is perhaps our favorite. We love it so much that we stopped here three times on our last trip, so you could hit it every day of your week in Tulum and still not tire of it!

Botanica has a lively atmosphere and is surrounded by lush green foliage, so you forget you’re right in the heart of Tulum!

The menu has elements of classic Mexican cuisine, such as Huevos Rancheros (my favorite) and chorizo. However, the chefs also add a unique twist to the food influenced by the variety of travelers that pass through. The restaurant uses fresh ingredients and is vegan/vegetarian friendly. You really can’t go wrong here! 

We tried the Omelette Botanica and absolutely loved it, but the Avocado and Roast Beef Tartine is also a crowd favorite. 

Botanica is open from 8 am to 5 pm and often has live music and other events, like salsa dancing! It’s a fun place to stop by at least once (if not more) as you spend a week in Tulum!

Related Read: If you’re flying into Cancun, read our guide on getting from the Cancun Airport to Tulum.

(Morning) Check out the Tulum Ruins and Mystika

Bailey poses for a photo while enjoying the views of the Tulum Ruins and ocean in Tulum, Mexico
The famous viewpoint!
El Castillo at the Tulum Ruins in Tulum, Mexico
El Castillo at the Tulum Ruins in Tulum, Mexico

Perhaps the most well-known thing to do in Tulum is visit the Tulum Ruins!

This ancient Mayan civilization was home to a thriving city in the 13th to 15th centuries. Today, you can see remains of buildings and roads that point to just how advanced this civilization was, with functional trade routes and markets. Its strategic location right on the Caribbean Sea made it a hub for exploration and trade. Unfortunately, it also made this area a target for Spanish invaders in the 16th century. 

The most notable sight that you’ll see at the Tulum Ruins is El Castillo, or the castle, which stretches 7.5 meters (25 feet) tall and was likely the home to the ruling class. The wall that surrounds Tulum is impressively large, extending for 400 meters (1,300 feet), and is 5 meters (16 feet) high and 8 meters (26 feet) thick – good luck getting around that fortification!

The ruins are also quite beautiful because you can see the expansive turquoise-blue Caribbean Sea in the distance. You can almost imagine what it was like to live amongst the Mayans, who also overlooked the Caribbean from there!

The ruins are open every day from 8 am to 5 pm, with last entry at 4 pm. It costs $90 MXN (about $5 USD) and must be paid in cash (with the local currency) at the entrance. Like many places we’ve visited in Mexico, there’s no change, so bring small bills! However, instead of heading there by yourselves, we definitely recommend taking a tour that covers all fees and includes a guide.

We chose to take this tour of the Tulum Ruins because it made it easier to figure out logistics like parking, buying tickets, and finding the entrance (as all of this is a little confusing here!). We also were so thankful for our tour guide because we learned an incredible amount of information! While it’s interesting to wander around and see the ruins themselves, without the history, they aren’t nearly as significant. 

This tour is 4 hours and includes roundtrip transportation from your Tulum hotel, all entrance fees, and your expert guide. It takes off every day but Saturday at 8:30 am or 2 pm. I recommend taking the morning tour because it can get really hot by midday! This private tour costs $134 USD per adult but requires a minimum of two per booking.

To enjoy the Tulum Ruins without the hassle, book this Private Tulum Ruins Tour here it’s easily one of the best tours of the Tulum Ruins!

Bailey enjoys a display at Mystika Immersive, Tulum
Digital art!

To take your Tulum Ruins experience to the next level, check out Mystika Immersive after your tour! This immersive experience is a combination of a museum, art, visual effects, and photography that tells the history of the Mayans in a totally unique way. You walk through 7 rooms (all with a different story to tell) in a 360-degree moving visual art display – it’s wildly beautiful!

Mystika Immersive is located at the entrance to the ruins, and you can spend about an hour here. It’s a fun way to learn more about the Mayan civilization and get some amazing photos for your Instagram feed along the way! 

Tickets are $27 USD – you can book your tickets ahead of time and show up whenever you want. It’s open Sunday to Tuesday from 10 am – 8 pm and Wednesday to Saturday from 10 am – 9 pm, with last entry 1.5 hours before closing. But again, I’d go right after your Tulum Ruins tour since you’re already there! 

To experience this one-of-a-kind sensory experience, book your tickets to Mystika Immersive online here!

(Lunch) – Eat authentic tacos at Taqueria Honorio

Two tacos from Taqueria Honorio in Tulum, Mexico
Simple but delicious!
Tacos from Taqueria Honorio in Tulum, Mexico
Tacos from Taqueria Honorio in Tulum, Mexico

After a few hours of walking through the Tulum Ruins in the hot sun, you’ll be ready for lunch! Luckily, amazing authentic Mexican food is plentiful in Tulum, so stopping for some tacos at Taqueria Honorio will be the perfect addition to your itinerary. Plus, they are cheap – which somehow makes them even tastier!

Taqueria Honorio has the most authentic tacos in Tulum, and the tortas are amazing here too! They grill the meat to perfection and have freshly made salsa that is oh-so-spicy. We had the Poc Chuc (carne asada) and Lechon Al Horno (pork) tacos, and while both were amazing, we really loved the pork! If you’ve never tried a torta, they are like a taco sandwich and just as tasty as they sound. 

