Heading to Tulum soon? Oh, I’m so jealous! Check out the 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 hotels & 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 Quintana Roo and 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 of the best things to do in Tulum. You’ll probably have to extend your holiday!
HOW TO GET TO TULUM FROM CANCUN
If you are coming from Cancun International 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 Airport to Tulum, and your English-speaking driver will be waiting for you at the arrival area to take you to your private vehicle. Insurance is included, and you’ll be taken directly to your hotel in Tulum.
While it’s more expensive than other options, it’s certainly convenient. If you’re 3, booking a private shuttle from Cancun Airport 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. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
➤ 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.
You’ll be sharing the ride with other travelers, and it will likely take longer than a private transfer, since the vehicle will be making stops along the way so passengers can get off, but it’s very convenient if you’re on a budget. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
➤ 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 to get from Cancun to Tulum. I suggest you 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. You’ve got many options like the collective (shared van), bus, taxi, and more.
👉 I also wrote a full post about the best ways to get to Tulum from Playa del Carmen, check it out for specific info.
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 with the top 9 things to do in Tulum!
Visit the Tulum Ruins
There’s no such thing as visiting Tulum and not visiting the Tulum’s ruins – after all, the iconic image of these Mayan 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 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 of the Tulum Ruins served as a seaport fortress, which explains its proximity to the beach. The main pyramid of these Mayan ruins 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.
READ MORE: A Complete Guide to the Tulum Ruins
The Tulum Ruins are open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Mexican citizens and residents enter the Tulum Ruins for free on Sundays, so it’s best to avoid Sundays as there are even more people than usual. The entry fee is currently 80 Mexican Pesos, or 4 USD.
➤ Looking for the perfect tour? I like the 3 in 1 Discovery Combo Tour because you get to explore the best of Tulum in one day. The tour starts with a guided tour of the Tulum Ruins; after that, you’ll go on a boat tour to snorkel in the coral reef in the Caribbean Sea. The tour ends with a swim at Cenote Caracol, a beautiful cave cenote.
This tour also includes: Roundtrip transportation, snorkel equipment, lunch, and bottled water. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
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.
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.
Whether you are looking to swim, snorkel, or scuba 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! 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 boasts beautiful crystal clear, turquoise waters. Cenote Azul is an open-type cenote that looks like a natural pool, with cliffs where you can jump off from.
Gran Cenote is another of the most popular cenotes in Tulum. 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. I’ve written a whole post about the best cenote tours from Tulum, but here are my favorites.
➤ The Cenote Trail: Caves and Bike tour doesn’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 beautiful 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.
This tour also includes: Bikes and helmets, a professional guide, and all entrance fees. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
➤ The Cenote Triple Adventure Tour is ideal for divers, avid snorkelers, or anyone who loves water adventures. On this guided tour you’ll visit three different cenotes in which you’ll free-dive, snorkel, and free jump into, and also explore incredible caverns and rock formations.
This tour also includes: Roundtrip transportation, equipment, snacks, and GoPro photos. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
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 the highlight of your trip. If you have to choose between one of the parks like Xcaret and this, this one beats it.
➤ The Sian Ka’an Adventure is a full-day excursion that takes you around the Biosphere Reserve so you can experience it to its fullest. You’ll visit this UNESCO World Heritage site and go snorkeling in the Mesoamerican Reef, you’ll spot wildlife, go on a boat ride and explore Punta Allen.
This tour also includes: Roundtrip transportation, lunch, snacks, snorkeling gear and a local guide. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
FOR MORE OPTIONS CHECK OUT: 5 Best Sian Kaan Tours from Tulum, Cancun, Riviera Maya
Don’t Miss a Day Trip to Chichen Itza
Very few people come all the way to Tulum, Mexico, 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 these Mayan ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but they was also named as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. This archeological site is 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 (last access is at 4 PM)
The Chichen Itza entry fee is 533 Mexican Pesos per person (it only applies to foreign tourists).
If you’re going on your own, I recommend heading there early and enjoying the place with fewer crowds. You’ll also avoid the intense heat of midday this way.
If you prefer going with a guide, this is a great tour:
➤ 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 UNESCO World Heritage site of Chichen Itza, stop for a swim at Cenote Ik Kil, and finish the day by exploring the colonial town of Valladolid – plus, it’s probably the most affordable tour to Chichen Itza you can find!
