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The PERFECT Day Trip to Tulum from Cancun [2024]

Looking to go on a day trip to Tulum from Cancun? Easy peasy! Check out our travel guide with all the info you need to plan the perfect day trip.

Tulum is one of the most sought-after destinations in the Riviera Maya. Its laid-back, hobo-chic vibe is a magnet for backpackers and families alike, and it boasts astonishing natural wonders.

Besides a great atmosphere, in Tulum you’ll find pristine beaches, and staggering Mayan ruins on top of a cliff. A coral barrier reef to snorkel in, great beach clubs, and adventure parks are only a few of its main attractions.

A drone shot featuring the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, a stretch of white sand, palm trees and palapas. Inserted in a post about taking a day trip to Tulum from Cancun

Tulum is also surrounded by cenotes, one of Mexico’s greatest attractions. So unless you’re staying in town for a few days already, make sure to plan a day trip there.

This day trip to Tulum from Cancun guide will help you plan the ultimate visit to one of the Riviera Maya’s gems. Check it out!


If you prefer to visit Tulum hassle-free, your best option is to join a Cancun to Tulum day tour. You’ll be picked up at your hotel, and all the activities, itinerary, and transfers will be taken care of for you.

Below you’ll find the ultimate Tulum day trips from Cancun.

➤ This Viator Exclusive: Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote and Caves is a Combo Tour. It combines a guided visit to the Mayan Ruins with some snorkeling. You’ll get to swim along the reef in the sea, and also relax in a nearby cenote and underground caves. A buffet lunch is included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ The Cancun Jungle Tour: Tulum, Cenote Snorkeling, Ziplining, Lunch lasts a full day, and covers a great number of activities in Tulum. You’ll start by visiting the ruins, followed by a hike in the jungle to reach two cenotes. You’ll then get to zipline and rappel down into a cenote, and visit a Maya community. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ This Ruins Visit and Swim in a Cenote Guided Tulum tour from Cancun is a half-day experience. It offers the perfect combination: Mayan ruins and cenotes. It allows you to enjoy a guided tour of the Tulum Archaeological Site, and then swim in two cenotes. ➥ BOOK IT HERE


Private Driver for the Day

The most comfortable way to get to Tulum and drive around for a day is by booking a private driver. You’ll get to decide your itinerary and schedule, and enjoy the transfers in a modern, air-conditioned vehicle.

It’s pretty much a private tour, or like having your own vehicle – except you’re in charge of making decisions, and don’t have to worry about driving.

The driver will be with you for 6 hours – they also have the option to book for 12 hours instead.,

ADO bus

Taking the bus from Tulum to Cancun is a fantastic (and more affordable!) alternative.

If you’re staying in Downtown Cancun, you’ll take the bus at the ADO station located in Calle Pino, SM23, MZ56. Buses run all day, and tickets cost around $17 at the time of writing.

If you’re staying in Cancun Hotel Zone, you’ll need to take the local R1 bus to Cancun Downtown, and from there the bus to Tulum. The bus can drop you off at the Tulum Ruins, where I recommend starting this trip, so that’s where you should head first.

Rental Car

You can also rent a car to enjoy more flexibility. It enables you to make the most of your free time at the ruins, explore the region, and return whenever you feel like it.

There are plenty of car rentals in Cancun, and the drive to Tulum is very simple. Unless there’s much traffic, it doesn’t take much longer than 1.5 hours along Highway 307.

Renting a car in Mexico is a bit tricky, though, as scams are sadly quite frequent. Make sure you’re not charged for anything other than the rental (they may try to sell you insurance that you don’t need).

Also remember to take pictures of the vehicle when you get it, so you can’t be charged for damages you didn’t cause.

To avoid this kind of situation, I generally book a car online in advance. I use and recommend Discover Cars to compare prices and get the best deal when choosing your vehicle. ➥ COMPARE PRICES HERE

Discover Cars is an online booking service that offers a wide range of rental options from various agencies in Cancun. This makes it easier to find a rental car that suits your budget and needs.

I particularly like their cancelation policy. Typically, with Discover Cars, you can cancel your booking for free up to 48 hours before the pickup time. This is a much more generous cancelation policy than other platforms. It’s always important, however, to read the specific terms and conditions of your rental agreement. Policies can vary based on the rental company and the rate you choose.


