The ultimate Yucatan itinerary for 2 weeks in Mexico + 10 days and 3 weeks suggestion
The first thing that comes to mind when people mention the Yucatan peninsula is the pristine white beaches of the Mexican Caribbean and all-inclusive resorts. Although they are fantastic, a 2 week Yucatan road trip itinerary (or even 3 weeks) has so much more to offer.
Think of colorful towns, mythical Maya ruins, magical blue cenotes, islands, delicious food, and the friendly Mexican people. In this two weeks Yucatan itinerary, we will describe our ideal Mexican road trip on the Yucatan peninsula.
Besides where to stay during this Yucatan itinerary, we’ll mention the famous highlights but also some off-the-beaten-track destinations.
You need at least two weeks for this road trip itinerary in Yucatan. Do you only have 10 days to spend in Mexico or are you one of the lucky ones with 3 weeks or more in paradise? At the end of this article, you can find our suggested 10-day itinerary or 3-week itinerary for Yucatan, Mexico.
The best time to visit the Yucatan Peninsula
The best time to visit the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is during the dry season, which runs from December to April. This is when the weather is at its best, with clear skies and warm temperatures. From March, temperatures can become quite hot, so be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and water.
It’s the perfect time for a Yucatan road trip, exploring the area’s many archaeological sites, beaches, and other attractions. However, this is also the busiest time of year, so it’s important to book accommodation and flights well in advance.
If you’re looking for a less crowded and more relaxed experience, the shoulder seasons of May to June and October to November are a great option. The weather is still pleasant at this time of year, but there are fewer tourists around and rates are considerably lower. Just be prepared for some afternoon showers.
Whichever time of year you choose to visit, you’re sure to have an amazing experience on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
Things to know when visiting the Yucatan Peninsula
The Yucatan peninsula, located on the Mexican Gulf coast, actually includes 3 Mexican states: Yucatan (capital Merida), Quintana Roo (capital Chetumal), and Campeche (capital Campeche).
This confuses people sometimes, as they come to “Yucatan”. But they don’t. Most of the resorts and popular beaches, for example, are in Quintana Roo.
Therefore, don’t underestimate the driving distances when you are following this 2 weeks or 3 weeks Yucatan road trip itinerary.
PRO TIP: From November to March, the state of Quintana Roo is 1 hour ahead of the Yucatan and Campeche states. Be aware of this when you cross borders!
A few other things to keep in mind before visiting the Yucatan Peninsula:
- Many businesses cater to English-speaking tourists, so it is not always necessary to speak Spanish. However, if you go more off the beaten track, you might need some Spanish. And locals appreciate you doing the effort to speak their language.
- Yucatan peninsula has a tropical climate, so it’s important to pack light, loose-fitting clothes. Sunscreen and insect repellent are also essential.
- Yucatan and Campeche provinces are considered to be safe, Quintana Roo has more issues with corruption and gangs. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t leave your belongings unguarded in busy areas. Don’t worry too much either, we never felt unsafe.
- Buy a local sim card if you can’t use your own. We bought a sim card from the Telcel company. Most of the time, the signal was ok.
- Remember that the Yucatan is a cultural melting pot, so be respectful of local customs and traditions.
By following these simple tips, you’re sure to have a wonderful time on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Rent a car for your Yucatan road trip itinerary
Renting a car for a road trip in Yucatan, Mexico is a great way to see the sights and attractions of the region at your own pace.
If you only have 10 days to two weeks and you also want to visit some of the remote spots on your Yucatan itinerary, it even is the only option in our opinion.
Most people fly into Cancun, as this town usually has the most affordable airfares. Therefore, Cancun has many car rental options. There are many car rental companies to choose from, so be sure to do your research to find the best deal.
PRO TIP: if you want to save on car rental costs, take the bus to Merida and rent your car there. Rental fares are usually more affordable in Merida as fewer people rent over there.
Is it safe to drive in Yucatan?
That was our main concern when we were planning our trip to the Yucatan peninsula. The answer is yes!
Don’t be afraid to undertake a road trip to Yucatan when planning your Mexico itinerary. The roads are perfectly safe and in good condition.
PRO TIP: Don’t forget, if you’re driving in Mexico, you’ll encounter the famous topes, speed-reducing road bumps. You’ll want to go over them very slowly! Don’t underestimate them or you’ll wreck your car.
The only thing you do need to keep in mind is the scams. Usually, they happen in Quintana Roo in the Cancun – Playa del Carmen – Tulum region.
A police officer might stop you and tell you that you were speeding or did something wrong. Of course, you didn’t do anything wrong, but they are just trying to get a bribe. Stay cool, try to negotiate on the price, or try to get rid of them by phoning somebody.
Another thing is the gas stations. Always have a look at the meter and check if he’s back to zero when they start filling your car. Or tell them upfront the amount of gasoline you want.
We avoided Cancun and Playa del Carmen as much as possible with our car and didn’t have any problems during our road trip to the Yucatan peninsula.
We never drove at night, but of course, we do have two kids who need to sleep. If you want to go out at night, grab a taxi and leave the car at your hotel.
Can you do this 2 weeks Yucatan itinerary by bus?
