A week in Yucatan: Ultimate 6, 7 or 8 days Itinerary + Tips


The Perfect Itinerary for One Week in Yucatan (Peninsula)

You’re planning to spend a week in Yucatan and you’re looking for the best itinerary?

You’re at the right place!

It’s a short trip, but you can still see a lot of amazing places if you plan well.

To make it easier for you, I’ve put together a one-week itinerary for Yucatan that covers the best of the Riviera Maya and Yucatan. You’ll get to enjoy the stunning beaches, nature reserves, Mayan ruins and cenotes.

This 6, 7 or 8 day itinerary starts in Cancun. From there, you’ll head to Playa del Carmen, where you can choose from various activities, such as exploring the Rio Secreto caves or snorkeling in Cozumel.

Next, you’ll visit Tulum and its beautiful beaches and discover the Sian Ka’an reserve. Then, you’ll leave the Riviera Maya and go to Valladolid to visit the famous Mayan city of Chichen Itza.

You’ll also see the hidden city of Ek Balam in the jungle, the pink lagoons of Las Coloradas de Rio Lagartos, and the most beautiful cenotes of Yucatan.

For the last part of your trip, you’ll go back to Cancun to visit Isla Contoy, a small island paradise, and Isla Mujeres.

At each stop, I’ll give you all my practical tips, accommodation suggestions for all budgets and information on how to get around by rental car or public transportation.

So, what are the best things to do in Yucatan in 1 week? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!

1) Playa del Carmen (1-2 days)

Since the international airport is in Cancun, this will be the starting point for this one-week tour of the Yucatan Peninsula.

When you arrive, pick up your rental car and head straight to Playa del Carmen.

For my part, I always use the comparator of Rentalcars.com for my rentals: it’s the easiest way to get the best price!

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

You want to do this 1 week tour in Yucatan without a car? No problem, here’s how you can get to your hotel:

  • Taxi service: a quick and safe option with air conditioning and wifi – Book it here!
  • Bus: cheaper but slower. Take the ADO bus first to downtown Cancun and then the r-1 bus that goes along the hotel zone. When you get on the R-1, tell the driver where your hotel is so he can tell you where to get off.

There’s so much to do in Playa del Carmen, and since you don’t have much time, I suggest you pick one of these options:

Option 1 – Relax in Playa del Carmen (1 Day)

If you feel like walking and soaking up the sun, you can:

  • Stroll along Fifth Avenue, full of bars, restaurants and shops
  • Relax on the beaches of Playa del Carmen, such as Playa Mamitas,. Playacar or Punta Esmeralda.
  • Go to the Parque de los Fundadores to see the Mayan Portal sculpture and the colorful letters of Playa del Carmen, as well as enjoy the free shows. There’s also a public beach.
  • Take a dip in a freshwater cenote, such as Cenote Azul. You can also check out Cenote Jardin del Eden and Cenote Cristalino, which are nearby.
  • Visit the Frida Kahlo Museum or the Museo de las Maravillas 3D (especially if you’re traveling with kids)

cenote azul playa del carmen
The rocks of cenote azul in Playa del Carmen

Option 2 – Spend the day at Xcaret Park (1 day)

Xcaret is a huge park that showcases the ecological, archaeological and cultural aspects of Mexico.

It has been voted the best theme and water park in the world for five years in a row!

There are about 50 activities for the whole family to enjoy on the beach, in the jungle, in the cenotes and underground rivers, as well as to learn about the Mayan culture.

Don’t miss the Mexico Espectacular show: it features 300 performers on stage who present the history, culture and folklore of Mexico. It’s amazing!

You can get your tickets for Xcaret, which include the Mexico Espectacular show, here:

  • With pick up at your hotel:

  • Without hotel pick up:

My advice
The best way to enjoy the parks is to stay at the Hotel Xcaret❤️.

Besides meals, you will have full and free access to all the parks (Xcaret, Xplor, Xplor Fuego, Xenses, Xoximilco, Xel-Ha and Xenote)

Xcaret Park

Option 3 – Diving in Cozumel (1 day)

Cozumel is one of the largest islands in Mexico and is known as one of the best places in the world for diving and snorkeling.

