Heading to Tulum soon? Oh, I’m so jealous! Check out the 30 top things to do in Tulum, Mexico; you’ll also find ideas for day trips and useful info to plan your trip to Tulum.
Tulum almost doesn’t need an introduction. This charming town set in the southern portion of the Mayan Riviera is one of the most popular destinations in Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula.
And no wonder, I’d say. From paradise beaches, ancient Mayan ruins, incredible cenotes, eco-friendly adventures, and a great foodie scene, Tulum offers everything you need to leave your worries behind and enter the state of tropical bliss.
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Tulum and it’s one of my favorite places in Mexico. I want you to have the best experience possible in Tulum, so if you’re wondering what to do in Tulum, make sure to check out this gigantic list. You’ll probably have to extend your holiday!
HOW TO GET TO TULUM FROM CANCUN
If you are coming from Cancun airport or the city, getting to Tulum is quite easy as you have quite a few options.
➤ You can take a private transfer from Cancun to Tulum – it’s more expensive than other options but it’s certainly convenient. If you’re 3, booking a private transfer is actually more convenient than the shared shuttle, and even if you’re just two of you, you need to think if the extra cost ($30) is worth the extra hassle.
➤ Otherwise you can opt for a shared shuttle, which is especially a good choice if you’re traveling solo but want to get straight to your hotel.
➤ Other options include taking the ADO bus, which departs from the airport multiple times a day, or renting a car. I wrote a full post about how get from Cancun to Tulum. I suggest you to check it out for additional info.
HOW TO GET FROM PLAYA DEL CARMEN TO TULUM
Playa del Carmen and Tulum are just one hour away, so it’s very easy to get to Tulum from Playa. Your best option in this case is to take the colectivo (shared van) to Tulum, but you’ve got other options as well including bus, taxi, and more.
I also wrote a full post about the best ways for getting to Tulum from Playa del Carmen, check it out for specific info.
READ MORE: How to Get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum
9 BEST THINGS TO DO IN TULUM
Now that you know how to get here, check out what to do in Tulum. Whatever you like to do, I bet you’ll find it here. Let’s start from the top 9 things to do!
Visit the Tulum Ruins
There’s not such thing as visiting Tulum and not visiting the ruins – after all, the iconic image of the ruins perched on the rock, by the blue water is what has made Tulum so famous in the first place.
The Tulum Ruins are part of an ancient Mayan walled city that was perched on the edge of a cliff. The views from up here are absolutely stunning – no wonder that the original name of the ruins is “Zama”, which means “place of the dawning sun”. The name referred to the fact that from the citadel, you could get an incredible view of the rising sun.
The walled city served as a seaport fortress, which explains its proximity to the beach. The main pyramid is known as El Castillo, which was used as the ancient lighthouse while the site was still in operation. Other ruins to check out are the Temple of the Frescoes, The House of the Halach Uinic, and the House of the Columns.
The Tulum Ruins are open daily from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Mexican citizens and residents enter for free on Sundays, so it’s best to avoid Sundays as there are even more people than usual. The entry fee is currently 70 Mexican Pesos, or 3.70 USD.
➤ Looking for the perfect tour? I like the 3 in 1 Discovery Combo tour because you get to explore coral reefs, ancient history, and nature all in one day. The tour starts with a guided tour of the Tulum Ruins; after that, you’ll go on a boat tour to the coral reef in the Caribbean Sea where you’ll get the chance to snorkel. The tour ends with a swim at Cenote Caracol, a beautiful cave cenote.
Swim in the Breathtaking Tulum Cenotes
No visit to Tulum would be complete without touring one of many cenotes in town. In fact, this might be the highlight of your trip to Tulum. I’m saying it because it was it for me – you know, you can find beautiful beaches all around the world, but the cenotes are something quite unique to this area.
You don’t know what I’m talking about? The massive underground river system in the Yucatan Peninsula has resulted in the formation of many cenotes which are natural swimming holes, and there are some very cool Tulum cenotes you can visit. In fact, I made a little video highligthing my favorite ones.
Whether you are looking to swim, snorkel, or dive, here are some of the best cenotes around Tulum.
READ MORE: 13 Best Cenotes in Tulum
One of my favorite cenotes in Tulum is Cenote Dos Ojos. This cenote almost needs no introduction – it’s that popular! The name translates to “two eyes”, because it appears to be made of two different sinkholes, which are actually connected by a deep passageway. You can’t help but be amazed by the color of the water of Cenote Dos Ojos, which is a beautiful turquoise blue that almost looks photoshopped. You can snorkel, dive, or simply swim here.