They’re open Wednesday to Monday from 6:30 am to 3 pm, and it’s the perfect place to stop for lunch before heading downtown.

(Afternoon) – Explore downtown Tulum

Riding a bike in Tulum
Riding a bike in Tulum

While Tulum isn’t as busy as Cancun’s Hotel Zone or Playa del Carmen, its downtown area is certainly growing in popularity! Exploring downtown Tulum is a fun way to get to know the city, and there are a lot of unique shops and restaurants to check out.

Tulum has become a haven for expats and luxury travelers, and there are many boutique shops in the downtown area – so many that you will be overwhelmed with options! My favorite is La Pulga Boutique Tulum which has beautiful hip-beachy pieces! Pura Vida Tulum is another popular boutique, and it sells both women’s and men’s clothing. 

You’ll find a ton of restaurants in this area, and one of our favorite things to do is just grab a beer to sit and enjoy the sunshine. Nothing quite beats Corona and lime on a hot day of adventuring! Although it’s about 10 minutes outside of town, Cervecería Tulum is one of my favorite places in Tulum, especially if you love craft beer. 

Bailey sips a beer at Cerveciria Tulum, Mexico
The beer is amazing!
A beer at Cerveceria Tulum
The perfect pour!

You also must stop by the iconic Tulum sign to snap a photo! Each city in Mexico has a large and colorful sign in the center of town spelling out the city’s name. Tulum’s is vibrant and popular! You can find it in the main city center. It’s called “Letras de Tulum” on Google Maps.

Downtown Tulum isn’t huge, but a fun way to explore the area is by renting a bicycle for the day. This is great because you can check out downtown Tulum and then ride to the beach, which would normally be about an hour’s walk. You can rent from Ola Bicycle for about $12 USD for a full day or rent for multiple days without having to return the bike! 

Alternatively, you can join this bicycle tour through Tulum, which also takes you to cenotes and snorkeling. This is a 5-hour experience that begins with meet up at 8:30 am or 9 am depending on how many cenotes you visit, so you will have to shuffle this itinerary around to fit it in.

You’ll cycle through the jungle on quiet paths, stopping at cenotes to cool off. You can snorkel, swim, or jump off cliffs into the crystal-clear waters. Then, enjoy a delicious lunch with a spectacular view. What a way to start your day!

If you choose to visit 2 cenotes, it’ll cost $99 USD. However, we’d opt for the 3-cenotes option which also includes 3 ziplines and canoeing for $153 USD a person. All options include biking and snorkeling gear, along with your guides and lunch. 

You can reserve this bike tour online  – and we highly suggest you do! It’s a super fun way to explore Tulum and get some exercise too!

(Night) – Go for drinks at Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar

Bailey drinks a mojito at Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar in Tulum, Mexico
Mojitos? Say no more!
Live music at Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar in Tulum, Mexico
I love the live music!

Tulum’s nightlife scene is unforgettable (unless you drink too much while out!). The city has a variety of bars, from chill relaxed vibes to great spots for dancing! Our favorite spot is easily Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar, right in downtown Tulum. And if you like live music, this will be your favorite place too!

Batey’s is a well-known live music bar where you’ll find talented locals performing every night of the week. The great thing about Tulum is that it doesn’t need to be the weekend to find a lively night out, you can find something fun any night of the week.

Batey’s also makes the best mojito which uses raw sugar cane and fresh mint leaves – there’s a reason this cocktail is in the bar’s name! The food here is equally as good as the cocktails too!

Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar is free to enter (which is a bit hard to find in Tulum) and is open Monday through Saturday from 7 am to 1 am. It’s a fun end to your first day in Tulum, but rest up because you have a whole week to go!

Day 2

(Breakfast) DelCielo

Smoothie at DelCielo
Yum! Photo credit: DelCielo
Avo toast at DelCielo
Photo credit: DelCielo

Another day, another epic brunch place! DelCielo is a fan favorite in Tulum, and their presentation is just as remarkable as their food. We really love this place because they use fresh, locally sourced ingredients that make the food’s flavor next level and so brightly colored too. The arrangement on the plate almost made our food look too good to eat … almost. 

We like the chicken chilaquiles with red sauce, which is served in quite a generous portion! These might be the best chilaquiles we’ve had in Mexico as the fresh ingredients really take it to the next level! The restaurant is also known for having delicious fresh juice and smoothies, as well as a coffee bar. 

DelCielo is located right in town and is open daily from 8 am to 2:30 pm. You can come for breakfast or lunch any day of the week. Their Cuban sandwich looks amazing and is definitely on my list for next time! DelCielo will be the perfect fuel for your day of exploring, but try not to overeat because one of my favorite activities is next!

(Morning) Swim with turtles at Akumal Beach

A huge turtle swims through the waters of Akumal Beach in Mexico on a tour from Tulum
Turtle!
A turtle and a fish swim together at Akumal Beach
A turtle and a fish swim together at Akumal Beach

Akumal Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Yucatan Peninsula. The location of its bay also makes it home to a huge sea turtle population, as there is plenty of seagrass and protected waters. This area was named by the Mayans, as Akumal means “place of turtles” so these prehistoric creatures have been inhabiting these waters long before we were around! 