We spent almost two months on the Yucatan peninsula. We rented a car for just two weeks and traveled the rest by bus.
The ADO network reaches almost any place. So yes, traveling around the Yucatan peninsula is perfectly doable. It is even incredibly cheap, so a good option for travelers on a budget. If the bus doesn’t go to a highlight, you can always take a taxi.
Read more: How to travel on a budget as a family
PRO TIP: book your tickets through the ADO app well ahead of time, places fill up quickly. Also, have an offline print screen of your ticket or QR code to show the driver.
The only reason why you can’t travel by bus for this 2 weeks Yucatan itinerary is the time issue when you want to visit some remote places, such as Calakmul, Celestun, … If you have more time, there is no problem.
Busses are also perfectly safe. Most of the time you get a ticket for your luggage that goes in the trunk. So you don’t need to worry about your things getting stolen. If you don’t have a ticket, you can’t claim your baggage. Same rules when you catch the ferry.
How many days do you need to visit the Yucatan Peninsula?
Honestly, as many as you can. The Yucatan Peninsula is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, as well as ancient ruins, colonial cities, mysterious cenotes, wildlife, islands, and jungle forests.
For a Yucatan itinerary, you would need at least 10 days to two weeks in Mexico. Ideally, you have 3 weeks on the Yucatan peninsula or even more so you get to stay longer at your favorite places or visit more remote corners of the peninsula.
In this article, we give you an amazing two weeks itinerary for Yucatan as that is the amount of time people usually get to spend. However, we also suggest a 10-day Yucatan itinerary and a 3-week road trip itinerary.
Now, let’s dive into our ultimate 14 days road trip itinerary for Yucatan!
Day 1: Cancun – Tulum
Total driving distance: It is about 118 km or 73 miles from Cancun airport to Tulum downtown.
Cancún Airport is the largest airport on the Yucatán Peninsula and is usually the place where you’ll start your Yucatan adventures. Most international flights arrive or depart from here.
Don’t spend too much time in Cancun, unless you have a late arrival, more days to spend in Mexico, or staying in one of the big hotels to acclimatize.
The beaches in the hotel zone of Cancun are beautiful, but most of them are privately owned by the all-inclusive hotels. We stayed in downtown Cancun, which is a fun experience though. You can visit the Mercado 28, and enjoy the local food stalls.
However, if you only have two weeks to spend on your Yucatan itinerary, we suggest that after picking up your car, you start driving to Tulum where you can spend your first night.
You could stop at Playa del Carmen if you want to have a look. It’s a lovely place, although very crowded and a little less authentic.
We listed some of the best family resorts in the Riviera Maya in this article.
Where to stay in Tulum
In Tulum, you can choose to stay in the Tulum beach area or Tulum Pueblo (downtown). The beach area is beautiful but rather expensive. Tulum Pueblo is filled with bars, restaurants, and more affordable accommodations. Read more about our opinion on Tulum in the ‘Day 2’ section.
We stayed downtown Tulum in the Xperience Hotel and loved the place. It’s perfect for families too. The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, free parking, a fitness center, and a beautiful garden. The rooms or apartments are equipped with everything you need, even a kitchen. It’s a little further from downtown, so it’s best if you have a car to come here.
Other great places to stay in Tulum Pueblo are:
- Biwa Tulum: this beautiful hotel with a swimming pool is situated in the center of the town, close to everything and half an hour by bike from the beach. They also have a family room.
- Casa Almendro: this hotel is one of the best budget options in Tulum with a great roof terrace and basic but comfortable, clean rooms.
Great places to stay in the Tulum Beach area are:
- Chancabañita Tulum: a very affordable accommodation with a fantastic location. Don’t expect luxury, but friendly staff, clean rooms, and stunning views.
- Zamas Hotel: waking up almost on the beach… This is possible at the Zamas hotel. If you want luxury with the best location for still quite reasonable prices (Tulum standards) this place is your thing.
- Nativus Glamping & Cenote Tulum: a fantastic glamping experience in Tulum, away from all the crowds. They even have their own cenote where you can sup while watching the sunset.
Day 2: Tulum (Maya Ruins – Snorkeling)
Tulum used to be a nice little hippy fisherman town. Nowadays it’s an expensive city with loads of tourists from all over the globe, who don’t seem to care anymore about paying the extra dollars.
That’s exactly why we didn’t like Tulum very much and don’t spend too much time here on our 2-weeks Yucatan road trip itinerary.
There were very few places where you could enter the beach for free or enjoy the surroundings. Unless you are staying in one of the fancy hotels, you don’t really need to visit the beach area.
However, we do still recommend staying for one day in Tulum to visit the Maya ruins and snorkel with turtles.
How to plan your day in Tulum
One of the reasons why Tulum is popular is the Maya ruins. They are beautifully located along the beach. Tickets are sold at the entrance and cost 65 pesos (about $3.50/€3).
The best time to visit the Tulum Maya Ruins is early in the morning, as the crowds pick up throughout the day. This is a good article on how to visit the Tulum Ruins.
After you have visited the ruins it’s time for some snorkeling. Tulum is known for the sea turtles and stingrays that visit this area. You have to book a tour to go out there.
