3 Days in Tulum: The Perfect Itinerary (First Time Visit)


How to spend 3 Days in Tulum: The Best Itinerary + Where to Stay

You’re planning to spend 3 days in Tulum and you’re looking for the best itinerary?

You’re at the right place!

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared for you the perfect itinerary to visit Tulum in 3 days.

I will first give you my optimized and detailed 3-day itinerary to make the most of your stay in Tulum, with all the best places to visit and activities for each day.

Of course, I will also give you all my best tips and accommodation suggestions depending on your budget.

So, what are the best things to do in Tulum in 3 days? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!

3 Days in Tulum: Itinerary + Best Things to Do + Tips

Day 1

In the Morning: Tulum Ruins

Start your Tulum 3-day itinerary with a visit to the archaeological site of Tulum.

Tulum was primarily a port city, playing a significant role in trade, especially in turquoise, jade and quetzal feathers.

Besides its economic importance, it also had religious and ceremonial significance, serving as a major site for the worship of the “Descending God.” Its strategic coastal location and walls suggest it was designed to be a fortress as well.

I suggest arriving early to avoid the crowds (it opens at 8am) and to enjoy the tranquility of the ruins with breathtaking ocean views. It’s a magical experience to see the structures without many people around!

The archaeological site of Tulum is not very big and can be thoroughly explored in about 1h30 to 2 hours. Don’t miss:
  • El Castillo (The Castle): A prominent structure that functioned as a temple and lighthouse
  • The Temple of the Frescoes: Known for its preserved frescoes, showcasing Mayan deities and symbolism
  • The Temple of the Descending God: Features a figure carved upside down, associated with the setting sun
  • The House of Columns (Great Palace): Likely an administrative building with impressive columns
  • The House of the Halach Uinic: Thought to be the residence of an elite or high priest, showcasing residential architecture of the May

My Advice
 For a comprehensive guide on how to explore this incredible site, don’t miss my Full Guide on the Tulum Ruins
Tulum Ruins

In the Afternoon: The Best Beaches

After soaking in ancient history, stroll along Tulum’s Beach Strip.

It is a road that stretches along the coastline, dotted with beautiful hotels, and interspersed with charming restaurants and chic boutiques.

This extensive strip, approximately 6 miles long, is best explored by renting a bike or a scooter. Walking is certainly an option, but be mindful that due to the length, your exploration might be limited!

My Advice
I personally rented from IBike Tulum and Kar Kun and had a fantastic experience with their friendly service and well-maintained equipment.

However, there are many rental places throughout Tulum, so you’ll easily find one that’s conveniently located near you.

If you want to enjoy good food in Tulum, I’ve picked out some great restaurants on this strip you should check out:

  • Itzam-na: tasty and authentic Mexican food (tacos, burritos, ceviche) at a budget-friendly restaurant in the hotel zone 
  • Fresco’s Tulum: this is one of the best places in Tulum for breakfast or brunch, offering homemade bread, oats, smoothies, salads, and a juice bar, all made with local organic ingredients
  • La Malinche: a fun and colorful place with amazing Mexican food. I loved their chorizo and cheese tacos and their shrimp ceviche. They also have great vegetarian and vegan options.
  • La Taqueria – Pinches Tacos Shop: for a great value, enjoy some of the best tacos in Tulum and for sure the best tacos in the Beach Strip (fish, steak, vegan options) in an amazing location surrounded by the jungle. Pair them with an amazing margarita cocktail.
  • Checkpoint Ciao: the best Neapolitan-style pizzas in Tulum, made with sourdough and imported ingredients – with a great wine and cocktail selection

la malinche restaurant tulum
La Malinche, Tulum

After exploring the Beach Strip, make your way to one of Tulum’s beautiful beaches for some downtime under the sun.

Two great options are Playa Paraiso and Playa las Palmas, each offering its own unique experience.

Playa Paraiso is famous for its expansive sandy stretches and a lively beach scene. On the other hand, Playa las Palmas provides a more serene setting, ideal for a peaceful day beside the sea.

My Advice
Instead of eating at a restaurant on the Beach Strip, you can also go to a beach club.

There, you can enjoy tasty food and drinks while sitting comfortably with your feet in the soft sand: I suggest trying La Zebra Beach Club, Cinco Tulum or Ziggy’s Beach Club.

la zebra beach club tulum
La Zebra Beach Club, Tulum

At Night: Enjoy the nightlife

In the hotel zone, Tulum’s nightlife truly comes alive.

Places like Papaya Playa Project, Casa Jaguar, and Gitano offer a vibrant atmosphere, perfect for those looking to dance the night away or simply enjoy a cocktail under the stars. Each of these spots has its unique charm, with great music and ambiance.