So if swimming with sea turtles sounds like your cup of tea, head to Akumal Beach. Akumal is between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, it took us about 30 minutes from Tulum but you can also make it a day trip from Playa del Carmen if you want to see turtles while staying in Playa!

While you can go on your own to explore Akumal Beach, you must book a tour to swim with the turtles, as per protection regulations for marine life. We opted to book this tour online ahead of time so we could make sure we were getting good value for our money.

There are tours you can join when you arrive in Akumal, but you’re never really sure if you’re getting a fair price or if the tour guides will do their job well. You want to make sure you have a good experience if you’re paying for it!

Bailey takes a break from snorkeling while at Akumal Beach and smiles at the camera while in the water
Bailey snorkeling at Akumal Beach

We booked this private tour to swim with the turtles, and it was great! We were in the water for about one hour, and our guide swam with us, pointing out turtles, stingrays, and tropical fish, as well as telling us about the unique ecosystem.

The tour included snorkel equipment, fees and taxes, access to a bathroom and shower, and lockers to keep our belongings safe. It’s $45 USD per person, and I felt like it was a great use of money because we got to see so many turtles and other sea creatures! You’ll meet your guide at the beach entrance and there are several start times between 9 am and 3 pm. I recommend going as early as possible so you beat the crowds and the heat! To swim with turtles at Akumal Beach, reserve this private tour online here.

If you’re looking for a more inclusive experience, this Akumal Beach tour includes transportation from Tulum, swimming at a cenote, swimming with sea turtles at Akumal Beach, and a beachside lunch! I love how this tour covers a bit of everything and they also provide snorkeling gear. The lunch is served at Punta Venado Beach Club, which is an exclusive venue with incredible views.

It lasts 4.5 hours, and for the convenience plus extra activities included, I think this is a great tour option. The tour is $169 USD per person and begins at 9 am. For a carefree morning swimming with turtles and exploring a beautiful cenote, book this Tulum Cenote and Snorkeling Tour online here.

(Lunch) Lunch on the water at Akumal Beach

People sit a a restaurant at Akumal Beach in Mexico
One of the beachfront restaurants at Akumal!

Akumal Beach can certainly get busy by lunchtime, so we recommend going early, and then stopping for lunch after you swim with the turtles! There are a handful of restaurants that overlook Akumal Beach, so you get the views and tasty food.

Our go-to is Lol-Ha because they have a wide variety of dishes and amazing margaritas (which is why most people go here). You can’t go wrong with some fresh ceviche, a house margarita, and views of the beach to wrap up your morning! They’re open from 8 am – 10 pm every day, so it’s super easy to fit into your itinerary.

La Cueva del Pescador sits a little bit back from the beach, but has incredible seafood! It’s open daily from 12-9 pm. When we came here, we had some freshly caught seafood and homemade lemonade. Everything tasted so fresh and it really hit the spot after swimming.

All of these restaurants are on the more expensive side, as you’re paying for a beachfront view. They all take cash and cards, and there are a lot of menu options. Overall, it’s a convenient lunch spot after hanging out at Akumal Beach.

(Afternoon/dinner) Go on a food tour

Tacos we tried on a food tour in Tulum, Mexico
Try the best tacos in town!
Beef tacos on a food tour in Tulum, Mexico
Barbacoa Tacos

Mexico is one of my favorite places to travel to, and the incredible food is a big part of that! If you like fresh, spicy, and flavorful food, you will be in heaven here. Going on a food tour was high on our list of “must-dos” while in Tulum because their restaurant and street food scene is pretty insane!

This walking food tour in Tulum was such a fun experience and a great way to try a variety of traditional dishes. While you can certainly wander through Tulum on your own, we liked the tour route because our guide took us to some hidden gems and told us about the history of Tulum, the food, and Mexican culture in general. It is also a good mix of restaurant and street food stops, so it’s a wide variety!

The tour begins in downtown Tulum. You can choose either a 10 am or 5 pm start time. So really, you can turn it into lunch or dinner depending on your schedule. There are also vegetarian options if you prefer – just let the tour company know of any dietary restrictions when you book your tour

When we went, we stopped at seven different locations trying tacos, tamales, mole, desserts, and fresh fruit juices. The tour is pretty small with only 10 people, so we were able to move throughout Tulum quickly and it was fun to make new friends through this experience! This tour is $75 USD and includes all of your food tastings and your local guide. I recommend booking this small group walking food tour in advance, as it’s quite popular amongst visitors! 

Related Read: If you’re going to Cancun before or after your time in Tulum, we have plenty of great ideas for activities to do in Cancun.

(Night) Head to Tulum Hotel Zone

Bar at Rosa Negra Tulum
Photo credit: Rosa Negra Tulum
Bone Marrow at Rosa Negra Tulum
Photo credit: Rosa Negra Tulum

Along the coast, you’ll find the Tulum Hotel Zone or “Zona Hotelera”. Here you will find a plethora of luxury resorts, and this is also where some of the best restaurants in Tulum are located! I was happy to discover that not all of them have four dollar signs after their name on Google. Some great options are still affordable and serve up incredible-tasting food. 