Located halfway between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Cenote Azul makes for the perfect day trip. As the name implies, Cenote Azul boasts beautiful crystal clear, blue waters. It’s a completely different experience from Dos Ojos because this is an open-type cenote that looks like a natural pool, with cliffs where you can jump off from. The cenote has some shallow areas that are perfect for kids too.
Gran Cenote is another of the most popular cenotes in Tulum, and while it can get crowded, it’s still one of the best cenotes to visit. Gran Cenote is made of multiple cenote caves with stalagmites and stalactites, and it’s great for both snorkeling and scuba diving (and totally kid-friendly)
You can combine a few cenotes in one day and visit them on your own, or you can join a tour for a hassle free experience.
➤ The Cenote Trail: Caves and Bike tour does’t have many public reviews, but I’ve listed this tour on my post about the best cenotes in Tulum and many of my readers went on it and loved it, so I can safely recommend it. This cenote tour by bike will bring you to Gran Cenote, Cenote Escondido and Cenote Cristal, three of the most beautfiul and famous cenotes in the area (it will quench your cenotes thirst!). You’ll have time for swimming and snorkeling at all of them, followed by a good brunch.
Take a Day Trip to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
If you can make it to only one place around Tulum, please make it this one. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the great diversity in flora and fauna. It’s located to the south of Tulum – when Tulum ends, Sian Kaan starts.
When I say that this is one of the best places to visit in Tulum, is because here you’ll find deserted white beaches fringed by palms, the bluest water ever (seriously – it’s the best water I’ve ever seen in the WORLD!), and ruins hidden in the jungle. You will be able to spot dolphins, crocodiles, turtles, manta rays, and flamingos. Sounds pretty dreamy, doesn’t it?
Just to have a clearer idea, check out this drone video taken by my friend Raphael.
You could explore Sian Ka’an on your own but the road is unpaved, bumpy, and you definitely need a 4×4. We tried to enter with a regular car and the guard at the entrance stopped us, saying we would have gotten stuck. So, I decided to go with a tour.
Tours to Sian Ka’an aren’t cheap, but trust me when I tell you that it’s one of the best things to do around Tulum and will probably end up being highlight of your trip. If you have to choose between one of the parks like Xcaret and this, this one beats it.
Check out these two options:
➤ Sian Kaan Boat Trip and Snorkel Adventure, a 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, and spot dolphins and turtles. Then you’ll have some free time at the beach and you’ll finish with a fresh fish lunch. This is the same exact tour I took and it was incredible. ⇒ CHECK IT OUT HERE
➤If you’re an adventure junkie, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Eco Park Adventure is for you. On this tour you’ll snorkel in a cenote, zip line across the jungle, go on a boat ride, visit the Muyil ruins and more. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
Don’t Miss a Day Trip to Chichen Itza
Very few people come all the way to Tulum and don’t go visit Chichen Itza. And you really should make time for it! The most famous archaeological site in Mexico, Chichen Itza is a city that was built by the ancient Mayans. Not only is this site a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it was also named as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It’s located near Valladolid, a picturesque colonial town. Are these enough reasons for you to go?
Chichen Itza is open from 8 AM to 4:30 PM daily.
The Chichen Itza entry fee is 481 Mexican Pesos per person (it only applies to foreign tourists).
If you’re going on your own, I recommend heading there early and enjoy the place before the crowds come. You’ll also avoid the intense heating of midday this way.
If you prefer going with a guide, here are two great tours:
➤ The Chichén Itzá, Ik Kil Cenote & Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour is the most popular tour to Chichen Itza from Tulum. On this tour you’ll visit the famous pyramids of Chichen Itza, plus you’ll stop for a swim at Cenote Ik Kil, and you’ll finish by exploring the colonial town of Valladolid – plus, it’s probably the most affordable tour to Chichen Itza you can find! ▶ BOOK IT HERE
➤ If you prefer visiting a less crowded cenote, check out the Chichén Itzá All-Inclusive with Hubiku Cenote & Valladolid tour. This tour also includes a swim at a cenote, in this case Cenote Hubiku which is equally beautiful, and a visit to Valladolid aside from exploring the Chichen Itza ruins. Transfer now seems to be only possible from Playa del Carmen.▶ BOOK IT HERE
Enjoy the Beaches of Tulum
The collection of incredible white sand beaches is what makes Tulum one of Mexico’s best destinations. If you are after powdery white sand and turquoise blue beaches, Tulum is the beach bum’s ultimate paradise.
Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Tulum has had a problem with sargassum seaweed these past few years on its beaches. Well, it is a serious problem, but it’s mostly a seasonal one. Sargassum usually comes to shore between April and July, so if you’re planning a trip at this time, better to check what’s the situation like before going. I visited in November and while there was some seaweed, it wasn’t unbearable in any way, nor did it make my trip less enjoyable.
