Visiting Yucatan by car: The 5 best road trip itineraries
You’re planning a road trip in Yucatan?
With a car, you will have the freedom to explore the peninsula at your own pace and discover amazing places that are off the tourist trail, which are hard to reach by public transport.
To help you plan your Yucatan road trip, I have prepared 5 itineraries for different durations: 1 week, 10 days, 2 weeks, 3 weeks and 1 month.
For each duration, I will give you a summary of the itinerary as well as the link to read the detailed itinerary article.
And at the end of this guide, I will also give you my list of the best accommodations in Yucatan depending on your budget as well as my best tips to enjoy the perfect road trip.
Quick note: if you want to see several regions of Mexico during your road trip, you should rather read my other article: The 4 best roadtrip itineraries in Mexico!
- Visiting Yucatan by car: The 5 best road trip itineraries
- Where to start your road trip in Yucatan?
- Rent a Car for your Road Trip in Yucatan
- Road trip in the Yucatan: 1 week
- Roadtrip in Yucatan: 10 days
- Road Trip in Yucatan: 2 weeks
- Road Trip in Yucatan: 3 weeks
- Road Trip in Yucatan: 1 month
- 1) Cancun (1 day)
- 2) Holbox (2-3 days)
- 3) Valladolid (2-3 days)
- 4) Izamal (1 day)
- 5) Merida (3-4 days)
- 6) Campeche (2 days)
- 7) Calakmul (1-2 days)
- 8) Bacalar (2-3 days)
- 9) Tulum (4 days)
- 10) Cozumel (3 days)
- 11) Playa del Carmen (2 days)
- 12) Puerto Morelos (1-2 days)
- 13) Isla Mujeres (2 days)
- 14) Return to Cancun
- Where to sleep in Yucatan during your road trip?
- Tips for a smooth Road Trip in Yucatan
- When to take a road trip to Yucatan?
- You’re traveling in Mexico? These articles will help you!
Where to start your road trip in Yucatan?
Cancun airport is the best place to start your road trip in Yucatan. It has many international flights every day from North America, Europe and other parts of the world.
And if you are already in Mexico, you can easily find cheap flights to Cancun.
To save money on your plane tickets, use our comparison tool in partnership with Skyscanner: it ensures you the best prices for your international and domestic flights in Mexico!
Rent a Car for your Road Trip in Yucatan
Many travelers decide to tour the Yucatan Peninsula by car, either with family, as a couple or with friends.
To find the best car at the best price by comparing the best options, I recommend you to go through Rentalcars.com for three excellent reasons:
- This website will allow you to easily compare the prices of different agencies: a quick and easy way to find the best price!
- Cancellation often is free: so you can change your mind anytime
- It offers comprehensive insurance that is cheaper than the other companies: this means you can save money instantly.
Click on the green button to find your ideal car in Mexico:
Road trip in the Yucatan: 1 week
Here is my suggestion to get the most out of your 7-8 day road trip in Yucatan:
This is a brief overview of how to spend one week in Yucatan, visiting the best attractions of the peninsula. For more details, click here: Detailed Itinerary: One Week in Yucatan.
1) Playa del Carmen (1-2 days)
Don’t waste time in Cancun. Go straight to Playa del Carmen as soon as you land.
Here are my 4 suggestions for activities to do during the first part of this one week road trip in Yucatan:
–Option 1: Visit Playa del Carmen
Check out my guides:
- Playa del Carmen: The 30 Best Things To Do and See!
- How to Enjoy Playa del Carmen Without Breaking the Bank
–Option 2: Spend the day at the great Xcaret Park, which offers more than 50 activities and the awesome Mexico Espectacular show at night!
Get your tickets here:
- Xcaret entrance tickets with pick-up at your hotel
- Xcaret entrance tickets without the transportation– driving yourself (it’s only 15 min from Playa del Carmen)
–Option 3: Discover Cozumel Island, the best place for snorkeling.
To get to Cozumel, you’ll have to take the ferry from Playa del Carmen – Book your ferry tickets here!
- There are many of Things to See and Do in Cozumel, but if you don’t have much time, I recommend this tour with hotel pick up for snorkeling at Palancar and Colombia reefs, which ends with a visit to El Cielo to see the starfish:
–Option 4: Explore a hidden river in a cave full of stalactites and stalagmites at Rio Secreto.
You need to book in advance to visit the site, as the guided tour is by reservation only. Get your tickets for Rio Secreto here:
2) Tulum (2 days)
Next stop of this 1 week road trip in Yucatan: Tulum, famous for its miles of white sandy beaches.
Day 1 – Visit the best attractions of Tulum:
- The archaeological site of Tulum
- The Mayan cenotes (Zacil-Ha, Gran Cenote, Cenote Dos Ojos, Nicte-Ha, Cenote Calavera, etc.)
- The Beach Strip (beachfront strip) with restaurants, bars and stores
- Beaches such as Playa Paraiso and Playa Las Palmas
Day 2 – Sian Ka’an Natural Reserve:
You can’t see everything in one day, so you have to pick one of these options:
- The Punta Allen tour – enjoy the beach, a boat trip to spot dolphins and other wild life (this option is longer, but more complete)
- The Muyil tour – explore the forest, the marshes, the fresh water lagoons and the ruins
If you have a little time to spare, discover Boca Paila beach and Kaan Luum Lagoon.