Posada Margherita is a taste of Italy, from its handmade pasta to its traditional Italian pizza recipes, and the cozy ambiance makes you feel like you’re in Italy, not Mexico! The food is incredible here, but I really love the vibe, especially at night, for a romantic night out. They also have a great cocktail list and house-made gelato!

Posada Margherita is open for breakfast from 7:30-11:30 am, and lunch and dinner from 12-10 pm. Keep in mind it is cash-only here and no advanced reservations can be made! You might want to get to the location a little early just in case you have to wait.

Oishī Sushi Omakasē is our go-to place for great sushi in Tulum. With the motto of “the art of fine dining,” Oishi Sushi is more of an experience rather than an establishment. The chef prepares each course in front of you and can tailor it to incorporate fresh ingredients and also your own personal taste preference! 

You will want to reserve a table in advance, as it’s a pretty small and intimate restaurant. Mind you, the reservation page is only in Spanish. Oishi Sushi is open from 4 pm to 12 am every day!

Finally, Rosa Negra takes a blend of Latin American cuisines from Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico and puts an exotic twist on it, so you’re bound to try something you’ve never tasted before! It serves cuts of Kobe Beef and Wagyu and has some of the best seafood in Tulum (and that’s saying something!).

The ambiance at Rosa Negra is top-notch with an in-house DJ and trendy decor. It is by far one of the most popular restaurants in the Tulum Hotel Zone! Rosa Negra is open from 5 pm to 1 am every day, and reservations need to be made in advance, especially if you’re visiting during the busy season!

Day 3

Day trip to Chichen Itza and Valladolid

Bailey poses for a photo at Chichen Itza with the main temple in the background
Chichen Itza!
A snake made of rock at Chichen Itza in the Great Ball Court
A snake made of rock at Chichen Itza in the Great Ball Court

The Tulum Ruins aren’t the only notable ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula. In fact, Chichen Itza is the most visited Mayan Ruin site in all of Mexico, so taking a day trip from Tulum is a necessary addition to your 7-day Tulum itinerary! 

Chichen Itza was constructed around 550 AD and at the peak of its civilization, it was home to 30,000 Mayans. Chichen Itza was the largest and most significant ancient city. The Mayans ruled most of Central America and Mexico, so this specific site held a lot of power.

Historians aren’t exactly sure what happened to bring on the downfall of the Mayans in Chichen Itza, but it is theorized that the elite class was overthrown in a civil war around the 12th century. 

What is fascinating about Chichen Itza, is all of the archeological discoveries and incredible advancements this ancient civilization had! When you visit and see how big and complex the structures are, you’ll realize how advanced the Mayans were. 

There is a lot to learn about Chichen Itza, so taking a tour makes it all around easier! Luckily, there are several tours to Chichen Itza from Tulum. The drive there takes about 2 hours, but tours really enhance the experience. Not only will you have a guide to explain the history and hidden secrets of this ancient civilization, but booking a tour also takes care of entrance fees and transportation, and includes other fun stops along the way!

Bailey in front of the main cathedral in Valladolid, Mexico
Valladolid, Mexico!
People swim in Saamal Cenote, Mexico
People swim in Saamal Cenote, Mexico

There are a ton of tour options out there. We took this full-day tour to Chichen Itza and I can’t recommend it enough. The guided tour of Chichen Itza is awesome, and you also get to visit a cenote and a colonial-style town.

The tour also has over 13,000 5-star reviews on Viator – so don’t just take my word for it! This tour includes roundtrip transportation from your Tulum-based hotel and your informative local guide for the entire day.

You’ll have two hours at Chichen Itza, which is enough time to take a guided tour and explore on your own for a bit. It gets really hot while wandering through the ruins, so the next stop will take you to Cenote Saamal to cool off!

Cenote Saamal is an underground river system, where you can swim through the caves – it’s a truly incredible experience! You’ll spend about an hour here, and then head to Valladolid.

Valladolid is a quaint city about 30 minutes from Chichen Itza. It’s known as “pueblo magico” because it’s full of history and colonial-styled buildings. It’s a fun and quick stop before heading back to Tulum!

This is a full-day tour, so no other items on the itinerary for today! It includes transportation, lunch, entrance fees to Chichen Itza and Cenote Saamal, and your guide. Many other tours don’t include entrance fees or lunch, so you have extra expenses throughout the day. We really love how this one truly is all-inclusive, and it can be reserved in advance for $139 USD per person! You can book this tour for even cheaper ($69 USD) but then it doesn’t include hotel pick up or admission fees for Chichen Itza.

To have an incredible day seeing the ruins at Chichen Itza, I’d recommend booking the all-inclusive option of this Chichen Itza, Cenote, and Valladolid tour here.

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

Day 4

(Breakfast) – La Hoja Verde

Drinks at La Hoja Verde Tulum
Photo credit: La Hoja Verde
Tacos at La Hoja Verde in Tulum
Photo credit: La Hoja Verde

You have quite the day ahead of you, so it’s best to fuel up with something yummy! La Hoja Verde is in Tulum’s city center and serves up delicious Mexican vegan food. We love this spot because all of the food is light and fresh tasting, so you won’t get tired after eating a big heavy meal and can be ready to go for your day of adventure! 