PRO TIP: Book a tour with a company that respects nature and wildlife. There are many organisations that go too close with too many people aboard.
Most tours follow the same path. First, they sail past the ruins so you have a nice view of the temples from the water. After that, they sail to a spot where you can see the turtles and rays, an amazing experience!
Some tours combine a visit to the ruins with a local guide and a boat tour past the ruins and to the snorkeling area.
End your day with a cocktail on the beach or go discover the nightlife at Tulum Pueblo!
To go from one place to the other you could go by car, but most people rent bikes or scooters. We explored the area by bike, which was a lovely experience although you need to be aware the traffic around the beach area can be very intense during certain moments of the day. Be careful, especially if you’re traveling with kids.
Day 3: Tulum – Coba (Maya Ruins)- Bacalar
Total driving distance: 300 km or 186 miles
Leave Tulum early as you have a long day ahead filled with the Coba ruins, the Sian Ka’an nature reserve (as an extra stop if wanted), and driving towards Bacalar. It’s quite a long way, but the roads are great.
You could also choose to stay a day longer in Tulum and organize a tour from Tulum to visit Coba or the Sian Ka’an Reserve if you don’t feel like going there by yourself.
How to plan your visit to Coba
The Coba Ruins lie 47 km (approx. 29 mi) northwest of Tulum. Coba is less visited than Chitzen Itcha and Tulum but equally as beautiful. We loved the experience even more as it has a more authentic feeling to it.
You don’t need to stay near Coba unless you want to be the very first person on top of the pyramid. But to avoid the heat and fellow tourists it’s still better to arrive early.
Normally it is possible to climb the pyramids but because of Covid restrictions, climbing is temporarily forbidden. Let’s hope they will allow it again in the future.
In the park, you can choose to rent a bike, rent a taxi bike or walk the site. We rented a bike as the distances between the monuments are quite long. Don’t forget to bring enough water.
For lunch, we suggest you go to one of the restaurants just outside the park. They are located next to the lake. We went to “El Cocodrilo” and loved the food. Just so you know, there are crocodiles in the lake, but you only see them in the evening and at night.
If there is still some time left, go for a swim in one of the cenotes nearby. One of them is Cenote Choo-Ha. Expect crystal blue water with overhanging stalagmites!
After your refreshing dip in the water, drive towards Bacalar (3 hours). On your way to Bacalar, you’ll pass the Sian Ka’an Nature Reserve. Only stop here if arrive in the early afternoon. By the evening it will be too late.
Sian Ka’an Nature Reserve
Sian Ka’an is a nature reserve located between Tulum and Bacalar. It’s one of the largest protected areas in Mexico. Sian Ka’an is home to a diverse array of plant and animal life, including dolphins and over 300 species of birds.
The reserve is also home to a number of Maya ruins, which are accessible to visitors via a network of hiking trails. Sian Ka’an is a popular destination for ecotourism, and it offers a variety of activities for visitors, including bird watching, hiking, and kayaking.
We had to skip Sian Ka’an but heard the best things about it. So if you have enough time, we highly recommend it. The downside is the price of the tours. They can be quite expensive, especially when you are with a family of four.
Where to stay in Bacalar?
After your jampacked day, it’s time to go to Bacalar with its 7-colored lagoon. We’ll stay here for two nights. If you have more time, consider even an extra night. The area is amazing, less touristic, and more authentic.
We spent the night in “Casa Coral” which is just a very affordable accommodation outside the center. We liked their colorful garden. Our basic but clean budget family room was upstairs but they also have rooms downstairs. The property has a shared kitchen but they don’t offer breakfast.
If you have a little more to spend, you might want to stay closer to the lake or the center of Bacalar. The views over the lake are beautiful. Great options are:
- Khaban Bacalar Boutique Hotel: a fantastic resort next to the lake. It’s a bit more expensive, but you won’t regret it. The only downside is that the center is a bit further away.
- Hotel Circulo Bacalar: an amazing option in downtown Bacalar with a lovely pool.
Day 4: Bacalar (Lake)
No need to visit the Maledives anymore after you have explored the Bacalar area. The Bacalar lake is called “The lagoon with seven colors” by the Mayans. It is truly a hidden gem that you can’t miss on your Yucatan itinerary road trip.
How to plan your day in Bacalar
We suggest starting the day with a visit to the Cenote Cocalitos. The Cenote Cocalitos is also known as the Sanctuary of the Stromatolites.
It is called that way because of the many stratified type structures that are concentrated there. These structures are protected and very special to Mother Earth as they produce oxygen.
The area is beautiful and very Instagrammable ;-). There are hammocks and swings available from which you can enjoy the beautiful colors of the lake. A place you can not miss!
For lunch in downtown Bacalar, we suggest Yerbabuena bar. They have healthy food and the best smoothies in town.
If you really want to enjoy the lake, you need to get on it! Therefore, we advise you to do a sailing trip in the afternoon. We explored the lake with The Sailing Colibri.
During the tour with The Sailing Colibri, we could take a dip or two in the crystal blue waters and they served fresh fruit and the best guacamole ever. Sailing back to Bacalar, we enjoyed the sunset and were mesmerized by how fantastic this experience was.