This tour also includes: Roundtrip transportation, all entrance fees, a buffet meal and a guide. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Enjoy the Beaches of Tulum, Mexico
The collection of incredible white-sand beaches is what makes Tulum one of Mexico’s best destinations, and one of the main reasons people from around the world visit Tulum. If you are after powdery white sand beaches and turquoise waters, Tulum is the beach bum’s ultimate tropical 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 public 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 (Paradise Beach) 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.
Playa Ruinas is another of the best beaches in Tulum, 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.
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 Mayan ruins that it’s hard to choose which ones to visit and which ones to skip.
One of the 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. These pathways bring 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 late 2022, climbing the pyramid is not possible because of COVID-19 restrictions. It’s a bummer, but it’s totally worth visiting the Coba Ruins in any case!
READ MORE: Coba Ruins: A Complete Guide (2023)
You can visit the Coba Ruins for 80 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 knowledgeable guide, check out the Coba, Tulum, Cenote & Playa Paraiso Tour, which covers A LOT just in one day. You’ll get to visit both Coba and Tulum ruins, 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.
This tour also includes: Hotel pick up and drop-off, bottled water, and a professional guide. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
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!
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.
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 day trip from Tulum I recommend is to one of the theme parks of the Riviera Maya such as 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.
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. If you are wondering where to go in Tulum, Mexico, for a nice dinner, these are my recommendations.
• 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. 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.
READ ALSO: Where To Eat in Tulum, Mexico
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 lodge, 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. 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 bathrooms. 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 local food. 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 Mexican Cooking and Mezcal Tasting experience for an immersion in the culture and culinary traditions of Mexico. You’ll visit a local home where your host will teach you to prepare typical meals from scratch using traditional ingredients and flavors. You’ll then get to enjoy your dish and a Mezcal tasting. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Relax at a Beach Club in Tulum, Mexico
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 one of the most popular beach clubs, and it’s hard to find a spot here during the high season. You can find super comfy sunbeds here, and palm trees that provide shade. Note that the club requires a minimum consumption of 50 USD per person for use of the loungers and other amenities.
Another of my favorite beach clubs is the Papaya Playa Project. I’ve gone to this club a couple of times with my friends. We occupied a few beach umbrellas with day beds and spent the afternoon there.
Supposedly there was a minimum spend of 1,500 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.
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 will find nowhere near the crowds of Cancun or Chichen Itza here.
➤ The Bacalar 7 Color Lagoon tour is a great option to marvel at the turquoise tones of 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 cenotes, go on a boat tour in the lagoon, do some kayaking, and enjoy lunch. The tour departs from Tulum, Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
If you’d rather get there on your own, check out my guide on how to get from Tulum to Bacalar.
Go Enjoy the Hustle and Bustle of Cancun
Unlike Tulum which 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.
READ THE FULL POST: The Best 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. 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.
➤ To make your bike exploration more fun, you can also join a Tulum Bike Tour. You’ll ride to the Tulum Ruins for a visit, then head to to see some hand-painted murals and get a taste of the street food, before swimming in a cenote. You’ll get to see a little bit of everything 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 and less visited, located in the middle of the jungle right next to the Caribbean Sea.
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 could visit on your own but you would need a 4×4 – I highly suggest a tour. On this type of tour, you’ll also get to float down the saltwater lagoons by using your life jacket as your own floating chair – pretty cool!
➤ Check out the Sian Ka’an and Muyil Archaeological Site Tour to explore the Muyil ruins with a professional guide, but also go on a nature trail where you’ll get to spot the wildlife, take a boat ride down an ancient trading canal and learn about the Maya civilization while enjoying a picnic lunch. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Go Scuba Diving in Tulum Cenotes and the Ocean
Scuba diving is one of the most popular Tulum activities. In the Mexico’s Riviera Maya, in fact, you can scuba dive in both the ocean and the deeper cenotes. The year-round diving conditions are great in Tulum but for the best visibility, plan your diving trip from 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 scuba dive sites include Tankah Deep and La Piscina.
➤ Check out this Cenote Certified Dive to experience the magical underwater world of Tulum. You will enjoy two dives in different cenotes with a small group, so you’ll benefit from your guide’s personalized attention. You have to be a certified diver to join the tour, which includes transportation, equipment and snacks. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Head to Tulum Town for Yummy Food on a Budget
The food in Tulum can be considerably more expensive than the rest of Mexico… but it doesn’t have to be! 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 (aka Tulum Pueblo)!
Burrito Amor is hands down the best place to go to if you’re craving burritos in Tulum centro. They offer vegan-friendly options too.
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.
And for a good old Mexican fare, visit Antojitos La Chiapaneca in downtown 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 2023
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 pueblo.