Breakfast is served from 8 am to 12 pm. However, the place stays open till 11 pm and also serves lunch and dinner. La Hoja Verde also offers cooking classes! We haven’t got a chance to take one yet, but it’s high on our list of things to do next time we visit Tulum!

La Hoja Verde has super fast service even though it’s a nice sit-down restaurant. If you choose to take the cenote tour we mention below, La Hoja Verde is located right next to the tour’s departure point. Since it opens up one hour before the tour starts, it’s the perfect pre-tour breakfast spot!

(Morning) Check out some of the best cenotes in Tulum

Bailey snorkeling in Cenote Dos Ojos near Tulum, Mexico
Dos Ojos

Day 4 of your 7-day Tulum itinerary is all about the cenotes! A cenote is a pool of water that naturally occurs when an underground cave collapses, and the water beneath fills it. So you’re essentially swimming in an underground limestone cave, and it’s just as epic as it sounds! The majority of the world’s cenotes are on the Yucatan Peninsula, so it’s a no-brainer to make today all about these natural wonders. 

You can visit these cenotes on your own if you rent a car to explore Mexico. Or, you can book a cenote tour in Tulum so you can sit back and relax as you cenote hop around. 

This cenote tour is my favorite option, as you’ll visit three of the best cenotes and have snorkeling equipment included, making this experience even more thrilling! It’s a wonderful morning of snorkeling and exploring beautiful spots.

I love the variety you see on this tour. One cenote is half open/half closed, and another features mangroves. However, my highlight of the tour was Cenote Zemway, where we got to jump off 15 and 18-foot (4.5 and 5.5-meter) platforms.

The tour begins at 9 am and lasts a total of four hours. It includes transportation from the meeting point in Tulum, entrance fees to each cenote, snorkel gear, and lunch can be added for an additional $15 USD!  You can reserve this tour for $129 USD in advance here

There are 18 cenotes just outside of Tulum, and while you won’t have time to visit all of them, five should suffice for today. Here is a rundown of the best cenotes, but you can check out our blog of the best cenotes in Tulum for additional information!

Cenote Zemway in Tulum, Mexico
Cenote Zemway in Tulum, Mexico
Cenote Calavera from above, Tulum, Mexico
Cenote Calavera, Tulum

Cenote Calavera 

Only 5 minutes from downtown Tulum, Cenote Calavera is the most accessible and most popular cenote! This is a thrilling option because you have to jump off the edge to get in (don’t worry, there’s a ladder to get out).

While it’s a bit intimidating, once you’re in, you’ll be so happy you took on the challenge and can relax in the deep blue water. There are ancient animal bones and pottery at the bottom of the cenote, so snorkeling or diving is very cool here!

Cenote Dos Ojos

Cenote Dos Ojos is the best scuba diving cenote! Its clear water and staggering underwater rock formations make for some world-class diving. Plus, it’s the largest cenote in the world so it’s even more impressive.

You have to be accompanied by a certified diver, so this tour makes diving in Cenote Dos Ojos easy to coordinate. Dos Ojos is 30 minutes from Tulum and you can swim or snorkel in all areas, and dive to the underwater caves if you opt for this diving tour!

Cenote Zacil-Ha

This open-air cenote is only a 15-minute drive out of Tulum, making it very accessible and very popular! The open air allows you to see the gorgeous jungle around and soak in the lovely Mexican sun (it also brings a lot of mosquitos!).

Cenote Zacil-Ha is also unique because you can zipline into the cenote, which is a blast, and there are two swimming pools on the premises. If you have kiddos with you, this is a great option. It can get crowded by mid-day, but if you visit early in the morning Cenote Zacil-Ha is actually pretty quiet!

Cenote Zacil-Ha, Tulum
Cenote Zacil-Ha is cool!

Cenote Zemway 

Cenote Zemway is about 15 minutes from Tulum (we love how close these all are!) and is another open-air cenote. This one has tall, dramatic cliff sides so you kind of feel like you’re a fish swimming in a bowl, but it is also one of the most beautiful swimming holes I’ve ever swam in.

You can take the 18-foot/5.4 meter plunge and jump off the cliffs into the cenote, or take a rope swing in! You’ll hear lots of birds in the surrounding jungle, take in the crystal clear blue water, and jump from the cliffs for an epic cenote experience. 

Gran Cenote 

If you love wildlife, Gran Cenote is going to be your absolute favorite! While you’re snorkeling through the caverns, you can see all sorts of tropical fish and even sea turtles, and bats will be flying around above you – it’s pretty wild!

We love this cenote because it has both shallow and deep areas, so it’s good for kids and those looking to dive. Gran Cenote is part of the largest underground cave systems in the world, and they are accessible to those who are snorkeling and swimming, not just divers!

Related Read: For more chances to get in the water, check out our guide to the best places to go scuba diving in Mexico.