3) Valladolid (2 days)
Day 1 – Today, get ready to see one of the best attractions of your Yucatan road trip: the amazing Mayan city of Chichen Itza!
This is the most visited site in Yucatan, so I highly recommend you to get your skip the line ticket to Chichen Itza here:
- Check out: My Definitive Guide to Chichen Itza + Tips!
In the afternoon, cool off in the Cenote Zací and then explore the colonial city of Valladolid: the main square, the Francisco Cantón Park, the Church of San Servacio, the Calzada de los Frailes and the Convent of San Bernardino.
- Discover the 25 Best Things to Do in Valladolid!
Day 2 – Start by visiting the Archaeological Site of Ek Balam and then Las Coloradas, the famous pink lagoons of Yucatan.
You can also stop by one or more of the 21 Most Beautiful Cenotes in Valladolid!
4) Cancun (1-2 days)
It’s time to return to Cancun for the final part of this 1 week Yucatan tour, but the fun is not over yet!
You still have plenty of things to do in 1 or 2 days in Cancun:
Day 1 – Enjoy Cancun: the beaches, the Mayan museum, Isla Blanca, Market 28, etc.
At night, experience a Mexican fiesta with Xoximilco Cancun aboard a traditional trajinera with food, open bar and mariachis:
- Don’t miss the Top 30 Things to Do in Cancun!
From Cancun, visit Isla Contoy, a small and beautiful protected island with access limited to only 200 people per day.
You need to join a guided tour to get there. It includes pick up at your hotel in Cancun, snorkeling, free time on Contoy Island, traditional lunch and free time on Isla Mujeres on the way back to Cancun:
Roadtrip in Yucatan: 10 days
This 10-day Yucatán roadtrip is similar to the previous one-week itinerary, but with some extra destinations that you can’t miss, and more time to enjoy them:
To find out all the details of this itinerary, check this out: How to Visit Yucatan in 10, 11, 12 days?
1) Cancun (1 day)
In one day in Cancun you can:
- Enjoy the beaches (Playa Tortugas, Playa Los Delfines, Playa Langosta, Playa Linda, Playa Caracol, Playa Marlin)
- Visit the archaeological site El Rey
- Kitesurfing in Isla Blanca
- Climb to the top of the Torre Escénica (Scenic Tower)
- Take a stroll through Mercado 28
- Have some fun joining a Mexican party at Xoximilco Cancun
But there’s so much more do! Here are my Top 30 Things to Do in Cancun
2) Visit Chichen Itza and Izamal (1 day)
In the Morning – Visit the ancient Mayan city of Chichén Itzá
- Buy your skip the line tickets here to avoid the queues at the entrance, and take a look at my complete guide How to Visit Chichen Itza
Afternoon – Discover the charming yellow city of Izamal: the Convent of San Antonio de Padua, Itzamná Park, 5 de Mayo Park, the Pyramids of Itzamatul and Kinich Kakmó (one of the highest pyramids in Yucatán!)
Eat at Kinich, one of the best traditional restaurants in Yucatán.
- You can also read: The 11 Best Things to Do and See in Izamal
3) Merida (2 days)
In the afternoon, explore Merida, the capital of the state of Yucatan. Things to see and do:
- Plaza Grande with the cathedral, Casa de Montejo and the Macay Museum
- Calle 64 with its colorful painted facades
- Paseo de Montejo
- Santa Lucía park, which comes alive at night with terraces and music
- Taking the tourist bus, a good option when it’s hot!
Day 2 – Spend the day in Celestún: the best place to see flamingos in Mexico!
Take a boat to the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve. Book directly on site or hire an tour including hotel pick up and lunch on the beach:
You can also do ecotourism in Jaltun Park, visit the town of Celestun, see the pink water lake of Celestun and enjoy the beach.
- Check out: How to See the Flamingos of Celestún?
4) Tulum (3 days)
Day 1 – Visit Tulum: the archaeological zone of Tulum, cenotes and beaches.
Click here to know all the activities:
Day 2 – Explore the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, home to 300 species of birds, 100 species of animals and 1000 species of plants.
You will have to choose between two routes:
- Punta Allen (full day) by the beach, to be done with a good 4×4 vehicle or by hiring a tour. – Book the tour to Sian Ka’an (Punta Allen)
- Muyil (half day) on the forest and swamp side, easier access. – Reserve the tour to Sian Ka’an (Muyil)
Day 3 – Swim with the turtles at Akumal
They are protected (fortunately!) so it is mandatory to do the activity with a trained guide.
You can choose to hire the tour on the beach or Book the snorkeling tour in Akumal with pick up at your hotel
- For more information, see My Complete Guide to Akumal!
On your way back to Tulum, you can stop at the pristine beaches of Xcacel and Chemuyil (10 minutes from Akumal).
5) Playa del Carmen (1-2 days)
There are many Things to Do in Playa del Carmen, both in the city and around it.
