A stop in Tulum is usually included in all trips to the Riviera Maya, as this is one of the most peculiar archaeological parks in the entire Yucatan Peninsula. In addition, those who are a bit fed up with the big hotels in Cancun and the crazy tourism in Playa del Carmen usually head south to Tulum, trying to find some more peace and quiet. In this post we tell you 15 things to see and do in Tulum.
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The most important, and probably the main reason to visit this place, are the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, whose “Castillo del Mar” is one of the most typical postcards of the Riviera Maya. Reserve at least a couple of hours to complete the visit, since the archaeological zone is wider than it seems. A word of advice: early in the morning (opens at 8 am) you will still miss the many tours like this one, which come from Cancun and Playa del Carmen, mainly.
If the sargot allows it, you will be able to enjoy like a dwarf the beaches of the Caribbean. And what better than taking a dip in the beach closest to the archaeological zone? We’re talking about Paradise Beach, where you can swim and see the very same Mayan ruins.
The beach right next to it is Playa Pescadores, and it can also be worth spending some time there, especially if, unlike us, you’re lucky enough to see it without sarging.
Tulum’s sunsets are quite famous, and the light in Mexico is indescribable! So you know, when the sun goes down, you can stay and watch the free show, of course, always better with a chela in hand.
There are many options to try the Mexican specialties. If your budget is a little tighter, we recommend you eat some tacos, a gringa or a torta at Antojitos La Chiapaneca, one of the richest and cheapest places in Tulum. The best? La gringa arrachera! And it only costs 30 pesos.
Tulum is an area that is growing very fast, and you can find many small boutique hotels with very interesting offers. We found a great rate at the Solera Tulum and it was, by far, the best accommodation we had in Mexico.
A very interesting option to spend an atypical night is to go to Zine Food&Films, a restaurant-cinema where you can eat something delicious while watching a movie. The menu includes several proposals (from 350 to 490 pesos) and all dishes come with drinks and popcorn.
And if you’re looking for places to eat in Tulum, here are 8 recommendations of good and cheap restaurants.
It’s a tourist place, but if there’s a bit of a geek soul in you (I’m sure there is) you’ll love to get a selfie in front of the famous “Tulum” sign. You’ll find it on the main street of the village.
Have a mojito at Batey, a nice suuuper place, that boasts of making the best mojitos in the whole Riviera. True or false? You only have one way to find out… The price is 100-120 pesos.
The area around Tulum is full of cenotes, my friend. Are you gonna miss them? We were advised to visit at least the Gran Cenote and the Carwash, although we ended up going to neither (many people and expensive tickets). Instead we went to the Zacil Ha cenote, which costs 40 pesos and, although it is quite small, we found it very cool. Try not to go there on Sundays because it’s a place that’s quite popular with locals that day.
One of the strengths of Tulum is its position, from where you can make many excursions. One of the most popular is the Coba Ruins, with one of the tallest Mayan pyramids in Mexico. We went on our own, but if you don’t have a car you can sign up for this tour (it also includes a stop at a cenote). In this post we talk about our visit to Coba (coming soon).
If you prefer the charm of nature to Mayan architecture, then don’t think about it and dedicate a day to visit the Sian Ka’an reserve. This is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean and one of the most beautiful corners in the whole area. Here you will find incredible beaches, corals, cenotes and options of activities to avoid boredom. We didn’t go but we left it written down for our next visit!
Do you plan to use Tulum as a base for your trip to the Riviera Maya? Then there is one excursion (THE excursion) that you can’t miss: Chichen Itza. It is the most famous Mayan archaeological site in the world (not in vain it has the honor of being one of the new wonders of the world). We visit it from Valladolid (here you have more info about how to visit Chichén Itzá on your own), but you can also sign up for a tour that makes the visit from Tulum, which includes transfers from/to the hotel, entrance, guide and also the visit + swim in a cenote.
About 30 km from Tulum, following the coast to the south, we find Akumal, a good place for a day of beach and snorkeling: in its waters you can even see turtles, but only see, not touch. The worst thing is that around this place a pretty heavy tourist circus has been set up: they charge 100 pesos just to get into the beach!
But there is a little trick to avoid it: the restaurant Lol Ha offers free parking and access to the beach just for having a drink at its bar. It’s not cheap, but there’s no minimum charge (you can have a soft drink for 40 pesos and you’ll have saved a lot of money). Oh, and remember to bring your own snorkel mask because rental prices are prohibitive!
If your visit coincides with the carnival, congratulations are in order: Tulum is celebrating in style! Other interesting festivals include the Alborada Maya (March), a religious celebration thanking God for good crops, and the Festival de la Toruga Marina (October), which takes place on the nearby Xcacel beach and celebrates the end of the turtle nesting season.
So far our recommendations of things to see and do in Tulum Do you know any more?