Other things to visit are, in the center of Bacalar, The Fort of San Felipe. This is an old Spanish historic fort where you can see the canons used to defend the town against the pirates. If you like history, you might want to add this monument to your schedule.
Day 5: Bacalar – Xpujil
Total driving distance: From Bacalar to Xpjujil there is a straight road that is 120 km or 74 miles long.
How to spend your day
Before heading west towards Xpujil to visit the Calamkmul ruins, it’s the first time for a swim at “Los Rapidos” in Bacalar.
Los Rapidos is located in the southern part of the lake and also has those special stromatolites. If you don’t have a car, you can grab a private taxi. There is a restaurant, bar, hammocks, bathrooms, and… natural fast-moving rapids to play in!
After paying the entrance fee, you can spend as much time as you want here. It is also possible to rent a kayak. We stayed here for a couple of hours and let the kids play.
After all the fun, it’s time to continue our Yucatan road trip itinerary further to Xpujil (1h30). This will be our base from where we will visit the Mayan temples of Calakmul.
If you still have time in the afternoon, you can visit the Becan Mayan ruins. Becan is an ancient archaeological site only 10 minutes west of Xpujil. These impressive structures have stood the test of time. As they are less visited, you get the real authentic feeling here. Whether you take a guided tour or visit the site on your own, you’ll love the experience.
In Xpjujil, you can also visit the Xpujil Maya ruins. They are located 1 km south of the center. It is a small site but still nice to visit.
Where to stay in Xpujil
Xpujil is a little town with only a few hotels. There really isn’t any other reason to be here than to visit the nearby Mayan temples. We spent the night in Hotel Villa Calakmul in the center of Xpujil. The hotel has big family rooms with a small terrace. Most rooms also have a seating area.
For dinner we suggest you walk into town, there you will find some local restaurants. We heard good things about Ma’alobkin but it was closed when we were there.
DAY 6: Xpujil – Calakmul (Maya Ruins) – Campeche
Total driving distance: today is the longest day of driving on this Yucatan itinerary road trip, 417 km or 260 miles. From Xpujil to Calakmul it is 116 km or 72 miles. Once you get off the main road you drive into the jungle for 60 km or 38 miles (Reserva de la Biosfera Calakmul).
There are no buses here. It is only reachable with your own car or with a private taxi. From Calakmul to Campeche it is 301 km or 187 miles.
How to spend your day in Calakmul
The whole reason why we came to Xpujil is the ruins of Calakmul, which are quite unknown to the general public, probably because it is so remote. You have to drive 60 km or 38 miles into the jungle to get there.
But that’s exactly what makes it so unique! Calakmul is the “City of the Two Adjacent Pyramids”. The site is quite large but there are different routes to walk that are clearly signposted.
We choose to do the short walks and climbed both pyramids. The views on top of the pyramids are unforgettable! You get the true Indiana Jones feeling here. Jungle, monkeys, old Mayan temples, … this place has it all. And best of all, there are no crowds here, just a few lost tourists just like you!
Be sure to have cash with you as they don’t accept credit cards. Take some lunch with you as well, there are no restaurants in Calakmul. In Xpujil you can find Willy’s supermarket to stock up on food, drinks, and cash. And last but not least, have your car filled with gas!
If you prefer, you can also book a guided tour from Xpujil to visit the temples.
After you have visited the ruins you can choose to stay overnight in Xpujil or continue your Yucatan itinerary to Campeche (a 4-hours drive). We chose the latter and headed for the city of Campeche!
Where to stay and eat in Campeche?
We chose an Airbnb house in Campeche. It had a small pool with a shared kitchen. The only downside was that there was no air conditioning. But we liked the location, a quiet street outside the center and still close to local shops. And, it was very affordable.
Other great options to stay in the city center of Campeche are:
- Hotel Maculis: a very affordable little hotel with great reviews, close to the center of Campeche.
- Gamma Campeche Malecon: another lovely hotel in the city center with a pool.
Most restaurants are located in the famous Calle 59. We had the feeling they were a bit overpriced because of the location.
We went to a local restaurant not so far from our Airbnb house. It is called “Los Abuelos” which means “the Grandparents” and serves delicious local food.
If you’re looking for a very affordable and delicious dinner, go to El Pastor Suizo, located next to the pier. They have the best tacos el pastor here!
Day 7: Campeche (City life)
After visiting the fantastic ruins of Calakmul and the long drive it is time for a relaxing day of city life in Campeche. It’s a city to wander around while enjoying the colorful houses, delicious food, and fascinating history.
How to spend your day in Campeche:
Campeche is a walled city and a World Heritage Site by Unesco. The town was a constant target of pirate attacks in the old days and has been fortified. You can still walk on the remains of the walls. The entrance is at the south end of Calle 59.
In the center, they have a beautiful square, the Plaza de la Independencia. Around the square, you will find fantastic colonial buildings, restaurants, and an amazing cathedral. Everything is close to each other which makes it all easily accessible on foot.
The most famous street is Calle 59. The houses have been beautifully renovated and transformed into restaurants or cafes. Although it felt a little too touristy, it’s still a great stroll.
Some years ago the city of Campeche invested in their “Malecon“. It is a walkway along the coast, about 8km or 4 miles long. It’s perfect for a stroll while enjoying the sunset.