Here are 3 options for you, depending on your interests and the time you have for this 10 day road trip in Yucatan:
–Option 1: Rio Secreto Caves (half day)
Join a guide and explore the underground wonders of a subterranean river for 1970 ft. You need to book a guided tour to do this: Book it here!
–Option 2: Xcaret Park (1 full day)
This is a large eco-tourism and cultural theme park with plenty of activities for everyone (ruins, hiking, beach, underground rivers, etc.)
You have to get there early and remember that you won’t be able to see everything in one day, but don’t miss the Mexico Espectacular show at night!
- Get your Xcaret Tickets + pick up at your hotel
- Get your Tickets for Xcaret Park without hotel pickup
–Option 3: Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos (1 day)
Start your day with a visit to Puerto Morelos, a small town without mass tourism, perfect for enjoying the beaches, snorkeling and the 21 miles long Cenotes Route.
Are you up for some adrenaline rush?
Then you should definitely check out Selvatica Park, which has been recognized as the best adventure park in Latin America and one of the 35 best in the world by Travel+Leisure magazine.
Get your tickets for Parque Selvática (click here!) with hotel pick-up, lunch, 10 zip lines, a cenote and access to Tarzania (a hybrid attraction that combines roller coaster and zip line)!
- For more things to do in Puerto Morelos, check out my Top 13 Things to Do in Puerto Morelos
In the afternoon, relax in Playa del Carmen: its beaches like Playa Mamitas, Punta Esmeralda, stroll along Quinta Avenida, the Frida Kahlo museum, etc.
See my guides:
6) Cozumel (2-3 days)
End your 10-day road trip through the Yucatan Peninsula with a visit to Cozumel, Mexico’s third largest island and one of the best diving spots in the world!
- Take a look at my guide: The 15 Best Things to Do in Cozumel
Day 1- Explore the best snorkeling spots in Cozumel: Palancar Reef, Columbia Reef, Paradise Reef, Punta Tunich Reef, Chankanaab Reef, Santa Rosa Reef, Devil’s Throat Reef, Felipe Xicotencatl Wreck and El Cielo.
To see the sandbank El Cielo, you have to book a tour (click here!), that also includes Palancar Reef and Colombia Reef, drinks and lunch.
Day 2- Explore Punta Sur, Cozumel’s largest ecological reserve: beaches, jungle, Celerain lighthouse and El Caracol archaeological site.
- If you prefer to take a guided tour, I suggest you this fun jeep tour to Punta Sur with snorkeling, free time on the beach, lunch at the beach club and tequila tasting.
- You can also Book the private jeep tour her
Day 3- Chankanaab Park
Another interesting and more active option is to spend the day at Chankanaab Park with beach, snorkeling, games, zip line, etc. – Get your tickets for Chankanaab Park here!
Road Trip in Yucatan: 2 weeks
Enjoy the best of this region with a 2-week road trip in Yucatan: from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, stopping by Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Valladolid, Chichen Itza, Merida and Holbox.
To find out more details and practical information on each stage, read my Definitive 2-week Yucatan Itinerary (click here)
Here is an overview:
1) Cancun and Playa del Carmen (1 day)
Once you pick up your rental car at the Cancun airport, drive to Playa del Carmen (around 1h).
You can stroll along the Quinta Avenida, enjoy the beaches, watch shows at Los Fundadores Park and visit the Frida Kahlo museum.
2) Tulum (4 days)
Day 1 – Start with a guided Tour to Rio Secreto, an unforgettable experience that will let you explore an underground river.
Next, enjoy Xpu-Ha, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Yucatan Peninsula. You can also visit Cenote Azul, located just 5 minutes from the beach.
Day 2 – Experience swimming with turtles in Akumal, the best place to swim with turtles in Mexico as they are protected, and this is the second largest reef in the world!
You have to book a guided tour to do this activity without disturbing the turtles. You can either reserve on site or book a tour to Akumal with hotel pick-up that also includes a visit to two cenotes.
- For more things to do in Akumal, read my guide: What to Do in Akumal!
In the afternoon, relax on the pristine beach of Xcacel, located in a protected nature reserve.
Day 3 – Discover the best attractions in Tulum: the Tulum Ruins by the sea, the cenotes, the restaurants and boutiques on the Tulum Beach Strip and the beaches.
An interesting option is to choose this tour to Tulum with hotel pick up that includes a guided tour of the ruin and free time to enjoy a cenote.
Day 4- Visit the amazing Sian Ka’an Natural Reserve, choosing one of the two options:
- Punta Allen fishing village: enjoy a boat ride (3h) to see the animals, the beach, the salt lakes. – Book the tour to Punta Allen
- Muyil: go for a short hike, Muyil ruins, take a boat ride along the ancient Mayan canals – Book the tour to Muyil
3) Valladolid (2 days)
Day 1– Start with Coba, a Mayan site hidden in the jungle that is a must-see on a 15-day road trip to the Yucatan.
Admire the main pyramid, which is the second highest pyramid in the entire Yucatan Peninsula. You can’t climb it anymore, but you can still enjoy the view from the ground.