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, although it’s becoming more of a party hotspot lately. 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.
Gitano, one of the best bars in Tulum, is the place to be on a Friday night to enjoy their Gypsy Disco. 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.
Practice Meditation and Yoga in Tulum
Among the best places offering yoga and meditation classes in Tulum 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.
And if you’re a real yoga fan, or even just a beginner who wants to dive in, why not check out one of these yoga retreats in Mexico?
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 is a beach club with a white-themed bar that looks exquisite against the white sand and the turquoise 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.
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.
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.
➤ The Snorkeling & Underground River Adventure offers the perfect combination of snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea among plenty colorful fish and other marine life, and swimming in a cenote filled with limestone formations. You’ll be provided with the snorkeling equipment, as well as lunch and transportation. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
👉 I’ve written a whole post about the best snorkeling tours in Tulum, check it out!
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.
If your budget doesn’t allow it, you can always join a shared boat tour!
👉 I’ve written a whole post about the best Tulum catamaran and boat tours, check it out!
➤ For the thrill-seekers among you, kiteboarding might be right up your alley. Tulum is a great spot for kiteboarding, and if you’ve never tried it before you can sign up for a Kite Boarding Lesson to learn the basics and get the chance to fly a training kite. ➥ BOOK IT HERE.
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
➤ The Tulum Tower experience takes you 118 feet up in the air so you can enjoy the spectacular views and learn interesting facts about the Mayan civilization and the region of Tulum. You’ll get lockers to secure your belongings, a drink and photos of the activity. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
WHERE TO STAY IN TULUM
Here are a few options of hotels and holiday rentals in Tulum Town (Tulum Centro). Book your accommodation by using the map below. Change the location to Tulum Beach if you prefer to stay by the beach in the Tulum hotel zone.
LUXURY: La Valise Tulum – This luxury Tulum beach hotel is nestled between the Caribbean sea and the Yucatan jungle, and features a heated infinity pool, beachfront beds to relax during the day and stargaze at night, and spa services. The jungle bungalows offer open-air showers, and guests enjoy daily breakfast in the room.
BOUTIQUE HOTEL: Zamas Hotel – This hotel in Tulum hotel zone, which features a swimming pool, a private beach area for guests, and colorful thatched cabins, offers pre-booked massages, breakfast and it’s pet-friendly. All rooms have balconies overlooking the sea, hammocks, and private bathrooms.
ON A BUDGET: Che Tulum Hostel & Bar – This hostel, located in Tulum Town, is the perfect accommodation for budget and solo travelers. It features an outdoor swimming pool and a fully-equipped kitchen, and it hosts parties and offers group excursions. There’s also a 24-hour front desk, a bar and a restaurant, and large lockers for your luggage.
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 the beach area. 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 the beach to the 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 Pueblo 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 Pueblo 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 the Yucatan Peninsula 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 visit other places in the Riviera Maya, 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.
You should avoid walking around in Tulum at night, especially if you’re alone; while you’ll be perfectly safe during the day, you’re better off not taking risks after nightfall. If you are out late, take a taxi to get back to your hotel, and 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 the Yucatan Peninsula – 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 Riviera Maya, 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.
Things to do in Tulum FAQ section
Tulum is worth visiting if you can spend a few days there and are planning to visit its attractions, from the Mayan ruins to the cenotes and gorgeous beaches. You’ll get to enjoy Tulum’s laid-back lifestyle and weekend parties, and eat delicious food at all the cute cafés and restaurants!
Tulum is a generally safe destination during the day, but you should avoid walking around at night, especially if you’re alone! It’s not safe nor worth the risk, and if you need to get anywhere after dark, I highly recommend taking a taxi.
While Tulum, being one of the most sought-after destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula, is not the cheapest town in Mexico, it’s still pretty affordable especially if you’re traveling on a budget and choose accommodation in town and skip the high-end restaurants.
Tulum and Cancun are very different destinations, and it all comes down to your interests. If you’re looking to go on countless activities and enjoy the nightlife, or you’re traveling with children, Cancun is a better option, and it’s also more affordable than Tulum. On the other hand, Tulum is the perfect destination for a laid-back, chill vacation, gorgeous beaches, and closeness to the ancient Mayan city, cenotes, and other natural attractions in the Riviera Maya.
A minimum of 3 days is necessary to really experience Tulum, visit all its attractions, and have time to relax at the beach or snorkel in the nearby cenotes. If you can stay more than that, even better!
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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