Day 8: Campeche – Uxmal – Merida
Total driving distance: 243 km or 150 miles along the “Ruta Puuc”.
Fill your tank just outside of Campeche and continue towards Uxmal. We are going to follow the Ruta Puuc today, which is known for all of its Maya ruins. The term Puuc means “hill” so it’s no surprise that this region is one of the hilliest in Yucatan.
How to spend your day in Uxmal
On your way to Uxmal, you can visit the Labna Maya ruins and/or the Kabah ruins. Depending on how many temples you want to see, both are interesting and make up for a nice stop.
We end with the crown jewel along the Puuc route which is Uxmal. Uxmal is one of the largest and most well-known Mayan ruins in Mexico. It boasts a variety of impressive structures, including palaces, temples, and pyramids.
The site is renowned for its stone carvings, which display many different scenes from Mayan mythology and everyday life. Despite its historical significance, Uxmal’s remote location has helped to preserve this incredible archaeological site. Uxmal is not to be missed.
Close to Uxmal, you can also find the Choco-Story, located in an old hacienda surrounded by the jungle. If you like chocolate and want to know more about its history in the Mexican and Mayan culture, this is the place to be. Bonus is the rescued animals (including a jaguar) which makes it also very interesting for the kids.
If you’d want, you can also book a guide for the day to visit Uxmal and the Choco story. Or you could do a tour from Merida.
We ended our day with dinner in one of the restaurants north of Muna on your way to Merida, restaurant Lol Pich. Great food for reasonable prices!
We spent the night in Merida. As we’ll only be staying here for one night, we decided to visit the Granda Plaza in the evening. The main square is a lovely place to wander around and absorb the Mexican culture.
Where to sleep in Merida
One of our favorite stays during our Yucatan road trip was Casa Garza Hostal, a typical Yucatan house that is renovated in the classic style of the great haciendas.
We loved our room upstairs with a view over the beautiful city garden with a swimming pool, hammocks, and light bulbs. The hostel also provides breakfast and free parking. You can use the kitchen all day long. A great atmosphere and a fantastic place!
Other great options in Merida are:
- Casa Lucia Hotel Boutique: a lovely boutique hotel, only 500 meters from the central plaza, with a swimming pool.
- El Palacito Secreto Luxury Boutique Hotel & Spa: a luxurious stay in the center of Merida, with an amazing pool, friendly staff, and comfortable rooms.
Extra: Cenotes Merida
South of Merida you can find a lot of cenotes. As we were running out of time we didn’t visit them but here you can find a great article about the cenotes in Merida.
You could also book a tour from Merida to visit these cenotes. Or you can even stay a day longer and even book a tour to Celestun for a day if you don’t feel like driving up there the next day.
Day 9: Merida – Celestun
Total driving distance: 107 km or 66 miles
First, we’ll discover more of the city of Merida and in the afternoon or evening, we’ll drive to the seaside town of Celestun. There is only one way to Celestun, and you’ll have to return the same way. But it’s worth it, trust us.
How to spend your day in Merida
Today we discover the capital of Yucatan, Merida, a vibrant, cultural city. After breakfast, it is time to discover the different neighborhoods or “Barrios”.
We liked the “Barrio de San Sebastian” with the “Ermita de Santa Isabel”. Small colorful houses with beautiful doors, Mexicans sitting on a bench chatting, …
PRO TIP: If you happen to be in Merida on a Sunday, you can rent a bike on the Passeo de Montejo and ride down the Passeo along with the Mexicans. A fun experience!
The Mercado municipal in Merida can’t be skipped. They have souvenirs, typical clothing, Jipi Japa hats, …
If you have more time you can also visit “La Casa de Montejo“. It is one of the oldest houses (16th century) on the main square. This majestic house serves as a site museum, the entrance is free.
And, of course, spent some more time in the central plaza. Watch the food stalls, street venters, kids playing, and pigeons searching for food.
After visiting Merida it is time to drive to Celestun (1h30). Make sure you’re on time to enjoy the sunset on the beach in Celestun while having a refreshing cocktail.
Where to sleep in Celestun
We slept in Hotel Villa Gabriela (Airbnb) which is located close to the beach. They also have free parking spaces in front of the rooms. The room is standard but has everything you need. A decent bed, refrigerator, and a table and chairs. They also provide breakfast in the little restaurant on the property.
As Celestun is a small and rather unknown town, there aren’t many options for accommodation. A few good options are:
- Playa 55 Beach Escape: fantastic hotel, right at the beach with great reviews. Adults only, however, so not an option for us.
- Castillito Kin Nah: another lovely place by the beach. It’s a beautiful villa with a great pool.
- Hermosa casa en la playa: a nice vacation rental suitable for families. You rent the entire home which is beautifully located. You do need a car for this.
DAY 10: Celestun – Izamal
Total driving distance: 167 km or 103 miles
After spending the day in Celestun, we’ll continue our Yucatan itinerary towards Izamal, the yellow town.
What to do in Celestun
There are two mean reasons to come to Celestun. One is to visit the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve and its flamingos. The other one is the fantastic beach of Celestun, a lot less crowded than other beaches on the Yucatan Peninsula.