Afterwards, you can spend the afternoon in Valladolid – Read my Top 25 Things to Do in Valladolid!
Day 2 – Visit the Ruins of Ek Balam, which means “the black jaguar” in the Mayan language and then the pink lagoons of Las Coloradas.
- If you are traveling between January and September, I recommend you take the boat ride to see the large colonies of flamingos in the Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve.
4) Merida (4 days)
- Get your Skip-the-line entrance tickets to Chichén Itzá here!
- Read: My Definitive Guide to Chichén Itzá
In the afternoon, discover the yellow city of Izamal:
- The typical neighborhoods of San Ildefonso, Los Remedios and El Gallito
- Itzamná park which is the main square and the beautiful 5 de mayo park
- The convent of San Antonio de Padua
- The Kinich Kakmó pyramid, one of the tallest in Yucatán (free access)
You can read: The 11 Best Things to Do in Izamal!
Day 2 – Enjoy a day in Merida, the charming capital and the safest city of Yucatan state.
Merida offers many attractions, but if you love food and culture, don’t miss this food tour that includes a market visit and a Yucatecan cooking class:
Day 3 – Visit the Mayan site of Uxmal, declared a World Heritage Site.
Across the street, you can explore the Choco-Story chocolate museum, and a short drive away is the Kabah archaeological site, which is also impressive.
If you want a guided tour, you can book this one to Uxmal and Kabah from Mérida
- For more details, check out My Complete Article About Uxmal and Kabah
Day 4 – Visit Celestun, especially the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve
You can take a boat ride to see the flamingos in two locations:
- West of the bridge, before entering Celestun town (1h30)
- On the beach, near the main square (2h15-2h30)
You can also join a tour to Celestún from Mérida (click here!) with hotel pick-up, boat ride, and lunch on the beach.
- For more information, check out my post: How to See the Pink Flamingos in Celestun
5) Holbox Island (2-3 days)
Enjoy the relaxing part of this 2-weeks road trip to Yucatan: the paradise island of Holbox!
Here are some activities you can do in two or three days in Holbox:
- Explore the secluded beach of Punta Mosquito
- Take a boat tour to Isla Pajaros, Ojo de Agua Yalahau and Passion Island
- Swim with whale sharks in the Yum Balam reserve (between June and September)
- See the bioluminescence at Punta Cocos
- Snorkel at Cabo Catoche (click here to book!)
Don’t miss my complete guide: The 10 Best Things to Do and See in Holbox!
6) Isla Mujeres with or without Isla Contoy (2 days)
End your 15 day Yucatan road trip by leaving Holbox and heading to Cancun, where you can catch the ferry to Isla Mujeres.
The ferry has limited seats, so book early to secure your spot. You can buy your round trip ticket to Isla Mujeres here (valid for 6 months after departure date)
- There are many more things to do and see on this beautiful island. For more information, read my Definitive Guide of 21 Things To See in Isla Mujeres.
Road Trip in Yucatan: 3 weeks
Discover the best of Yucatan peninsula with this 3-week road trip. You will visit colonial cities, ancient ruins, and natural reserves.
You can find the detailed itinerary here: 3 Weeks Road Trip in Yucatan: The Complete Itinerary!
1) Cancun (1 day)
Leave your luggage at the hotel and enjoy the sun in Cancun.
- Check out my complete guide: Top 30 Things to Do in Cancun
2) Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen (1 day)
In the morning– Explore Puerto Morelos, a charming fishing village with ideal beaches for snorkeling, the Javier Rojo Gomez square, the Hunab Ku handicraft market and the Puerto Morelos lighthouse.
You can also start the Cenotes Route from here; my favorites are Siete Bocas and Verde Lucero, but there are many more to choose from.
If you are looking for adventure, you can visit Selvatica Park, where you can enjoy nature (cenote, zip line circuit, quad, etc.). This park has been named the best adventure park in Latin America: Get your tickets for Selvatica now!
Afternoon – Continue to Playa del Carmen, with its beaches, the main street Quinta Avenida, the Parque de los Fundadores.
If you want more action, two parks are worth a visit:
- Xcaret Ecopark: hiking trails, grottos, underground river and the famous Xcaret Mexico Espectacular show – Get your tickets here!
- Rio Secreto: a natural park where you explore an incredible underground river and numerous rock formations – Book Rio Secreto + lunch here!
3) Cozumel (2-3 jours)
The new chapter of this 21-day Yucatan roadtrip takes place on the big island of Cozumel.
Here’s what to do in 2 or 3 days in Cozumel:
- Cozumel beaches like Isla de la Pasión, Chen Rio, Palancar, etc.
- The Punta Sur nature reserve with white sand beaches, the Celarain lighthouse and the archaeological site of El Caracol. – Book the jeep tour of Punta Sur here!
- El Cielo and its abundant starfish – Book the snorkel in El Cielo here.
- Chankanaab Park and Beach Club with lots of activities for the whole family – Buy now your tickets for Chankanaab here!
- Board the Atlantis submarine that will take you to Chankanaab’s reef – Save your spot now
- Playa Mía water park and beach club
Why stop here? Keep reading The 15 Best Things to Do in Cozumel!