Playa Paraiso stands out as one of the best beaches in Tulum, no wonder its name means “Paradise Beach”. It’s located right south of the ruins, and it’s they typical Caribbean beach. Find here the whitest, powdery sand, lined by palm trees. You can sip on tropical cocktails or have food without leaving your lounge chair, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from here.
Playa Ruinas is another great beach to visit, particularly if you want to combine two of the best Tulum attractions – the beach and the ruins. This beach is notable for the proximity of Mayan ruins nearby that provide an overlooking view of the Caribbean Sea. The beach is unique, but really crowded at most times.
Or, if you are looking for a more secluded beach, you can head to Las Palmas Public Beach, which is located 1 km south of the ruins after Playa Pescadores. This is a less commercialized beach, you’ll only find a small restaurant with plastic chairs, and beach chairs are for rent. It’s a great place to enjoy the turquoise waves and the white sand beach without the crowds.
Climb the Pyramid at Coba Ruins
The region around Tulum is filled with so many incredible ruins that it’s hard to choose which ones to visit and which ones to skip.
One of sites I recommend you to find the time to visit is Coba. The Coba Ruins are another archaeological site, but the good news is that they are close to Tulum and without the crowds you’ll find at Chichen Itza.
The ancient city of Coba is most famous for the large network of stone causeways that are known as sacbes in Mayan. There are a total of 50 roads that were discovered in Coba. These pathways brings you to the main pyramid Nohoch Mul.
Nohoc Mul remains one of the last pyramids in Mexico, and the world, that you can still climb. It’s a pretty steep walk up to the top, but it’s worth it to enjoy the views of the lush surrounding jungle!
⚠️ As of 2021, climbing the pyramid is not possible because of COVID-19 restrictions. It’s a bummer, but it’s totally worth visiting Coba in any case!
READ MORE: Coba Ruins: A Complete Guide (2021)
You can visit the Coba Ruins for 75 Mexican Pesos, approximately 3.95 USD. Coba can be easily reached by colectivo coming from Tulum.
➤ If you prefer to go with a tour and a guide who will tell you about the history of the ruins, check out the Coba, Tulum, Cenote & Playa Paraiso Tour, that covers A LOT just in one day. You’ll get to visit both Coba and Tulum ruins, two very different sites, plus swim in a cenote and relax on the beach. The tour comes with both breakfast and lunch and it’s pretty affordable for all that it includes.
Head to Playa del Carmen for Shopping and Dinner
What to do when you get here, you say? Well, there’s lot to visit including some other beautiful beaches and cenotes near Playa. But for something different, go shopping! The great thing about shopping in Playa del Carmen is that you have many options for all budgets – from the great deals to high-end ones.
5th Avenue is one of the best places to go for some souvenir shopping. You’ll find anything from t-shirts, to magnets, Mexican sombreros, tequilas, and more. Check out Hacienda Tequila for an impressive tequila selection. Aside from the small shops, you can also find plazas and major shopping malls in Playa del Carmen and on 5th Avenue, with shops of all the major international brands.
When you have had your fill of shopping, it’s time to grab your dinner! Some of the best choices include El Fogon for tacos, Nativo for smoothies and vegan option, and El Sangha Rito for great guacamole and healthy options.
Take Another Day Trip from Tulum
The location of Tulum in the Yucatan Peninsula gives you easy access to some other beautiful destinations in the area.
➤ You can check out Akumal, for example, which is known for the opportunity to swim with turtles. If that sounds like your kind of day trip adventure, Akumal is less than half an hour away from Tulum.
Getting to Akumal from Tulum is as easy as booking a $3 minivan.
➤ Another, completely different, day trip from Tulum I recommend is to Xplor Park. From ziplining, to paddle rafting in underground caverns, and amphibious rides, there’s no better place to satisfy your thirst for adventurous thrills. Xplor Park is less than an hour away from Tulum.
⚠️ Get 15% off your Xplor ticket by booking online! The ticket includes unlimited non-alcoholic drinks throughout the day and a buffet lunch.
➤ If you dare going a little bit further, you can travel to Cozumel from Tulum. Cozumel is a beautiful island about 2.5 hours away that offers tons of attractions. You can explore archaeological ruins, remote beaches, lighthouses, and lagoons. Get there by taking the Ultramar ferry from Playa del Carmen.