Colectivos are a very efficient and inexpensive means of transfer in Mexico. They are shared shuttles that connect cities and towns, making stops along the way to pick up or drop off passengers.

If you’re traveling on a budget, it’s your best option to keep your Tulum day trip from Cancun within your means. There are no direct colectivos between the two locations, but it’s fairly easy to make the journey.

You’ll take a colectivo from Cancun Downtown to Playa del Carmen, and there switch to one that goes to Tulum.

The colectivo stop is in Cancun Downtown, right across the ADO bus station. The price ticket isn’t exactly fixed, but you’ll pay around 100 Pesos ($5) for the journey. You can also use the colectivo to get from the Mayan ruins to Tulum Town after your visit.


The last option is taking a taxi. Taxis are incredibly expensive in Tulum, though. If you’ll need multiple taxis during the day, you’d be better off with a private driver.

This way you’ll know how much it’s going to cost you for the day, with no surprises.

A taxi ride from Cancun Downtown to Tulum Town will cost you around $120 at the time of writing, and a little more if you’re coming from the Hotel Zone.


Your Tulum excursion from Cancun should start early in the morning, to give you time to enjoy it all. From archaeological findings to gorgeous beaches and underground pools, there are quite a few things to do in Tulum!

Visit the Tulum Ruins

The Tulum Ruins are the most important attraction in town. Situated on top of a cliff, with the Caribbean Sea as a backdrop, they are stunning to look at, besides being historically significant.

The Tulum site was built sometime between 1200 and 1400 CE, and used to be known as Zama. The name is Mayan and means Place of the Dawning Sun, which is not a surprise as the settlement faces east.

Zama was a very important part of the trading route in the region, and a thriving city.

The settlement features several pyramids and temples, an observatory, and a palace. Limestone walls, most of which remain to this day, enclosed the settlement to protect it from invasions.

It’s a very interesting site to explore (and to take Instagram pics, why not?) It’s rich history and stunning views are worth the visit! When you’re done, you can cool off at the secret beach located right below the ancient Mayan ruins.

Opening Hours: Daily from 8 AM to 4 PM
Entrance Fee: 85 Pesos ($4)

Have Lunch at Tulum Beach

Tulum Beach is full of trendy and delicious places for lunch. I suggest you check out one of these great restaurants in Tulum to indulge in delicious food with a beautiful view.

▶️ Fresco’s Tulum is a beachside restaurant with a boho vibe and delicious, fresh cuisine. It serves healthy breakfast items and lunch, combining international favorites with local dishes. You can get a good coffee to start your day or head to the bar for a craft cocktail.

▶️ Loco Tulum Restaurant specializes in Mediterranean cuisine. It has a seasonal tasting menu I recommend trying. The creations by the chef combine regional ingredients with international flavors in a beautiful jungle setting.

▶️ Raw Love Beach is a plant-based restaurant that aims to create a positive impact through healthy nutrition. Vegan burgers, curries, salads, and soups make up the main menu. It also includes delicious breakfast specials like smoothie bowls, wellness shots, and juices.

Relax at One of Tulum Beaches or…

Image of Playa Ruinas, with the turquoise sea on the right, and a rocky cliffs with Mayan ruins on the left

Playa Ruinas is the hidden beach located right under the Tulum Ruins (hence its name). To get to the beach, you’ll have to climb down a wooden ladder perched on the cliff.

The beach is very small, and not the kind where you’ll set up your loungers and picnic. However, it’s very paradisiac and perfect to cool off after exploring the site. You’ll also get to see the pyramids from a new perspective as you swim in the sea!

Playa Paraiso means Paradise Beach, and the name couldn’t be more accurate. It’s situated in Northern Tulum, and has plenty of facilities.

You could rent a sun lounger or umbrella, and spend the afternoon relaxing by the sea. You can even make use of the spa services nearby!

Playa Las Palmas is one of the most popular public beaches in Tulum. It doesn’t have many facilities, so you’ll have to take a towel or your own chairs to lie down. It is, however, more preserved than the rest, featuring a broad beachfront and cheap restaurants in the area.