4) Tulum (4 days)
You might feel that 4 days in Tulum are not enough for this 3-week Yucatan road trip, because there are so many things to do in the area.
- Check out My Complete Guide: The 21 Best Things to Do in Tulum!
Day 1 – Explore the city of Tulum and discover its amazing attractions: the Tulum Ruins, the Beach Strip, the stunning beaches and the lively bars at night, such as the Papaya Playa Project, located right on the sand.
Day 2 – Start your morning by enjoying one of the 15 Best Cenotes in Tulum before they get crowded, then head to the archaeological site of Coba.
Return to Tulum and spend the afternoon at Caleta Tankah, which offers a small beach club, a freshwater creek and a cenote.
Day 3 – Have a fun day in Akumal: swim with the turtles in Akumal Bay, relax on the beaches of Half Moon Bay and snorkel in Yal Ku Lagoon.
You can find a tour on the beach or join a tour with hotel pick-up, that includes snorkeling with turtles in Akumal Bay, swimming in a cenote and visiting a grotto:
Make sure to visit Aktun Chen Park, where you can take a guided tour of one of the Best Underground Walks in the world, according to National Geographic magazine.
- More info: The 17 Best Things to Do in Akumal!
Day 4 – You have 2 options to explore the great reserve of Sian Ka’an:
- Punta Allen: enjoy the beach, the saltwater lagoons, take a boat tour (and maybe spot some dolphins!) – Book the Punta Allen tour here!
- Muyil: explore the interior of the reserve, the jungle, the mangroves, and the ruins of Muyil – Book the Muyil tour here!
5) Bacalar (2 days)
In two days in Bacalar you can:
- Discover the cenotes of the 7-color lagoon
- Take a catamaran tour (click here to book)
- Go to Fort San Felipe by bicycle
- Descend the Bacalar Rapids, which are located between Bacalar Lagoon and Xul-Ha.
And there is much more to do in and around Bacalar! Check out My Definitive Guide to Bacalar
6) Calakmul and Campeche (2 days)
Next, we continue our three-week Yucatan road trip by travelling to Campeche, the most authentic state of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Day 1 – Visit Calakmul, an amazing Mayan city hidden in the largest tropical reserve in Mexico.
You can explore many buildings, such as Structure II (164 ft) and Structure I (131 ft), which offer breathtaking views of the jungle from the top.
- Don’t miss My Complete Guide to Calakmul!
Day 2 – Discover the city of Campeche: its historic walls, the museum of Mayan architecture, the main square, Calle 59 and the archaeological site of Edzná, which is only 1 hour away from the city.
- Check out: The 20 Must-See Places in Campeche!
7) Merida (3 days)
Day 1 – Spend the day in Merida: Plaza Grande (where you can see the cathedral, the Macay Museum and the Casa de Montejo), the Lucas de Galvez Market, the Museum of the Mayan World, the Paseo de Montejo, and the Santa Lucia Park.
- Here is My Complete Guide to Mérida
Day 2 – Visit Uxmal, one of the most beautiful Maya sites in Yucatán.
Just across the street is the Choco-Story Chocolate Museum, where you can learn about the history and culture of chocolate.
Continue to Kabah, another Mayan site about 20 minutes from Uxmal, famous for its facade of masks.
- Check out My Guide to Uxmal with all the information to plan your visit
Day 3 – Visit the Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve, the best place to see flamingos in Mexico!
You have two options for the starting point: either west of the bridge or from the beach. Both offer similar tours (between 1h30 and 2h30)
If you prefer a guided tour, you can book this Tour to Celestún from Mérida which includes hotel pick-up, boat tour through the reserve to see the flamingos and mangroves, free time for swimming and lunch on the beach.
- Read also: How To See the Flamingos in Celestun?
8) Valladolid (2-3 days)
Day 1 – Izamal and Valladolid
Day 2 – Visit Chichen Itza early in the morning (2h-3h)
- Also read: Everything You Need to Know About Chichen Itza!
- Skip the long lines and get your fast-track entrance tickets for Chichen Itza:
After that, refresh yourself in a cenote: Cenote Ik Kil, Dzitnup, Oxman, etc. You have many options to choose from, check out My Top 21 of The Best Cenotes in Valladolid!
Day 3 – Explore the pink lagoons of Yucatan Las Coloradas, a natural wonder with a unique color. Then, visit the Mayan Site of Ek Balam, where you can see one of the most impressive pyramids of Yucatan.
In the afternoon, return to Valladolid. If you have time, you can visit the Casa de los Venados, the Museum of Ethnic Clothing, the Xkopek park whose mission is to protect the bees of Yucatan.
9) Holbox (2-3 days)
You can enjoy two or three days on the island of Holbox and discover its attractions, such as:
- The street art
- The Mandarina Beach Club and Restaurant, a cozy place to sip a fine margarita and enjoy the ocean view
- Punta Mosquito, a secluded beach with white sand and turquoise water
- Punta Cocos, a perfect spot to watch the sunset and see the bioluminescence at night
- A boat tour (3 hours) to Isla Pájaros, Isla de la Pasión and Ojo de Agua Yalahau
For all the best things to do in Holbox, check out My Holbox Definitive Guide!