(Afternoon/Night) Relax at Tantra Beach Club

Tantra Beach Club Tulum
Photo credit: Tantra Beach Club Tulum
Tantra Beach Club in Tulum
Photo credit: Tantra Beach Club Tulum

After a full day of swimming and adventuring in Tulum’s amazing cenotes, it’s time to relax on the beach! We love hanging out at beach clubs whenever we can. They are so much fun and include a ton of perks that make for a luxurious afternoon. 

Tantra Beach Club is our favorite beach club in Tulum. It is located on Tulum Beach, just about 15-20 minutes from downtown. You can reserve a spot at Tantra and have access to beach chairs and umbrellas right on Tulum Beach. A server will check on you so you can order as many drinks and snacks as you want.

Laying on the beach for a few hours can get hot quickly in Tulum, so having a lounge chair and umbrella, with a never-ending flow of amazing drinks makes the experience feel like paradise!

Tantra Beach Club is also all about good vibes, as they frequently have live music and it gets pretty busy towards the afternoon and evening. So if you’re looking for a bit of a party, this is a great spot for it! Their food is also incredible, with lots of fresh seafood, ceviche, and sushi. If you don’t like seafood they serve burgers, steaks, and pasta too. 

We usually head here in the mid to late afternoon to spend a few hours in the sun, then grab dinner, and more drinks, and enjoy the lively atmosphere! I recommend booking a table in advance, as it can get pretty busy.

It’s a surprisingly better price than I expected, but it’s still a luxury beach club right on Tulum Beach, so expect to treat yourself a bit when visiting Tantra Beach Club. What’s a trip to Tulum without a beach day in paradise!?

Day 5

(Breakfast) Raw Love Tulum

Smoothie at Raw Love Tulum
Photo credit: Raw Love Tulum
Smoothie bowls at Raw Love Tulum
Photo credit: Raw Love Tulum

There are too many amazing brunch spots in Tulum, so stopping at one every day is the only way to scratch the surface! Raw Love Tulum caters to a vegetarian menu, but even if you’re a meat eater you’ll love the options here.

Everything is so flavorful and fresh. I had the avocado toast and they made it to perfection. They also have fresh fruit smoothies and bowls, which was refreshing as it was already getting hot out! 

This restaurant actually has two branches and both are open daily from 9 am to 6 pm. Raw Love Pueblo is in the center of town. Raw Love Beach is located in Tulum’s Hotel Zone and a great launch point for your day’s activities, so it’s a convenient option if you’re staying near here. 

(Morning) Go ziplining

Ziplining at Selva Adventure Park in Tulum
The forest is so green around Tulum!

Starting off your morning with a bit of thrill will set a great tone for your day! You won’t run out of outdoor activities in Tulum, but ziplining might be one of my favorites. We’ve been ziplining all over the world, and this is one of the best spots for it! 

While there are a few different ways to go ziplining in Tulum. We decided to take this zipline tour to Selva Maya Eco Adventure Park and highly recommend it! Not only will you get to go on a 9 zipline course, soaring above the jungle and getting incredible views, but there are more adventure activities as part of this tour.

You’ll take an ATV through the jungle to reach the zipline course, rock climb, rappel, and snorkel in two cenotes! This is 4 hours of jam-packed adventure, and if you’ve never experienced an eco-park like this, you’re in for a treat!

While all of these activities are thrilling, the zipline course truly is the highlight. Even if you’re scared of heights, you don’t have to worry because they keep safety as the top priority. You’re given a harness and helmet (and all other equipment for each sport) and they go over safety instructions before each activity. You can simply have fun and rest assured that it’s all secure! 

After all your adventures, you’ll end with a traditional Mayan lunch consisting of chicken and pulled pork tacos, salsa, and beer or soda.

This tour doesn’t include transportation, so you’ll need to meet directly at Selva Maya Eco Park. However, it’s only 30 minutes north of the breakfast spot mentioned above. It does include all necessary adventure equipment, lunch, and your guide for $80 USD per person. Tours are offered at 9 am and 1 pm every day but Sunday.

I recommend booking this tour in advance to secure your spot. You don’t want to miss out on this morning of adventure! 

(Afternoon) Do a cooking class

Making Guacamole on a cooking class in Mexico
Making fresh guacamole was a highlight!

One of the major standouts of traveling to Mexico is the food. I mean, it might be the absolute best part about this country! Learning how to cook a few authentic Mexican dishes is not only a fun experience, but it also gives you a souvenir you can keep forever – the gift of cooking amazing food!

We try to take a cooking class whenever we are in a new country because it’s an excellent way to get to know the culture a bit more! You’ve got options, but I think this cooking class in Tulum is a fantastic choice. Over 3 hours, you’ll use traditional recipes, ingredients, and cooking methods dating back to the Mayan era to make a 3-course meal, along with homemade salsa and tortillas! 

The class will start out with freshly made guacamole, then al pastor tacos for the main course, and finish up with tres leche cake for dessert! There is also a mezcal tasting, the traditional spirit of southern Mexico.

We learned more than just cooking in our class because of our lovely host! They do a great job of explaining the history and cultural significance of these dishes and you really can dive into Mexico’s rich and vibrant culture. 