READ MORE: 11 Unmissable Day Trips from Tulum
Go for a Fancy Dinner in Tulum
There’s an incredible choice of really good restaurants in Tulum, and it’s a great foodie destination, especially when it comes to trendy or high-end restaurants. If you are wondering where to go in Tulum for a nice dinner, these are my recommendations:
• Kin Toh Restaurant is the star restaurant of Azulik, and it’s maybe the most unique foodie experience you can have in Tulum. This restaurants offers Mayan-Mexican avant garde cuisine, meaning that the chef combines local, native ingredients with international elements. But it’s the architectural design of the place that makes it unique. You can even sit on one of the nests overlooking the jungle, but keep in mind there’s a minimum spend of $500.
• Another must-try fine dining option in Tulum is Hartwood. This restaurant does not have a fixed menu – it changes on a daily or weekly basis. The dishes served here are based on the harvest from the local land and sea, and are of the best quality. It’s not cheap, but a good option for a special occasion.
• And for an Italian feast in Tulum, head to Posada Margherita. This restaurant has been serving up Italian goodness in Tulum for 20 years, and you know, as an Italian I’m always wary of Italian restaurants abroad. But this one is very good, both their sea plates and their pizza. It’s not as fancy as the two options above, but you know: pizza! It had to be somewhere 😉
READ ALSO: Where To Eat in Tulum, Mexico
21 OTHER FUN THINGS TO DO IN TULUM
Experience a Temazcal
If you are looking for a unique cultural experience, add a Temazacal ceremony to your Yucatan itinerary.
A Temazcal ceremony is performed in a sweat house, a sort of sauna made of clay, known locally as Temazcal. The ceremony is designed to purify the mind and body and heal sicknesses, and it’s led by a shaman. This ancient ritual was first practiced by the indigenous people of Mesoamerica during the pre-Hispanic period.
You can try this ancient Mayan ceremony at Casa Violeta Tulum or Maya Tulum Retreat & Spa.
Escape the Crowds at Kaan Lum Lagoon
Known as the best kept secret of Tulum, Kaan Lum Lagoon is a great alternative to visiting cenotes (not that you would want to skip that!).
The lagoon itself is actually a gigantic cenote, and the water is usually pretty warm, so it’s perfect for a dip and a mud bath.
Kaan Lum Lagoon is unique because of the color of the water, that changes from the shore towards the center because of the change in depth. The shallow portion of the water is crystal blue but the center portion is a very deep blue. No wonder, since this area is 80 meters deep!
There isn’t really a shore, and you can jump in the water from the pier. There are basic facilities such as bathroom. It seems like a restaurant has recently opened, but I recommend bringing your own food.
Laguna Kaan Lum is 5 km south of Tulum, off Highway 307. The ticket price is 100 pesos.
Learn How To Cook Traditional Mexican Food
No visit to Mexico, especially Tulum, would be complete without indulging in some of Mexico’s best dishes. But isn’t it better to also learn how to cook some of the best dishes, so you can go home and surprise everyone with a Mexican dinner?
➤ Check out this Traditional Mexican Cooking Class in the Jungle of Tulum. This is an immersion in the culture and culinary traditions of Mexico, and Lily, your host, will teach you some of her Mexican and Mayan family recipes. The menu changes, but some of the recipes you might learn fish tacos, hand-made tortillas, quesadillas and flan. And of course after you’re done you will enjoy all the dishes you made! BOOK IT HERE
Relax at a Beach Club in Tulum
Sure, you can go to a free beach in Tulum and it’s still great, but if you want to upgrade the experience, considering spending a day at a beach club for extra comfort. Here are my recommendations for beach clubs in Tulum:
Ziggy’s Beach Club is extremely popular, and it’s hard to find a spot during the high season. You can find super comfy bed-like sunbeds here, and palm trees that provide shade. Note that during the high season, the club charges a 50 usd fee for use of the loungers that will get deducted from your restaurant bill. There’s no charge between July 10th and October 15th.
Another beach club worth checking out in Tulum is the Papaya Playa Project. I’ve gone to this club a couple of times with my friends. We occupied a couple of beach umbrellas with day beds and spent the afternoon there. Supposedly there was a minimum spend of 500 MXN per person, but since we arrived after lunch they waived it and we were just required to have a few drinks or snacks for the group, and we didn’t have to pay extra for the umbrellas and day beds. I liked this club as it seemed to be a lot quieter and less crowded than others.
For a beach club closer to the Tulum ruins, check out Villa Pescadores. Most of the sun umbrellas are reserved for hotel guests, but some are available for day visitors. We bought lunch and a few drinks and the use of the facilities was included.
Check Out the Unbelievable Colors of the Bacalar Lagoon
Bacalar is located in southeastern Mexico close to the border of Belize, and it’s famous for its Lagoon of Seven Colors (Laguna de 7 Colores). It’s called like that because the water of the lagoon comes in very different shades of blue. On a sunny day, you can count up to 7 different shades!