10) Return to Cancun
To conclude this 3 week road trip to the Yucatan, you will have to take a flight from Cancun.
If you have time before your flight leaves, you can stroll around the hotel zone, go shopping at Plaza Malecon Americas or visit Playa Delfines.
This is the end of your 3-week road trip to Yucatan. You will need to catch a flight from Cancun.
If you have some time before your flight, you can enjoy some of the activities in Cancun, such as walking around the hotel zone, shopping at Plaza Malecon Americas, and visiting Playa Delfines.
Road Trip in Yucatan: 1 month
Are you planning to spend a whole month in Yucatan Peninsula? How wonderful!
This 1 Month Road Trip to Yucatan will let you explore the best of the peninsula at your own pace.
Here is a suggested itinerary:
- Chichen Itza
- Playa del Carmen
- Puerto Morelos
- Isla Mujeres
You can find the detailed itinerary here: One Month in Yucatan: The Best Itinerary.
1) Cancun (1 day)
Begin your Yucatan circuit by heading to the beach as soon as you drop off your luggage at the hotel.
You have many options to choose from: Playa Tortugas, Playa Los Delfines, Playa Langosta, Playa Linda, Playa Caracol, Playa Marlín. Or Isla Blanca, a little further away… my favorite beach in Cancun!
You can also:
- Visit the Mayan Museum
- Snorkel at MUSA, the largest underwater museum in the world. – Book the diving tour here!
- Join the Food Tour of Cancun visiting the local market and attending a typical cooking class
- Party in Xoximilco Cancun with mariachis, open bar and Mexican food
Check out my full guide: Top 30 Things To Do in Cancun
2) Holbox (2-3 days)
The next destination on your month-long Yucatan road trip is the island of Holbox, a paradise between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
You can spend two or three days in Holbox and relax on the white sandy beaches and discover the best spots of the island.
- For more tips, read: My ultimate guide to Holbox Island!
3) Valladolid (2-3 days)
Day 1- Start the day by visiting some of the cenotes: Cenote Oxman, Cenote Suytun, Xkeken and Samulá, Palomitas and Agua Dulce, etc.
- You can choose from my TOP 21 of The Most Beautiful Cenotes in Valladolid
In the afternoon, explore the historic center of Valladolid. – Check out: Top 25 Things to Do in Valladolid!
Day 2 – Visit to the Mayan city of Chichen Itza:
- El Castillo: Chichen Itza’s most famous building, a 79 ft pyramid built in honor of the god Kukulcan
- El Caracol: the astronomical observatory that would have allowed the Mayans to study some thirty important astronomical events
- The mesoamerican ballgame
- The temple of the warriors
- The Tzompantli where the Mayas impaled the skulls of enemy warriors
Don’t miss my Complete Guide to Chichen Itza
To avoid long lines, buy fast-track tickets in advance and visit Chichen Itza in the morning:
Day 3 – In the morning, visit the Mayan site of Ek Balam
- In two hours, you can explore the Acropolis and other impressive pyramids at the Yucatan. Check out How to Visit the Archaeological Site of Ek Balam for tips.
- Don’t miss the Cenote X’Canché, a stunning sinkhole that is just a mile away. You can reach it by foot or by bike.
Continue to Rio Lagartos to see the pink saltwater lagoons of the village of Las Coloradas.
4) Izamal (1 day)
You can see the best of Izamal in one day.
Visit the Convent of San Antonio de Padua, Itzamná Park, 5 de Mayo Park, the handicrafts museum, and the pyramids of Kinich Kakmo and Itzamatul. Don’t forget to explore the traditional places like the Chapel of Los Remedios and its lovely square, the Parque de los Cañones, and the San Ildefonso neighborhood.
5) Merida (3-4 days)
Day 1 – Visit Mérida
Check out my guide What to See and Do in Merida with the best things to do and see
Day 2 – Visit the Mayan sites of Uxmal and Kabah
Day 3 – Celestún, an ecotourism paradise in Yucatán
You can admire the flamingos of Celestún in their natural habitat and marvel at the beauty of the reserve.
To learn more about how to visit the reserve and see the flamingos, as well as other things to do in Celestún, read my guide How to See Flamingos in Celestún?
6) Campeche (2 days)
In two days in Campeche you can:
- Stroll along the city walls
- Visit the piracy museum in Baluarte San Francisco, the city museum in Baluarte de San Carlos and the Museum of Mayan Architecture in Baluarte de la Soledad
- Discover the Plaza Independencia with the cathedral, the cultural center El Palacio and the Casa n°6
- Enjoy the freshness of the small botanical garden Xmuch-Haltun
- Stroll along the Malecon facing the Gulf of Mexico
- Visit the San Miguel Fort on the Buena Vista hill and also the archaeological museum of Campeche
- Make a gourmet stop along the way at Chocol’Ha to taste Mexican chocolate
- Visit the Archaeological Site of Edzná located 1 hour from the city
Check out my guide: What to See and Do in Campeche?