The flamingos season in Celestun is from November to February. If you don’t make it within this season, you can also see flamingos at Rio Lagartos, an hour’s drive north of Valladolid.
We were there in December and saw hundreds of birds. Early in the morning is usually a good time to go see them. Check with your accommodation for the best time to leave for the flamingos.
You have two options to visit the sanctuary. You can depart from the beach or from the bridge in the center of Celestun. We advise you to start from the bridge as you won’t lose time sailing the sea before getting into the sanctuary.
PRO TIP: Try to meet some fellow tourists so you can rent a boot together and share the costs.
After leaving the small harbor, you will sail into the canal to spot the flamingos. The next stop is the mangroves (monkeys) and the cenote. You can swim in the cenote if you want. We didn’t do it, however, after our guide showed a picture of a crocodile he saw there some months ago ;-).
If you haven’t enjoyed the beach of Celestun the evening before, or you just want to go back, go grab lunch at one of the lovely beach bars.
When you’re ready to leave this beautiful spot, continue your 2 weeks Yucatan road trip towards Izamal (2h10).
What to do in Izamal
Izamal, or “The city of hills” is one of Yucatan’s Pueblos Magicos. The city is painted almost entirely in bright yellow.
A mandatory stop is the Convento de San Antonio de Padua. This yellow convent is a true eye-catcher. It is built on top of the Maya temple Pap- Hol-Chac. Take your time to wander around this magical place.
If you still have time left you can visit Kinich Kakmo, the main Maya attraction in Izamal and the largest pyramid. Access is free and climbing the structures is allowed.
Where to eat and sleep in Izamal
Izamal isn’t very big, and has a few amazing and affordable places in the center to stay the night:
- Posada Ya´ax Ich: one of the most affordable hotels in Izamal, located 1 km from the center. They have a lovely pool, clean rooms, and friendly staff.
- Izamal Plaza: this very affordable hotel with fantastic reviews is located in a beautiful old building in the center of Izamal. They have rooms for couples but also for families.
- Coqui Coqui Casa de los Santos: if you don’t mind paying a little more, this place is one of the most authentic and luxurious places in Izamal. It comes with a lovely pool!
You can have dinner at the renowned restaurants Kinich, Zamna, or Los Arcos and be delighted by the regional food.
DAY 11: Izamal – Chichen Itza – Valladolid
Total driving distance: 120 km or 74 miles in total.
Today we’ll visit one of the new world wonders, the Mayan temples of Chichen Itza.
Visiting Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza, one of the seven modern wonders of the world is located 1 hour (77 km or 47 miles) driving from Izamal. Leave early to avoid the big groups of tourists coming from Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
It is one of the best-known Maya archeological sites in Mexico. The highlights include the Kukulkan pyramid, the Temple of warriors, the Grand ball court, the Nunnery, and the Observatory.
Be sure to also check the sacred Cenote, where a large number of offerings were found including ceramics, gold, and even human remains.
For a few years, climbing on the structures is forbidden. At the entrance, you can find restaurants, toilets, and gift shops.
Our honest opinion about visiting Chichen Itza? The temples are beautiful and definitely a must-do. But is way too crowded, too commercialized. It doesn’t feel authentic anymore. Not like Calakmul or Uxmal. We also were a little annoyed by the many stalls on the site itself but it’s up to you how many souvenirs you want to buy.
Swimming in Cenote Ik Kil
After visiting Chichen Itza, it’s time for a refreshing dip in “Cenote Ik Kil“. This spectacular cenote is only a 10min drive from the temple complex and also has a restaurant and bathrooms.
It is mandatory to wear a life jacket in the cenote. On the one hand, to prevent you from drowning, on the other they don’t want you to go diving and disturb the natural balance.
Again, the cenote is beautiful and not to be missed, but also very touristic. If you’re staying in the area, it might be better to visit early in the morning or an hour before closing time to avoid the crowds.
What to do in Valladolid
Time to continue our two weeks itinerary through Yucatan and head for Valladolid (40 min driving from Chitzen Itcha), our favorite town in Yucatan.
You could easily spend a day or two in Valladolid as there is so much to see. If you want that, you could skip Holbox and go straight to Cancun after you have visited Valladolid. Or aim for a 3-week itinerary in Mexico.
The main attractions in Valladolid are “La Calzada de los Frailes” and the “San Bernardino convent“. The first one is a street with pastel-colored houses that were built in the 16th century. You’ll find plenty of boutiques and coffee bars on the street.
At the end of the Calzado de los Frailes, you will find the San Bernardino convent, founded in 1552 by the Franciscans. Admire the chapel, atrium, and garden for only 30 pesos.
Another eye-catcher is the Valladolid Cathedral. When we were there, it was decorated with famous Mexican banners.
Where to eat and sleep in Valladolid
Valladolid is becoming more and more visited, so there are plenty of accommodations and restaurants around. Here are some of our favorite places to stay for the night:
- Casa Palagui Colonial: Lovely, affordable hotel with a fantastic garden.
- Hostel Candelaria: we heard so many good things about this hostel. Unfortunately, it’s adults-only, so we couldn’t test it out with our kids. But it is the place to be in Valladolid if you love hostels and very affordable!