The Bacalar Lagoon used to be quite off the beaten path until a couple of years ago. It’s now become more popular thanks to Instagram, but still you won’t find nowhere near the crowds of Cancun or Chichen Itza here. I haven’t personally been to Bacalar, and I’m kicking myself for not making it a priority when I was there. I am 100% going next time I’m back in Mexico, you can count on it!
➤ The Lovely Bacalar tour from Tulum is a great option if you want to visit the Bacalar Lagoon. This full-day tour (keep in mind it takes over 3 hours to get to Bacalar) will give you the chance to visit three cenotes, go on a boat tour in the lagoon, and more. BOOK IT HERE
Go Enjoy the Hustle and Bustle of Cancun
Unlike Tulum that has a laid back beach town vibe, Cancun has more of a city vibe. If you are looking for a change of pace, you can schedule a day trip from Tulum to Cancun (check out how to get from Tulum to Cancun).
If you visit the Hotel Zone area, expect a more buzzing atmosphere as this area is filled with resorts, hotels, shops, and restaurants, and it’s basically made for tourists. If you want something more traditional, you can find colonial buildings and markets, and some incredible street food, in Downtown Cancun.
A trip from Tulum to Cancun will take approximately 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your transportation choice, so make sure you make the most of your trip to Cancun and squeeze in all you can!
READ THE FULL POST:
41 Things To Do in Cancun – The Ultimate Guide to Cancun
Explore Tulum on a Bike
Exploring Tulum on a bike will allow you to explore the jungle, cenotes, hidden paths, and quiet roads that are not normally visited by tour buses. So, it’s a great way to escape the crowds and . You can easily find bikes to rent both in town and by the beach, it should cost you around 80 pesos for the day. Please pack a bottle of water, a hat and sunscreen – the sun can be super strong.
➤ To make your bike exploration more fun, you can also join the Classic Tulum Bike Tour. You will be starting off your journey by visiting the Tulum ruins. Then you’ll head to Tulum town to check out the street art scene and get a taste of the street food, before heading for a swim at a cenote, which is a perfect way to cool off after spending your day biking. It’s a truly complete tour that allows you see a little bit of everything that Tulum has to offer. BOOK IT HERE
Feel like Indiana Jones at Muyil Ruins
Not done with exploring archaeological ruins in Tulum yet? Here’s one more to add to your list – Muyil Ruins. This ruin site, located on the mainland of the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve, is known as the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula.
The Muyil Ruins might not be as popular as Chichen Itza or Tulum Ruins, but they are very different from them. In fact, they are lot wilder, located in the middle of the jungle right next to the Caribbean Sea, and they’re a great option to experience the ruins of the Mayan civilization if you prefer going somewhere with fewer crowds.
The best part is that you can visit the ruins for free, but it’s not super easy to get here since the ruins are in the middle of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. You can visit on your own but you will need a 4×4.
I’ve visited Sian Kaan with a tour and after seeing the conditions of the dirt road, I’m very glad I did. I had previously tried to enter the reserve with my friends on a normal rental car, and the guard turned us away because we would have gotten stuck with our car.
➤ Check out the Half Day Trip Sian Kaan Muyil, which includes a boat ride through the lagoon, swim time in the turquoise waters, and 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. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
Eat Acai Bowls and Other Hipster Things at Raw Love and Matcha Mama
If you are looking for vegan or healthy food options while traveling in Tulum, check out Raw Love and Matcha Mama.
Raw Love Café is a super instagrammable, quaint café close to the beach. All items on the menu are gluten-free and you can create your own smoothie bowls with superfood ingredients. Otherwise you can go for a coconut latter or one of the acai bowls that look too good to eat. I love the hippie chill-out vibe of this place!
Another great place in Tulum to indulge your vegan cravings is Matcha Mama. This is a one-of-a-kind and locally owned café that offers mostly raw and vegan juice and smoothies. It’s not a budget option, but on top of being deliciousss they offer special diet options such as gluten free, keto, vegan and vegetarian, which is not that common for Mexico.
Go Scuba Diving in Tulum Cenotes and the Ocean
Scuba diving is one of the most popular Tulum activities, especially cause in this region you can scuba dive in both the ocean and the deeper cenotes. In fact, you have quite a few options no matter what your diving skill level might be. The year-round diving conditions are great in Tulum but for the best visibility, plan your diving trip in May to September (although if you’re not just interested in diving, the best season to visit Tulum is between October and April).
Some of the best cenotes in Tulum for cave diving are Cenote Angelita, Pet Cemetery Cenote, Cenote Calavera and Cenote Carwash. As for scuba diving in the ocean, the best dive sites include Tankah Deep and La Piscina.