7) Calakmul (1-2 days)
Calakmul is an ancient Mayan city that will amaze you with its history and architecture.
You have to get up early and drive a long way. But it’s worth it!
Read my Definitive Guide to Calakmul to learn everything you need to know about this incredible site.
8) Bacalar (2-3 days)
On your 1 month Yucatan road trip, stop by Bacalar, a stunning town with a huge lagoon.
You can stay there for two or three days and enjoy its attractions, such as:
- The 4 cenotes, Cenote Azul, Cenote Cocalitos, Cenote Esmeralda and Cenote Negro
- The Pirates Channel
- Fort San Felipe
- The Bacalar rapids
- The Uchben Kah Ecotourism Park
9) Tulum (4 days)
Day 1 – Visit Tulum : check out The 21 Best Things to Do in Tulum!
Day 2 – Explore Cobá and enjoy a cenote
You can book this tour with hotel pick-up, guided visit to Coba, visit to a Mayan village, swim in a cenote and lunch:
Day 3 – Sian Ka’an Reserve
You have 2 routes to discover the great reserve:
Day 4 – Swim with the turtles in Akumal.
You need to go with a guide to see the turtles, as they are a protected species. This is a mandatory requirement, not an optional choice.
You can book this tour with pick up at your hotel (click here!), snorkeling with the turtles, visiting a cave and swimming in a cenote.
- Check out my guide: How to Swim With Turtles in Akumal?
10) Cozumel (3 days)
Are you ready for the next part of your amazing Yucatan road trip? It’s time to hop on the ferry to Cozumel, the island paradise that awaits you!
Depending on your preference, you have two options to get there:
- If you want to bring your rental car with you, you need to head to Punta Venado in Calica and take the ferry from there.
- If you’d rather leave your car behind, you can take the ferry from the Navega Maritime Terminal
Day 1 – Start your adventure by taking the ferry from Playa del Carmen – You can book your ferry tickets to Cozumel here!
Diving and snorkeling
Cozumel is a paradise for divers, with many places to explore for all levels of experience.
You can dive in the reefs of Palancar, Columbia, Paraiso, Punta Tunich, Chankanaab, and Santa Rosa. You can also visit the underwater cave Garganta del Diablo, the sunken ship Felipe Xicoténcatl, and El Cielo, where you can see starfish.
Day 2 – Explore Punta Sur, Cozumel’s largest ecological reserve
You’ll be amazed by the natural beauty of this place, where you can see the Colombia Lagoon, the Celerain lighthouse, the archaeological site of El Caracol and stunning beaches.
Join this jeep tour to Punta Sur that includes snorkeling, lunch at a beach club and tequila tasting:
Day 3 – Enjoy the most beautiful beaches of Cozumel.
- Enjoy Isla de la Pasion, Chen Rio, Playa Palancar, Playa San Francisco or Playa Encantada
- Spend the day at a beach club such as SkyReef or Palancar
- Visit Chankanaab Park, which offers many activities (beach, snorkeling, zip lining, etc.). Buy your tickets for Chankanaab now!
11) Playa del Carmen (2 days)
Day 1 – Return to Playa del Carmen by ferry
Playa del Carmen is a vibrant and fun destination, with plenty of things to do and see. To help you plan your day, check out these guides:
- Playa del Carmen: The 30 Best Things to Do and See!
- The Best Cheap and Free Things to Do in Playa del Carmen
Day 2 – Experience Xcaret Park, the Best Theme and Water Park in the World!
Get your tickets here:
If you’re looking for more fun and excitement, you can also visit these other parks nearby:
- Rio Secreto, where you can explore an underground river, a grotto and swim in crystal clear waters. Book your tickets for Rio Secreto now!
- Xplor park, where you can try various activities in a beautiful natural setting (zip line, 4×4 ride, cave exploration, etc.) Buy the all-inclusive Xplor pass to spend the whole day there!
12) Puerto Morelos (1-2 days)
Enjoy the quiet village of Puerto Morelos.
It may not be very touristy, yet it is full of natural attractions (beaches, cenotes, reserves, etc.).
- If you don’t want to miss anything, here is my article: How to Visit Puerto Morelos?
For an adrenaline rush or a family fun day, visit Selvática, the best adventure park in Latin America according to Travel+Leisure magazine!
You can get your tickets for Selvática here, with hotel pick up, lunch, 10 zip lines and cenote visit included.
13) Isla Mujeres (2 days)
Isla Mujeres, a beautiful island off the coast of Cancun, is the final destination of your 30-day Yucatan road trip.
You can get there by ferry in two ways:
- If you want to bring your car, go to Punta Sam and take the ferry from there.
- If you want to leave your car behind, take the ferry from Puerto Juarez – you can book your ferry ticket here!
You can spend two days on Isla Mujeres and enjoy its beaches, like Playa Norte, its sculpture garden at Punta Sur, its snorkeling at Garrafon Park and more.
For more tips, read 21 Things to Do in Isla Mujeres!
14) Return to Cancun
Take the ferry from Isla Mujeres to Puerto Juarez (30 minutes) or Punta Sam (45 minutes), before heading to Cancun.
