White sand beaches, cenotes, Mayan ruins and charming towns: road trip Yucatan, Mexico with this ultimate 2 weeks in Yucatan itinerary and see all the best that Yucatan offers!
The Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico is one of the most popular destinations in the world, and it’s easy to see why. It’s the only place where you can take a trip to the beach one day and see ancient Mayan ruins the next. You can spend the whole night partying, or you can find an island to relax and get away from it all.
Lots of people spend a whole 10 days in Cancun in an all-inclusive resort, but the Yucatan Peninsula offers so much that it would be a shame not to explore more… so go and road trip Yucatan!
In fact, there’s so much to do that it can be a bit overwhelming. I’m here to help you out! This 2 weeks in Yucatan itinerary will give you a solid guide of everything you need to see on this Mexico road trip through Yucatan.
Day 1 to 3: Cancun or Playa del Carmen & Day Trip to Cozumel
Of course, it only makes sense to start your vacation with a trip to the beach. Cancun and Playa del Carmen are two of the most famous tourism spots in the world, and you’ll probably arrive by plane to Cancun International Airport.
You can either decide to rent a car or follow this Yucatan itinerary by public transportation. I have done it twice and both ways are totally doable, but renting a car in Cancun or Playa will save you tons of time. Driving in Yucatan is easy, the roads are fine, and it’s very cheap to rent a car.
Both of these cities feature gorgeous beaches, wild nightlife, and old Mayan ruins. Cancun tends to have a bit more of a party vibe while Playa del Carmen is somewhat quieter and caters more to couples and families. There are also some incredible cenotes near Playa del Carmen you gotta swim in! Which one you decide to visit is largely up to you.
READ ALSO: 41 Incredible Things To Do in Cancun
Where to stay in Playa del Carmen
If you have time, you might also consider taking a trip to the island of Cozumel. This is one of the top scuba diving spots in the world. Its communities of coral reefs make it a must-see for divers everywhere.
⇒ Check out the Full-Day Cozumel Reef Adventure with Snorkeling, which includes snorkeling at 3 beautiful spots in Cozumel and transfer from the Riviera Maya ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
Day 3 to 5: Isla Holbox
Isla Holbox is a small island off the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula that has yet to be spoiled by massive tourism, and definitely my favorite secret spot in the Riviera Maya.
White sand beaches, cenotes, and colorful buildings make this the perfect Caribbeans escape for a few days of pure, unadulterated relax.
This small fishing village is separated from the mainland by a shallow lake that’s home to numerous flamingos. The island is teeming with wildlife in general, especially birds, iguanas, and dolphins. You can even go swimming with the whale sharks while you’re there (but make sure to do it with a responsible tour operator!).
Isla Holbox is also considered to be one of the best places in the world to learn how kitesurf. This is because of its shallow waters and long beaches with relatively few obstacles. Another unique feature is the fact that it’s almost completely car-free with most residents getting around on golf carts. This adds to the island’s quiet, fishing village atmosphere that I loved, and no doubt you will too.
Two nights is the minimum time you need to enjoy the island, but feel free to spend more time here if you want. I spent 3 nights on the island and I would have loved to stay even more.
Where to stay in Holbox
Day 5 to 8: Valladolid
Day 5 – Visit the Town of Valladolid
Valladolid is a charming little town in the state of Yucatan. Along with being a good central hub for visiting other nearby attractions, it’s also a great place to chill out and wander around. It’s considered one of Mexico’s “magic towns” because of its cultural and historical relevance. In this town, you’ll find cobblestone streets, colorful colonial buildings, and authentic Mayan clothing and cuisine.
Another reason to stay here is because it’s not overly crowded with tourists. This helps it retain its quiet, small town charm. It’s simply a great place to relax and get lost for a while before going on your next adventures.
READ ALSO: Top 7 Things To Do in and Around Valladolid
Where to stay in Valladolid
Day 6 – Day Trip to Las Coloradas and Rio Lagartos
From Valladolid, you can visit two natural wonders that are unlike anything else in the world and that you should definitely include in your Yucatan road trip.
The first is Las Coloradas, a small community whose lakes have a unique cotton-candy pink color. It’s one of few places in the world where you can find this unusual phenomenon, and it’s something you absolutely must see for yourself – and then take a million Instagram photos like I did!