There’s a lot to see and do in Cozumel, such as Punta Sur, Chankanaab Park, its many beaches, El Cielo, Playa Mia and the Mayan site of San Gervasio.

But if you only have one day, I suggest you go straight to the best diving spots.

You can take this tour to Cozumel with pick up at your hotel that takes you snorkeling at Palancar Reef and El Cielo.

It’s one of the most beautiful spots in Cozumel, with clear waters and a lot of starfish:

  • Check out: Top 15 things to do in Cozumel!
  • Cozumel is easily accessible from Playa del Carmen. If you go on your own (without a tour that already includes transportation) the ferry takes you in 30 min.
El Cielo, Cozumel

Option 4 – Rio Secreto Adventure (1 day)

Rio Secreto is one of the best adventures you can have in the Riviera Maya.

It’s a guided tour that lets you explore an underground river 25 meters below the surface, with amazing clear waters and walls covered with stalactites and stalagmites.

The tours are done in small groups, only with prior reservation, which gives you a unique contact with nature.

You can book your ticket to Rio Secreto here, which includes a lunch made with local ingredients:

As the visit to Rio Secreto lasts between 3h and 3h30, you will have time to enjoy the rest of the day.

You can:

  • Return to Playa del Carmen.
  • Enjoy the beautiful beach of Xpu-Ha and Cenote Azul.
Rio Secreto

Spend the night in Playa del Carmen.

Where to stay in Playa del Carmen?

  • Che Playa Hostel & Bar Adults Only: great hostel to meet other travelers and party, with a rooftop terrace that has a bar and a small pool, with several offered activities. Clean, with good wifi and a great welcome. From only 13 $usd for the dormitory or 37 $usd for a private room!
  • Hotel Lunata: a charming hotel with hacienda style decoration, which is hidden on Quinta Avenida, very close to the beach. Quiet, with a garden, rooms with balcony, and has very friendly service. From only 82 $usd per night!
  • Porto Playa Condo Beach Club: here you will find a spacious apartment ideal for a family, with fully equipped kitchen, living room and terrace. The hotel has a large swimming pool, a gym and a restaurant, starting at 172 $usd per night!
  • The Reef Playacar Resort & Spa: located on the beautiful beach of Playacar, just a few minutes from Fifth Avenue. Ideal for a romantic stay, with a beautiful tropical garden, two pools, a gym and a spa. 200 $usd with the “all inclusive” formula.
  • Hotel Xcaret Mexico All Parks All Fun Inclusive: it is definitely the best hotel in Playa del Carmen! Ideal for couples and families with children as this luxury hotel offers an exceptional package including meals and access to its parks (Xcaret, Xplor, Xplor Fuego, Xenses, Xoximilco, Xel-Ha and Xenote). Starting at 860 $usd per night, all inclusive.
My tip
Check out my comprehensive guide to find the perfect hotel or resort for your stay. Here’s the link: Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen? 

2) Tulum (2 days)

For the next part of this 7-day Yucatan road trip, head south of the Riviera Maya to Tulum.

Tulum is not only Mexico’s boho chic destination, but also has long white sandy beaches that are famous throughout the country and a lot of Mayan cenotes.

Day 1 – Today, discover the best of Tulum

Start the day with a visit to the archaeological site of Tulum, located by the Caribbean Sea.

Thanks to its strategic location, the ancient city of Tulum (6th-15th centuries) was an important place for land and sea trade in the Mayan world.

In a 1h30-2h visit, you’ll see the wall and watchtowers, the Castle that served as a reference point for sailors, the Temple of the Frescoes, the Temple of the Descending God, and then go down to the small beach of the ruins.

My Advice
Families especially enjoy Cenote Zacil-Ha, the Gran Cenote and Dos Ojos Cenote.

If you prefer a less touristy experience, you can go to Nicte-Ha, Taak Bi-Ha or Cenote Calavera.

There are many different types of cenotes, so I recommend you check out my list of the most beautiful cenotes in Tulum for you to choose from. 😉

At lunchtime, you can stroll along Tulum’s Beach Strip, with its cute stores, cafes and several restaurants.

Being a small road that runs along the beaches of Tulum, you’ll be very close to enjoy Playa Paraiso and Playa Las Palmas.

At night, it will be easy to find a bar with a good vibe and for all budgets: Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar, Casa Jaguar, Papaya Playa Project, Gitano, etc.