- Hotel Posada San Juan: if you’re willing to pay a little more, come to this little gem. The building and staff are amazing, and the pool is an extra bonus. They have rooms for families too.
Our favorite place to eat is “Las Campanas“, located next to the central square. On the opposite side of the square, you’ll find a small food court (Bazart Municipal). Another nice spot is Yerbabuena del Sisal (only open until 5 pm). Vegan food can be found in “La Kaat“.
Other things to do around Valladolid
If you have more time in Valladolid, you can visit the Ek Balam archeological site north of Valladolid. Next to the site is the cenote X’Canché where you can swim, zipline, and rappel.
Valladolid is also known for the many cenotes located close by the city. Here you can find a good article about the different cenotes and how to visit them.
DAY 12: Valladolid- Isla Holbox
Total driving distance: 161 km or 100 miles – ferry (20min)
There is only one island on our road trip itinerary in Yucatan, Isla Holbox, and it’s a true gem! If you’re spending more time in Mexico, you could also consider visiting Isla Cozumel or Isla Mujeres.
How to get to Isla Holbox
Isla Holbox can only be reached by ferry. From Valladolid, it is a 2h drive to Chiquila where you can take the boat.
It is not possible to take the car with you to the island. You can leave it safely on one of the many parking close to the harbor. From the moment you’ll drive into Chiquila, you’ll see people waving at you. Those are the parking guards ;-).
The ferry takes about 30min. Once you arrive on Isla Holbox you can take a taxi (more of a golf cart actually) to your hotel or go on foot. If it has rained a lot, the streets (not asphalted) will be muddy so a taxi might be the only option.
During your stay, you can choose to walk, rent bikes, or rent a golf car! When you’re staying in the center, everything is manageable on foot. Except the Bioluminescence in Playa Punta Cocos and Punta Musquito.
For your first day in paradise, relax on the beautiful beach of Isla Holbox, grab some dinner and enjoy the beautiful sunset.
Where to eat and sleep in Isla Holbox:
We stayed in the center in Posada Hondumar. We had a decent and affordable room. There was no breakfast included, which ended up being a bit of a hassle as there aren’t many affordable options for breakfast around.
Other great options for accommodation on Isla Holbox are:
- Casa Mech: incredible hotel with beautiful rooms, only 6 minute’s walk from the beach. The owners are very helpful and friendly.
- Casa Sofia Holbox: another great option in the center, just a few minutes’ walk from the beach. Very friendly owner who is full of advice.
- Hotel Villas Flamingos: one of the more luxurious resorts in Holbox, located on the beach. The place has everything you could hope for when you’re staying in paradise.
We went for dinner to “Restaurante Viva Zapata” which was really good. We can especially recommend Fajitas con Pollo.
DAY 13: Isla Holbox
Things to do on Isla Holbox
What to do in Isla Holbox? You can hang out on the beach all day long… or you can decide to really explore this fantastic island.
One of the top tours to do is a 3 island tour boat trip. We chose to go with VIP Holbox because they are very focused on eco-consciousness.
Enjoy the wonderful boat ride as you visit Isla Pájaros or Bird Island. You will see pelicans, cormorants, gulls, and frigates. After Bird Island, you’ll visit Passion Island to end with a dip in the stunning waters of the Yalahau natural spring.
Another nice thing to do on Isla Holbox is to walk through the sea, heading for Punta Musquitos. This is only possible during low tide so check the hours before you get into trouble. It feels as if you are in the Maledives. If you’re in season (April – October) you can see the flamingos. It’s also possible to book a tour by boat.
Isla Holbox is probably most famous for its whales! If you’re here in the summer, you can see phenomenal whale sharks. You can get up close and swim with a whale shark and admire turtles, dolphins, and giant manta rays. The whale season is from 15th May until 15th September. Again, we suggest a tour with VIP Holbox as they are the leading agency in ecotourism.
If you want to enjoy the sunset, go by bike to Playa Punta Cocos. Don’t forget mosquito repellent! When it is completely dark you can even see bioluminescence in the water (check the position of the moon). You can also book a tour where they leave from the center and will take you to some very dark spots where you can see this wonder.
We wrote a complete article about what to do in Isla Holbox. Check out the 10 best things you can do in Isla Holbox here.
DAY 14: Isla Holbox – Cancun Airport
Total driving distance: ferry (20min) + 146 km or 90 miles
Unfortunately, it is time to say goodbye to this wonderful island and head back to Cancun to end your Yucatan itinerary and catch your plane.
If you have a very early flight from Cancun, we can highly suggest staying for the night at Cancun Soho B&B. The place has a very friendly owner, who can also drop you off at the airport. She even prepared breakfast for us at 5.30 am. The house has an amazing pool and a common kitchen area.
Yucatan itinerary 10 days road trip
Yucatan has a lot of highlights and things to do when visiting. The Yucatan itinerary we described in this article is perfect for a two weeks road trip.
However, if you have fewer days to spend, we have a suggested 10-day Yucatan itinerary for you.