➤ Check out this Cenote Scuba Diving Tour in Tulum to experience the magical underwater world of Tulum. You will take an introductory diving course before getting in the water and dive in one cenote, so this course is mostly for beginners with no or little experience. BOOK IT HERE
Head to Tulum Town for Yummy Food on a Budget
Yes, the food in Tulum can be considerably more expensive than the rest of Mexico… but it doesn’t have to be! Consider yourself a foodie? If you get out of the more touristy Tulum area, you’ll find many local restaurants that don’t cost a fortune – in fact, this is probably one of the best things to do in Tulum town!
I had no idea before traveling all around Mexico, but apparently burritos are much more tex-mex than actual Mexican food. But this doesn’t mean you can’t find good burritos in Mexico! Burrito Amor is hands down the best place to go to if you’re craving burritos in Tulum. They have both traditional wheat tortillas and coconut tortillas, which are freshly made daily . They offer vegan-friendly options too. Fresh ingredients + low prices = guaranteed success.
Taqueria Honorio is a no-frills taco spot. All the tacos are good here, but they are mostly famous for their cochinita pibil tacos made with pork and onion. They close after lunch, so make it a midday destination.
El Camello Jr in Tulum is another highly recommended foodie spot. It’s a great place to go if you are craving fresh and delicious seafood without breaking the bank. Do yourself a favor and try their ceviche and octopus tacos.
And for a good old Mexican fare, visit Antojitos La Chiapaneca in Tulum. Always filled with locals, which is a great sign. The menu is simple and delicious -choose between tacos or tortas (sandwich) with beef, chicken or al pastor (with pineapple). You can’t go wrong.
READ ALSO: 19 Tulum Restaurants Not To Miss in 2021
Go Shopping in Tulum
No trip to Tulum would be complete without some shopping. Tulum Beach is filled with lots of boutiques and shops that sell handmade jewelry, artisanal crafts, chic kaftans, hand woven hats, and more. Some of the best shopping in Tulum Beach Road is to be done at Josa Tulum, Arte Sano, and CALO.
There is also an abundance of local gift shops and handicrafts shop where you can find a wide range of souvenir items, but for this I recommend you to head to Tulum Town, A few other unique items you will find when shopping in Tulum city center includes textiles, pillows, accessories, towels, linens, dream catchers, jewelry, and more. Tulum Bazaar, a market in Tulum Centro, is a great place to start your shopping trip.
Enjoy the Chill Tulum Nightlife
If you have been to other destinations like Cancun, you’ll notice that Tulum’s nightlife isn’t as loud or rowdy. Tulum’s nightlife is more laid back and chill. Don’t expect gigantic clubs like Coco Bongo, but there are a variety of beach bars and clubs that you can go to if you want to enjoy a few cocktails to end your day. Instead of the tequila shooting madness, Tulum’s nightlife scene is more upscale but without the pretentiousness and strict dress codes.
One of the most fun things to do in Tulum at night is partying at Papaya Playa Project. You’ll find live bands on Friday and a live DJ set on Saturday. The party starts at midnight or later, and goes on till super late. Once a month, Papaya Playa Project throws the Full Moon Party, which is probably the biggest party in Tulum – expect big crowds and long queues, but some pretty fun time,
Gitano, one of the best bars in Tulum, is the place to be on a Friday night. You’ll find an impressive selection of cocktails and drinks, and a DJ set from 10 pm on. For a more latino dance experience, join the salsa party every Sunday at La Zebra Beach Restaurant.
When it comes to the best mojitos in Tulum, Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar won’t disappoint – and the fact that they serve them out of a converted VW Beetle makes it even better. And finally, don’t miss Casa Jaguar’s Jungle Party held every Thursday night in Tulum with multiple DJs.
Practice Meditation and Yoga in Tulum
Tulum is a bit of a contradiction. On one side you’ve got prices that are waay higher than the rest of Mexico (comparable to European or US prices), but on the other side there’s this hippie / boho-chic vibe, and tons of trendy retreats and wellness places. Thtat’s why it’s a good place to come and take some days just for you to relax and maybe go on a digital detox? Why not.
Among the best places offering yoga and meditation classes is Sanara Tulum, a luxury and eco chic hotel known for its yoga retreats ina beautiful setting. Beach-side yoga studio anyone?
If you want to challenge your practice on another level, SUP Yoga Tulum offers standup paddle yoga for a super fun way to do yoga.
Want to live life off the grid? Stay amid the jungle and practice yoga in the palapa at Hotel Yoga Shala. Set in a gorgeous tropical location, this is the perfect place to re-connect with nature and yourself.
Get all Those Photos for the ‘Gram
Tulum is teeming with instagrammable spots! If you are looking for that perfect shot of Tulum, here are some of my favorite spots to get it.