Spend the night in Tulum.

I invite you to read:

How to get to Tulum from Playa del Carmen:

  • By car: 55 min on Highway 307 that runs along the Riviera Maya.
  • By public transportation: there are several departures a day with ADO buses (40-90 pesos). If you prefer to go by colectivo, the bus stop is on the corner of Calle 2 and Avenida 20, near Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen.
playa paraiso tulum
Playa Paraiso, Tulum

Day 2 – Sian Ka’an Reserve

The Sian Ka’an Reserve is a Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Ramsar site. It’s a definitely must-see on a one week trip to Yucatan!

It covers a huge area, between jungle and beach, which is partly open to the public.

But you can’t see it all in one day and you’ll have to choose one of the two access points:

  • Punta Allen is a fishing village that lets you explore the coast of Sian Ka’an with its beautiful beach, take a boat ride to see dolphins, manatees and other animals.

The road is a bit rough (you need a 4×4 car), the visit takes all day and that’s why I highly recommend you to book a tour from Tulum:

  • Muyil allows you to see the jungle with its swamps, freshwater lagoons and Mayan ruins. You are not really in the middle of the reserve like Punta Allen, but it is a great experience.

The advantage is that it is easy to get to and the visit takes about half a day. You can even get there on your own, taking the ADO bus to Chunyaxché from Tulum (20 minutes).

If you prefer not to worry about transportation, you can book the Muyil excursion from Tulum here:

If you have time, after visiting Sian Ka’an, you can relax at Boca Paila beach, go to the Kaan Luum Lagoon or return to Tulum to continue enjoying the beach.

Overnight in Tulum.

Sian Ka’an Reserve in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to stay 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!

3) Valladolid (2 days)

Day 1 – Chichen Itza and Valladolid

In the morning, we head to the famous city of Chichén Itzá, which is a must-see on a 7-8 day tour of the Yucatan Peninsula.

It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the “New 7 Wonders of the Modern World New 7 Wonders of the Modern World . It’s a true symbol of the Mayan culture and an emblem of Mexico.

You can spend about 2h30-3h to visit El Castillo, which is the main pyramid of Chichen Itza, the astronomical observatory, the field of mesoamerican ball game , the Temple of the Warriors and much more!

You can get your tickets to Chichen Itza with skip-the-line access here:

To learn everything about Chichen Itza: check out my Definitive Guide to Chichén Itzá!

After the visit, cool off in the beautiful and refreshing Cenote Zací, in the center of Valladolid.

If you’re hungry, there’s a restaurant right above the cenote and if you spend 100 pesos, the cenote is free!

You can spend the afternoon exploring the lovely colonial city of Valladolid, starting with its main square with the Francisco Cantón Park and the San Servacio Church.

You can walk along the Calzada de los Frailes and end at the Convent of San Bernardino.

There are also many museums, cafes, restaurants, plazas and charming neighborhoods. It’s a very pleasant city to stroll around.

Spend the night in Valladolid.

How to get to Valladolid from Tulum:

  • By car: 1h30 on Highway 109 to Coba, then Highway 180 to Valladolid
  • By public transport: 1h30 by ADO bus, departing at 7:30, 8:57 and 10:47 a.m
The famous site of Chichen Itza in the state of Yucatan

Day 2 – Ek Balam and Rio Lagartos

This week-long road trip in Yucatan goes on to Ek Balam, which means “the black jaguar” in Mayan.

It’s an amazing Maya city hidden in the jungle, much less crowded than Chichén Itzá, which is also a must-see in Yucatán!

You’ll be able to climb to the top of the Acropolis, considered one of the most important structures in Mesoamerica, see the Maya Arch, the Oval Palace, the Twin Pyramids, the Platform of the Stelae and the Maya ball court.

After 1h30-2h visit in Ek Balam, head to Rio Lagartos to see the famous pink Lake Las Coloradas.

These are actually ponds of a salt mine where 500,000 tons of salt are harvested every year!

If you’re traveling between January and September, I also recommend you take the boat tour in the Ria Lagartos biosphere reserve to see the large colonies of flamingos.