- Day 1: Cancun – Tulum, Day 2: Tulum, Day 3: Tulum – Coba – Bacalar, Day 4: Bacalar
Same schedule and recommendations as the two weeks Yucatan itinerary road trip.
- Day 5: Bacalar – Uxmal – Merida
This day has a very long 5-hour drive (378 km or 234 miles) from Bacalar to Merida. If you don’t feel up to this, you could skip Bacalar and spend an extra day in Merida and/or Valladolid to visit the cenotes nearby.
We loved Bacalar, so that’s why we do advise you to go there. On the way, you can visit the magnificent temple complex of Uxmal. Check day 8 of our 14 days Yucatan itinerary for more information on that.
- Day 6: Merida – Izamal – Chichen Itza
Take day 6 to explore more of Merida and to visit the yellow town of Izamal. Spend the night close to the Chichen Itza temples, so you can visit them very early the next morning to avoid the crowds.
- Day 7: Chichen Itza – Valladolid
Visit the temples in the morning and cenote Ik-Kil after that. Check day 11 of our 14 days Yucatan road trip.
- Day 8: Valladolid – Isla Holbox, Day 9: Isla Holbox, Day 10: Isla Holbox – Cancun
Same schedule as day 12 – day 14 of our Yucatan itinerary 2 weeks road trip in Mexico.
As mentioned before, you could skip Bacalar and spent more days in Merida and/or Valladolid. Both cities have a lot to offer, both in the center and in the area. You can visit haciendas, cenotes, … as long as you want.
Yucatan itinerary 3 weeks road trip
If you are one of the lucky ones and you have 3 weeks or more in Yucatan, we have this suggested 3-week Yucatan itinerary road trip in Mexico for you.
- Day 1: Cancun
If you have some more time, you can stay a day in Cancun so you don’t need to rush after a long flight.
- Day 2: Cancun – Playa del Carmen – Isla Cozumel
The next day, drive towards Playa del Carmen. It’s only 68 km or 42 miles (a 1-hour drive). Stay a few hours here, maybe have lunch, so you can soak up the vibe of this place. In our opinion, it is crowded and not very authentic. However, we still enjoyed a visit there.
From Playa del Carmen, you can visit Isla Cozumel. It’s a wonderful place for snorkeling and diving. You reach it easily by ferry from the pier at Playa del Carmen. It is even possible to take your car with you.
- Day 3: Cozumel
Cozumel is a scenic and exciting island destination that offers countless things to do for visitors of all ages. Whether you are looking for adventurous outdoor activities or relaxing beachside, Cozumel has it all.
Some popular activities include snorkeling and diving in the colorful reefs along the coast, exploring ancient Mayan ruins, or just enjoying the sandy beaches and warm sun.
There are also plenty of shopping opportunities and restaurants that serve delicious local cuisine.
We dove with the kids on Cozumel together with Pedro from Aquadventures. It was a fantastic experience, something the kids still talk about.
- Day 4: Cozumel – Playa del Carmen – Tulum
You could enjoy another day on Cozumel and return in the afternoon to Playa Del Carmen before driving to Tulum.
Or you return in the morning and spend some time in Akumal to snorkel with turtles or arrive early in Tulum. It’s all up to you ;-).
- Day 5: Tulum, Day 6: Tulum – Coba – Bacalar, Day 7: Bacalar, Day 8: Bacalar – Xpujil, Day 9: Xpujil – Calakmul – Campeche, Day 10: Campeche, Day 11: Campeche – Uxmal – Merida
Same schedule and recommendations as the two weeks Yucatan itinerary road trip.
- Day 12: Merida
Merida has a lot to offer, both in the city center and in the area surrounding the city. You can easily spend an extra day here.
For activities outside of Merida, check our 2-weeks itinerary. If you want to do some exciting activities in Merida itself, think about doing a walking tour or cooking class.
- Day 13: Merida – Celestun, Day 14: Celestun – Izamal, Day 15: Izamal – Chichen Itza – Valladolid
Same schedule and recommendations as our Yucatan itinerary for two weeks in Mexico.
- Day 16: Valladolid
Same schedule and recommendations as our Yucatan itinerary for two weeks in Mexico.
- Day 17: Valladolid – Rio Lagartos – Los Colorades – Valladolid
On this extra day in Valladolid, you can decide to stay in this lovely town and relax. Or you could visit one of the nearby cenotes.
If you really want to see everything, we advise you to make a day trip to Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas.
Just like in Celestun, you can see flamingos in Rio Lagartos. They are there year-round, but the best months are March – June/July. It’s a 1,5-hour drive from Valladolid.
After you visit the flamingos, you can continue your journey toward Las Coloradas. These pink lakes are very Instagrammable 😉 and a sight to see!
Spend the evening back in Valladolid before we leave for our last stop tomorrow, Isla Holbox.
- Day 18: Valladolid – Isla Holbox, Dag 19: Isla Holbox, Day 20: Isla Holbox, Day 21: Isla Holbox – Cancun Airport
Same as our 2 weeks itinerary in Yucatan, with an extra day on Isla Holbox as you can’t be in paradise for too long ;-).
We hope you liked this Yucatan road trip itinerary and will have a fantastic time in Mexico. Let us know in the comments if you enjoyed it or if you have any questions or other recommendations.