The best part of this cooking experience is eating all the yummy food after you cook it! This experience includes all your cooking tools and ingredients, mezcal, and your amazing host. It is $87 USD per person. You can reserve a spot at 10:30 am or 4 pm.

For an experience that is both memorable and delicious, book this Mexican Cooking from Scratch Class online here.

Related Read: One of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta is also a cooking class!

(Night) – Go for drinks at Gitano

Gitano Tulum Nightlife
Photo credit: Gitano Tulum
Gitano Tulum bartender
Photo credit: Gitano Tulum

Tulum has such a lively atmosphere and many good restaurants, so going out for drinks is one of my favorite activities! You won’t have any trouble finding a trendy bar to get a signature cocktail in the Tulum Hotel Zone, and Gitano is perhaps at the top of the list. 

Gitano is the modern spin on traditional Mexican fare! This is the place to go to try some top-shelf tequila or mezcal, which are Mexico’s staple spirits. Gitano is certainly upscale but it still has a fun and lively vibe. I love the lush jungle atmosphere and that it’s all open air, so you can enjoy the salty beach air that makes Tulum so enticing! 

They also have an extensive food menu that will make your mouth water. It is certainly one of the pricier restaurants located in Tulum’s Hotel Zone, but totally worth it for the whole experience. Reservations for Gitano are highly recommended, you can book a table and explore the menu here!

Day 6

(Morning) – Go sailing

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie on a catamaran tour from Tulum, Mexico
Daniel and Bailey on a catamaran tour

By now you’ve explored every corner of Tulum, except the gorgeous Caribbean Sea that extends past its shores! If you’re only in Tulum for one week, you’ll definitely want to make the most of your time in paradise, so I recommend going on a sailing excursion!

This catamaran cruise is a great way to explore the turquoise blue waters. You will spend 4 hours sailing on a luxury catamaran boat, and get to snorkel through the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the second-largest coral reef in the world!

This cruise also comes with lunch and an open bar, so it gets a little lively onboard too. We love catamaran boats because they just feel so fancy, and there is a lot of room to move around and relax in the sun. You’ll spend time cruising on the boat, stopping to snorkel, stand up paddleboard, and swim. Then simply enjoy being on the boat in the beautiful Caribbean Sea! 

This tour can be booked for $149 USD per person and includes roundtrip transportation from your hotel, lunch, an open bar, and all equipment you’ll need for water activities – no extra expenses throughout the day! I love all-inclusive tours because it takes all the stress out of planning. You can choose to start this 4-hour tour at 8 am or 12 pm. This catamaran tour does sell out fast, so check availability and secure your spot in advance.

If you’re traveling with a bigger group, this yacht cruise will be your best bet! You can rent a private yacht that comes with the crew, lunch, an open bar, and snorkeling gear/SUPs. It is $1,390 USD for a 4-hour cruise, but you can have up to 14 people. When you break it down, it’s only $99 USD per person for a group of 14, which is much cheaper than the public cruise mentioned above. Get your group together, pack your swimsuits, and book this private yacht tour in Tulum here!

(Afternoon) – Spend the afternoon at Paradise Beach

Paradise Beach, Tulum
This is one spectacular beach!

While Tulum isn’t directly on a beach, there are some fantastic beaches nearby. Paradise Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. A taxi ride should cost less than $10 USD to get here from downtown Tulum, or it will take about an hour to walk. Paradise Beach has that iconic white sand beach and turquoise blue water you’d expect a place like Tulum to have.

When we come here, we love to spend the day relaxing in the sun and swimming in the water. There are lounge chairs to rent for $10 USD (a lot cheaper than hanging out at a beach club all day) and some great restaurants nearby.

At this point, you’ve had a busy week exploring Tulum, so taking an afternoon to have a lazy beach day is the perfect way to wind down. I recommend packing a cooler full of drinks and snacks so you can hang out for a few hours. Don’t forget your sunscreen though. The sun in Tulum is no joke!

Day 7

Sian Ka’an Biosphere

The Sian Ka'an Biosphere from above
Sian Ka’an Biosphere!

Tulum is a great travel destination because there are a plethora of activities. Whether it’s a party scene, a relaxing beach trip, a history tour, or adventuring the great outdoors, there’s something unique for any type of traveler! The final day of your 7-day Tulum itinerary takes you to one of the most beautiful areas on the Riviera Maya, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere

This protected jungle reserve is full of tropical trees, mangrove forests, marshes, and unique marine life because it contains part of the barrier reef! There is also a ton of wildlife that you’ll encounter such as manatees, four different turtle species, monkeys, pumas, jaguars, flamingos, toucans, and even more fish and birds.

In addition, there are 1,048 species of flora – all this to say the Sian Ka’an Biosphere is insanely beautiful! This protected reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is an essential source for environmental conservation on the Yucatan Peninsula. 

It’s also located only 25 minutes south of Tulum, making for an easy day trip and an epic last day adventuring the Riviera Maya!

You can visit Sian Ka’an Biosphere on this full-day tour, which will get you into the park and allow you to explore this gorgeous area. This is a small group tour of just 6 travelers, so it’s more of a conversation with your guide rather than a large group presentation. I love this because you can ask lots of questions along the way.  