Coco Tulum beach club has a bar with a white themed dacor that looks exquisite against the white sand and the turquoise blue waters. Take the classical IG shot while sitting on one of the bar swings!
Did you know that Casa Malca, currently a hotel, was once Pablo Escobar’s villa? If they let you in, this is another spot to go to for that picture-perfect shot. You will find couch swings and designy interiors with incredible views over the sea.
Nomade Tulum is another beach hotel that features a Moroccan feel with its beautifully conceptualized rooms and interior decor. Its palapa-style roofs, colorful poufs, and mismatched carpets create the ultimate photo backdrop.
And if not, just walk around the Tulum Beach road and you’ll find plenty of opportunities for photos!
Raining? Enjoy a Day at the Spa
If you can’t go out, might as well take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a pampering time. Tulum is home to a number of wellness spas that are perfect for a relaxing afternoon.
Yaan Wellness is the most high-end wellness and spa center in Tulum. This healing center provides a wide range of treatments such as massages (Swedish, balancing massage, and Thai massage, among others), vibrational healing, soaking baths, and exclusive Mexican therapies. Or what about a juice cleanse or a detox?
The Mayan Clay Spa is another recommended place. Heal your mind and body with a rejuvenating treatment package at this spa. What they are famous for is their patented Mayan clay spa treatment.
Sip Coffee at Tulum Art Club
While Tulum is best known for its archaeological ruins and the beaches, it’s definitely transforming into an artisty, creative destination over the past few years. Tulum Art Club is a perfect example.
Not a cafe, not an art gallery, not a space for event: Tulum Art Club is a little bit of everything. Come here to sip a (great) coffee or to eat something healthy – the place has recently partnered up with Raw Love Tulum. Or come to one of the many art-related events that happen in the space. This is a pretty cool spot to check out while in downtown Tulum.
Get Artsy at Sfer IK
Another Tulum must see, Sfer IK in Tulum was named as one of Time’s 100 World’s Greatest Places of 2019, and it’s no wonder. This artsy spot is no ordinary exhibition space. This cutting-edge museum in Tulum features a nest-like structure, made with locally sourced wood and cement, which looks like a design tree house. There are various art exhibition held throughout the year, but even if you visit when there isn’t one, it’s still worth a visit just to walk around the space.
Sfer IK is located inside Azulik Hotel, but you don’t need to stay at the hotel to visit the space. Entrance is free.
Staying for Longer? Learn Spanish
If you’re planning to stay for a while in Tulum , why not learn some Spanish? It will prove particularly useful if later you travel to other parts of Mexico that aren’t as touristy as Yucatan, where English is spoken less.
The Meztli Spanish language school, located in Tulum Centro offers both private and group classes. You”l learn Spanish in a fun way, while also getting the chance to meet new friends.
Another great way to learn Spanish is volunteering for a couple of weeks in a hostel or local NGO. On Worldpackers there are tons of opportunities when it comes to volunteering in Tulum.
You’ll need to pay a yearly membership that gives you access to thousands of volunteer placements all over the world, and that is frankly very accessible. The yearly membership usually costs $49, but use this link for $10 off the membership.
Enjoy All Sorts of Water Sports
Since Tulum is located next to the Caribbean Sea, it’s not a surprise that engaging in water sport activities is a bucket list item for many people.
Snorkeling is one of the top activities in Tulum as here you can really enjoy the rich marine and underwater life. Head to Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve, Akumal, or Cozumel for some of the best snorkeling spots in the region.
Otherwise you can try to do some kayaking – for a very different experience, you should try kayaking in the mangrove in Sian Kaan, but by federal law you will also need to rent a guide to go with you since this is a natural reserve. Another way to enjoy the water is renting a catamaran for the day. It’s not the cheapest choice, but joining a group for a sunset sail makes it possible to enjoy this experience without spending a fortune.
For the thrill-seekers among you, kite boarding might be right up your alley. Tulum beach itself is a great spot for kite boarding. And if you’ve never tried it before, you can sign up for a kite boarding lesson in Tulum.
Have a Drink with a View
How does enjoying cocktail drinks 35 meters up in the air sound to you? Located next to the ruins, the Tulum Tower with a sky bar is a new attraction in Tulum that opened in November 2018. It didn’t exist when I visited Tulum, but you can be sure this is on my list for next time!
Get up here for a new perspective on the iconic ruins, pyramids, and views of the ocean. Everyone is safely harnessed to their seat before the tower slowly ascends into the air. Once you’re up, the tower spins around for you to have a 360 degree view, and you’ll be served with a courtesy drink. This whole experience lasts 10 to 15 minutes, but it’s definitely a must do in Tulum.