My advice
There are several cenotes you can incorporate into your itinerary today. For example:

  • Cenote X-Canché which you can reach on foot or by bicycle from Ek Balam
  • Cenote Kikil administered by a local community.
  • Cenotes Agua Dulce and Palomitas (which are next to each other).
  • Cenote Hubiku

To learn about all your options, I invite you to read my article: The 21 most beautiful cenotes in Valladolid!

Spend the night in Valladolid.

  • To get to Ek Balam from Valladolid: 30 minutes by car on Carretera 295 and then on Carretera Ek Balam. Buses leave from Calle 44.
  • To get to Río Lagartos from Ek Balam: 1 h 20 by car on Highway 295. By public transport, first take a cab to Tizimín, then a colectivo or a Noreste bus to Río Lagartos (the last bus back leaves at 17:30).
Las Coloradas in the Ria Lagartos Reserve.

Where to stay in Valladolid?

  • Candelaria Hostel: The best budget option in Valladolid! A colorful hostel that is very well located in the centre, with a garden, access to the kitchen, and a bike rental. Good breakfast options are also included, from 17 $usd for a bed in a shared dorm or 38 $usd for a private room.
  • Real Haciendas: A small, charming, yet very quiet hotel with a swimming pool, clean rooms with comfortable king size bed, and a very good welcome. Starting from 57 $usd per night.
  • IMIX Hotel: A typical colonial house in the centre of Valladolid on the beautiful Calzada de los Frailes, nicely decorated with spacious rooms. Breakfast included, starting from 127 $usd per night.
  • Le Muuch Hotel: A hotel located 5 minutes away from the main park Francisco Canton Rosado. Excellent service, with indoor and outdoor swimming pools with hammocks, rooms with garden view, air conditioning, and a bar and restaurant. A la carte breakfast included, starting from 140 $usd per night.
  • Hotel Zentik Project: This is definitely one of my favorite hotels in Mexico and the best hotel in Valladolid! Beautiful Mayan-style cabanas with murals done by local and international artists. There’s a restaurant and bar, an outdoor pool with hammocks, and a saltwater pool in an underground cave. Very good breakfast included, starting from 380 $usd per night.

4) Cancun (1-2 days)

Day 1 Cancun

In the morning, leave Valladolid and make your way to Cancun in the Riviera Maya.

To make the most of your day in Cancun, you can:

  • Relax on the beautiful beaches of Tortugas, Los Delfines, Playa Langosta, Playa Linda, Playa Caracol, Playa Marlin
  • Visit the Mayan Museum or the archaeological site El Rey next to Playa Delfines
  • Kitesurfing in Isla Blanca
  • Snorkel or scuba dive at MUSA, the largest underwater museum in the world – Book the MUSA snorkeling tour here!
  • Shopping for souvenirs at Mercado 28.

At night, I recommend Xoximilco Cancun if you want to enjoy a Mexican party.

It’s a 3-hour ride on a typical Mexican trajinera, with traditional food, open bar (tequila, beer and soft drinks) and mariachis.

Buy your tickets for Xoximilco here:

You can also go to the mythical Coco Bongo Club, the City Night Club which is the biggest discotheque in Mexico, or find another bar on Kukulcan Avenue.

You can buy your tickets to Coco Bongo here:

My advice
From today, I suggest you to return your rental car.

It will be much more comfortable because you won’t need your car the next day, for the visit to Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres.

Also, this way you won’t have to worry about it the day you leave. 😊

Overnight in Cancun.

How to get to Cancun from Valladolid:

  • By car: 1h50 on the 180D.
  • By public transport: 2h15 by ADO bus, several departures starting at 7:30 am.
hotel zone cancun
Hotel Zone (Hotel Zone), Cancun

Day 2 – Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres

For the last day of this 7-day Yucatan itinerary, I suggest you discover Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy, an island paradise that few people know about.

Contoy is a small protected island of 9 km that is an important wildlife sanctuary and a nesting place for turtles.

To get there, you have to book a tour and I recommend you do it in advance, as access is limited to 200 people per day.

This exclusivity helps to preserve the island but also offers a very pleasant atmosphere for travelers.

The tour departs from the port of Cancun and after about 10 minutes, the boat stops for a short snorkeling session at the Ixlache reef with corals, fish and underwater statues.

One hour later, we arrive at Isla Contoy.