For a change of scene, head to Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar in downtown Tulum. This spot is known for its delicious mojitos made with fresh sugarcane juice. It’s a personal favorite of mine, as I really appreciate its laid-back vibe and relaxed atmosphere.

gitano bar tulum
Gitano, Tulum

Day 2

Morning: Dive into Cenotes

Start your day with a refreshing dip in a cenote. Visiting these natural pools early in the morning, before 11 am (or even 10am), ensures a less crowded experience.

My recommendations are:

  • Cenote Calavera: also known as the ‘Skull Cenote‘ for its three skull-like holes, is a unique and Instagram-worthy spot. It’s fun to jump into the water through the holes, but there are also stairs to enter the water
  • Gran Cenote: this cenote is part of one of the world’s largest cave systems, offering an extraordinary experience for diving enthusiasts. Its clear waters and easy access make it also appealing for families with children, ensuring a fun and safe environment for all ages.
  • Cenote Zacil-Ha: This is a great cenote for families because it has all the necessary amenities, including a small zip line for an added touch of fun. But it’s not very big, so it can become busy fast.
  • Carwash Cenote: Slightly off the beaten path, this cenote is surrounded by lush greenery, offering a more natural and rustic swimming experience

My Advice
Don’t forget to check out my guide to the 15 best cenotes in Tulum for more amazing spots like these! 
cenote calavera
cenote calavera

In the Afternoon: Coba and Caleta Tankah

Located in the heart of Quintana Roo’s tropical jungle and surrounded by five lakes, Cobá was a major Mayan capital during the Classic period (250 to 900 A.D.). This significant city, known for its extensive network of roads or sacbe’ob, played a crucial role until it was ultimately defeated by its rival, Chichén Itzá.

Renting a bike is a popular way to navigate this expansive site, allowing you to cover more ground and immerse yourself in the ancient world of the Maya. Key sights include:

  • The Nohoch Mul Pyramid: Impressive in stature, this is the second-highest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula. While climbing the pyramid is not allowed, it’s still a magnificent sight
  • The Ball Courts: Witness where the ancient Mayans played the famous Mesoamerican ballgame
  • Stelae: These carved stone slabs offer a glimpse into Mayan history and culture.
  • The Observatory: Also known as Xaibé, it showcases the Mayans’ advanced understanding of astronomy
  • The Church: “La iglesia” is the second tallest structure in Cobá
Nohoch Mul in Coba, the 2nd highest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula after Calakmul

Later, unwind at Caleta Tankah (Tankah Cove), a hidden gem that offers a refreshing escape from the more crowded beaches of Tulum.

This beautiful cove, known for its stunning private beach and natural freshwater pool, also features a unique jungle cenote and a beachfront restaurant, making it a perfect spot to spend several hours.

The great news for beachgoers is that Caleta Tankah is typically free from sargassum, the seaweed that can be a problem on many beaches in the Riviera Maya. This makes it an even more appealing choice for a day of uninterrupted seaside relaxation!

My Advice
For those concerned about sargassum conditions in Tulum, you can check the current status here ensuring that your beach day remains perfect.

Whether you’re looking to lounge by the sea, swim in the cenote, or enjoy a meal with a view, Caleta Tankah provides a serene and picturesque setting to enjoy the natural beauty of Tulum.

caleta tankah tulum
caleta tankah tulum

Day 3

In your 3 days in Tulum, definitely include a visit to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve on your final day – it’s an experience you won’t want to miss.

Covering over a million acres, it’s one of the largest protected areas in Mexico!

The reserve is crucial for its conservation of diverse habitats, including tropical forests, mangroves, marshes, and a large marine section intersected by a barrier reef. It’s a haven for a wide range of flora and fauna, some of which are rare and endangered.

There are two main entry points: Punta Allen and Muyil.

  • For Punta Allen, I strongly recommend taking a tour, especially if you don’t have a 4×4 vehicle.

The road to Punta Allen is long and often in poor condition, making it challenging for standard cars. Tours usually include opportunities for beach relaxation, saltwater lakes, dolphin watching, and snorkeling on the coral reef.

Book the Punta Allen tour here:

  • Muyil, on the other hand, is closer to Tulum and more accessible. You can opt for a tour from Tulum or even take a bus (ADO bus to Chunyaxché).

Muyil is famous for its ancient ruins set in a lush forest, and a boat trip between freshwater lagoons and mangroves is a must-do experience.