WHERE TO STAY IN TULUM
Here are a few options of hotels and holiday rentals in Tulum Town. Book your accommodation by using the map below. Change the location to Tulum Beach if you prefer to stay by the beach.
HOW TO GET AROUND TULUM
Getting around Tulum is pretty easy, there’s a variety of transportation options available. First of all, you can easily walk around Tulum Town and Tulum Beach. However, if you have to move from the beach to the town or viceversa, you’ll need some sort of transportation. Same thing if you ‘re planning to visit some cenotes near Tulum or you’re planning to go on a few day trips.
➤ Traveling by taxi is the easiest option. Ask your hotel to call a taxi for you, or flag one on the road. Most drivers will refuse to use the meter, so make sure you agree on a fair price before you get in the car. You can ask your hotel receptionist what’s the fair rate for where you’re going.
➤ Another option is the colectivos (shared vans), the cheapest way that you can choose for getting around in Tulum. Now, there are colectivos from Tulum beach to town that would be a lot cheaper than taxis, but apparently they are reserved for locals. I don’t know if there’s an agreement with taxi drivers or what is going on, but I was never able to get on one.
However you can get on a colectivo from Tulum town to go to the cenotes that are located on the side of the highway, or on the road to Coba. I have many articles about specific cenotes with detailed instructions on how to get there, so I suggest you to read there for more info. You can also use colectivos to get to Akumal, Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Xcaret, and more attractions.
➤ You can also choose to rent a bike for the day. There are rental places both in Tulum Town and Tulum Beach, and the ongoing rate at the time of writing is about 80 pesos per day. Keep in mind that the sun is strong, so avoid biking at midday, and always bring sunscreen, a hat and a bottle of water with you. Avoid driving on very trafficked roads, it’s safer and more enjoyable to stick to side streets.
➤ Another option is to rent a car. Driving in Yucatan and Quintana Roo is pretty easy, and the roads are usually fine. Renting a car will give you a lot more flexibility when it comes to going on day trips, but I do not recommend renting a car if you’re mostly planning to stay in Tulum. Parking is very difficult and expensive in Tulum Beach, so taking a taxi is a better idea. However, if you’re not a beach bum and you’re planning to be always on the go, renting a car is the way to go.
I usually use Rentalcars.com to book a rental car online so I don’t get any surprises when I get there. This search engine compares all the major rental cars companies. Check out here below rates and availability for rental cars from Tulum:
TULUM TRAVEL TIPS & FAQ
Safety in Tulum
Despite the surge in drug-related violence and crimes in other parts of Mexico, Tulum remains a safe destination. In any case, all the usual safety precautions apply, like any other destination in the world, especially if you are a solo traveler. It’s safe to walk around in Tulum at night, but better to be with a companion or take a taxi. Don’t get intoxicated unless you are with a group of trusted people. Always lock the doors to your hotel or apartment when staying in Tulum.
Don’t drink tap water in Tulum… unless you want diarrhea. Only drink bottled water, and make sure they open the bottle in front of your eyes. Also, say no to ice as an extra precaution, unless you are at a resort or higher-end restaurant.
What’s the Best Time to Visit Tulum, Mexico?
The best time to go to Tulum is between late November and April. During this time of year, the hurricane season is over and you can expect the perfect weather (warm, but not too hot). However, this also means a heavy influx of tourists in Tulum, so it will be the most crowded and expensive time of the year to plan a trip to Tulum.
June, September and October are the rainiest months. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit at this time. Most of the time these are tropical storms that last a couple of hours in the afternoon, followed by clear skies. Prices are lower this time of the year, however you should also consider that September and October are considered hurricane season.
Finally, expect very high temperatures if you visit between May and August. It can be uncomfortable, but at this time you can find better deals and it’s the best season to go swimming with whale sharks.
How Many Days Should You Spend in Tulum?
It will vary on how much time you have to spend in Mexico and your budget. You could spend a month here and travel all around Yucatan – there is so much to see. In general, though, 3 days will be enough for you to explore Tulum and go on a day trip if later you’re planning to base yourself a few extra days in Playa del Carmen or Cancun.
If you are planning to make Tulum your main base, then I recommend spending 5 to 7 days in Tulum. This will give you enough time to visit the beaches, cenotes, and ruins, and all the other things to see in Tulum.
Mexico is one of my favorite countries, and I published tons of other Mexico posts that might be useful to plan your trip to Mexico. Start from these ones:
A Guide to The Top Things To do in Cancun
Isla Holbox, Mexico: A Complete Guide to This Paradise Island
The Perfect 3 Days in Mexico City Itinerary
The Ultimate Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary
13 Unmissable Places To Visit in Chiapas