Next is Rio Lagartos, a small fishing village next to a lagoon filled with flamingos, crocodiles, racoons, pelicans, and over 400 species of birds. Both locations are part of the same nature reserve and can be visited in the same day.
This area is so much easier to reach if you have a car, but it’s also doable by public transportation – I did it! It just takes a long time to get here no matter what.
You can also take a tour if you prefer: check out the Flamingos Tour. You’ll start with a boat ride in Rio Lagartos where you’ll get a chance to see crocodiles and beautiful pink flamingos, then you’ll visit a salt mine at the pink lakes of Las Coloradas, and finally you’ll get some time in a beautiful beach nearby.
⇒ BOOK IT HERE
Day 7 – Chichen Itza & Cenote Ik Kil
Of course, you can’t leave Yucatan without seeing Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza was one of the Mayans’ largest cities. Today, it is one of Mexico’s most popular tourist attraction… so make sure you get here early so you can avoid the tourist buses!
Despite its age, the ruins are still in magnificent condition. Visiting Chichen Itza is truly like taking a step back in time and seeing how the ancient Mayans lived on a day to day basis. In particular, you’ll want to check out El Castillo, the massive step pyramid that overlooks the city.
You’ll also want to see the Great Ball Court, which is the best preserved Mesoamerican ball court in the world today.
READ ALSO: A Complete Guide to Chichen Itza, Mexico
TIP TIME: Skip the line by booking your tickets in advance. You’ll enter the ruins through Mayaland Hotel so you’ll avoid the crowds (and the queues that sometimes are very long), and after your visit you’ll be able to use the facilities at the hotel including the swimming pool. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
Close to the ruins, you’ll also find cenote Ik Kil, that is absolutely beautiful but a little overcrowded at times… if you want it all for yourself, head here as soon as they open and you’ll avoid the masses.
Day 8 to 11: Tulum
Day 8 – Tulum Ruins and Beach Time
What is a Yucatan road trip without a stop in Tulum? Your first day in Tulum can be spent visiting the town, then the ruins by the coast. This former trading post was one of the last cities built by the Mayans.
It remains one of their best preserved ruins. The ruins at Tulum distinguish themselves by being one of the few Mayan cities protected with a wall and by being the only one built by the sea. It has its own Castillo overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
Since the ruins are right next to the beach, you can also have some fun in the sun on the same day. The beaches in Tulum are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and jet skiing, or just laying down on the white sand without a care in the world.
You’ll also want to check out some of the many design restaurants, cafès, and boutique shops that made Tulum the popular boho-chic paradise it has become.
Where to stay in Tulum
Day 9 – Sian Ka’an Day Trip
This is something that all the nature lovers out there can look forward to. Just south of Tulum is Sian Ka’an, one of the largest nature reserves in Mexico (it’s twice the size of Rhode Island!) and one the best day trips from Tulum.
You can take a tour of the reserve and experience tropical climates, rainforests, and an exceedingly diverse variety of flora and fauna. Some of what you’ll see includes dolphins, crocodiles, spider monkeys, turtles, and much more. This is in addition to over 300 species of birds. The reserve is still fairly undiscovered by tourists (ssshhh! don’t tell anyone!).
Check out these tours to Sian Kaan:
• Half Day Trip Sian Kaan Muyil: this tour includes a boat ride through the lagoon, a visit to the Mayan ruins of Muyil in the middle of the Sian Kaan Jungle (which look like they came out of an old Indian Jones movie!), and time for swimming in the turquoise waters. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
• Sian Kaan Boat Trip and Snorkel Adventure: this full-day tour which includes a 3-hour boat tour where you’ll be able to snorkel in the 2nd largest coral reef in the world, spot dolphins and turtles. Then you’ll have time at the beach and a wonderful fresh fish lunch. This is teh tour I took and I highly recommend it! ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
You could possibly visit Sian Ka’an on your own, but the conditions of the road make me suggest you avoid doing that. This one of those locations where going on a tour will make the difference between a beautiful day in the sun and potentially a nightmare of an adventure if you get stuck.