Book the Muyil tour here:

Sian Ka’an Reserve in the Yucatan Peninsula

Top Hotel Picks for a Three-Day Stay in Tulum

Check out these great hotel options for your 72 hours in Tulum:

  • Mayan Monkey Tulum: an excellent value for money. Nice modern hostel with a good atmosphere, a pool, bar and garden. Including fast wifi, kitchen access, yoga classes, coworking spaces, and bike and motorcycle rentals. Dorms and private rooms starting at only 24 $usd per night.
  • Casa Almendro: if you are looking for a little more comfort, you will like this small cheap hotel in the center of Tulum. It’s a green oasis with a rooftop terrace with chairs and hammocks. There are king size beds and breakfast is included, from only 50 $usd per night!
  • Diamante K: is a high-end hotel but at a very fair price, which is exceptional in Tulum, especially for a hotel with direct access to the beach in the hotel zone! Bohemian chic atmosphere, including a restaurant, hammocks and beds on the private beach, and a massage service. Bungalows are 207 $usd per night.
  • Habitas Tulum: this small eco-friendly hotel with a chic design is ideal for a romantic stay in Tulum. It is a true oasis of peace, hidden among the palm trees, with a magnificent swimming pool and a private beach. There are also yoga classes on the terrace at sunset. From 371 $usd per night!
  • Kanan Tulum- Adults Only: this is the ultimate option for a luxury stay in Tulum. It is an ecological hotel for adults only, located on a beautiful private beach with hammocks and beds. With a fantastic rooftop terrace with a bar; the hotel also has an excellent restaurant, great rooms and a very friendly welcome. From 566 $usd per night!
kanan hotel tulum
Kanan Tulum

Key Tips for a 3-Day Trip in Tulum

1. What to Bring: Pack aqua shoes for cenote adventures, biodegradable sunscreen to protect your skin and the environment, mosquito repellent, and a cap or hat for sun protection.

2. Booking Tours in Advance: it is is a smart move if you want a structured itinerary without transportation concerns, ensuring you see all Tulum highlights in 3 days. These are the tours I suggest:

3. Consider the Layout of Tulum: Remember that Tulum is spread out, with the hotel zone and Tulum city center being about 3 miles apart. Keep this in mind when booking your hotel and planning your activities.

4. Currency and Payments: While some places in Tulum accept credit cards, it’s a good idea to have some cash in Mexican Pesos for cenotes, smaller shops and local vendors.

5. Stay Hydrated and Safe: The heat in Tulum can be intense, especially during midday. Always carry plenty of water with you, and try to schedule outdoor activities either early in the morning or later in the afternoon.

Is spending just three days in Tulum enough?

Yes, 3 days in Tulum is enough to see its best attractions, including the beautiful beaches, stunning cenotes, the Tulum ruins, vibrant nightlife, Sian Ka’an, and more.

However, if you have more time, there are many more amazing places to discover, such as Kaan Luum Lagoon, seeing turtles in Akumal, visiting Puerto Morelos, taking a day trip to Chichen Itza and exploring the beautiful Bacalar.

Don’t forget to look at my other Tulum guides for more activity ideas:

Rent a car in Tulum

Renting a car is for sure the best way to explore Tulum in 3 days!

To rent a car, personally, I always use Rentalcars.com, for a few reasons:

  • You can easily compare the rental cars prices between all the agencies: for sure the easiest way to find the best rate!
  • Cancellation is often offered free of charge: no need to worry if you change your mind
  • Rentalcars offers full insurance coverage at a lower price than the rental companies, so it’s an instant saving with no effort

Simply click on the green button to find your rental car at the best price:

rent a car tulum
Rent a car to explore Tulum

How to find a cheap flight to Tulum

There are two airports you can fly to if you want to visit Tulum: Cancun and Felipe Carrillo.

Cancun (CUN) offers more flights, but you’ll have to drive for 3h30 hours to reach Tulum. Felipe Carrillo (TQO) is closer to Tulum (40 minutes), but it has fewer flights available.

You should compare the prices and stopovers for both airports from your departure point. Since there are not many direct flights to Tulum at the moment, Cancun might be a better option for now.

To get the best deal on your flight to Tulum or Cancun and the best domestic flights in Mexico, I suggest you use our flight comparison tool in collaboration with Skyscanner. It will guarantee you the lowest price!

My tip
Once you land in Cancun, you can get to Tulum by rent a car, hopping on an ADO bus, or booking an airport transfer.
Book your trip now and save money!

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best places to visit in Tulum in 3 days


I have created this blog to give you all my best tips to plan your next trip to Mexico, regardless of your budget. I share detailed itineraries, advice about places to visit as well as recommendations for transportation, hotels and restaurants. I hope I will also help you to discover amazing off the beaten path destinations in Mexico!

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