Upon arrival, you can take a short guided tour (30 min) through the island’s trails or enjoy the beach right away. The truth is that I loved both, you decide!

At lunch time, they serve Tikin Xic fish, the traditional dish of Yucatan, before getting back on the boat to go to Isla Mujeres.

As you’ll have 1h15-1h30 of free time in Isla Mujeres before returning to Cancun, I suggest you go straight to Playa Norte, which is considered one of the best beaches in the world. 😎

You can book this excursion to Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres with pick up at your hotel here:

My advice
To learn more about these beautiful islands, you can also check out my Guide to visit Isla Contoy and my Complete Guide to Isla Mujeres.

contoy beach
The beach of Isla Contoy

Where to sleep in Cancun?

  • Mayan Monkey Cancun: hostel with a festive atmosphere in Cancun’s hotel zone, very close to the beach and bars. Terrace, outdoor pool, bar with happy hour, air conditioning, ping-pong, good wifi. Private rooms and dorms, from only 24$usd!
  • Bed and Breakfast Pecari: if you are looking for more comfort, I recommend without hesitation this establishment. It is a beautiful Bed and Breakfast located in a quiet street near the city center and the ADO bus station, with a relaxation area by the pool, spacious rooms, and a good breakfast, starting at 50$usd per night!
  • Beachscape Kin Ha Villas & Suites: rooms, suites, and villas for 2 to 12 people with direct access to the beach. Outdoor pool, children’s pool, gym, restaurant, beach bar. Breakfast included, starting at 218$usd per night.
  • The Royal Sands Resort & Spa: spacious rooms and suites with ocean views, in the heart of Cancun’s hotel zone. Large outdoor pool, gym, spa, fine restaurants, sports bar and many activities. All inclusive, starting at 485 $usd per night

My tip
For more options, you can visit my article about the best hotels and resorts in Cancun and find your perfect hotel. Here is the link: Where to stay in Cancun?  

5) Departure from Cancun

This is the last day of this 7-8 day Yucatan itinerary.

Since you’re already in Cancun and you returned your rental car 1 or 2 days ago, you don’t have to worry about much.

But make sure you check which terminal your flight leaves from.

Have a safe flight ✈️

Cancun vu de l’avion

How to get around Yucatan

To follow this 1 week route in Yucatan, you can rent a car or use public transportation.

1. Renting a car in Yucatan

Many travelers decide to rent a car in Yucatan to travel with freedom and flexibility.

My go-to choice for renting a car is Rentalcars.com, for the following 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:

My tips for this roadtrip in Yucatan:

  • The roads are in good condition (except for Sian Ka’an, going to Punta Allen), but be careful not to go over the speed limit (80-100km/h), as the police are very active in the Riviera Maya.
  • In Mexico, there are toll roads and “free” roads. For your 7 day trip in Yucatan, you’ll find tolls between Tulum, Valladolid and Chichen Itza. For exact rates, you can check the Traza tu Ruta page.
  • Avoid driving at night. And if you have to, take the toll road.
  • Don’t leave your car unattended at night. If your hotel doesn’t have parking, you’ll surely find a public parking lot with security.

2. Public transportation in Yucatán

  • The public transportation system is well developed in Yucatan, with ADO buses and colectivos (8 to 10 person vans)
  • Since you only have one week to visit Yucatan, I suggest you look at the ADO website to know the schedules in advance
  • I recommend you buy your bus tickets online to get discounts. In my experience, they’re usually cheaper than at the terminal. 🧐
  • The difference between the colectivo and the bus is that the bus goes from point A to point B without stopping, while the colectivo stops more or less where you ask it to, which is very handy.

Book your plane tickets at the best price

Cancun airport receives many daily flights from major cities of North America and Europe with Air Canada, Westjet, Delta, American Airlines, Air France, Air Europa, TUI, Iberia, etc.

To save money on your flights for this 7-day trip to Yucatan, you can use our flight comparison tool, powered by Skyscanner: it’s the best way to get the lowest price!

Map: What to Do in Yucatan in One Week

Book your trip now and save money!

You’re traveling in Mexico? These articles will help you!

Discover all my articles about Mexico: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Mexico are listed there.

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1 week in Yucatan
1 week in Yucatan

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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