If you’d rather be pampered and enjoy a truly relaxing time, I’d recommend going to a beach club. These below are the best beach clubs in Tulum, Mexico in my opinion.

▶️ Papaya Playa Project is a spectacular beach club in South Tulum Beach. It features palapas facing the ocean, a bar, and a restaurant to serve your meals, sunbeds, and even a semi-amphitheater! The minimum consumption is 1500 Pesos per person.

▶️ Mia Beach Club has a bohemian vibe and boasts a first line on a gorgeous, white-sand beach. Besides the well-located day beds, of which there are single and double ones, there’s a pizza spot, a European restaurant, and a bar. There’s no entrance fee but a minimum consumption of 1300 Pesos is required.

▶️ Villa Pescadores is in Northern Tulum. It charges a fee to enter, as it’s a private beach area, and offers certain facilities to guests. You’ll get to use the sun beds or take a shower, as well as relish some food and drinks.

Swim in the Best Tulum Cenotes

A woman at the bottom of the stairs in Cenote Dos Ojos, inserted in a post about the perfect day trip to Tulum from Cancun

In our opinion, cenotes are Tulum’s best feature. These natural sinkholes are a fantastic attraction to cool off after a day of sightseeing.

Snorkel among rock formations, and get stunning pictures because they’re so dreamy! You’ll find our all-time favorite cenotes below.

▶️ Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the best cenotes in Tulum. Its name means two eyes, and refers to the two holes that comprise the cenote, which are connected underground. It’s a great cenote for swimming, snorkeling, and even diving.

▶️ Cenote Calavera is also named after its appearance; if looked at from above, it resembles a skull. Nothing to put you off, though! The cenote is gorgeous, and it’s connected to the world’s largest cave system. You actually have to climb down a ladder to get in…unless you want to go cliff-jumping!

▶️ Gran Cenote is a popular one in the area. It’s family-friendly, as there are shallow areas for kids, and it offers great snorkeling opportunities. If you’re lucky, you may get to see turtles! It’s also one of the easiest to visit from Tulum if you don’t have a car; you could even bike there.

There are many (many!) cenotes in Tulum, and you can’t really go wrong with any. Some other awesome options include:

Regardless of which cenotes you choose to visit, you absolutely must include at least one in your Cancun to Tulum day trip. Overall, there are so many things to do in Tulum that you could definitely spend a few days exploring its attractions.

A day trip from Cancun, though, is highly (highly!!) recommended if it’s your only chance to visit the charming town. I hope this guide helps you plan a fantastic day out. Enjoy!


What is the best day tour to Tulum from Cancun?

In our opinion, the best Tulum excursion from Cancun is this Viator Exclusive: Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote and Caves.
It includes round trip transportation, and a savvy guide who will take you to the major attractions in Tulum. These include the clifftop Mayan site, the cenotes, and the reef in the Caribbean Sea!

How far is Tulum from Cancun?

Tulum is 81 miles (130 km) south of Cancun. The drive there takes approximately 1.5 hours, although it depends on the traffic.

How long is the ride from Cancun to Tulum?

The drive from Cancun to Tulum takes a little over 1.5 hours. It can be closer to 2 hours if there’s a lot of traffic.

Is it safe to travel from Cancun to Tulum?

Yes! The drive from Cancun to Tulum is very straightforward, and it’s safe. If you have a rental car, then it’s the easiest way to make the journey.

What to do in Tulum for a day?

If you only have one day in Tulum, make sure to visit Tulum Ruins, some of the beaches, and at least a couple of cenotes, which are the region’s gem.

What are the best tours to Tulum from Cancun?

In my opinion, the best excursions to enjoy a day trip from Cancun to Tulum are these:
Viator Exclusive: Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote and Caves
Cancun Jungle Tour: Tulum, Cenote Snorkeling, Ziplining, Lunch
Ruins Visit and Swim in a Cenote Guided Tulum tour from Cancun

  • Virginia Bello

    Virginia is a writer originally from Montevideo, Uruguay. She left her career as a TV Producer to gain more freedom and never looked back. She's been traveling the world full-time ever since! Virginia has traveled extensively through Latin America, Europe and Asia. You can currently find her gallivanting through Southeast Asia.