You can join the group at the meeting point or request pick up. Then, you’ll head into the park on an off-roading adventure as you make your way deeper into the dense mangrove forest and lush jungle. Once you reach the coastal lagoons, you will board a boat and spend a few hours cruising along this hidden paradise.

This is where having a guide comes in handy because they will point out animals and some of the hundreds of varieties of flora. If the weather permits, you’ll jump into the lagoon to snorkel and explore the underwater ecosystem that is just as diverse!

A crocodile in Sian Ka'an Biosphere in Tulum, Mexico
A crocodile in Sian Ka’an Biosphere in Tulum, Mexico

There’s a great swimming spot known as “nature’s swimming pools”, so naturally you have to take a dip! Finally, you’ll visit the quaint town of Punta Allen for lunch and time to hang out on the bay’s shore.

This is a day of outdoor exploration! I like that it’s a bit slower paced and you can simply enjoy this unique scenery, I’d really never experienced a place like it before.

Tours begin around 7 am and you can expect to be out exploring for about 10 hours. While it’s a bit of a long day, you have to end your time in Tulum with a bang! And truthfully, we think this is one of the best tours in Tulum!

This tour includes transportation from your Tulum hotel, lunch, snacks, water, snorkel equipment, and your expert guide. It costs $209 USD per person. Be sure to book this tour in advance to secure your spot on this gorgeous experience!

Where to Stay in Tulum, Mexico

the pool at Hostel Che in Tulum, Mexico
The pool at hostel Che. Photo Credit: Hostel Che Tulum

As you can see, there are so many activities in Tulum! You’ll have no problem filling that itinerary. And now that you have an idea of what to do here, you’ll definitely need a place to stay!

No matter what you’re looking for in a hotel, Tulum has it! There’s everything from affordable hostels to luxury hotels to glamping! These are some of the best places to stay in Tulum for any budget.

Luxury – $$$

Hotel Boutique TerraNova is one of the top-rated in all of Tulum. They haven’t cut any corners when it comes to comfort, and the staff is wonderful. All rooms are spacious and have air conditioning and a garden patio. There is an outdoor pool, and the hotel is located right in town.

It typically costs around $300 USD per night for a deluxe queen room. However, we’ve seen prices as low as $71 USD per night when you book in advance online.

Kan Tulum is actually built around its own private cenote! The rooms here are uniquely designed and feel almost like a jungle treehouse. Every room is huge with a private seating area and terraces to watch the sunset from. This sustainable property also has an outdoor pool, a bar, and a restaurant that can happily accommodate vegans. And although you feel completely immersed in nature, you’re super close to beaches and nightlife.

Rooms here cost around $300-$400 USD per night and can be reserved on Booking.com.

Mid-range – $$

Aruma Boutique Hotel is just a few minutes walk from Tulum’s center and close to restaurants and shops. The breakfasts here are exceptional (there’s also espresso!), and the staff is super friendly. Plus, the rooftop pool and bar are so nice for relaxing after a day of exploring. Expect to pay around $50-100 USD per night, depending on when you’re visiting.

You can check prices and secure your spot at Aruma Boutique Hotel right here.

Hotel Blanco Tulum feels like a luxurious accommodation without the ridiculous price tag. For around $80 USD per night, you can get a deluxe double room with air conditioning and a balcony. The hotel is centrally located, so you can walk right into town. It also offers a rooftop and outdoor pool, as well as a hot tub.

For an upscale hotel at a great price, check availability and book Hotel Blanco Tulum right here.

Budget – $

Hostel Che Tulum prides itself on having a great social vibe and frequent events. They have a beautiful pool (and hot tub!) and an outdoor area to chill. The whole place is adults-only, and they have a bar, fully-equipped kitchen, large lockers, WiFi, and coworking space – so you really get all your needs met in one location. It’s also central, with cafes, restaurants, and minimarts just around the corner.

For only $19 USD a night, you can get a dorm bed in an air-conditioned room with breakfast included. Private rooms start around $95 USD. Easily book a stay on HostelWorld.com or Booking.com.

Oryx Hostel is just a few steps from downtown Tulum. Gardens surround the property, so you’ll feel like you’re staying in a tropical jungle. There are hammocks, a nice pool area, and fun activities like salsa dancing! Stays here are as cheap as $21 USD a night in a dorm room or around $82 USD for private rooms and can be booked on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

Renting a Car in Mexico

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while driving around Mexico
A rental car means freedom to go to the beach whenever you want!

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car. 

I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically. 

I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend. Read my honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too. 

Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit. 

Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper! 

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at the Tulum Ruins in Tulum, Mexico
Thanks for reading!

We hope that this 7-day itinerary helps you make the most of your time in Tulum. We love Tulum and want you to have an amazing experience, so we’ve recommended all of our favorite things about the city for you to try!

To learn more about Mexico, check out our other blogs here. We’ve fallen in love with the country after all the time we’ve spent here! There are just so many beautiful places to visit in Mexico and fun things to do. To get started seeing Mexico for yourself, check out the links below.

21 BEST Mayan Ruins in Mexico and How to Visit Them

Guide To Bacalar, Mexico & 21 Best Things To Do

The Best Palenque Waterfalls & Guide to Visiting