Where to sleep in Yucatan during your road trip?
Click on each proposed itinerary to discover the best hotels for each segment of your trip.
To give you a quick overview, these are the best places to stay in the main destinations of the Yucatan Peninsula:
- 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
Staying in Cozumel is a very good idea if you want to enjoy the island in a privileged way since most visitors come only for the day.
- Hacienda Boutique Mi Casa tu Casa B&B: one hacienda-style house with authentic and colorful Mexican charm, outdoor pool and jacuzzi. Very good traditional breakfast and an excellent welcome from the hosts, from only 82 usd per night!
- Villas El Encanto Cozumel: for more comfort, I suggest this hotel that offers air-conditioned apartments and bungalows with kitchenette and terrace. Nice garden, swimming pool, hammocks and lounge chairs. It offers excellent value for money, at only 115 usd per night.
- Allegro Cozumel All-Inclusive: is an all-inclusive hotel in Cozumel ideal for families. Located on San Francisco beach with many activities available (beach volleyball, yoga, snorkeling, kayaking, etc), a playground and a kids club, 3 swimming pools, one of them with slides. From 205 usd per night all-inclusive.
- Meliá Cozumel All Inclusive: to enjoy the tranquility, this is an all-inclusive hotel with a beautiful private beach, spacious rooms, full spa, two pools, one of them only for adults with bar. I recommend the room with ocean view, from 280 usd per night all inclusive!
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.
- 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 $usd per night!
- Nomadas: the best hostel in Merida with a very nice atmosphere, located in the center of Merida. It has a swimming pool surrounded by hammocks and plants, possibility of classes (yoga, cooking classes, etc.). Starting at only 18$usd per night!
- El Gran Hotel: ideally located in the very center of Merida, right next to the cathedral. It is a very charming hotel, where time seems to have stopped with its colonial look and beautiful woodwork. There’s a restaurant, the rooms are spacious and the wifi works well. Good value for money, starting at only 59$usd per night!
- Hotel Hacienda Merida VIP: this small, luxurious hotel is the ideal place to spend a few romantic days in Merida. Located in the historic center, it is an elegant hacienda-style building, illuminated by candlelight at nightfall. Here you will find a charming swimming pool, comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a bar. Starting at 165 $usd per night
- Hotel Boutique Mérida Santiago: this is a small, comfortable hotel with a colorful hacienda look, modern and with a traditional Mexican touch. There’s a swimming pool with sun loungers and umbrellas. With excellent homemade breakfasts and spacious rooms, it is the ideal hotel if you are looking for comfort without falling into luxury. Starting at 197 $usd per night.
Tips for a smooth Road Trip in Yucatan
A road trip in Yucatan is a great way to explore the peninsula and discover its amazing attractions.
Here are some tips to help you have a smooth and enjoyable trip:
- Don’t drivve at night (this is very important)
- Stick to the tourist routes (ask the locals first if you want to go off the beaten track)
- Hide your valuables in the car
- Park in secure parking lots overnight
- Always lock your car
- Stay calm during routine police checks (they are quite common)
- Get a Telcel or Movistar sim card (you can buy one at the airport or at the Oxxo for a cheaper pricee: you’ll need it to use GPS, but also to communicate in case of emergency.
- Watch out for speed bumps: Yucatan’s roads are mostly straight, but there are many speed bumps (also called topes) that are quite high.
- Pay attention on the road: Mexicans don’t always follow the traffic rules (they rarely use turn signals, overtake on the right, etc.).
Rent a car in Yucatán
Renting a car is for sure the best way to explore The Riviera Maya and make the most of your stay!
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:
When to take a road trip to Yucatan?
The best time to visit Yucatan by car is between November and February, when the weather is dry and pleasant.
You can also go between March and May, but it will be much hotter and not ideal for sightseeing!
Of course, you can travel to Yucatan any time of the year, but keep in mind:
- High season is from December to April; there are many tourists and prices may be higher
- Spring Break is from March to early April. The beaches of the Riviera Maya (especially Cancun and Playa del Carmen) are packed with young Americans who love to party.
- July and August are very hot and humid.
- May to October is the rainy and hurricane season
🚗 Rent a car
🗽 Book entrance tickets and guided visits
🏄 Book your sports activities
🌍 Take a travel insurance
🙎 Book a tour
✈️ Book your flight
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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- Itinerary: 10 days in Yucatan – Best Itinerary for 9, 10 or 11 Days in Yucatan
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Yucatan – Epic Itinerary + All my Best Tips!
- Itinerary: 3 weeks in Yucatan – Best things to do in 20-21 days
- Itinerary: 1 month in Yucatan – Yucatan Peninsula in 29, 30 or 31 days from Cancun
- Itinerary: 10 days in Mexico – Mexico City, Chiapas and Yucatan
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Mexico – Best itinerary to discover the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas!
- Itinerary: 3 weeks in Mexico – Mexico City, Puebla, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatán and Riviera Maya
- Itinerary: 1 month in Mexico – My Epic 30-31 Days Itinerary from Mexico City to Cancun
- Road trip in Mexico: The best itineraries for 10, 15, 21 days and a month