CHECK OUT ALSO : 11 Unmissable Day Trips from Tulum
Day 10 – Explore the Cenotes in Tulum
Along with its ruins, Tulum is well-known for it massive number of cenotes. There are actually over 4000 of these giant sinkholes in the region, and there are quite a few stunning cenotes in Tulum! This is an exciting alternative to going to the beach, as the cenotes are perfect swimming, snorkeling, and diving, and to me the best thing to do in Riviera Maya: in other words, you can’t plan a road trip to Mexico and not visit the cenotes!
⇒ If you want to go with a tour, check out the Cenote Trail: Caves Visit and Bike Tour, which will bring you to Gran Cenote, Cenote Escondido & Cenote Cristal all in one day to quench your cenotes thirst. BOOK IT HERE
One of the most popular cenotes is Dos Ojos, Spanish for two eyes. It’s named for its two sections, one that’s good for snorkeling and one for diving. Other popular cenotes in Tulum include Gran Cenote and my favorite ones of all, Cenote Calavera and Cenote Nicte Ha.
Day 11 to 14: Relax at All Inclusive Grand Bahia Principe Tulum
While you’re roadtripping the Yucatan Peninsula, it is absolutely necessary that you spend some time at the Grand Bahia Principe Tulum. After all, this Mexico itinerary is very packed , and you’ll need some time to recharge before you end the trip.
This all-inclusive resort is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever stayed before, and I truly loved my first time at an all inclusive. Guests can choose between 11 restaurants of all kinds, and tons of bars (all food, snacks, and non- and alcoholic drinks are included). Some of the restaurants require a reservation, so make sure you make our choices and reserve on your first day at the resort, and before you arrive through the resort app.
My favorite restaurants were the Cozumel restaurant (a traditional Mexican restaurant) and the Nikkei Mashua restaurant, a Japanese and Peruvian fusion restaurant. So, so good!
I stayed in one of the resort’s Superior Rooms, and was very happy with it. These provide lots of extra space along with gorgeous views of the sea and the pool. You also get a balcony, a mini bar, and either two double beds or a king sized bed.
Wi-Fi in your room is available for an extra charge. With all these amenities in mind, the Superior Room is going to feel like your home away from home.
At Grand Bahia Principe Tulum, you can do a lot or do nothing at all, as you please. If you’re the active type, particpate in one of the dance and aerobics classes, or rent (for free) a paddle board, a kayak, or snorkeling equipment. Every day there is full program of organized activities, just check the board at your arrival.
The Grand Bahia Principe Tulum is in a very convenient location in the center of Riviera Maya, in Akumal and half way between Tulum and Playa del Carmen. It’s only half an hour away from Playa del Carmen and an hour from the Cancun International Airport.
Overall, the Grand Bahia Principe Tulum is an attraction in itself, and something you should certainly experience for yourself. This is a resort that truly goes above and beyond to make their guests feel welcome.
CHECK OUT RATES & AVAILABILITY: Grand Bahia Principe Tulum
Day Trip to Xcaret Park
While you’re staying at the Grand Bahia Principe Tulum, you should keep one day aside to visit Xcaret, a classic when you’re in the area. This is an eco-archaeological park that has tons of things to see and do for adults children of all ages. There are numerous theme park rides and cultural shows. I particularly loved swimming in the Underground Rivers, among caves, blue water, and mangroves.
You can also explore the park’s underground rivers or play a game of the Mesoamerican ball game. Xcaret park also features a variety of performances that honor the history of Mexico going back to Pre-Hispanic times. Not to be missed the night show: wow, what a show!
The park is a true celebration of Mexican culture and is a great way to end your vacation on the Yucatan Peninsula – just, please avoid any activities with the dolphins. We are all about responsible travel here at Every Steph and strongly suggest doing your own research about any activities that exploit dolphins and animals.
⇒ SAVE 15% ON YOUR XCARET TICKET by booking online!
Here you go! Now you have a complete Yucatan Peninsula itinerary. By following this itinerary, you can experience all the highlights of what the Yucatan has to offer in just two weeks.
If you only have one week in Mexico, I suggest combining the area of Valladolid with a stay in Tulum or Cancun/Playa del Carmen for a good mix of beach time and cultural activities. This Mexican road trip of a lifetime awaits you!
Want More? Check Out These Other Mexico Destinations
I received a complimentary stay at Grand Bahia Principe Tulum and a pass to Xcaret Park. All opinions are my own as always.